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Changing Your Company Culture? 4 Ways Your Online Community Can Help

Written by Christina Green | on March 15, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Your online community can help your company effectively change its culture.

Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing. - Dharmesh Shah, cofounder of HubSpot.

Company culture is a big selling point when it comes to hiring and branding. People like to do business with brands they know, like, and trust. A talked about (and envied) culture is one that draws people in, whether it's customers or employees. If you have a culture you're not happy with, one that's not clearly defined, or one with a lot of disengagement, it's a good idea to change your company culture and make it more appealing.  To improve your culture, you need to figure out the kind of company you want to be and get employee buy-in. Once that's accomplished, you can share your story with customers and potential customers.

Defining and implementing a new company culture takes time, planning, and resources. When you do reach a point where you have clear goals and are ready to get employees, customers, and potential customers involved, an online community platform can help. Your enterprise's private online community can streamline the transition process, drive support, and coordinate communication about the changes.

How to Change Your Company Culture

In the book, Blue Ocean Strategy, authors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, address four hurdles you need to face in order to change your organization's culture: cognitive, limited resources, motivation, and organizational politics. Your online community can help you overcome each of these challenges.

Challenge 1) Overcoming Cognitive Barriers

Your employees must understand why the change is needed. They've been coming to work every day, getting the job done, acclimated to the culture and now you want to change things. Change is off-putting for most. They need to know why it's necessary.

Your online community is the perfect place to disseminate information about your new direction. Because you can update information easily, post to video libraries, and send out group e-mails, everyone can remain in the loop about the need for the changes and how they will begin rolling out.

Challenge 2) Battling Limited Resources

When you change your company culture, you will likely dedicate more resources to some areas and decrease them to others. You may decide your employees need or want more trendy perks and rationalize that it would be good for morale. You'll have to move your budget around to find money for those new perks, decreasing the allocation in some other area. People worry about these budgetary changes, which may cause their department to lose money, or headcount, when they go into effect.

In this situation, you know you won't get everyone on board at once. The authors of Blue Ocean Strategy suggest creating a tipping point solution. Start with influencers in your organization. Ask them to be a part of a special online community group that will help shape these changes within your company. People who participate in creating something and take ownership of it are more likely to support it. When you get vocal, well-respected influencers behind the project and have them help shape the outcome, they'll get others excited about the changes.

Challenge 3) Building Motivation

Your changes won't be successful unless people are motivated to support them. The easiest way to accomplish this, as mentioned earlier, is to begin with the vocal leaders of your company. Information coming from management isn't always effective, so look beyond management for these people. In the height of the Mad Men craze, business gurus referred to them as the Joans of the office. They're people who know everyone and have the attention of other influential employees.

Once you've gotten these Joans onboard, you need to ask them to communicate the what's in it for me premise to the other employees. Writing a blog post for the employees-only section of your online community is a good way to get this started.

Encourage everyone to ask and answer questions in the online forum, with your advocates giving insight into the planning process. Peer-to-peer interaction is an effective way of selling your new culture, and when employees understand how changes will benefit them, they will be more motivated to support those changes with action.

Challenge 4) Transcending the Politics

Assuming you are not an emperor, you will need to work within the confines of your institutional politics. If you come from a company that distrusts all new ideas, you have your work cut out for you but creating an online community dialogue can help.

Your online community software allows all voices to be heard with equal volume. Use those voices to identify supporters and detractors, as well as anyone who needs more information on the upcoming changes. Try to engage everyone with opinions and ideas, including those who have the authority to tweak your plans. If possible, incorporate feedback and improvements from the community into your plans, as that will help build trust and ensure a smooth transition to your new culture.

Takeaway: Using Your Community Platform to Improve Your Company's Culture

While it's much easier to have a clear vision for your company's culture and hire accordingly from the very beginning, it's not something that a lot of companies are able to do.

There are also many times where the company culture must grow or take a new direction that fits the company's mission. When this happens, use every tool at your disposal to ensure you can win over the hearts and minds of the people you work with, which will help you effectively change the culture. Engaging employees in your online community or enterprise social network is a great place to start.

Download your copy of Higher Logic's 2016 online community benchmarking study.

Topics: Communications, Engagement, Collaboration Tools, Online Community

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