Need Different Results? Change Beliefs, Actions & Culture First

Recognize This! – You can’t get the new results you need unless you change the underlying behaviors and actions that make up your culture.

I tend to read a good bit on planes. Lately, my pile of books seems to focus on organization culture – what it is, how to create it, how to manage it, etc. Most recently, I read Change the Culture, Change the Game: The Breakthrough Strategy for Energizing Your Organization and Creating Accountability for Results by Roger Connors and Tom Smith.

Overall, I like the approach the authors use to direct readers (and clients) to realize you can’t achieve new results while relying on an old culture and its inherent experiences, beliefs and actions. But it all starts with focusing on the results you want. The authors clearly differentiate between “goals” and “results,” noting that goals are something you hope to attain at some point in the future, but results are something you will deliver and you’ve built the resources necessary to see that happen.

Once you’ve defined the results you need, then you can discuss the needed changes to beliefs and actions to achieve those results. The authors explain it this way:

“Experiences foster beliefs, beliefs foster actions, and actions produce results. The experiences, beliefs, and actions of the people in your organization constitute your culture, and your culture produces results. This bears repeating. Your organizational culture produces the results you are getting.”

These all must work in harmony. Too often, leaders identify areas of underperformance (either in individuals, teams or the company as a whole) and decide: “If I can just change he/she acts, I know we’ll get better results.” But this is doomed to fail because, as the authors state:

“Too often, leaders attempt to change the way people act without changing the way they think (i.e., their beliefs). As a result, they get compliance, but not commitment; involvement, but not investment; and progress, but not lasting performance.”

Rather, leaders must understand that managing culture is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process that requires “fostering the beliefs you need people to hold and the actions you need them to take.”

This is fully in alignment with our recommendations to take your values off the plaque on the wall and turn them into action-oriented belief statements that (1) employees can implement in their daily work and (2) employees are consistently recognized and rewarded for demonstrating – by their managers as well as their peers and colleagues.

Only by reinforcing leader commitment to a new culture (and therefore, new experiences, beliefs, and actions) through consistent, frequent, timely and very specific recognition can you help employees understand and truly internalize those changed beliefs and actions so they can deliver the new results you want and need.

The authors call this focused feedback or recognition noting:

“When people see leaders reinforcing [new] beliefs, everyone gets the message that ‘I ought to be doing that, too.’ As a result, others will look for that behavior, think about that behavior, and seek that behavior both in their fellow workers and, most important, in themselves.”

That’s what we refer to as “amplifying recognition” in which every recognition moment impacts at least 3 people –the giver, the receiver, and a manger – and likely many more, especially if Social Recognition® is enabled to allow anyone the ability to congratulate a recognition recipient and extend that praise even further.

Have you attempted to change your organization culture? What methodology did you use? Was it successful?


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