How can you change or influence your culture?

As you think about how you want to improve culture, it’s important that you’re clear on what the core challenges you’re facing are.

For more information, learn more about the challenges and risks associated with suboptimal culture.


Culture problems come in different shapes and sizes. Low employee engagement, siloed communications, and employee apathy are all separate problems that can’t be addressed the same way. You’ll want to be really clear on the source of those challenges, and begin looking at the various solutions to address these (and other) culture related challenges.


Here’s what we cover in this article:


We’ve sorted them from least to most intensive:

Team Building

When thinking about addressing culture related challenges, many people start with team building sessions as a way to increase the camaraderie within teams.

They feel that the low morale, and thus culture, will be improved with these team building exercises. But in our experience, those team building sessions are the equivalent of putting a bandage on a bigger problem.


Team building can be useful if your team is already functioning with a high level of trust, and you’re looking to improve existing collaboration or morale. But if morale is low, trust is low, and conflict is high, you’ll want to look at other options.

Many of these morale-based initiatives can be driven internally.


Culture Assessment and Diagnostics 

If you’re wanting to get deeper into the individual workings of your team members, you may want to look at doing some sort of assessment though the use of technology (tracking culture related metrics on a regular basis) or through other team assessments that measure working culture.


Some good methods to assess culture include: 

  • DISC (measures personalities and working style)
  • Strengthsfinder 
  • Colour Wheel personality tests


At the time of writing there were 60+ “Top” assessments for hiring and personality that were run by as many different companies. 


Our recommendation is to have very clear outcomes on the front end in terms of what you’re wanting to discern from your team. Even a couple clues on different peoples working styles can make a world of difference to the overall effectiveness of the communication and culture of your team.


Speakers and Trainers

There are no shortage of people that will come in and share with you a model or an approach to shape your culture. These are typically short learning style sessions where you can reflect on your current culture and the one that you’d like to aspire to. 


These will help you develop a new understanding of your own culture and your needs at a group level, as well as some of the components that each individual brings to the table. 


What’s great about speakers and trainers is that their content can be personalized/customized to your needs, and with context and or pre-work they can drill into the source of any challenges that you might be facing.


Strategic planning sessions/team offsites 

We’ve found that a strategic planning session can create a nice background for important conversations around culture to happen within. Sometimes uncomfortable conversations are more likely to happen when given more time and space to arise. That’s why we find offsite strategic planning sessions to be a great time to have those conversations.


Another benefit of strategic planning is having dedicated time to address culture issues created by operational inefficiencies, such as:

  • Not enough communication
  • Not clear goals or directions
  • No clear accountabilities and breakdowns in expectations between team members. 


A strategic plan with the structure to support it will address most if not all culture related challenges at the source. 


Conflict resolution

If there are really specific challenges between teams or individuals, you may need to bring in someone who is trained in conflict resolution and or mediation. There are sometimes frustrations that have been brewing for years, and people who hold resentments and don’t want to let them go.


If you want your organization to be high performing, you need to resolve those conflicts. If they go unaddressed, they will keep coming up and draw unnecessary resources over and over again. Some issues that impact team culture are a result of personal challenges that could’ve started outside the workplace.

A manager with a keen eye and interest in his staff’s health will be able to support the individual or the group in dealing with these challenges. 


In order to be able to address challenges with culture successfully, one must be aware of the depth and impact of the problem, and recognize that it's probably impacting more people than you realize. 

When it comes to culture related issues, many suffer in silence before inevitably leaving. 


Finally, high performance as a business or organization does not mean that there are no cultural challenges. In fact, unusually the opposite is true. Culture related issues are allowed to persist because the business is performing well. The behaviours are allowed to happen. 


Your people are your biggest asset. Good ones are expensive to replace. The ones that aren’t aligned are even more expensive, and they tend to stay.


You have many options to support them. The key for you is recognizing the right approach at the right time.


If you are interested in learning more about our leadership training or our strategic planning facilitation services, visit our services page or contact us today: