From The Rock

4 Reasons why changing culture is a marathon, not a sprint

By | September 20, 2018

The blog post originally appeared on the Greater Memphis Chamber’s website. View the original post here.

If you’ve come to terms with needing a new culture, and you’ve worked to implement policies that benefit your employees and customers, you still might not see results immediately. And surely, that’s frustrating. But changing culture is like forming a mountain. Small movements over time produced something great.

You probably don’t have thousands of millions of years to get your business culture back on track, and lucky for you, it doesn’t take THAT long. But you may feel the growing pains of your cultural rebirth for a few years. Here are four reasons why:

1. You need to prove it’s not a flash in the pan.

One quarter’s worth of bonuses is great, but two years of consistent recognition for good work is even better. A six-month rewards card for consumers may see temporary increases in business, but when the program ends, so may your profits. Weak business leaders can implement changes that stick for a short time, but in the long term fizzle out. To truly change your culture, you need to prove that you’re committed to change that’s here for the long haul, not the short term.

2. Changes need to work themselves out over time.

While you need to commit to long-term changes, you also need to be flexible in your programming. Do your customers neglect to use a punch card? Don’t get rid of the program, try converting the reward process to a digital app. Do your employees care less about free workout classes and more about a stocked fridge? Shift the benefit seamlessly. You need to find policies that work for your customers and your consumers, and that may take some trial and error.

3. Sentiment takes time to heal.

If you’re trying to reverse a toxic culture, you’re unfortunately subject to the old adage, “time heals all wounds.” New vacation packages don’t make up for years of heartache and job loathing. You have to give your team time to heal from a destructive past, and give your consumers time to forget your old ways. Don’t get frustrated, lean into the healing process and participate alongside your team.

4. Sometimes, people have to leave.

Attitudes change over time when people are willing to heal. Some people aren’t willing to go along with change. So, sometimes for a culture to make a real turn around, the stragglers who miss the old culture need to go. As things change, this attrition may happen naturally. But if an employee is purposely trying to sabotage your path forward, it may be time to cut the cord. You can’t move forward if people are trying to stay in the past.


This blog post is part two of a three-part blog series. Click here to read part one, How to Mend a Broken Corporate Culture. To learn more about the topic of corporate culture, sign up to attend the Chamber’s September Lunch in the Know. Obsidian’s senior account manager, Whitney Albert, will discuss all things corporate culture and provide impactful action items for small business owners and leaders. We hope to see you there!