2021 is spelled out in fireworks.

We are (finally) done with 2020. The turning of the calendar year provides a natural fresh start. At Brighter Strategies encourage clients to take a step back and observe their culture. Where are you now, and where do you want to go in 2021? What changes do you want to make, and what is your action plan for doing so?

Below we examine how to set a new vision for your culture in the year to come.

The role of culture vision in brand

Your people, planning, process, and performance practices are the internal arteries that feed your organization’s external image. This image draws loyal stakeholders from employees to funders who want to align themselves with a healthy organization with a thriving mission. Culture is the key to ensuring your brand truly reflects what you want your organization to be.

Look at the brand you project today and consider the following:

  • Are you proud of your brand?
  • Does your image accurately reflect your core values?
  • Is your image different from those of your competitors?
  • Has your brand changed during the past 12 months? If so, are you pleased with the ways in which it has adapted to disruption?

Your brand is a meaningful benchmark of your agency’s culture. The answers to the above questions will help guide your culture change strategy in the New Year.

The impact of habits on culture

Once you set your nonprofit’s culture priorities, the next step is to change the behaviors that create that culture. Neuroscience expert and director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, David Rock, says that everyday habit changes are necessary for lasting culture transformation. Rock’s research shows that culture change initiatives do not fail due to poor strategy, insufficient planning, or a lack of investment, but rather because of the unwillingness of people to evolve.

How can you work with your employees to make small yet significant behavior changes in the coming year and ensure your organization meets its newfound culture goals?

  • Start at the top. First and most importantly, your agency’s leadership must model the behaviors you wish to become cultural norms in your organization. Your culture consists of the shared beliefs and values established by your leaders and communicated throughout the organization, ultimately shaping employees’ behaviors and perceptions.
  • Create learning opportunities. Rock calls these “aha moments,” insights fostered by strong motivation. You can design opportunities for habit change by explaining the evidence for change and bolstering the charge for change with storytelling.
  • Audit your skills inventory. A culture refresh may require some reskilling and upskilling, especially as you look at the significant disruption 2020 wreaked on your workforce. Beyond habit changes, consider what new skills your employees will require if your agency is to be successful in its culture change efforts.

The ability of systems to change culture

Creating plans and changing habits will only scratch the surface of culture transformation if your underlying organizational systems do not drive your vision. Systems thinking is the philosophy that everything in your organization is interconnected. If one part is broken, your agency’s overall performance and ability to achieve your mission are affected.

Brighter Strategies takes a systems approach to all of our organizational development work. We assess how your systems are operating. Then, we recommend strategies for greater effectiveness, and provide the training and support needed to get there. Contact us today to learn how our approach will help you move toward sustainable culture change in 2021.