Merge's Blog

Five ways to jump start a culture shift in your organization

Earlier this week, my professional colleague and buddy Michael Kerr wrote a guest piece titled Creating culture shift.  I promised he’d be back with a follow-up piece and here it is – five ways to jump-start a cultural shift in your organization.

Here are five ways to help you jump start a cultural shift in your organization:

  1. Focus on the Important Stuff: Within less than a year the Denmark supermarket chain Irma transformed their culture (and saved their business) when the CEO decided to try a revolutionary new approach: putting people first. To achieve that goal the company focused on three areas: Leadership training based on personal development, open communication (including a very personal and heartfelt weekly newsletter that helped build trust and openness), and celebrating positive results. And yes, within less than a year Irma became profitable and today is recognized as one the best workplaces in Denmark and the best retailer to work for in Europe.       
  2. Do a Values Blitz: AFA JCDecaux transformed their culture within six months by relentlessly focusing in outrageous ways on each one of their four core values a week at a time, cycling through a different value each week, then repeating the process from the start, until all four values became engrained into everyone’s behaviours.
  3. Create a 3-in-3 Culture Challenge: Challenge every employee and every team to do three things in the next three months to build a stronger, more inspiring culture.
  4. Take a VCR Approach: Make it visual; communicate relentlessly; recognize and reward success. Use signs, posters, badges, buttons, bumper stickers, mascots…whatever it takes to create a visual reminder of the desired changes or goals; communicate success stories on a consistent basis (open meetings with a “culture moment” or create a story section on your intranet);  and reward and recognize employees and teams who model the desired behavior.
  5. Make it Fun. As I stress in my latest book, The Humour Advantage: Why Some Business are Laughing all the Way to the Bank, being intentional about making the entire process fun and injecting more humour into your workplace will not only help you drive success, it also reflects a truly inspiring, successful culture. 

Would love to hear your experiences.  What have you observed that works well when trying to create, maintain or shift the culture of an organization?  Share your examples, and if you have additional ideas to add to Mike’s five, please contribute those as well.

Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame business speaker who is listed as one of Canada`s most in-demand speakers.  Michael travels the world researching, writing and speaking about inspiring workplace cultures and the role humor plays in driving outrageous results.  His newest book, due out January, 2015, is called “The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses are Laughing all the Way to the Bank.” Reach Mike at

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