Culture

How to Create a Company Culture Roadmap

Cat DiStasio

HR Expert (& Huge Geek)

12 Feb 2024

culture roadmap.

Whether your workplace is in dire need of a mood boost or you’re simply looking to build upon the hard work you’ve already put in, Cat DiStasio explains why a culture roadmap is key – and how to create one. 
 

A company culture roadmap – also known as a culture change roadmap – is an important tool for intentionally influencing positive changes in organizational culture. A well-planned roadmap can help an organization recover from a toxic culture, proactively manage change, or foster positive elements that already exist, so it’s something nearly every company should have.

There are five basic steps involved in creating a company culture roadmap that aligns with your organization’s values and goals.

  1. Defining intent
  2. Setting and managing expectations
  3. Change management
  4. Authenticity
  5. Engagement

In this article, I’ll examine what each step means, who needs to be involved, and some of the best practices for navigating the process.

Step 1: Defining the intent of culture changes

The first step to mapping your company’s culture journey is to take an honest look at where you’re starting and identify the reason(s) change is needed. Ideally, the objectives for culture change are strategic and supported by key stakeholders in your organization.

Questions to ask:

  • What is the state of our current culture?
  • What does our ideal culture look like?
  • What specifically needs to change to close the gap?
  • What outcomes are you expecting or hoping to see as a result of these changes? 
  • What does success look like?

Step 2: Setting and managing expectations

Perhaps the biggest friction point around cultural change within an organization is the timeline. For companies with a toxic culture, many people may insist on seeing immediate and significant improvements – and there may be ways to satisfy that desire.

However, it’s crucial to acknowledge, and help employees embrace the idea, that sustainable changes take time. Often, leaders can ease the urgency with early and frequent communication about what changes are desired, how your organization will get there and the role each employee plays, as well as important updates about progress along the way.

Best practices to follow:

  • Make a communication plan as part of your culture change roadmap
  • Anticipate friction points and create plans for navigating them
  • Invite employee feedback (criticisms and suggestions) before kicking off new changes

Step 3: Managing the process of cultural change

Most changes, even the positive variety, are at least somewhat painful. Discomfort can stem from confusion or unclear communication about the reasons for and goals of a culture change strategy. Or it might be a symptom of other challenges.

Regardless of your starting point, be careful not to put employees in a ‘hurry up and wait’ type of situation. Even when decisions about programs or personnel are pending, it’s essential that employees understand what is expected of them in the day-to-day or week-to-week operations.

As much as possible, anticipate changes that will create questions and share information before dissent arises. Many companies conduct employee feedback surveys at pivotal milestones during a culture change initiative, and use the insights to navigate the next steps.

Actions to consider:

  • Create smaller task forces, comprised of employees at all levels, to monitor a specific area or category of changes
  • Encourage managers and team leaders to meet one-on-one with team members on a weekly basis to check in about their priorities and challenges
  • Provide informational resources so employees can get quick answers to their questions related to culture initiatives

Step 4: Prioritizing authenticity in meaningful ways

Talking the talk is important. Walking the walk is non-negotiable. Authentic leadership tends to inspire action, and in the case of cultural change, authenticity may help ensure that employees who share the organization’s values and goals will stick around and endure the growing pains to get to the other side.

Earmarks of authenticity:

  • Communicate clearly and concisely
  • Take responsibility for the effects of changes
  • Practice vulnerability, admit mistakes, and ask for help

Step 5: Fostering engagement at all levels

Cultural change often starts with the intent of top leadership but ultimately all employees contribute to the health and strength of company culture. If employees don’t trust or believe in leadership’s plan, success becomes unlikely and a host of new problems may arise.

Strategies to implement:

  • Demonstrate strong, unified leadership
  • Analyze progress and report the results
  • Prioritize collaboration across the organization

Mapping success with a culture change roadmap

The company culture roadmap serves as a crucial guide, outlining the path from your current culture to the desired ideal state. It's not just for organizations with negative cultures; every company can benefit from intentional culture-building.

As an HR leader or internal comms professional, this dynamic tool empowers you to foster collaboration, communication, and adaptability, creating an environment where employees can thrive and contribute to organizational growth.

Embrace the roadmap as a proactive investment in a vibrant workplace, transcending challenges and propelling your organization to new heights of cultural excellence.

 

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