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Virtual CHRO: 4 Steps to Shaping Organizational Culture

Virtual CHRO: 4 Steps to Shaping Organizational Culture

When was the last time your team talked about how to shape the organizational culture?  This kind of discussion goes beyond just talking workplace change, effectiveness, leadershipabout what the limits are because of the organizational culture (Read this article, “Your Culture Sucks! Stay Tuned for Details”).

The call to drive results and rapidly execute on strategy is a normal way of life for businesses. Selling products and services, marketing, operations and tackling big challenges are focuses of any meeting agenda. The idea of shaping culture however, becomes a little foggy even for the most brilliant business leaders.

An organizational culture is an intangible factor that can make or break the ability to effectively execute on strategy.  As a result the very idea of shaping culture often seems overwhelming to most.  A deliberate discussion about the culture and how to shape it at the executive level often gets overlooked because of this factor.

The truth is, any organizational culture will form and exist on its own, good, bad or ugly.  But with leadership intervention an organization’s culture can shift and become effective towards achieving overall objectives.

Each organization is different. Every culture has its own history. There are many books, methods, and experts on the topic of shaping organizational culture.  So how do you start shaping culture?

This article is not intended to be a prescriptive program.  But ultimately the idea of shaping culture can be boiled down to some basic steps. Here are 4 steps and series of questions to help jumpstart your thinking on how to shape organizational culture.


Understanding what it is that you want to change is a good first step to any process. Each organizational or departmental culture has its strengths and weaknesses.

Identify the strengths so they can be leveraged and optimized. Take steps to identifying the weaknesses so that they can be influenced to change. Here are some questions that can jumpstart you’re your assessment.

  • Describe the existing organizational culture.
  • How does the existing culture influence strategy?
  • Identify Success Factors. What must the culture be like in order for the organization to be sustainable and competitive in future years?
  • What changes are needed to norms, behaviors, and organizational system to support a new strategy?


This is a critical phase of shaping culture. Identifying what will drive effective change is a critical next step. Giving every employee a compelling vision and reason to make adjustments is where the real change begins.

Think about what methods within your organization that will help reach every employee. Determine the communication channels should be used, the frequency and the message. What organizational tools and systems should be used such as the hiring selection process, job evaluations and rewards or recognitions can be used to reinforce positive change? Here are some questions to get you started.

  • What methods are needed to promote the new norms and behaviors?
  • What organizational systems, tools, and initiatives must be modified to support a new culture? (i.e.: Hiring/Selection strategies, Performance appraisals, leadership development strategy, values statements)
  • Develop an overall cultural transformation plan


Decide how you will implement the change.  Identify how you will engage key stakeholders.  Perhaps there are informal leaders within the organization that can champion the change by positively communicating with others regularly.

Here are questions to help you think through the implementation phase.

  • How will you engage stakeholders? How will you minimize resistance to change?
  • How and when will you implement strategies and techniques identified in the design phase?
  • How and when will you communicate the new expectations?


It is important to monitor progress. Otherwise, how will you know if your plan is working? In addition, it is important to know if your ideal culture is going to be realized and if your plan will positively impact overall organizational objectives.

Here are some questions to ask. This will help you determine measures and understand if adjustments need to be made.

  • How will you know success or failure when you see it?
  • What measures would give an effective picture of success or failure?
  • How will you know when an adjustment needs to be made?

Attempting to shape organizational culture is not for the faint of heart. It takes commitment over the long-term to see success. An effective culture change initiative will have support and long-term commitment from the top leadership.  But shaping organizational culture can be done. It’s like moving Mt. Fiji, it can be done one shovel at a time.


Let us know if you liked what you read in this article.  You can download a FREE checklist highlighting the culture shaping questions asked in this article. Just fill out the short form below and the access link will be emailed to you shortly.

Shaping Culture Roadmap

Fill out this form to download this FREE resource!



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Tresha D. Moreland, MBA, MS, FACHE, SPHR, SSBBP, founder of HR C-Suite, is an HR thought leader in Human Resource Strategic Management. She has held key human resource leadership roles for over 20 years in multiple industries most recently a senior vice president in the healthcare industry. Tresha is the founder and publisher of HR C-Suite ( HR C-Suite is a game changer results-based HR strategy website. It is a first-of-it's-kind site that organizes HR strategy based on desired business result. She has developed a business philosophy of integrating human resources with business strategy, thus creating a hybrid HR leadership approach. This approach enables the leveraging human resources to achieve business results.

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