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How You Change Culture

The most straightforward method to effect cultural change is by swiftly removing individuals who resist the desired culture. 


You might hate Elon Musk, but he demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach on Twitter, reinforcing a lesson I learned in my CIPD course. Unfortunately, I regret not saving the case study, and I appeal to anyone currently studying Level 7 to share it with me.


While terminating employment contradicts the idea of being compassionate employers and may briefly jeopardise reputation (fleetingly, given our tendency to swiftly shift focus to the next scandal), it remains the quickest, easiest, and most cost-effective way to instigate cultural change. I know you don't like this approach but hear me out. 


Let me share a memorable case study etched in my mind: Consider a UK local council aiming for a culture change aligned with leadership style.


  1. HR conducts surveys on every employee's perception of their direct line manager and leader.

  2. HR presents findings to managers and leaders, establishing new criteria for behaviour and leadership style.

  3. HR provides extensive training and guidance to managers and leaders, informing them of a subsequent employee survey in three months to gauge change.

  4. HR surveys employees again, offering further guidance based on the findings.

  5. Six months post-training, HR conducts another survey, warning leaders of potential Performance Improvement Plans (PIP) for those showing no improvement. Continued coaching is provided.

  6. HR surveys employees again, initiating PIP for those not meeting criteria, and offering support.

  7. After 12 months, HR surveys employees once more, terminating employment for those failing to meet organisational requirements.


Whilst I appreciate this approach as it shows care, and support, and is being fair it takes ages and probably costs a fortune. I also understand that the law requires such thorough actions and I fully support that. Otherwise, we know the scale of organisational misconduct. 


The lesson drawn is that culture and behaviour change is a formidable challenge; when the law permits, swift removal of those opposing the desired culture proves the fastest and most economical route. In countries where employee protection is stringent, cultural change becomes arduous, as people are the culture, and changing them is HAAAARRRDDD.



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