Skip to Content

4 Ways to Clear Cultural Roadblocks

4 Ways to Clear Cultural Roadblocks

Change can be hard. Here's how to build key cultural characteristics that are essential for transformation success.

Thanks to the latest innovations like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), companies now have access to data and insights that enable them to anticipate customer needs, offer proactive solutions, personalize interactions — and do it all at scale.

Realizing the full benefit of these cutting-edge digital technologies won’t happen, however, by simply putting them in place and turning them on. Often, they require people to think, act, and operate in fundamentally new ways. For that reason, the move toward becoming a truly digital organization is arguably more of a cultural shift than anything else. And because people-related challenges lie at the center of most transformation breakdowns, it’s important that we have a way of proactively identifying and addressing common cultural roadblocks. 

The most successful companies get ahead of these challenges by 1) identifying the cultural characteristics and behaviors that will drive future success, and 2) creating the conditions for those behaviors to exist in their organizations.

Our Salesforce experts have tackled this challenge with thousands of customers. Drawing on their experience, our Success Team developed the LEVERS (Leadership, Ecosystem, Values, Enablement, Rewards, and Structure) model, which provides businesses with tangible actions to tap into personal, social, and structural drivers of behavior to create the conditions where transformation can thrive.

Let’s take a closer look at how the LEVERS model can be applied to build key cultural characteristics that are essential for transformation success.

1. Foster trust by being open and accountable

Why it’s important: Trust is foundational to an organization’s ability to successfully transform. Trust builds psychological safety and creates an environment in which team members speak up, share ideas and concerns, and hold each other accountable for delivering on commitments. A lack of openness and trust can give rise to resistance and widespread skepticism during times of change.

Sample LEVERS Strategies for Building a High-Trust Culture:

  • Leadership: Live-stream leadership planning sessions and encourage employees to tune in; doing so builds broader awareness and begins to create a shared commitment for the change vision
  • Ecosystem: Establish a change network to build peer-to-peer accountability for change outcomes
  • Values: Create a “culture pledge” around trust; communicate it broadly and at regular intervals
  • Enablement: Offer training for people managers on transparent leadership practices
  • Rewards: Reinforce the behavior of speaking openly and honestly by rewarding employees who speak up and voice concerns
  • Structure: Establish channels that enable team members to ask questions, provide feedback, and engage in a two-way dialogue 

2. Drive innovation by encouraging employees to take risks

Why it’s Important: Teams that are empowered to take measured risks are more likely to develop new, innovative products and services to meet their customers’ needs. Fear of failure can stifle innovation progress and make it more challenging to experiment with new tools and ways of working.

Sample LEVERS Strategies for Building an Innovative Culture:

  • Leadership: Reward thoughtful risk-taking in public forums (all-hands meetings, leadership communications, etc.)
  • Ecosystem: Establish learning communities to give team members the opportunity to speak openly about failure and share their lessons learned
  • Values: Set up customer listening programs to create the opportunity for team members to hear directly from customers and build empathy through direct experience
  • Enablement: Offer formal training to build new skills and capabilities in innovation methods and approaches (design thinking, jobs theory, etc.)
  • Rewards: Host a hackathon to encourage creativity and testing of new ideas; reward top-voted solutions
  • Structure: Build a lab /physical space dedicated to experimentation and innovation

3. Build organizational agility through collaboration and responsiveness

Why it’s Important: NImble cultures can quickly and flexibly respond to customer needs and adapt to changing conditions in the marketplace. Focused on delivering value early and often, they embody the spirit of continuous improvement and ongoing learning. Organizations with nimble cultures are generally more open, resilient, and responsive to change than their peers, which makes them capable of quickly incorporating and deriving value from new tools and ways of operating.

Sample LEVERS Strategies for Building a Nimble Culture:

  • Leadership: Increase the speed at which decisions are made by empowering teams with greater levels of autonomy and decision-making authority.
  • Ecosystem: Remove organizational silos and promote collaboration by organizing teams into small, cross-functional units. Emphasize team accountability and accomplishments over individual achievements.
  • Values: Organize internal “field trips” to visit teams across other functions, see how they work, and identify new, more nimble ways of collaborating.
  • Enablement: Encourage continuous learning by offering financial support and opportunities to take advantage of individual learning/enablement (e.g., certifications, conference attendance)
  • Rewards: Review existing performance management programs and rewards structures; make changes where needed to ensure that those programs reinforce teamwork, rather than competition. 
  • Structure: Ensure that geographically-distributed teams have the tools they need to collaborate effectively.

4. Help employees be more purpose-driven and aligned

Why it’s Important: Teams that are highly engaged give discretionary effort to get high-quality work done. Engagement stems from feeling the work they do is meaningful and has a positive impact. They are aligned with a shared purpose and common goal which reduces ambiguity and boosts motivation, particularly during times of change. 

Sample LEVERS Strategies for Building a Purpose-Driven Culture:

  • Leadership: Create and consistently communicate a clear vision; when communicating the vision, draw connections to the human impact of the teams’ efforts.
  • Ecosystem: Organize volunteer events and employee interest groups to align team members around a shared purpose.
  • Values: Provide employees autonomy by engaging them to provide input in job crafting and role definition.
  • Enablement: Communicate to highlight, build awareness, and celebrate impactful work happening across the company.
  • Rewards: Recognize and reward purposeful, meaningful work happening at all levels.
  • Structure: Create a blog or other forum for highlighting meaningful work

Remember, culture is an important aspect of your organization’s journey to becoming customer-centric, but it’s not the only one. Take our Digital Readiness Assessment and watch the on-demand webinar: How to Achieve Marketing Excellence by Optimizing Digital Readiness to learn more. 


Get the latest articles in your inbox.