The Insider’s Guide to Culture Change | Siobhan McHale

Summary of: The Insider’s Guide to Culture Change: Creating a Workplace That Delivers, Grows, and Adapts
By: Siobhan McHale


Are you ready to transform your company’s weak culture into a high-performing, customer-centric environment? In ‘The Insider’s Guide to Culture Change’, Siobhan McHale details her experience as head of transformation at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) and presents a four-step culture disruptor program for adapting to today’s rapidly changing world. Gain insights into diagnosing your organization’s current culture, reframing employee roles, breaking negative embedded patterns, and maintaining long-lasting change to achieve remarkable results.

Building a Strong Company Culture

Gallup reports that disengaged employees deliver a fraction of what they’re capable of achieving. Weak company cultures lead to unhappy employees, which hurts sales, profits, and revenue. Building a strong company culture is vital to survival, regardless of the company’s size or age. The key is to create a culture that aligns with the workforce’s values, reflects how employees view their roles, and optimistically addresses the perception of how things work within the company. Ultimately, creating a culture that engages and energizes employees is the cornerstone of a high-performing, market-dominating company.

ANZ’s Transformation Journey

Siobhan McHale, the ex-head of transformation at ANZ, shares how she and her team transformed ANZ, Australia’s worst performing financial institution earlier, in the early 2000s, to the world’s top-performing bank. Through McHale’s leadership, her team worked with the CEO and his executives to revitalize ANZ’s sinking culture, which was plagued by a lack of transparency, a bad reputation with customers, and a poisonous employee culture. McHale emphasizes that culture change can be challenging as organizations may have to give up their once successful ways.

ANZ Bank’s Culture Transformation

ANZ Bank’s successful culture transformation provides valuable insights into change management. According to Harvard professor John Kotter, almost 70% of business change initiatives don’t deliver viable benefits. However, ANZ’s “culture disruptor” program, developed in four steps, enabled the bank to become the “bank with the human face.” McHale and her colleagues’ efforts demonstrate that successful change management can combat employee disengagement and increase business value.

Cracking the Mold of a Dysfunctional Corporate Culture

ANZ’s previous change efforts worsened their issues until a new cultural path was embraced. Senior executives were responsible for every decision, leaving frontline employees helpless in handling customer complaints, and customers blamed those employees for their problems. To diagnose your corporate culture, spend time in the workplace, speak with employees, and don’t rush to implement solutions. Measure feedback, morale, and recognition for performance, and identify major co-created patterns to shape a positive employee culture.

ANZ’s previous change attempts had been unsuccessful, aggravating the bank’s issues even further, with old customs, patterns, assumptions, and habits being incredibly challenging to change. The consultants from McKinsey & Company had already identified issues for ANZ to address, and McHale substantiated that these concerns were poisonous. Employees’ rude, unprofessional, or indifferent conduct was the leading cause of customer irritation, thus harming ANZ’s reputation and goodwill with the community as they suffered from a lack of transparency and branch closures. The senior executives’ command-and-control behavior left customers waiting for basic answers to their questions, and frontline employees were prohibited from making any decisions, inflaming the situation even more. Inevitably, customers began to blame the employees for all their banking problems, further alienating them from the company.

To diagnose a corporate culture correctly, leaders should take the time to talk to employees and spend time in the workplace. Rushing into implementing solutions is not advisable without first ensuring that the proposed ideas will work. To ensure that the right data is acquired, speak to people with differing perspectives. Pay attention to feedback, morale, and recognition for superior performance, as these “soft factors” can have a significant impact. Successful transformation requires identifying the significant patterns that shaped the employee culture – if you can identify these, you can begin to change the culture.

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