Tips from Famous Leaders on How to Change Workplace Culture

BY Kathy Crosett
Featured image for “Tips from Famous Leaders on How to Change Workplace Culture”

Changing workplace culture doesn’t require prestidigitation, but often, the outcome of your efforts
can be magical. Coming into an organization as a new leader can be tough. It’s also the best time to be upfront about what you want to do, and then putting those changes in place. Tony Sarsam, on taking the helm at Ready Pac Foods, sought advice from successful leaders about changing culture. Here are a few pointers from some well-​known leaders who have walked in your shoes.

Few organizations have a culture that’s more celebrated than the one at Southwest Airlines. Where else can you find flight attendants singing and dancing in the aisles? David Ridley, who served as the airline’s SVP of People Leadership and Development, tells Sarsam that one of his main leadership principles was always to put people first. During his tenure at Southwest, all employees knew they were valued – all day, every day.

J.M. Smucker has long enjoyed a reputation as a company that produces delicious foods purchased by parents who want to serve their families the best. The company, under T.M. Smucker’s leadership, has also been listed in business publications as a superior place to work. What is Smucker’s secret? Hiring for attitude. When faced with a candidate who has great credentials and one who has a great attitude, the person with attitude gets the job. This leadership principle helps Smucker continue a culture of respect and maintain a workplace which is “pleasant and enjoyable.”

At Boston Consulting Group, the mission is to serve other businesses. At this B2B operator, employees are highly valued. In the competitive consulting environment, leader Marin Gjaja wants to keep his employees on board and happy. Continuous training is one way to accomplish that goal. The promise of ongoing training is also a great way to bring in top talent.

As you begin your leadership journey, take time to understand how your company interacts with its customers and what you need from your employees to optimize your mission. Then, explain how you’ll put culture changes in place and track progress to make sure you get there.