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How Diversity Officers Can Promote Culture Change with HR Analytics

You can't ask everyone at once to find out what an organization's employees think. You can learn more about your company's culture and identify key team members, and the ways to make it better by looking at how people interact with one another. It's challenging to change "the way we do things around here."


Because it reflects people's values—what they believe to be proper, attractive, and good—it can be challenging to change an organization's culture. The issue might get worse because of certain relationships. Your employees are more likely to be closed to new ideas and to remain in their current modes of thought if they participate in unofficial groups with people who share and support your views.

But it's not necessary for this to be the case in every circumstance. Many executives aren't aware of this, in part because traditional HR functions of company culture are focused on finding similarities rather than differences. As a result, HR teams may be able to use those same networks to help them identify and get past cultural change roadblocks as well as find new allies.
Employees answer questionnaires on their standards, behaviors, norms of conduct, and views in order to determine the company's position on many problems. This is a typical approach to handling human resources.

In-depth interviews and personas could also be used to demonstrate how the values of "ordinary" employees influence their behavior. This is because, despite the fact that these talent management techniques can demonstrate how individuals share similar viewpoints, they do not demonstrate how individuals hold views that diverge from their own.

Therefore, executives need to know where the pockets of 3, 5, 1, and 2 scores are located rather than settling for an average score, like a 4, and even clusters of 1 and 2. They can handle a given value more effectively in this way. People need to know who they are meeting up with and where they are meeting up in order to embrace new cultural goals.

A fantastic technique to find out more about this is to combine survey data with organizational network analysis. You can get a look inside a corporation by mapping the patterns of interaction there.

In a network, you can see who is isolated by silos, who is on the outside looking in, who is a thought leader, and who can connect individuals and mix various ideas. All of this will improve CDO's ability to alter how employees work.

Over the previous five years, at least 40 executives have employed this tactic in their human resource management. Three academics have studied this: Rob Cross, Michael Arena, and Peter Gray. They previously examined what was effective and came up with five strategies for persuading individuals through unstructured networks to alter their behavior.

1. Identify and investigate your team's diversity


Organizational culture, in general, relates to how the entire organization feels, thinks, and behaves. However, each subcategory has its own culture, including functions, divisions, and geographic areas. Leaders frequently consider the corporate culture as they carry out their duties. For instance, the CEO considers the entire business, while other senior executives consider their own divisions, and so on.

Formal organizational structures, however, largely have no influence on culture. Additionally, subnetworks of individuals who, for instance, represent a portion of a formal unit or are dispersed across numerous other units, shape and maintain it. This means that in the future, leaders who can identify the variety of values present in various cultural subnetworks will be far more equipped to support or alter these subcultures.

Think about the following. Top executives from a large consumer products corporation that had acquired another business were asked to identify the most crucial objective for the new organization. The findings were published in Consumer Reports. Instead of reaching agreement, the group produced a list of 18 additional top objectives, some of which were quite dissimilar to one another.

Then, an organizational network analysis and a culture survey were conducted, and workers were questioned regarding which issue was most crucial to them. The most popular choice was to significantly develop already-existing brands, but there wasn't agreement on how to proceed. Leaders used network big data to understand more about how people's informal interactions influenced their feelings rather of concentrating on it as a unifying topic (as would be expected after a normal culture study).

This demonstrated that there were two potential paths for change. The first study focused on powerful individuals with strong opinions that were distinct from those of their surroundings. These individuals were considered well-connected cultural outliers. The leaders advised those who adore branded goods to interact with those who don't conform to societal norms in order to comprehend their issues.

The group might then hear about their enthusiasm for and success with branded goods. When outliers witnessed how passionately others felt about a brand, it frequently caused them to reconsider their opinions and transform into more useful collaborators, and it occasionally made brand aficionados more conscious of their blind spots.

Another example, a product manager who was a big lover of a popular food brand found it irksome that she only received a limited amount of money each year for major promotional events. Even though they had a fantastic return on investment, many of these enterprises were getting denied funding.

Many of his subordinates' funding decisions, including her own, were significantly influenced by a well-connected senior manager in the division's finance department. Before looking at the network and cultural analysis data, she was unaware of this.

After that, the product manager invited the finance manager to a cooking contest that the company had sponsored, where customers could submit dishes that creatively and innovatively utilised the company's product. Many people from the networks of both managers would attend while a group of tasters reviewed the dinners.

The finance manager witnessed firsthand how much consumers enjoy the product and how highly his staff thought it was regarded while attending the fun and occasionally noisy meeting. He had previously believed the product to be outdated, but the product manager's relaxed demeanor caused him to reconsider. After a short while, he started to change his perspective. His choices were more in keeping with the cultural objective of promoting expansion in well-established enterprises.

When they got a second chance to modify the culture, leaders tried to make subnetwork disparities seem like signals of distinct goals rather than signs of good or wrong. They were unconcerned about right and wrong.

Executives worked with each subnetwork to see how it could aid the firm in achieving its long-term objectives rather than attempting to persuade any of them to change their minds. Leaders were able to determine who was most linked in each subnetwork using network data. They wanted to bring them together so they could brainstorm ideas that their friends and coworkers would find appealing.

Some subnetworks were instructed to continue in the path they were on. In one instance, this required assembling a team of workers who were enthusiastic about developing brands that were significantly different from those of their peers in the product category.

Professionals in the domains of materials science, product development, and market research were asked to use their expertise in these areas to investigate novel ideas unrelated to currently available products. Their actions were viewed as a complement to the overall plan rather than a departure from it. As a result, the new team was able to take chances while still relying on the support of individuals who were more interested in marketing already-established brands.

2. Identify your key team members


The fact that people in managerial roles significantly influence the culture of their organizations has long been known. To make sure that their communications are persuasive, they spend a lot of time and effort developing strong justifications for important new concepts or behavioral demands. The leadership structure is then used by them to either directly or indirectly communicate these signals to the workforce.

Our study shows that informal leaders, along with formal leaders, are also involved in cultural reform. Informal influencers exist within a firm and are quite important, but they frequently don't get the credit they deserve. A top-down approach is far slower and less productive than asking for help from them.

Leaders routinely communicate with their staff through off-site meetings. They gather them for discussions on topics like values or goals. They might also work for forward-thinking companies.
Workplace networking



People who view their contributions as essential may work for these companies. Despite the fact that these changes provide the appearance that a firm is more inclusive, our research reveals that many businesses ignore at least half of the true cultural influences because they think they are unimportant.

This is a huge error. Through casual conversations, most employees learn about the company culture. They keep an eye on the important employees, the topics they must be interested in, and "how we do things here."

The power of network influencers is also very strong in conversations of this nature. Senior and senior-level staff members, including CEOs, usually have close relationships with people at the top of the organization but less with those at the bottom. Some people are unable to rise very far in the power structure, despite the fact that they may hold a great deal of informal authority.

A section of a well-known manufacturing company with 1,100 employees was the focus of our investigation, and we discovered that among them, 60% had ties to the top 50 informal influencers. Only 31% of the total were among the top 50 senior executives. In "Formal vs. Informal Influence," more information is provided. In order to make meaningful changes, why would you invest time and money in a group that only had a fourth of the other organization's reach?

Informal influencers may come together to initiate widespread efforts that have a chance of success in circumstances when top-down tactics are unlikely to be successful. Real-world circumstances can alter how things operate.

When a huge bank attempted to create new customer-focused technology, challenges were created by the efforts of several divisions to elevate their own work while undervaluing that of other divisions. Leadership teams used network data to identify 80 informal influencers in four areas: technical infrastructure, software development, marketing, and customer service.

After then, it was suggested that these powerful people help launch a cultural revolution. They were hired because they were trusted and well-liked at home and because they also knew powerful people in related fields. Additionally, the company found a group of disgruntled customers who represented untapped markets that the bank was unable to yet touch.

These customers included a young person from the gig economy who worked from home without a wallet, a small business owner, and others. The leaders used design thinking to organize a program that brought together people who influence people and people who buy products.

Eight-person groups were formed over numerous sessions (comprising two people from each functional area). Each team had to handle a customer who objected to what they were doing. The team's perspectives quickly changed when the customer joined the room.

Instead of pointing fingers at one another to avoid taking responsibility, the team members were forced to learn more about the top needs and wants of the client. They instantly started thinking about additional goods and services that the bank might offer by posing the hypothetical question, "What if?" The most essential thing these classes did was to let people realize how vital their coworkers were to the project, which was helpful to many people.

He asked the question he had been holding back from asking at last. What adjustments may be made to the bank's culture to encourage this customer-centered innovation? Attendees saw how much stronger they were as a group after spending the entire day working with people from different occupations and places. Despite the workshops using different wording, many of the responses conveyed a desire for the same things: consideration for others' viewpoints, shared responsibility for performing well in competition, and shared ownership of the customer experience.

Because they took part in these seminars, the unofficial influencers felt a connection to the principles they created together. They spoke with their staff members about these ideas during the next weeks and months. They made comments about how happy they were with the fresh opportunities that had come their way, and this motivated some other people to view cross-functional cooperation in a different light.

The project manager for the change stated, "We've tried design thinking projects based on client demands in the past, but they have always failed." But this time, it worked. The success of this effort required that the most important people be identified and brought together.

3. Make Observation of Unconscious Tensions


Long-time change project leaders have been advised to build a powerful steering coalition that can overcome employee resistance to change. But it's simpler to say than to actually do that. The expression "death by a thousand cuts" describes how a company's reform attempts can be stifled by minor, undetected conflicts everywhere.

It could be beneficial to evaluate network and cultural data with the appropriate workforce analytics tools to carry out one of the responsibilities of Diversity Officers. This might make it easier for CEOs to handle these problems in the future.

The data scientists investigated a technical company and discovered that it struggled to promote cultural change and identify the root causes of resistance. Despite the CEO's best efforts, fewer people spoke up because they were terrified of having their beliefs publicly rebuked. Nothing was affected by this.

When a new CEO assumed control, he gave culture new attention. This time, the objective was to make disagreement and discussion beneficial rather than damaging. When network and cultural data were integrated, there were two different kinds of issues. toxic misalignments—where cultural influencers with vastly different beliefs cooperated in an unfavorable way—and unresolved standoffs—where cultural influencers had positive relationships but differed on crucial cultural principles.

Some people believed it was wrong to sell client information to outside parties, but others contended that doing so helped other businesses advertise more successfully. The fact that there is much disagreement over how to make money from user data is one of the problems. The first thought the second was ethically wrong, and the second thought the first's remarks were offensive.

After that, their debate escalated into meetings and other contacts that had little to do with the monetization of data and hampered progress on many other fronts.

She read the remarks in this case out loud, and they had a lot more in common than anyone could have guessed. Instead of having to choose between doing what was best for customers and the company, there was a lot more conflict.

Nobody was intending to take advantage of customers, but different people had different ideas about what was right and wrong. The next step was to consider how to maximize client gains from data exchange while yet protecting client privacy. Since they both agreed on the essential idea of treating customers with respect, their debate had a beneficial outcome.

A highly trained individual who assists others, such as a marriage counselor, is aware that breaking a deadlock by invoking a higher shared value can be effective—but only after determining where there is a value discrepancy and who is on which side of it.

Network analytics can be used to determine who the key players in a dispute are and where they are located. They are never concentrated in one location, occupation, or area; they are always dispersed throughout the network. It is also possible to determine the types of interactions the influencers have with people based on how they connect with them using HR analytics tools like Slack analytics platforms like Pavooq. Then, the organization's weak links can be found and fixed by the leaders.

Standoffs include people who have nothing to dislike but disagree on a cultural principle that hinders their capacity for productivity. The three distinct operations of organizational development, process improvement, and software development were integrated into one unit in the same technical corporation following a restructuring. The restructure was the reason of this. The new unit made little headway on the projects it had pledged to work on jointly after six months of collaboration.

The three of them disagreed on what the most crucial project they could do together was. Technology, business processes, or people should come first. The functional groups created their organizations, developed their strategies, and hurled partial answers over the transom at their rivals because they were unable to advance.

The individuals in these groups got along well with one another personally, but they struggled to understand why others didn't share their viewpoints.

The unit leader assembled a workshop where they could share their experiences after deciding on a group of persons who were significant to them. In this essay, he discussed how each component of a fictitious project ought to act as a leader occasionally. After that, he divided the group into teams with various skill sets so they could examine actual contacts that differed greatly from the model he had provided them.

4. Encourage Positive Feelings


Most people who employ conventional techniques for cultural transformation believe the procedure to be logical: The purpose of creating new values and educating employees about them is to persuade individuals to accept new working practices through the use of compelling arguments, personal narratives, and examples from real-world situations. However, our research indicates that people connect in ways that make them feel connected, and that is how culture spreads most effectively.

When trying to persuade their employees to accept sound cultural concepts, people who can make them feel good do quite well. According to the study, employees at a petrochemical company's R&D department were far more inclined to adopt cultural goals if their managers shared them with them via a supportive, energizing network connection.

After realizing this, the company began educating its first-level managers on how to improve as "energizers." They learned how to communicate with people about genuine possibilities that caught their attention and hearts, as well as how to assist them understand how their actions contributed to a greater good. The team members were far more receptive to the new cultural values nine months after the first significant HR metrics were acquired.

Fear or rage are negative emotion elicitors that are better at propagating harmful cultural norms while limiting the spread of positive ones. A large technology company's business unit leaders obtained network information on the individuals with whom respondents were reluctant to discuss novel concepts or opposing viewpoints.

The remainder of the company was then informed of the findings. The top executive was upset as soon as he viewed the data and declared, "We have a fear-based culture." Even though he had great talent, many people were hesitant to speak out for him out of concern that doing so would make them look foolish in front of their coworkers or supervisor. As a result, the company's capacity for innovation, willingness to take calculated risks, and market presence have all suffered.

According to the research, the majority of employee anxieties were caused by less than 5% of top executives and 8% of well-known specialists. No participants in the study were given a name by Peter Gray, Rob Cross, or Michael Arena. Leaders of the organization and specialists in the field in general were informed of the findings.

A deal was struck following a series of discussions regarding how tasks were assigned, input was sought, counsel was offered, and issues were resolved. A series of training courses for all leaders and professionals—not just those who incite fear—were held shortly after (whose identities were kept anonymous).

Leading experts practiced active listening and dispute resolution techniques, while other experts learned how to influence their followers without coercing them. People who participated in peer-group follow-up sessions and stayed in touch with their accountability partners were more likely to follow through on their commitments.

The 80 employees who expressed the most fear were identified by name in the research. Despite making up only 2% of the group, they claimed that dread permeated practically all of their interactions. To begin with, it was necessary to identify these employees. Even if they are unaware of it, terrified individuals perpetuate a culture of dread through storytelling.

To make everyone more responsible, leaders created additional guidelines, such as prohibiting the spread of rumors and gossip. The employees who were terrified received direct counseling from them as well, which helped them realize how disproportionate their responses were. This calmed the network as a whole because their thoughts often have an effect on the individuals around them.

5. Include the Necessary Time for Progress


Most people who employ conventional techniques for cultural transformation believe the procedure to be logical: The purpose of creating new values and educating employees about them is to persuade individuals to accept new working practices through the use of compelling arguments, personal narratives, and examples from real-world situations. However, our research indicates that people connect in ways that make them feel connected, and that is how culture spreads most effectively.

When trying to persuade their employees to accept sound cultural concepts, people who can make them feel good do quite well. According to the study, employees at a petrochemical company's R&D department were far more inclined to adopt cultural goals if their managers shared them with them via a supportive, energizing network connection.

After realizing this, the company began educating its first-level managers on how to improve as "energizers." They learned how to communicate with people about genuine possibilities that caught their attention and hearts, as well as how to assist them understand how their actions contributed to a greater good. The team members were far more receptive to the new cultural values nine months after the first significant HR metrics were acquired.

Fear or rage are negative emotion elicitors that are better at propagating harmful cultural norms while limiting the spread of positive ones. A large technology company's business unit leaders obtained network information on the individuals with whom respondents were reluctant to discuss novel concepts or opposing viewpoints.

The remainder of the company was then informed of the findings. The top executive was upset as soon as he viewed the data and declared, "We have a fear-based culture." Even though he had great talent, many people were hesitant to speak out for him out of concern that doing so would make them look foolish in front of their coworkers or supervisor. As a result, the company's capacity for innovation, willingness to take calculated risks, and market presence have all suffered.

According to the research, the majority of employee anxieties were caused by less than 5% of top executives and 8% of well-known specialists. No participants in the study were given a name by Peter Gray, Rob Cross, or Michael Arena. Leaders of the organization and specialists in the field, in general, were informed of the findings.

A deal was struck following a series of discussions regarding how tasks were assigned, input was sought, counsel was offered, and issues were resolved. A series of training courses for all leaders and professionals—not just those who incite fear—were held shortly after (whose identities were kept anonymous).

Leading experts practiced active listening and dispute resolution techniques, while other experts learned how to influence their followers without coercing them. People who participated in peer-group follow-up sessions and stayed in touch with their accountability partners were more likely to follow through on their commitments.

The 80 employees who expressed the most fear were identified by name in the research. Despite making up only 2% of the group, they claimed that dread permeated practically all of their interactions. To begin with, it was necessary to identify these employees. Even if they are unaware of it, terrified individuals perpetuate a culture of dread through storytelling.

To make everyone more responsible, leaders created additional guidelines, such as prohibiting the spread of rumors and gossip. The employees who were terrified received direct counseling from them as well, which helped them realize how disproportionate their responses were. This calmed the network as a whole because their thoughts often have an effect on the individuals around them.

Original article