Blog Post

Shaping Culture: Steps for Successful Culture Shaping

Published: Wednesday, July 10, 2019

We like to use the word “shape” at LAK Group because you can’t simply “turn off” the existing culture in an organization and replace it with a new one.  Culture is not like changing a lightbulb where you simply turn off the light, replace the bulb, and then turn the light back on.

Transforming workplace culture is challenging and requires understanding the unspoken rules and unconscious behaviors, testing them, and then shaping them into the desired state.  It is also critical that everyone in the organization not only understands the story (the desired culture), but that they are able to easily write themselves into that story.

Culture change requires a plan for shifting behaviors, active communication of progress, and time for each individual to transition through the change.  In essence, establishing change resiliency within your organization.

We believe there are a set of core elements required for shaping culture in an organization.  These elements include diagnoseunifyactivateintegrate, and sustain.

First, you must diagnose the current state culture and define the desired future state culture you wish to move the organization towards.  Through a thorough assessment process you can understand the current, unique character of your culture and design an approach to define the future culture you hope to achieve.

This assessment has additional benefits.  It can be used in the future to assess programs as you look to shift culture.  It can also be leveraged in merger and acquisition scenarios where you want to compare your current culture to that of another organization.

Utilizing the diagnostic findings and leveraging the leadership team’s comprehensive history and knowledge, you need to create shaping experiences and action plans that unify leaders to drive culture transformation, and develop common employee and leadership behaviors which shape the desired culture.

Everyone needs to be clear on behavioral expectations.  People need to know how to “show up” every day to help shape the culture and engage employees.  They need to understand the overall impact of their actions on themselves, their people, and the system.


Next you need to activate the desired future state culture via “culture shaping” experiences.  These workshops start with top leadership, followed by mid-level leaders, and then flow through the rest of the organization.

This element guides leaders and their teams to specific behaviors aligned with the desired culture, including an integrated communication strategy to support the culture-shaping process.  The desired culture is the new story for the organization … you need to get leaders to “write themselves into the story”.  How are they going to “show up” each day to deliver the desired culture.  This includes a comprehensive change resiliency plan, including tactics for managers to use with their respective teams.

Once the behaviors have been established and leaders understand their role, it is critical to integrate all people processes and systems to align with the desired behaviors.  In this step you identify organization practices, systems, performance drivers and talent processes, and develop action plans to align them with the desired culture.

To ensure sustained success, define reinforcement mechanisms to ensure positive cultural drivers, and new leader behaviors which are embedded in existing systems and processes.  Leverage existing mechanisms, such as engagement surveys and retention data, to identify opportunities for continuous improvement.

Through this process, every employee is involved in at least one experience that clarifies behavioral expectations, and which will shape the future state culture.  This process has a secondary impact in that it helps build a resiliency towards change within the organization.

Shaping culture requires that all aspects of the organization work together.  Organizations who thrive at shaping culture are those best able to align their culture to their overall strategy and integrate internal processes.

LAK Group believes people are the competitive differentiator for organizations and communities.  Our purpose is to transform careers, cultures & organizations from selection through succession.  We partner with companies to create and execute integrated talent strategies which improve business and employee agility and success.


About the Author


As a managing partner at LAK Group, Mike Grubich brings more than 25 years of global leadership experience that enhances the performance of the organizations, individuals, teams and leaders he serves.

Mike helps organizations think strategically in order to move from concepts to practical implementation in all areas, from selection to succession. He provides consultation and coaching to senior leaders in order to help them move their businesses forward with an effective understanding of the business and the culture of the organization.

Prior to joining LAK Group, Mike served in several global thought and operational leadership roles at Aurora Healthcare, CNH Industrial, Kohler Co., and Jockey International. During this time, he led a variety of human resources functions, including Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition, Succession Management, Learning and Development, Assessment Change Management, Strategic Planning and Engagement Practices.

Mike holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Northern Illinois University and earned his Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Lake Forest Graduate School of Business. Outside of work, Mike serves as Secretary, Board of Directors for Special Olympics in Wisconsin and is the Board Chair for Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Marquette University’s College of Business administration.

Phone: 262-786-9200






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