It is great to see Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi take an affirmative step in changing Uber’s culture during his first three months on the job. Through his leadership, Uber surveyed employees asking for their ideas on values and received 1,200 submissions with 22,000 employee votes. This ultimately led to Dara and the leadership team to announce new Uber “cultural norms” or values.
|We build globally, we live locally.
|We are customer obsessed.
|We celebrate differences.
|We do the right thing.
|We act like owners.
|We value ideas over hierarchy.
|We make big bold bets.
Dara’s process of having the leadership team understand the employee experience through employee input follows the Conscious Culture Model and begins the practice of attaining employee buy-in to effective change. I commend him and his team for moving so quickly and ensuring the employee voice was part of the process. Too many leadership teams believe they can create organizational values on their own and they end up finding out what they decided does not sync with the employee experience.
Shifting culture is more like moving a large ship than turning a speed boat. Declaring new values is an important step to shifting culture and yet is only 10% of the work toward changing the culture and behaviors. There are patterns deeply part of Uber culture that will take time to shift and, if no other work is done, this simply becomes a checked box on a PR campaign.
Here are five keys steps that must be followed if Uber wants to create an intentional Conscious Culture.
1. Define behaviors
The key to integrating values into action is being clear about what the values mean. “We do the right thing. Period.” will be interpreted differently. Without stating the behaviors for each value, employees will keep doing what they have been doing. It will be what they know.
Defining behaviors and using employee story video to demonstrate the behaviors will further the progress toward what the leadership team intended.
2. Ensure leadership demonstrates the values and behaviors
In the next few months, every action, behavior and decision made by senior leaders will be observed by employees. It is key that every senior leadership member use each interaction to role model and discuss the new way of being at Uber.
Employees will be watching for evidence that the change is real and not just for show. Many employees will be skeptical. Others may wonder if they will not fit into the new way. These employees can be persuaded over time with enough leadership modeling. Leadership needs to demonstrate that there is one camp, not two.
3. Train managers
The weakest link is often with the mid and lower level managers who are doing their best to meet the goals and needs of the organization. If Uber wants to integrate culture and behavior changes, it is critical to provide manager skill development.
Celebrating differences comes easier to some managers than others and will mean very different things. Increase the odds of long-term success with culture specific manager training.
4. Reinforce the values and behaviors with HR systems.
Wells Fargo showed us that HR systems matter more than posting values in driving culture. Uber can provide methods for managers and employees to recognize each other when exhibiting the behavior changes Uber intended. Use apps that tie recognition directly to organizational values.
Consistent reinforcement over time through HR systems creates the long-term changes needed at Uber.
5. Measure and share results
Set up a customized survey tying it directly into the new culture and behaviors expected and use it for a benchmark going forward. Understand what is shifting and what is not. Ensure the results are shared internally. Understand the regions and managers that need more support. Find the best examples of success. Measure again in six months to see if the desired impact is occurring.
Credit goes to Dara for understanding that quick change was a must – for the company, employees, drivers and customers. Over time, Uber can modify its culture provided they take a long term strategic approach with many reinforcement points. Trust was lost and is a hard thing to earn back. It will take time. I wish Dara and the leadership team success in this important and difficult journey.
At the Conscious Culture Group®, we partner with organizational leaders and employees to create their own unique culture and a great place to work. We build a bridge between the leadership’s vision and the employee experience through customized solutions. Attract, Engage and Retain culture fit employees. Culture is your differentiator. Contact us at [email protected]
Russ Elliot, an expert on organizational culture, is the founder of the Conscious Culture Group®. Passionate about making a difference as a consultant, executive coach, teacher and speaker on organizational culture, Russ creates organizational change through his practical Conscious Culture Model developed from his 32 years of HR experience.
Feel free to reach out to Russ at [email protected].
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