When Shelley L. Boyce told consultants in November 2008 that she wanted to implement a new company culture by New Year’s, they laughed at her.
“They said, ‘It’s not about just putting in the structural changes; it’s about instilling that and moving that through your entire organization,’” Boyce says. “It’s a multiyear process, much of which gets done in the first year.”
Needless to say, Boyce, founder and CEO of MedRisk Inc., is still working on making the cultural changes that will help MedRisk maintain growth. The provider of workers’ compensation custom claims and medical management solutions reached revenue of more than $100 million in 2008.
Making adjustments to your culture involves a deep reflection on where you are as a company and on marketplace trends. The analysis will help you determine where changes may need to be made.
Boyce has found that a large part of the process is communicating a consistent message to her 250 employees.
Smart Business spoke with Boyce about how to take certain steps to change your culture.
Recognize the need for change. There are turning points in the organization when the CEO really needs to be attuned to what’s going on with their business, their culture, their people, their customers, the marketplace and the marketplace trends.
If you’re balancing all of those things, you should see the storm coming well before it hits and you should reposition yourself to take advantage of the next level of growth.
For us, it sort of was the perfect storm. We realized over a period of time that as we became more successful and competition came in that we really took a hard look at what was driving our growth in the company.
What we realized is what got us to the first $100 million wasn’t going to be the same as what we needed to get to the next $300 million.
We embarked on a process of really understanding and really drilling down on our business, the marketplace, where we were in the business. It took a deep dive into not just our organization and how we ran it but our product offering and our competitors and our customers. Even our customers had changed. They’re much broader and deeper than our customers in the first 14 years in life.
It really is a total inside-out reflection on who you are, what the marketplace (is), has it changed and how do you best position to grow and maintain that leadership position?
Identify how to change. You have to go through your inside-out, top-down analysis to get a sense of what needs to change. The process then becomes setting priorities and allocating resources.
It’s important to take into account that as competition becomes more prevalent in various businesses that you don’t take your approach to change to be like your competitors. You’re the leader for a reason and it’s important that you understand what they’re doing and it’s important that you evaluate what’s going on in the marketplace.
But it’s important that you make your own decisions based on what’s important to your company and based on what you think is important to your customers, not just responding to what you think your competitors are doing.
If you go through that process and you involve the right people to work with you during that process both internally and occasionally get advice from the outside, I think you’ll get the right answers.
Communicate change. Communication and preparation of communication are key.
You cannot overcommunicate. If anything, we as leaders undercommunicate because it’s so prevalent in our minds that we’re communicating with ourselves all day long, but we forget that we’ve got to be more active in our verbal and written communication with our employees.
You need to be not just consistent with your message but how often you deliver the message. You need to have regular frequent communication.
Buy-in is important. People need to understand why the change, what the change will yield and what their role is. ...
As you get larger, you certainly have more challenges than a smaller company when you have a handful of people that you’re communicating with on a regular basis.
I think we’ve (worked on) that internally with our own messaging, whether that’s through our director of employee communications or that’s me and other senior managers presenting at town-hall meetings. Third is through a regular process of establishing communication channels from the senior leaders to extended leaders to then our supervisors and employees. You do that on a regular basis.
We also have a motto at the end of our meetings, no matter what the meeting is, ‘What do we need to communicate and to whom?’ so that we’re making sure we’re clear on a message and we’re clear and consistent. We’re acknowledging who is responsible for getting that message out.
It clearly needs to come from the leader, but not just the leader. The message needs to be really consistent throughout all various levels of the leadership team.
Be patient. Patience is very important and oftentimes challenging. Obviously you do want to get to the end, but what we’ve realized is just as important as reaching the end is going through the process.
While we hurry to rush the change, it’s really the process of the change and going through that transition of change where so much opportunity for growth and improvement for innovation to occur.
In reality, you don’t want to rush through the change for fear of missing some significant opportunity.
It’s a challenge because it’s confusing. People are leaving one spot and going to another, and you don’t have all of your processes well nailed down so there is sort of a cloudy period a period of transition where people are not fully in the new and not fully out of the old. That’s uncomfortable for a lot of folks, but I think working through that makes for a better end result.
How to reach: MedRisk Inc., (800) 225-9675 or www.medrisknet.com