September 18, 2018

18: Be a Culture Change Agent with Wes Kao

Whether you’re trying to build a high performing team or transform your organization’s culture, you need to be a change agent. When it comes to changing culture, thinking like a marketer can help. In episode 018 I speak with Wes Kao, an expert in marketing, product, and growth, and former Executive Director of Seth Godin’s altMBA. We talk about generating buy-in for bigger culture change work as well as creating a high performing team culture in which people take ownership.

Key Takeaways:

  • Culture is simply ‘how we do things around here.’ It subconsciously impacts how we engage at work – are we proactive, do we take ownership, etc.
  • Changing culture is, in part, marketing. We’re selling ideas to our team members, supervisors, and colleagues.
  • If your values are out of line with those of your organization, (1) move to a different organization or (2) frame your idea in ways where people who are attached to the status quo don’t feel threatened.
  • You want your idea to be new and interesting, not new and scary.
  • Culture change happens person by person. It needs to be continually reinforced.
  • Create a foundation of psychological safety so people are able to share their ideas without feeling foolish.
  • Combine psychological safety with rigor. This means you encourage people to share out-of-the-box ideas knowing that they will be met with a rigorous discussion. That response is not because the ideas are bad or the person was wrong to share them, but because we have a culture of rigor when it comes to debating ideas.
  • In a high performing team, everyone thinks like an owner and is proactive, people care about each other, and people ask question and think critically.

Read the article based on this episode: How Rockstar Managers Tackle Changing Culture

Join the Modern Manager community to listen to the recoding of the bonus Q&A call with Wes. Get additional resources to support your learning journey when you join.

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Seth Godin’s AltMBA:

Twitter: @wes_kao

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