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Moving the Moose

Changing Your Business Culture Can Have an Impact on the Quality of People’s Lives and the Bottom Line.

We all know what a good business culture looks like. Employees enjoy their jobs. They are rewarded and recognized when they accomplish tasks. Supervisors welcome feedback. Meetings are interesting. Everyone is treated fairly. Customers and shareholders are happy. The community is proud to be home to the organization.

This is no joke. Some companies are really like this, and more could be like this if they knew how to change. No one likes a bad culture where employees hate their jobs, aren’t given credit for their accomplishments, and are treated unfairly. Most of us would improve our work environment if we knew how.

Someone described changing a business culture as “moving the moose.” Moose can weigh more than 1,400 lb. They are like guys named Bubba; they do what they want. You move around them. You can’t tell a moose what to do. There are no moose drawn carriages or moose races. If a moose decides to cool off in your backyard swimming pool, you wait until it decides to leave.

Corporate culture is like a moose. Employees have work habits and decision-making protocols that they aren’t even aware of. The work culture is a mass of procedures and social habits that resist change even when those procedures and habits are counterproductive.

There is a Way

Yet, there is a way to change corporate culture. A culture is made up of communication processes. Culture is a way of seeing and doing that is passed down day after day by what we say and how we say it. It is nothing more or less than a collection of communication processes.

If something isn’t communicated it can’t be part of the culture, and this is the key to moving the moose. Communication processes can be accessed and changed one at a time, and eventually the whole culture evolves.

Corporate culture is made up of processes like hiring, training, employee review and open door. Culture resides in the way we hold meetings, deal with grievances, and throw parties. Each social interaction that follows a pattern of behavior is a building block of the culture.

The most productive business cultures encourage the free flow of information and actively solicit feedback. Decision-making at all levels is informed and crucial adjustments for quality and customer satisfaction are made on an ongoing basis.

While this makes perfect sense in the abstract, as individuals imbedded in jobs, we tend to move in the opposite direction. We hoard information and penalize people who disagree with us.

The key to improving most business cultures is changing every communication process to encourage information flow and protect individuals who might be penalized for speaking up about problems or for expressing new ideas.


Benchmarking communication processes at other companies is a good way to start. Pick a process like hiring or employee evaluation and look at what other companies in your field and in other industries are doing. Most organizations are flattered by benchmarking calls and will share more than you expect.

Another great source of ideas for changing communication processes is columns in industry publications. Rock Products has produced columns and articles on management practices, human resource procedures, and internal and external communication.

Over the past 10 years, the Community Relations column has addressed employee newspapers, meetings, email rules, decision-making, communication audits, merit increases, sales interviews, civility, event planning, teambuilding, reward and recognition, social media practices, job interviews, leadership and mission statements. Try picking one process every quarter and research it, redesign it, and implement it.

Some managers will feel threatened by an open communication environment, and hourly employees will be skeptical of changes in their routine, so don’t expect to be thanked for your efforts. Like the moose, people resist change. But changing your business culture can have a profound impact on the quality of people’s lives and on the bottom line.

Thomas J. Roach, Ph.D., has 30 years experience in communication as a journalist, media coordinator, communication director and consultant. He has taught at Purdue University Calumet since 1987, and is the author of “An Interviewing Rhetoric.” He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.