The calamity in and around Uber over the last few months culminating in the resignation of former CEO Travis Kalanick has in parts resembled a blooper reel. A succession of stuff ups that have outsiders wondering how in the world any of it (let alone all of it) could have happened. The thing with these bloopers though, is that are none of them are funny.
Harassment, bullying and theft – behaviours that reflect a culture many have described as highly toxic. Toxic cultures will eventually bring organisations down. It is always only a matter of time and newly appointed Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has a window of opportunity to turn things around. But with thing so bad, where does one start on the cultural transformation journey?
Establishing your organisational culture requires intention, you cannot let it “just happen”. If you allow culture to “just happen” the result is likely a myriad of sub-cultures, many of which are sure to be at odds with what you would want the shared values and beliefs of the organisation to be.
Being intentional about establishing culture requires you to sit down and imagine how the company would look if it were operating at its very best and then spending the time identifying the behaviours and values that are required to get there.
Once a culture has been established and (crucially) communicated Khosrowshahi must embody the associated behaviours and values. He needs to make a decision to live them each day. For employees, drivers, government and the community to truly believe in the culture they need to see leadership live it.
But for a culture to be embodied by the entire organisation, with values led leadership not just a privilege of the c-suite alone, Uber needs to ensure that values inform the experiences and interactions of all employees.
To do this leadership will need to support individuals and teams with frameworks to facilitate the integration of cultural values and behavioural expectations into daily conversations and decision making.
For Khosrowshahi this is a unique opportunity to not only establish and embody a new cultural norm at Uber but with many senior management roles currently open including, CFO, COO, CMO and General Counsel, Khosrowshahi can and must seek to employ leaders whose values reflect that of the culture he is seeking to establish.
The scale of the cultural transformation that must take place at Uber is a daunting task for one person alone. Whilst it is not impossible to change existing employee’s values and behaviours hiring principles that do not compromise on the cultural expectations the organisation has established should increase the pace of cultural change.
Employing the right leaders that will, alongside Khosrowshahi, embody the newly established values and behaviours is critical to his and Uber’s success.
There is no doubt for Khosrowshahi there is a big task ahead but a transformation led by establishing, embodying and employing for a new and values led culture might just be the key to steering Uber in the right direction.