How To Change Company Culture By Literally ‘Burying The Hatchet’

Learning how to change company culture to foster a more positive environment isn’t easy. This is especially so if division in the ranks is to blame for a negative atmosphere.

This brings me to a great example of how to change company culture by literally burying the hatchet.

Relations between two departments had deteriorated badly over the years. One was a state government agency, the other from the private sector. The culture of these two “partners” could not have been more different.

At a team-building workshop, top managers from both sides decided to “bury the hatchet.”

They bought a large, new hatchet at the hardware store in town. On one side, the government agency wrote their festering complaints. On the other, the private sector group wrote their protests, moans and grumbles.

After agreeing to work more positively in the future, both sides held a ceremony on the lawn. With photographers present, they dug a deep hole and literally “buried the hatchet.” This symbolic ritual sent a strong, positive signal that the past was past. Both sides took responsibility for the future.

Can you see these two teams standing next to a pile of fresh dirt? Can you hear their pledge to start again anew? Can you feel the commitment as they walked away from a ceremonial hole in the ground?

They took a positive step to learn how to change company culture for the better by acknowledging problems in the open and vowing to move forward.

Key Learning Point For How To Change Company Culture

To overcome old wounds and learn how to change company culture you may need to work on a symbolic level.

Action Steps For How To Change Company Culture

Think about where your partnerships could be improved. Find a common phrase that captures the solution: “bury the hatchet,” “patch things up,” “water under the bridge.” Perform a ceremonial rite or ritual that engages everyone in a gesture of new work and healing.


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Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Used with permission. Ron Kaufman is the world’s leading educator and motivator for upgrading customer service and uplifting service culture. He is author of the bestselling “Uplifting Service” book and founder of Uplifting Service. To enjoy more customer service training and service culture articles, visit

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