Once thought of as a nebulous, intangible factor within our organizations, culture is now becoming more mainstream. According to a Strategy & Survey, 86 percent of C-Suite respondents believe their organization’s culture is critical to business success. And yet, only 35 percent think their culture is being effectively governed. If culture is so important, we need to find ways to measure it in order to manage it.
I’ve participated in numerous employee engagement surveys. Most of the time they are asking questions about me. Do I know what’s expected of me at work? Do I have the tools and equipment to do my work right? Do I have best friend at work? The information provides a perspective on how individuals work within the organization.
Culture is the result of how the collective work within the organization. Therefore, culture specific assessments are going to give you the perspective of the whole. A good survey tool will give you demographic information which will allow you to look at culture in different locations, levels within the organization, or by function. This is critical, since it’s very difficult to maintain a consistent culture across our organizations. And how do your customers or suppliers experience your culture?
You can learn more about the differences between employee engagement surveys and measuring culture in this report. My observation is that employee engagement is the symptom. What it’s telling us is the degree to which our people have run out of gas. The way to fuel their productivity and passion is to address the root cause, the culture.
The two critical outcomes of measuring culture.
- Get the initial benchmark about your workplace:
- Where are the pockets in your business that are misaligned with the culture needed to drive success?
- How much energy is being spent on unproductive work as a result of negative factors like bureaucracy, information hoarding or lack of accountability?
- Does the leadership team authentically and consistently walk the talk when it comes to the company values?
- How well does the reality of your culture align with your desired culture?
- Measuring cultural change. This is where I see most cultural change programs fail. It takes action to make a change. I experienced this first hand when I was brought in to turn around a business unit. They had previously built several programs with identified areas for improvement. But without a formal change management plan and without consideration of cultural barriers, the plans went nowhere.
More specifically, without incorporating a dashboard to report on the various initiatives and progress (or lack of in these previous cases), a culture change program will fade off into a back corner. The only way to know if the changes you’re putting in place are effective is by doing ongoing monitoring of your culture.
Moving measurement into action
If you’re struggling to bring your strategic plans to life, it’s time to get a handle on the impact your culture is having on your bottom line. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that measuring engagement is a proxy for measuring culture. Our values-based culture measurement tools can demystify culture for you. We can also help you develop the dashboards and project management tools to help you deliver on culture change. Contact us with “tell me more” in the subject line for further details.
“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it”. H. James Harrington