How would you define your organization’s core culture? Successfully making your corporate culture stronger and better requires that you know where you’re starting from. Corporate culture is made up of multiple components, including the CEO’s vision and strategy. It’s influenced by details like its fiscal strength, press coverage, the signing of a major contract, or hiring a new CEO.
Culture, in turn, influences which employees fit in well and which get ahead, and affects overall staff morale. Managerial styles go into the making of an organization’s culture, as does the organizational pace. Is the environment highly dynamic, or are all changes carefully considered and weighed (perhaps due to the influence of industry or government regulations, for example)? And how are decisions made? Do multiple layers of decision-makers weigh in, or are decision-makers more autonomous?
Why Is Culture Important and Who Should Assess It?
Organizational culture has always been important, but how it operates has changed dramatically in one generation. Rare today is the company where an entry level person hires on straight out of school, then steadily climbs the ranks for 30 or 40 years, collecting a gold watch upon retirement. The workforce is more dynamic, and attracting and retaining top talent requires a strong corporate culture and an understanding of why it is the way it is. Just about anyone can assess an organization’s culture, but naturally viewpoints will be biased. Ideally, multiple leaders should evaluate multiple aspects of corporate culture to be able to define it accurately.
Measure Culture from Multiple Angles to Get a Comprehensive View
The health and vitality of your culture are influenced by five essential component cultures making up the overall culture. All of them must be measured with honesty and candor:
• Capability (“Can Do”) Culture – which is the development of both inner (character- and values-based) and outer (skills-based) competencies at all levels for maximum organizational effectiveness.
• Commitment (“Will Do”) Culture – which informs how motivated leaders and employees are, how strong their senses of purpose and commitment are, and what reasonable risk-taking means within the organization.
• Alignment (“Must Do”) Culture – which indicates how well aligned goals of different levels and departments are, which key roles are identified and assigned, and how strongly people feel compelled to work at a high level.
• Individual Performance Culture – which includes aspects like role models and mentoring, how well leaders walk the talk, and how open leaders and other employees are about receiving feedback from others.
• Team Performance Culture – which indicates to what extent collaboration and teamwork go into getting things done. Do individuals understand how their contributions make a difference? Do operational “siloes” get in the way?
None of these component cultures should be left out or given short shrift in the measurement and assessment of your organizational culture.
What You Gain from Measuring Corporate Culture
Corporate culture is a primary determinant of operational success, and when you honestly measure and evaluate your company culture, you learn your strengths and where opportunities for improvement exist. You learn whether your organization needs to be more innovative, more collaborative, more customer-focused, or less married to outdated ways of doing things. Once you learn where the opportunities for improvement exist, you have what you need to map out the successful, vibrant culture of your organization’s future as well as the steps it will take to get you there.
Your organization has a culture whether you understand it or not. Failing to understand a corporate culture that has developed haphazardly, in a reactionary manner is a sure recipe for defeat. The great news is that you can make substantial changes to organizational culture that will help orient everyone in the same direction and motivate them to excel.
But before you can figure out where you’re going and how to get there, you have to know where you are, and that’s why measuring organizational culture is so vital. The most important principle you can take into the task of assessing corporate culture is honesty: being willing to see your culture as it is, not as it used to be and not as you wish it were. I invite you to have a look at my books on culture and leadership to learn more. Also, have a look at our 5 Cultures of Culture Assessment (5CCA), which will give you an accurate, honest calibration of the 5 essential cultures that define your culture. Corporate culture is simply too important to neglect, but the important thing is that you and your team have tremendous power in shaping it for the brightest future possible.