Measuring an organization’s culture can be challenging. While some parameters can be clearly defined there are certain others that can be a little to point out. Culture assessment is a process that helps organizations differential between the ideal and real culture.
This includes an organization’s expectations, core values, philosophy and the behavior of the employees associated with a particular organization. However, when your objective to make certain changes in workplace culture, it is important to measure the progress to make sure your efforts are going in the right direction.
Culture is not restricted to top-level management. Culture should be owned by everyone in the organization. When you know culture is a sum total of individual behaviors it becomes easier to measure it. Making a transition from one style to another requires some serious determination, which is not as easy as you may perceive.
After a super inspiring training event, it is easy to slip back to old habits, because your routine is way too complex and you might have millions of other important tasks, but here is where you can change as an individual- by being intentional.
Change should be intentional only then it will be permanent. Same goes with culture, but how would you know if processes or systems are working or not? You need to measure and track every movement and that is where culture assessment tools are needed.
Finding the right culture assessment tool
The first step is to assess your culture, and we’re not going to hide our bias: we have developed an assessment, that is included in our Workplace Genome ® Platform, and we think it’s really powerful. That being said, we’re not so blind that we don’t realize that, in fact, there may be other assessments out there that works better for you at your particular point of cultural evolution.
Culture change is complex, and each organization is unique, so don’t expect to find any valid science out there that “proves” one assessment is better than the others. We
think there are a lot of good assessments out there that will provide value to you as you go down the road of culture change.
My sense is there are more good ones than outright bad ones, but unfortunately, it will be hard to tell the difference until you actually use them. (And then it’s too late!) So, do some research to find one that you think will be best for you. Here are some aspects we think should be present in an assessment:
Backed by theory
Maybe the theory is too strong a word. A hearty set of principles will probably do. All assessments point you in a direction. They’ve given thought to what matters, and why. Make sure you are comfortable with the underlying thinking behind that direction or you’ll be disappointed with the assessment.
For example, as we’ve made clear in previous chapters, our Workplace Genome assessment measures along the eight Culture Makers of Agility, Collaboration, Growth, Inclusion, Innovation, Solutions, Technologies, and Transparency.
Those come from the theory and research that went into our books, Humanize and When Millennials Take Over (as well as decades of experience). You’ll have to make the call about whether or not that framework (or any assessment’s underlying framework) is going to work for your organization. But we’re wary of assessments that lack a grounding in principles.
And we’re equally wary of assessments that are based on comparing your culture to a control group of “outstanding” organizations. Just because it worked for them, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you.
Balanced between descriptive and prescriptive
The assessment can point you in a direction, but it shouldn’t tell you specifically what to do. Look for a balance in how the assessment describes what your culture is versus telling you how it thinks you should be?
You need both sides to develop strong insights. The actual data from our Workplace Genome assessment focuses very intently on “what is” showing you where your culture falls along the continuum of a traditionalist to futurist along all eight Markers. Then we provide you with resources and support to actually align your culture with what drives success, and that’s where you get into the “what should be” part.
Balanced between quantitative and qualitative data
Both types of data are valid, and each informs the other. On top of that, different people tend to value different types of data, so it helps to have both as part of the assessment.
Leaves you in control, not the consultant
There are contexts where you want consultants to reach deep into they’re well of expertise and tell you exactly what to do. Culture change is not one of them. You want the assessment to shine a light for you, help you see things you hadn’t seen before, and help you get clear on what’s important and what drives success. And then you need to step up and plan the action to make it happen. Make sure it leaves you that control.
Fits with your culture (and cultural aspirations)
This may sound like putting the cart before the horse, but if you’re getting serious about changing your culture, then you already have at least a basic sense of the current state and future state. Make sure the assessment is compatible.
An assessment that relies exclusively on qualitative storytelling for data, for example, may not have credibility in a science- or engineering-based company. The goal of the assessment is to facilitate action afterward, so the assessment should be selected with that in mind.
Planning and Implementation
Once you have the assessment results in hand, you’ll be ready to plan and implement some change. The assessment should have helped you clarify what is truly valued (based on what drives success), and hopefully you now also have some clarity about both the current and desired state of your culture. Don’t worry if those two pictures are not 100 percent complete. You can fill in the gaps as you go along. But you should have enough clarity to start the culture work, which will include these areas:
As boring as it may sound, process change is where we think you should start. There are typically a few key processes that can have a noticeable and significant impact on the culture, and you need those quick wins to build some momentum. We’ll talk about which processes to focus on in the next chapter.
Your “current state” culture is rooted in the individual mindsets of your people and their approach to how work gets done and what is valued. Culture change will involve actively changing these approaches, particularly among leaders, managers, and individuals of high status.
Perhaps this is a subset of mindset shifts, but culture change will be an abstraction to your people unless you give them the words they can use to make it real on a daily basis. They will need some new language—a new code, in a sense—that will keep the culture change fresh in their minds.
Perhaps this is a subset of it all, but nothing changes unless behavior changes. Identify the new behaviors and work them into your efforts on processes, mindsets, and language.