The Best Tool to Assess Your Culture

Why is it so important to have a good corporate culture?

The list is endless, but let’s get right to the point; a good corporate culture means a better bottom line. It’s about business, plain and simple.

If the corporate culture is good, the employees are more productive, they are more loyal, you have less turnover, yada, yada, yada…you get the point.

And most companies know this and spend LOTS of time and money on assessing and tracking their culture through employee engagement surveys.  Some companies hire expensive consulting firms to administer these surveys and then slice and dice the data so they can determine what’s working and what’s not.

Smaller companies with limited budgets put it all in HR’s hands and hope they know what they’re doing, and in most cases they don’t.

A corporate culture starts at the top and should be owned by the CEO and their leadership, not HR, not a committee or a task group.  And it’s a HUGE change management project that never ends as long as the company is in business.

When I go into a company to identify areas of improvement, the very first thing I do is ask for any data around employee engagement.  This is just the tip of the iceberg and doesn’t always provide the information that I know is below the surface. And a very simple tool will tell you where to look deeper.

If you’re asking “what is it?” here’s your answer.

It’s a Pulse Survey.

It is a 3-question survey sent out quarterly and owned by the CEO.

It’s simple to administer through any survey tool, (Survey Monkey is still a good one) and any person at any level of the company can fill it out.

The reason it’s so effective is because most people don’t mind filling out a short survey versus the long engagement surveys and it focuses on the way you do business versus how the employees feel and provides valuable insight into where you need to improve.

Let’s look at the questions in detail. Of course, there is a scale, usually 1-5 for employees to rate these questions on and anything under a 4 is cause for concern.

Question #1: I feel good about the changes the company is making.

The response to this question provides feedback on how employees feel about the DECISION MAKING of leadership.

What does this questions tell us?

  1. How agile the company. Companies who are agile make decisions faster and move to action faster, creating a quicker response to market and customer demands. This is a key differentiator in companies who grow and those that see minimal growth.
  2. It also informs on the autonomy people have within the company. The decision-making authority can make people feel frustrated if every decision needs to go to their manager’s manager or through some complex system of bureaucracy. This, in itself, is enough to make people want to leave their job. Giving people the change to apply critical thinking and decision making helps them get and stay engaged.
  3. This is also a key indicator of a poor structure. In most cases it means the company has too many layers.  Imagine a decision having to go through 6 or 7 people to get approved. The ideal number of layers is 4-6 depending on revenue.  The benchmark for a company with $1B in revenue is 6, so use that as a baseline.
  4. Finally, this tells us if people believe in the strategy the company is following is correct. If employees aren’t aligned with the strategy, then any decision following that strategy will not be accepted.

Question #2: I am confident that we are heading in the right direction.

The response to this question provides feedback on how the employees feel leadership is COMMUNICATING.

What does this question tell us?

  1. To start, it tells us how well the managers and leaders of the company are communicating. In most cases when you see low scores in a function, it’s because the manager doesn’t have a regular cadence to delivering information. Whether a staff meeting, an email, a video or face to face meetings, communicating information keeps people “in the know” which results in them being engaged. There is nothing worse than not know what is going on, and this is all too common in companies who withhold information and keep it only for the top managers and leaders in the company.
  2. It tells us how bought into the strategy the employees are. The CEO needs to have regular events to update the employees on the “big” picture, the direction the company is heading and ultimately tie in how the employees are all part of making that big picture happen. Creating the awareness that it’s them, the employees, who deliver the strategy by executing every day is a powerful message to hear and creates loyalty beyond the paycheck.

Question #3: The changes in the organization help me work smarter instead of harder.

The response to this questions provides feedback on how the employees feel the changes the companies is making relative to helping their PRODUCTIVITY.

What does this question tell us?

  1. It tells us how good the companies systems and processes The most frustrating thing for employees is to be working and knowing there is a better way. Either through technology or a more streamlined process. You can’t have a good culture if your people are working inefficiently, it’s IMPOSSIBLE. Employees who feel that they work efficiently are more engaged and happier in their jobs. This not only leads to less turnover, but
  2. This question focuses on time to deliver to customer, and it’s at the heart of low profit margins and affects the bottom line. Imagine if you had a system that helped employees make products 2x faster, or see 30% more customers?  It doesn’t matter the task, what matters is, how quickly they are able to complete it, and how fast the company can deliver it to its customer.  Quicker turnaround means less cost means more profit means more money available for employee bonuses.
  3. A hidden benefit of this question is it tells you the companies capacity to grow. If you have inefficient processes and a lack of technology systems, you will have to add more and more headcount and resources to get the work done when you want to grow. Whether it’s adding new products, a new location, or just organic growth, the harder it is to get the work done, the less capacity employees must add to their plate. The best way to grow is to SELF FUND it through capacity building. Imagine you implement a system or process that helps an employee do their job in half the time. You’ve just created a 50% productivity gain. Do this across the company and imagine the amount of time saved that you can now use to focus on your growth.

As you can see, this very simple tool has a lot to offer and provides a wealth of information that most engagement surveys provide but in a less costly and complex format.  Measuring your corporate culture has never been so easy!

Try it out and let me know how you do. I’m here for any support you may need when implementing or assessing the results, so please feel free to contact me.

2 thoughts on “The Best Tool to Assess Your Culture

  1. Excellent article. These questions are applicable to a project within a company as well, and get at whether a technical solution will be effectively implemented and trusted by the users. Often the most elegant solutions fail because they are not fed the highest quality inputs.

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