Setting, maintaining and changing a corporate culture can be a particularly challenging task for CEO’s and leaders. Compared to hitting sales targets and ensuring key metrics are met, measuring and checking culture can seem like an incredibly nebulous activity.
Yet the importance of having a strong and vibrant culture has never been more important. With social media increasing the speed and availability of corporate cultural information and a desire for younger generations to work in organisations with greater cultural and value ‘fit’, culture has become an increasingly important measure of a business’s success.
Measuring a culture’s success is a balance of both art and science. Going purely on ‘gut feel’ can ignore some important data that can impact culture; conversely, focussing only on statistics and engagement surveys can mask what is truly going on at the coalface.
There are plenty of large businesses that can charge you thousands of $ to assess your culture (with spreadsheets and charts that looking impressive and aesthetically pleasing). Yet for most small to medium enterprises, assessing culture can be more simply (and cheaply) achieved. To start assessing your business culture, consider looking at the 5 areas below of alignment, awareness, achievement, altitude and adaptability.
Look at the questions and ask yourself – what would you rate your business out of 10?
Successful businesses (and the leaders and team within them) have a clear understanding of the direction in which they are heading as a business, and the values they embrace to get them there. A clear understanding of their purpose, both from a wider business perspective and in relation to individual roles, provides staff with the clarity and focus to attain results.
- Are your staff aware of their own values?
- Do staff have a clear understand how there personal values relate to the businesses?
- Do senior managers and leaders understand their ‘why’ for doing things?
- Can senior leaders explain their ‘why’ clearly (and easily understood words / themes) to their staff?
- Do you regularly measure of you are off track financially, strategically and interpersonally?
Your Alignment score: /10
‘Before you can lead others, you must lead yourself’. No business can achieve sustained success without a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the team.
Similarly, no business team can ﬂy high without all individuals in the team being engaged; aware of their own behaviours, assertive in their interactions and happy in what they are doing. These factors, along with a ﬁrm self belief and clarity in your surroundings provide each member of the team the support they need and the ability to have a positive impact on the culture around them. Staff and leaders that are fully aware of their skills – knowing their strengths and being able to adapt and adjust for their weaker areas – provide the best environment for a stainable culture.
- Do you actively seek feedback from your staff (outside of performance reviews)?
- Can people safely provide feedback and improvement suggestions upward?
- Are you and your staff active in discussing strengths and weaknesses?
- Are personal and professional weaknesses hidden or not discussed?
- Are staff assertive and free to share their views?
- Do people step outside their team / department / area to provide advice / suggestion to others?
Your Awareness score: /10
It is no accident that businesses with great cultures also deliver great results. Or do great results have an impact on great cultures? Whichever way you choose to look at it – how your team achieve results, how often they hit targets and how well they keep their promises to their customers, peers and managers will impact the bottom line.
How well does your business manage the task at hand? Are things overdue or are they completed on time, all the time? How well your business focusses on getting tasks completed will determine not only where you want to go, but how long it will take you to get there. Strong cultures have a strong focus on achieving tasks at the right level, to the right person, at the right time.
- Do you and your team meet deadlines?
- How often are things ‘pushed to the right’?
- Do you and your team take responsibility for actions or are blame, excuses and justifications rife?
- Do you have a big attention to detail or do things regularly get missed?
- Do you have a problem solving or problem avoiding mentality amongst your team?
- Does your business plan ahead effectively or are you stuck in a constant series of ‘firefighting’ small issues?
Your Achievement score: /10
Like thew wings on an aircraft, an effective culture can provide you and your business with the lift you need to fly higher and achieve more. Conversely, an ineffective or negative culture can drag your personal, team and business performance down and be highly inefficient. Your ability to understand, communicate and listen to your team, hold them to account and provide constructive feedback all have an impact on how high your team (and your business) will fly.
- Does your team actively hold you to account?
- Do you consistently hold your team to account?
- Are you able to articulate your goals and expectations clearly and effectively?
- Are there formal and informal ways of providing feedback within your business?
- Do staff regularly provide development feedback to each other for improved performance?
- Are you aware of the behaviours that build positivity and lift your team?
- Does your team regularly display the positive behaviours listed above?
- Are you aware of the behaviours that erode trust and drag negatively in your team?
- Does your team regularly display the negative behaviours listed above?
Your Altitude score: /10
Businesses with strong cultures have the ability to adapt to changes in their internal and external environments – meaning they are both prepared for change, have developed the skills to change and can adapt quickly as needed. Your ability to adapt determines your velocity (the speed and direction in which you and your team travel) and your reliability (how often you complete your tasks, to the required standard, at the required time). Given that reliability is your businesses personal guarantee of achieving tasks on purpose, on time – how well your culture can adapt is crucial to business success.
- Are your team empowered to be able to make changes in changing circumstances?
- Is your business overly focussed on process / rule following rather than adapting as needed?
- Is your business dependable in a crisis?
- Can you rely on your business to deliver product / services on time in most circumstances?
- Are you known as a reliable business?
- Can you rely on your staff in your absence?
Your Adaptability score: /10
How did you and your business score?
If you scored less that 7 out of 10 for any 5 components of Align, Aware, Achieve, Altitude or Adapt, you have some cultural ‘work’ to do.
Related IMLD Articles:
- Toxic Environments Equate To Poor Leadership
- 6 Reasons for Cultural ’Silo’s’ In Your Business And How to Address Them
- 5 Leadership Development Lessons Business Can Learn From the Military