How to Create and Measure a High-Performance Company Culture?

Measuring culture

Myth 1: You cannot measure Culture.

Measuring company culture in the workplace is possible.  The challenges in how to define culture, lead people to deduce that you cannot measure culture.  

The big question here remains how to measure culture in an organisation?

The Organisational Development tool that measures culture exceptionally effectively is the Organisational Culture Inventory (OCI) from Human Synergistics. It is sophisticated and combines many theoretical frameworks.

Some benefits of measuring your organisational culture outlined by Human Synergistics:

  • Validating the need for transformation
  • Supporting programs to enhance strategy, employee engagement and quality, and/or customer service.
  • Gauging readiness for culture change and barriers to adaptability and innovation
  • Facilitating mergers and change efforts

Myth 2: Culture doesn’t matter.

As Culture impacts literally everything in your business, from staff turnover, safety incidents, to how employees feel, then it is difficult to continue to argue that Culture doesn’t matter.  

The environment of the organisation absolutely matters on every level. Culture becomes the overarching umbrella that includes the other elements.

High performing cultures consistently outperform other organisations in many Human Resources and Business metrics. Particularly when there is a focus on long term business performance.

Myth 3: Culture doesn’t have any impact.

This myth is a little like the one above.  Impact on what? Impact on the business?

Deloitte Insight’s report, reports that “82 percent of the respondents to our 2016 Global Human Capital Trends survey believe that corporate culture is a potential competitive advantage”.  What we can deduct from this is that there are 18% who don’t believe that culture is a potential advantage.

Measuring culture: team meeting

Myth 4: Culture is not connected to profit.

It is interesting to read the work of Michael Gillespie, Professor of Psychology at the University of Southern Florida. He writes in his Whitepaper “Impact of Culture on Profit”, his perspective which is that Organisational Culture is the causal factor of Performance.  This is contrary to popular belief which is that Individual Performance causes Culture.

With such a definitive link between business performance and company culture, the research below is unsurprising.

Research about corporate culture and performance, with 207 large US companies.  Companies that managed culture well increased their stock prices 901% versus 74%.

Culture-focused companies increased income in 11-year period by 682% versus 166%. Net revenue growth of 756% for companies that managed culture well versus 1%.

These figures lead us to the powerful conclusion that investing in your organizational culture toward an improvement culture can have an undeniable effect on productivity. (Cui & Hu, 2012)

Myth 5: Culture is only important in a big organisation

One of the reasons that Culture is important in a smaller organisation is that a constructive organisational culture can provide direction to employees.  

Culture can show how your organisation is different and stands out from your competitors. It can reduce employee turnover and it can be influential in reducing workplace safety incidents.  

There are numerous advantages of shifting culture in smaller organisations. They are more agile and often the human elements can be more open to the change. Culture Management in a smaller organisation is equally as important as in a large one. You can reasonably expect to shift a Culture to a more Constructive Culture in a shorter space of time in a smaller organisation.

Myth 6: Culture is only changeable from the top.  

A blog I wrote on this topic called ‘Culture By Stealth’. The quote from Margaret Mead is also of relevance here.

She says ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only that that ever has’.

Research will often tell you that you need to have leaders supporting your change.  Although this is ideal, it is not a necessary state. I have seen some impressive grass roots cultural change initiatives which have resulted in upward pressure on the leaders. A different perspective but can also be highly effective in a culture journey.  

Myth 7: Strong Cultures mean the culture is good.

You can have a strong culture that is highly effective, equally, you can have a strong culture that is highly ineffective (think Enron).  So then, a strong culture is not always better than a weak culture.

Strong cultures can find it easier to deliver business strategy, however, weaker cultures do better in a volatile market due to their faster ability to adapt too their external circumstances. Strong culture can be slow to change.

Myth 8 Culture Change takes a long time.  

Amanda Fajak, writes a great article entitled, ‘Busting the myth, how long does it really take to change culture’.  She cites 3 preconditions for the organisation to change quickly (less than 2-3 years).

  1. Focus on root causes.
  2. Invest time, energy and resources.
  3. Use leaders working on themselves as examples.
  4. Utilise 360 change with champions, role models and the influencers.

Myth 9 Culture is the same as Engagement.

Measuring culture and engagement requires an understanding of the differences between culture and engagement. Organisational Culture is the cumulative total of individual behaviours across an organisation. These collective behaviours are culture.

Employee engagement is about the employee experience and how employees feel regarding their employment within the business.  

Whilst the desirable goal is alignment between Engagement and Culture.  One of them is not dependent on the other, you can have a high or low engagement score with a higher or lower culture score.

Myth 10 Culture cannot be defined.

Some of the definitions of Organisational Culture that I could find are below:

The definition of Culture that we use comes from Human Synergistics International.  It is the ‘shared norms and expectations that govern the way that people approach their lives and interact with each other.

Or if we are viewing organisations as living systems, then this definition by Michael Watkins is appropriate “Culture is the organization’s immune system.”

However, my favourite way to define culture is the most simple, it was coined by Deal & Kennedy, 2000, “the way things are done around here”.

The moral of the story, it is possible to measure, shift and change your company culture.  Doing so can be one of the most rewarding and lucrative changes that you make within your business. Be discerning about what you read, hear and believe about changing organisational culture.

The tools from Human Synergistics are some of the most sophisticated Culture Measurement tools available, we use them extensively in our Executive Coaching Practice, Leadership Development Work and Organisational Culture Change Projects.

We regularly see significant results of organisations moving from either a Passive or Aggressive Culture more into a Constructive Culture. The benefits that come with this are increased employee satisfaction, increased profits, decrease in safety incidents, decrease in employee turnover, increase in quality focus on work, increase in the cohesiveness of teams, increases in innovation.

It makes a lot of sense to focus on Culture when it affects so many otherwise disconnected areas within the business.  It operates like an umbrella. If one part of the business improves due to the focus on culture change, many of the other areas around the business will also experience substantial changes and positive shifts as a consequence.

It is not a cure-all, however, it is also not something that you can walk past.  If you want to run a high-quality business that is built to Thrive not just Survive, then focusing on Company Culture could be the most strategic thing that you can choose to do.

Feel free to contact us directly 1300 95 95 12 or let’s start a conversation!

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