How to Evaluate Your Organizational Culture
In the book Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture by Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn, they share a truly stunning story:
“The top performers in the past three decades – those who literally blew away the competition in financial returns – were not the recipients of any of the so-called prerequisites for success. These highly successful firms, taken from Money magazine’s list of the best-performing stocks between 1972 and 2002, include Southwest Airlines (annual average return of 25.99 percent), Walmart (23.72%), Kansas City Southern (25.61%), Comcast (21.99%), and Kroger (21.16%).
“The major distinguishing feature in these companies – their most important competitive advantages, the most powerful factor they all highlight as a key ingredient in their success – is their organizational culture.”
As a business owner, you and your team can evaluate your company’s culture. Before you begin, let your entire company know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Then, set aside time to meet with your management team, and go through a three step process:
Ask: How do you describe our company culture?
Have everyone think about this and then ask them to write down their answers. Encourage honesty; it is just as important to discuss the bad as it is the good. Then ask everyone to read aloud their answers. Look for any gaps in perception and discuss how to fill those gaps.
Develop core values
Now that you know what everyone thinks about your company culture, work together to write core values based on where the company is now and where you want it to go.
Write rules based on core values
After you agree on your core values, write work rules based on those core values. If one of your core values is creative problem solving, what does that mean on a day-to-day basis? How do you expect your team and employees to demonstrate creative problems solving?
There are two ways to encourage this new company culture to flourish:
Ensure work rules are sustainable over the long-term
As the leader, you have to uphold your company’s values and work rules, too, so strive to set a good example. Make it a habit to recognize employees who are living the core values and incorporate the values in performance reviews.
Integrate core values into the hiring process
During the hiring process, ask each potential hire how they embody each of your company’s core values. Don’t ask, “Are you a creative problem solver?” Ask for examples of how they solve complex problems.
How do you encourage a healthy, honest, and open company culture?
If you aren’t making this a priority in your company then set a date and bring in someone else to facilitate the questioning. Whether you do it yourself or have someone else do it, you will be happy you invested in your people!
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