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8 Steps in Selecting a Comprehensive Culture Assessment Tool
In a previous blog post, we identified why Employee Engagement Surveys are antiquated and of little value to business leaders interested in developing a sustainable culture of success within their organizations. Today, there are far more relevant, comprehensive ways to examine the overall culture of an organization.
Below are eight key traits to look for when considering a more effective means of gathering timely information on the culture of your company.
1. Measure more than Engagement: Simply defined, culture is "the way we do things around here." In a business context, there are four additional dimensions besides Engagement that are critical to understanding the dynamics of any culture: Followership, Values, Climate, and Alignment. An organization’s performance is affected by far more than just the engagement of employees. Make sure any culture assessment tool you consider for adoption looks at the full spectrum of the culture under investigation.
2. Focus on High Granularity: To set quantifiable goals aimed at changing or retaining key elements of an organization’s cultures, leaders need sufficient data to see patterns, interactions and driving factors. Without enough insight into the five, broad dimensions of culture, it is difficult to diagnose, measure and manage the cultures of their organization(s). Granularity in the data collected is essential to get an accurate picture of the true nature of the cultural entity. Be sure to avoid tools that over simplify the cultural drivers at play in your organization.
3. Highlight Demographic Differences: People with different demographic characteristics may experience the same culture very differently. For instance, in any given cultural unit, women may experience some aspects of that culture quite differently from their male counterparts. Similarly, people who have been with an organization longer may experience a culture entirely differently from those who are new.
When looking at any culture-measurement tool, be sure that, at a minimum, the output you receive allows you to examine aggregated responses based on the tenure, gender, organization level, geographic location and functional areas of the respondents. A good measurement tool offers you the flexibility to analyze other specific demographic factors pertinent to your business.
4. Learn to Listen and Listen to Learn: Open-ended questions are critical to obtaining insights beyond the set, quantifiable survey questions. From the qualitative comments offered by survey respondents, valuable insights into the hard data can be obtained that can be used to focus on exactly what and where cultural changes should be made and where things should be left alone.
5. Don’t Get Lost in Translation: The ability to translate survey tools into several languages and access the findings in multiple countries simultaneously is essential to leaders managing global businesses. Any tool that limits results to a single platform or location is problematic. Look for a cloud-based surveying and reporting system that enables leaders to access findings when and where they are needed for decision-making. As companies become increasingly immersed in cross-border expansion, being in touch with the culture of every business unit becomes crucial.
6. Be Interactive with Your Reports: It is imperative that a dynamic, interactive reporting methodology be a component of any culture assessment tool’s reporting system. Written or paper reports take time and allow for no interactive, on-going interpretation or analysis. An intuitive, graphical, real-time ability to segment, see and understand the cultural differences within and across a business is what a makes cultural assessment tool an invaluable key to successful decision-making.
7. Understand the Data: The goal of an effective cultural assessment tool is to help leaders understand what must change and what should be left alone when it comes to building a true performance culture. Decisions need to be grounded on hard data, but it is the interpretation of that data that makes the difference. A culture assessment tool is only as good as the minds and experiences of the people behind it who will guide you and your team in establishing the proper goals, priorities and timetables. Don’t settle for information alone. Make sure your culture assessment supplier also provides you with the understanding necessary to lead cultural change management initiatives effectively.
8. Trust but Verify: All surveys are not statistically valid and reliable. Ask to see the documentation and have the scoring parameters explained to you. When it comes to managing culture, remember the expression “garbage in, garbage out.” You don’t want to go through an intensive, culture-changing program and come away with the wrong solutions.
In the past five years huge strides have been made in the ability to assess entire cultures and identify exactly what and where changes need to be made. The characteristics of a cultural assessment tool compatible with the complexities of a large, global corporation or a smaller, cohesive business unit trying to manage explosive growth will ultimately make the difference between long-term success and mediocrity.[i]
[i] Crenshaw Associates is the developer and owner of the state-of-the-art intellectual property used for cultural assessments known as Team CultureMapping®, Organizational CultureMapping® and M&A Compatibility Mapping® that were originally documented in the ground-breaking book written by Crenshaw’s Chairman, Nat Stoddard, entitled: THE RIGHT LEADER: Selecting Executives Who Fit (Wiley, 2009). For more information about culture assessments and how the right tool can help you diagnose measure and transform your organization, contact Barbara Bridendolph at (917) 408-6584.