As companies everywhere deal with major business disruptions and increasing demands for transparency and accountability from employees, customers, and shareholders, leaders are coming face to face with one of the more elusive aspects of business: company culture. Largely invisible, it nevertheless drives decision making, employee engagement, and even public relations. A company with a reputation for positive culture can attract top talent. In contrast, a company with a negative reputation may struggle to find suitable candidates, even if everything else about the company is positive.
Given the power and impact of culture, leaders should take the time to focus on evaluating and looking for ways to better align everyone with a positive culture that drives strategy and outcomes. Here are four ways to assess your company culture:
1. Get Employee Feedback
In your employee surveys, be sure to include questions about company culture. Ask about issues that employees care about, such as social responsibility, leadership transparency, and DE&I. Introduce questions about the more subtle aspects of culture. Do employees feel like they can raise questions and concerns without recrimination? Do they feel connected and valued by co-workers and bosses? Gather this kind of feedback regularly, and delve into why.
2. Monitor Review Sites
Customers and former employees will leave honest online reviews, and sometimes, these reviews can reveal cultural misalignment. For instance, if your company’s core values include “customer focus,” but most customer reviews reveal poor interactions with employees, there may be a cultural misalignment that requires attention. Be sure to also look at sites such as Glassdoor.com for employee reviews. Former employees may open up when they no longer fear recrimination, and those honest reviews can also reveal challenges for leadership to address.
3. Observe Your People
Behaviors will reveal truths about company culture. Leaders can learn a lot about company culture by watching how people act. If leaders say they want open, honest input, but employees remain reticent and unengaged, the behavior of employees may indicate a culture of distrust. Where behaviors lack connection with expressed values or strategies, there could be a cultural issue to address.
4. Ask for Outside Help
Sometimes, employing an objective third party can be the best way to assess your company culture. Outside observers can see embedded cues that become invisible to people who encounter them every day. Through interviews, focus groups, surveys, and other methods, outside observers can help identify obstacles to cultural alignment and help determine appropriate ways to approach these challenges.
Taking the time to evaluate and focus on company culture could be one of the most important things leaders can do to improve business outcomes. By emphasizing culture as just as necessary as strategy and results, leaders can drive a holistic approach to business success and create a better workplace across the organization.