All Articles Leadership Inspiration Your organizational culture probably needs tending

Your organizational culture probably needs tending

4 min read


What is it like to live in your organization’s culture? Is it a safe, inspiring work environment that demonstrates trust and respect for employees and their efforts, or not so much?

When I speak to successful leaders about their company or team’s performance, they light up. Their performance metrics are top of mind. They recite gains in productivity, market share, or profits as well as reductions in errors, rework or service issues. Of these leaders, seven out of 10 have concrete ideas about how to improve performance — they just haven’t been able to get traction on those ideas.

When I speak to successful leaders about their company or team’s work environment or culture, they don’t light up. Most are rather casual about the quality of their work environment and say something like, “Our culture is OK — our people are mostly happy.” Some are candid about how their work environment sometimes hinders or hurts employees’ best efforts.

Very few leaders light up when talking about their organizational culture. Those who do truly understand that their work environment or culture is their most important asset — and it needs to be treated as such.

When I ask leaders what measuring and monitoring systems exist for performance, they describe a litany of dashboards and tools and mechanisms that keep them informed about performance to defined standards. These leaders could not imagine running their businesses without these feedback tools. They help them keep their eye on the target: meeting or exceeding performance metrics.

When I ask these same leaders what measuring and monitoring systems exist for the quality of their organizational culture, 90% of them are at a loss. The most frequent “culture mechanism” reported is the organization’s employee morale survey. When I dig deeper, I usually learn that these surveys are not done regularly and little is done when the results are shared.

The reality is that most leaders do not have measuring or monitoring systems that keep them informed about the quality of their organization’s culture.

How can you get in touch with all staff members’ perceptions about your organizational culture? ASK. Create regular, safe, reliable channels for employees to tell you what it’s like to live in your work environment.

One of the most effective tools is a regular employee climate survey. See my Performance-Values Assessment for the kinds of questions to ask that reveal the quality of your organizational culture. These questions ask employees to rate the degree to which systems help them get their work done; the degree to which goals are aligned across the organization; the degree to which team values are defined and modeled; and the degree to which their boss provides effective coaching.

Once data is gathered, it must be shared within two weeks, noting items that scored well (celebrate those) and items that scored poorly. You need to present a plan and take action to address those poor scores within weeks — or employees will see the survey as a waste of time.

Pay attention to your organizational culture. Make culture as important as performance. Our research indicates a shift to values-alignment generates growth in employee engagement, customer service rankings, and profits.

How well do your company leaders tend to a safe, inspiring work environment? What measuring or monitoring tools exist for gauging values-alignment in your organizational culture? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Corporate culture survey: Results and analysis from my ongoing global, fast and free Performance-Values Assessment are available on Driving Results Through Culture.

Podcast — Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes. The music heard on these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.

[mejsaudio src=”″]