It can feel overwhelming if you Google “culture surveys” and read all of the options available. As you spend time reading each website, it is easy to observe that each one advocates why their survey is the best. Many indicate that the structured well-defined method they use will get you the best results. They may even tie research into the reason why theirs makes most sense. In the right situations, I am sure each could work quite well.
It’s the limitation of each survey that concerns me. The prescribed approach to culture surveys requires employers to use the pre-defined box they have created and to adopt their language. Managers and employees must be trained on the specific language used with each one and this takes away from some of the interest and attention from employees. Fortunately, there is another way.
Rather than using a packaged approach to understanding and assessing your culture, you can create a culture survey that is more meaningful and appropriate to your culture.
There is no right or wrong culture. What works for one company or industry may not be applicable across the board. Google should not adapt Zappos’ culture and Zappos should not adopt Google’s. Since there is not one best culture for all organizations, there is not one single solution culture survey. At the Conscious Culture Group®, we believe services should be customized to meet the specific needs of each individual company. The process outlined below allows the uniqueness of each organization to shine through. With customization, there is a direct tie to the relevancy of the survey to the organization.
- Unbiased Interviewing – In order to gain a pulse of the culture, interviewing both leadership and a sampling of employees who “are” the culture is a good first step. The sampling needs to represent different levels, departments, and locations and be thoughtful of gender, ethnicity and age. The interviewer’s credentials are to be unbiased, a great listener and trusted by those being interviewed. The interviewees need to feel heard and leave with a feeling that all views are acceptable. Typically an outside consultant can more effectively accomplish this than someone who works in the organization. A consultant is more likely to be perceived as someone who is not going to use this information against the interviewee. When done well, “practical patterns” on the actual culture begin surfacing.
- Customized Surveys – Once some patterns on the perception of the culture are identified, a customized cultural survey with closed ended questions can be created and sent out to all employees. Three open-ended questions can also be added to the close-ended ones. The results from both will give you qualitative and quantitative data across the organization including department, level, tenure, location, manager, … There are many ways to dissect the information and find meaningful patterns. Both strengths and organizational improvements are picked up. The Conscious Culture Group® provides organizations with a large library of questions that can be used to help an organization select the right ones.
- Discerning Results – The third step of this process, and one that needs to be done with some thought, is to bring together a culture team to understand the results. It is best accomplished with a cross section of employees who are willing to share their opinion and offer valuable suggestions for improvements. The value of this team is broader than the data; the culture team also discusses what is “between the lines” or also shares the “cooler talk”.
You can see how the combination of the three steps will provide you with a more accurate cultural assessment. These steps are an important beginning to bringing consciousness or intention to culture. This process gives you a benchmark to compare each year to the next. You will have measurable goals and improvements that will enhance any culture, whether it is currently strong or struggling.
The Conscious Culture Group® is glad to discuss these steps and other approaches with you. Feel free to reach out and discuss any of your questions regarding company culture. It is what we do and what we love to do. We can be reached at ConsciousCultureGroup.com or feel free to contact me directly at Russ@ConsciousCultureGroup.com.