How Do You Know If You're Doing Culture Right?
In pretty much every part of our organizations, we build in a component of evaluation. We run programs, and then we ask participants what they think. We hire employees, and we ask managers to rate their performance annually. We write up a strategic plan, and a year later we’re evaluating to see if it’s working. And in all these cases, if the evaluation reveals a problem, we try to fix it. That’s the obvious purpose of evaluation—course correction.
Culture, however, seems exempt from this approach. Many organizations, of course, simply ignore culture and let it evolve organically and randomly (and here’s why that’s a bad idea), but obviously you can’t evaluate something you’re not doing. But the few that are being intentional about shaping their culture rarely seem to include an evaluation component. There might be some effort to ask their own employees if they are satisfied with the culture efforts, but I don’t see them doing a more objective assessment of “are we doing this right?”
In financial management, you periodically do an audit. Someone comes in and takes a look at your processes, policies, etc. and lets you know if there is something that’s even a little bit off. They don’t have to look at everything—a sample will do—and believe me, they’re not there asking your employees if they think you’re doing a good job at financial management. That’s not the point now, is it?
We think organizations should be doing periodic culture audits as well. Get an outside perspective on how you’re doing the work and some recommendations on areas to work on that might look a bit weak. Remember, this is not about evaluating your culture. It’s about evaluating your culture WORK. Are there any holes? Are you making progress? Do you have any blind spots? You should be evaluating this on a continuous basis.