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Does your Organization Need to Improve its Culture?

The culture of an organization is the beliefs and behaviors that determine how employees and management interact. It develops organically over time from the cumulative values and traits of the people. Everyone influences culture, yet the leaders will have the strongest impact. Here are some guidelines when evaluating your culture.

1. Are we always moral, ethical and legal?

2. Do we treat everyone with respect and care about each other?

3. Do we expect quality in everything we do?

4. Do we have a strong desire to be the best?

5. Do we recognize individual achievements?

6. Do we advocate open communication?

7. Do we feel appreciated and connected?

8. Are we developing ourselves professionally and personally?

9. Are we committed to the organization’s mission, vision and core values?

10. Do we feel creative, passionate and engaged in our position?

The first step toward change is to ask yourself if you are satisfied with the culture of your organization. If the answer is no, begin by having an open forum. Have a consultant gather up all employees. Its’ good business to have someone from the outside participate. Have him or her describe managements desire to make things better. Hand out index cards and ask employees to write down anonymously what they see as the problem with the organization on one side and what might be the solution on the other side.

The consultant will itemize the information and report to management. They will prioritize the issues and decide which ones to tackle first in order to improve the culture. A communication will go out to employees stating the projects to be worked on, asking for volunteers to form committees. The committees will organize, set goals and make a proposal to accomplish the objective.

So how does this process improve the culture? People will feel included in the decision making and take some responsibility for creating change. They will feel cared about because management listened to them. They will feel more connected to each other as they work together. Trust and loyalty will improve as management follows through on heir agreements. They will also feel rewarded as the culture improves and especially having participated in the change. This is a win- win situation. Research shows that worker happiness has fallen every year for the last 25 years. Companies need to put into place programs that draw out these principles of alignment, positivism, and progress that can move the needle for happiness and build a killer culture.

A strategic recognition program is a great start on achieving all three of these objectives—offering a way for employees to better understand and practice company values, offer continuous positive feedback, appreciate and be appreciated and a way to be rewarded for the progress they make. Google, because of its iconic culture only has a 2 percent turnover rate and receives approximately 7 thousand solicitations for jobs every day. According to James L.Heskett, “Culture can account for 20-30% of the differential in corporate performance when compared with ‘culturally unremarkable’ competitors.” A great culture can make the critical difference between organizational success and dismal failure.

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