How to Measure Team Culture: A Blueprint
You can’t just let culture happen. Culture is an organic process, but that means if left unattended it will grow into something you may not need or want.
Culture needs to be intentional, methodical and committed. In other words, you need a plan. Let’s talk about what it takes to measure team culture and create a new blueprint for your success going forward.
I think about it in three steps: figure out what’s truly valued, figure out what drives your success, and start making small changes to align those two things.
Figure Out What’s Truly Valued
Most companies promote their “values,” but those values are often a smokescreen: “We have a coffee bar right next to the board room.” “We have old-school arcade games in the employee lounge.” Those things may be interesting and even unique, but I’m guessing they aren’t truly important to the organization.
I draw a distinction between values and valued. Something isn’t truly valued unless everything you do and say, everything your employees experience actually supports it. Culture is all the stuff — the words, the actions, the behaviors, the experiences — that reinforces and clarifies what’s truly valued in your business.
Culture goes awry when what you say you value isn’t what’s truly valued, and your culture doesn’t support the values you claim. For example, you may say you value transparency. But your performance review process allows for anonymous submissions. That process is in conflict with what you say you value.
Figure Out What Drives Your Success
Once you’ve determined what’s truly valued, you have another important question to answer: What drives our success? Do your values and your success drivers line up? You may value the hell out of those arcade games in your break room but if you can’t point to how they actually lead to more success in your organization (however you may define it), then all bets are off. Are you getting work done in a way that reinforces and clarifies your success drivers?
Don’t worry about what other companies are doing. The things that drive their success are not the ones that drive yours. Keep your eyes on your own paper, and don’t get distracted by the shiny object.
Start Making Small Changes
Once you understand what your culture really is today and what drives your success, then you can start assessing alignment. If those two things aren’t in sync, you need to prioritize the organizational behaviors that will get them back into sync. Prioritize is the operative word here. Focus on one or two things that will really make a difference and stop trying to be all things to all people. Be willing to deliver cultural change in small segments, with little wins along the way. While it’s important to keep an eye on the big picture, often you have to focus on the little stuff first.
Invest time and resources. This is the key to getting culture right. It’s amazing to me that companies invest so much money and human capital into basic operations like accounting, but they won’t spend the same toward planning and executing the culture they want. We should treat culture as importantly as we do any other operating system in our business.
By focusing inward, gathering the right data, and comparing “what is” to “what should be,” organizations can actually draft a blueprint for their culture — one that can be socialized, adopted, and intentionally followed. That’s success.