The first step to building a more positive and productive culture of ownership is assessing what you have now, and you do that by asking people who work there what their perceptions are.
The two charts above are from a Culture Assessment Survey administered to employees of a large organizational client, but they are typical. We have thousands of individual responses in our data base and most organizations’ results look pretty much like this. This includes responses to the question by Spark Plug readers in last month’s reader survey. I’ll offer several observations:
Observation #1: Only about half of the respondents agreed with the statement that their coworkers have positive attitudes, treat others with respect, and refrain from toxic emotional negativity – and less than 12% strongly agreed with that statement.
Observation #2: There is a very strong correlation between responses to the two questions, suggesting (more than suggesting!) a cause-and-effect relationship between managers’ inability or unwillingness to confront toxic negative attitudes and the perception of a negative workplace environment.
Observation #3: Responses to these two questions are almost always more negative than responses to questions that are more typical of standard employee satisfaction or engagement surveys, sometimes by 25 or more percentage points.
Observation #4: The way people respond to these two questions is more positively correlated to patient or customer satisfaction than any other question in the survey.
Observation #5: Research conducted by The University of Iowa Department of Health Management and Policy shows that the higher one’s position is on the organization chart, the rosier the glasses with which that individual assesses their culture; it takes courage to remove the rose-colored glasses and see the results for what they are.
Observation #6: While I often hear people express concern about “survey fatigue,” in my experience people don’t get fatigued by answering questions – they are only fatigued by answering questions that do not result in anything being done. That is why it is vital to follow up a survey with an action plan (I’ll say more about that in future articles in this series).
Conducting a Culture Assessment Survey that assesses how people perceive your current culture, including asking tough questions like those above, is the essential first step in the process of creating a blueprint for your ideal culture and mapping out the actions that will get you from where you are to where you want to be.
One more thing: As a speaker, conducting a Culture Assessment Survey before an event allows me to address concerns that are specific to the audience, and not just speak in generic terms. More important, when I get results like those shown above it allows me to ask “Are you okay with this – and if not, what are you willing to commit yourselves to doing about it?”
Next: Fostering a shared cultural vision and establish common expectations with regard to attitude and behavior on the job. You can view the archive edition of the introductory article at this link.