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Analyzing Your Organizational Culture: Is It Time for a Change?

written by: Mike Sweeney•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 7/14/2011

When was the last time you evaluated your company's culture? Do you think it's time for a change? How cool is your place to work? An organization's culture should evolve and grow due to current business trends and the talent of the existing workforce.

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    Company Culture

    Group of people 

    Competition, business regulations, new technologies, fickle employees, and ever-demanding customers; it’s no wonder so many organizations struggle to stay profitable and viable. With so much going on, it’s very easy for companies to lose track of some of the things that are important for an organization to prosper and grow. A few of the areas typically overlooked are the care and feeding of the company’s culture, recruiting and retaining top talent, and incorporating the latest in technology to increase productivity. All of these circumstances make it necessary for you to look at changing your organizational culture and fast.

    Your company culture goes a long way toward hiring the best available talent while also achieving revenue and profit targets. Cultures that are invigorating, challenging, and “cool" places to work, will always be in great demand for employees, regardless of the products or industry. Top talent generally equates to top production and overall results.

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    Organizational Self-Analysis

    An organizational self-analysis is something that is beneficial to do on a periodic basis. It provides an accurate snapshot of what is happening within the organization at the time of the audit. To get a better understanding of where the company culture lies, the self-analysis should include a reasonable review of the attitudes, values and work ethic of employees.

    Depending on your time constraints, you could first ask that all intact work teams hold a self-analysis meeting focused on their team only. From there, each team turns in their team self-analysis for review by senior management. Senior management could then use the information provided as a starting point for an overall organization-wide evaluation, or they could give each team self-analysis equal weight and use each one along with the one that senior management produces on their own as a comparison.

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    Develop a Company Charter

    Team meeting 

    Your company charter is your guiding tool to help you stay on-track. In this case, since we are focusing on organizational culture, we will want to look at the types of things that impact the culture primarily. This particular session should be held as a team meeting.

    Here’s what the company charter includes. The first discussion is around what you like about the current culture. Identify all the things, both job-related and people-related, that you would like to continue doing. It could be simple things like cross-training under job-related, and recognizing employee’s anniversaries and birthdays, under people-related. These are the types of activities that help build and reinforce your existing culture.

    Second, identify all the things you want the organization to stop doing. Maybe it’s how projects are given out or assigned (to the same people so it becomes demoralizing to others), or attending certain meetings (too long, boring and unproductive). This list of items again could include both job-related activities and people-related ones. These are the types of activities that hinder your organizational culture and produce negative feedback. This is the time to include all those things that just seem to get in the way of producing high quality results along with highly motivated employees.

    And third, identify all the things the organization should start doing. This is where you can be creative and develop a wish list. As a good frame of reference prior to this type of meeting, you could identify the top companies in your industry and see if you can learn what they do to develop that great company culture. There are the things they do to create a compelling place to work.

    Some areas of discussion in this category that will naturally surface are employee training, cross-training on teams, careers and promotions, projects and project responsibilities, personal and team empowerment, team rules and responsibilities, flex and vacation time, work schedules, and many other topics. There are no right or wrong ideas or suggestions in this category. The overall goal is to begin doing things that will further improve the company culture for all employees, and once you get there, have things in place that continue to reinforce the new culture.

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    Compile the Lists

    Look at your lists of information and put everything together in one place. The three categories should be separated for easy viewing. This is where you can view in one place the perception of the organizational culture from what doesn’t work, to what does. Does one category outweigh another? How much change needs to happen? And in this case, change could mean simply eliminating some or all of the activities from the first category discussed. That alone could propel the energy and enthusiasm level of the organization. Negativity and road blocks in business are tremendous de-motivators and adversely affect team and employee morale, which in turn, impacts the overall culture of the organization.

    Changing or improving your organization’s culture is not necessarily easy to do. It takes a level of commitment from every employee to support your organizational culture for it to take hold and permeate the entire organization.

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    Sources

    Cameron/Quinn - "Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture" (1999) retrieved at http://webuser.bus.umich.edu/cameronk/PDFs/Organizational%20Culture/CULTURE%20BOOK-CHAPTER%201.pdf

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