Part III in a series. Read part II, The Power of Engaging, Empowering Internal Communications.
Culture assessment: taking an in-depth look at how individuals, teams, and leaders view behavioral norms and identify talent strengths and weaknesses, along with employee expectations, engagement, and communication through surveys, focus groups, and interviews.
Most leaders recognize that their organizational culture evolves constantly, but looking back at 2020 and early 2021, they might see that fundamental shifts have occurred. As companies respond to the tumultuous challenges of the last 12 months, many are seizing an opportunity to lean into the positive changes that grew out of urgent necessities in the first days of the global pandemic and build a more positive future-thinking culture.
…organizations that successfully improve the working environment see increased productivity and business growth, which shareholders will notice and appreciate.
A great way to start this work is with a culture assessment, gathering feedback as a first step in forming an effective plan for the work and transformations ahead.
What did we learn?
Once the culture assessment has been conducted, it’s important to review and absorb the results. As plans are made for addressing the issues uncovered, leaders need to recognize the power of culture transformation, talent development, and navigating change. Transforming culture is a long-term and complicated process that involves defining, directing, enabling, and inspiring the desired changes. Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) should be identified and tracked, and pulse surveys launched to understand employee engagement as the change initiatives are enabled.
As an example, we have a current client in pharma who had planned for exponential growth in one of its critical divisions in 2020. Instead, they saw a substantial number of employees leave the company. They suspected the loss was due to disengaged leadership, and they came to us to clarify the precise root causes and other issues that were having many negative impacts on their organization.
As often happens when focusing on improving culture, you must strengthen the communications by increasing transparency and sharing the company-wide initiatives the company is embarking on.
The culture assessment identified a mixture of assets and liabilities, many that were not surprising, as some of these are challenges many organizations face. Among the assets were a strong brand, values, and mission, which are all good rallying points. The liabilities included weak enterprise-wide communications, siloes, poor leadership and manager communications, and limited cross-functional collaboration.
Accentuate the positive
The client expressed some initial concerns they had more liabilities than assets. While a clear understanding of liabilities or areas for improvement is required for this work, we never want an organization to lose sight of its strengths. We helped them analyze the results and determine the most effective ways to focus efforts for 2021 and beyond.
In this case, the company’s breakthrough science is an outstanding asset and a clear differentiator. We collaborated with their communications team to develop the narrative and identified ways to share it up, down, and across the organization. Enabling employees to tell “the story” has a positive impact not only on employee engagement and motivation, but also on recruiting and retention. As leaders communicate more frequently across multiple channels, including town halls, podcasts/videos, and intranet articles, they are reminding colleagues of the firm’s scientific achievements and instilling pride in their contributions.
In organizational culture work, big and small changes can be felt quickly, which can help leaders realize the importance of their investment in culture transformation initiatives.
As often happens when focusing on improving culture, you must strengthen the communications by increasing transparency and sharing the company-wide initiatives the company is embarking on. We created a multi-tiered program that reached all levels of the company. The offerings included:
- Enhancing the onboarding program to include opportunities for networking, leadership interactions, information on career development, and D&I initiatives.
- Supporting hiring managers in how they welcome and onboard new hires into their jobs and team.
- Coaching leaders to improve their ability to engage and motivate teams.
- Building a coaching program for all leaders and managers to better understand themselves and their people management capabilities and help them realize that if issues are not addressed, people will continue to leave the organization.
- Increasing expectations and accountability for cross-functional and two-way communication.
- Offering management development workshops with micro and macro solutions, as well as skills and competency development for individual contributors.
- Educating employees through the assessment process to better understand their own strengths and appreciate the talents of teammates and counterparts.
The culture assessment identified a mixture of assets and liabilities, many that were not surprising, as some of these are challenges many organizations face.
Feeling the impact
In organizational culture work, big and small changes can be felt quickly, which can help leaders realize the importance of their investment in culture transformation initiatives. The impacts of these initiatives will grow over time, realizing significant progress and improvements throughout the year, and beyond.
What benefits will your organization see when it creates a more productive and supportive culture? Here are some of the positive outcomes:
- Enhanced opportunities for individual contributors to move into manager roles, and managers into higher-level leadership roles. In general, more mobility opportunities within departments and across the organization.
- Better cross-functional collaboration as siloes come down, resulting in more successful internal projects and initiatives between teams.
- Employees inspired to act as ambassadors for the company, promoting it as a great place to work to friends, colleagues, and professional networks.
- Greater opportunities to find qualified talent by an improved employer reputation, leading to better recruiting and talent acquisition via online job boards, the company website, and college recruiting for entry-level roles.
- Lower turnover rates and higher employee retention.
- Improved employee engagement and engagement scores, as employees gain professional satisfaction, which also leads to more innovation and higher productivity.
- More consistent and transparent communication, up, down, and across the organization, leading to more collaboration and clarity.
- Increased sales and return on investment from more highly engaged and inspired employees.
While strengthening shareholder investment is not the primary aim of culture work, organizations that successfully improve the working environment see increased productivity and business growth, which shareholders will notice and appreciate.
With the seismic impacts of 2020 behind us, this is a great time to take stock of where you are and how to make 2021 a year of growth. In all likelihood, there are programs, systems, and even beliefs at your organization that need to be examined, adjusted, or left behind to move forward. Why not take this opportunity to build a stronger culture, ready to meet the challenges of 2021 and beyond?