Organisational Culture Assessment

What is the Organisational Culture Assessment and Alignment?

Typically, all members of an organisation - and often even those outside the organisation - have a sense of the organisation's culture: what are the generally accepted values, what behaviours are acceptable or prohibited, what shared experiences, knowledge and beliefs shape - often invisibly - the day-to-day functioning of an organisation. This is why it is important to ask how well an organisation's operating culture is aligned with and supports its strategic objectives.

When we assess the culture of an organisation, we do no more than make visible the characteristics and defining elements of its culture. We show what values 'drive' the organisation, what are the most defining characteristics of the culture that is in place

What problem does it answer?

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast." - said Peter Drucker, one of the most respected figures in management science, perfectly describing why it is important to be aware of the specificities of organisational culture in any strategic or organisational change. The culture-building values or behavioural expectations made visible and tangible by a survey can point to the underlying causes of inefficiency in an organisation or the likely pitfalls of a planned organisational development process - but they can also help to identify the strengths of an organisation.

The assessment not only looks at the organisational culture of the moment, but also sheds light on what the organisation's members believe should be the defining values for future success. Comparing the current perceived state with the future 'ideal' or 'desired' state identifies very precise areas of focus for organisational improvement.

What are the main steps?

Regardless of the measurement tool chosen, the organisational culture survey is typically conducted online, but paper-based completion is also possible. Respondents - preferably all members of the organisation - fill in a 10-15 minute questionnaire with their impressions of the current culture and the future situation they envisage as successful. Completion is strictly voluntary and anonymous.

It is possible to distinguish between different organisational units (e.g. production, sales, logistics) or organisational levels (e.g. senior management, middle management, staff) or other sub-groups (older employees, newcomers), which can support the identification of improvement focuses with more detailed results.

Once the survey has been completed, a comprehensive analysis will be prepared and shared with the organisation's managers. It is recommended that all members of the organisation are informed of the results and the further actions planned on the basis of these results following the management review.

What results can we expect?

An accurate understanding of the current organisational culture will in itself lead to better management decisions - whether it is about setting strategic direction, developing internal operating standards or even selecting staff.

Assessing and discussing the ideal culture that fits the strategy can create alignment and a common language among key leaders, which can translate into a leadership alliance and a common set of expectations for employees.

An organisational culture assessment helps to reveal the impact of the culture in place on the effectiveness of the organisation and also highlights areas for improvement. And in the case of organisational development projects, it can greatly assist in planning, setting directions and goals.

Our assessment tools:

Human Synergistics tools:

  • Organisational Culture Inventory
    "What expectations do you need to meet to be successful in this organization?"ű
  • Organizational Effectiveness Inventory
    "What factors shape our current culture, how can we influence them?"
  • Leadership Impact Inventory
    "What leadership expectations am I communicating to my employees - in relation to the ones I want to communicate? How well do they see me as an effective leader?"

Organisational culture questionnaire developed using Barrett Values Centre methodology:

When completing the questionnaire, respondents are asked to select 10-10 values from a list of 90 items (positive and negative attributes) according to the questions below.

  • "Which 10 of the following values and behaviours do you think best describe the current functioning of your organisation?"
  • "Of the following values and behaviours, which 10 do you think would be most necessary for the organisation to operate as successfully as possible?"

Storytelling in practice:

The storytelling group is a very insightful qualitative tool for understanding the culture of an organisation.
In organisations, people's functioning, effectiveness and well-being are influenced by many factors of which they are not conscious. Without the knowledge of these factors, the basis for development may be in doubt. As these factors are not conscious, they are difficult to access through questionnaires and traditional interviews. One of the fundamental virtues of storytelling is that it is precisely these moments that it brings to the surface by mobilising episodic memory.

Storytelling groups typically consist of 10-12 people, with a skilled facilitator to help build the right level of collaboration and keep the conversation on track. The deep analysis of the texts of the conversations, which usually last between 1.5 and 2 hours, provides the data and stories that most accurately describe the organisational culture.

Typical questions:

Why do you need to assess culture, since managers have a good sense of "what the organisation is about"?
Most good leaders do have a sound knowledge of the culture of their organisation, but however well founded these perceptions are, they inevitably lack the opinions and insights of the members of the organisation. The leader observes phenomena, but has only assumptions about the reasons behind them. The culture survey also reveals these hidden dimensions and differences within the organisation.

The culture of an organisation is a given and difficult to change, so why should it be given special attention in a rapidly changing environment?
It is the leaders who have the greatest impact on culture, it is their day-to-day decisions and the rules they set that 'create' the culture of the organisation. Feedback helps to give insight into these influences, so that managers can be more aware of, for example, what behaviours they tolerate or praise and what rules they create.

Why is it necessary and worthwhile to involve everyone in the survey?
From a purely statistical point of view, if the organisation is large enough, a representative sample may indeed be sufficient. However, on the one hand, it is difficult to estimate the response rate in advance, and a low response rate may result in a sample that is not representative as previously planned. On the other hand, "inviting" the whole organisation into the survey has an important positive message, showing that everyone's opinion counts equally.


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