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How Do I Know What the Culture of my Workplace or Team REALLY Is?

Over the last few weeks, we have:

In my last post about culture in this series, we will discover how to determine what your culture really is. You may have articulated what you want it to be, but your culture is what is REALLY happening in your organization where the rubber meets the road. There is often a gap. Keep in mind that you can do the same thing in your team. The team culture is certainly informed by the overall corporate culture but every group has a culture of its own.

So, how do you assess your culture? Here are 5 ways!

1. Consider the Eight Culture Styles

Research in Harvard Business Review (HBR) identified eight distinct culture styles. Would you use any of these to describe your organization or team? This may be helpful data to consider as you examine your current culture.

1. Caring, collaborative, and supportive

2. Purposeful, idealistic, and altruistic

3. Learning, inventive, and innovative

4. Enjoyable, fun, and stimulating

5. Results-oriented, driven by achievement and winning

6. Authoritative, competitive, and controlling

7. Safe, predictable, and risk-averse

8. Orderly, methodical, and cooperative

2. Observe

Remember that culture is the sum of what people in the organization think, say, and do in your organization or on your team. Spend some time observing how people interact and treat each other. You may have articulated organizational values but if people aren’t using them in how they relate to one another then they aren’t hardwired into your culture.

3. Do a Formal Culture Assessment

You can do this assessment yourself but sometimes it’s better to have a neutral third party do this for you as they will be more objective. Alert, small sales pitch ahead😊

Gallup suggests auditing all people-related programs and communication including performance management, recognition, compensation, recruiting, onboarding, values, rituals, and team structures for alignment and consistency with your purpose and brand. They recommend doing this type of assessment annually. Check out the Culture Catalyst Solution if you’d like some help.

4. Gather Employee Feedback

I do this as part of the overall culture assessment. Regardless of how you handle it, gathering employee feedback on how they view the culture, their pain points, and what they feel is going well is an important part of this process.

5. Take Steps Toward What You Want Your Culture to Be

Now you know where your culture stands vs. what you want it to be. If there is a gap, you can take steps to move toward your desired culture. Spoiler alert – there usually is.

To do this:

  • Consider best practices to incorporate into your organization or team.

  • If there is a lack of accountability resulting in a gap, do a reset and begin the process of holding people accountable as it relates to the standard, purpose and values.

  • Work to transition your bosses to coaches. Gallup says this is the #1 way to create a culture of engagement and I believe them. They got lots of data ya’ll!


I am facilitating a free virtual workshop on August 24th from 10 to 11 a.m. EST on Culture which will cover some of what I've shared in this series of posts and more! Learn more and sign up here.

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