Whether it be a set of values, customs or traditions, your company culture is a set of collective aspirations that will define how your business grows. Healthy business cultures can inspire people to navigate through tough times and produce work far beyond their pay grade. Though culture is frequently invoked with success, cultural failures can have an effect on a company that’s just as pronounced. If not carefully tailored, a poorly planned culture can create a dysfunctional workplace that can mystify even the sharpest entrepreneur.
Though you may have organized your company culture as a business owner, your employees are the ones who experience this culture every day. They see it at its peak and troughs, and the best resource to determine whether or not your culture works to make your business stronger. Here are five ways to survey your employees about company culture -- and why doing so is important.
1. Find out the actual consequences of values.
The foundation of many company cultures are a set of core values. They can range from one word (determination) to short phrases (Work smart not hard) and are designed to be guiding principles for your business. Whether you know it or not, your employees probably emulate these traits in distinct ways. As the team leader and entrepreneur, it’s necessary to understand whether or not your values are cultivating positive employee habits or generating unintended side effects. Also, If those values aren’t impacting behavior at all, why invest energy in promoting them? Crafting an employee experience is much like crafting a customer experience. To improve either of them, you need a direct source of feedback.
2. Find out what norms are limiting productivity.
Employee productivity is directly dependent on the quality of company culture. The cultural norms in place such as work hours, post-meeting protocols or approval methods, are a function of top-down decisions that upper management doesn’t directly experience. Even the most valuable of employees can feel hindered by cultural norms, which can be viewed as stifling and unfocused rather than empowering and precision-driven. Identify any cultural norms that may be barriers and refine them to encourage employee productivity.
3. Learn more about your work environment.
Work environment is solely a function of company culture and those managing it. However, you may find it tough to experience your company’s work environment firsthand, because employees have a tendency to change their behavior around employers. This behavioral shift can make it difficult to identify whether or not everyday interactions motivate employees or burden them with stress, or if the method by which criticism is delivered is constructive to your workplace culture or detrimental. Allowing employees to anonymously assess their work environment provides business owners with this most authentic representation of a workplace and each of the factors that affect employees’ work environment satisfaction.
4. Assess employee fit.
Ask 100 employees about workplace culture, and rest assured you’ll receive 100 different answers. Business owners should use this feedback to not only examine workplace culture, but also to evaluate each individual employee’s compatibility with that culture. An employee might have unparalleled talent and exceed expectations on each of their deliverables. However, if there’s a poor cultural fit, their presence and continued activities can have far reaching effects that eliminate any company’s net gains. Use your employee’s answers to assess mutual growth in your company’s work environment, and how their views on company cultural affect the growth of those around them.
5. Build a better vision.
Successful business cultures are not only built from the top down but also from the bottom up. You should continue to reiterate the values of your workplace, but just like building a company, you can’t build a culture on your own. Examine your employees responses and look for trends within their answers. If project ownership is a common problem, turn ownership into one of your company values and become its champion. If office politics is devouring your team, consider enforcing honesty and collaboration on a cultural level. Find out what’s important to your employees and what functions they need to succeed, and a newer, better vision of workplace culture will begin to build itself.