Assess Your Organizational Culture

Assess Your Organizational Culture with These 10 Questions

by Dr. Rick Goodman on October 14, 2019

Organizational culture is something I’ve blogged about, and spoken about, many times before. What I’ve found is that most business owners and HR professionals are keenly aware of the fact that they have an organizational culture, and that it impacts the engagement, creativity, and productivity of their team.

What’s difficult sometimes is defining your organizational culture, putting a finger on what makes it distinct. In this post, I’m going to offer 10 simple questions you can ask yourself to size up your company’s organizational culture. Of course, this is a very qualitative rather than quantitative approach, and I’d also recommend looking into some more metric-driven approaches to measuring your culture.

With that said, I think this quick questionnaire can be vital for just getting you started in thinking critically about what your organizational culture is and how it might be improved.

What is Organizational Culture?What is Organizational Culture?

Before we get to the questions, let’s spend just a paragraph or so with a quick refresher: What is organizational culture, generally speaking?

One way to think about organizational culture is that it’s a summary of how people at your business interact with each other… and, how they interact with clients and customers. More formally, you might say that organizational culture is the mixture of beliefs, assumptions, values, and habits that comprise the psychological environment of your workplace.

Organizational culture comes in different varieties, and some are healthier than others. So, how do you assess your company’s culture? That’s what we’ll address next.

assess your company’s cultureHere are the 10 questions I’d recommend for assessing your company culture.

  1. What is the mission/purpose of the organization? Are you able to quickly and clearly articulate the “big picture,” the end goal you and your team are pursuing? Is this mission statement written or codified in some way? Would you say that most team members can articulate the mission? Or, if you asked 10 different employees what the mission is, would you get 10 different answers?
  2. What motivates employees? Are team members spurred into action by a sense of mission? By a zeal for collaboration? By the promise of a reward, or the threat of corrective action? What’s the motivating force at your company?
  3. What’s the structure? Would you say that the structure of your company is hierarchical? Do you have many different levels of authority? Or is it more of a flat structure, where team members all feel like they’re on pretty much the same footing? How does this structure impact your daily productivity and employee relationships?
  4. Is your company collaborative? How often do different departments work together with one another? On a typical project, is one employee holed up in their office, or do you see a lot of instances of teamwork and cross-disciplinary unity?
  5. Do people in your company feel respected? Actually, start with yourself: Do you feel respected, both by people who work under you and by the people to whom you report? Do colleagues appreciate your particular skills and subject matter expertise? Do you feel like you have opportunities to add value, and is that value welcomed and appreciated by the rest of the team?
  6. Is there freedom to fail? What happens if a team member tries something innovative and new and it doesn’t quite work as intended? Is punitive action taken? Is that employee scolded by the boss? Or do you have a work environment where effort and experimentation are rewarded and encouraged, even when things don’t quite pan out?
  7. How does employee morale impact the end client/customer? This is a tough one to assess, maybe, but think about the general mood of your employees. Does it seem like their disposition carries over into friendly, attentive, courteous customer service? Or do you notice that lackluster attitudes lead to a chilly demeanor with customers?
  8. How would you define leadership at your company? Leadership and organizational culture go hand in hand. I’d encourage you to ask whether the managers/bosses/supervisors/executives at your company lead by example; whether they micromanage; whether they delegate; whether they ultimately trust employees with some real autonomy and freedom.
  9. Can you name three specific areas where your organizational culture could be improved? Simple question… simple but crucial! No company culture is ever perfect. It’s always going to be a work in progress, and thinking critically about specific areas for improvement can be a really helpful exercise. What are a few things that immediately spring to mind? And do you think other team members would share your assessment?
  10. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your organizational culture? And would you recommend it to a friend? Again, this may sound simple, maybe even simplistic. But I think there’s real value in just doing a quick gut check: How much do you like your organizational culture, really? Your instincts here may be more revealing than you can imagine.

More Questions About Organizational Culture? Ask Me!

To wrap up, let me just note again how much I encourage leaders and HR managers to evaluate their company culture. And, as you think about the needs of your organizational culture, by all means reach out to me with questions! I’d love to talk about:

  • What is organizational culture?
  • How can your organizational culture be evaluated?
  • How can your organizational culture be improved?

Let’s talk culture! Reach out to me at your next opportunity. Contact me at www.rickgoodman.com or call 888-267-6098.

Dr. Rick GoodmanAssess Your Organizational Culture with These 10 Questions