Cultural Checklist: How You Can Assess Your Company Culture

22nd Jun, 2020 | Resources

For the most part, discussions of company culture are impractical and vague. They pay lip service to abstract concepts like vision and values, but don’t provide the methods to test the health of your business’ culture.

So, we’ve compiled a list of the evidence you can gather to assess the state of your company culture and know where you need to take it.

What Is Company Culture, Really?

To assess your culture you need to know exactly what it’s made of and how it develops.

Understanding that it is the environment created by the beliefs, behaviours, attitudes and values of the people in your business is the first step.

Why Do We Need To Talk In Concrete Assessments Of Culture?

People have been talking about company culture in abstract statements since the concept emerged, so why would we need to change the way we look at it? While culture can be averaged out and assessed, it is still a subjective experience. One staff member might experience it one way, but another might have a completely unique experience of the same culture. By looking for concrete examples of cultural health, businesses can attain a more objective understanding of how harmoniously their ecosystem operates.

How Can I Rate My Company Culture?

By looking for examples of the following in your business, you can see the areas in which your company culture is strong and where you might like to improve it.

People Are Enjoying Themselves

What you’re looking for:
  – Smiles
  – Laughter
  – Happy yet productive teams.

What it means: If you’ve created a healthy culture, it means you’ve hired people that get on with each other and are relaxed and engaged in their work.

On the other hand, people who dislike or distrust their workmates, are unlikely to seek out interactions with them and will often feel more stress and pressure at times of peak work.

Where your teams are busy but still joking with one another, you can trust that you have built a culture they enjoy being part of.

People At Every Level Reject Negativity and Fear

What you’re looking for:   
  – An absence of gossip
  – Instances of people discouraging negative thinking or behaviour

What it means: Gossip is a natural human behaviour, but it indicates judgement of colleagues as well as a tendency towards an “us-and-them” mentality that can erode a cooperative team. Where teams are rejecting gossip and other negative thinking, like complaining, it suggests they are building strong bonds and are working in unity.

Communication is Clear and Collaborative

What you’re looking for:  
  – Frequent and open dialogue between top and entry level staff
  – Honest conversations and constructive feedback

What it means: Your people treat each other with respect and really listen to one another. The culture allows value to be given to the opinions and experience of all team members. Decision makers are open to input that leads to innovation and people feeling valued and appreciated.

You Recognise Success and Don’t Point Blame

What you’re looking for:
  – People publicly pointing out successes of teammates
  – Leaders who can’t wait to tell you what their team members have achieved (both professionally and personally)
  – People publicly owning their mistakes and sharing the learnings that come from them

What this means: Your culture is a supportive and flexible one. People feel safe to learn from their mistakes and to trial innovations and risks that might lead to failure but could also lead to improvement and success. The culture is carried through failures by celebrating successes together.

Balanced Workloads

What you’re looking for:
  – Signs of stress (people look tired, tense or are unwell often)
  – Deadlines missed
  – People with little to do

What it means: If the demands of your business and the size of your team are unbalanced people will either be overworked (exhausted, frustrated and prone to mistakes) or bored (disengaged and prone to resigning). If you can’t find evidence of any of the above, then there are good signs that your culture is not being dragged down by people frustrated with their workload.

High Demand and Low Turnover

What you’re looking for:
  – Low resignation rates
  – High numbers of applications for open roles
  – People approaching the business about work outside of vacant roles

What It Means: People leave workplaces with poor company culture. Unhealthy cultures lead to stress and stress leads to resignations. People in poor working cultures are unlikely to contribute to good word of mouth, so it will be hard for your business to be building a reputation as a great place to work.

If people are knocking down your door to be part of your team, and the team members you already have like to stay put, this is a strong indicator of good cultural health.

Time For Your Company Culture Health Check

Now that you have some real examples as a starting point, take some time to examine your company culture and look for it’s strong and weak points.  Build off your strengths and look into ways to make your weaknesses well-known and turn them into projects to be worked on.