Doing a Corporate Culture Survey
Most corporate culture surveys are not as effective as they could be.
This article will help you to optimize your success and use the resultsto improve your corporate culture.
Start with Your Goals
When embarking upon a corporate culture survey project, you muststart with the end in mind. What is your purpose in doing a corporateculture survey? Do you want to improve the corporate culture? If so,why? What are the main challenges that your company is facing? Do youhave a good understanding of what corporate culture is? If not, Iencourage you to read Understanding Corporate Culture.
I recommend that you narrow down your goals to three major goals thatyou would like to accomplish. Examples would include: 1) reduce employeeturnover; 2) improve product delivery time; and 3) increaseprofitability. It is best to set quantitative goals. Even though youcannot quantify your corporate culture, it is the container for all ofyour results and has a direct and indirect impact on these results. Bysetting quantitative goals, you will be able to measure the results ofyour efforts by doing annual or bi-annual corporate culture surveys.
Be prepared to change your goals. While goal-setting up-front isextremely important, you may learn some things about your company andculture that lead you to re-prioritize your goals. This is fine. Be openand flexible. Try not to forecast the outcome of the survey before youget the results.
Designing a Good Corporate Culture Survey
Once you know what you are trying to accomplish in doing a survey,you can design questions around your goals. But, be careful! Quantumphysics has demonstrated that the intentions of a scientist affect theoutcome of her experiment. That is why I recommend that you use a surveythat has been designed by an outside party. Her or she will not shareyour biases and the results will be less biased. Below are the sections that we have included in the Culture Builders
Corporate Culture Survey:
1. Company Mission
3. Corporate Culture
4. Company Values
5. The Work Itself
6. Work Assignments
7. Work Fulfillment
8. Individual Career Development
9. Support, Training, and Coaching
10. Summary Questions
You see that the Culture Builders’ survey covers a broad range ofareas. Corporate Culture is only one section. The reason for this isthat culture is the container for actions, decisions, and results. Youwill be able to learn about your culture indirectly by querying theother areas.
Sections 1-9 are quantitative questions and section 10 has open-endedqualitative questions. The quantitative questions can be tracked by timeperiod, which is important. You will be able to recognize trends and beproactive in avoiding a crisis. The qualitative questions will give youlots of insights and useful anecdotes.
In designing the survey, it is essential to obtain personalinformation from the survey participants that will help you to segmentthe data. For example, tenure and department are essential pieces ofinformation. Position level may also be useful.
That said, it is critical to keep the survey confidential. Peoplewill be more willing to complete the survey and provide honest answersif they are confident that their answers cannot be traced back to them.
Use design and technology to keep the answers confidential.
Implementing the Corporate Culture Survey
Make it as easy as possible for people to complete the survey. Usethe technology that makes best sense for your company. I have helpedcompanies set up surveys on their intranets and on Lotus Notes.
Set it up so that someone can begin the survey and the partialanswers will be saved if they get interrupted. Make a tight timeframefor people to do the survey – one week or two weeks if people travelfrequently. Send out 48 and 24 hour notices of the surveys deadline.
Getting Good Response to your Corporate Culture Survey
It is important to have the buy-in and support of the leadership teamin doing this survey. Spend the time necessary to educate them aboutcorporate culture and your goals for conducting a survey. The leadershipteam will then advocate for the survey and increase the response rate.
How you present the survey to potential participants is critical tothe success of your project. Remember: the survey is confidential soparticipation is optional. If you only get 70% of people responding tothe survey, you will not be able to find out who has not participated.
One of the best ways to ensure 100% participation is to clearlyarticulate the goals of the survey and share your plan for what you willdo with the results. If I believe that you will do good things with thesurvey results and it will directly improve my life, I am more apt totake the time to do the survey.
What to Do with the Results of your Corporate Culture Survey
The worst thing you can do is to undertake a survey and then donothing with the results. This is far worse than doing nothing at all.
You will raise people’s expectations of life at the company improvingand then the results disappear into a black hole. I guarantee thatmorale will deteriorate.
Set up a company-wide meeting to present and discuss results. Do thiswithin a few weeks of the close of the survey. Use the momentum that youhave built up to keep moving towards your goals.
Be as transparent as possible in presenting the results. Don’t skewor sugar-coat them. I helped a company do a survey and the internalperson who presented the results focused only on the positive andglossed over the negative. People didn’t buy it. Be as objective aspossible. Try to get someone who is respected and well-liked within thecompany to present the results. This is far better than having anoutside consultant do this. Then the whole company will own the results
– not an impassionate outside observer.
I recommend setting up three task forces to own the three goals thatyou have set forth. Try to get volunteers to sit on the task forces.
Make the teams a hybrid of different departments and different levels.
Set concrete goals and timelines. Make sure that the task forces havethe support and resources they need.
I recommend doing an annual or bi-annual survey to keep your fingeron the pulse of the company. Make minor changes to the survey or addquestions, but don’t change anything significantly or you won’t be ableto track your results and identify trends.