How do We Measure and Make Changes to Our Organizational Culture?

In the current global workplace, many organizations struggle with a large remote workforce that isn’t receiving the benefit of their long-standing culture — or are they? Cultural assimilation previously occurred when certain behaviors that were tied to the culture and values were exhibited and repeated in the office or among peers. But now that there are so many WFH and other types of non-office workers, those old standards may need to be re-evaluated. 

What Metrics Yo You Use to Measure Culture? 

The problem here is something that nearly every organization is going through: How do we measure something as ephemeral as culture, especially without being able to rely on observable data? In addition, many organizations struggle with return-to-work plans and contingencies for further disruptions and have not been able to devote resources to cultural measurement or change. 

There are almost no limits to the positive effects a strong culture can have on a business. Anything from attracting and retaining talent to increasing productivity to fostering collaboration to improving leadership development — it’s all in there. However, the opposite is also true; a negative culture can start a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself through employee contact, so it is important to monitor and maintain the culture that your organization desires. 

For organizations seeking to determine the metrics they should use to measure culture and how to affect cultural change, they must first decide what their specific business needs and goals are. Key questions organizations should address include: 

  • Who is accountable for overseeing the organizational culture and leading the way for cultural change?
  • How will you measure the impact of cultural change if the workplace changes (e.g., more people working from home than ever before)? 
  • What avenues for expressing culture currently exist in your organization? 
  • What tools and technologies are in place to support cultural measurement and change? 
  • What will be the ultimate business impact of measuring or changing organizational culture? 

Measure Organizational Culture Based on Organizational Goals 

There is no one “right” approach to using metrics to measure culture. The metrics measured must reflect the current state and the end goal, with the end goal as a specific business objective. There is, however, an incorrect approach — which is to use the metrics themselves as a goal, rather than achieving concrete business results. 

Close the Feedback Loop on Cultural Measurement 

The highest-performing organizations get constant feedback on whichever metrics are chosen, reviewed weekly (at a minimum) to ensure the metrics are not being affected by external factors (e.g., vaccine rollouts, weather, back to school) and are relevant to the change you want to see, measured by a more objective set of metrics such as revenue or market share.

The Best Cultural Interventions are the Earliest 

When it comes to affecting real change, again there are several to success, but follow-up conversations with high-performing companies reveal that early interventions (branding, recruitment marketing and onboarding) are key areas for communicating your culture and are good inflection points for affecting cultural changes, as needed. 

When done early and correctly, these interventions help create connections between employees, managers, leaders and the local community which, according to Brandon Hall Group research, has the greatest impact in building communities within organizations, although shockingly few companies (25%) can get this done — which means that the ones who do will be far ahead of their competitors. 

Avoid Tying Cultural Metrics to Individual Rewards 

As with culture metrics, there are false pathways to avoid. Do not tie rewards to cultural adoption — this will only result in a superficial set of learned behaviors that will go away the moment the reward is removed or shifts. This is especially important if your organization uses observable behaviors as its main way of measuring cultural adoption, as Brandon Hall Group research (noted above) has shown that most companies do. 

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Mike Cooke



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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.