08 Nov The Visible & Invisible Truth About Company Culture
Think about your company culture. What do you see? Is it vivid? Are you proud of it? If the first things that come to mind are bagel Friday’s and the “family” mindset, you’re thinking too surface level. Those things are great, no doubt, but are they an accurate reflection of what’s really going on? Like with an iceberg, the surface doesn’t always convey what is underneath. Try to peek below the surface by considering the things that aren’t so easy to see.
The visible components of an organization’s culture don’t always add up with the more significant, less visible components
If you look at the underside of the iceberg, you might see a totally different story. The visible components of an organization’s culture don’t always add up with the more significant, less visible components. Is the team really like family, or is your turnover rate undermining that goal? Do people bond over bagels, or do they group off into cliques or simply eat alone? Your company may claim to value diversity and inclusion, but are all voices really heard? Is every opportunity truly equitable, and does your data reflect that?
It’s easy to believe your culture is thriving when there is a facade of “niceness”.
In my experience, most leaders who think their company has a great culture are often mistaken. That’s absolutely not their fault, because it can often be difficult to see the reality of the situation. It’s easy to believe your culture is thriving when there is a facade of “niceness”. Discrimination is kept on the hush hush and employees rarely speak up about culture dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, that’s not for lack of feeling it. New research suggests that a mere 13% of U.S. employees are actually satisfied with their work experience, and nearly half are actively dissatisfied.
There’s a good chance your impression of things don’t add up with the reality if you’re not keeping an open line of communication with the entire team.
That’s why it’s so important to provide ample opportunities for your team to voice their true opinions. Two-way communication is key. There’s a good chance your impression of things don’t add up with the reality if you’re not keeping an open line of communication with the entire team. Create a safe space by making everyone feel like their opinions are valued. If you or other team members shoot down ideas or consistently favor the ideas of one person over others, this can be discouraging. Try your best to build people up, even when their idea might not be great. Seek to understand their thinking behind the idea. Conducting anonymous surveys can be very insightful, if done well. One-on-one check ins are another great way to get your finger on the pulse of your company.
Regular measurement and analysis of your DE&I efforts will tell you a lot about your culture
Data is another major factor when it comes to truly understanding your organization’s state of being. Regular measurement and analysis of your DE&I efforts will tell you a lot about your culture. Without keeping track of things like diversity of representation, pay equity, and employee satisfaction, you’ll have no way to accurately gauge whether or not you’re meeting your goals. If you don’t know where your company stands, then how can you be an effective leader? Leaders need to know what’s working and what’s not, so that we can adapt accordingly.
Since 58% of job seekers in the U.S. feel that company culture is more important than salary, any organization that neglects this realm will certainly feel the impact
Throughout my professional career, I’ve done more than my fair share of examining a wide range of company cultures. I’ve learned that most leaders are actually unaware of the underlying truth about their company culture, and many are aware but at a loss for how to navigate change. However, there’s also those who are aware, but simply don’t think it’s important enough to invest in making improvements. I hate to say it, but these organizations hardly stand a fighting chance. Since 58% of job seekers in the U.S. feel that company culture is more important than salary, any organization that neglects this realm will certainly feel the impact. If what you say doesn’t align with what you actually do, then your company culture is in need of some focused attention. Those who make a conscious effort to understand and improve their culture will reap what they sow.
Shaara Roman is founder and CEO of The Silverene Group, a culture consultancy that helps companies align their people programs with business goals.