Getting the Real Answer to “What it’s Like to Work Here”

Welcome back to our discussion on ensuring your culture is aligned with – and adding value – to your business. This week’s discussion focuses on assessing your current culture and the importance of knowing what it is really like to work at your company.

It is common for organizations to lack a clear picture on how their people feel about the stated or aspired organizational culture, or whether what is stated (the talk) aligns to how things actually are (the walk). A lack of clarity in this space can create a disconnect between leadership teams and their employees and across employee groups. This is particularly true following any significant organizational change (e.g., ownership, portfolio, financial, leadership).

For example, a recent Carnrite client experienced rapid growth in 2020, impressively completing a major acquisition during COVID-19 while all employees worked remotely. The acquisition doubled one of their business unit’s headcount, providing a natural point to pause and take stock of where the company stood culturally, and how well employee perspectives aligned with where leadership wanted to take the company.  To get that input, employee feedback was gathered via interviews and used later to build a survey that focused on the topics most relevant to the organization’s strategic intentions, values, and priorities.

The objective of garnering this feedback is to identify the most impactful themes to explore rather than acting only on surface level issues that will fade quickly.   We call these themes “Cultural Continuums”.  There are typically six or seven key themes which we have found help bring to light the organization’s specific strengths, pain points, and gaps between current and aspired ways of operating. An example of how we’ve seen this play out at multiple clients is when employee feedback indicates that their organization exercises more control than what is needed to deliver the results sought, or when organizations prioritize the status quo over supporting the innovation needed to continue to grow.

These Continuum results provide invaluable directional insight, areas of strength to leverage, and specific areas where better alignment is needed.  Next week we will dig into culture and strategy alignment and provide specific examples of how misalignment between the two can affect day-to-day results.

Culture as a Competitive Advantage, is written by:

Lindsey O’Kelley, Senior Consultant, and Doug Schlegel, Managing Director and Human Capital Lead.

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