“Corporate Culture” as a concept, is going on 40 years old and demand for it is rising in organizations. The attractive, somewhat mysterious,
Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
How does this relate to Organizational Culture? . but is it actually measurable? Measurability being essential in the managerial equation, the challenge of benchmarking and growing more positive cultures becomes apparent. What is actually being measured? The corporate whole? The human parts? Which parts?
The Culture Conundrum
Traditional surveys, feedback boxes and open door policies go a long way to answering at leas some of the questions in part, but most often fail to address either the bigger picture or finer points and rarely lead to long term satisfaction, engagement and growth.
What then is culture and how might we approach the opportunity differently within our organizations? Culture is the sum total of the beliefs of the people who make up a collective group. It reflects their values, attitudes, beliefs, tolerance, inclusiveness, language, heroes, myths, history and expectations.
As such, culture is inherently diverse and serves many purposes, but the goal of workplace culture is traditionally geared towards productivity. As such, while strong cultures thrive throughout an organization, the impact of leadership is indisputable in defining, guiding and growing that culture in line with key growth measures.
Crux of the Culture Opportunity
However, while culture eats strategy for breakfast according to business luminaries such as Peter Drucker, strategy still seems to own the dinner table. Ineffable words, they are a solid reminder the importance of breakfast, as well as the true strength of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivators brought to light by authors such as Daniel Pink.
The importance of those underlying motivators is something which is slowly coming to light, and the truth is that while not all of them are work related, what drives us most in turn most certainly affects our work life —as well as those around us.
That said, an often overlooked key link between culture and motivation resides at each and every point on the organizational chart, alluding to a vastly greater potential. And this is where culture investments often end, as the means of measuring motivation have been mostly diffuse or heavily invested in overly-complex mathematical models.
The Heart and the Brain
If we want a more reliable, measurable approach to culture, perhaps we should look at how human health measurement has evolved and still evolving. Cultural health is akin to human health in its complexity. To make test results meaningful, the medical field first had to agree on what systems, if compromised would most likely result in the shut down of the human body.
When the brain and heart were identified as the most crucial, the next step was to find other systems which, if a disorder existed, would impact the heart and brain the most negatively. Resultantly, standards of health were set and tests were developed to report and diagnose on contributing factors to systems vitality—with the aim being to sustain longer life and greater involvement of the human being.
A Measure of Motivation
To take the heart and brain metaphor into the workplace, I believe motivation and environment are of respective importance in sustaining a healthy corporate culture. Motivation makes visible the attitude, beliefs and desires driving the collective. In turn, the environment is shaped to satisfy the most important needs, so that the organization s vision may grow and be sustained. However, while many measures have been taken to address the environmental factors of the workplace, what has been lacking, until now, is an easy, reliable measure for motivation which feeds back to organizational goals.
In this light, a little bit of math proven to go a long way in the hands of U.K. author and educator James Sales whose Motivational Maps, launched in 2006, have received both ISO certification, as well as the attention of over 500 organizations in 13 countries.
Self-admittedly coming from outside the field, what makes Sales approach effective is its ability to quantify the motivation of individuals, teams, and organizations—and to do so based on a relatively simple 12 minute affective assessment. Targeting nine motivational dimensions, it provides powerful and applicable insight rooted in feelings, emotions and the rational mind alike.
Charting a Motivational Map
Most poignantly, the Motivational Maps capture a snapshot of the living values of an organization, the levels of alignment and engagement and the degree to which expectations are being communicated and met across all nine motivational dimensions.
This holistic and practical capture has been the traditional challenge Sales sought to address; as such Motivational Maps allow individuals and companies to identify, benchmark and then set ongoing, measurable goals aligned to their corresponding motivational system and the desired business outcome.
An I on Culture: Six Simple Steps
Regardless of the toolkit you choose, the following is a fairly fool proof way of linking best intentions with like outcomes:
1. Investigate and invest with interest; 2. Implement performance measures; 3. Introduce tools/means of measure; 4. Integrate discoveries;
5. Infuse performance with meaning; and
6. Innovate daily.
Anchoring all of the above is the need to set a simple process by which motivations may not only be measured but sown, grown and set to ever greater challenge and satisfaction for all involved.