Organizational culture has the power to be an incredible strategy accelerant – but when your culture isn’t inclusive, your organization won’t reach its potential because everyone isn’t committed to doing their best work. So, how do you create an inclusive organizational culture that will ignite your strategy?
To start, leaders need to understand how culture influences the well-being of their people. They need to be willing to hold up a mirror and welcome the opportunity to see the gap between their organization’s current culture and the aspirational culture they wish they had.
What does it take to understand your organization’s culture in its full complexity? How can you invite the truth about your culture so that you can address what is really getting in your way?
When addressing cultural challenges, most organizations turn to surveys as a “check the box” activity to collect data and evaluate their current state. Leaders often assume that people will feel safe being open and honest in their responses. Anonymous surveys are a well-intended approach that prompt employees to share their genuine experiences. Unfortunately, the results do not always tell the whole story.
Why surveys are missing the mark
- Psychological safety is requisite for any evaluation. You will not get an accurate understanding of the state of your culture if employees believe that a survey isn’t confidential, or that there will be retribution for negatively-interpreted responses. Most employees are unlikely to report their true feelings if they fear there will be consequences for what they have shared.
- Surveys are subject to social desirability bias, which is the tendency for employees to overreport good behaviors and underreport less desirable ones. When employees face the potential for retribution or retaliation for unpopular responses, they are more likely to paint a positive picture of your organization that doesn’t get to the heart of what’s going on in your culture.
- “What have you done for us lately” is often the sentiment of survey participants – if employees believe that their feedback isn’t taken seriously by the organization, they won’t participate honestly.Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Have you communicated with participants since the last survey?
- Have issues raised been acknowledged, addressed, or resolved?
- What (if anything) has been done to mitigate reported problems?
- Did you formally thank employees for taking the time to contribute to improving the culture?
The bottom line is that employees need to see and believe that surveys are confidential and used to drive the change they care about, or they will not bother reporting honestly and thoroughly.