Measuring Your Company Culture Can Pay Big Dividends


Culture Wheel Photo

Building the right culture for your startup is a critical driver of its success or failure, as we learned back in Lesson #13.  It is one thing to talk about building the right culture.  It is an entirely different thing to actually know you have built it.  I recently got a crash course on this subject from my colleague Barry Saltzman at Culture Measures, a culture consulting firm, who taught me that measuring culture has become a science.  And, once harnessed, it can help turn culture into a competitive weapon for your business.  I wanted to share those learnings with you.

To start, and to be perfectly clear, your company’s culture is a direct driver of your business performance (e.g., customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, productivity).  The better your culture, the better your business output (e.g., throughput, variable costs) and business outcomes (e.g., net profit, equity value) will be.

But, how do you measure culture?  Barry, suggests there are four key drivers of a company’s culture: (i) your people (and them feeling empowered, being trusted and getting engaged); (ii) your process (which should be adaptable with continuous learning and improvement); (iii) your clarity (in terms of clearly communicating and understanding the company’s vision and values); and (iv) your execution (in a way that is productive, accountable and collaborative).  Unless you can clearly track and measure these four different areas, and the numerous sub-categories therein, you really won’t know what is working, and what is not working, with your company’s culture.

If you feel you have a culture issue in your company, companies like Culture Measures can help you clearly identify where the problems lie.  Or, you can try to solve these items on your own by: (i) introducing the concept and survey to your team and getting all issues aligned; (ii) reviewing the results with the management team; (iii) appointing an in-house culture leader to plan steps to address issues raised; (iv) build a metrics dashboard to measure your success over time; (v) make sure goals are set and are in line with the company’s priorities and financial metrics; and (vi) roll out the program to  your employees with clear near term and long term objectives.

If you do this right, not only will your culture and employee productivity improve, but it will lead to data-driven buy-in from your senior management to know they are getting a clear ROI on their culture investment which is perfectly in alignment with the company’s goals.  Pretty cool stuff, bringing hard data to a formerly hard to measure area of the business.



Reprinted by permission

Image credit: CC by George Deeb

About the author: George Deeb

George Deeb is a managing partner at Red Rocket Ventures, a Chicago-based startup consulting and fundraising firm with expertise in advising Internet-related businesses. More of George’s startup lessons can be read at “101 Startup Lessons — An Entrepreneur’s Handbook.”

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