Doing a Corporate Culture Survey
Most corporate culture surveys are not as effective as they could be.
This article will help you to optimize your success and use the results
to improve your corporate culture.
Start with Your Goals
When embarking upon a corporate culture survey project, you must
start with the end in mind. What is your purpose in doing a corporate
culture survey? Do you want to improve the corporate culture? If so,
why? What are the main challenges that your company is facing? Do you
have a good understanding of what corporate culture is? If not, I
encourage you to read Understanding Corporate Culture.
I recommend that you narrow down your goals to three major goals that
you would like to accomplish. Examples would include: 1) reduce employee
turnover; 2) improve product delivery time; and 3) increase
profitability. It is best to set quantitative goals. Even though you
cannot quantify your corporate culture, it is the container for all of
your results and has a direct and indirect impact on these results. By
setting quantitative goals, you will be able to measure the results of
your efforts by doing annual or bi-annual corporate culture surveys.
Be prepared to change your goals. While goal-setting up-front is
extremely important, you may learn some things about your company and
culture that lead you to re-prioritize your goals. This is fine. Be open
and flexible. Try not to forecast the outcome of the survey before you
get the results.
Designing a Good Corporate Culture Survey
Once you know what you are trying to accomplish in doing a survey,
you can design questions around your goals. But, be careful! Quantum
physics has demonstrated that the intentions of a scientist affect the
outcome of her experiment. That is why I recommend that you use a survey
that has been designed by an outside party. Her or she will not share
your biases and the results will be less biased.
Below are the sections that we have included in the Culture Builders
Corporate Culture Survey:
1. Company Mission
3. Corporate Culture
4. Company Values
5. The Work Itself
6. Work Assignments
7. Work Fulfillment
8. Individual Career Development
9. Support, Training, and Coaching
10. Summary Questions
You see that the Culture Builders’ survey covers a broad range of
areas. Corporate Culture is only one section. The reason for this is
that culture is the container for actions, decisions, and results. You
will be able to learn about your culture indirectly by querying the
Sections 1-9 are quantitative questions and section 10 has open-ended
qualitative questions. The quantitative questions can be tracked by time
period, which is important. You will be able to recognize trends and be
proactive in avoiding a crisis. The qualitative questions will give you
lots of insights and useful anecdotes.
In designing the survey, it is essential to obtain personal
information from the survey participants that will help you to segment
the data. For example, tenure and department are essential pieces of
information. Position level may also be useful.
That said, it is critical to keep the survey confidential. People
will be more willing to complete the survey and provide honest answers
if they are confident that their answers cannot be traced back to them.
Use design and technology to keep the answers confidential.
Implementing the Corporate Culture Survey
Make it as easy as possible for people to complete the survey. Use
the technology that makes best sense for your company. I have helped
companies set up surveys on their intranets and on Lotus Notes.
Set it up so that someone can begin the survey and the partial
answers will be saved if they get interrupted. Make a tight timeframe
for people to do the survey – one week or two weeks if people travel
frequently. Send out 48 and 24 hour notices of the surveys deadline.
Getting Good Response to your Corporate Culture Survey
It is important to have the buy-in and support of the leadership team
in doing this survey. Spend the time necessary to educate them about
corporate culture and your goals for conducting a survey. The leadership
team will then advocate for the survey and increase the response rate.
How you present the survey to potential participants is critical to
the success of your project. Remember: the survey is confidential so
participation is optional. If you only get 70% of people responding to
the survey, you will not be able to find out who has not participated.
One of the best ways to ensure 100% participation is to clearly
articulate the goals of the survey and share your plan for what you will
do with the results. If I believe that you will do good things with the
survey results and it will directly improve my life, I am more apt to
take the time to do the survey.
What to Do with the Results of your Corporate Culture Survey
The worst thing you can do is to undertake a survey and then do
nothing with the results. This is far worse than doing nothing at all.
You will raise people’s expectations of life at the company improving
and then the results disappear into a black hole. I guarantee that
morale will deteriorate.
Set up a company-wide meeting to present and discuss results. Do this
within a few weeks of the close of the survey. Use the momentum that you
have built up to keep moving towards your goals.
Be as transparent as possible in presenting the results. Don’t skew
or sugar-coat them. I helped a company do a survey and the internal
person who presented the results focused only on the positive and
glossed over the negative. People didn’t buy it. Be as objective as
possible. Try to get someone who is respected and well-liked within the
company to present the results. This is far better than having an
outside consultant do this. Then the whole company will own the results
– not an impassionate outside observer.
I recommend setting up three task forces to own the three goals that
you have set forth. Try to get volunteers to sit on the task forces.
Make the teams a hybrid of different departments and different levels.
Set concrete goals and timelines. Make sure that the task forces have
the support and resources they need.
I recommend doing an annual or bi-annual survey to keep your finger
on the pulse of the company. Make minor changes to the survey or add
questions, but don’t change anything significantly or you won’t be able
to track your results and identify trends.