Cultural Assessments: Content That Yields the Right Results

A cultural assessment reveals the “real deal” about your organization quickly. Conducted over a few days by doing confidential interviews with fifteen to twenty employees representing various layers of the company, this study’s final report shows top management and everyone else exactly how folks feel about working there. It’s not unusual for executives to learn very surprising information they may not have guessed. They, then, can choose how they want to use these results. This article outlines and briefly describes some of the pieces of a highly credible cultural assessment.

General perceptions of the work environment
Employees get to talk briefly about how they feel, what they perceive, and what they observe during typical workdays. They may tell the interviewer if they desire to continue working there or not-and why.

Formal feedback process
Questions about how staff receive feedback on their work performance and personal style are asked here. Both process(es) and frequency are discussed.

Time investment/expectations
The interviewer asks questions about length of a typical work day, doing work outside the office setting and on vacations, being available 24/7 by phone or email. Openness to using paid leave time to attend to sick family members, crises, and other personal situations is also explored.

Conflict management
Employees describe how conflict among peers, between supervisors and staff, between top managers and anyone in the organization is handled. They talk about general tolerance of criticism and conflict and how people are viewed if they criticize persons in leadership positions.

Professional development opportunities
Specific questions that focus on how employees grow within the company are asked. The interviewer probes topics like whether or not professional development is valued, whether or not the organization invests financially in staff development, and what sorts of learning opportunities actually exist for people.

Attitudes
Employees talk about their own attitude toward working in this organization as well as the attitudes they see in others. The interviewer asks them if top management expects demonstrations of certain, clearly defined attitudes from staff-and what that looks like.

Motivations
Questions on motivation deal with reasons why certain people are promoted or demoted, authenticity of employee behavior, reasons behind whether folks help each other or not, reasons why employees volunteer to serve on special committees, etc.

Team function
Questions about the health and functionality of teams are asked. Staff share their perceptions of team strengths and weaknesses and their ideas around how managers could improve team function.

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