Work cultures are always shifting and evolving. And when we put in place initiatives to improve aspects of our culture, we want to be able to see whether our efforts have had the intended impact.
The Improvement tab re-orders topic questions according to whether scores are Rising, Stable or Falling. This assessment should influence the action we take – as teams and Leaders in an organization.
Celebrate them! We too often gloss over what’s going well and what’s improving, missing an important opportunity to communicate to everyone how well we are doing. It’s human nature to pick over what not’s going well, but we do so at the expense of noticing what’s working.
And when we don’t identify what’s working and why, then we can’t be intentional about protecting it. Slowly, one business decision at a time, we move away from the patterns of working and relating that make us feel positive and we wind up looking back with rose-tinted glasses at a culture we once had, and seemingly cannot reclaim.
So, do take a few moments as a group to notice what’s improving. What business changes can you attribute to this positive shift in people’s experience?
It’s best not to just ignore them! Here are a few things you can do:
You may decide that the best response is to sit back and see how things go over the coming months. This course of action is particularly useful when a lot of business change is happening or when teams have new managers. You may have recently put some interventions in place and need a little more time to feel the impact they’re having.
Is everyone having a worse experience, or are some teams struggling more than others? This will help you identify whether you need to take systemic action across the organization or whether a team-by-team approach makes more sense.
We provide lots of information in the help centre about the core topic areas of the Culture Profile to help deepen your understanding of culture and wellbeing. You’ll also find practical tips on things to try. Your Benchmark report can also be useful for contextualizing your scores. Are you still competitive in this area or do the reports indicate it’s an aspect of work culture that is slipping away from you?
There really isn’t anyone more of an expert on an aspect of your culture and scores than your colleagues. Your collective wisdom is more powerful than an individual’s perspective, however heartfelt that perspective is. Use some of the help centre guidance to facilitate a conversation that surfaces insights and collectively prioritizes ideas for action.
Be mindful that there are limits to the number of changes that can be attempted and the scale of the changes that can be integrated at any one time. It’s better to start small, expecting that you may need to try different things. Often cultural change isn’t about a single intervention that shifts an orange score to a green score, but a steady incremental improvement that can only be seen with the benefit of time – and your trend data! If everything you do improves experience by a couple of points, by the time the year is out things will feel significantly different.
Firstly, check whether things are as stable as they look. Remember that scores for the whole organization are average scores – and average scores hide a lot of variability. Organizational or division scores may look stable when it’s actually the case that the experience of some teams has improved while the experience of some teams has worsened.
It’s also worth reflecting that questions in the Culture Profile capture more stable aspects of our experience at work than the weekly happiness KPI. Our levels of happiness rise and fall quite dramatically in response to situations, because the habit of summing up how we feel as “positive” or “negative” is a quick – and fairly reliably – way of knowing whether a situation is good or bad for us.
But when we are asked to reflect on how we feel about specific aspects of our experience at work, the complexity and interdependency of all the things that affect, say, the quality of our relationships or the opportunities we get to play to our strengths, are reflected in our emotional assessment. Unless some concerted effort is made to unpick why we feel the way we do – and take action to improve our experience – we continue as we were before.
Also, although, in general, you want to see scores improving, sometimes stability in culture is useful. The way we behave and relate to one another is an aspect of our identity and security. If a lot is changing around us, established work cultures can help to anchor us. Things might not be perfect, but they are reliably unperfect! People feel “I know when I do x, you will likely respond with y”. This stability helps people communicate and work effectively together.
If you already have a lot of business change going on, then it may be the time to celebrate the positive aspects of your culture that have been sustained. If you are able to recognize what’s working and why – and communicate this – you will amplify the positive.
If you have the stability and space, then definitely direct your attention to improving work culture, because you will see creativity, performance and resilience increase. This is an investment in each other and the organization over the medium term.
If your team or organization does want to improve scores in a particular area, and you are not clear where to start, there are a lot of tips and guidance in the Help Centre on the different aspects of work culture we measure – just search for the topic name to start.