Let’s start with a simple definition for “corporate culture”, most authors agree that it “refers to the set of values, beliefs, and behavior patterns that form the core identity of an organization.”

Corporate Culture and ROI

Daniel R. Denison, in his article “Bringing Corporate Culture to the Bottom Line”, answers the following question:

“Do firms that organize their work well and involve employees in decision making really perform any better than firms that do not? If so, how much better, and under what conditions?”

He compares 34 large American firms using survey data and Standard and Poor’s financial ratios as indicators, in order to begin to test the relationship between corporate culture and performance.

“The results, presented in terms of return on investment and other financial indicators, indicate that companies with a participative culture reap a return on investment (ROI) that averages nearly twice as high as those in firms with less efficient cultures. The data presented here provide hard evidence that the cultural and behavioral aspects of organizations are intimately linked to both short-term performance and long-term survival.”

How to Assess Corporate Culture?

If the result can be “nearly twice as high”, I think the first thing you should be wondering is how can you assess your corporate culture and from there establish some improvable objectives.

Furthermore, we share the tested notion of what should be considered a strong corporate culture presented by Daniel R. Denison in his article:

“A “strong” culture that encourages the participation and involvement of an organization’s members appears to be one of its most important assets.”

Another important thought was written by Fridman and Ostholthoff, "the roots of your culture grow deep and they can't be manipulated. Leaders can only act as catalysts for change, they cannot be dictators of change."

Assess the three corporate levels: individual, team, and organization. Through individual and intense interviews or through an external consultant/firm to conduct interviews or to develop internal (online or written) surveys.

Question that help to Assess Corporate Culture

We share the 15 great question to assess corporate culture shared by Alison Davis on inc.com:

Individual level

Understand how the organization's values and purpose align with the goal and purpose of each employee:

  1. Which activities bring you satisfaction regardless of whether you receive rewards and recognition? What part of your role inspires you the most?

  2. Are there personal habits you believe they need to start, stop or continue to better align with the goals of the organization?

Team level

Analyse how the culture influences how employees work together as teams:

  1. How does culture shape how your team manages goals and responsibilities?
  2. Do any values have unintended consequences on how employees work together?

Organizational level

Discover how an employee views the overall culture of your organization:

  1. What actions are needed to improve the current culture?
  2. Is the company's purpose/mission memorable?
  3. How about the values? Are they distinctive and memorable?
  4. What does each value mean to you?
  5. How do leaders exert their authority through formal practices?
  6. What are some informal practices leaders rely on to get work done?
  7. How is success rewarded?
  8. How is failure addressed?
  9. Do leaders behave in a way that's consistent with the company values?
  10. What motivates leaders?
  11. If we could do one thing to improve our culture, what would it be?
    After collecting all the answers, analyse them, identify the necessary improvements needed to achieve a “strong” corporate culture, then create the needed milestones to ensure that the objectives, in the long-term, are achieved by at the 3 corporate levels.