Three Indicators of a Healthy Culture

Do you know what employees think about your company, your leaders, and your work environment? For you to understand the true impact – good or not so good – of your organization’s culture, you must see it from your employees’ perspective.

What prompted this post? I had a blood test the other day. I’m a heart patient. I had a myocardial infarction in December ’93 (a “heart attack” for us lay people). I had three blockages in my heart vessels: two were closed 80% and one was closed 90%. I was lucky; angioplasty cleared the blockages. I’ve been a “good patient” since. I lost weight, changed my diet, and more. I’ve been on heart medications since that day, and will be for the rest of my life.

I do blood panels 2-3 times each year, because my blood chemistry shows exactly how well my body is doing with my “norms & practices.” The impact of my medications, my diet, my exercise, etc. can all be read clearly in my blood panel readouts. No excuses – it’s all right there, in black & white.

Leaders must pay attention to the “life blood” of their organization  – regularly, honestly, openly. They must notice both desirable behaviors and undesirable behaviors which occur in their work environment. They can then celebrate and nurture the desirable behaviors and quash the undesirable behaviors.

What Key Indicators Are Important to Notice?

Consider this effort an exploration, an opportunity to discover the reality of your organization’s culture. Focus on these three key indicators:

  • The Quality of Relationships
    First, assess the quality of relationships across the organization – leaders to leaders, employees to leaders, employees to employees, and staff to customers. Are others (be they leaders, employees, or customers) honored and respected or seen as “less than valuable”? If trusted relationships exist, you’ll see it, hear it, feel it in many ways. Look for:  

    • Laughter WITH not AT others.
    • Genuine appreciation expressed – up, down, and across your organizational structure.
    • People help others with critical tasks – you don’t hear “that’s not my job,” you hear “we’re all in this together.” 
    • People aren’t problems – problems are problems.
    • People smile more than they don’t smile.
  • The Quality of Promises
    How strong are team members’ commitments to their commitments?
    If leaders and employees make and keep their promises, you’ll see strong trust and respect across the organization. If promises are not made and kept, you’ll see frustration and self-serving behaviors.
    You want to see peers holding peers accountable for their commitments. People are direct and assertive when promises are missed, and they are quick to thank others for keeping their promises.
    If circumstances occur that might cause commitments to be missed, the promise keeper lets all stakeholders (in the commitment) know well in advance.
    Promises to customers are no more and no less important than promises to peers.
  • The Quality of Delivery
    This is often the only area scrutinized by organization leaders.
    It is equal in importance with the above two qualities. Meeting performance standards for product and/or service delivery is critically important in the social media age. If you screw up on quality of delivery, it’ll be posted on Yelp or Facebook within minutes.
    Think of delivery quality as a subset of promise quality – if promises are made and kept, you’ll rarely have an issue with quality of delivery.
    Clear goals and standards enable performance accountability, but remember that you’re managing people’s hearts, heads, and hands – not just hands (skill application).

Learn more best practices for a healthy organizational culture in my book, #CORPORATE CULTURE tweet, available direct and on Amazon.

By the way, my blood panel shows I’m doing great. Please share what you discover in your “life blood” assessment in the comments section below.

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