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Culture Audits and Alignment

Culture Audits & Alignment

 An effective workplace culture audit determines the overall working environment, identifies the unwritten norms and rules governing employee interactions and workplace practices, highlights possible barriers to effective work practices and communication and makes recommendations for addressing problems identified. Not only will it help retain top performers, it provides a blueprint of what attributes to look for in applicants.

Organisational culture covers all aspects of an organisation’s environment. It is created from the messages people receive about what is valued.

Employees receive these messages from three sources within the organisation:

  • behaviours
  • symbols
  • systems

Culture combines an employee’s values shaped through their life experiences and beliefs and combines them with every other employees to create part of the corporate culture. An organisations culture is a combination of these values, beliefs, life experiences, combined with the significant impact of executive and managerial influence on your organisations culture.

Your workplace is impacted and culture created through:

  • the leadership and managerial styles and practices in the workplace;
  • the value sets that people have from their life experiences bring to the workplace;
  • organisational procedures, behaviours, policies, relationships, and expectations that build your workplace;
  • company stories and interactions that employees regularly exchange, and pass onto new employees to reinforce the type of support they receive for their work;
  • the language, symbols, and surroundings that characterise the behaviour of other employees

To understand and evaluate your current organisation’s culture, each of these areas requires close scrutiny.

To change your organisations culture, you need to change the messages people receive through these mediums. Transforming culture is about identifying and sending the messages that will tell and demonstrate to your employees that things are going to be different going forward.

Cultural Audits

Cultural Audits are the systematic research, examination, identification, and understanding of the aspects or factors associated with people and work within an organisation.

There are two reasons why you would look at your current culture, they are:

  1. You want to create a culture that will best support the achievement of your business goals; understanding the current culture is the first step to determine what to keep and what to change.
  2. Your current culture is damaged and damaging your ability to be successful and you need to take steps to understand why.

A damaged culture is characterised by negativity, complaining, underachievement, conflict and poor relationships, leadership which fails to respect and value people, lack of trust, low commitment, high absenteeism and turnover.

Undertaking a Culture Audit

A culture audit normally requires several different methods to assess the current state of the culture in your organisation. To assess your culture, you can use, in this order:

  • culture walks, observation in the workplace;
  • culture interviews or focus groups of employees;
  • individual employee culture interviews;
  • culture surveys, often developed internally based on collected information; and
  • commercially available instruments.

The purpose of a culture audit is to identify the messages staff currently receive and then to assess whether those messages are the right ones, or if they are sending contradictory signals.

A cultural audit aims to create increased levels of insight, to help you determine the extent to which your current activity will collectively shape the target culture your organisation needs.

1. Clarify your target culture

2. Assess processes and systems

3. Assess symbols

4. Assess behaviours

5. Recommendations

A culture audit is the first step to action.

The baseline of data it creates can then be used to build a roadmap, also called a Culture Plan. Your Plan will list all of the initiatives that need to start, stop, or be altered, in order to align all of the messages being sent within your organisation.

The result? You’re on your way to creating the healthiest culture possible. And, most importantly, one which is in sync with your business’ strategy.