Imagine your boss sees you and asks, “How’s it going?” Chances are you’ll smile, say “Great!” and continue on with your day. But things might not be going great. You’re overwhelmed with work. You’re anxious about an upcoming promotion opportunity. Or, you’re frustrated again by a failing tech infrastructure.
Why don’t you say any of this to your leader? Because it feels like a lot to dump on them. Better to just bottle it up, right?
It’s all too easy for leaders to become complacent about workplace culture. Part of the problem is that team members simply don’t have a way to appropriately communicate or provide feedback. Culture surveys offer that forum.
A culture survey creates communication channels that allow leaders to really understand where people are at. It facilitates hard conversations, bridges the gap between their perception of a work environment and reality, and it offers a baseline to work from so they can support meaningful change.
What a Culture Survey Offers
It’s all too easy for leaders to become disconnected from the day-to-day realities of their team members. An effective culture survey offers a temperature check about where people are in their working environment while providing leaders with clear focus and actionable steps.
Through the right culture survey process, leaders can get a clear view of their team members’ workloads, how well they’re collaborating, and whether they’re interested in or capable of future leadership roles. Ultimately, a culture survey speaks to the capacity of teams, level of shared ownership, and interpersonal relationships — the cornerstones of a solid workplace culture.
What Makes a Good Survey
Nothing erodes a workplace culture faster than leadership asking for feedback and doing nothing about it. You’re merely going out of your way to prove to your team members that you are not invested in their experience. You’re telling them that you don’t care.
On the flip side, when leaders respond to a culture survey with transparency, action, and sincerity, trust and loyalty are established. Above all else, remember to be authentic and go to the pressure.
Be authentic — Leaders must respond to the feedback from the survey, otherwise they lose the trust of teams and culture deteriorates even further. Imagine a mission statement that simply hangs on a wall and no one pays attention to it. Don’t let your culture survey become a mere show. Make it meaningful with authenticity.
Go to the pressure — Leaders must take action, not just recognize that problems exist. There must be measurable improvement. Be prepared for the results of your culture survey, positive or negative. Expect that some things will be difficult to hear or deal with, but you must go to the pressure if you want to build trust.
Steps to Culture Survey Success
In order to maintain authenticity, leaders must foster surveys that provide opportunities for future growth and improvement. Here are a few strategies to consider to make sure your assessment does its intended job.
- Communicate — People have to understand the what, when, why, and how of your culture survey. Utilize multiple communication channels and allow opportunities for questions prior to the assessment to ensure people understand what is going to take place and why it’s important.
- Be transparent — Don’t hide the results, especially if they’re negative.
- Analyze — Don’t neglect the task of truly analyzing the feedback. Allocate time and resources to break down what the culture survey is telling you and what you need to do in response. We recommend some dedicated time together as a leadership team to dive into the results and strategize.
- Create an action plan — Form concrete plans, with specific details, to respond to problem items and share those plans with your teams. Showcase a transparent, sincere response and create accountability with a clear roadmap forward.
- Celebrate wins — It’s likely you’ll also hear about things you’re doing well. Don’t ignore those results. Celebrate wins and share the positive news with the team to build on the momentum of positive change.
You may not like what you hear in the results of your culture survey. But now is not the time to shy away. Transforming your culture is hard work but reaps incredible rewards. Culture will never improve on its own, and assessments are one of the most powerful ways to get started.
Want a headstart on creating a powerful assessment process and breakthrough results at your organization? Check out our assessment and process here: Fired Up! Culture Survey.
Author, Speaker, and Change Agent.
Chris leads a dynamic team of passionate change agents who are dedicated to partnering with organizational executives to create cultures that inspire, engage and ignite the best in people. Our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.