Getting Beneath Your Organisational Iceberg
The cultural aspects of an organisation can often be described as an iceberg. The most visible culture of an organisation is at the tip above the water’s surface with the invisible day to day culture lurking beneath the surface.
This analogy demonstrates the difficulties that management have in assessing the health and well-being of an organisation outside of the standard metrics, KPIs and visible culture that is more clearly visible.
Culture eats strategy for breakfastPeter Drucker, Father of Management Thinking
Above the surface, several indicators inform us of the visible culture of an organisation through:
- Shared values
This is the formal way in which “we say we get things done”. When organisations look to make changes in the way they work, products they sell or strategy they often look at these visible indicators. Data-driven decisions are made from the plethora of MI (Management Information) or HR systems that exist analysing these indicators.
But bad data in means bad decisions out. Beneath the surface of the iceberg are large elements of organisational culture which describe “the way we actually get things done” such as:
- Unwritten rules
Measuring these indicators and the health of your organisational culture via traditional means such as pulse surveys, goal setting and operational metrics is limited. These staged, intermittent and occasional activities do not engage with the day to day operation of the organisation, but instead create additional overheads and inefficiency which can often become counterproductive to their original aim.
I hear the problems. So what’s the solution?
As with any problem worth solving, the answer isn’t simple. In a world where culture evolves and develops over the years, so too in an organisation. However, adjusting process currently above the water line to match cultural behaviours below the surface is a great place to start.
The aim of this process should be to break down organisational barriers which exist such as hierarchy, time, communication or fear of failure and disclosure. It should add real short and long term value to the employee and be tailored to their role, department or individual culture. Removing formality and increasing employee exposure goes a long way to empowering teams and individuals to generate new ideas and develop a growth culture which is infectious.
From working with customers in segments as diverse as finance, telecommunications, hospitality, and manufacturing we have found that using a simple, easy to use but continuous engagement process which is rich in feedback enables the exposure of culture beneath the surface.
We recommend this process to include a mixture of open and closed questions with the ability for managers to tailor them to their team and employees. One essential element is to include a means for feedback and promotion of good work allowing peer and senior management recognition. To increase transparency through the organisation employees should be encouraged to report risks and issues as soon as they identify them – providing a regular and simple means to do so ensures they don’t get forgotten or lost in an email inbox.
These approaches allow employees to disclose information and allow a culture to align and develop across the organisation.
The best way to implement such a process is through a modern employee engagement platform. There are a few on the market, but we at Weekly10 have designed our platform around this exact need. Not only will it reach beneath the surface of your organisational iceberg but it will help replace outdated engagement and goal setting processes with one simple, easy to adopt process.