Organizational Culture Identification Tool

Organizational behaviours, practices, values, beliefs and assumptions evolve over time. Training and communication management are the two key instruments that bring about positive change. You may even discover the existence of a sub-culture that management is unaware of. This sub-culture may be used as a positive influence in the event of change, and plans should be made to reach out to them.

Three main realms of organizational culture are: behaviours/practices, values/beliefs, and policies. Problems can stem from each of these areas. Using this tool will help HR see where existing organizational culture problems lie, and then be able to address them so that in the event of change, information is better shared and accepted more quickly across the organization.

A. Existing values/beliefs (includes purpose of the organization, fairness, treatment of employees, treatment of clients, etc.)

  • Identify your organization’s mission and purpose statements. List the goals of your organization. These may exist as written statements, or they may be unwritten.
  • Are managers, supervisors and executives accessible to employees?
  • To what extent is your organization willing to accommodate special needs of employees? Is management open to making the company more accommodating to special needs?
  • Is planning and strategizing for the future a priority? Why or why not?
  • Ask: Why are these particular principles and values held by the organization? What is essential to keep for the organization to continue to exist, and what can be let go in the event of a change?

A healthy organization has identified its mission and goals and has made these known to employees. Its managers and supervisors are accessible and it is accommodating to special needs of both employees and clients. In addition, a healthy organization takes time to make plans for the future so that they are not caught off guard. If you identify weaknesses within your organization in this area, take steps to correct and institute them.

B. Existing behaviours/practices (includes communication practices, training practices, information transfer, competition, work-flow, decision making, rewards, productivity mechanisms, etc.)

  • Identify and list major and informal lines of communication. Identify key communicators (individuals and groups) that transmit information.
  • Identify and list major methods of communication. Are there barriers to information transfer? If so, what are they?
  • Note the frequency of communication. Is there too much, is it not frequent enough?
  • Is appropriate training available to all employees at a level they can understand?
  • Do employees have to “wear many hats” on the job and work outside their normal field of expertise? How often is this expected? Is there training for these tasks.
  • Are there any behaviours/practices that noticeably affect production (positively or negatively)?
  • Are there cliques and biases between departments? If so, how are they organized?
  • What reporting mechanisms exist that allow staff to identify and report on issues, or provide feedback to HR? Are they used by employees in good times and bad?

An organization that communicates with all employees regularly is more likely to have satisfied staff. Training programs are essential avenues of communication, especially when communicating changes to procedures, introducing new policies and even changing behaviours. Eliminating barriers to information transfer is important for optimal function and is especially important prior to organizational change. Facilitate team building through improved communication and training.

C. Existing policies (includes operational parameters for behaviour, and procedures, etc.)

  • Existing policies should reflect the values and principles of the organization. Who is responsible to evaluate and update these policies?
  • Are there written Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)? Are they available to employees? Are they revised or reviewed regularly? Who is responsible to update them?
  • Are policies and procedures followed? Why or why not? Examine the reality of policy enforcement (is policy for show only, or is it real?) when it comes to decision making and embracing change.

Organizations should demonstrate voluntary adherence to policies and procedures created for their operation. Organizations that demonstrate a two-tiered approach to compliance (formal policies that are only for show, but not followed) will quickly run into difficulty during times of change. It is important to identify policy/procedural disconnect and resolve it quickly through better enforcement or revision. Consider how policies can be shifted to address issues.

Newsletter Issue:
HR Microscope October 2014