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Rate Your Company’s Culture – Positive, Uncertain or Toxic?

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The importance of a positive company culture is well-documented and is finally getting the attention it deserves – from business magazine articles, academic journals, and employees. The culture of a company impacts not only the organization’s overall health but also its performance. Some say that an organization’s culture is like glue – it holds the company together. But for something as critical as glue, it is difficult to put a finger on the precise issues that make one organization’s culture positive and another organization’s culture toxic.

An organization’s culture is expressed informally – through verbal and non-verbal signals – from the lowliest employee to the highest ranking executive. The rolling of eyeballs, small sighs, whispers, and grumbles that are heard every day tell more about an organization’s culture than do most engagement surveys – and that’s something I know a lot about. I have spent the last two decades surveying companies about employee satisfaction. And while survey analysis is an important step in the process of discerning an organization’s culture and righting its path, I believe that most employees, regardless of rank, could take the quiz below to diagnosis the type of culture its organization has.

So, where does your organization fall?

Company Culture QUIZ

 Dimensions Positive Uncertain Toxic
1. Top Leadership CEO is admired and revered. CEO is not well-understood by employees. CEO is feared.
2. Managers Managers motivate and help the employees they serve. Managers oversee the production of work. Managers are feared.
3. Communication Communication is frequent and clear. Communication is infrequent, inconsistent or unclear.  Communication is intentionally misleading.
4. Orientation toward Values Corporate values are embraced.  Corporate values are understood but not always accepted.  Corporate values are unclear or unethical. 
5. Futuristic Outlook Outlook for future is positive. Outlook for future is unclear. Outlook for future is negative. 
6. What’s Measured? Customer loyalty, quality, and profit are measured. Measurement of business outcomes is inconsistent and not communicated to employees.  Revenue and mistakes are measured.  Assessing blame for mistakes is more important that celebrating success. 

The dimensions addressed here are vaguely hierarchical – given that having a CEO who is admired and a manager who helps you, can reap more cultural rewards than a fantastic measurement system. After having listened to thousands of people complain about their CEO or manager, it is clear to me that these individuals directly impact the culture of every organization. And while the measurement of business outcomes are important, negative ratings for this dimension will not fling an organization’s culture into the red the same way an angry and vindictive CEO can.  For these reasons, the scoring system is as follows: give your company 6 points if your responses fell into the toxic column for questions 1 and 2; give your company 4 points for every other response in the toxic column (questions 3-6); give your company 2 points for every response in the uncertain column; and give your company 1 point for every answer in the positive column.

Negative Culture:  Total Score 30-18 points

Your organization is in the midst of a downward spiral and needs a corporate culture  intervention.

Uncertain Culture:  Total Score 17-10 points

Your organization is in cultural no-man’s land.  Leadership needs to take the reings and address how lack of clarity is impacting the organization’s success.

Positive Culture: Total Score 9-6 points

Congratulations!  Your organization may not be perfect, but it recognizes the importance of a positve culture.

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