Organizations measure numerous performance indicators such as revenue, customer retention and quality. They are regularly reviewed and efforts are planned to drive improvements.
For the softer aspects that affect organizational culture, a major factor contributing to organizational performance, we typically don’t set goals, measure or much less plan improvements. This results in oversights in how culture is performing and missed opportunities.
To foster highly effective teams, we must focus on holistic improvements and build an open and collaborative culture, in addition to the standard metrics. To begin this effort, we suggest reflecting on aspects of your culture that commonly trouble projects and teams.
Is the organization governed by mission, values and principles?
This is important to help unify teams around common goals, align them and provide them with guidelines for day to day decision making. If you don’t have this alignment, chances are that you are experiencing disconnects on many levels.
Are all plans and efforts in progress supporting the organizational vision?
If you fall short here and teams are working on anything that is not in support of your vision, then you are wasting time and money. As a leader you must do everything to correct this. The gaps you are experiencing are likely in planning and communication!
Are expectations and standards of operation clearly stated?
This should be no-brainer, but all too often there is a lack of understanding about what is expected, resulting in disconnects and problems down the road. What can you do today, to set or clarify expectations in a collaborative manner?
Do teams work collaboratively and get along?
If lack of team work, trust and collaboration have resulted in delays or other gaps in team performance, your organization is not alone. Do focus on team building and help your team to deal with conflict productively. At the same time explore if disconnects stem from process gaps.
Are the power dynamics equally distributed within the organization?
Are teams in true partnership when it comes to decision making or are efforts directed by power cliques. If this type of conduct is tolerated, the natural consequence of one side decision making often causes unfavorable long term results. Instead foster a culture of equality.
Are there growth and development opportunities for all?
Everyone has the need grow and stretch in their professional and personal lives. To keep teams engaged you need to ensure there are opportunities for people to express themselves and ensure they are fulfilled in their work. Begin by understanding what drives and inspires your team so you can help maximize their talents and growth.
What issues and problems keep reappearing?
Do you see problems that occur more than once that have you sigh ‘not again’? Is it time to examine the root causes and find ways to improve. A retrospective is the best way to start, but keep it small to avoid all the stigma that typically accompanies such efforts.
To create permanent improvements for your culture, create metrics that will be tracked regularly. Perhaps you will track employee satisfaction, leadership performance or team collaboration? Only you know what’s right for your organization, but be mindful to broaden your traditional dashboard.