Measuring organisational culture change

Jerome Parisse-Brassens

Measuring culture change is good culture management, but how do you do it?

Many culture transformation initiatives stop when budgets are tight because they cannot demonstrate the impact they are having on the business. There are several things to keep in mind when you want to measure culture change.

You need to measure three things:

  1. Whether the activities undertaken are really happening. These are the outputs of the culture program. This answers the question, “Is the program on track? Are we doing the things we said we would do in the culture plan?” This often consists in a simple audit of activities taking place and of their quality, which you can record on a dashboard.
  2. Whether behaviours are changing (impact of the program). This answers the question, “Is the program achieving the change it intends to create in individuals? Is the change starting to be visible and taking hold?”
  3. Whether the change of behaviours is having an impact on business outcomes. This answers the question, “What is the impact of the culture change on the business? Are we achieving our business imperative?”

To measure behaviour change (point 2 above), you have a number of tools at your disposal. The most common ones are:

  • Culture assessment or diagnostic – for example, Walking the Talk’s Discover Diagnostic (which tells you why your culture is the way it is) or Walking the Talk’s Culture Insights Survey (which gives you a detailed description of more than 80 behaviours at play).
  • 360 feedback tools and how the average scores are moving over time. This particular tool is very useful to give you a sense of how culture is progressing in the leadership cohorts – in other words, how much they are becoming role models of the culture you need.
  • Another way of measuring change is to build a pulse survey that will start with measuring awareness and understanding (Are employees aware of, and understand, the behaviours they need to change and why) and gradually move towards commitment and action (“I have started changing my behaviours”, “I am seeing my manager/my colleagues change their behaviours”)

The measure of the business outcomes (point 3 above) is critical. At the end of the day, the reason you have embarked on a culture journey is to achieve those outcomes, so you have to make sure they are moving in the right direction. Ultimately this is what will justify the investment and will prevent your project from being replaced by others, the impact of which might be more visible.

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