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Cultural Stewardship… a tricky business!

Boards are responsible for ‘cultural stewardship’ within their organisation… but how do boards know what the culture is like and then, how do they monitor the culture of their organisation? 

In my last post I spoke about ‘purpose’ and ‘culture’ and the need for both to be in alignment within organisations… but how do you know as a director if you have the right culture operating within your organisation? A culture that is aligned with ‘purpose’ and ‘strategy’?

Many people talk about the fact that the culture of an organisation can be intuitively ‘felt’. Have you ever spent some time in an organisation where you just know that the culture is positive and productive? What do you see, feel and hear?

While culture is traditionally difficult to measure there are questions directors can ask and there are tools and metrics that CEOs can use to provide information to boards that give an indication of what the culture is like within organisations. 

ASIC has 5 questions for directors:

  • Is culture a regular topic on the board and committee agendas?
  • Do directors interact broadly across the organisation to gain insights?
  • Does the board get pertinent information from stakeholders?
  • Are key indicators of cultural health reported and monitored?
  • Do the organisation’s agreed values match the experience of customers, employees, business partners and the general community?

There are many ways that directors can get a better understanding of the culture of their organisation. This list outlines some of them:

  • Staff engagement or pulse survey results
  • Staff turnover data and exit interview information
  • Staff on-boarding programs
  • Reward, recognition and incentive programs
  • Staff learning and development programs
  • Employee Assistance Program data
  • Customer and stakeholder survey and focus group results
  • Customer and stakeholder complaints register information. How easy is it to make a complaint and how are they dealt with?
  • Attendance at supplier and stakeholder functions
  • Social media comments
  • Net Promoter Scores (NPS)
  • Site visits and attendance at staff functions and organisational events
  • Presentations to the board from management
  • Behaviour of the CEO at board meetings

This list is not exhaustive. As a director, how do you know what the culture of your organisation is like? What information do you seek out? Sharing ideas on forums like this one allows us to learn and benefit from what works for other organisations.