6 Culture Assessments That Can Change Your Organization

June 16, 2021 Staff Writer

[Updated for 2024]

Toxic culture can kill your business. It can increase employee churn, wreck mergers, and hobble new strategies. According to the website of the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument, developed by Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn at the University of Michigan: 

“A toxic culture decreases productivity [by] 40%, rude cultures damage productivity with $14,000 per employee per year, while an effective culture increases productivity [by] 20%, and a positive culture boosts results by 30-40%. Culture is often the reason why 70% of all mergers, acquisitions and organizational change projects fail.”

If you could use a 30-40% increase in productivity in your business, you should take a close look at your organizational culture. We have found that there is no such thing as an “ideal” culture, even though many consultants will insist on labeling an organization as either a “good” culture or a “bad” culture. Measuring your culture against an ideal is simply a waste of time.

Quick Action, Quick Results

6 Great Tools for Assessing Your Organization’s Culture

You might ask how you can determine what your culture is. We’d like to suggest that it’s not in your vision or mission statements, or even how happy your employees are. You will find many different assessments in the marketplace, so you’ll need to do a little homework. Some are self-administered and others require the participation of trained consultants. They vary most widely in their approaches to organizational culture, so you might want to spend some time getting to know what they measure and how well their consultants will mesh with your team.

Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument

The OCAI uses two pairs of competing choices to help clients identify their organizational culture. Its basic questions focus on whether your organization is focused internally or externally and whether it is based on stability or flexibility. It assumes that there is no “best” culture and seeks to describe the culture in order to improve it. The instrument is administered by accredited consultants or by members of the organization’s culture team who have become accredited.

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PROPEL’s WorkXO Culture Assessment

At PROPEL, we obviously love the culture assessment that we created back in 2016. It’s rooted in a decade of research on the future of work, and it doesn’t tell you if your culture is good or bad–it reveals your underlying culture patterns that make you either more traditional or more futurist along 8 key elements of culture (including transparency, innovation, agility, and collaboration).

Once you can see your culture patterns, it becomes much easier to pinpoint the specific changes you need to make to your culture in order to improve performance. The online platform for analyzing your results also lets you slice and dice by subgroups.

We now have over 1 million data points in the aggregate culture data set, and we share our analysis (and our change model) in our most recent book, Culture Change Made Easy

CultureAmp

CultureAmp has evolved over the years, and it now it’s an employee experience platform that works on culture by addressing three things:

  • Employee engagement, by listening to employees so you can make better decisions and drive meaningful change in your organization.
  • Performance management, by enabling ongoing conversations with anytime feedback, goal tracking, development-focused reviews, and better 1‑on‑1s, and 
  • Employee development, with personalized, continuous development that’s easy to measure and scale.

Denison

Denison consulting has their own culture assessment tool that measures four key drivers of high performance—mission, adaptability, involvement, and consistency, which is the heart of their model. They have also developed benchmarks based on their research, so the assessment is designed to identify the strong points and weak points in your culture, thus simplifying your action planning.

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Human Synergistics

Human Synergistics uses the Organizational Culture Inventory as the basis of its analysis. Its developer, Robert A. Cooke, Ph.D., is the company’s CEO. The website promises to prepare Change Agents, such as consultants or HR professionals, to “use the Human Synergistics scientific diagnostic system to produce measurable improvements in individuals, groups, and organizations.” Human Synergistics offers a variety of assessments for individuals and groups.

TINYpulse

This platform allows you to ask questions of your employees. You can send questions to as few as 10 employees or as many as 10,000. It promises “real time, safely anonymous feedback” and provides science-backed questions and survey templates. The dashboards and reports help you keep teams focused and aware of larger corporate goals.

What Are Your Next Steps?

We think that a culture assessment is the logical first step in changing your culture. The results can be the starting point for critical conversations that can change your organization. Incentivize your employees by asking if they’d like to have a great place to work. It’s amazing what people will do if they can affect positive change.

Of course, you might not be ready to spearhead the change your organization needs. PROPEL is ready to help with the change part, if you need us. We can help you communicate the key aspects of your culture internally so everyone is on the same page and can hold each other accountable. We can also help you effectively share your culture externally, for branding or talent acquisition. 

We’d love to talk culture with you. Contact us to learn more.