Friday, 25 May 2012

Newsletter Issue 217, May 2012

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 217, May 2012
Hi guys,
If you have never before considered completing a cultural audit, read the outline on How to do a Cultural Audit below.
Leadership Management Australasia details Employees Top 5 Pressures from their 2011 survey. 
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

How to do a Cultural Audit

In the last newsletter, I talked about how we can change organisational culture. This time I am going to talk about how we can audit culture in order to find out WHAT we need to change.
So, when we set out to find out how the people within an organisation feel about things, and how they fit into their external environment, we need to run some 'systems-checks'. They include:
  • Doing a fresh SWOT analysis, with a focus on the macro-environmental environment (ie, Demographics, Socio-cultural aspects of the organisation, Legal & Political issues, Technology, Environmental factors, the Economy and Information Technology).
  • Undertaking a Porter's Five Forces (or Market Forces) analysis
  • Once we know that information, then we need to develop questions to answer a cultural audit data list that Smith & Shilbury (2004, pp. 149-150) put together; admittedly compiling the following list for sports organisation research, but it remains valid in business. We would ask questions to determine the organisations position on the following issues of a selected 360 degree range of people in the organisation:
    1. Change
      1. Preparedness to change
      2. History of change
      3. Method of change
      4. Types of change
      5. CEO attitude to change
      6. Staff attitude to change
      7. Board attitude to change
      8. Process of change
      9. [...Stakeholder]/member reaction to change
      10. Organisation's financial position
      11. Organisational budget
      12. Human resources
      13. Staff age
      14. Staff turnover
    2. Competitors
      1. Organisational perception of competition
      2. Organisational competitors readily identified
    3. Customers
      1. Organisational [...stakeholders]/members considered customers?
      2. Principal revenue sources
      3. [...Stakeholder] base location
      4. Organisational focus [and fit with parent or subsidiary organisations]
    4. Decisions
      1. Decision-making process
      2. Involvement of board members in operations
      3. Organisational perception of board involvement
      4. Involvement of [any] controlling [...organisations/partners/headquarters/shareholdings]
      5. Staff background as competitors
      6. Board background as competitors
      7. Professional board members
    5. Goals
      1. Service focus
      2. Goal focus – Financial? Memberships? On-field success? Participation?
    6. Heroes
      1. [In-house...] heroes
      2. [External...] heroes
      3. Heroes' traits
      4. Organisational recognition of past heroes
      5. Organisational use of heroes for promotion
      6. Public perception of heroes as role models
    7. History and tradition
      1. Internal formal recognition of history and tradition
      2. Maintenance of [...organisational] archives
      3. Perception of [...organisational] success
      4. Financial impact of success on organisation
      5. Age of organisation
      6. Organisational attachment to traditions
    8. Risk: Organisational approach to risk
    9. Rituals
      1. Organisational celebration of success
      2. Office atmosphere after victory/defeat
    10. Symbols
      1. Positioning of memorabilia
      2. Organisational value attached to memorabilia
      3. Staff wearing uniforms
      4. Staff dress requirement
      5. Staff appearance
    11. Values
      1. Employees work in excess of 40 hours per week
      2. Employee motivations
      3. Organisational gender bias
      4. Organisational use of performance reviews
      5. Employees provided with specific job descriptions
      6. Average current employment length
      7. Employee [...industry] background
      8. Specific employee performance measures in place
      9. Office atmosphere
      10. Employee duties
      11. Employee supervision
      12. Organisational use of volunteers
      13. Organisational recognition of volunteers
      14. Employees working outside business hours
      15. Employee handbook provided
      16. [Women...] hold senior management positions
      17. Employee association with the organisation
    12. Size
      1. Number of staff
      2. [Breakdown of staff by age, stage, gender, ethnicity, and trends]
      3. Number [and nature] of [...stakeholders]
Large parts of this audit will be answerable from different, existing pieces of work within the organisation (eg "size" information is likely to already exist within the organisation's HRIS).
As you can see, compiling a cultural audit requires a fair bit of work. However, it has enormous value in determining organisational value, competitive advantage, branding, determining staff rewards, contextualising organisational change and absolute understanding of 'who' the organisation is.
Reference: Smith, Aaron C.T. & Shilbury, David (2004). Mapping Cultural Dimensions in Australian Sporting Organisations. Australia: Sport Management Review, 2004, issue 7 (pp. 149-150). My additions to Smith & Shilbury's work to better fit the business environment are shown in square brackets, with deleted words indicated by an ellipsis ("[...]").

LMA: Employee Top 5 Pressures

A recent Leadership Management Australasia article detailing some of their late 2011 survey findings on employers and employees through New Zealand and Australia detail some interesting disconnects between employer and employee attitudes.
Employees rated their top five pressures (in decreasing level of importance) as being:
  1. Balance between work and personal life
  2. Changes to or added responsibilities
  3. Higher performance expectations
  4. Higher customer/client expectations
  5. Changing organisational structures
Whereas leaders rated what they felt employees were feeling most pressured from (again, in decreasing level of importance):
  1. Higher performance expectations
  2. Higher customer/client expectations
  3. Balance between work and personal life
  4. Changes to or added responsibilities
  5. Changing organisational structures
Why is this important? Because, in tight economic times, to reward your workforce better, you will get most bangs for your buck in addressing the issue of work:recreation balance.
Contrariwise, if you expect improvement in employee morale by relaxing performance expectations a little, you will probably find that that isn't working!

Compare Excel Spreadsheet Rows

Wow, TechRepublic have another goodie with this great tip on comparing columns in a spreadsheet. Excel will compare the FIRST column in the range you select with all the others that you later select.
Just do this:
  1. Select all your columns (Ctrl & click if they aren't in a range)
  2. Key F5 which will bring up the Go To dialogue box. Click the 'Special' button at the bottom.
  3. This will open another dialogue box, select Row Differences. Click OK.
Your spreadsheet will now highlight the values in your selected columns which don’t match their corresponding values in your 'anchor' column.

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) for you:
  • L&D, Learning & Development. Usually the in-house training and up-skilling that large corporates do.

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
In this newsletter, we look at all you can do with forward slash ("/"):
  • Excel "Select the current array, which is the array that the active cell belongs to" Ctrl & / (Forward Slash)
  • Frontpage "Display HTML tags " Ctrl & / (Forward Slash)
  • PowerPoint "Turn character formatting on or off" NUM & / (Forward Slash)
  • Word "Hide or display character formatting when working in a document outline" NUM & / (Forward slash)

Hot Linx
Post-graduate career advice needs a brush-up, according to the Chronicle. Read on at  You can also download the original study by the Commission on Pathways at 
Whenever you hear "the youth of today" you might want to reflect on just how many generations have said that before you. Check it out at
IBM have a new mainframe computer, called Watson. Far from being a binary baby, Watson is learning to be a Jeopardy champ, able to link language and ideas together. Check it out at
Leadership Management Australasia feel that there is a growing disconnect between employer and employee perceptions. Check out what that might mean at

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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