Wednesday, 14 May 2014

A Checklist for a Cultural Audit

In an earlier post, 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
  • Undertaking an audience analysis (determining existing and desired markets and stakeholders)
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:

  • Preparedness to change
  • History of change
  • Method of change
  • Types of change
  • CEO attitude to change
  • Staff attitude to change
  • Board attitude to change
  • Process of change
  • [...Stakeholder]/member reaction to change
  • Organisation's financial position
  • Organisational budget
  • Human resources
  • Staff age
  • Staff turnover
  • Organisational perception of competition
  • Organisational competitors readily identified
  • Organisational [...stakeholders]/members considered customers?
  • Principal revenue sources
  • [...Stakeholder] base location
  • Organisational focus [and fit with parent or subsidiary organisations]
  • Decision-making process
  • Involvement of board members in operations
  • Organisational perception of board involvement
  • Involvement of [any] controlling [...organisations/partners/headquarters/shareholdings]
  • Staff background as competitors
  • Board background as competitors
  • Professional board members
  • Service focus
  • Goal focus – Financial? Memberships? On-field success? Participation?
  • [In-house...] heroes
  • [External...] heroes
  • Heroes' traits
  • Organisational recognition of past heroes
  • Organisational use of heroes for promotion
  • Public perception of heroes as role models
History and tradition
  • Internal formal recognition of history and tradition
  • Maintenance of [...organisational] archives
  • Perception of [...organisational] success
  • Financial impact of success on organisation
  • Age of organisation
  • Organisational attachment to traditions
Risk: Organisational approach to risk
  • Organisational celebration of success
  • Office atmosphere after victory/defeat
  • Positioning of memorabilia
  • Organisational value attached to memorabilia
  • Staff wearing uniforms
  • Staff dress requirement
  • Staff appearance
  • Employees work in excess of 40 hours per week
  • Employee motivations
  • Organisational gender bias
  • Organisational use of performance reviews
  • Employees provided with specific job descriptions
  • Average current employment length
  • Employee [...industry] background
  • Specific employee performance measures in place
  • Office atmosphere
  • Employee duties
  • Employee supervision
  • Organisational use of volunteers
  • Organisational recognition of volunteers
  • Employees working outside business hours
  • Employee handbook provided
  • [Women...] hold senior management positions
  • Employee association with the organisation
  • Number of staff
  • [Breakdown of staff by age, stage, gender, ethnicity, and trends]
  • 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 ("[...]").

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