Organisational culture is both complex and dynamic and, if not managed effectively, can mean the difference between spectacular success or mere survival. At its worst it can present as recurring media exposure of unethical behaviour by employees. Culture can not only be managed but also measured. Cultures change over time and it’s important to take a ‘pulse check’ on a periodic basis.
Typically, Cultural Audits are designed to map the status quo within organisations and present an accurate profile of the entity at a specific point in time. We have frequently been retained to produce these when there is a change of leadership or when an organisation merges with another. In other cases we have been called in when the Board discovers that an unethical pattern of behaviour has been allowed to flourish.
Benefits of a Cultural Audit or Review
The Cultural Audit produces a profile that shows:
- The formal and informal values in use within the enterprise
- Key ethical and non financial risks
- Employees perceptions of what is and is not working
- Key reasons why issues of concern go unreported
- The existing leverages and obstacles to change
- A recommended plan of action to address immediate concerns
The Value of a Cultural Audit:
- Heightened understanding of the advantages of values based management practices and their relationship to contemporary concepts such as “social license to operate”, “stakeholder capitalism”, “reputation stewardship” and “employee engagement”.
- Heightened understanding of the boundaries between organisational and personal values and where each takes priority and how it shapes personal accountability.
- Skill development in responding appropriately to what is expected in meeting the principles and values embedded in codes of conduct and codes of ethics
In conducting Cultural Audits we draw on the latest research from the science of behavior ethics. Behavioral ethics helps to explain why people in general find it difficult to be as ethical as they would like to be. This science demonstrates how psychological factors, organizational and societal pressures, and various situational factors make it difficult for even well-intentioned people to realize their own ethical aspirations. “People listen with their eyes”.
It’s important for leaders to understand the prompts and messages people are getting from their middle managers and supervisors that influence their decisions. Policies merely signal intent; behaviours shape the culture on a daily basis.
Managing Values has developed a three-phased approach to conducting Cultural Audits. At the first stage, we talk to the influencers of culture: the senior executive team; the finance team, divisional managers and leaders of critical functions such as procurement, HR and logistics. Next we conduct focus groups of representatives of various levels of managers and supervisors. Lastly, we administer an anonymous, voluntary survey for all employees to voice their perceptions of how the culture is set and managed.
Managing Values has been conducting cultural audits or reviews for 20 years. Organisations usually conduct cultural audits or pulse checks at regular intervals in the life of the organisation, or when there has been an interruption to the business -such as a scandal or a fundamental shift in the purpose of the organisation (such as a restructure, merger or takeover).
Clients here have included national corporations operating in Australia and Australasia as well as China. Industry experience includes construction, travel, financial services, health, transport, agribusiness and the food industry.