How Healthy is Your Team's Culture?

How is contribution and teamwork measured in your organization? In many small businesses, tasks and deadlines are all encompassing.

Leaders find themselves focusing primarily on results and paying less attention to the quality of their work environment.

The reality is that your team’s culture - how team leaders and team members treat each other and how they treat customers - drives everything that happens in your organization, good or bad.

Obviously, keeping performance commitments is a vital part of business success. It’s good to focus on performance results. What’s not good is to assume that your work environment breeds trust, dignity, and respect - because most work environments don’t do that very well.

How can leaders ensure their work environment is safe and inspiring, moment to moment? By building an organizational constitution, then managing to it every day.

An organizational constitution specifies a team’s (or department or division or company’s) purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals. Once these critical elements are defined, leaders can model, coach to, and align all players to these agreements.

I recently invited Becky Robinson’s Weaving Influence team to complete my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment (CEA).

The CEA is based on the concepts and research in my latest book, The Culture Engine. The CEA allows team leaders and members to rate the degree to which their team has clear agreements about performance and values, and how well their team exceeds both sets of expectations in daily interactions.

The CEA has 50 questions worth a maximum of six points each. Total scores by team leader and team members are converted to one of five “culture health” levels - dysfunction, tension, civility, acknowledgment, and validation.

Becky’s team's CEA score summary is below. Becky’s scores, as team leader, are graphed in red. Team member scores are in blue. Becky scored the team at 208 points, at the acknowledgment health level.

Her team members scored the company slightly higher, at 227 points (also in the acknowledgment health level). The graph also shows the lowest team member score (188, in the civility health level) and the highest team member score (298 - nearly a perfect score in the validation health level).

This is a very good initial score. Weaving Influence, in business for just over two years, has a lot of great practices in place. It shows in Becky’s and her team members’ positive ratings of these questions.

Becky’s team has a great foundation. Not only are team members highly skilled but Becky has grounded her business on six core values. Her team shares these values in recent blog posts, which can be found here:

I think their values are defined pretty well. What the CEA can tell Becky and her team is whether their values are measurable - how well these values are defined in observable and tangible terms.

Below is the detailed scoring for the team's responses to the CEA question: “Our values are measurable?”

Becky scored this item 3 out of six; team members’ average score is 4. Desirable scores are at the 5-6 range, so Becky’s team has an opportunity here. Defining values in measurable behaviors shifts both the understanding of what’s expected and the coaching to these valued behaviors. It makes team citizenship as measurable as a performance deadline.

The benefits of aligning to an organizational constitution are astounding. Clients who align to their organizational constitution see gains in employee engagement of 40 percent, in customer service of 40 percent, and in profits of 35 percent, all within 18-24 months of starting their culture refinement process.

Becky and team, thanks for engaging in my Culture Effectiveness Assessment. You all are in a great place. With some focused attention, you can ensure your workplace exceeds these best practices - and is inspiring for everyone, including your customers.

What can the Culture Effectiveness Assessment do for you and your team? It provides rational insights into the quality of your team or company's culture - and points the way for making yours a safe, inspiring work environment.

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