Navigating the Heart of Your Organisation: The Art and Science of Culture Auditing

Written by
Ivan Pierce
March 8, 2024

Picture this: your organisation’s culture is like a vibrant tapestry, woven together by the unique values, beliefs, and behaviours of all its people. But just like any tapestry, it's essential to periodically step back and ensure that the threads are still aligned and the pattern matches your design. 

That's where the art of culture auditing comes into play. 

But, first things first, why bother auditing your organisation's culture? Well, consider culture as the invisible glue that holds your organisation together. A strong and healthy culture can drive employee engagement, foster innovation, support employee retention and fuel organisational success. On the flip side, a toxic or misaligned culture can lead to disengagement, turnover, and ultimately, organisational decline. By auditing your culture, you gain valuable insights into what's working well and what areas need attention, allowing you to steer the ship in the right direction.

So, how do you go about auditing your organisation's culture? Let's break it down into a few key steps. 

Step one: Listen to your people. Your employees are the true custodians of your organisation's culture. Start by surveying them to understand their perceptions, beliefs, and experiences. What do they value most about the organisation? What aspects of the culture do they find inspiring, and what areas do they feel could be improved? By giving your people a voice, you not only demonstrate that their opinions matter but also gain valuable insights that can inform your culture strategy moving forward.

Step two: Engage in face-to-face workshops. While surveys provide valuable quantitative data, face-to-face workshops offer the opportunity for richer, qualitative insights. Gather employees from different levels and departments to participate in facilitated discussions about the organisation's culture. We would encourage you to include members of your Executive team in some sessions so they can hear the positives and negatives directly from your people. Encourage open and honest dialogue, allowing participants to share their perspectives, stories, and ideas for shaping the culture. These workshops can be incredibly powerful for building trust, fostering collaboration, and generating actionable insights.

Step three: Understand what organisational culture means to your people. Culture means different things to different people. For some, it's about shared values and behaviors; for others, it's about the work environment and social dynamics. Take the time to explore these varying perspectives and understand what culture means to your people. Then work towards aligning on a common understanding of culture, so you create a solid foundation for driving meaningful change and alignment.

Step four: Define together who you want to be as an organisation. Once you've gathered insights from your people, it's time to co-create a shared vision for the future of your organisation's culture. Typically HR leaders may facilitate this process with senior leaders, bringing forward the themes from your people. Making key decisions around, what values do you want to uphold? What behaviors do you want to encourage? What kind of workplace do you want to create? By involving employees in this process, you empower them to take ownership of the culture and become champions of change. Together, you can chart a course towards a culture that reflects your collective aspirations and values.

As you embark on your culture auditing journey, remember that it's not just about ticking boxes or collecting data points. It's about fostering a culture of continuous learning, growth, and improvement. 

Be open to feedback, embrace ambiguity, and celebrate progress, no matter how small. Culture auditing is not a one-time event but an ongoing process of reflection and adaptation.

So, HR leaders, are you ready to dive deep into the heart of your organisation? 

By auditing your culture, you not only gain valuable insights into what makes your organisation tick but also lay the groundwork for a more engaged, cohesive, and resilient workforce. Together, let's weave a tapestry of culture that reflects the true essence of your organisation and inspires greatness in all who are part of it.

If you’re not sure where to start, or would just like some help from some SMEs who have facilitated this process many times, please reach out to us!