At Gartner’s recent Reimagine HR Conference in Orlando last month, a new breed of impassioned HR and People leaders was on full display. The opening keynote began the conference with a bold provocation to the 5,000-strong leader audience – “Staying Bold - How HR Can Unlock Human Performance in Any Context.”
For the assembled Gagen MacDonald team, this keynote struck a rich chord. For almost 25 years, we’ve relentlessly focused our efforts on helping organizations navigate the human struggle of change. To what end? In short, to unlock the human performance we believe sits within each and every employee in an organization.
At our booth, attendees could experience a truncated version of our Six Levers Culture Assessment via a short digital demo. The Six Levers Framework is a foundational piece of Gagen IP that we’ve shown time and again can profoundly transform organizational culture. In the Assessment, we use the Six Levers in tandem with elements of the well-known “Competing Values Framework” to help organizations assess the culture they have, the culture they need to deliver on their strategy and the elements of the Six Levers they can leverage to deliver the change. The full Assessment is a highly customizable tool that utilizes over 180 culture indicators, includes a bank of over 100 questions and can be taken by thousands of employees across an organization.
While the truncated version we showcased at Gartner featured only nine questions, it was exciting to preview the tool. We were also intrigued by some of the findings we saw from the sample Assessment, which was taken by more than 250 Gartner attendees.
What did we observe over the course of delivering over 250 mini Assessments?
- Less than 20 percent of participants believed their organization currently possessed the culture it needed to deliver on its strategy.
- Only 15 percent of participants whose colleagues from the same organization also took the mini Assessment were aligned with all their coworkers on the nature of the culture that their company currently has.
- Over 55 percent of survey participants identified their organization as currently having a highly competitive culture, but less than 5 percent of that group believed that particular culture type would enable their organization to flourish in the future. That’s a significant realization of how much culture transformation is needed in some organizations.
- Perhaps reflective of a larger societal move toward more employee empowerment and employee agency, nearly 90 percent of survey respondents indicated that their organization needed a more autonomous (versus hierarchical) culture in order to succeed on its strategy.
What did we take away from those results?
Culture is deeply personal and felt individually. It was profound to have so many participants reporting that they “see, feel and experience” a different culture than others within their teams and organizations. For leaders, this should reinforce that what you and your leadership colleagues believe is the culture may be far off the mark from what others experience. The further you get from the corner office, the larger that difference is likely to be.
Culture is fluid. Often, respondents told us that several questions had more than one possible answer. This was likely a recognition that their traditional or legacy culture was already beginning to evolve, and that what may have existed before was no longer the full reality. From our discussions with those respondents, it was clear many were thinking specifically about the sub-cultures within their organizations which had distinct — often conflicting — culture types.
After three frenetic days chatting with over 300 culture enthusiasts at our Booth, one thing was resoundingly clear from the HR leaders we spoke with. Culture really is the great “Unlock” referenced in the opening keynote. I believe it also highlighted to those same leaders that their organization has some critical work to do to better connect and align culture and strategy.
If you have questions about the current state of your culture or what you can do to get it where it needs to be, we’d love to chat. Reach out to email@example.com to get the ball rolling.