4 Common Themes from a Culture Assessment

Company Culture

Culture or lack thereof in an organization is a topical issue as outlined in the Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2016 study.

“Culture has become one of the most important business topics of 2016. CEOs and HR leaders now recognize that culture drives people’s behavior, innovation, and customer service: 82 percent of survey respondents believe that “culture is a potential competitive advantage.”

“While culture is widely viewed as important, it is still largely not well understood; many organizations find it difficult to measure and even more difficult to manage. Only 28 percent of survey respondents believe they understand their culture well, while only 19 percent believe they have the “right culture.”

Culture is the foundation that needs to be in place and must be solid in order to move forward. In your own life there are obstacles and barriers that if left untouched can block or impede your personal growth. The culture within an organization is no different.

A culture assessment is a process that is used to determine mentor readiness in an organization. Having that solid foundation in place is important prior to implementing a mentor program or a mentor culture.  We are seeing some common themes that are potential cracks in that foundation. Communication, relationship building, trust, and leadership are the four that seem to be causing organizations the most grief in moving forward.


Communication is a challenge in most organizations or the lack thereof. When we interview employees as part of the assessment process it is quite evident that people have lost the ability of having a meaningful conversation in a trusted and safe environment. Little if any preparation to have a crucial conversation is done resulting in failed attempts at getting a message delivered successfully.In most cases the intent of the message is missed or interpreted incorrectly, the relationship breaks down because of that and negativity begins to set it with a decline in productivity.

If communication is not addressed there will definitely be cracks in the foundation which will hamper the successful implementation of a mentoring program or culture.

Relationship Building

Relationship building but more importantly trusted relationships are difficult to create and are essential to that solid foundation. This is a leadership trait as well that we see as missing from most leaders and most organizations. A simple question to answer is do you take time every day to say “good morning” to your employees – to show them that you care.

With a lot of people in leadership roles this is a missing component – a crack in the foundation. Understanding the elements of building trusted relationships is the first step. Without this part of the foundation being solid implementing mentor programs or cultures will be a challenge.

The lack of trust in an organization can be a definite crack in the foundation. I recall some of the organizations that I worked in as an employee that did not have trust. It very quickly became a culture of complacency and disengagement. Lack of trust is also a catalyst for negativity in the workplace. We need to take the time to develop trust in people at all levels in the organization.

Leadership Development

Leadership is ranked second in the Deloitte study for 2016 and has been in top 3 for last few years. The issue of leadership talent is not going away.

“The leadership challenge is urgent and growing in importance. In 2016, 89 percent of companies see leadership as an important or very important issue (up from 87 percent in 2015), and 57 percent cite leadership as very important (up from 50 percent).”

“Twenty-eight percent of respondents reported weak or very weak leadership pipelines.” 

One of the ways to assist in leadership development is through the “gift of mentoring”. Ensuring that we have leaders that support mentoring to assist in the personal and professional growth of people in the organization is part of the

“Today, organizations need to explore new approaches to leadership development. They should seek to apply rigorous, structured, scientific approaches to succession planning and development, aiming to identify potential leaders earlier and fast-track them into leadership positions. Also important is to find ways to develop leaders who can collaborate extensively, recognize the need for new leadership skills (such as conceptual thinking), and focus on new leadership cohorts (Millennials, women, and diverse individuals). All of this requires implementing a comprehensive culture around leadership to address the leadership gap continuously and systemically.”

Organizations that take the first step to have a culture assessment done are brave organizations that are comfortable standing in front of the mirror and realizing that change must take place. Implementing a mentoring program and/or a mentor culture can be done successful with a solid foundation in place. Are you ready to have your organization stand in front of the mirror?

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References: 1, 2

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