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Validate Your Corporate Culture

by Jeff Gau on October 14, 2010

Ask any CEO about their corporate culture, and they will most certainly claim it’s great. But really, how do you validate your claim?

Marco is continually recognized as a great place to work. But it has not come without intention and ongoing assessment. For 22 years, Marco has asked employees to share their input on topics ranging from compensation and benefits to management and training. Together, employees provide an authentic report card on how we’re doing at fostering a coveted corporate culture.

It’s easy to evaluate financial performance, but it can be challenging to get a 360 degree review – of yourself, your team or your company. Often times we don’t ask – because perhaps we don’t really want to know.

I would argue that it is essential to the success and sustainability of any organization. You don’t know how you’re doing if you don’t ask.

Proving It
Companies can use a variety of survey tools to validate their claims. At Marco, we’ve found that we get the best results when we do it ourselves. Each year, a small group of Marco leaders evaluate the 100 questions, write new questions based on current business conditions and send out the confidential survey. We own every piece of it.

Getting this employee feedback is far too important to outsource. Keeping it in house helps us stay close and committed to it. We ask employees to rate their agreement with statements like:

  • Management is competent at running the business.
  • I believe there is good and open communication within Marco.
  • My supervisor trusts me to do a good job without watching over my shoulder.
  • Management has sincere interest in me as a person, not just an employee.
  • Management is effectively navigating us through the recession.
  • Marco’s actions match its words.
  • People are encouraged to balance their work life and their personal life.

This last year, we included questions that related to our recent acquisitions, our communication between branch offices and how effective our leadership team is in managing us through this recession.

The survey results are powerful. While Marco has experienced success despite the economic conditions over the past 24 months, the company has not been exempt from making tough decisions and asking employees to go without.

The 2010 survey results demonstrated that our culture was resilient even in tough economic times. It’s these tough times that validates the effectiveness of our leadership team – and the true essence of our culture.

Don’t Assume. Ask.
Our employees’ response rate is always high. Employees want to feel valued and we have a track record of evaluating constructive feedback – and then doing something about it. After I receive the survey results each year, I meet with each department to talk about the top five and bottom five rated questions, the general theme of the feedback and our action plans for the bottom five.

Overall feedback for our 2010 survey was consistent with – and in some areas exceeded – past years. The rating for supervisors and management was a recent best. I’m always pleased when the feedback from our employee survey supports our claim that Marco is a great place to work.

The lesson: The best corporate cultures don’t just happen. They effectively and authentically assess their cultures and remain focused on continuous improvement. It’s not enough to say you’re the best. You have to prove it.

If you don’t ask - you’ll never know…

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Topics: Culture, Leadership

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