Discovering your company’s culture

In an ideal world, your company’s culture stems and grows organically from day one. It’s a grassroots force that spreads from employee to employee, that continues to grow and evolve to support your business.

But often, companies grow rapidly and culture gets lost in the hurried pace of business. Culture takes time to resonate with people. If a company is opening offices and acquiring new partners, especially globally, it can be hard to unite employees under a common culture.

Companies need to evaluate their culture in order to connect with employees. Elements of cultures are undoubtedly growing amongst employees. Your company can really gain an advantage from uniting what is already out there. From a cohesive culture, employees can communicate easier and more effectively. It also helps to ground your business and lets employees understand both your company purpose and their personal purpose within your company.

Here are three steps from Tribe to help discover what makes your company culture tick.

1) Leadership Interviews

Start at the top, by sitting down with members of the leadership team to discuss where they would like their culture to be. Ask about their vision for the organization, as well as their mission and values. Get them to talk about their one-year or five-year goals for the business. You can’t develop a communications plan to align employees with the vision if you don’t understand what that vision looks like.

2) Employee Interviews or Focus Groups

This can be done one on one, either in person or by phone, or in group sessions, although like any focus group, one strong personality can dominate the discussion without a skilled moderator to foster more inclusion. For a representative sample, make sure you’re including employees of different business units, geography, seniority, gender, ethnicity and from functions that cover the gamut from sales to enterprise services to manufacturing or the frontline. This is a time consuming stage, but will provide some of the most critical insights for strategic development.

3) Employee Survey

Surveys allow you to quantify the themes and issues you’ve uncovered in the qualitative stages of Discovery and to gather more general cultural statistics about the employee population. The most useful surveys are structured in ways that allow for a close look at the cultural differences between business units and other silos, geography and demographics. An effective cadence for a comprehensive survey is once or twice a year. Including a number of open-ended questions helps ferret out the intention behind the responses. But keep in mind that it’s important to build in an appropriate level of anonymity so that employees feel safe in answering openly. For a couple of reasons, employee surveys should be fielded regularly. First, these are important tools that measure changes or improvements and allow leaders to understand what’s going on inside the company. Second, if surveys only occur in the midst of major change, lots of angst and negative energy can become associated with an otherwise helpful tool.

TRIBE TRIVIA: Employee Feedback For Corporate

Q: What percentage of employees feel it’s “extremely” or “very” important to be able to communicate with their corporate leadership?

Answer: 84%, according to Tribe’s national research on employees’ preferences in internal communications.

For more information about this study, see Tribe’s white papers and other resources on the expertise page of, or contact Steve Baskin, President and Chief of Strategy at Tribe. 

Whose job is it to make the culture more collaborative?

Who is responsible for driving collaboration in your company? In this interview by Gloria Lombardi of Simply Communicate discusses that question with Emanuele Quintarelli, EY’s Director of Social Business and Future of Work.

Everybody, according to Quintarelli. In the past, he says, it tended to be IT launching collaborative software, or internal comms, primarily in their management of senior leader communciations to employees.

“What we have seen over the years is that none of these owners can play a very effective role alone,” he says. “Best practice is to make social business a multi stakeholder project – IT, HR, IC, Legal but also the rest of the business, from Customer Service, to Sales, Marketing and Innovation.

“It is a transition that should be owned by the entire organisation. The organisational culture and processes have to be championed by the top management together with the senior stakeholders representing core areas.”

In Tribe’s research, collaboration is either modeled by managers or doomed by them. In our national study with employees on collaboration across functional silos, we heard comments like these:

“Managers are at times at odds and discourage (or at least don’t encourage) personnel to expend the time required for collaboration.”

“My boss’ boss discourages collaboration in some areas and would rather have the upper hand with some groups”

“I don’t know how to change the culture, but I know it starts with the leaders.”

“Lead by example.”

Our answer to Lombardi’s question would be that top leadership drives collaboration by making it a priority for the organization — and by modeling it. That intent and behavior can then flow down through the many layers of management, potentially all the way to the frontline.

Internal communications can help by making collaborative success more visible. HR can help by including some element of collaboration as an element of performance reviews. Training and development can support managers and employees in learning to collaborate more easily. IT can offer software to make collaboration easier, or just supporting the rogue software employees are adopting on their own, like Slack and Flow.

So yes, everybody. Everybody in the organization can help drive collaboration.

Want to support collaboration in your company? Tribe can help.

PS: If you’re interested in the deck summarizing our white paper on collaboration across functional silos, shoot me an email.