Measuring culture is big business. There are a seemingly endless number of models of workplace culture out there. All purport to model the underlying way your organization works. While these models tell interesting stories about your culture, they miss a key ingredient of your culture. Energy.

The importance of culture for organizational success cannot be overstated because it underpins everything organizations do.

Simply put, culture is both the cause and effect of an organisation’s greatness or its dysfunction.

Pavel Malos, Medium

The desire to understand culture has spawned an industry of culture measurement. That is to say information about how employees see organizations. And, the insights do provide a sense of how employees think about their organization.

Organizations are then quantified in terms of the extent to which they are defined by certain norms or values. For example, uncertainty avoidance or self-actualizing. Often, culture models provide organization with a culture identity; a label. You can find out if you have an Adhocracy Culture or Market Culture in the OCAI model.

Culture measures can certainly identify some clear positive and negative traits and behaviours. Obviously, no organization is likely to be successful with a toxic culture where employees are free to treat others badly (e.g. harassment).

Usually the approach is for employees to rate their organization on a large battery of attributes in a traditional survey. These attributes are then used to place the organization on a set of value or ideological-dimensions.

That said, the value and impact of other traits is very context dependent. A sales team probably needs competitiveness. Financial institutions require risk aversion.

Knowing where you fit on an ideological dimension is interesting but does it arm you with the insights you need to activate change? Does it help you know, for sure, what needs to change?

Energy is a critical ingredient in understanding your culture

When you measure the energy in your organization, you are measuring culture. You are doing so, however, from a unique perspective. Think about the definition of culture above as the “cause and effect of an organisation’s greatness or its dysfunction.” Embedded in this definition is two ideas. First, that your culture comes from how people do things within it. Second, labels for your culture as just that, labels.

Energy shares these ideas. Energy at its basic level is how people work together. Most importantly, more energy is positive for the organization (the more an organization has, the more capacity for change). In addition, energy is positive for the individual working relationships as more energy equates with more productive and positive working environment.

But energy is also somewhat agnostic about the culture profile of your organization. If employees are having a positive impact on each other, their behaviours, communication and values are aligned. That is all that matters. Energy drives greatness. On the other hand, greatness (i.e. collaboration, productivity, teamwork) will be hard if energy is missing or low.

In conclusion, measuring energy is a unique and valuable way to measure culture. Contact us to learn more about understanding your culture by measuring your energy.

Richard Jenkins Photo

Richard Jenkins Ph.D