The Measurable Impact of Values on Culture
Measuring organizational values through peer reviews and metrics transforms abstract ideals into drivers of culture and accountability.
What distinguishes our team's culture from all the others? Do our values represent who we truly are or who we aspire to become? Powerful cultures begin by holding up real and aspirational values for all to see, measure and emulate.
Like a lighthouse guiding ships ashore, an organization's values signal expected behaviors that support the desired culture. But talk is cheap, as they say. Voice values alone won't forge the culture we envision. To breathe life into them requires mapping specific behaviors and traits for each. How do we recognize when someone lives this value? What does it look and feel like day to day? Descriptions make values tangible.
Still, describing ideal conduct doesn't ensure it occurs. So, we measure. Peter Drucker famously declared, "What gets measured gets managed." But can values actually be measured? Absolutely. And there lies the power.
Recently, I asked a cross-functional team to develop value metrics analyzing respect, collaboration, innovation, empowerment and work-life balance. They created behavior-based surveys soliciting anonymous peer reviews along each cultural dimension using a simple 10-point rating scale. By analyzing results and calling out gaps, we gained priceless insights. Those exhibiting desired behaviors were asked to mentor groups needing development. Within two quarters, ratings climbed markedly. We repeated the exercise six months later with similar advances.
Like map pins marking cultural deserts and rainforests, values metrics guide interventions to nourish desired behaviors. They also celebrate where the culture thrives. Most importantly, they develop accountability at all levels - from me on down - to live espoused values daily.
Hardwiring values into the cultural blueprint this way operationalizes them for the long haul. It liberates them from poster boards into everyday behaviors and habits. No longer abstractions, values metrics embed them into how we make people feel, treat customers, solve problems, and pursue excellence. They become the cultural DNA.
Ennobling words on a page can't match the electricity of values in action. By measuring them, values transform from conceptual to experiential. Metrics turn abstract ideals into drivers of culture. This fuels engagement, performance, innovation and belonging.
Most importantly, values we measure shape who we become.