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13 Jun 2016

2 Major Types of Surveys to Assess Corporate Culture

Knowing how to assess corporate culture is a key part of culture change management. Changing an organizational culture is even harder if we do not know what it is now. It is like trying to improve a home without knowing the home.

Knowing how to assess corporate culture is a key first step to changing culture.

To assess corporate culture using surveys, there are two broad types: self-reporting and projective. Each has its merits.

Ways to Assess Corporate Culture

The ways to assess corporate culture using surveys are like those to assess personalities. There are two broad types. The first is self-reporting. The second is projective.

The first type is far more common than the second. It uses closed-ended questions. Responders choose from a given set of answers or rating scales. Professionals can ask the questions. Most times though computers deliver them online. Computers usually generate the results too.

The second type uses open-end questions. Responders can give any answer. Most times a professional needs to ask the questions so as to clarify answers with follow up questions. He will also need to interpret the results.

Examples of the Two Types

Seeing examples of self-reporting and projective approaches not only helps one to understand them but also to see their pros and cons.

Self-reporting will have questions such as these:

  • Using a scale of 1-10 (with 10 very collaborative), how would you rate the collaboration in your firm?
  • (True or False), the firm communicates its business strategy very well.
  • From the following options, how would you describe the decision making in this firm (consensus, top-down, non-inclusive, variable)?

Projective approaches will have questions such as these:

  • How would you describe the company’s culture when it comes to explaining how your senior management leads?
  • How would you characterize the way the company likes to motivate employees?
  • If you had to tell a close friend what it is like to work here, what would you say?

Choosing the Type of Survey

Each type of survey has its merits. The self-reporting is much easier to administer and analyze. These are usually done by computer.

The projective approach is more accurate and thorough. It does a better job of capturing unconscious influences. The results can be difficult to quantify though. It is more prone to subjectivity. That is why it is typically administered and analyzed by a qualified professional.

The right choice though is based on many individual factors. It is very possible to combine the two types of surveys too. Cost will vary for both based on scope.

As a general guide, the projective works best for a first time assessment or a deep dive. The self-reporting serves well as a regular checkup. The individual facts and circumstances of the company will drive the choice.

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