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    Why it's Time to Give Your Company Culture an Annual Review

  • It’s critical this time of year to take stock of how things have gone when it comes to culture.

    pexels/nappy
    The final step after reviewing the results is to share with your team.

    In a lot of organizations, the end of the year marks the season of performance reviews—the time of year where we talk about what’s working and what could use some improving, and set goals for the upcoming year. The aim is to improve performance, get better results, and run a better restaurant. And it occurred to me that, as employees and managers frantically fill out forms, collect feedback, and prepare for performance conversations, we should be doing the same thing for our culture.

    Most leaders will acknowledge that culture matters and drives real bottom-line results, from better sales to retaining top talent. But it’s rare to see them pay attention to it the same way they do other key business metrics, like sales, labor costs, and food costs. Without a system for tracking, measuring, and assessing culture, what are you leaving on the table? And how do you know what works, what doesn’t, and what needs improvement?

    It’s critical this time of year to take stock of how things have gone when it comes to culture. Then you should use that information to set goals for the coming year. This kind of focus is what great leaders and brands do to maintain long-term success. The first thing to do is to figure out how you will measure your culture consistently.

    Create a scoreboard

    In my book, Company Culture for Dummies, I mapped out a detailed system for conducting an employee version of the popular Net Promoter Score (nps), which is a popular system for keeping track of customer loyalty. If you have ever responded to one of those surveys that starts with, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend XYZ company?” then you have taken part in an NPS survey. You can use this same method for keeping tabs on your employee sentiments—something called an eNPS (or employee Net Promoter Score). Simply put together a paper or online survey that asks, “How likely are you to recommend XYZ as a place to work?” with a 1–10 ranking option. Then ask three follow-up questions: What is the main reason you have that specific score? What would make that score higher? And, why didn’t you score it even lower?

    Once you’ve received the scores, you will get an overall score and read the comments. This can help you set goals for the upcoming year, learn what’s working, and find out what needs improvement. Scores from 1 to 6 are considered detractors, 7 and 8 are labeled neutral, and 9 and 10 are considered promoters. To get the eNPS score, the total number of respondents is used to determine the percentage of detractors and the percentage of promoters. Then the detractors are subtracted from the promoters to arrive at the eNPS.

    For example, say 100 people responded to your survey as follows: 50 people were promoters, meaning they marked a 9 or 10; 25 people were neutrals, so they marked a 7 or 8; and 25 people were detractors by marking a 0 to 6. First you would discard the score for the neutrals. You should still use their comments and suggestions from the follow-up questions, but their actual score won’t be used to calculate eNPS.

    Then you will determine the percentage of promoters and percentage of detractors. In the example, it would be 50 percent of the 100 survey respondents as promoters and 25 percent as detractors. Then you subtract the detractors from the promoters to get your eNPS of 25. Now don’t think of this as a normal grading in school. In this model there is a range from -100 to 100.

    Other tracking methods

    In addition to this ongoing metric system, you can also clue in to some other useful tools to help get information about how things are working. One popular way is to track your scores on popular review sites like Glassdoor. On this site, you can focus on the overall score, the recommendation rating, and the comments to get powerful insights. If you are using exit interviews with departing staff, you can track this information over time to see how things are going.

    Sharing the results

    The final step after reviewing the results is to share with your team. It’s generally best to share as much as possible—even the negative stuff. The only areas that you may want to edit or omit are those with content that only applies to specific people. If some feedback is critical of the general manager or other senior leaders, leave it in and be prepared to discuss. Again, transparency is a big way to improve culture and drive engagement. When people feel like they’re making a difference and their opinions are helping to create positive change, it boosts your culture in positive ways.