The One Question You Need to Ask About Your Organization Culture

One of my favorite jobs at HPISolutions is writing the openings for our Power Ideas, and this one is no exception. Strategic Partner, Diane Janovsky helps us to understand the power of your organizational culture with a specific focus on EMPLOYER BRAND. Don’t miss reading this one!

We’ve probably all heard the familiar quote “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, attributed to management guru Peter Drucker. There is no doubt that organization culture can be a powerful force in driving performance and sustainable growth (Kotter and Heskett, 1992), but it can also be a complex issue to address.

Definitions of culture can vary from the elegantly simple “how we do things around here”, to much more detailed approaches like Edgar Schein’s Organizational Culture Model (also known as the Onion Model), or Four Organizational Culture Types derived from the Competing Values Framework, developed by researchers Robert Quinn and Kim Cameron.

The Question
As important as culture may be, busy business leaders don’t have time to dig through the vast body of knowledge on the subject. They need a relatively quick and practical way to assess the health of their own organization’s culture to decide if change is required.

Culture manifests itself in a company in many ways, but fundamentally, it is about people. Asking this one question can be a litmus test to bring culture into focus:

“How effectively does our employer brand attract and retain the right people for our business?”

Culture –> Employee Experience –> Employer Brand

While not an exact equivalent to culture, employer brand is a useful stand-in. It represents the reputation of the company in the eyes of job seekers, and how it’s perceived as an employer of choice. Company culture directly shapes the employee experience, which in turn forms the core of the employer brand.
A business that’s known as a “great place to work” has a strong employer brand. Not only is it much easier to hire the best people if there is a pool of enthused and fully qualified candidates clamoring to work there, but turnover tends to be low.
On the other hand, an organization with a negative reputation as an employer likely has difficulty in recruiting people, and those they do hire may not stay long.

The Answer
If a business is experiencing any or all of these symptoms…
* Difficulty attracting qualified candidates who are a good fit
* Consistent turnover of high-performing employees
* Retention/tolerance of low-performers
…then the answer to the question is that the employer brand is NOT effective enough, and it’s time to consider a deeper dive into culture change.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help with organization culture and developing your employer brand, please contact us for a free consultation at