Measurement Culture & Five Common Traits of High-Performing Organizations

While culture was once perceived as a vague concept, many organizations are recognizing its importance. The position of chief culture officer (CCO), is held at a number of progressive organizations. The CCO’s primary duty is to focus on maintaining the core parts of the culture that contribute to the organization’s success.

While organizational culture is increasingly observed as a critical factor in success, the implications of measurement are also significant. To build a culture of measurement certain steps need to be taken.

High-performing cultures have been associated with strong financial outcomes; however, these cultures also have strong employee motivation and performance. Research has shown that there are specific cultural characteristics directly related to organization effectiveness and outcomes. High-performance organizations tend to have cultures that share five common traits.

  1. Empowering Style Leadership: Leaders communicate with respect and lead by example. Employees are empowered to use their judgment to make decisions and take action in their day-to-day jobs. Employees are not present to serve management or reinforce bureaucracy. Leadership is supportive of employees, with focus on helping to support employees so they can focus on caring for customers.
  2. Collaborative Environment: This type of environment is inclusive; employees have a sense of belonging, with everyone sharing the responsibilities of identifying problems and coming up with solutions. These types of organizations are highly participatory.
  3. Strong Core Values: Values of respect, loyalty, and integrity are embedded in leadership behaviors toward employees, and infuse the organization.
  4. Planning: Employees know what the long-term plans are for the company and how to get there. Strategy is well-defined and priorities are clear. Plans are clearly articulated and there are specific measures to assess a plan’s success. Employees know what is important for the organization and what is required to do their jobs effectively.
  5. Measurement and Feedback: High-performing organizations not only plan and prioritize what is most important for the business, but also provide indicators and measures to know whether they are hitting the mark or not. Data-driven organizations is another way to describe this environment. Employees receive ongoing feedback so performance is collaboratively assessed as it relates to the business.

Organizational cultural characteristics play a pivotal role in organization effectiveness. Measurement and feedback is one of the components of a high-performing culture. There are many benefits for creating a measurement-oriented organization culture. The following are just a few at the top of the list:

  1. Measurement cultures lay the foundation for organization learning. Information sharing is leveraged in the organization toward knowledge and growth. Data-driven organizations make this possible.
  2. Measurement cultures provide the way for departments to track their progress. Managers have the ability to track progress toward department goals. What happens if the project that is implemented is a flop? Or if needs are not fully met? Tracking along the way allows for modifications if needed to move outcomes in a favorable direction.
  3. Measurement cultures make data-driven decisions. The use of the hunch takes second place to making decisions based on data. If a project is not going in the direction it needs to go, then the data will validate this point. And collecting the right data should help pinpoint where things broke down.

The Leadership Development Practitioner as a Change Agent

Practitioners often view their role as one who influences an individual, group, or organization toward desired change. The change agent plays a significant role in leading the change effort or collaborating with the team assigned to initiating change. Trying to create an environment that is measurement friendly also involves a change agent— someone to lead this effort and manage the change process within an organization.

It is important to remember that building a measurement culture should be a strategic change. The change agent must set the stage with the ‘why’ behind building a measurement culture, make sure that the change effort is in sync with what’s important for the organization, and include action planning and feedback to keep the momentum building. Involving people who are senior in the organization also helps because they have the clout necessary to pave the way for building a measurement culture.

Identify a System to Routinely Review Measures

Adopting a systematic way to plan, collect, analyze, and report on initiatives in the organization sets in motion the process of communicating and reinforcing what is important to the organization, while sending a clear message to key stakeholders as to what needs to change to improve outcomes. This is particularly true when measurement has been planned in advance to collect data points that will tell the story in a comprehensive way.

When leadership development programs are aligned with results-based initiatives or what’s important to the organization, it becomes more likely that Leadership Development initiatives are easily measured and supported. The old adage rings true in this context: What gets measured gets done.

Adapted from Measuring the Success of Leadership Development: A Step-By-Step Guide for Measuring Impact and Calculating ROI (ATD Press, 2015) by Patti Phillips PhD, Jack Phillips, PhD, CEO/President and Chairman of ROI Institute respectively, and co-author Rebecca Ray, PhD., EVP of The The Conference Board.

About the Authors

Jack PhillipsPatti PhillipsPatti Phillips PhD is president and CEO of ROI Institute, Inc. and renowned expert in measurement and evaluation. She helps organizations in over 60 countries demonstrate the value of investing in programs of all types. Phillips serves on the faculty of the UN System Staff College in Turin, Italy. She is Distinguished Principal Research Fellow for The Conference Board and an ATD Certification Institute CPLP Fellow. An author or editor of more than 50 books, Phillips’ work has been has been featured on CNBC, EuroNews, and over a dozen business journals.

Jack Phillips PhD is a world-renowned expert on accountability, measurement, and evaluation. With expertise based on more than 27 years of corporate experience, Phillips has served as training and development manager at two Fortune 500 firms, as senior human resources officer, as a bank president, and as management professor at a major university. He is the author or editor of more than 75 books. SHRM has recognized Phillips for his publications and contribution to the human resources industry. ATD awarded Phillips its highest honor, Distinguished Contribution to Workplace Learning and Development. His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and Fortune.

Rebecca Ray PhD is executive vice president, knowledge organization and human capital practice lead for The Conference Board. In this role, she has oversight of the research planning and dissemination process for three practice areas: corporate leadership, economics and business development, and human capital. She is the leader of the global human capital practice.

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