Your Culture Sucks. 15 Questions To Assess Your Company Ecosystem and Coaching Effectiveness

Does your company culture reflect your people and their personal values? Are your people a reflection of your culture? Does the attitude and behavior within your organization reflect your desired culture? Does your culture reflect not just your corporate vision but your team vision, as well as your team’s and your personal vision and values? If companies are being honest, the answer for most is, “Not even close.” Here are 15 questions to assess your company culture, as well as your leadership and coaching effectiveness.

What’s Your Company DNA?

We were ending the second day of my leadership coaching program in Beijing, China. As we began to debrief, Pierre, one of the managers, paused to share a horrific experience he had just a week earlier.

“I received disturbing news from our corporate office. During last month’s quarterly senior leadership meeting, Chan, one of the VP’s, had a heart attack in the middle of the meeting. We called an ambulance immediately. Within minutes, he was rushed to the hospital.

“As you can imagine, everyone in the meeting was extremely concerned about Chan. Yet, the meeting continued. Reports were reviewed. Business plans evaluated. Priorities re-affirmed. Team performance and scorecards assessed.

“An hour passed. The hospital called the office to share the devastating news. Chan had died moments after arriving at the hospital.”

While there’s nothing worse than the sudden and untimely passing of a good person, here’s what I found most troublesome about this horrific story. The administrator from the hospital asked one of the other VP’s in that meeting, “Who would be the proper family member to contact and let them know about Chan?”

Ten people were in that meeting. Some had worked together for over 12 years. But when the hospital administrator asked how to contact Chan’s family, not one person had an answer.

No one really knew who Chan was. They knew him as an employee and a peer, but certainly not as a human being. It’s a disturbing story, but one we can learn from.

Think about your company. Think about your team, peers and customers. How much do you really know about them, personally? How much time and attention do you invest in fostering a deeper connection with people?

Trust is built, not assumed. No one is obligated to give trust, until it’s earned. 

Keeping HR compliance in mind, do you really know the people you work with?

I can’t think of anyone who would want to work at a company like Chan’s. The sad truth is, there’s a good chance most people already do.

When Company and Personal Values Clash

Companies and leaders with good intentions struggle to break free from the monotony of their current business because they face the daily pressures of metrics, performance expectations, quotas, employee challenges, customer needs, deadlines, hiring, forecasting, emails, impromptu meetings, employee development, reporting—the list runs on.

Inevitably, the reversion to a dysfunctional culture is a byproduct of this secondary directive: to drive results.

A coaching culture is  a people culture. 

It’s a global epidemic. Companies collapse a great culture with great results. Not true. These two ideas are mutually exclusive. While results are critical for business success, you know you have a great culture when your work complements your life, you’re honoring personal values, feel like you’re contributing and making a positive impact, and enjoying the ride to achieve business objectives.

Boardroom or Bored-Room – Defining Corporate Culture

Corporate refers to the collective body that makes up any organization. Merriam-Webster’s definition of culture also includes:

“The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization; a corporate culture focused on the bottom line; c: the set of values, or social practices associated with a field, activity, or soci- etal characteristic … d) the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.”

The Company Ecosystem

Many pieces must be addressed to solve this cultural puzzle. It’s an environment that encapsulates a shared feeling, belief system, attitude, and set of values. Culture dictates how people should behave, perform, and treat one another.

Every company’s culture exists within a network of unique individuals engaging and interacting with each other. A healthy culture is a consistent culture – especially in the face of adversity. It’s one where people feel their workplace, like their home, is a safe place to live by their values and authentically express themselves.

People live within the culture of their company. Ultimately, it deter- mines their fulfillment, growth, purpose, contributions, success, quality of life, and peace of mind.

15 Questions to Assess Your Culture and the ROI of Coaching

How would you describe your workplace? Healthy, supportive, collaborative and fulfilling, or is it more of a result-driven, report-obsessed, fear based culture, where results are more important than people?

Do you define a great manager by their results and the color of their scorecard? Or is a great leader defined by the positive impact they’ve made on other people, while developing the future leaders of the organization? Does your company operate under the belief that by putting people and processes first, they realize the byproduct is a top performing culture?

These 15 questions will assess your company culture, as well as your leadership and coaching effectiveness.

1. Do you have more turnover than your industry average?
2. Do you struggle with departmental silos or creating a cohesive team?
3. Are your managers spending 70 percent of their time putting out fires or developing, observing, and coaching their people that generates consistent, measurable results?
4. Is everyone on your team achieving their quota and business objectives, and not just the few top producers who managers rely on to hit monthly goals?
5. Are your direct reports seeking out coaching from you, coworkers and peers, both in and outside of your department?
6. Do you view your team as direct reports or peers and coaches? Do you seek out coaching from others, regardless of their position or tenure?
7. Is everyone in your company learning how to effectively coach and leverage a proven coaching framework through a formalized coaching program?
8. Are your salespeople authentically coaching rather than selling to your customers?
9. Are you effectively developing a talented bench of future leaders? How do you know?
10. Do you work in a safe, transparent, and trusting environment fueled by innovation and positivity, or a fear-based, result driven culture?
11. Are you retaining your top talent?
12. Are you consistently crushing your sales targets, gaining market share and growing at your desired pace?
13. Do people come to work happy and fulfilled because you all want to be there?
14. Do you work from a place of intention or reaction? Do your company priorities seem to be changing daily?
15. Is everyone committed to holding themselves and others accountable to coach, sustain and reinforce the culture you want?

These 15 questions will help assess your culture and the impact great coaching makes, so you can be honest with yourself about the type of leader you are, the type of leader you want to become, and the culture you’ve created among your team.

Choose a Culture of Intention or Reaction

Sadly, when results are the priority, regardless of the collateral damage that follows, most company cultures develop in a reactionary way. Creating a great culture requires conscious intention, focus, and a clear vision that’s created by your people, not HR or a marketing team.

This vision now becomes the blueprint and guiding light for your organization. Now this becomes a vision that everyone feels a part of because they contributed to crafting the vision they want to create, rather than one they were told they need to buy into.

Instead of having your culture define your people, have your people define your culture.

It is up to every leader to make a choice every day. Rather than acting as as the Chief Problem Officer, effective coaching can become a choice and the consistent habit that aligns with the way people collaborate, engage and positively communicate with one another to achieve business objectives.

When this becomes the new normal, that’s the sign that a healthy coaching culture has emerged.