From Toxic to Magnetic: How to Measure Your Workplace Culture

Posted by Lou Bergholz on Mar 3, 2016 3:04:18 PM
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Your workplace culture may seem difficult to assess, but just like quarterly reports, recruiting numbers, and inbound requests, it can be measured and charted.

In the 2x2 below you’ll see culture measured on two axes. Strength, the x-axis, describes the intensity with which the culture pulls on individuals’ behavior. Positivity, the y-axis, indicates the degree to which people are pulled toward affirmative behaviors by the culture.

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By mapping your workplace culture on these axes, you can see how your organization pulls or pushes how people think, act, and feel about the place they work. Once mapped, you can see within which of the four quadrants your culture falls.

  • Weak and Negative: a “Precarious” culture, The atmosphere and influence tilts towards negative behavior; however, the “pull” itself is weak, so the culture is not as destructive as it could be. 
  • Weak and Positive: a “Potential” culture, The atmosphere and influence of your company tilts towards positive behavior; however, the “pull” itself is weak, so the culture does not have much influence on behavior.
  • Strong and Negative: a “Toxic” culture. The atmosphere is negative and the “pull” towards these negative behaviors is powerful. The result is a culture that infects people with negative behaviors that spread throughout the organization.
  • Strong and Positive: a “Magnetic” culture. The atmosphere is positive and the “pull” towards these positive behaviors is powerful. The result is a culture that inspires people with positive behaviors that spread throughout the organization.

Your chart shows you where your culture is, but what's caused your culture to end up there? What makes it dwell in the precarious zone, or dive toward toxicity? Wherever it is now, that doesn't mean it will stay there. It can move and, more importantly, you can move it. Check out our other posts on culture to learn how to drive your culture from precarious, potential, or toxic toward magnetic. And as you move your culture toward the top-right magnetic zone, you’ll notice those other charts – recruiting numbers, inbound requests, and quarterly reports – rise too.

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Topics: Organizational Culture, Productivity, Workplace Culture