New Ways to Evaluate Company Culture

Can there be new ways to evaluate company culture? Yes! Anytime there is an influx of change such as companies merging or many people hired in or downsized out, “company culture change” becomes a buzz phrase. It can be blamed for employee unrest or championed as the best place to work. Articles are full of ways to determine a company’s culture. Look at the happiness of workers and management; check out the perks like vacation, flex time, and bonuses; or take in the physical environment like walls or lack of, gathering spaces and stocked refrigerator.

When speaking at the Midwest Change Management Conference next month, Moving Image will be asking participants to open their eyes to more ways of judging company culture—particularly how to spot the clash of two cultures either with new hires or company merger/acquisitions. Much can be “felt” and observed by the subconscious movement signals of the employees involved. The next time you visit a company, look beyond the writings on the walls, cubicles and furniture and “see” the energy in the room in “how” the people are working.

Open your eyes to these three qualities:

  1. Tempo– Try and grasp a feel for how fast the energy in the office is moving. You will see this in the pace of subconscious movement. Is there a general fast-pace feeling from employees physically moving and speaking at an accelerated pace? Think of the stereotypical newsroom when news breaks and everyone rushes around to get the story on the front page. Does the pace fluctuate? If so, does it seem to speed up or slow down based on certain people feeding the energy or drawing from it? Is there a manager who seems to make everyone speed up and then slow down when his door shuts again? Is there a methodical rhythm to the pace so the office feels like a production line? Maybe the pace feels sluggish, tired or bored?
  2. Pressure– Is there a heavy or light feeling to the room? This can be from subconscious behavior which is light and makes the mood more pleasant; or subconscious behavior can look very heavy and make things feel very serious. Look for who in the room seems to be able to influence the others by his/her pressure changes.
  3. Focus– This may be the most difficult to spot. Open your awareness to the feeling of focus in the office. Some offices feel unfocused with lots of people doing various things with little focus. Other workplaces feel super focused like everyone is part of the same task and team. There may be a general tautness to the bodies in the room when all are focused and a general relaxed body posture with less focus.

Why does this matter? Whenever two opposite forces meet like fast meeting slow or pressure meeting lightness, friction occurs. This can be entire company cultures clashing or the “new hires” needing to fit in to an established culture.

If you are in charge of facilitating change with a company merger, visit the offices which will be merging and get a feel for how they operate on a subconscious level. It will be up to you as the culture change agent to modulate the new into the existing. A hard merge will be like a continental shift creating mountains to overcome and earthquakes with cracks. You can’t go from zero to sixty or sixty to zero without wear and tear on the engine and brakes. Acknowledge the differences in culture and address them collaboratively.

Ways to modulate:

  1. Tempo– Change existing deadlines and meeting lengths gradually to speed up or slow down. Notice who is struggling to adapt and find out why the new tempo is difficult for them (maybe they are learning a new software system or their speed was a real point of pride for them and they are resistant to change.)
  2. Pressure– Expecting an office to switch to “fun” or “serious” overnight is not realistic. Gradually add more light-hearted activities or serious meetings. Have the entire staff give suggestions for how to change rather than coming down with a “heavy” hand!
  3. Focus– If teams need to work with more or less focus/independence, you will need to secure buy-in and motivate them to take on this change. Be aware of what has worked for each office in the past and start there with change.

For specific reads on your company culture, call Moving Image Consulting for an in-office visit and culture report based on the subconscious behavior of the employees. Receive an “eyes open” evaluation from an unbiased, certified, movement pattern analyst expert!