Leaders hoping to achieve a goal must provide two things for their team: a clear, measurable result and a stake in the outcome.
But what about when that goal is maintaining a strong culture?
Especially in the age of remote teams, leaders have a responsibility to provide support and meaningful work for their teams. The importance of maintaining productivity while preventing burnout makes cultural excellence an organizational priority.
Setting cultural goals and targets is obviously less straightforward than financial metrics. Leaders may also be uncomfortable with the transparency of measuring engagement.
However, to not measure or incentivize culture would be an abdication of managerial responsibilities. If success is not defined, measured, and incentivized, how can leaders know whether cultural efforts are succeeding? With low levels of engagement in our workforce and the risk of burnout with competing responsibilities at home, only leaders who seek feedback and drive engagement can hope to maintain high-performing cultures.
Let’s break down 5 ways teams can measure and incentivize strong cultures of engagement.
1. Measure Employee Engagement
Technology has enabled consistent feedback on remote teams if leaders are willing to adopt it. In addition to survey tools, many collaboration tools contain analytics that can quantify metrics related to culture.
At Align, we recommend the eNPS poll, which measures engagement on a sliding scale based on one question: “How likely are you to recommend working here to a friend?” The beauty of eNPS is in its simplicity and its consistency: the same question on a regular basis. Employees understand what is being asked and can set their own reference points. This enables comparisons and trend identification over time. By setting a baseline, leadership can better understand their impact in promoting engagement.
Questions like “Are employees talking to each other?” and “Is information being shared throughout the organization?” can now be quantified thanks to analytics in popular team tools. While surveying employees about their time spent in meetings or satisfaction with team communications can also bring insights, the value of analytics comes from the real-time nature of insights. In tools like Slack, analytics provides raw numbers of messages sent as well as the proportion of messages sent in private messages or channels. More collaborative teams likely send more messages with greater proportions of communications in public channels. Setting goals around the adoption of collaboration tools can help leaders assess their team’s engagement and transparency.
2. Measure Values Alignment
Your Core Values serve as the moral compass for every decision you make as a company. Hiring and firing, strategic prioritization, and promotion decisions should all reflect the values you espouse. Assessing whether your organization is living up to these core values can give actionable insight into where either values or behavior needs to change.
If your team doesn’t feel that team values align with their personal values, individuals will likely not prioritize them when making decisions. Conversely, if employees do not feel the organization lives up to its core values, leaders must reassess where intentions fail to influence actions. Surveying your employees on their alignment to core values can quantify the cultural alignment of your team. We recommend the alignment survey for assessing the strength of your core values and team culture.
Especially at companies growing quickly or adapting to change in their markets and communities, continuously evaluating the strength and relevance of core values is critical for creating engaged cultures. If employees are unsatisfied with your core values, setting up a quarterly priority with the purpose of developing a more meaningful set of core values can build a more aligned team culture.
3. Value Qualitative and Quantitative Feedback
In addition to the quantifiable metrics, valuing qualitative data can be an important strategy for measuring engagement. The volume and tone of company suggestions can tell leaders a lot about the state of their team culture. If your team uses opportunities for open input to share positive wins or shoutout teammates, your team culture will foster creativity and drive success. If openness brings forward responsibility and scapegoating, leaders must respond quickly to address concerns. For teams with significant amount of suggestions or communications, sentiment analysis may help you measure the tone of your team communication. Teams that communicate with a primarily positive, encouraging, and celebratory tone are more likely to be engaged and happy at work.
4. Reward performance
Incentivizing culture often starts with incentivizing performance in a way that fosters engagement and ownership. While individual commissions and targets may be effective within certain contexts like sales, incentivizing team performance as well as individual performance ensures collaboration does not suffer. Quarterly themes can help strategic and cultural initiatives come to life by focusing team efforts on a single goal with clear incentives for team performance. While it may not be possible to gather in person for end of quarter celebrations, tying performance to celebrations and incentives brings meaning to everyday work.
5. Make personal development a team goal
Finally, creating company initiatives around individual development goals helps to align individual motivations to team culture. Employees who feel their team supports their career goals are more likely to stay around and stay engaged. Align users HigherLogic created a company priority on personal development with individual development goals rolling up into it. As regional director Robert Barnes explained, personal fitness, education, or family goals make sense as company goals as the full team feels the benefits of the success and well-being of each individual member. Team culture is nothing if not the sum of individual passions and incentivizing employees to better themselves has clear benefits for the team’s culture and engagement as a whole.