The Ultimate Guide to Building Organizational Culture


The Ultimate Guide to Building Organizational Culture

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Using Feedback to develop, optimize and transform culture

“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.”
  • Paul J. Meyer

Role of feedback in understanding culture

In the absence of a top-down manifesto to guide the organizational culture, one needs to iterate on how their employees experience the workplace culture to ensure the right talent gets attracted, hired and retained. As explained in the previous chapter, employee feedback plays a crucial role in carrying out this iterative exercise.

Now, how a company incorporates feedback into its culture greatly impacts its overall success. Organisations with a strong feedback culture listen to their employees’ voices in every area of their existence. However, it’s easier said than done, as culture isn’t something you can see, touch, or even feel easily. It has its own parameters – hidden and some not so hidden.

It is important to first understand these parameters and view them against the organisation’s priorities before you can determine their measurement and evaluation within your organisation.

At Superbeings, we have identified 3 Key Metrics that are based on the deep understanding of the psychology of ‘motivation’. These can be thought of as specific outputs:

  • Engagement
  • Job satisfaction
  • Manager satisfaction,

However, measuring them or even identifying their indicators within your organisation isn’t as easy or straightforward. It requires a detailed discovery program with careful identification of relevant metrics, followed by a collection of data on each one through constant tracking and monitoring of various sources.

For this, we have determined specific drivers under each key metric that we measure to determine the overall cultural status of your organisation. These aspects are something you can’t touch and see and are purely dependent on employees’ perceptions of these drivers. We have elaborated on 3 drivers as examples across each key metric for your understanding.

Let’s learn how does feedback help you understand your organisational culture on each metric:


With this metric, we seek to understand how engaged your employees and stakeholders are with their daily activities to achieve the overall mission and vision of the organisation. 

Variety and Challenge

Focusing on organisational innovation is great to provide meaning to one’s roles by creating challenging and flexible problem statements. It can be implemented in many forms – through your products/services, through the use of technology, business processes, and people-related practices.

Since a large part of these forms of innovation is based on perception, feedback from internal and external customers is a useful tool to measure your status on this metric.

Growth & Learning

Scrutiny of your organisation’s talent acquisition practices and attrition rates will reveal tremendous insight on why employees join and/or leave your organisation. Answers to joining as well as exit interview questions hold the key to this insight.  We will also go over a few other methods that will help uncover employee feedback on this metric.


This one is entirely about your employees’ ability to speak freely and access adequate information to make necessary decisions. Who better than themselves to tell you how well those channels of communication are working? Their feedback will enable you to gauge the effectiveness of those channels in helping employees send, receive, understand, and process information.

Job Satisfaction

With this metric, we seek to understand if your employees have clarity regarding their roles, are satisfied with the scope of work and access the wellbeing of their professional lifestyle with your organisation. 

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance means different things to different people. Organisational measures taken to boost employee wellbeing may well be getting wasted simply because they’re not addressing the needs of your employees. What good will a Table Tennis room do to employees that are too overworked to finish within reasonable business hours? The answer lies in receiving first-hand feedback from employees on how well-balanced they find their work lives to be.

Cross Unit Cooperation

It is perhaps the most obvious and easy to gauge metric of your organisational culture and its effectiveness in achieving employee wellbeing. Regular review of your IT/ admin complaints will give you a direct window into the level of the physical comfort of your employees in the office with other teams. Your employees are the biggest consumers of your office infrastructure with regular instances of cross-department cooperation. Their feedback on its performance is the best source of evaluating its effectiveness.

Performance Expectations, Recognition, Rewards

organisations may be easily misled to believe they’ve rewarded their performers well enough with large trophies and expensive gifts. However, the only way to understand how rewarded they feel is to hear it from them. This is why regular employee feedback on the company’s rewards and recognition practices is crucial to evaluating this metric.

Manager Satisfaction

With this metric, we seek to understand if your employees are able to align with your managers and how they perceive their management and leadership style.

Managing Coordination

Coordination can neither be seen nor shown. It can only be experienced and demonstrated. Close observation, managerial oversight, and employee feedback are the 3 routes to gauge the level of organisational success on this metric.

Managing Customer Service

As they say, Strategy eats Feedback for breakfast. The customer’s voice is always loud and clear if you take the time and effort to listen. Gathering feedback as a check in the box vs humbly listening to customer reviews is the difference between good and great organisations.

Managing Continuous Improvement

This is a market requirement and an organisational strength. Do your customers feel you’re responding to their needs fast enough? Do your employees feel they’re armed with the agility required to keep pace with the competition? Does your brand inspire the perception of swiftness? The only way to find out is – Listen.

Learning about your employee’s perception across these drivers can provide immense insight into how your organisation’s culture is shaping. Your employees are not only the ambassadors of your organisational culture, they’re also its consumers. Every day they experience various aspects of the organisation in its raw form generating a pool of valuable insight into its cultural nuances.

Why is it important to listen to your employees, besides building culture?

This may seem like a no-brainer. However, research suggests a staggering number of organisations do not understand the true meaning of listening to their employees or are not able to use what they hear effectively. What makes it so important to listen to your employees?

  1. Improving productivity and bottom line

Research suggests engaged employees are more committed to their jobs and are more motivated to contribute to the organisation’s success. On the other hand, disengaged employees create a negative impact on the company’s bottom line with below-par performance and absenteeism. As per a Gallup study, highly engaged employees are 21% more productive than their lesser engaged counterparts and also displayed 41% lesser absenteeism.

  1. Talent retention

Listening to their voice is probably the most valuable reward an organisation can present to an employee. When employees feel they’re heard by the organisation, they feel more connected to its larger purpose and exhibit stronger loyalty. This helps the organisation to tide over attrition rates (thereby saving hiring and training dollars), boost their brand identity, and attract new talent into the fold. Research suggests that the most engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their organisation.

  1. Strengthening Key Culture Metrics

Ironically, listening to your employees even while you try to measure your Key Metrics will in a way help build those metrics. When employees feel heard, they’re more engaged, communicate better, feel more empowered, co-operate more, and are motivated to contribute to the organisation’s success.

  1. Employee initiative and contribution

69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized”. When you provide a platform for employees to share their views and ideas, you encourage them to take initiative in coming forward and going beyond their prescribed responsibilities. This can help galvanize their hidden creativity and untapped potential thereby building a pool of fresh ideas for leadership to dip into. It also provides a wider perspective and different points of view, particularly useful when crafting internal policies and solutions.

  1. Provide an “Ear to the Ground”

Besides the larger benefits of feedback, listening to your employees can give you valuable inputs on several critical areas of organisational development. It may help you identify the training needs of your employees, give you a first-person update from the frontline, or even help pick up a crucial warning bell in time to avert an impending disaster. 

Even as we establish the need to listen to your employees, do you have a strategy on how to do it, when to do it or how often to do it? Let’s review this in our next section.

What is the right cadence to collect feedback?

It cannot be stressed enough that employee feedback is not just a check in the box. It is a powerful tool to improve several aspects of your organisation’s identity and improve your brand image. Most companies indeed have an annual feedback gathering mechanism in place, in some form or the other. The argument here is that listening to your employees should be a constant practice, tracked and monitored regularly, using multiple frameworks to target different result areas.

Let’s review why annual feedback is not the more effective solution here - 

  • Since we live in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world (VUCA), the context, strategy and aspirations of a business need to be adapted to follow up with the changes. This changes the perception of the employees, hence implementing an annual feedback mechanism will be redundant.

  • Employees are in a different frame of mind at year-end than they might be during usual business days due to recency bias. Holiday planning, preparation for appraisals, evaluation of business targets, and other priorities may take precedence over expressing grievances and providing suggestions to the organisation during this period. This would result in disengaged responses and politically correct answers instead of real, authentic feedback from employees.

  • An employee experiences various aspects and situations in a year at your organisation, hence, accounting for every metric and possible scenario makes it a very long form to fill up. An employee who isn’t motivated enough, a sample that you definitely would want feedback from, might not participate in your feedback exercise itself.

  • As discussed earlier, appraisals are the top priority for employees at this time. It may cloud their willingness to open up about the real problems or share honest feedback with their leaders. They might be apprehensive about appearing rude and inadequately focused. Some might even fear a bias/backlash from their leaders if they appear to be complaining in the form of unfavourable feedback.

  • Some issues must be raised, reported, discussed and even resolved immediately on their appearance rather than waiting till the end of the year to be evaluated. Problems, when current, are easy to communicate and also easy to understand for management while in play. It might even be too late to address an issue if not raised on time – an essential risk that comes with annual feedback as against regular employee engagement. This is why annual feedback is mostly considered to be a lagging metric

  • Listening to employees for feedback creates a sense of belonging, that one’s voice is important and heard. Undertaking feedback at year-end might breed frustration among employees if they are not able to voice their concerns as and when they experience issues. Employees must always have a route to share feedback with management when they want to and should not need to wait for an annual, year-end exercise to do so.

- In the case of new initiatives, it is best to get employee feedback right at the initial stages when corrective steps can be taken or inadequate elements can be improved. It may cost the organisation a lot more time and money if such corrections were to be made way after it has invested heavily in the roll-out/implementation.

Considering all these issues, an employee also experiences various events like change management, appraisals, etc. In such a scenario, feedback becomes relevant only when it's collected as close to the event of impact as possible.

It thus makes for a strong case to conduct employee feedback exercises regularly throughout the year and not wait for an annual exercise.

Though one should consider organisational context, the right cadence recommended by Superbeings is to have a healthy mix of cultural conversations, annual engagement surveys, and continuous pulse surveys. We will learn more about these in the next chapter.

Checklist: 5 stages in employee Lifecycle to collect feedback

Use this checklist to identify, and plan employee conversations at various stages of the employee lifecycle. 


Areas of Focus


1. Recruitment

-  Clarity of communication

-  Empathy and professionalism

-  Punctuality and responsiveness

-  Transparency & Communication

-  Work-Life Balance


2. Rookie Period

-  Joining experience

-  Onboarding / orientation

-  IT / administrative facilities

-  Access to information

-  Manager support

-  Transparency & Communication

-  Workplace Ergonomics

-  Collaboration

-  Learning & Growth


3. organisational Transition / Leadership Change

-  Impact on their work

-  Emotional / psychological reaction

-  Future Expectation

-  Concerns, fears or reservations

-  Transparency & Communication

-  Agility

-  Creativity & Innovation

-  Learning & Growth


4. Performance Appraisal

-  Manager feedback

-  Appraisal Process feedback

-  Transparency & Communication

-  Performance Recognition and Rewards

-  Learning & Growth

-  Creativity & Innovation

-  Work-Life Balance

5. Exit

-  Work Environment

-  Management feedback

-  Growth Opportunities

-  Transparency & Communication

-  Creativity & Innovation

-  Work-Life Balance

-  Workplace Ergonomics

-  Performance Recognition and Rewards

-  Collaboration

The dynamics of building an organisational culture
3 recommended techniques to use feedback to build, shape, and improve culture

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