4 Steps to see right into the heart of your business
A simple way to understand complex things. The link between individual beliefs and your company’s performance. And seeing the invisible. We use a new way to understand company culture, using a system called MASQ quadrants. Here’s how it works and how you can use it to grow your business.
A QUICK DEFINITION OF COMPANY CULTURE
We recently gave you an entirely new way to think about your company culture. Instead of looking at all the complex definitions out there, we made it simple and just said: think of company culture as the things you and your employees do without having to think or expend any energy on it. It’s the stuff that just naturally happens inside your company. It’s a powerful idea, and if you haven’t explored it yet, do check out our post on what is company culture.
THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPANY CULTURE
And the reason we did that is that we’re seeing so much evidence that your organisational culture is becoming more and more important in business today: 91% of employees are willing to quit because of it. Your company culture moulds and shapes people’s behaviour. And, there’s proof that organisational culture is 100% linked to your business’ ability to perform.
A lot of new research suggests that a healthy corporate culture could help give your business a tremendous competitive advantage. Have a look at why company culture is so important.
There’s also a very insightful new way of looking at your company specifically in the SA context. So much so that we say it’s absolutely crucial to invest in your company culture in South Africa.
But, of course, there is a snag: How do you accurately evaluate your current company culture?
WATCH: HOW TO CREATE A HIGH-PERFORMANCE CULTURE IN YOUR COMPANY
THE PROBLEM WITH DESCRIBING COMPANY CULTURE
Now, we’re often asked to describe our company’s culture. Especially to new hires or stakeholders. They want to know what your business is really like. To make sure it’s a good fit for them. But describing something as complex as an organisation’s culture can be quite a tall order. For one thing, it’s mostly “invisible” – you can’t see or hold culture, you can only experience its effects.
That’s why we have to use a special new way of thinking to fully understand any single business’ culture.
A NEW WAY TO UNDERSTAND COMPANY CULTURE
We use a remarkable system called MASQ. Short for Multi-Agent Systems based on Quadrants, MASQ is a unique way to break down and describe the nature of something very complex.
In fact, many researchers today use MASQ (based on Ken Wilber’s AQAL method, described in his 2000 book A Theory of Everything) to analyse extremely complex things, like socio-economics, the nature of society and belief systems etc. You’ll see it used often in studies on policymaking, ethics, robotics, religion and politics.
It helps us break down something complex based on what we can and can’t see, as well as it’s various parts and how they work together. And it looks like this:
THE FOUR QUADRANTS OF COMPANY CULTURE
The first thing you’ll notice about this way of exploring company culture is it’s basically four blocks or quadrants. The top two blocks talk about people as individuals: On the left, there’s what individual people believe (what happens internally, the belief we can’t see), and on the right, there’s the person’s behaviour (what happens externally, that we can see).
The bottom two blocks talk about your people as a collective – your team together. The block on the left is your company culture (what happens internally, we can’t physically see your people’s collective beliefs), and on the right is your people’s performance (what we can see and measure).
Now, we’re going to show you exactly how you can use this to see what you need to work on and where lower down. But first, let’s just quickly look at each quadrant on its own.
QUADRANT 1: EACH PERSON’S INDIVIDUAL BELIEFS
What is it: Individual people’s core beliefs about themselves and the world
Example: I don’t feel safe in this company, I’m afraid they might fire me at any moment
Impacts: The person’s performance (in quadrant 2) and company culture (quadrant 3)
QUADRANT 2: EACH PERSON’S INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE
What is it: Individual people’s behaviour and performance
Example: Why should I do more than the absolute bare minimum if they can just fire me at any moment? The result: low performance, absenteeism, looking for another job, incivility
Impacts: All quadrants – performance impacts beliefs and collective outputs
QUADRANT 3: TEAM’S COLLECTIVE BELIEFS
What is it: The core beliefs held collectively by your team – i.e. your company culture
Example: We hear some colleagues constantly talk negatively about management, and this makes us all feel a little unsafe and unhappy at work
Impacts: Your collective performance (quadrant 4), but also all other quadrants
How to influence it: To really direct the beliefs inside your company, you need constant sustainable influence over people, perhaps a mentoring programme through mentoring training or even advanced management training.
QUADRANT 4: TEAM’S COLLECTIVE PERFORMANCE
What is it: Your company’s output, your performance
Example: Since we all feel unsafe and unhappy, we all do the bare minimum, and this weighs the entire company down
Impacts: All quadrants, it’s like feedback that reinforces all the other beliefs – see, we missed target again, told you we’re not good enough
How to influence: To improve performance you need a solution that works on all four quadrants simultaneously, like full-service organisational development.
HOW TO USE THIS TOOL TO UNDERSTAND YOUR ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE
To see where your own gaps are, grab a pen and paper and draw your own MASQ assessment for your company quick: Draw the four quadrants like our example:
Now, work backwards, starting in the fourth quadrant:
In the fourth quadrant – your company’s collective output performance – write down how you think your company is performing right now. Do you have an official measure for this? Your profits maybe, or your annual growth measure or targets. Either way, just express how you think you’re performing.
For example, let’s say you’re not that happy. Your performance is a little low. Now, your overall performance is likely low because the individual performance (quadrant 2) is not what it should be – and that’s impacted by what people believe on a personal level (quadrant 1), which feeds the collective belief (quadrant 3).
So now, ask yourself, what trusted methods am I employing to lift performance in quadrant 4? Are they working?
Move on to quadrant 3 (remember we’re working backwards) and ask yourself: Do I know what my people collectively believe about themselves and the company?
Now, this is usually not possible, unless you’re directing and influencing it. So, what measures do you have in place to influence how people think and feel collectively? Is it working?
If not, take a look at the benefits of mentoring in your company.
Move on to quadrant 2. Now, you probably have some sort of performance indicators for each individual employee. But important here is to ask yourself, in light of what I’m seeing in quadrant 4 (low performance, in our example) are my performance initiatives working?
Now, there’s a lot fo remarkable and often surprising research around why our traditional systems could be hampering performance. Did you know, for example, that a recent study shows that only 16% of employees are fully engaged in their work? Some perspective: That means 16% are carrying 84% of people. Also, there’s reason to believe that our traditional ways of motivating employees are lacking – see the surprising science behind employee motivation.
And, if you’re looking for some new ideas to manage and improve performance, have you considered taking the strengths approach?
Lastly, consider quadrant 1. Is it possible to know what each individual believes? Well, maybe not as one person or the exco of the company. But it is possible to better understand and influence the way your people think and behave by bringing in more understanding of how we humans function. And collectively learning to better understand each other.
Do you have any specific programmes in place that give people insight into what their colleagues feel and believe? If not, take a look at our neuromanagement workshops. They’re great for exploring things like how our minds work and what drives behaviour. And they’re quite highly rated – see what these businesspeople had to say about our last public workshop.
And, if you want to explore an option that brings all of these together, addressing company culture holistically, have a look at organisational development.
Plus: If you have any questions around company culture, you’re always welcome to ask us.
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