Paula Diaz Is Measurement Maven of the Month

Our Measurement Maven for June 2021 is Paula Diaz, Operations and Innovation Manager, Buho. She and her team developed, tested, and successfully implemented a program to measure corporate culture. We applaud their fine work. Here is the story of their efforts.

In search of data on corporate culture

Back in pre-COVID times, Diaz recognized that the biggest challenge her clients had was to integrate internal communications into their overall assessments of corporate performance. So she and her team at Buho interviewed dozens of internal comms managers and found that their largest issue was exactly the same as the one facing external communicators: Both needed consistent and reliable data to show how they contributed to overall business strategy. The second biggest insight from this research was that a healthy corporate culture was key to a organization’s success. So how were they going to measure corporate culture?

Developing a measurement system

Diaz began searching for a good model to use as a framework for a culture measurement system. She discovered Harvard Business Review’s The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture. She used HBR’s definition of culture to define a model based on a series of criteria that could be measured via frequent employee pulse checks.

She then implemented a content analysis program to analyze all internal communications, including group chats, town hall meetings, email, intranet, and social networks. Analysts assessed internal communications for sentiment and level of interaction, i.e., clicks, opens, sharing, and other engagement. Finally, to measure organizational impact she used an employee version of the classic Net Promoter Score. To measure impact on the business she also factored in retention and turnover.

She put all the data into her model, tested it on Buho, then showed it to her clients. It passed with flying colors!

The pandemic solves a problem

Paula Diaz and her team faced a serious challenge when they realized that almost all the metrics were based on digital communications. They had no way to evaluate water-cooler conversations and all the other sorts of direct in-person communications. Since so much of culture is created in the real world, this was a nearly insurmountable problem—until March 2020.

With the arrival of quarantine and working from home, they could suddenly count and measure all the communications in an organization, because there was no face-to-face communication happening.

She still had to observe privacy rules and make sure that employees felt their concerns were being heard. But, essentially, things changed overnight, and she had all the data the model needed.

One added benefit was that, prior to implementing the system, most managers didn’t have a a clue how their employees were actually feeling. But now that they had actual data, these results got much more of leadership’s attention.

Results show a culture gap

Initial results were presented in a dashboard like this:

The biggest surprise for clients was the giant gap between the culture they thought they had, and what were the actual perceptions of their culture—at every level in their companies.

Diaz dug into the data and found strong correlations between employees’ perceptions of their type of culture and the type of messages they were exposed to. In companies where 40% of all communications contained empathetic messages about self-care and care for others, the culture was perceived as caring. Even though the desired culture might be one of innovation.

Another Aha! moment was when they found that, in organizations where employees weren’t taking desired actions, 70% of internal communications about those actions lacked any prompt to actually do anything. So employees had no idea what to do with the information they received.

Low engagement = high turnover: Who knew?

Ultimately, the biggest revelation was the correlation between employees who had little engagement with internal communications and low net promoter scores combined with high turnover rates. Although to many communicators this result will seem obvious, the hard data was critical to persuade leadership. Add in a few headlines about disgruntled employees destroying corporate reputations, and now leaders were really paying attention. Better yet, the data gave clear direction on what the clients needed to do to improve. Read more about this process in Diaz’s presentation from the 2021 AMEC Summit here: “The Opportunity in the New Reality.”

Kudos to Paula Diaz and her team at Buho for their measurement of corporate culture. For her fine work we name her our Measurement Maven of the Month. Congrats Paula Diaz. ∞

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