Top leaders think they have their finger on the pulse of the organization. In reality, what they believe about the culture (how things really work) is often based on misconceptions or incomplete information.

As Hagberth Consulting Group puts it, CEOs are personally invested and don’t really want to admit that their “baby” is ugly. CEOs can also be removed from the day-to-day dynamics and therefore not able to observe how people interact and things get done.

Getting a grip on the reality of culture is essential for leaders. Otherwise, subsequent strategies and actions may be ineffective, because they don’t align with the reality of how the organization really operates.

There are many tools for assessing culture, like the Denison Organizational Culture Assessment and Human Synergistics’ Organizational Culture Inventory┬«. Leaders can also make a concerted effort to seek out their employees’ ideas, recognizing that it can be hard to tell the boss what she doesn’t want to hear. Try asking employees questions like, “If you could change one thing about how we operate, what would that be?” or “What advice would you give a new employee that would help him navigate our culture?”

Choosing the appropriate assessment method may be easy compared to admitting that you don’t know what you don’t know about your own organization’s real culture.

Need help understanding how your organization really works? Contact Humanergy.

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