Auditing culture

Eddie Best Eddie Best

Organisations need a culturally aligned, consistently deployed, actively managed and owned business strategy to succeed.

It is often felt that culture is intangible and therefore there is little an organisation can do to create or amend culture.

However, the culture of an organisation should not be an accident of who works there, it should be owned and managed by leaders across the organisation.

An audit of culture provides assurance of both design and operational deployment across the organisation and adds tangible value to leadership teams and boards.

Culture is a prominent feature for the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), which requires the internal audit function to include a cultural review of the organisation within its plan of activities. This includes assessing whether business activities, behaviours and ‘tone from the top’ properly reflect the values, ethics, risk appetite and policies of the organisation.

To really deliver on business goals in an environment of increasing economic pressure and political uncertainty, the IIA requirements give a useful pointer to culture as a driver for success -  the basic reality is that poorly managed cultures lead to poor customer and business outcomes. Audit functions add value to both the audit committee and the board by giving insight into how the organisation can take what is perceived as abstract and give it structure, tangibility and an actionable report.

Understanding, maintaining and changing culture

Aspects of cultures can be created or changed, through a structured programme of integrated interventions which are then monitored. We have found that creating a consistent programme across the organisation with the active engagement of all leaders and managers can help to align sub-cultures, drive firm’s cultural aspirations and help achieve business goals.

Understanding the drivers of culture

Culture is primarily induced by formal drivers which in turn impact the core beliefs and assumptions of your organisation. We demonstrate how these formal drivers are influenced by informal aspects which affect business culture.

The formal aspects of your organisation’s culture are structural in nature and are the drivers to maintaining and changing it. Through our audits and reviews, we recommend that you assess your culture aspirations by reviewing the formal drivers and your employees’ informal perceptions of it. This ensures that they are positively aligned to your strategy and values.

To discover more about making the intangible, tangible and measurable download a copy of the attached Auditing culture report. For more information please contact Eddie Best.