Cultural Assessment Tools

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    Peggie Chan

    In a previous integration, we worked with an external consultant who conducted a detailed Cultural Assessment to support the integration. I’m interested in your recommendations for other Cultural Assessment Tools to support smaller integrations with smaller budgets. Thank you!

    Andy Aguiluz

    Great topic, Peggie! Interestingly, I’ve found that cultural assessment tools have huge pros and cons themselves. While there is great benefit in understanding culture (and a piece many companies overlook or deprioritize), people can have a negative reaction to being assessed (specially personality and style) and these can create blindspots. It seems like we’ve made progress in recognizing that there’s a human element to take into consideration in m&as, but not sure what the best way to set both companies up for success might be without “categorizing/boxing” their people.

    Helen Mitchell

    Deloitte provide a fantastic service and tool. Do check out their services.

    Eric Kunitake

    Back in grad school, we were introduced to these folks: We all took the assessment and were pleasantly surprised with the results. Potential uses may include having key stakeholders take the assessment to better understand the best way to communicate details or gain support for critical decisions. Group assessments are also available. Payment options and much more are available on their website.

    Rachael Bewley

    I’m curious to hear of anyone who has experience leveraging one of these tools and how they assessed and implemented the results in their integration strategy.

    Max Eager

    Having the right tools when conducting the cultural assessment during M&A integrations, regardless of size, is essential. Here are three that I can recommend:

    1. Hofstede Insights Cultural Navigator: This tool is based on Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory. It allows a detailed comparison of deep-level values between two or more cultures.

    2. Culture Amp: This is an excellent platform that simplifies the collection, understanding, and actioning of employee feedback to better align with the merging cultures, which can be particularly helpful in M&A situations.

    3. The GlobeSmart Profile: This is a web tool that helps you quickly understand how your cultural preferences, and the preferences of others, align with work-related behaviors.

    Leah Roderick

    Great tools Max, thanks for sharing! A thorough, yet balanced cultural assessment is key to successful acquisitions, since without cultural synergy a deal does not really make sense financially or strategically.


    PWC has a great cultural assessment tool, as well.


    There are a lot of great cultural assessment tools – I think the trouble is that they are often used blindly and rely quite a lot on self report (which is the same problem a lot of social psychology is facing). I think the key with any tool is to take some time to validate the results through focus groups for example. The reality is that culture is a hard to measure thing that is constantly moving and shifting. The only real way to assess it is to measure it as best you can over and over and again but keeping your attention on the pulse of the org.

    I have seen many culture assessments that are well done, then lead into action that does not really address what the assessment said and/or the underlying issue it’s meant to address.


    I think the stat is misleading and I agree with everyone that there is a lot you can do to mitigate this – from retention plans to engagement plans etc. To be honest, I didn’t even see it stated in the article why the employees left – I’m hoping it was controlled for involuntary leaving 🙂

    I will also state because I think it’s not stated enough – when you purchase a company, you are creating a situation of uncertainty no matter what you do, whatever the situation was before, it will be a different situation in the future. Some people leave because the company isn’t what they want anymore, some people leave because they are worried about job security so take another more stable role, some leave because they didn’t like their job anyways and don’t want to bother with going through the pains associated with a change. Each has an effort that can mitigate it but we must accept that there will be a certain amount of upheaval and expect this.

    It reminds me of a leader who once asked me how he could downsize the workforce, but without any impact on engagement – you can’t, just as you can’t retain everyone in a merger – just as you can’t retain everyone in normal times either


    I tend to agree with Mike. While technology can be most helpful at times, I think the subject of culture requires a ‘people’ approach. Focus groups are a great way of validating those results.


    For smaller integrations with limited budgets, the goal of cultural assessment remains the same—to understand the organizational cultures of the merging entities—but the approach needs to be cost-effective and efficient. Here are some practical and affordable cultural assessment tools and methodologies that can be particularly useful for smaller companies or less extensive integration efforts:

    1. Surveys and Questionnaires
    Tool: Use online survey tools like SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, or Typeform.
    Approach: Develop a set of questions that probe the values, beliefs, work styles, and communication preferences of employees. Areas to cover might include perceptions of management, work-life balance, decision-making processes, and response to change.
    Benefit: These tools are cost-effective and can quickly gather data from a wide range of employees, providing a broad view of the organizational culture.
    2. Focus Groups
    Tool: Organize small discussion groups using virtual meeting platforms if physical meetings are not feasible.
    Approach: Select diverse groups of employees from various departments and levels within both companies to discuss their views on organizational culture. Use a semi-structured format with guiding questions to facilitate discussion.
    Benefit: Focus groups allow for deeper, qualitative insights into the cultural dynamics and can identify issues not evident in surveys.
    3. One-on-One Interviews
    Tool: Conduct interviews using cost-effective communication tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or even telephone calls.
    Approach: Interview key employees and leaders within the organization. Prepare open-ended questions that encourage detailed responses about their experiences and perceptions of the workplace culture.
    Benefit: Personal interviews can uncover nuanced insights about the culture and are particularly good at gauging the leadership’s perspective on cultural integration.
    4. Observational Assessments
    Tool: Direct observation of workplace behaviors and interactions.
    Approach: Allocate periods for observing meetings, workplace interactions, and general day-to-day operations, either in person or through available digital communication channels.
    Benefit: Observations can provide real-world examples of how culture manifests in everyday work and interactions, offering a practical perspective beyond self-reported data.
    5. Document Reviews
    Tool: Review internal communications, mission and value statements, employee handbooks, and HR policies.
    Approach: Analyze these documents to understand the stated and operational values and norms of the organization.
    Benefit: This method helps align what is formally communicated by the organization with what is actually practiced, identifying possible gaps.
    6. Cultural Audit Tools
    Tool: Utilize simple online tools designed for cultural assessments. Hofstede Insights offers tools for cultural comparisons, although they may have a cost associated.
    Approach: Engage a tool that provides structured assessments based on established cultural dimensions.
    Benefit: These tools can offer a more scientific analysis based on proven models of cultural dimensions, providing a deeper insight into potential cultural clashes.
    Implementation Tips
    Combine Tools: Use a combination of these tools for a comprehensive assessment. For example, surveys can be supplemented with interviews or focus groups to delve deeper into specific issues.
    Prioritize Key Areas: Focus on critical areas that are most likely to impact integration success based on preliminary assessments.
    Use Existing Resources: Leverage existing internal resources such as HR personnel or in-house communication tools to manage these assessments to keep costs down.
    By utilizing these affordable and accessible tools, smaller organizations can effectively assess cultural alignment and address potential integration challenges without straining their budgets.

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