Organizational culture assessment questions to define your Core Culture

organizational culture assessment questions to ask for core culture
Core Culture

The first step in defining your Core Culture is to compile a list of organizational culture assessment questions.

To sum up, your goal is to ask these questions in order to construct a customized survey to solicit the views of all employees.

There is no generic survey that will capture the essence of your culture. Every organization is unique. Therefore, use these questions to uncover how your leaders and influencers describe the principles and values of your company. At the completion of this process, you will construct a customized culture survey for all employees.

When conducting an organizational culture assessment, use the questions below as a guide.

A. Firstly, ask these Introductory questions

1. What words would you use to describe this organization? To clarify, give examples of each word.

2. What are you most proud of at this organization?

3. What do you love about this organization?

B. Secondly, use the next set of questions to reveal the identity of the organization

These questions will reveal the Purpose and Philosophy of your organization. Purpose and Philosophy are the identity of your organization. In other words, they are the most stable part of your culture.

B1. Ask Purpose questions


4. What is the purpose of this organization?

5. Why is the work you do important? (To clarify, ask this question up to five times in an interview.)

6. What are employees here passionate about?

7. How are you making a difference to society through your work? In other words, what is your contribution to society through your work?

B2. Ask Philosophy questions


8. What special attribute does the founder/leader possess that has influenced the character of the organization? Explain.

9. Describe the ideals that drove the founding of this organization.

10. What value(s) is (are) fundamental and distinctive to this organization since its founding? Give examples.

11. Describe the personality or character of the founder and of this organization.

12. What makes this organization feel different or unique from its competitors?

13. What would only happen at this organization? To clarify, describe a situation that illustrates this.

14. What is something about this organization that would surprise a visitor?

15. Above all, what is central to who we are as an organization that should never change?

C. The final set of questions reveals the Priorities of the organization

Priorities are the additional values to achieve your goals and build an engaged workforce. These values may, and often do, change over time.


16. What should the organization focus on and pay attention to?

17. To effectively achieve our strategy, what principles or values should guide how we work? Explain.

18. Describe the things happening in the world today that can impact our organization. For example, what global events or trends should we pay attention to?

19. What should we focus on and pay attention to internally related to our employees? For example, what changes might make employees feel more engaged?

20. What key values, if followed, would help this organization compete and thrive?

Use these recommendations to guide your culture assessment

When conducting an organizational culture assessment, follow these guidelines:

  • Include all employees in the process to uncover and define the Core Culture. To own it, one must participate in the process. Above all, after you ask the above questions in interviews or through open-ended surveys, your next step is to compile a customized survey for all employees to complete. The leadership team must get employee views before deciding the Core Culture.
  • Use the questions when you conduct interviews. In addition, use them in open-ended surveys or for culture focus groups.
  • During interviews and focus groups, be sure to ask follow-up questions. This will enrich the information you collect. Above all, encourage employees to share examples and stories.
  • Although the questions reveal attributes of the Core Culture, you will find that the responses are not always clear-cut. To clarify, often a person’s response does not directly answer the question. Be open to what the information you collect actually reveals. Most importantly, review the explanation of the Five Ps to ensure you understand these Core Culture concepts.
  • Some of the organizational culture assessment questions sound repetitive. Often, using a slightly different word or phrase in a question will yield either confirming or new, insightful responses.
  • When conducting an assessment to determine the organization’s identity, your objective is to find those few values that capture its essence.¬†

Use the Building a Culture of Distinction program for your assessment and change process

organizational culture assessment questionsUse Building a Culture of Distinction for a detailed explanation of the culture assessment process. To clarify, the Facilitator Guide is for those leading the process. This is a do-it-yourself guide.

Contact Sheila

Have any questions? Complete the form below to contact Sheila.

To sum up, have Sheila guide you in the process either in-person or virtually

Culture assessments are most successful when an outsider collects insider perspectives. Therefore, a combined “outsider + insider” process produces rich and honest results.

Also, be aware that much of the assessment is conducted virtually over a two to three month period. Firstly, the interviews can be conducted in-person or virtually. Secondly, employees complete an online survey. Finally, the facilitated session to make final decisions is typically held in-person with the leadership team. But it can also be held through a virtual meeting.

Above all, let Sheila guide you in conducting an assessment.

To clarify, her management consulting firm Workplace Culture Institute is based in Atlanta, serving clients globally.

Certainly, use the Contact Form to email Sheila.


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