Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Crayon Pictures Reveal Company Culture

If you would like to know how your employees really feel about your company values and culture, let them draw you a picture.

One technique I use to get employees to honestly describe their work environment is to give them a box of crayons and a blank piece of paper. I then ask them to draw a picture showing what it is like to work in their company. I tell them to draw a vehicle, a tool, or some other representation that conveys a visual image of the organization. The results are always very telling.

At a railroad company in the Midwest one employee drew the 30-story corporate office building. Each window of the building had a window shade. The shades in the first floor windows were up completely. At each higher floor the shades were pulled down more and more until the window shades were completely down on the top floor, which housed the executive offices. This employee felt those who were leading the company were blind to the realities of the real work world. They didn't have a clue as to what was going on outside the comfort of their offices.

At another company an artistic manager drew a picture of a circle of pioneer wagons. Each wagon represented a different department in the company. Around the wagons rode the competitive Indians shooting at the company wagons. Those inside the wagons were also shooting, but their guns were pointed inward toward the other wagons in the circle. They were shooting at themselves while the company was under attack.

An employee at another company drew a picture of “the company bus.” Outside the front door of the bus smiling people were waiting in line hoping to get on. The people seated in the front row on the bus also were smiling. But the smiles of the passengers decreased as they moved toward the back of the bus. At the rear of the bus frowning people were jumping out of the emergency exit. Once they were free of the bus these former passengers started smiling again.

You cannot fool your employees. The real values and culture of your company can be seen and felt by your workforce. They experience it in their work environment every day. If you want to know how they really feel, give them a box of crayons.

Innovative Management Group provides expert assistance in creating the right culture for your company. You can contact us at 702-258-8334 or email

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