The Cultivate Culture Report that launched late last year objectively measures facets of company culture and can help organizations correlate them to business success metrics such as engagement, retention or revenue. This helps them understand their company culture, see how they are meeting (or not meeting) culture goals, and decide on ways they might improve. It measures seven factors (the Cultivate 7) that make up company culture.

But what are these factors? How did our team determine what they are? And how does each one contribute to culture? In a two-part series, we’re going to explore the Cultivate 7 in greater detail. This post will provide an introduction to those seven factors and explore the impact of the first three: sharing and gathering information, one on one meetings, and collaboration.

Why factor analysis is important

The Cultivate 7 was created by analyzing Cultivate user data using a statistical technique called factor analysis. Factor analysis is used to discover patterns in data. It’s widely used in biology, psychology and many other fields that must process large data sets. In our case, the team wanted to find the underlying factors that were causing patterns in user’s digital interactions and see if there were management behaviors that generally occur together. For instance, does a manager who asks for a lot of feedback also respond to messages quickly? Or does a manager who has lots of one on one meetings with their direct reports send less dense messages to them over chat and email?

We ended up finding seven factors that define managers’ digital interactions with their teams: sharing and gathering information, response time, one-on-one meetings, collaboration, digital accommodation, after-hours work and response density. These aren’t in order; no single factor is significantly more important than any other.

Once we had a list of factors, we could perform additional analyses such as correlating the factors to one another. For example, in one of our data sets, managers who shared and gathered lots of information also had more one-on-one meetings with their teams, which is great! But these same managers also tended to send more after-hours requests—not so great. These factors can provide a lot of valuable information, but it’s important to understand what each one means in practice. Let’s discuss the first few factors in more detail.

Factor One: Sharing and gathering information

This factor is all about the volume of communication that a manager has with their team. Cultivate measures digital interactions, so for us this means exchanging a lot of email and chat messages with their teams on a regular basis. A manager who scores highly in this factor is highly engaged with the people that report to them and communicates with them often. They may also be engaged with their team in person (stopping by desks to talk frequently, etc.) but that’s beyond the scope of our data. This communication goes in both directions—these managers share a lot of their ideas and feedback with their teams, acknowledge their team’s work frequently, and give a lot of updates on when work has been done. This factor tends to have multiple strong correlations with other manager behaviors. The manager that always sends a “Confirmed, this has been done” chat message to end conversations definitely scores high on this factor!

This factor includes the following specific behaviors:

  • Giving opinions – for example, “I think this draft starts out really strong, but gets too vague in the third paragraph.”
  • Recognizing direct reports – “Nice job in that presentation this morning.”
  • Informing direct reports about completed work – “I finished the slide deck this morning and added it to our shared drive.”
  • Requesting action from direct reports – “Can you review this for me sometime this afternoon?”
  • Requesting ad hoc meetings with direct reports – “That’s an interesting idea, can we grab a room and talk through it?”
  • Requesting feedback from direct reports – “What do you think about this idea? How can it be improved?”

Factor Two: One on One Meetings

This factor is simpler—it measures the number and duration of 1:1 meetings between a manager and their direct reports. One of our customers found that 1:1 meetings correlate highly with trust between managers and employees, so this is likely a factor you will want to encourage (although this all depends on your specific organization’s employees and values). Our own analysis found that 1:1s are moderately correlated with collaboration and sharing and gathering information (although this relationship could be different at different organizations). So managers that are highly collaborative and have a high volume of communication with their team are likely to have more 1:1 meetings as well.

Factor Three: Collaboration

This factor covers the number and duration of total meetings managers share with their direct reports (not just 1:1s). It’s correlated with 1:1s, in our data set, meaning that managers that have more meetings overall tend to have more 1:1s and vice versa. This factor can help to define if managers have a more collaborative style, or a more top-down, authoritative style. Again, our culture report doesn’t argue that factors like this are good or bad—that all depends on the company in question. A highly collaborative business unit could mean that the team works together well and makes sure everyone’s ideas and concerns are heard. Or it could mean the team wastes a lot of time in unnecessary meetings. The factors themselves don’t tell us much—we need to look at the relationships between them, or bring in other data on manager or team effectiveness to judge which factors are assets and which might be liabilities.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this post, where we talk about the remaining four factors: digital accommodation, response time, response density, and after-hours work.

Rachel Habbert, PhD
Rachel Habbert, PhD

Rachel is the Senior People Scientist at Cultivate. As a psychologist, she’s always been interested in people: how we think, grow, evolve, and interact. She is excited to help Cultivate users interpret their behaviors through a scientific, research-based lens.