Ask your staff these three questions: if they can’t answer them, you could be in trouble

One of our clients, an amazing company that do great things, had a hidden problem inside their organisation: many of the staff felt frustrated and thought they weren’t being paid enough.

What was worse, the leadership team were unaware of it, and unbeknownst to anyone, because staff were not fully committed or engaged at work, and some were even thinking of leaving, it put the company’s growth plans at risk.

So we asked three questions.

It was a real surprise to our client and only came to light after a Culture Catalyst, one of the key programmes we run at Then Somehow.

When we gave them our findings, the client immediately ran a salary benchmarking exercise and shared the results with their staff.

In fact, pay was slightly above average for their locality and sector.

When we looked deeper, it turned out that pay was not the issue. There were, in fact, two issues:

  1. staff were not feeling recognised or valued, and there was a confusion around what they should expect to give and receive for their work, and
  2. house prices were high in the area, and staff couldn’t afford to buy

To address the first issue, we worked with staff and got them to think about where they were going, and what they were going to give in return.

Addressing this deeper social contract helped release more enthusiasm, motivation and commitment across the organisation.

And to address the second issue, the client bought a building, converted it to flats, and made it easier for their staff to buy one.

(As a by product, the company had an asset which they made money on as well.)

It was a happy ending all round and the company successfully moved forward on its plans, with fully engaged and happier staff.


If you’re wondering whether you might have a similar hidden problem inside your organisation, these are the three questions that are important that your staff be able to answer:

  1. What’s expected of me?
  2. How am I doing?
  3. Where am I going?

If your staff can’t answer these, money is the only sense they have of where they’re at, and if they don’t feel valued or rewarded enough by the money, their perceptions could be putting your organisation at risk.

The solution could just be a question of value, and how you appreciate them.

As our client found out, frustration over pay is often a symptom of something deeper, and looking at that may reveal something interesting about the culture in your organisation.

If you’d like to find out more about Culture Catalyst and what’s really going on in the culture of your organisation, please get in touch here.