We’ve spent a lot of time talking about how important it is to develop a company culture that is both motivating and engaging to your employees, and while cultures are unique to each business, they do generally fall into distinct categories. In the below blog post, we discuss the most common type of company cultures, derived in part from a bunch of Harvard experts, including the peaks and pitfalls of each model.
Read on to see where your company culture fits in and, potentially, whether a different model may be better for your business.
Order Organizational Culture:
This is probably considered the company culture model most popular in our parent’s era. Employees in this environment are motivated by rules and cooperation and are motivated by a structure whereby all workers understand their individual role and the broader company. Leaders, meanwhile, guide the culture by emphasizing customs and policies. This model is particularly effective for companies that are deliverable driven, meaning that they must produce a certain product or service within a specific deadline, often through the work of multiple parties.
Results Organizational Culture:
When we think of a typical company culture in today’s society, we think of this go-getter structure. Under this model, employees are motivated by success and enjoy a meritocracy, where good outcomes are rewarded (whether financially or through other forms of recognition) Leaders, meanwhile, serve as cruise ship directors of sorts, helping employees set goals and driving them towards achieving these milestones. This environment is good for those that crave recognition but may feel too cut-throat for those who like a more creative environment.
Authority Organizational Culture:
When we talk about the corporate rat race, this is probably the structure that comes to mind. Under this model, employees are typically competitive and looking to quickly climb the career ladder, while leaders are in place because they escalated to the role quickly. While this model certainly has its pitfalls, it can attract real go-getters and with the appropriate guidance, can generate excellent results.
Learning Organizational Culture:
Think of this culture as one for the innovators. Under this model, the company itself values learning and opportunities for growth, which in turn attracts employees who are curious, inventive, and big thinkers. Leaders, meanwhile, are tasked with sifting through ideas, sharing knowledge, and taking employees on an adventure to further learning and ultimately create the next big thing. This environment is good for folks who have a life-long love of learning but may not appeal to those that thrive on structure and organization.
Purpose Organizational Culture:
Under this model, employees are driven by sustainability and global communities, while leaders emphasize the idea that the business is part of a greater cause. This type of environment, which is fostered by the likes of Whole Foods and other companies focused on bettering the planet, is good for Generation Y and those focused on bettering the world for future generations, but may be a turn off to those that aren’t as focused on the environment.
Caring Organizational Culture:
Under this model, employees are driven by loyalty to their company and each other and are motivated by collaboration and teamwork. Leaders, meanwhile, focus on creating strong and meaningful relationships between teams and employees, which in turn motivates folks to work hard. This structure is great for healthcare environments and hospitality environments, such as Disney, where workers are committed to creating a high-quality experience for clients.
Safety Organizational Culture:
When we talk about safety in this context, what we are really talking about is security. Under this model, employees are risk-averse and like to be able to anticipate organizational changes. For their part, leaders emphasize advance planning and clear communication so that employees feel informed (and thus safe in their roles). This is typically a good model for older employees and those workers who do not wish to job hop in response to sweeping organizational shake ups.
As you can see from this list, there is a company culture for just about every business, although no one company will likely fit squarely into any one of the models listed above (and that’s perfect okay!). What is more important, however, is when your corporate culture becomes toxic. In each of these different culture types, there are opportunities for things to turn toxic – either due to problematic leadership or issues among employees (or even just one employee).
Once you have a toxic company culture, you’ll very quickly see employee engagement and productivity tank and it may be time to consider a change, so it’s good to keep your finger on the pulse and survey employees regularly to determine how your culture is holding up (or if it’s living up to the hype!). In these surveys, which can be done through in person interviews or via an anonymous online survey tool such as survey monkey, you should strive to understand what is and isn’t working with your current culture and what ideas they may have to improve it. In asking for input, your workers will feel heard and appreciated, which organically drives engagement.
Should the results of the survey suggest that you need to revise your culture, revisit your company mission, your vision, your company values, and the expectations you have for your leadership and your employees. Then define a new culture and be sure to communicate the change to your employees through team meetings, one-on-one meetings, Zoom sessions, and of course, in your trusty employee handbook. And then start the process of monitoring whether it’s working and change accordingly until you land on something with some sticking power.