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Types of Organizational Culture – What’s your style?

17 min read

organization cultures

What do employees seek in their professional lives?

If you think it’s money, you might be wrong, it’s the purpose that they seek. 

Really?

Yes, 91% of managers feel that a candidate’s alignment with the company culture is more important than the skills and competencies they possess.

Then, let’s dive deeper into this question and unravel all the mystery surrounding it.

What is Organizational Culture?

In simpler terms, organizational culture is a tangible force that influences how employees interact with each other, make decisions, and work collectively toward achieving organizational goals. 

While every individual has unique characteristics, personality quirks, and attitudes that distinguish them, similarly, every organization has distinct identities.

Culture is a system of informal rules that spell out how people are to behave most of the time.

–  Deal and Kennedy 

 

Culture is the commonly held beliefs, attitudes, and values that exist in an organization. Put more simply, culture is ‘the way we do things around here’.

–  Furnham and Gunter

 

The culture of an organization refers to the unique configuration of norms, values, beliefs, and ways of behaving that characterize the manner in which groups and individuals combine to get things done.

–  Eldridge and Crombie

Components of Culture

Culture can be broken down into various components, they are the elements that make the mantle of an organization’s core identity and brand image. The key components are:

  • Values and Beliefs

They are the foundational forces behind an organization, guiding decision-making, behavior and employee interactions. This shows what the organization stands for and what it focuses on. 

A few examples are integrity, innovation, and teamwork.

  • Norms and Practices

The unwritten rules governing the employee’s behavior within the organization. It can mean different communication styles, work ethics, punctuality, work style, etc. Practices are the actual behaviors exhibited by employees.

For example, open communication can lead to frequent employee meetings and feedback sessions.

Components of Culture

  • Leadership Behavior

Leaders’ behavior and their management style set the stage for everyone in the organization to follow their footsteps. When leaders personify the culture and values, their significance is reinforced among the employees. 

  • Artifacts and Symbols

They act as the visible cues for the organization, including items like logos, office design, dress code and the physical vibe of the office. They also make the employees feel welcome and enrich the feeling of belongingness.

Types of Organizational Culture

While there are many arguments made on the types of organizational culture, Harrison Model (1993) outlines four important dimensions or types that are discussed below:

  1. Power Culture
  2. Role Culture
  3. Achievement Culture
  4. Support Culture

 harrison model of organizational culture

  • Power Oriented Culture Dimension

The centralization of power and control characterizes this type of organizational culture. Authority is described as a single power source, and influence radiates in other directions through it.

Motto: “Strength lies within Authority, Hierarchy commands Unity”

Guiding Principle: “The Chain of Command is final, Respect the Formal Rules”

The organizational structure is hierarchical, with a central figure surrounded by the subordinates. It places authority, rational procedures, and division of work at the forefront. The central figure often influences 

MeritsDemerits
Enables quick decision-making.Leaders at the top may abuse authority.
Clear hierarchy and reporting structure.Employees lack empowerment in decision-making.
Promotes organizational stability and order.Communication style lacks transparency.
Quick implementation of decisions.Resistance to innovative ideas and initiatives.
Clear direction and guidance from the top.Hinders creativity and different perspectives.
  • Role Oriented Culture Dimension

It lays strong emphasis on pre-existing structures and procedures. Job descriptions, specialization, and hierarchical chain of command are the main components. The key decisions are made from rules and authority arises from formal positions.

Motto: “Precision in Process, and Stability in Structure.”

Guiding Principle: “Follow the Process, Master your Craft”

This ensures consistency and predictability, so it is often associated with bureaucratic structures.

MeritsDemerits
Promotes Organizational Stability.Limited adaptability to change.
Specialized Expertise. Hinders Creativity and Innovation.
Hierarchical Chain of Command.Leads to Micromanagement.
Reduces Confusion.Limits Individual Initiative.
Minimizes Uninformed Decisions.Restricts Employee Autonomy.
  • Achievement Oriented Culture

Organizations of this type align their routine tasks and activities with their core values, vision and purpose. It strives to unite right-minded people together to focus on a single objective simultaneously.

Motto: “Together We Triumph”

Guiding Principle: “Success lies in Collaboration, Progress within Innovation.”

It focuses on task completion rather than hierarchical positions, emphasizing on teamwork, adaptability, and innovation. It is best suited for organizations that operate within a rapidly changing environment.

</tr class=”design-table”>

MeritsDemerits
Encourages Adaptability and Innovation.Lead to Overwork and Burnout.
Values Goal Attainment.Potential for Effort Fragmentation.
Supports Quick Decision-Making.Neglects Attention to Individual Efforts.
Creative Problem-Solving.Chaotic and Disorganized at times.
Aligns with Fast paced Environment.Over-dependence on Team Dynamics.
  • Support Oriented Culture

It is based on mutual trust between the employees and the organization. It has minimal formalization and centralization. People-oriented organizations follow it, and the well-being of employees is placed at the top.

Motto: “Caring builds a Community”

Guiding Principle: “Empower each other, Win as One.”

Authority is assigned based on competence, and decisions are made based on people. It promotes the feelings of collaboration, helpfulness, and belongingness

MeritsDemerits
Positive Work Environment.Lacks Employee Accountability.
Employees at the forefront.Slow Decision-Making.
Encourage Work-life Balance.Lack of clear Hierarchy and Authority.
Values Individual growth.Struggle with Rapid decision-making.
Boosts Employee Satisfaction.Difficulty in enforcing Discipline.

A clear understanding of these dimensions helps organizations identify the gaps in their organizations, and make informed decisions about the type that aligns with their mission, values, and purpose. 

So, the next time, they can adopt one type or a mix of the abovementioned cultures. Organizational Culture can also be of other types, but it’s crucial to know your mission, vision and purpose before choosing the type that suits your organization the best.

Organizational Culture Case Studies at MAANG companies 

The culture at the MAANG companies often are the landmark for others to follow suit, here is a clear distinction of the organizational culture they follow:

Microsoft – Innovation and Creativity at Heart

The new phase of Microsoft’s Cultural quest begins with their tryst with innovation and creativity. While the leaders are pretty vocal with the latest trends and their flexibility to adopt them, they are emphasizing on building a new workforce with ‘right brain qualities’. So, they are hunting for employees with skills such as empathy, curiosity, adaptability, and open-mindedness. 

Our Ambitions are Bold, so must be our desire to change and evolve our Culture.

Satya Nadella, CEO

Technology will be the driver of this change by saving a huge amount of time for people, so they can spend on proposing radical ideas, solving impossible problems, and exploring new ways for growth. The New Microsoft is customer-focused, diverse and inclusive and a family of shared purpose and mission.

Apple – Changing Leadership Vision

With the company’s rapid growth, Apple’s leaders realised that a change in their way of work, their motivation, and their work environment was inevitable. So, the visionary leadership team led by the VP of applications, Roger Rosner, introduced the Discretionary Leadership Model. 

According to this model, the employees, irrespective of their position and responsibilities, must spend 40% of their time in innovation and taking complete ownership of projects. 30% of the time in learning new skills, from developing common aptitude to mastering the latest technology. 15% of the time in teaching and the rest 15% in delegating their responsibilities to the team.

It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do, we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do!

– Steve Jobs

Apple’s unique approach to developing specialized leaders makes it one of its kind companies, which also shows its dedication towards constantly evolving not only their products but also their workforce. 

Netflix – Culture is all that it takes 

Netflix, synonymous with entertainment, is not the only identity. The market leader is also known for its ‘Culture Deck’, the 128-slide presentation that redefined the meaning of compensation and culture. What’s so unique about it? 

They let their employees be the sole decision-makers of their projects, they are given authority to make the final call to a certain extent. 

We encourage employees to figure out how to improve culture, not how to preserve it

– Reed Hastings, Founder & CEO

The CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, described their culture as ‘driven by the seven aspects: values, high performance, freedom and responsibility, context not control, highly aligned, top of the market pay, and promotions and development.

Their development plans and growth are determined by their highly trained and top-of-the-market employees who can efficiently move in the right direction. Thus, Netflix built a culture that attracts and retains top talent.

Amazon – Principles in Veins

Amazon’s culture and work environment are shaped by 12 Leadership Principles that impact their organizational structure and routine activities. They are: Customer Obsession, Invent and Simplify, Ownership, Are Right A Lot, Hire and Develop the Best, Insist on the Highest Standard, Think Big, Bias for Action, Frugality, Vocally Self-Critical, Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit, and Deliver Results.

These principles are the backbone of their hiring activities, employee development programs, and determine the capabilities of the employees to continue in the work environment. 

Many of the traits that make Amazon unusual are now deeply ingrained in their culture. In fact, if I wanted to change them, I couldn’t. The cultures are self-reinforcing, and that’s a good thing.

– Jeff Bezos, CEO

The culture of Amazon is also greatly shaped by the visionary himself, Jeff Bezos, making the company entrepreneurial in nature and continues to grow leaps and bounds in a similar way. Amazon will forever be guided by its core values, leadership principles and culture that is being followed by many across the globe.

Google – Culture and Performance Always Go Together

Google is the face of the innovation and market revolution. Ever wondered what made them the best? It’s their constant priority for ‘Best workplace culture’. The core operating model of the firm relies on one thing: Organizational Culture.

Our job is to make sure that Google Inc. is a great place to come to work everyday.

– Sundar Pichai, CEO

The core ingredients of their culture: Innovation, Leadership, Decision-making, and Communication, drive employee performance. These make them a team constantly striving to excel and develop collective knowledge.

Google believes the actual motto of an organization is to build a culture that drives performance with managerial competence at the core. 

How to Choose Organizational Culture that suits your Organizational Values?

Choosing an organizational culture that suits the core values defined seems daunting.

But fret not, here’s a step-by step guide to assist you in the process:

  • Define Your Organizational Values

The first step is to have your core values well-defined and align them with the organization’s vision. The core values act as the guiding principles to define your path to success and future aspirations.

  • Assess Your Current Culture

Evaluate your organization’s existing culture by assessing the communication style, decision-making process, behavior patterns and work environment. These elements help in identifying the current culture of your organization.

  • Identify Desired Traits

Determine the top traits of your best performers, how your employees interact with one another, collaborate for work and the way the leaders communicate. All these help in narrow down the desirable traits that need to be cultivated.

  • Involve Key Stakeholders

Analyze the industry trends and market conditions to suit the changing narrative. After this, get all the key stakeholders on board and brainstorm to gather their inputs, involving the employees is a must in this step.

defining organizational culture

  • Create an Action Plan

Develop a detailed plan to transition into the desirable culture, get the leaders’ thoughts aligned, and make it purpose-driven to seek the positive support of employees. Always remember culture serves your most important clients – your employees.

  • Communication and Transparency

Clearly communicate the reason behind this change, get the nod of approval from the leaders and then communicate it across all levels of the organization. It’s also important to train the employees for this shift. HRs should constantly stay in touch to overcome any potential roadblocks.

  • Measure Your Progress

Define the metrics to measure the progress and success of the process, by looking at the goal alignment of employees and their satisfaction levels. Celebrate every milestone by sharing it across the organization helping streamline the entire process.

It’s important to note that this is a continuous process, and gathering employee feedback on the way so you stay relevant to their evolving needs and ace the test of mastering the organizational culture.

Wrapping It Up

Are you haunted by the thoughts of building a progressive culture that keeps your organization on par with the competition?

Keka, your trusted HRMS buddy, has a secret superpower in store that not only streamlines your HR processes but also makes your organization’s culture the best. With tools like HR reports, test the positive impact of your cultural endeavors, help your employees align their individual OKRs with the organizational goals, and answer their challenges on the way with a click of a finger.

So, let’s transform your organizational culture, watch Keka in action, and take a demo!

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    Meet the author

    Anwesha Panja

    Content Writer

    Anwesha Panja is a Content Writer at Keka Technologies. She has a passion for crafting captivating pieces around the latest HR trends. With a love for mysterious and spine-tingling things, she spends her free time exploring haunted locations. She is also a bookworm and an avid Sherlock fan.

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