Culture is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in these groups. 

Business culture refers to the set of behavioral and procedural norms that can be observed within a company. This includes its policies, procedures, ethics, values, employee behaviors and attitudes, goals and code of conduct. It also makes up the ‘personality’ of a company and defines the work environment, e.g., professional, casual, fast-paced, innovative.

Other elements that make up company culture include management style, expectations, company goals, local and national government policies, benefits/perks, opportunities to advance, the way employees feel about the work they do and disciplinary action methods your business uses.

Can business culture be changed?

Business culture can be changed, and although it is not easy, sometimes change is necessary to create a major shift in the company. Most long-running businesses have changed their business culture at least once. If you seek change, you may need to realign your business culture to your vision, values, pillars, products, services or mission. 

Is business culture different from the mission, vision and goal?

A company’s mission, vision and goals make up its purpose. They help a company achieve its goals and direct the company toward success. It is the direction that teams take, to achieve the vision, mission & goals

Business culture, on the other hand, is the way that a group of people conducts itself based on a company’s mission, vision and goals. It’s focused more on how employees behave in the workplace in order to achieve success, as well as the benefits/perks and management style a company offers to make its employees happy, productive and engaged. The culture should also align to the brand pillars and the company’s values.

4 Types Of Organizational Culture

A clan culture is people-focused and often the company feels like one big happy family. A highly collaborative work environment where everyone is valued and communication is the priority. Often paired with a horizontal structure, which leads to a break down of barriers between the top leaders and the employees, so that mentorship is encouraged and opportunities abound. These companies are action-oriented and embrace change, a testament to their highly flexible nature. Benefits: They often boast high rates of employee engagement, and happy employees make for happy customers. Because of its highly adaptable environment, there’s a great possibility for market growth within a clan culture. Drawbacks: A family-style corporate culture is difficult to maintain as the company grows. Plus, with a horizontal leadership structure, day-to-day operations can seem cluttered and lacking direction.

An adhocracy culture is rooted in innovation and these companies are usually on the cutting-edge of their industry, looking to develop the next big thing. These companies lean into risks and value individuality where employees are encouraged to think creatively and bring their ideas to the table. Because this type of organizational culture falls within the external focus and differentiation category, new ideas need to be tied to market growth and company success. Benefits: An adhocracy culture contributes to high profit margins with employees that stay motivated with the goal of innovation, creativity and new ideas. Drawbacks: Risk is risk, so there’s always a chance that a new venture won’t pan out and may even hurt your business. Adhocracy cultures can also foster competition between employees as the pressure to come up with new ideas mounts.

Market culture prioritizes profitability, so everything is evaluated with the bottom line in mind; each position has an objective that aligns with the company’s larger goal, and there are often several degrees of separation between employees and leadership roles. These are results-oriented organizations that focus on external success rather than internal satisfaction and they stress the importance reaching targets and getting results. Benefits: Companies that boast market cultures are profitable and successful. Because the entire organization is externally focused, there’s a key objective employees can get behind and work toward. Drawbacks: On the other hand, because there’s a number tied to every decision, project and position within the company, it can be difficult for employees to meaningfully engage with their work. 

Hierarchy cultures adhere to the traditional corporate structure. These are companies focused on internal organization with a clear chain of command and multiple management tiers that separate employees and leadership. In addition to a rigid structure, there’s often a dress code for employees to follow. Hierarchy cultures have a set way of doing things, which makes them stable and risk-averse. Benefits: With internal organization as a priority, hierarchy cultures have clear direction. There are well-defined processes that cater to the company’s main objectives. Drawbacks: The rigidity of hierarchy cultures leaves little room for creativity, making these companies relatively slow to adapt to the changing marketplace.

Your company culture says a lot about your team and what you value, and potential employees can pick up on that quickly. Make sure to assess what truly matters to your organization and if there is alignment there, given the current state of the business and the vision you are setting out to achieve. Look for those areas where you can improve the culture. Transformative Visions can help you clarify and identify the values that are important to your vision and the behaviours that would help get you there. Reach out to find out more.