John Mulhall, ICT student and writer for Irish Tech News, discusses how company culture can influence your future.
Organisational culture is defined nicely by businessdictionary.com as: ‘The values and behaviours that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organisation. It is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid’.
What is your company’s culture, are you a good fit for it and if not, what can be done?
When we think of culture in business, we think mission statements, charters, policies and company events, which have a defined cultural element to them.
Company culture is much more encompassing than that, and it truly affects us as human beings because we live it each and every workday. It doesn’t matter if it’s a two-man company or a large multinational organisation; company culture challenges our values, influences our beliefs and seeds contentment or discord in the deepest caverns of our hearts and minds over time.
In very broad terms, company culture can be broken out into four main types:
Adhocracy culture is a culture of temporary collaboration (e.g. project management) where leadership is more task-centred within the team, rather than delegated by a leader.
Clan culture is a collaborative culture that fosters mentorship and strong bonds of loyalty with consideration of others in the achievement of set tasks, goals and objectives.
Market culture is a competitive, outward-looking culture that places the external transaction at the heart of the organisation.
Hierarchy culture is the product of classical management theory and has a very strong command and control leadership orientation to it, where communication flows from the top down with no room for feedback upwards.
When we think of our company culture, we can see a little of all four types of culture and wonder if our view on our company’s culture is the overall cultural orientation of our company.
Let’s see what kind of culture our company aspires to be by reviewing any cultural statements, mission statements, organisational values and policies, employee codes of conduct and standards of operation, along with formally published information on our company’s company culture.
By doing so, let’s keep the following questions in mind:
• What type of environment is the company hoping to create for its employees? Is it participative, collaborative, instructive, directive, coercive or punitive?
• What type of business is the company in, and what mix of collaboration and direction is needed to optimise workplace efficiency and enable positive impact by you in your role as an employee?
• What level of cultural follow up is there? Does the company expect its employees to be respectful, cordial and supportive in its documentation? If so, how does the company formally follow up on the cultural elements it expects from its employees in creating a suitable workplace environment and culture?
• What type of management/leadership style does the company endorse? Is it consultative, participative, authoritative or dictatorial?
• Is there clear evidence in the documentation that the cultural message is coming from the top?
• Do all the cultural clues found in the formal documentation paint a coherent and clear picture of the company’s culture?
You could ask, are we comfortable with our company’s culture to a point where our personal values are not demeaned, our core beliefs offended or our aspirations for life soured by bitter experience?
If yes, then great, we are all set. If no, then we need to estimate how reconcilable those differences are, and are we willing to change to reconcile those differences allowing for a long career with the company where we would feel like we belong?
Some say that the more successful you are, the happier you become. I don’t necessarily agree. Do we exchange our happiness for money? Our metrics for employment often measure in salary, benefits and perks of association only.
What we often fail to release is that if we want to be happy in life, we need to feel comfortable in our own skin, fulfilling our purpose. That comes with our work, and the relationships we forge in our working environments, which in turn define and reinforce a company culture over time.
If we take the time to understand the company culture in the early days of employment, I submit we don’t necessarily have to exchange happiness for money.
We can have both in a complicated balance of elements that is only truly understood by the individual who embraces company culture in a productive quid pro quo that compliments one’s life purpose, bringing happiness as an intrinsic benefit to everything we do.