Your company culture is a result of everything that your organization stands for. It’s everything that your company leaders and employees believe, do, and share at the workplace. It’s the work environment that you create and the core values that you encourage others to live by.
Culture plays a huge role in employee engagement, morale, and even retention — but how do you build a strong culture?
In this article, we’ll take a look at:
- Four major organizational culture examples
- Seven tips to help you change your company culture in the right ways
Organizational culture examples
In the 1980s, researchers at the University of Michigan wanted to understand how different organizational cultures function. Through their work, they created the Competing Values Framework — a model that helps us learn about organizational culture.
The model introduced four different organizational culture examples:
- 🤝 Clan culture
- 💡 Adhocracy culture
- 💰 Market culture
- ✅ Hierarchy culture
Companies often demonstrate features of two or more kinds of organizational culture, but they usually feel more closely aligned with one in particular. The model is a great prompt to start you thinking about your own company’s culture, which category it's in now, and how to change it for the better.
Let’s take a closer look at these four major organizational culture structures and how they compare.
🤝 Clan culture
A clan culture is all about getting things done together. It’s an organizational culture example focused on your people. Companies with a clan culture often invest in tools, policies, and workflows that empower their employees to learn, grow, and excel. The belief is that a well-supported team helps drive productivity, efficiency, and profit.
Collaboration, open communication, and employee satisfaction are big in clan culture organizations. Managers in organizations like this play the role of mentor, facilitator, or teambuilder to drive their team members toward greater success.
💡 Adhocracy culture
The adhocracy culture is highly focused on innovation, creativity, and change. Companies that adopt this kind of company culture strive to become known for their dynamic, enterprising nature.
Startups often have an adhocracy style culture. They iterate fast because they want to create the best product and attract more of the market share and move quickly. Company leaders in adhocracy cultures aim to be seen as visionaries and often think like entrepreneurs.
💰 Market culture
A market culture is all about chasing that market share and improving profitability. Company leaders compete aggressively to attract and retain customers. They seek to gain the competitive advantage that will ensure bottom line growth now and into the future.
Many big-name brands lean toward this organizational culture example. When you’re in a big industry, you often need to compete hard to achieve customer satisfaction and to develop better products than your competitors. Managers in market culture organizations place importance on winning and working hard to beat the competition.
✅ Hierarchy culture
The hierarchy culture favors a methodical and optimized approach to culture, work, and company growth. These companies are big on consistency, efficiency, and productivity — they believe this measured approach will lead to profits and growth.
If you’re in an industry like finance or law, this kind of organizational culture example may be familiar. Company leaders and managers at hierarchy culture organizations play the role of coordinator or organizer. It’s their job to make sure things get done, and they’re highly process-driven.
Which of these culture styles is the best?
Each type of organizational culture has benefits and drawbacks. For example, the profit-chasing nature of the market culture gets results, but it may be tough to retain team members who prioritize work-life balance and personal well-being.
As another example, the innovative environment of the adhocracy culture is ideal for fast-moving startups but can be frustrating for people who appreciate order and process.
Even with the best intentions, it’s easy for a less-than-stellar company culture to develop. Growing too fast, distracted leadership, and a lack of investment in your people can all lead to bad culture habits. A high turnover rate, lack of employee engagement, and poor team relationships are all signs that your culture needs improvement.
7 tips to help you improve your organization’s culture
Building a strong culture can help you attract and retain the right people and keep them happy. If your current culture isn’t working, you might be thinking about making a culture change. To start, take a close look at your workplace culture for signs of dysfunction and employee discontent — and then get ready to make some changes.
Here are some of our best tips to help you shift your culture so that your company can offer the kind of workplace experience that people rave about.
1. Decide what you want your workplace culture to look like
Once you've read through the organizational culture examples above and decided which ones best align with your company's goals and core values, you can see which cultural values you'll need to work on. Only then can you figure out how to get there.
For example, you might want to incorporate some values from a clan culture by encouraging management to play more of a mentorship role. Get clear on your ideal workplace culture now so you can shape your new initiatives around it.
2. Set standards and policies that align with the culture you want
For a culture change to work, you need to back it up with the right policies, standards, and processes. Without them, you risk your company values and culture goals being seen as ideals rather than real possibilities.
If embracing diversity and inclusion is one of your goals, start by introducing communication methods that give everyone a voice — like Polly. If your goal is to work in a more agile way, you need to speed up the decision-making process and remove complicated approval systems.
3. Get people excited about your culture change
Employees are more likely to participate in your new culture if they recognize shared values and feel excited about the plans. Invite team members to join you for the journey by keeping them updated and engaged.
Host a virtual event and invite people to find out more about the company’s culture shift. Use Polly to run live polls in scheduled meetings to understand how people feel about these culture changes. Create a dedicated internal newsletter or a new channel in Slack or Microsoft Teams where you discuss new culture changes. Communicate early, often, and clearly, and keep the language upbeat.
4. Refine your hiring process
Too many hiring processes aren’t fit for purpose. They’re often challenging to move through as a candidate, difficult for HR leaders to manage, and sometimes represent a barrier to diversity. Take some time to consider how you can improve your hiring process so that this can serve as a warm welcome to your company culture and position you as a great company to work for.
Once you’re settled into your new company culture, use it as a competitive advantage. Talk about your culture on your careers page so you can attract candidates who feel this is a great culture fit for them. Highlight all the opportunities, perks, and cultural values again as part of your new hire onboarding process so there’s no doubt about what you stand for.
5. Make employee feedback a key part of your culture
For any company culture to thrive, you need to enable feedback at all levels. Encourage a culture of employee feedback at your organization to help you identify challenges, celebrate successes, and innovate so you can keep growing.
Use Polly to make giving and receiving feedback as easy as sending any other message in a channel. Your team members can send and answer pollys straight from Slack or Microsoft Teams. This means they can quickly give employee feedback without interrupting their workflow.
You can also use an Open Forum to allow teams to give anonymous feedback and start a conversation with higher-ups.
6. Create opportunities for people to connect
It’s not always easy to find moments to connect with the people you work with — especially with remote work being the new normal. Offer team members fresh new ways to spend time with each other to encourage employee engagement and help your new culture thrive.
Polly’s trivia games and quizzes are an ideal way for people to get to know each other in a casual work environment. Host a round of trivia in Slack or conduct a quiz in your Teams meeting. These are great tools to help encourage teamwork and build relationships among team members.
7. Measure employee satisfaction with pulse surveys
Your new culture will take time to develop and grow. Take regular pulse surveys to understand what’s working and what isn’t — and to discover how feelings about your culture change over time.
Pulse surveys are a powerful way to measure employee experience and engagement. These shorter polls run more frequently, are easier to complete, and focus your team members on a specific topic.
Send a weekly or biweekly polly out to team members, and monitor those responses to track trends over months. It’s a great way to understand how employees at all levels feel right now and how that compares to before your culture shift.
Nurture your company culture with Polly
Changing your culture doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process, but one that’s well worth it for the payoff in increased productivity and greater employee satisfaction and well-being. Decide what your ideal culture is, plan how you’ll get there, and encourage everyone to be a part of the process.
Whatever culture changes you decide to make, communication will play a key role in how your changes will be received. Use Polly to revamp your onboarding process, host live polls to seek ideas and opinions, and make your staff meetings about cultural changes more engaging.
With the right tools, changing your culture feels like less of an uphill struggle. Asking questions, giving feedback, and measuring results feels easy. You can move in the right direction, knowing that your instinct is backed up by real data. See why Polly is the powerful tool you need to help run your internal communications.
Written by Nicola Scoon
Nicola Scoon is a freelance writer that's passionate about employee engagement and better workplace experiences. She draws on her experience in internal communications to help companies create content that empowers, encourages, and motivates people to create better experiences for all.