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How To Describe Company Culture

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How To Describe Company Culture

How To Describe Company Culture

You’ve probably heard a lot of corporate lingo about the power of company culture, and you might even be familiar with the dominant categories of culture. 

But when you talk about your company’s culture, can you communicate exactly what it’s like to be a part of your team? Understanding all 12 categories of company culture can help, but it’s also a good idea to develop your own language to describe your company’s unique culture. 

It may not seem like a big deal, but clearly and accurately describing your company’s culture helps ensure you attract job-seekers who are a good fit, which tends to boost morale, retention, and productivity.  

This guide will help you identify your workplace’s key traits and enable you to explain your company culture in clear, concise language. 

What Is Company Culture?

the-company-culture-image

Company culture is best defined as an organization’s set of shared principles, goals, attitudes, and behaviors. The concept refers to the workplace environment, the motivation and morale of staff, and which behaviors are acceptable and which are not.

A company’s culture shapes every step of the employee journey, from hiring and onboarding to colleague interactions, opportunities for advancement, and more. 

Every workplace has its own interpersonal dynamics that make it unique. Differences in management style, employee hierarchy, and motivational strategy mean no two companies are exactly alike. 

Even so, several key characteristics signify specific types of company culture, and most businesses fit into one of a handful of main categories. 

Since many factors contribute to company culture, pinpointing exactly where your company falls can be difficult. Many companies show signs of several different cultural categories, so it’s best not to expect perfect alignment with a specific type. 

Benefits of Describing a Company Culture

Understanding and articulating the culture of a company plays a pivotal role in its success and sustainability. Here’s a table highlighting some key benefits that stem from accurately describing your company’s culture.

BenefitsDescription
Attraction of TalentClearly articulated company culture can attract potential employees who align with the company’s values and work style, leading to a better fit and improved job satisfaction
Retention of EmployeesWhen employees feel a strong connection to the company culture, they’re likely to be more satisfied, engaged, and loyal, reducing turnover
Improved PerformanceA well-defined culture can help align all employees behind a shared set of goals and values, leading to improved cooperation and performance
Decision-MakingA clear company culture provides a framework that can guide decision-making at all levels of the organization
Company Image and BrandA strong and well-articulated company culture can enhance the company’s public image, making it more attractive to customers, investors, and potential partners
Adaptability and ResilienceA shared understanding of the company culture can help the organization navigate challenges and changes, including periods of rapid growth or market uncertainty

Recognized Kinds of Company Culture

Most experts agree that there are 12 different types of corporate culture.

The easiest way to conceptualize the different cultures is by looking at what they value most. Results organizational culture, for instance, prioritizes achievement over employee morale, while an enjoyment culture puts staff happiness first. 

Evaluate Your Current Culture 

Every business has its own unique culture, and understanding its key features and causes is the first step on the path toward a more positive culture. 

Many businesses make the mistake of stressing growth at all costs and lose sight of the culture that nurtured its initial success. Left unattended, positive elements of culture can fade away, creating a company that defines itself in a totally different way. 

To enact positive change or maintain a culture that’s working well, you’ll first need to identify your existing culture and its conditions. What kind of culture does your company have? What are its strengths and weaknesses? 

How To Describe Corporate Cultures

The best way to analyze your company’s culture is to consider its values and priorities. To pinpoint what makes your business unique, start by looking at factors like relationships, organizational approach, and motivation. 

1. Employee Relationships

To think about the kinds of relationships in your firm, begin by considering the extent and style of communication between management and staff. 

Hierarchy cultures erect clear barriers between leaders and low-level staffers in an effort to incentivize people to work harder for advancement. 

In a hierarchy culture, employees know where they fit, who ranks above them, and what’s expected of them. These businesses tend to be well organized and extremely efficient but may not foster close relationships between employees of different ranks. 

One way to improve vertical communication is to schedule regular one-to-one check-ins between manager and employee. Setting aside time to ask questions and relay concerns boosts team openness and trust. 

Alternatively, clan cultures place more value on free-flowing communication, where management assumes more of a mentor role and vertical collaboration is encouraged. 

Clan culture sees coworkers as family, so these organizations tend to have less clear divisions between employees and higher levels of communication across all levels. 

A job applicant or interviewee may be curious about relationships between employees on the same level. Consider whether employees socialize outside of work and if their relationships are collaborative or more competitive. 

Not all styles of company culture encourage employees to get to know each other outside of work. But depending on your goals for your business, you want to create a more social environment. 

Some job-seekers might prefer a barrier between their work and personal lives, while others find more motivation at work if they feel they have at least one genuine friendship with a colleague. 

No matter your culture, encouraging open communication between employees can improve job satisfaction and loyalty and help boost team morale

2. Structure and Flexibility

Many kinds of organizational cultures are defined by their commitment to structure or flexibility. For example, in an order organizational culture, employees have a clearly defined role and know exactly what’s expected of them. 

Alternatively, adhocracy cultures relax the boundaries between roles and provide more creative space. When describing your culture, include whether your company leans more toward an order organizational or adhocracy culture. 

Businesses that are too structured can develop overly competitive and unpleasant work environments, while extremely relaxed workspaces can make it hard to get anything done. 

Because both structure and lack of structure can create positive and negative conditions, you’ll want to highlight the unique benefits of your specific company culture and what has made it successful. 

Flexible work schedules, and opportunities for remote work figure into your cultural flexibility. Especially after the pandemic, many employees expect some flexibility in their workday, and many companies have opted for hybrid or remote-first schedules. This allows employees flexibility to choose when and where they work.

If you hope to improve employee morale, allowing hybrid or remote-first working at your company might be a good cultural shift. You could give your staff every other Friday off or allow them to work from home two days a week. 

Nine times out of 10, they’ll pay you back with greater engagement and productivity. Rather than feeling like cogs in a machine, employees with more flexibility have a greater sense of ownership — and it might even spark some new ideas and innovations. 

3. Values

Identifying your company’s core values helps identify what’s working and what might need improvement in your company culture. 

Some employers make the mistake of not investing much thought into their values, settling on vague phrases like “work hard” that are disconnected from their employees. 

Also, if your firm identified its values years ago and hasn’t updated them, they may have become irrelevant to your mission and goals. Markets are constantly evolving, so a company needs to maintain values that are relevant and up-to-date. 

Updating core values can provide clarity to your team, identify like-minded candidates during hiring, and encourage a unified sense of purpose. 

Diversity

Today’s workforce places a high value on workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). It’s a good idea to invest in better DEI by embracing more informed recruiting and hiring practices, for instance, or implementing a zero-tolerance policy for microaggressions. 

Not only will these practices encourage a more welcoming culture, but they could also help attract new talent, as many job-seekers are on the lookout for diverse, supportive work environments. 

When describing your corporate culture, be sure to highlight your firm’s commitment to diversity.

Mental Health 

As mental health conversations become more common, businesses need to adapt by providing adequate resources. Today’s professionals expect more than simple health insurance; they also want to be reassured that their employers care about their minds as well.

Providing robust mental health resources and setting a tone of compassionate understanding when it comes to mental and emotional issues is a good way to improve company culture. 

Additionally, encouraging a healthy work-life balance is a good way to show employees you care and prevent burnout and other work-related mental health issues. 

4. Motivation

Motivational elements are a key aspect of company culture. Are your employees encouraged by the possibility of bonuses, advancement, or recognition? Or is motivation more group-oriented and supportive of successful collaborations? 

Most types of motivation are either intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is when you’re encouraged to accomplish something because you enjoy it or at least enjoy the sense of accomplishment. 

Extrinsic motivation relies on outside factors, such as financial rewards or public recognition. Extrinsic motivation can also use negative consequences, such as reduced compensation. 

Most workplace motivation is extrinsic, but there are exceptions. For example, a purpose-driven organizational culture prioritizes its mission over personal gain. Thus, companies with this culture tend to prefer staff who find intrinsic motivation in their work. 

Enjoyment organizational cultures believe happy employees are the best employees. Prioritizing employee satisfaction goes hand-in-hand with intrinsic motivation, as employees who enjoy their work may not need extrinsic rewards to stay on task. 

Many organizations use a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Identifying which motivators shape and influence your employees will give you a better idea of how your culture functions and help attract more suitable candidates. 

5. Leadership

Leadership often sets the tone for corporate culture, which means an accurate description of your firm’s leadership style often provides a good sense of the company’s overall culture. 

Leader-employee relations are often a good indicator of a company’s leadership style. The five common leadership styles detailed below should help you identify your company’s leadership style and recognize how it contributes to culture.  

Authoritarian 

Authoritarian leaders call the shots without needing to consult the team. Though this leadership style suggests confidence, it runs the risk of demoralizing and marginalizing employees who feel they have little voice in the direction of the company. 

Participative

Participative leaders tend to ask for input and consider employee views when making decisions. This can improve your team’s sense of ownership while slowing down decision-making. 

Delegative

Delegative, or laissez-faire, leaders take a hands-off approach and grant employees a high degree of autonomy. This style is often found in companies with less structure and more creative freedom. 

Transactional 

A transactional leadership style places a high priority on order and procedure. These leaders often instill order in organizational cultures and seek to establish full compliance. Firms ran by transactional leaders prioritize order, respect, and discipline. 

Transformative 

Transformative leaders are often found at purpose organizational cultures or results organizational cultures, as these businesses tend to rush toward their goals at full throttle. Transformative leaders aim to inspire their team to buy into the company vision, spurring employees to give their all. 

6. Mission

Your company should have a mission, an overarching objective that guides strategy and key decisions and plays a key role in shaping culture. For instance, many employees report higher workplace satisfaction when they feel aligned with their employer’s mission.

This means that having a strong and positive mission statement and ensuring it’s widely and prominently displayed can increase employee engagement and job satisfaction

A mission could be about helping your community, serving customers, or working to build a safer environment. Involving your team in that mission can give them a sense of purpose and belonging, boosting morale and productivity. 

At companies that focus on the bottom line, employees may not feel engaged and invested without some extrinsic incentives. By contrast, mission statements are especially important to purpose-driven cultures and companies that aim to extend their values beyond the office. 

Yet not all mission statements need to describe a higher purpose. Market culture companies are focused on beating the competition, and employees might be driven by that goal.  

Different mission statements work for different kinds of businesses. But a strong and accurate statement of your company’s mission can not only boost engagement but give job applicants a greater sense of your culture and workplace. 

Conclusion

Being able to clearly and accurately describe company culture has a much greater impact than you might think, as it has the potential to improve morale and productivity, enhance your firm’s reputation, and attract talented and well-suited candidates.

Thus, it’s a good idea to take the time to examine your company’s culture, capture its most appealing elements in clear, concise language and be able to highlight how your mission, relationships, values, and leadership point your firm toward success.  

FAQs on Describing Company Culture

Why is describing culture important?

Company culture covers a wide range of factors and can significantly impact the success of your business. As it’s an integral part of your business, it’s important to be able to describe your culture to a range of outsiders, including potential hires, stakeholders, and customers.

A strong and accurate description of your culture demonstrates awareness of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, and unique traits that make it a great place to work. 

Is it necessary to identify with one of the 12 kinds of culture?

As with any form of culture, a breakdown of different corporate forms can help you understand your organization, but it will rarely align perfectly. Rather than trying to identify which type fits your business, work to describe the traits that make it unique. 

How does describing culture help determine cultural fit?

Assessing cultural fit is an important part of the hiring process. If you don’t know how to describe your culture, you’ll have a hard time selling it to outsiders and an even harder time determining if they’ll mesh with your culture. 

What are some strategies to improve company culture?

If you’d like to improve your culture, start by identifying areas of improvement and strategizing ways to make a change. Consider facilitating more open communication, allowing employees increased flexibility, or hosting more social events.