Organizational culture is the customs, rituals and values shared by the members of an organization that have to be accepted by new members. It contributes to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization. Organizational culture represents the collective values, beliefs and principles of its members. It is the product of its history, product, market, technology, strategy, types of employees and management style. Culture includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs and habits. It is a set of shared assumptions that guide what happens in organizations by defining appropriate behavior for various situations. It affects the way people interact with each other, with clients and with stakeholders. Organizational culture affects how much employees identify with the organization. It can be manipulated and altered depending on leadership and its members. So what are the different cultures, best cultures and ways to create them?

Culture is either strong or weak. Strong culture exists where staff respond to stimulus because of their alignment to organizational values. Strong cultures help firms operate more efficiently, engaging in outstanding execution with only minor adjustments to existing procedures as needed. Strong cultures have clear values that give employees reason to embrace them. The company is better aligned towards achieving its vision, mission and goals. There’s higher employee motivation and loyalty. There’s increased team cohesiveness. It promotes consistency and encourages coordination and control. It shapes employees behavior at work. People do things because it is the right thing to do. Where there is weak culture with little alignment with organizational values, control must be exercised through extensive procedures and bureaucracy.


Culture is either healthy or unhealthy. Healthy culture increases productivity, growth and efficiency and reduces counterproductive behavior and turnover. It accepts and appreciates diversity. It has a regard for each employee, treats all employees fairly and respects each employee for their contribution. There is employee pride and enthusiasm for the organization and the work performed. There’s equal opportunity for each employee to realize their full potential. There’s strong communication with all employees regarding policies and company issues. The company has strong leaders with a strong sense of direction and purpose. It gives the company the ability to compete in industry innovation and customer service, as well as price. It has lower than average turnover rates. There is investment in learning, training and employee knowledge. It includes high employee involvement, strong internal communication and acceptance and encouragement of a healthy level of risk-taking to achieve innovation. Healthy companies are able to deal with employees’ concerns about the well-being of the company internally, before the employee feels the need to raise the issue externally. Whistleblowing is the sign of an unhealthy culture.


Culture is either adaptive or unadaptive. Adaptive cultures perform much better which translates into organizational success. Adaptive cultures pay close attention to all of their constituencies, especially customers, initiating change when needed and taking risks. Unadaptive culture significantly reduces a firm’s effectiveness, disabling the firm from pursuing its competitive and operational options.


Different types of communication contribute to an organizational culture. Metaphors such as comparing an organization to a well-oiled machine or a family reveal employees’ shared meanings of experience at the organization. Stories provide examples for employees of how to act or not to act in certain situations. Rites and ceremonies combine stories, metaphors and symbols into one. There’s rites of passage for employees moving into new roles. There’s rights of degradation for employees having power taken away from them. There’s rites of enhancement for public recognition for an employee’s accomplishments. There’s rites of renewal to improve existing social structures. There’s rites of conflict resolution resolving arguments. There’s rites of integration reawakening feelings of membership in the organization. Bullying and abusive behavior, where supervisors offload their own aggression on their subordinates, threatens productivity of the entire organization. Leaders who exercise a tyrannical style of management creates a climate of fear. Partial or intermittent negative reinforcement creates a climate of fear and doubt. Authoritarian leadership creates a climate of fear where there is little or no room for dialogue. This creates an unsafe atmosphere for employees leading to higher turnover.


Now you know the difference between a strong, healthy culture and a weak, unhealthy culture. Strong, healthy cultures provide various benefits. There’s a competitive edge derived from innovation and customer service. There’s consistent, efficient employee performance. There’s team cohesiveness. There’s high employee morale and less turnover. There’s strong company alignment towards goal achievement. Organizational culture can be a factor in the survival or failure of an organization. Organizational culture has a significant effect on an organization’s long-term economic performance. So what is your organization’s culture? As the old saying goes, it starts at the top. You are responsible for setting and maintaining your corporate culture. Here’s to your successful corporate culture. Let me know if I can help.


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