What you find most attractive; a corporate culture where innovation is a core value or where following a plan is a core value? Would you prefer to work in a corporate culture where people who “stand out” do well or where people who “blend in” do well?
Most CEOs will tell you that people want to work in cultures where innovation and “standing out” are valued. But based on over 20,000 responses to the Leadership IQ test, What is your organizational culture?, we know that this is not true (especially in certain departments).
There are four major corporate cultures:
- Social Culture: This organization is often relaxed and laid-back, and the line can be blurred between professional relationships and friendships.
- Reliable Culture: This company is very process-oriented and predictable on a daily basis.
- Entrepreneurial Culture: This organization is a meritocracy where creativity and intelligence are valued, and the organization is competitive, even if the competition is friendly.
- Hierarchical Culture: This culture is hierarchical and traditional, where people appreciate and compete for power.
In the absence of data, many CEOs think people generally want an entrepreneurial culture, while a preponderance of HR managers tell me that people prefer social cultures. The truth, of course, is complicated.
Based on data from the Organizational Cultures test, we know that in business services, the entrepreneurial culture is most sought after. In the Marketing and Human Resources departments, Social culture is much more privileged. People in areas of operations want the Reliable culture the most.
The point is, you might be surprised at what types of corporate cultures your employees actually prefer. The only solution to this is, of course, to ask your employees what kind of corporate culture they want.
For example, around 30% of people who work in cultures where the line between work and leisure is blurred (for example, a social culture) like their work. But an equal number of people enjoy their jobs, working in cultures where there is a clear line between work and play. This should tell you that you will need to ask your employees what kind of culture they prefer.
Despite all that has been written over the years about how difficult it is to change a company’s culture, the reality is that if you know your employees’ preferences on specific issues, it really isn’t that hard to understand. ‘adapt.
For example, if I find that my employees overly prefer very clear and structured work roles, it is probably worth my time and effort to engage in an effort to clarify and anchor expectations for each role. Otherwise, if I learn that my staff prefer tasks that are constantly changing, it shouldn’t be that hard to find a few tasks that fall outside of our normal daily routine.
The key here is to stop thinking about corporate cultures as a fleeting aspect of our daily work. Cultures are the result of hundreds of choices every day, from how we assign work to the types of accomplishments we recognize to the criteria by which people are promoted. Cultures are epiphenomenal, yes, but they’re not that slippery if we’re willing to ask our people specific questions about their preferences.