In our previous inSite, we introduced the concept of organizational culture and the impact it can have on a company’s overall productivity. However, culture is hard to qualify. In this second installment of our Lost in Translation series, we will explore the different elements you can use to characterize the culture within your organization.
How to Define Your Culture
Now that we’ve established the importance of organizational culture, we can progress into defining the culture already set within your organization. Even if setting a work culture was not a significant factor in the strategic planning phase, rest assured—your company has a culture. Identifying organizational culture can be challenging because culture is primarily a lived experience. Still, there are certain frameworks available to assist in this process. Professor Geert Hofstede’s study of culture mainly focused on societies, yet the Multi-Focus Model on Organizational Culture uses his research to recognize six dimensions of an organization’s culture.
The first dimension to address is your company’s Organizational Effectiveness. In other words, is your organization means-oriented or goal-oriented? To assess this, analyze how your organization carries work out from within. Have you noted that your employees motivate themselves by achieving specific internal goals or results? If so, then your company culture is goal-oriented. If not, your employees will likely prioritize work processes, preferring to focus on refinement, meaning your company culture is means-oriented.
Customer Orientation is the dimension used to measure whether your organization is internally or externally driven. In an internally driven company, the focal point doesn’t necessarily rest on consumers. Since their focus rests on ethical business practices and efficient work processes that benefit the world at large, it seems a given that the customer would benefit as well. On the other hand, an externally driven organization maintains a culture wherein the customer is the entire focus. “The customer is always right” is a familiar mantra within externally driven organizations.
Level of Control
An organization’s Level of control is the dimension used to evaluate whether a company’s culture has an easygoing or strict work discipline. It is measured by assessing the amount of internal structure and control. A rigid work discipline culture comprises employees who are cost-conscious and punctual. Conversely, a relaxed work discipline environment is one in which improvisation and surprises are part and parcel of everyday life.
Focus is the dimension that addresses how employees personally identify. Within this dimension, organizations fall under either local or professional cultures. Employees of a local culture organization associate themselves with their boss and/or the department in which they work. This culture is generally short-term oriented and internally focused, and employees are more likely to experience pressure to fit the social norm. On the other hand, employees of a professional culture organization identify themselves by their profession. A professional culture is typically long-term oriented, externally focused, and more likely to accept individuality.
Approachability is the dimension used to convey an organization’s level of accessibility. An environment with a high level of accessibility is known as an open system. The work culture is welcoming, and almost anyone can undertake assimilation. The opposite is true of a closed-system work environment; the company culture is distinctive, indicating that not everyone would be a good fit. Breaching any initial level of exclusion is accomplished by proving worth.
An organization’s Management Philosophy is the dimension that denotes whether the company culture is employee-oriented or work-oriented. This element of the multi-focus model rests largely within leadership’s purview. The level of consideration for staff problems is a measure used to quantify an employee-oriented culture; the employees and their welfare are always the focal points, even at the expense of the work. In contrast, the focal point of a work-oriented culture lies in high task performance, even at the expense of employees.
Generally, no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ type of work culture exists. Corporate organizations exist across a spectrum of different industries, so the needs of one organization will vastly differ from those of another. What matters is whether the culture is driving efficiency within your organization.
Stay tuned for Part 3! We will explore what elements decide your home country’s culture and how it impacts your organization.
For Part 1, click here.