What is Company Culture
Before we can create a Culture that works, we have to define what we mean by Company Culture. This is one of those things that everyone thinks they know what it means until you try and put it into words.
Here are a few versions that various smart people have written;
Edgar H. Schein, a leading researcher in this field, defined “organizational culture” as comprising a number of features, including a shared “pattern of basic assumptions” which group members have acquired over time as they learn to successfully cope with internal and external organizationally relevant problems.
Culture includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, environment, location, beliefs and habits
Company culture can be defined as a set of shared values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterize an organization.
A company’s culture influences results from top to bottom.
Corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviours that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. A company’s culture will be reflected in its dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, turnover, hiring decisions, treatment of clients, client satisfaction, and every other aspect of operations.
Many organisations are facing new challenges regarding Company Culture, as more and more people work from home. How do you create a company culture when everyone works from home? Is it even possible?
The above list provides us with enough ideas to get us started.
What Is Personality Type
We should probably also clarify what we mean by “personality type” if we are going to explain “How To Create A Company Culture Using Personality Profiling”
Your personality type is a cocktail of your six psyche energies; Internal Energy, External Energy, Task Energy, Feeling Energy, Sensing Energy and Intuition Energy.
Many things are personality-centric, such as;
- Your natural attention to detail.
- Your preference to multitask
- Your compulsion to meet deadlines
Many other things are not personality-centric, such as;
What is Affected By Our Personality Type?
Most of the decisions we make are affected by our personality type. The big things, as regards our work, to consider are;
- Our Preferred Work Environment
- Our Preferred Behaviours
We all have our natural preferences. Being human we are extremely good at adapting, however, we can usually only sustain our adaptation for relatively short periods of time, whilst the environmental pressure demands it.
As soon as you remove the environmental pressure, then we revert to our preferred behaviour.
You would be surprised at how much of your daily experience at work is personality-centric; where you have a natural preference.
What’s The Difference Between Company Culture and Work Environment?
Each individual has their own preferred work environment, as determined by their personality type. The more that an individual is indulged in their natural, preferred work environment, the better they do. They will be more engaged. They will be more productive. They will stay in the job longer.
Preferred work environments vary from one personality type to the next. Other factors will also influence our preferred work environment, however, our personality type is probably the most significant influencer.
For example; some people prefer to work alone in a quiet office, others prefer to engage with people. Some prefer to take their time to get the details right and others prefer to work fast and hit deadlines.
There are any number of work environment ingredients that we each have our own preference for.
When we find ourselves in a work environment that is not compatible with our core personality, then we struggle, which could eventually lead to stress, low productivity, low engagement, high absenteeism and high staff turnover.
What Determines Our Work Environment?
A whole bunch of factors come together to determine each work environment;
The Line Manager – Each line manager plays a significant part in the work environment that the actual employee experiences. This is why if you suddenly find yourself with a new line manager, your ideal job just turned to a nightmare job. Not all of your colleagues will feel the same. Some may even prefer the new manager. The change in line manager may have been enough to create a significant change in work environment.
The Physical Environment – Is it quiet or noisy? Formal or relaxed? Is it reactive or proactive?
It is essential that we understand each of the work environments we are placing people into. If you are to get a good fit between the individual and the work environment you need to understand both.
If you know the work environment is fastidious and demands attention to detail, then put people in it that care about details. It’s not the place for big picture thinkers.
The chances are that some parts of your organisation will need to be detailed and others will need to be looking at the big picture. Neither one on its own is likely to be sufficient. If you tried to impose a Culture of detail across the entire organisation, it could cause you problems.
What Shapes Our Company Culture?
Whether it is intentional or not, company culture is created. It is usually better to be proactive and take the initiative rather than leave it to chance.
In many organisations the company culture is shaped by the person with the most influence in the organisation; usually the CEO or owner. Hardly surprising. This is why organisations change the head if unhappy with performance or there has been a crisis. Do not underestimate how far an influential individual’s influence can reach.
However, if we believe the company to be more than one person and the person with influence is willing to give up some of that influence, then it may be possible to reshape the company culture with other influences.
What Makes A Great Team?
It is widely accepted that great teams contain a diverse representation of personality types. Each personality type brings something to the table.
Some people are detailed, some are good at seeing the big picture. Some see the possibilities and others see where it could go wrong.
Common sense would dictate that a healthy organization is made up of people with diverse personality types.
If different personality types thrive in different work environments, then somehow we need to provide diverse work environments, which sounds at odds with the whole concept of company culture. This is why we need to be more specific about what we mean by company culture. It’s why we need to differentiate between Culture and Work Environment.
Good teams (and good organisations) are made up of diverse personality types. Can you imagine the problems that would arise if everyone in an organisation had a similar personality type?
Common sense tells you that diversity is healthy.
The diagram below is one way of illustrating what’s going on. It illustrates different individuals with different personality types, working in a range of work environments, all of which exist within a Culture.
So What Is Company Culture Really?
If Culture is not the same as “work environment”, then what is it? If it is not the same as “personality type”, then what is it?
Pretty much all the definitions and articles you read about Company Culture will mention Values. So what are Values?
Here are what some companies claim as their Values;
69. We believe in people
70. We are one team
71. Straightforward and open-minded
72. Keep it simple
73. Entrepreneurial spirit
74. Constant improvement
96. A focus on success
97. It is our nature to innovate.
98. Nike is a company.
99. Nike is a brand.
100. Simplify and go.
101. The consumer decides.
102. Be a sponge.
103. Evolve immediately.
104. Do the right thing.
105. Master the fundamentals.
106. We are on the offense – always.
107. Remember the man. (The late Bill Bowerman, Nike co-founder)”
Are you any the wiser? Me neither. Coming up with some cool words is one thing. Practising them company-wide is another.
I was asked to identify great team players when helping an organisation recruit. However, when I dug a little deeper, what they are actually looking for is someone who is compliant and who will do what they are told. The organisation is quite dictatorial and not team-orientated at all. They like to talk the game but they do not practice it.
If you do come up with values for your Culture, you really need to live them from top to bottom. People need to actually experience it, otherwise, it could backfire on you.
Values Can Align But Each Individual’s Approach May Vary
To complicate things further, two people can share the same value but have very different approaches to it. Let’s say that “ensuring the welling being of all employees” is one of the company values. There are many ways of approaching this.
I worked with a client who was the sales director of a £100M firm. Having spent time interviewing many of his sales staff, I got the impression that he was a ruthless, hard, taskmaster, who accepted no excuses. However, he also had many staff who had been with him for years and who were fiercely loyal.
When I spoke to him about this he explained that as a young man he had run into financial trouble and lost his house. He didn’t want any of his staff to have to go through that, so he kicked their butts to make sure they made the sales. He let them away with nothing and made sure they made good money.
He was operating from a place of compassion, even though his approach felt tough for many of his staff. His staff may not have liked it but he was ensuring the wellbeing of his employees.
Another sales manager may have taken a very different approach, though they would have been hard pushed to achieve the results that this man did, as most of his people were earning £100k.
Another less extreme example would be about how we complete tasks. Some people push ahead fast and don’t stop till it’s done, no matter how much it hurts them or anyone else. Others, take their time and plod away at it, making sure that they and their colleagues take care of themselves in the process.
Both approaches will get the task completed. It is arguable which one is more effective.
Vision / Goals
Studies have shown than rarely do the employees and even the managers, understand what the vision is for the company. Even when there is a vision it rarely makes it out of the board room. We can all benefit from clarity in this area.
Shared Pattern of Basic Assumptions
It’s worth exploring what basic assumptions people have and also what the organisation would like them to be. What are the assumptions associated with your organisation? Do some of these assumptions need to be changed?
Often when a company embarks on creating a company culture it is often also trying to create a work environment. In trying to find the words to describe a company culture, they use words to describe the work environment. These are two separate things. Both are important but separate. It is very important that we understand and can describe each work environment we are looking to place an individual into.
If you look at any job description, you will see plenty about what the candidate needs to be able to do but almost nothing describes the work environment itself. People are being asked to make a big decision without any data about the environment they will be working in each day.
PeopleMaps can provide a psychological profile of any given work environment, so you know exactly how to describe that work environment in a meaningful way.
How We Treat People
If you look through the various Culture statements and values statements, many of them boil down to “how we treat people”.
Culture is a lot to do with how the people within the organisation treat people. It’s about how the management treats the staff, it’s about how staff treat each other and about how everyone treats customers and suppliers. This is probably the most important foundation of Company Culture. This is one area that sits underneath Personality Type and Work Environment.
If you declare your Culture to be “we respect the views of others”, then this can be implemented everywhere and with everyone, regardless of their personality type or the work environment. This may come more naturally to some more than others but it is big enough to sit in the Culture and not be optional.
Culture generally includes the elements that are not covered by Work Environment or Personality Type. One approach you can take is to take your list of things you use to define your company culture and then test each one to see if it is actually describing a work environment or a personality type issue. If it’s not quite either, then it is likely to be a good fit for Culture.
Some aspects of work Environment are so widespread that they fall under Culture. For example, a company can have a Culture of democratic decision making, which is present in all of the work environments within the organisation. Line managers who are not naturally democratic in their approach, make the adjustment because it’s expected of them.
Each individual should be in a work environment that is compatible with their core personality type. Start by understanding what each individual needs, then make the small adjustments to the overarching environment to suit the individual as far as is practical.
How To Create A Company Culture Using Personality Profiling
The fact that you are taking the time to consider this is probably a good thing. It shows you care. Here is a summary of the key points to remember;
- You should always encourage diversity of personality types in your organisation and avoid a monoculture.
- You will have various work environments in your organisation so try to understand each of them.
- Place people in a work environment that is compatible with their core personality type as much as possible. Do not bend people out of shape.
- Be clear on your vision and goals and make sure everyone is aware of it.
- Be clear about how you treat people and how you want everyone to be treated in your organisation.
- Do not use words you cannot live and demonstrate every day.