13 Principles of a Great Organizational Culture


A great organizational culture has to be a robust set of beliefs accepted by the entire organization. A strong culture leads to better communication between employees and employers.

The HR department of your organization is responsible for creating an equitable atmosphere for employees to work in. They need to ensure that the new hires firmly believe in the organization’s principles and goals and strive to thrive in the existing culture. HR also helps new hires to familiarize themselves with the culture by training and reinforcing the core values.

Ask yourself this, what is the current organizational culture situation? How can it be improved? What does it lack? We will help you answer these questions and even more.

Before we talk about the principles of a great organizational culture, let us understand what organizational culture really means.

What is Organizational Culture?

Organizational culture refers to how the organization behaves in various circumstances. The culture consists of firm beliefs and values established by the founders of the organization. Every organization may strive to have their own culture to be unique from other organizations.

According to The Business Dictionary: 

Organizational culture includes an organization’s expectations, experiences, philosophy, and values that hold it together, and is expressed in its self-image, inner workings, interactions with the outside world, and future expectations.”

Leaders can create or adopt various organizational cultures. However, there may be some differences, even though it is inspired by other cultures. 

Most successful companies have a strong organizational culture that drives them towards success. These values focus not only on the individuals working in the organization but also on a common goal. The founders engage with their employees to inculcate the culture into the organization.

The culture also stresses on various employee behavioral components. This, in turn, ensures employee satisfaction and helps the leader accomplish the goals.

On the other hand, poor organizational culture can break an organization along with its leadership.

The leadership and organizational culture go hand in hand. The business leaders have to communicate the workplace culture to its employees and help maintain them.  

Let’s have a look at various components of organizational culture.

What are the 4 types of Organizational Culture?

types of organizational culture

1.    Personal and Market Culture

The personal and market culture encompasses how members of the organization conduct the business and treat employees and customers. 

The personal culture mainly refers to how an individual is treated within the organization. The market culture relates to competition, achievement, and getting the work done in the organization.

2.    Adaptive and Adhocracy Culture

Adaptive cultures help organizations to switch up their game with time. On the other hand, adhocracy culture includes dynamic and entrepreneurial innovations that aid in risk-taking and decision making.

3.    Power Culture and Hierarchy Culture

Any organization is subjected to an underlying hierarchical structure. The power culture denotes how a leader makes decisions and controls the businesses. The hierarchy culture talks about how power is distributed throughout the organization.

4.    Task Culture and Clan Culture

Task culture refers to how the organization comes together to get the tasks done, and clan culture is about forming teams and working together.

Even with all these various components, the organizational culture is not stagnant. The leaders and members of an organization develop the culture as they go. The culture develops over time and yields success.

One cannot just change the entire organizational culture in a day. Often, employees reject changes in the professional lifestyle as it may take a lot of effort and time to get used to. What you can do is start by making small changes, and over time it may entirely change the culture as a whole.

No company will exhibit all 4 types of organizational culture at once, and if your intention to understand and change the organizational culture, then you can make an assessment using the OCAI (Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument), developed at the university of Michigan by Robert Quinn and Kim Cameron. There’s an online version of the tool that takes about 15-min to complete. This assessment is based in the competing values framework.

Check out this short video explaining the concept of organizational culture, the OCAI assessment instrument and competing values framework:

What is the Importance of a great Organizational Culture?

The organizational culture can make or break a business and it’s critical for the success of the organization. It should provide competitive advantages, beliefs, and values that will yield success. A sound culture will also lead to increased trust and cooperation, better decision-making, and fewer disagreements. Who doesn’t appreciate supportive employees and employers?

Whenever HR employs someone, they need to ensure that they fit the organizational culture. A higher level employee or executive is expected to fit into any organizational culture due to their experience. Employees and executives who do not fit the culture fail at their jobs, and this causes more problems. 

The perfect organizational culture keeps employees as well as the employers happy. It reduces the work stress and increases productivity. 

A good culture also leads to better employee retention. The more the employees are happy, the less likely they are to resign. The mental health of the employees plays a vital role in the success of an organization.

Earlier, the organizational culture used to be limited inside the walls of the organization. But nowadays, any employee can head over to Glassdoor and publicly rate the organization. This helps your competitors know about your organizational culture and operations.

According to Wharton professor Adam Grant, if people find a drive to work, they can improve productivity by 20%.

If the organization leaders cannot cultivate a healthy culture, then the employees won’t be happy, and the organization will suffer. 

With the advancement of technology, leaders can hire people from all over the globe; however, without a sound work culture, the company’s long-term success might be deterred. For any company to compete in the market, they need to have a perfect organizational culture. This will attract more clients, as well as more employees.

Here’s 3 Organizational Culture and Employee/Employers stats on the importance of a great organizational culture (Sourcehttps://builtin.com/company-culture/company-culture-statistics):

“91% OF MANAGERS IN THE U.S. SAY A CANDIDATE’S ALIGNMENT WITH THE COMPANY CULTURE IS EQUAL TO OR MORE IMPORTANT THAN SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE.”

“88% OF EMPLOYEES BELIEVE A STRONG COMPANY CULTURE IS KEY TO BUSINESS SUCCESS.”

“EMPLOYEES WHO DON’T LIKE THEIR ORGANIZATION’S CULTURE ARE 24% MORE LIKELY TO QUIT.”

11 Principles of a Great Organizational Culture in Our Day and Age

Now that we have learned what organizational culture is and how it makes or breaks a business let’s look at 11 principles of great culture.

Long Term Employees

If any organization can retain its employees, it displays a healthy and effective organizational culture. If the culture isn’t suitable, then most employees will resign as soon as they can.

Related Article: Employee Engagement Secrets

Clear Mission

A great organizational culture doesn’t develop out of thin air. The culture has to be recognized by its leaders and employees to be implemented well. A clear cut mission and values must be included in all the internal and external communications.

Not Just Colleagues but Friends

A great workplace culture leads to better professional relationships, and it may also lead to employees developing personal relationships as well.

Workplace Involvement

The more the employees are involved, the better the organizational culture is. Whenever a company organizes a fundraiser or weekend get together, and most employees show up, that means they are excited to be there.

Transparency

The leaders or higher-ups must be transparent with their employees. Lack of communication is a sign of poor work culture. Everyone in the organization must feel “in the loop.”

Diversity

If your organization has people from various backgrounds, that means your company is diverse and promotes a healthy work culture. Diversity also refers to diversity in thought and approaches.

organizational culture

Wins are Celebrated

A great workplace has time to celebrate their achievements and wins. The employees are also equally involved in these celebrations.

Active and Accessible Leaders

Employees prefer honest, transparent, and accessible leaders. The leaders must create a sense of “we’re all in this together.”

Comfortable Workspaces

For any employee to work for years together at the same organization, the workplace must be comfortable enough, rich with amenities and perks that are enjoyable and make the work-life worth it.

No Office Politics

Any company with great organization culture will have little to no office politics. Every employee has to be treated with the utmost respect, and dignity and they should not indulge in gossip, backbiting, etc.

Professional Development Opportunities

A great work culture is also linked to professional development opportunities. Every employee expects growth, learning, and advancement in their job, and organizations can support them. All this leads to job satisfaction which will eventually attract more hires and help in the development of the organization.

Recognition

It’s quite easy to forget about the fact that celebrating wins, and making beautiful reports about the success of the business is not enough to keep the people who made it possible happy. To keep the employee engaged, and motivated you must always recognize their efforts and contributions to the success of the organization, both privately and throughout the organization.

organizational culture principles - recognition

Flexible Work

A list of what makes a great organizational culture in our day and age would not be complete without mentioning the fact that employees are now valuing flexible work more so than the generations before them. Companies that offer flexible work options benefit from the it, because it improves employee loyalty and increases productivity.

Final Thoughts

There are many more principles of great organizational culture, but these 13 are the fundamental ones. Understanding and identifying your organizational culture can help reshape your company for the better.

The most successful companies have an amazing work culture, and their success is directly linked to it. Employers should assess whether their culture supports their employees and make them feel safe and valued. If the answer is yes, then you have already found the right work culture.

The path to great organizational culture begins with effective communication. The leaders and executives must teach the culture and encourage it. They should be clear about their mission and values and pass it on to the employees.

The culture is often overlooked, but it runs in the background and affects employees’ lives within an organization. If your employees seem less involved, less excited, and less enthusiastic about their work, then it may be due to poor work culture.

No one can expect dramatic changes in one day or a week. It may take longer to develop a healthy work culture, but it is possible.

REFERENCES

Harvard Business Review, Adam Grant. How Customers Can Rally Your Troops. https://hbr.org/2011/06/how-customers-can-rally-your-troops

Strategy+Business, Jon Katzenbach et al. 10 Principals of organizational culture. https://www.strategy-business.com/feature/10-Principles-of-Organizational-Culture?gko=1f9d7

I highly recommend checking the SHRM Website’s article on Organizational culture. Understanding and Developing and Organizational Culture. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/understandinganddevelopingorganizationalculture.aspx

Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument ONLINE. https://www.ocai-online.com/

Kellie Wong. Organizational Culture: Definition, Importance, and Development. https://www.achievers.com/blog/organizational-culture-definition/#:~:text=Organizational%20culture%20is%20the%20collection,your%20company%20what%20it%20is.

Emidio Amadebai

For the past 2 years, I have been working as the head of Customer Experience, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Finance at an international pay as you go solar home system company working in rural areas in Africa. After my previous 7 years working in B2B, IT&Telecoms industry, as a Service Delivery and Project Manager, having worked with Vodacom, Huawei, and other multinational companies. My job is to make sure we improve the lives of thousands of families, with access to electricity, utilities (radio, TV, lights), doing our very best so that they get the best-in-class customer experience, and succeed in acquiring the products for themselves.

Recent Posts