Workplace culture is the set of beliefs, values, norms, practices, etc. of an organization that influence the people on how they interact with each other to achieve organizational goals. Corporate culture is an important factor in the performance of an organization. But building a positive workplace culture is not a straigtforward task.
The commitment to workplace culture varies in different organizations. The type of culture also varies. If you are the founder of an organization, or if you are working in the top management of an organization, what type of workplace culture you would introduce to your organization?
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Types of Workplace Culture
Workplace culture can be divided in following 2 types:
- Consistency Culture
- Adaptability Culture
Consistency is the main value in the consistency culture. The top managers are afraid of risky decisions so they prefer to follow what worked earlier in the organization.
The fear of risk makes this corporate culture as least flexible, and slow in decision making. The managers don’t like to take any challenge of trying something new. As a result, they follow methodical decision-making involving many managers from different departments.
For example, most of the local companies in South Asia, i.e. Bangladesh follow the consistency culture. Such companies are dominated by the founder, or by his/her family members. All the major decisions are taken by those founders and families.
In this corporate culture, the managers are not empowered and encouraged to make the best use of their expertise to make improvements. Such practices become norms over time.
Adaptability culture focuses on adapting to changes. Organizations are impacted by internal and external environmental factors. As a result, organizations need to keep changing to adapt to the changes in the environment. But changes are risky. So the adaptability culture encourages risky and challenging decision-making with proper risk mitigation plan.
Moreover, in this age of technology, business decisions need to be taken as fast as possible. For example, Nokia was the global leader in the mobile handset market. They refused to adapt to the Android operating system of Google at first. After few years when Nokia lost significant market share, they become interested to adopt Android OS. But the decision was too let to grab the ship.
Adaptability culture empowers the managers to use their expertise and propose anything that is logical and beneficial for the company. What is logical for one team might not be logical to the other teams. So this culture encourages pilot projects, trial runs, R&D lab,s and so on.
For example, companies in the IT-enabled services sector focuses on adaptability culture to get the best benefits out of technology.
Building a Positive Workplace Culture
Adaptability culture is fast, and flexible. In this workplace culture, management can ensure proper utilization of the expertise of their human resources, and adapt with new opportunities in technology.
If you seek new challenges in a new geographic or demographic market, then you must build a positive workplace culture. Adaptability culture is the best corporate culture to support you on that.
Here is a comparison of workplace cultures:
|Consistency Culture||Adaptability Culture|
|Attitude to changes||Discourage changes||Adapts changes|
|Decision making speed||Slow decision making||Fast decision making|
|Decision making process||Methodical||Encourages logic, pilot project, R&D lab etc.|
|Risks orientation||Avoids risks||Takes calculated risks|
|Utilization of Expertise||Low utilization of human resources||High utilization of human resources|
|Adapting new technology||Least adaptive||Highly adaptive|
|Explores New Opportunity||Focuses on following what worked earleir||Explores for new opportunity|
Based on the above discussion, it is clear that the adaptability culture is also suitable for any new company. But what about the old and successful companies?
Well, every product has a lifecycle. So, the time-tested brands also need to introduce new products in each of their product lines.
Even an old company having successful track records of performance that depend on only one set of products or one specific market also needs to go for an adaptability culture. Why? We should not assume that your competitors will not change their products and your customers will not change their teste, right?
Every company needs to take the risks of entering in new markets, or introduce new products.
How to Build a Positive Workplace Culture
First of all, it’s tough job. Don’t underestimate the strength of your existing corporate culture.
Culture is defined by values, norms, beliefs, routine works, celebrations, etc. If your organization’s culture already has those, you need to redefine those. But don’t criticize those existing ones. Rather focus on what is new coming to the organization.
You need to define following elements of company culture to build the adaptability culture gradually:
The founders start their organization with their own values. Those are easily transmitted in the workplace culture. For example, if the founder is strict in punctuality, then the culture gets a norm of that.
If the founders’ values are not clear and are not in practice, you need to define those. Then you need to guide your managers to follow similar values in everyday worklife.
Stories and Language:
The stories of founding the company or its performance will be reinforced by repeating the story in the company.
The language, dress code, office decoration, etc. will also play a role in setting the organization.
Slogan and Symbols:
The slogan sets the values of the organization. The symbols depicts those values.
Regular celebrations (for example, the anniversary of the founding date) and planned celebration (for example, the birthday celebration of employees) – both are important to define the organizational culture.
Celebrations are positive reinforcements. What you celebrate is what you nurture in your workplace culture.
Orientation programs tell the new joiners about the culture of their new organization. So the program should have the right material to uphold the expected adaptability culture.
Too rigid companies follow too rigid dress code, office timing, etc. To establish an adaptability culture your organization need to repeat the stories of calculated risk-taking, achievement of taking challenges, flexible working hours, free flow of communication, etc. The slogan and symbols should focus on agility, continuous learning, etc.
Workplace culture is not a set-and-forget thing. It is built gradually in the regular practice of what is expected. Culture should be nurtured, practiced, and reinforced.
For building a positive workplace culture in your organization, you should reinforce the expected elements of culture on every working day. For example, the launch of a new project should be formally celebrated among the team. If the project fails, then a formal event should be arranged to share the learning from the failed project.