Workplace culture is the set of an organization’s beliefs, values, norms, practices, etc., that influences how people interact with each other to achieve organizational goals. Corporate culture is an essential factor in the performance of an organization. But building a positive workplace culture is not a straightforward 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 working in the top management of an organization, what kind of workplace culture would you introduce to your organization?
Types of Workplace Culture
Workplace culture can be divided into the following 2 types:
- Consistency Culture
- Adaptability Culture
Consistency is the primary 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 less flexible and slow in decision-making. The managers don’t like to take the challenge of trying something new. As a result, they follow methodical decision-making involving many managers from different departments.
For example, most local companies in South Asia, i.e., Bangladesh, follow a consistent culture. Such companies are dominated by the founder or by their family members. Therefore, all the significant decisions are taken by those founders and families.
In this corporate culture, the managers are not empowered and encouraged to use their expertise to make improvements. Such practices become norms over time.
Adaptability culture focuses on adapting to changes. Internal and external environmental factors impact organizations. As a result, organizations need to keep changing to adapt to environmental changes. But changes are risky. So the adaptability culture encourages challenging decision-making with a proper risk mitigation plan.
Moreover, business decisions must be taken as fast as possible in this technological age. 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 a few years, when Nokia lost a significant market share, it became interested in adopting Android OS. But the decision was too let to grab the ship.
Adaptability culture empowers the managers to use their expertise and propose anything logical and beneficial for the company. But, of course, what is rational for one team might not be logical for the other teams. So this culture encourages pilot projects, trial runs, R&D labs,s and so on.
For example, IT-enabled service companies focus on an 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 to new technological opportunities.
You must build a positive workplace culture if you seek new challenges in a new geographic or demographic market. 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||Explores a new opportunity|
|Risks orientation||Avoids risks||Takes calculated risks|
|Utilization of Expertise||Low utilization of human resources||High utilization of human resources|
|Adopting new technology||Least adaptive||Highly adaptive|
|Explores New Opportunity||Focuses on following what worked earlier||Explores for a 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 must also introduce new products in each product line.
Even an old company with a triumphant performance track record that depends on only one set of products or one specific market also needs an adaptability culture. Why? We should not assume that your competitors will not change their products and your customers will not change their tests, right?
Every company needs to take the risks of entering new markets or introducing new products.
How to Build a Positive Workplace Culture
First of all, it’s a tough job. Don’t underestimate the strength of your existing corporate culture.
Values, norms, beliefs, routine works, celebrations, etc, define culture. If your organization’s culture already has those, you need to redefine those. But don’t criticize those existing ones. Instead, focus on what is now coming to the organization.
You need to define the following elements of company culture to build the adaptability culture gradually:
The founders start their organization with their values. Those are easily transmitted in the workplace culture. So, 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 it would be best 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 up the organization.
Slogan and Symbols:
The slogan sets the values of the organization. The symbols depict those values.
Regular celebrations (for example, the anniversary of the founding date) and planned celebrations (for example, the birthday celebration of employees) are essential 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 material to uphold the expected adaptability culture.
Too rigid companies follow too strict dress codes, office timing, etc. To establish an adaptability culture, your organization must 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.
To build a positive workplace culture in your organization, you should reinforce the expected elements of culture every working day. For example, the launch of a new project should be formally celebrated among the team. If the project fails, a formal event should be arranged to share the learning from the failed project.