The 10 Types of Company Cultures & How To Staff For Each

Types of Company Culture

Your company culture may be restricted to your internal employees until you reach a scale where every aspect of your company is publicized. While the majority of a company’s reputation may be derived from how you advertise and engage with your industry, there will always seep some underlying notion of how you treat your staff.

You may be familiar with these culture stereotypes:

  • Zappos: fun-loving
  • Bank of America: rule-bound
  • Patagonia: caring
  • Best Buy: impersonal

With this in mind, even if your company is small and still growing, it’s important to remember that each new hire will impact the public opinion. Therefore, culture needs to be set from leadership so it can be enhanced by the employees that work for them.

We’ve compiled a list of culture-types that can give you an idea of how you may be currently – or may desire in the future – to frame your decision making moving forward.

Empowered Culture

Individuals in an organization that embodies the empowered culture feel engaged in the success of the company. Employees are encouraged and rewarded for taking ownership of their work. Individuals in an empowered culture don’t hesitate to present new ideas or initiatives. Those who thrive in an empowered culture are confident, accountable and proactive.

How to Staff for an Empowered Culture – Involving yourself with the most direct and compassionate mindset will set you apart as an empowered culture. Small gestures, such as an open door policy and communicating a unified vision with minimal micromanagement goes a long way with candidates who want to support a company and culture like this.

Innovation Culture

Innovation culture is common among startups in which innovation is vital for the growth of the company. Business innovations are enacted quickly in an innovation culture. To thrive in an innovative culture team members must be flexible and able to adapt as the company changes direction. Innovative cultures are open to new ideas and communicate effectively.

How to Staff for an Innovation Culture – Innovative cultures are built in two ways. One on hand, you can use the tactics of replicating what you’ve seen work in other industries, in the same way that Uber and Airbnb share a business model though are able to compete in entirely separately markets. The other driver of innovative cultures is to enhance relationships with customers and employees, often by creating content and engaging via social media and using creative relationship-building tactics such as events and meetups to allow the culture to spread instead of relying solely on advertising or salesmanship.

Sales Focused Culture

Sales focused companies usually have a large sales force that’s unified with the goal of generating revenue for the company. Proper training and encouragement are needed to empower sales staff to promote new products and services. The sales process is something that’s been perfected in a sales focused culture and ample tools are provided to the workforce to properly achieve their quotas. Those who thrive in sales focused cultures are driven to succeed. In order for a sales focused company to thrive those driven individuals need to all buy into the goals without trepidations. The goal is to exceed expectations and grow the company’s revenue.

How to Staff for a Sales Culture – In a sales environment, management is primarily driven by continuity while reporting staff is driven by simple, measurable mechanics of sales. The key here is to be able to correctly identify job candidates that have the mission of short-term profits with the vision of an organization’s longevity. Without the mission, you won’t be able to rely on profits to cover costs. Without the vision, you’ll have a harder time keeping clients and customers.

Customer Focused Culture

Customer focused company cultures are sometimes referred to as customer service excellence cultures. These organizations are somewhat unlike sales focused cultures as they’re designed to prioritize the satisfaction of the consumer above all else. This priority is prevalent throughout the whole company, even in roles that aren’t client facing. Individuals within customer-focused cultures require compassion and empathy. Accountability is important in companies that adhere to the customer-focused culture. When the workforce is dedicated to providing exceptional customer experiences, they feel a greater sense of value and customer satisfaction tends to be higher than other company cultures. If reputation is important in your industry, you may want to consider shifting company culture focus toward customers.

How to Staff for a Customer Culture – It’s rarer to see younger customer-focused cultures, because the sales-focused organizations are constantly pouring gas on the fire. However, you may be surprised that some of the largest customer-focused organizations tend to keep clients for longer, retain more and keep employees happier over the long term. How? It starts with giving new hires the ability to form relationships that extend beyond the transactional variety. When a connection is formed, everyone feels more comfortable with less reliance on closing a sale faster, encouraging a greater degree of valuable insight and information to be shared. You can tell the customer-focused culture environments as they provide excellent experiences to employees, customers, vendors, and even applicants.

Culture of Safety

Industries that are inherently hazardous often focus on safety. This has several positive effects in the form of retaining healthy employees, reducing workplace injuries and the costs associated with them, savings on insurance and other protections, as well as a general feeling of being valued by the workforce. When you’re employer cares about your wellbeing, you’re more likely to feel valued. If your organization is involved in hazardous materials, construction, physical labor, or heavy machinery, a culture focused on safety is extremely important.

How to Staff a Safety Culture – Whenever you’re working in unsafe conditions, few actions from leadership will override the sense of comfort that comes from planning and record-keeping. Organizations such as Proctor & Gamble rely on safety metrics to remind management, current employees, and prospective hires that they know that accidents may occur. Moreover, record-keeping allows to see trend lines, and planning gives the sense that the company is not only competent as assessing risks, but also adept at handling them quickly and efficiently.

Leadership Excellence Culture

Strong leaders are attracted to a company with this type of culture. Companies that encourage ongoing education and provide training, leadership development, mentoring and coaching grow into leadership excellence cultures. When a company invests in developing better leaders from within, it also attracts better leaders from outside the company. Those who thrive in this culture are individuals who want to lead and have natural leadership qualities. Employee retention is important for leadership focused cultures. Grooming internal employees for leadership roles will allow you to place strong leaders at every level of your organization.

How to Staff for Leadership Culture – An amalgamation of multiple cultural styles and values, leadership is most well-recognized by the ability to enhance each individual contributor. This can be achieved in one of three manners: one-to-one mentoring, one-to-many mentoring, and ongoing professional training. Those candidates or prospective employees that do not adhere to the principles of continual self-improvement will distinctly stand out, and give rise to those that recognize the unique opportunity presented.

Horizontal Corporate Culture

Most common among startups and smaller companies, horizontal (or “flat”) company cultures have fewer layers of management and have less red tape. Horizontal companies are typically younger and collaborative. Flat company cultures often allow for communication to occur directly with CEOs from any level in the company. Without several layers of management, it allows for ideas to make it to the top of the company very quickly. Horizontal companies do have some drawbacks and it’s important to be accountable for your work. Individuals that thrive in flat companies are comfortable wearing many hats.
How to Staff for Corporate Culture – This type of culture is created primarily through the diffusion of share values and processes. These values and processes are most often recognized during an acquisition, when employees are thrust into a unique environment and forced to align their principles with those of the acquiring company. The corporate mindset can be healthy in moderation, though without other cultural principles in place, you may find your organization drowning in a downward spiral of stagnation.

Conventional Corporate Culture

This culture is what most people probably think of when discussing corporate cultures. There are clearly defined hierarchies of service, support, management, executives, etc. One must communicate through the proper channels or incur the wrath of their superior. Formal dress codes are common in conventional corporate cultures. The bottom line is most important in conventional cultures, and risks are often avoided. Safe, long-term growth is the goal. These types of companies have had to make drastic changes in recent years as they have struggled to keep up with organizations that buy into more agile company cultures. Advancements in technology have eliminated the need for a number of processes and deprecated communication methods. It can be difficult to thrive in organizations like this. Individuals often feel like their voice isn’t heard or that they’re not valued. Therefore, it’s important to get employees to understand the companies larger mission and take steps to make them feel valued. Enabling them, rather than micromanaging them, will be important.

How to Staff for Conventional Culture – Legacy systems thrive on conventions, which are rarely shaken up as they provide distinct long-term consequences which are vital to the organization. Conventional organizations may see new initiatives consumed by the immune system of a century-old, deprecated belief system. However, it is this sustainable reliance and profit-driven propensity to maintain the status quo that keeps organizations like this afloat. The de facto mode for any organization is the conventional culture, and it can require consistent upkeep to prevent new industry players to pollinate with ‘the way we’ve always done it.’

Progressive Corporate Culture

Transitional culture might be a better name for this type of corporate culture. Progressive companies are in a constant state of change as they seek out mergers, acquisitions and engage in other sudden changes to progress as an organization. Many individuals in companies that embody this culture feel uncertain of their future with the company. This uncertainty is often felt at every level of the company, even the top as many in leadership roles must also answer to investors. Managing expectations and maintaining effective communication throughout the organization will be important as rumors and negative views will inevitably be shared throughout the company. An individual who thrives in companies like this is someone who doesn’t fear change and embraces the possibilities of new opportunity. Getting everyone to buy into this mindset is key.

How to Staff for Progressive Culture – At a time when millennials are holding double or triple the number of jobs as generations prior, we need to remember that in the same manner that stagnation drives innovative employees away, progressive ideologies will attract the same candidate. Cultures centered around a progressive model and mindset typically have BHADs – Big, hairy, audacious goals. When the goals are lofty and sometimes seemingly unachievable, this is when the innovator’s dilemma enhances the rate and raw production of output. All cultures may appear progressive at the forefront, yet those who can answer the ‘what’ without the ‘how’ may be further along than the rest.

Elite Corporate Culture

This is exactly what it sounds like. Elite cultures seek out the best of the best and have lofty goals. They seek to innovate industries or create entirely new ones. Aspirations of global achievements abound in elite corporate cultures. Blisteringly fast growth is expected and performance excellence is demanded. These companies often recruit from outside of their local market, inviting the best talent to move to the location of their corporate offices from around the world. Elite cultures are intense and can scare some people away from all the pressure. The pay and perks in elite organizations can often make up for the extreme pressure felt by employees. Individuals who excel in elite orgs are comfortable working long hours, take ownership of their work and seek to move up in a competitive work environment.

How to Staff for Elite Culture – Organizations with elite culture rarely hire new team members, yet they promote aggressively. Standards for practice are held strong, yet sometimes it’s not any procedural or written standard, there just happens to be an ethic and drive that consequently aligns the company with forward-thinking yet uninhibited progress. Elite cultures provide excellent petri-dish environments where you’ll notice that candidates are vetted with a fine-tooth comb and when there is a fit, they are hired almost immediately.

In any case, leadership philosophy is a top-down mechanic that needs to be coordinated, otherwise, you may find others’ opinions of your organization differs from how you’d like it to be portrayed. By supporting your leadership team with well-intentioned, hard-working, and innovative staff, you can finally begin to create – or recreate – a culture unlike any other.

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