Wolfpack, machine or army – discover the 4 most common company culture types. PLUS: Take this assessment to find out which one you are…
Power. Prestige. Performance. Or passion. What drives your team? Because it sits at the core of how your entire organisation operates. And it can be the key to knowing what kind of person will be the best new fit for your company.
Join us as we explore the 4 common company culture types… in no particular order…
PLUS: Discover which one you are by taking our discover your company culture quiz.
AND: Unlock the most powerful talent retention toolkit.
The 4 Most Common Company Culture Types
Company Culture Type 1: The Wolfpack
Akin to: Adhocracy Culture
There’s likely one clear leader in your organisation – maybe the founder or CEO – who has final say and sign-off on everything. And it might even be a family-run business, with the head of the family surrounded by a “close guard” of other family members in key positions.
This means there’s not much formal structure. Decisions, actions and tasks are taken as the leader decides what is important right then. And others in leadership positions closely imitate what the leader says and does.
Working relationships might be strained as leadership needs to constantly reaffirm power over the frontline workers – often using fear, manipulation and public humiliation to keep people in line with what the boss wants. (There are probably rumours about the boss’s immense wealth and power even outside of the organisation.)
The boss can be very generous with sharing profits, as money is people’s main motivator. Many employees took the job purely out of a need for income (in “survival mode”). And there might be numerous disagreements over compensation and position – perhaps even budgets or positions to deal with legal actions.
Which kind of person would be the best fit for a Wolfpack?
- People in survival mode, or who are more in need of income today rather than financial growth over the long term
- People who want to break away from their family, culture or other traditions and do something of their own
- People who have an image of being strong and tough, and who are looking for power to make them feel safe
- People who are a bit more selfish and impulsive, looking to meet their own needs, with a low EQ as they don’t care too much about other people’s feelings
- Values: Power, Control
Company Culture Type 2: The Army
Akin to: Hierarchy Culture
There’s likely a fixed hierarchy or pyramid-style organogram for your organisation, complete with formal titles and a cascade of reporting lines throughout the company. The structure makes replacing people easy – doesn’t matter who fills the role, as long as it is filled.
The structure probably extends to processes through standards, policies and operating procedures. There’s an underlying assumption that there is only one right way of doing things – everyone is expected to follow orders to the letter, without question. In this hierarchy, thinking happens at the top and doing at the bottom, but decisions by leadership often take a long time to reach the frontline workers.
There’s no need for working relationships between leadership and frontline workers. People mostly relate to colleagues at their own level only. This often creates a strong “us vs. them” culture, with many silos between groups or departments (e.g. marketing vs. finance, or doctors vs. nurses).
You most likely have an HR role or department tasked with ensuring compliance across the organisation – characterised by clear disciplinary measures. However, people don’t leave the company often. They crave the safety, order and predictability that their consistent routines provide and might stick around for their whole career – In fact, much of their social life revolves around their work role and identity.
It’s likely that standards and processes haven’t changed in years or even decades. Change is viewed with suspicion, and there’s little need for innovation, critical thinking and self-expression. Overall, people tend to prefer rewarding and promoting based on tenure and years of service rather than performance or potential.
What kind of person would be the best fit for an Army?
- Self-disciplined and orderly
- Care a lot about how other people perceive them – strive for approval, acceptance and social belonging
- Strong morals – believes there are right and wrong ways of doing and being in life and work
- They show a lot of respect for those in moral authority (e.g. leaders, religious leaders, government, etc.)
- Seeks order, stability and predictability; not very ambitious for themselves or others
Company Culture Type 3: The Machine
Akin to: Market Culture
Your organisation is likely very successful, yet leadership still want more. There’s constant pressure to achieve more and increase profits. That’s why creativity, innovation and improving processes are valued the most at every level of the company.
While there’s a pyramid-style hierarchy, leadership speeds up communication through matrix structures and project or working groups. And since competition drives a need for innovation, leadership needs even lower levels of the hierarchy to help innovate – which they achieve by setting targets, objectives and milestones. (And they’re not too worried about how people reach target, just whether they reach them.) Incentives are a powerful motivator – which works well, since a lot of people are driven by material success.
Talent management is likely tasked with discovering each individual’s unique talents and where they fit best in the company. People are no longer promoted based on years of service, but rather the ideas and value they bring. Individuals are highly motivated by promotions – and it’s likely the benefits and perks increase the higher up you go. So people will work hard to climb, but they’re easily poached by competitors with a better offer!
The dominant leadership style is probably pragmatic and goal-oriented, focused on the tangible and leaving emotions out of decisions. In fact, people tend to separate their work lives from personal lives.
Overall, people find their work interesting and exciting. But leadership secretly struggles to really let go and trust in the performance of their people. So, while they talk about more freedom, they often end up still making decisions higher up.
What kind of person would be the best fit for a Machine?
- Believes things can be affected and improved – cares more about effectiveness than right or wrong (“the best decision is the one that begets the highest outcome”)
- Their goal in life is to get ahead (ambitious) and they will set and achieve many goals to do this
- They want to look successful in society
- They will question authority, group norms and the status quo
- They are skeptical and show a lot of respect for scientific experts (and little for moral authorities)
- Whilst they care more about getting ahead themselves, they will still adopt social conventions when they are helpful
- They will measure their success via their standard of life – nice house, nice neighborhood, nice cars, private schools, etc. – they are highly materialistic
Company Culture Type 4: The Family
Akin to: Clan Culture
Your organisation might want to do away with power and hierarchy. The people at the frontline likely make decisions – as they’re truly trusted with solving big and small problems.
Leaders are there to listen, empower, motivate and develop team members. Thus you likely spend more resources screening and training leaders. You might even have adopted a 360-degree feedback approach that keeps leaders accountable, or teams elect their own leaders.
Your company culture is very important – shared values guide many day-to-day decisions. And employees feel appreciated and empowered to contribute as members of a large family. This strong culture is the reason why they stay, even though they could earn more somewhere else.
Your company is likely conscience-driven, with people no longer driven just by profits. It’s more about how the company affects everyone involved – customers, environment, stakeholders. Success is measured by how much everyone benefits from what you do, so corporate social responsibility is not separate – it’s inherent in your day-to-day business.
What kind of person would be the best fit for a Family?
- Those who are highly sensitive to other people’s feelings
- Respectful and insistent that all perspectives deserve equal respect – very tolerant
- Value fairness, equality, harmony, community, cooperation and consensus
- Strive to belong and foster close and harmonious bonds with everyone (not only inside the company [like The Army style company] but even externally)
- Anti-establishment, believe ALL people should be free to live happy lives (as opposed to Machine style company thinking of just “I” want to get ahead)
- They care more about relationships than outcomes – they are generous, empathetic and attentive to others
- They are idealistic and insist that there is more to life than a self-centered pursuit of career and success
- They’re at often at odds with blind rules, preferring value-based decision-making instead
PLUS: DISCOVER YOUR COMPANY CULTURE
We created an awesome self-assessment tool that works like a simple 5-minute quiz/survey. Use it right now to discover your company culture.
AND: HOW TO BOOST RETENTION USING YOUR CULTURE
Unlock amazing new neuroscience insights to end high employee turnover, plus: attract and retain talent better. We’ve created an amazing new toolkit you can use to boat your retention through the roof. Discover our single most powerful talent retention strategy.
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