Have You Audited Your Culture Lately?

Alexandra Levit, Managing Partner, PeopleResults
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In a recent session at SilkRoad Connections, Ulthera’s Stacie Madden placed the onus for cultural assessment on HR representatives.  Fortunately, auditing your culture does not have to be an overly complex or expensive proposition.

The Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument is a valid method to examine organizational culture and the desire for change.

University of Michigan business school professors Robert Quinn and Kim Cameron developed the model of the Competing Values Framework, consisting of four Competing Values that correspond to four types of organizational culture. Every organization has its own mix of these cultures, which include:

Clan Culture

This working environment is a friendly one. People have a lot in common, and it’s similar to a large family. The leaders are seen as mentors (and maybe even father and mother figures to Millennial employees) and the organization is held together by loyalty and tradition. Success is defined within the framework of addressing the needs of the clients and caring for the people. The organization promotes teamwork, participation, and consensus.

Adhocracy Culture

This is a dynamic and creative working environment. Leaders are seen as innovators and risk takers. Experiments and innovation are the bonding materials within the organization. The long-term goal is to grow and create new resources. The availability of new products, services, and technologies is seen as success, and the organization promotes individual initiative and freedom.

Market Culture

This is a results-based organization that emphasizes finishing work and getting things done. People are competitive and focused on goals and leaders are hard drivers, producers, and rivals at the same time. The emphasis on winning keeps the organization together. Market penetration and stock are the definitions of success.

Hierarchy Culture

This is a formalized and structured work environment. Procedures decide what people do and leaders are proud of their efficiency-based coordination and organization. The long-term goals are stability and results, paired with efficient and smooth execution of tasks. Trustful delivery, smooth planning, and low costs define success. The personnel management has to guarantee work and predictability.

What You Can Expect From OCAI

An OCAI culture profile includes the following insightful information:

  • The dominant culture
  • Discrepancy between present and preferred culture
  • The strength of the dominant culture
  • Comparison of the culture profile with the average for the sector or industry group
  • Comparison with average trends; in what phase of development is the organization?

From Quinn and Cameron’s extensive research, it was found that most organizations have developed a dominant culture style.  However, often organizations have a mix of the four organizational cultures, and culture types can and do compete with one another.

The professors note that a culture type works best in the activities domain that aligns with that specific culture type. In the healthcare sector, for instance, there is a preponderance of clan culture since this type naturally fits in with the profession of taking care of people.

There is no ultimate best organizational culture, and only in a certain context will one type of culture serve better than another.  What mix does your company have, and is the ideal significantly different from the reality?

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