Workplace Culture

You’ve done it.

Your organization is more effective and efficient than it’s ever been before.

All teams are working in unison, turnover is at an all time low, surveys state your employees are at their peak happiness, and business is booming.

How did this happen?

It’s simple, and it all begins with workplace culture.

So, what is work culture in an organization?

Your day to day business operations are determined by workplace culture, and work culture is the sum of:

  • What your organization values the most, whether that’s money or employee growth
  • Your attitude towards employees, clients, or customers
  • The beliefs your organization carries from the department head, to the shift worker, to the CEO
  • How you habitually interact with your employees, colleagues, clients, or customers
  • The traditions your company employees, such as celebrating milestones, or company picnics
  • All the way to how the management and leadership team leads by example

Now, each organization does not apply the same type of culture, and there isn’t a perfect blueprint for culture that will work for everyone.

As a matter of fact, two business professors at the University of Michigan were able to find two polarities by statistical analysis that make the difference as to how an organization can be effective when it comes to their culture.

From these two polarities, organizations will fall under the umbrella of one out of four types of culture, which leads us to an important question.

What are the 4 types of culture?


When it comes to the four types of workplace culture, they are classified by how the organization functions as they proceed in their day to day business interactions.

The four types are:

Clan Culture

This workplace culture takes the form a family, with everyone sharing many commonalities, the leadership takes a mentorship role, and Human Resource development is strongly emphasized.

Adhocracy Culture

Individuals in this work environment are highly encouraged to be innovative, entrepreneurial, and risk-takers. This organization works to become the first to create breakthroughs in a market and will continuously improve itself.

Market Culture

This workplace culture is competitive, focused on achieving goals, and oftentimes will create rivalry within itself in order to win.

Hierarchy Culture

This culture has both formalities and structure, however, add in a high-dose of efficiency and skilled coordination. Imagine a team working together, everyone following a checklist that works, and a focus of both results and stability.

If you’d like to dive deeper into these topics, pick up the book, “Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture: Based on the Competing Values Framework”.

Now, you’re on this page because you want to learn more about workplace culture, and a part of that is understanding why workplace culture is critical to your success.

To understand why, all we must do is ask a simple question…

How important is culture in the workplace?


Company culture is important if you want to achieve the following:

  • Revenue growth
  • Employment Growth
  • Stock Price Growth
  • Net Income Growth

How do we know culture affects the list above? There is an eleven-year study done by Harvard Professors John Kotter and James Heskett which proves that perfecting your company culture can make all the difference. The table below highlights how:

 With Performance-Enhancing CulturesWithout Performance-Enhancing Cultures
Revenue Growth 683% 166%
Employment Growth 282% 36%
Stock Price Growth 901% 74%
Net Income Growth 756% 1%

You can learn more about the study here.

Now, you might wonder…

Just What Makes a Positive Workplace Culture?


Put simply, a positive workplace culture involves all these items:


Are you as a leader, leading the front as someone that goes above and beyond to help not only your teammates, but other departments? Remember, culture begins at the leadership level and trickles down. We’ll get to why this is important in a moment.


A little encouragement can go a long way and is a much better strategy than constant criticism and complaining. Think about it, if you nudge someone in the right direction, won’t they be more likely to produce their best?


This almost goes hand in hand with encouragement, except for one key detail, and that is that with acknowledgement you take the time to make it known that you do value someone’s work. As an alternative to consistently pointing out criticism, this highlights your colleagues or subordinate’s key strengths and reinforces that to become a habit.


Take a moment to consider what your team goes through daily. Do they have the right systems, software, or are the appropriate measures in place for everyone to success I their role? If not, this is something important to investigate.


We’re adding this last step to reinforce the idea that leadership begins with you, the management team, and budding leaders. If you can lead by example, show everyone how it’s done, then everyone else can follow right along too.

So why is this important? How does this truly affect and make this a “positive” workplace culture.

The answer is simple:


In chapter four of the World Happiness Report, we can find the key evidence that we need to understand that happiness and a positive workplace culture go hand in hand. Let’s examine this a little further…

Even in the workplace, where most adults spend a substantial portion of their time, research suggests that prosocial behavior and a prosocial orientation are linked to emotional benefits for employees and overall job satisfaction.

And a little further in the chapter we can find this snippet:

For instance, in one well-powered longitudinal survey (from 1957-2004, N > 10,000), the importance participants reported placing on the opportunity to help others when selecting a job predicted their well-being almost 30 years later.

In many other articles of positive workplace culture, we begin to see the same patterns, the same leadership styles, the same drum being beat, and in this way all roads lead to happiness and satisfaction, which translates into a positive workplace culture.

So, we’ve been steadily asking key questions that give us more insight as to what culture is, why it’s important, what makes a positive workplace culture, and yet, to truly understand culture we must ask another important question.

What is negative workplace culture?

Frustrated at Work

Negative workplace culture can be summarized by the following items:

Volatility in Leadership

Are you happy one day, enraged the next, and out of the picture another? Having a volatile leadership is one way of many to bring company morale down and infect the organization with the same leadership style.


It’s alarming when this happens, and for many companies, this happens to be the norm. Eliminating this in the bud as soon as it happens is critical. Giving employees the power to have their voice heard is crucial in the moments that this happens.

A lack of transparency

In essence, if the leadership is hush-hush about key details, and departments do not share information, then this lack of transparency will lead to a them vs. us mentality

No Accountability

If your workplace culture is all about shifting the blame to someone else, another department, or the dog in the street, then this mentality will lead to no one being accountable for anything

In a nutshell, negative workplace culture is all the things that are against positive workplace culture. If you focus on providing the best culture possible, while eliminating the negative parts, you’ll be well on your way to a more fulfilled and happier organization.

So, one last question remains…

How do you build culture in the workplace?

Building Culture Template

By this point you’ll want to know a good step by step approach to building culture in your workplace. The great news is that we covered the key points to making this a reality, so let’s recap them here:

  1. To build culture in the workplace, you must understand what culture is
  2. Figure out which of the four workplace cultures best match your organization’s values
  3. Understand why workplace culture is important
  4. Know what makes a positive workplace culture
  5. Know what makes a negative workplace culture

Once you have these understandings, you can the proceed to collaborate with your team to create the steps necessary to make this a reality.

Are you ready to make this happen?

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