Six Types of Culture in the Workplace

Off the back end of our recent blog Five Ways to Know If a Companies Culture Is for youtoday we will extend on culture to bring awareness to the types of workplace cultures commonly seen within businesses. Workplace culture can be defined as the sum of a business’s values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors, and attitudes.

Workplace culture is important in defining what the workplace is. Workplace culture is really no different to ethnic culture, it is just made up of people from different backgrounds and histories.

Before we break down ‘Six Types of Culture in the Workplace’, there are two overreaching models that many businesses will fall into.

Strong Culture: In this model, employees have a sense of empowerment and understanding of the company’s goals, values, philosophy and key regulations. A strong culture will allow employees to be driven and feel respected which increases the health of the business.

Weak Culture: In this model, employees have a lower sense of motivation and operate under a system based on fear. These employees fear to make errors and are genuinely unhappy in their roles.

Culture is the arts elevated to a set of beliefs. – Thomas Wolf

01: Normative Culture

The term ‘Normative’ says it is – this culture is the ‘normal’, everyday corporate workplace. Normative Culture is extremely cut and dry and follows strict regulations and guidelines that uphold the policies of the workplace. Within this culture, no employee dares to break the rules and sticks to the policies because they are set in stone. This particular culture is seen as a very tightly run ship.

02: Pragmatic Culture

“The customer is always right” is the best way to define the ‘Pragmatic Culture’. There is a great emphasis placed on clients, customers and external parties. Customer satisfaction is the priority for employees within a pragmatic culture. These types of businesses treat their clients and customers as gods and do not particularly follow a set of rules. The focal point of employee’s days is to satisfy their clients who expect the world... and will most likely get it.

03: Academy Culture

This type of culture is for the employees who are highly skilled, intelligent and studious. The right employee for this type of culture welcomes further training, promotions, and career progression. The environment best suited for this culture is fast paced where employees thrive off of intense training which is ongoing. Many hospitals, universities, and other educational institutions rely on academy culture to stay up to date on the newest information and technology.

04: Process Culture

Ah, these type of culture is for the employee who thrives off of rules, regulations, policies, and procedures. The process culture is different to the normative culture as the regulations are not set out as lists of do’s and don’ts focus more on the ideology. These employees are very autonomous and do not need to be spoon fed or micromanaged. They know their stuff and will complete tasks by deadlines. Reviews are usually conducted annually and they are to assess work on a larger scale.

05: Fortress Culture

A fortress culture is all about numbers! It can be viewed as the least enjoyed culture or the most enjoyed, depending on your drivers. This type of business bases the length of their employees’ contracts on the money coming through the door. If the bottom line looks good, the employees must be doing a good job – so they can stay! If the business sees a downfall in an employee’s productivity or successes, the employee is terminated. There isn’t much loyalty with the fortress culture. With such a high turnover rate, these businesses will hire a new set of people and be forced to train them only to find out they cannot stay up to speed. However, if you are good at what you do you will often be praised and will not have to worry about job security.

06: Baseball Team Culture

This type of culture is my favorite so far! Remember how in the pragmatic culture, we had an ‘all for the client’ mentality? Well, this culture is focussed on the employees! Baseball team cultures are fun, yet productive. As long as the employees are happy, comfortable and they feel respected, the managers and directors are happy. There are absolute trust and autonomy – there is no reason why there shouldn’t be.

There are a few more styles of culture that can be seen in workplaces, though the six listed above are the most common! You can see that there are many different types of culture that develop within a business and some businesses will take some key aspects of a number of cultures, whereas others will strictly stick to one.