How to change company culture (with types of cultures)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Company culture is an integral part of any modern business. A positive culture can help attract recruits, promote team member happiness and solidify a brand's values and goals. Learning more about how to improve a company's culture can help you generate positive change in the workplace. In this article, we discuss some common components of positive company culture and explain how to change the company culture in the workplace.

What is company culture?

Company culture refers to the actions and beliefs of a company and how those ideas help to manage day-to-day activities. If you're aiming to create a more productive or positive company, it's important to know how to change company culture.

A company's culture is present in everything it does, whether it's managing financial assets or creating a sales pitch. A company's culture can help it maintain a successful brand image amongst clients and other competitors. Positive company culture also helps to attract like-minded people into a business.

Related: Creating a healthy corporate culture

How to change company culture

If you want to improve the overall environment in the company you work for, you may be interested in learning how to change company culture. It's possible to change the culture within a company. You may try to change company culture as a reaction to developments in the market or just in response to staff performance. It can take time, effort and resources to revise a company's culture. Consider following these steps to help you change a company's culture:

1. Clearly define what the business believes in

It's important to take time to assess what the business believes. Consider reviewing the existing mission statement and values to see if they're accurate. Depending on your role, you may complete this step individually or with a team of leaders and managers. Try to sort these beliefs into actionable behaviours to better show the longevity of your chosen company culture.

Related: What are personal and professional values and why are they important?

2. Assess competitors' culture

It's helpful to assess the culture of the business's competitors to see if you want to embrace a similar culture. For example, if your main competitor has adopted a progressive company culture, ask yourself if that would also benefit the business you work for. You can also use this strategy to move away from your competitor's actions and assert the company you work for as the stronger brand with a unique company culture.

3. Give the culture time to grow

Implementing a new company culture can take time, and it can take even longer to show profitable results. Try to explain to team members why you're changing the company culture and ask for their feedback on these changes. Over time, this can help develop collaboration and more certainty within the business.

4. Have measurable goals

Many businesses change their culture to follow new trends and prove to customers that they're still relevant in their respected markets. Changing culture to often can lead to confusion for both customers and employees. Businesses ideally strive to adopt a company culture that best suits them and their goals for future success. Therefore, you may wish to try to set realistic ideas for how you hope a new company culture may affect the performance of the business.

5. Take accountability for past mistakes

If the company culture was previously negative, encourage managers to accept accountability for this. If you believe that the company culture could be improved, you may explain how you plan to make it better and maintain positive changes. This can help create a more open and honest atmosphere within the workplace.

Examples of company culture

Many researchers study the different types of company culture and evaluate their effect on a business. Learning about different workplace cultures can help you decide if changing the company culture may be beneficial. Five of the most common examples of company culture include:

Team-first

Team-first, also referred to as the comrade, is a type of company culture that values collaboration over individual success. Companies that embody this type of culture often expect employees to work together to solve complex issues, creating a level playing field across all aspects of the workforce. This is more beneficial to smaller companies, where this culture has the ability to draw employees together and help to create better relationships both inside and outside of work.

Related: Organisational culture importance: benefits and examples

Elite

Businesses create an elite company culture to help them search through endless applications and help them hire the most dynamic, high-potential candidates. This culture aims to build a workforce of leaders and drivers, hoping to avoid employees that need a lot of training and guidance. Some managers believe this type of culture is the ideal way for a business to be, as it can help the world's leading companies attract some of the brightest minds that the world has to offer.

This culture can cause a company to be very divisive and cause unhealthy competition amongst existing employees. If you implement this culture, consider creating a plan to encourage healthy competition, while also inspiring teamwork and collaboration. For example, you might offer additional teamwork courses.

Horizontal

Horizontal company culture offers flexibility, due to its adaptive nature. Horizontal culture may leave employees without guidance or direction, something a young business needs in a competitive market. Despite this, many start-ups and small enterprises make good use of this culture as it allows for unlimited collaboration and encourages every employee to complete their responsibilities.

Conventional

Conventional or hierarchical company culture relies on a more traditional approach to management. This company culture allows many businesses to focus on the numbers, rather than the creative input of their staff. Moreover, a conventional culture embraces the 'the customer is always right' mentality to ensure that sales and profits are high.

Overall, this type of culture can help businesses gain dominance over their respected market, helping them to become dynamic if competition becomes a threat. Yet, the lack of collaboration that this company culture evokes may leave many employees feeling demotivated over time. If your team has this culture, consider designing strategies and incentives to help motivate all team members.

Progressive

Progressive company culture focuses on being unique. Businesses that adopt this culture thrive in the unknown, navigating from one decision to the next. This uncertainty helps businesses adapt to rapidly-changing markets, ensuring that they're constantly competitive.

One disadvantage of this culture is the high level of uncertainty, which can leave employees feeling disoriented. Despite this, progressive company culture can bring excitement into a workplace as employees. If you implement this type of culture, consider being transparent about why changes occur to help keep team members informed.

Benefits of having a clear company culture

When a business promotes a particular culture, it quickly becomes part of who they are. This can lead to a wide range of opportunities and enhanced brand recognition. Three ways company culture can benefit a business include:

Establishes a business's ideas

As the corporate world continues to grow and markets continue to expand and diversify, it can be hard to know what a business values. By implementing a clear company culture, the business has the opportunity to reinvent itself and finally align with a core set of beliefs and values. Customers can gain a better understanding of the company, helping to separate it from its competitors.

Helps to show positive action

A business can express company culture through its actions. Due to this, many founders and managers act on their claims and ensure that the business follows their company culture as well. This helps to integrate every aspect of the company culture into the business' day-to-day tasks.

Offers the chance to work with like-minded people

When employing someone new, it's vital to choose an individual that can not only complete their designated tasks well but can also collaborate and communicate with other employees. By having an accessible and promising company culture, the company is more likely to attract those who embody the same values. Positive company culture is likely to have higher retention rates than negative company culture, as employees typically stay longer in a role when they feel at home in the company.

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