Organizational Culture Quiz

Organizational Culture Quiz: What Type Of Company Culture Do You Have?

What's your organizational culture? Is your current culture a meritocracy, or do the people with the best connections get ahead? Are people collaborative or competitive? Are jobs predictable or is there significant organizational change?

These factors (and more) will determine whether your organizational culture is Enterprising, Dependable, Hierarchical or Social. And they'll determine what types of people will (or won't) succeed in your organizational culture! Take this Organizational Culture Quiz and see how your company culture compares!

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Leadership IQ , a research and leadership training company, compiled the following results after more than 20,000 leaders took the above organizational culture assessment instrument. The Top 5 industries represented are: Financial Services/banking (9%), High-Tech/telecom (8%), Hospital/healthcare/insurance (13%), Manufacturing (13%), Services (12%). Pharma/biotech/medical device accounted for 5% of survey respondents, and other represented industries (with no more than 5% of respondents from any one industry) include Food Products, Mining/agriculture, Chemicals, Consumer goods, Education, Energy/utilities, Entertainment/hospitality, Government, Nonprofit, Retail, and Transportation. 

what is organizational culture?

Organizational culture is the sum of the leadership behavior, employee behavior, organizational behavior, and cultural values that determine what is considered good or bad in a given work environment. In some organizational cultures, being competitive is considered a positive value, while in others it's a strong negative. In some company cultures, being cautious and methodical is a good sign, while other corporate cultures want employees to 'move fast a break things.' There isn't necessarily one right or wrong type of culture, but there are certainly corporate cultures that employees in a particular work environment like better than others (see the charts below for more detail on the cultures people like the best).

company culture definition: THE FOUR TYPES OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

Dependable and Enterprising. This typology reflects the range of organization characteristics that were found critical to organizational success. The four types of organizational culture can be described as follows... 

Social Culture 

Social organizations (aka a clan culture if you're using the competing values framework) tend to have an inward focus and are highly collaborative. Employee wellbeing is prioritized and the work atmosphere is often relaxed and casual; lines may be blurred between professional relationships and friendships.

Workers are often given a lot of flexibility and freedom to do things their own way and to make their own choices. Employees in these environments can often say that they have a great friend at work and the predominant leadership style focuses on employee motivation and the employee experience. The bonds of trust are strong in this workplace, as is the sense of team (and team building) that encourages collaboration and flexibility.

One attitudinal characteristic often found in Social cultures is very little ego about titles and roles within the company. Leaders in a Social culture consider themselves to be part of the team and pride themselves on high employee engagement. It's also common to see everyone engage in customer service. Because there's less emphasis on staying within clear roles, everyone's job is customer service, or cost cutting, or operational effectiveness.

As you can see in the chart below drawn from 20,000+ respondents to the organizational culture test, it's not necessarily correct to think that creating high employee engagement requires blurring the lines between work lives and social lives. While there are certainly people with high job satisfaction (i.e., they love their job) who work in a company culture that blurs work and play, there are just as many who would prefer clear lines between the two.

Dependable Culture 

Dependable cultures are process-focused and work tends to place high value on being predictable on a day-to-day basis. This is a task culture (aka a market culture) where following protocol to the letter is greatly respected and organizational change tends to be approached slowly and strategically.

Dependable cultures have an environment that is highly collaborative; with employees welcoming each other's input, feedback and ideas. There's little explicit competition and lots of effort to avoid stepping on toes. The leadership style within a Dependable culture is equally predictable and regimented. Leaders are typically linear, prudent, and security and process-driven.

As you can see in the chart below drawn from 20,000+ respondents to the organizational culture test, employees are far more likely to have high employee engagement when their job roles are clearly defined. This is a hallmark of a role culture like the Dependable culture.

Enterprising Culture 

Enterprising cultures (aka an entrepreneurial company culture or an adhocracy culture if you're using the competing values framework) are a meritocracy where achievement and talent drive success and where internal contests of creativity and intelligence are very much in evidence.

The best ideas win in an Enterprising culture, regardless of employee status or tenure. One of the features of this workplace is the constant state of organizational change in which employees not only work, but thrive. The leadership style in an Enterprising culture tends is driven by the shared value of adventure and employee creativity. Leaders often excel at keeping the competition high to incent employee productivity and the creation of new ideas. Additionally, politics in this workplace tend to be kept to a minimum as the cultural values favor employees who demonstrate merit and organizational performance, not on personal connections or referent power.

When the Enterprising culture is widespread and authentic, it tends to be a very strong company culture, and every team member tends to have a very clear sense of what is good and/or bad in this work culture. 

As you can see in the chart below drawn from 20,000+ respondents to the organizational culture test, one of the most appealing aspects of an adhocracy culture like the Enterprising culture is that innovation is highly prized. When innovative employee behavior is highly rewarded, people are far more likely to love their job.

Hierarchical Culture 

Hierarchical cultures share a belief that tradition is valuable and they're supported by formal organizational structure and an unwavering adherence to formal power. Because employees are assigned well-defined roles that exist within clearly delineated departments, this is also often considered a role culture. An outsider looking in could easily deduce who is in what role and at which level in the hierarchy culture.

A core value in this organization is that employees compete with each other and with other departments for power. And as would be expected in this type of power culture, leaders in a hierarchy culture gravitate towards power, order and structure as they closely organize and monitor those below them. These leaders like to not only know where they are going in the future, but also the exact steps they need to take in order to make those moves up the ranks.

As you can see in the chart below drawn from 20,000+ respondents to the organizational culture test, when company values reinforce a strong hierarchy, the corporate culture will generally have fewer people who love their job.

WHICH IS THE IDEAL CULTURE? 

Based on the more than 20,000 leaders who have taken the organizational culture quiz, we know how people answer the question, "Which of these statements best describes YOUR IDEAL ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE?" Respondents were asked to choose one of the following four choices:

  • SOCIAL CULTURE: Our organization is often relaxed and casual, and the line may be blurred between professional relationships and friendships. Workers are often given a lot of trust and are highly collaborative. 
  • DEPENDABLE CULTURE: Our organization is very process-focused and predictable on a day-to-day basis. We pride ourselves on efficiency and standards, and we value workers who follow protocol.
  • ENTERPRISING CULTURE: Our organization is a meritocracy where the best idea always wins regardless of status or tenure. Creativity and intelligence are valued, and our organization is competitive, even if the competition between workers is friendly.
  • HIERARCHICAL CULTURE: Our organization is hierarchical and very traditional. An outsider could easily figure out who is in what role and at what level of the organization they are operating from. We value and compete for power.

As you can see in the chart below, the most desired work environment is the Social culture. However, as you'll see in the data below, when we analyze the results by the function of the person answering the question, the results change drastically. 

WHAT TYPE OF CORPORATE CULTURE DO PEOPLE LIKE THE BEST?

As we should expect, the ideal culture will vary depending on the job role and function of the person we're asking. In fact, when we look at HR vs. Sales vs. Operations, for example, the ideal culture will be drastically different.

Who Desires The Social Organizational Culture? 

The employees who most desire the Social culture come from Marketing departments, followed by HR and Administration. While this type of organizations culture tends to get the most plaudits in the press, and is generally considered a strong culture, it turns out that not everyone actually prefers this workplace culture. People whose primary motivation is Affiliation are far more likely to enjoy the Social culture as their dominant culture. But for people who are less affiliative, and more power or achievement driven, are less likely to enjoy or thrive in this type of workplace. While the business press often considers this the most healthy culture, the reality is that that not every function or department desires this company culture. If people don't place high value on personal relationships with their colleagues, for example, this culture is less likely to succeed.

Who Desires The Dependable Organizational Culture? 

As we might expect, the employees who most desire the Dependable culture come from Operations and Support Services. These are employees more likely to be motivated by Achievement and Security, and who will prize consistency, predictability, and a task culture. When a company has a strong organizational culture focused on dependability and consistency, it's often because the founder or company history was focused on operational excellence as their primary strategy and competitive advantage.

Who Desires The Enterprising Organizational Culture? 

The employees who most desire the Enterprising culture come from Sales, followed by Marketing and IT. This is the most open culture in the sense that advancing one's career requires having great ideas and talent, not formal power within an organizational structure or strong personal relationships. This is also the company culture that an organization attempts to create when they talk about creating a culture change. Rarely does an organization say they want more structure; most often they desire more of an adhocracy culture where anyone at any level can make suggestions and generate breakthrough innovations. 

Who Desires The Hierarchical Organizational Culture? 

Given that most articles about company culture are written by leaders from HR, it's understandable that a hierarchy culture gets short shrift in the literature. But there are people, from myriad departments, who actually desire this type of organisational culture. People who desire this culture tend to come from Operations, Administration, Support Services and Finance. This make sense, especially when we consider that these are functions that are more likely to value shared assumptions about clear role definitions, titular power structures, and who in an organization's culture is actually making decisions. Because these power structures are so embedded, this is the company where an organizational culture change will be the most difficult. Typically a significant cultural change in this type of organization will require a mammoth turnover of leaders and even some employees.

VIDEO OVERVIEW OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

how to improve company culture

Culture change starts by measuring the corporate culture that your employees most desire (you can't improve a company culture without employee feedback). Sadly, it's not uncommon for a CEO or senior leaders to want one type of culture while the vast majority of the workforce wants a drastically different culture. 

For example, imagine that senior leadership wants to create a Social Culture, where employees get together outside of work, have great friends, and socialize with one another. Now, further imagine that a majority of employees aren't there to make new friends; they want to climb the corporate ladder, build their resumes, and move up or leave. 

That's a case where improving the culture isn't about fixing specific processes, rather it's about not forcing a certain type of corporate culture onto a group of employees who really don't like that type of culture.

The only way to avoid these kinds of dysfunctional corporate cultures is for leaders to assess the type of organizational culture that their employees actually want and then build the culture around the majority opinion. You can't do this in the abstract, it's vital to assess the current company culture and the extent to which that fits what employees want.

Strong organizational cultures are those where there is shared value on issues like whether people should be competitive or collaborative, or whether the work environment should be creative & free-flowing or logical & regimented.

For example, if the workforce is going to experience far higher employee engagement with an Enterprising Corporate Culture, then, even though it will mean adjusting some leadership behavior, that's what the company should strive to be. In general, a positive culture is one that is fully synchronized between the culture that employees want and the culture that leaders and human resources are trying to build.

words to describe company culture

It's possible to identify an organizational culture just by looking at the words a company uses to describe itself. Here are a few words that are often associated with each of the four organizational cultures:

WORDS OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH A SOCIAL CULTURE
Social, friendly, collaborative, camaraderie, fun, emotional wellbeing, friendships, employee engagement, employee experience, trust, flexibility, playful

WORDS OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH A DEPENDABLE CULTURE
 Methodical, dependable, process, safety, predictable, stable, teams, stable, clear roles

WORDS OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH AN ENTERPRISING CULTURE
Enterprising, entrepreneurial, meritocracy, creativity, intelligence, best ideas, move fast, adventure, innovation

WORDS OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH A HIERARCHICAL CULTURE
 Hierarchical, traditional, power, structure, roles, corner office, competitive, up or out, corporate

How A New Employee Can Assess An Organization's Culture

Step 1: Ask the hiring manager about a time when an employee at the company displayed a great attitude.
An easy way to assess the corporate culture of your potential future employer is to ask for a specific example of a time when one of their current employees displayed having the right attitude for this particular company. A gentle way to ask this might sound like this: "If you think of a current employee who really represents the right attitude for this culture, could you tell me about a specific time they did something that really exemplifies having the right attitude?"

A key bit of career advice for any potential new hire is to understand the shared values around what is (or is not) successful behavior at that company.

Step 2: Be wary if they can’t give you a specific example.
The best bosses recognize their employees' accomplishments, but a shocking number of leaders don't actively recognize their high performers. In fact, in a recent study on the dismal state of the performance appraisal, only 28% of people believe that their leader always recognizes their accomplishments. Meanwhile, 54% believe that their leader never, rarely or occasionally recognizes their accomplishments. While that data is scary, it actually gives you a great way to test whether your potential employer has a strong company culture. If they struggle to provide you with a concrete example of when one of their employees did something great (exemplifying the right attitude and fitting into the company culture), it stands to reason that they're probably not going to recognize your accomplishments or that the company has an especially weak culture.

Step 3: Ask about a time when an employee at the company displayed the wrong attitude.
After accomplishing the previous two steps, it's possible that you won't need step three. In other words, if you've already discovered that this potential new company is probably a poor corporate culture for you, don't try to convince yourself otherwise by asking questions until you get an answer you like. However, assuming that you'd still like some more evidence about whether you will fit into the organizational culture, ask them about employees that have (or had) the wrong attitude.

company culture interview questions

How can you tell if someone will actually be a fit for your particular workplace culture? Two interview questions are particularly effective for determining if someone is going to be a cultural fit.

Interview Question #1: Could you tell me about a time you didn't agree with your boss?

Leaders who embrace a free flowing and creative workplace culture are far more likely to be receptive to employees who disagree with them. Leaders in those cultures are also more likely to more openly consider the honest feedback and ideas of their people.

When you ask this interview question, you'll quickly hear whether the candidate is okay with a boss who is not receptive to disagreement (like would be experienced in a Hierarchical culture), and whether they require the kind of open-exchange that would occur in a Social or Enterprising culture.

The second interview question for assessing culture fit is:

Interview Question #2: Could you tell me about a time your idea or opinion was rejected?

Enterprising cultures, for example, need out of the box thinkers to thrive, but not every idea is viable. An employee who acts out every time their idea gets passed over creates an unhealthy dynamic that will damage an entrepreneurial culture. By contrast, someone who admits that they didn't follow the right procedures or build sufficient political capital in order to get their idea accepted is likely a better fit for a Dependable or Hierarchical culture.

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