There are Two Types of Culture

2 minute read

Company culture actually comes in two forms, and there may (or may not) be much difference between them:

  1. Aspirational Culture: this is what is usually promoted by the C-Suite, Human Resources, and managers. It hangs on walls in hallways, is printed for employees, or is a page on the website. It usually sounds really good.
  2. Actual Culture: This is how people ACTUALLY work together in smaller teams and groups on a daily basis. It’s how people really communicate and behave with each other, on an average day.

To help teams change how they work together (actual culture), ASK team members what they want in their interactions at work….how do they want to be treated, how do they want ideas discussed, what are they counting on from their teammates? As people identify what they want, the leader can then ask what each person will commit to do to help make that a reality. When team members identify ways that they will make this culture a reality, also ask how team members can let each other know when things get off track.

Aspirational culture statements from the top are nice, though building culture from the “bottom” of the org chart up is a more realistic way to create behavioral change that people are committed to.