The 5 Elements That Define a Great Organizational Culture

A culture is made up of a social group’s shared values, conventions, traditions, rituals, behaviours, and beliefs. Languages, or patterns of communicating, are also shared by cultures. From a communication standpoint, the words we choose to describe our world shape and reshape cultures. A common set of values (“shared meanings”) shared by members of a population, an organisation, or a profession is referred to as culture. Culture changes with the times, yet the rate at which various institutions’ cultures change differs greatly.

Due to technological advancements and fast access to knowledge, younger generations are more mission-driven and deliberate in their job development. Companies with strong cultures will survive and thrive in the twenty-first century. According to Kotter and Heskett (1992), companies with adaptive cultures do better than organizations with hard to adapt cultures.

Companies must create and maintain great organizational cultures to retain and attract top people. To accomplish so, companies must address five key elements: purpose, ownership, community, effective communication, and competent leadership.

Elements of Organizational Culture


The foundation of a great culture is a vision or mission statement. These simple phrases serve as a reference to a company’s beliefs and give them meaning. As a result, every choice made by employees is guided by this aim. Good vision statements can even assist orient customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders when they are deeply authentic and widely exhibited. A vision statement is a straightforward but essential component of culture.

Young professionals want to contribute to the solution of a problem larger than themselves, thus they must comprehend the ‘why’ behind what they do. A solid mission statement can assist a corporation in expressing its ‘why’. It will be important to evaluate your vision and values statement on a regular basis as you examine your culture, because it may need to be changed as the organisation grows and times change. Employees must, at all times, be aware of the company’s vision and values, as well as the behaviours that are required of them.


Accountability is the second component in creating a successful corporate culture. Giving people the freedom to be responsible for their results without being micromanaged is what autonomy is all about. Giving people control over their time so they can achieve their objectives. A company could be established in San Francisco with employees working remotely from both the US and around the world. When people are accountable for the work they do, the company doesn’t need to implement strict location-based rules. The manager can simply establish expectations and allow people to plan their schedules around their assignments. Ownership is an element of business culture that refers to giving individuals the opportunity to put their skills and abilities to work without constant micromanagement.


Values, of course, are meaningless unless they are reflected in a company’s operations. If an organisation declares that its most valuable asset is its people, it must be willing to invest in them in ways that are visible. By promoting values such as caring and respect, as well as offering candidates work they’ll enjoy. Similarly, if a business supports a “flat” structure, more junior team members must be encouraged to disagree in meetings without fear of negative consequences. And, whatever an organization’s values are, they must be reflected in evaluation criteria and promotion procedures, as well as baked into the company’s operating principles.

Teamwork and a sense of inclusion are fostered and reinforced through celebrations, performances, and events. They are what make employees feel like they are a part of something special, something worthwhile. Annual parties, sales meetings, organisational retreats, and other group events are examples.


Without employees who either share or have the willingness and capacity to accept the firm’s core principles, no organisation can develop a cohesive culture. As a result, some of the world’s most prestigious companies also have some of the most stringent hiring standards. According to a study, applicants who fit the culture would accept a 7% lower wage, while departments with cultural alignment had 30% fewer turnover. People gravitate toward cultures they enjoy, and hiring the correct ‘culture cheerleaders’ reinforces an organization’s existing culture.

Because employee behaviours have an impact on company culture, focused skills training can be used to educate employees about the behaviours that will help you create the culture you want. Corporate culture is defined by employee habits, both innate and learned.

Here are a few examples:

  • Leaders’ characteristics and abilities: the extent to which individuals lead by example and encourage others to adopt desirable behaviours
  • Teamwork/collaboration: Individual opinion and perspective are recognised and considered in collective problem-solving and decision-making
  • Employee camaraderie: this refers to how employees have fun and form a sense of belonging within the company


Why did Pixar build such a large open atrium? To create a setting where employees bump into each other during the day and engage in unforeseen ways. Why do most startups have an open office setting instead of the typical cubicles? To foster an environment of collaboration and community. Why do tech companies congregate in Silicon Valley while finance companies congregate in London and New York? The organizational culture is also shaped by location.

Certain office activities, such as teamwork, are better suited to open architecture. Local cultures in different cities and countries may reinforce or contradict the culture that a company is attempting to establish.

People’s values and behaviors are influenced by their surroundings, whether it’s geography, architecture, or aesthetic design.

These are the 5 elements that define a company’s organizational culture. While there are numerous smaller characteristics that influence organisational culture, these 5 elements can serve as a solid foundation for establishing a new company’s culture. And in a company looking for a change, identifying and understanding them better in an existing organisation can be the first step toward rejuvenating or altering culture.

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In her free time Vani loves storytelling and helping talent meet their aspirations. She has been a part of enterprise, growth stage startups & VC firms. She is driven to make stories and startups matter.

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