Crystyl Swanson- Culture Unmasked

Crystyl Swanson is the CEO/Founder of RENGA, which assists organizations to create a space for diversity and inclusion through revolutionary engagement. She also serves at Mercer as the North American Commercial Mobility Strategist, Principal. At the 2021 Spring SourceCon Digital, her presentation “Company Culture: Unmasked” delved into how to define company culture, and what to do with it

The session started off with Merriam Webster’s definition of culture as customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization, and the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic. As an example, the culture of the Kardashians is known for fur, duck face, and trust, as was seen during Caitlyn Jenner’s journey.

Crystyl then added:

“Attitude is what leads to behavior.” (action)

-Attitudes and Opinion by: Stuart Oskamp, P. Wesley Schultz

In order to define what culture is in your company, along with what aspects matter and why, Crystyl started by identifying four types of corporate culture, and then explored those with eight dimensions.

Four types of corporate culture:

  • Clan Culture
  • Adhocracy
  • Hierarchy
  • Market

Clan culture is where work colleagues are seen as family. There is closeness in the group, and people are friendly with one another. Think “teams”, where they collaborate but are indecisive because everyone has an opinion but they don’t want to hurt the feelings of others. Zappos is an example of this type of corporate culture.

Adhocracy is common in startups. Great culture, fostering an entrepreneurial spirit, is about taking ownership within. There is enormous innovation and growth and increased psychological safety. However, there is a lack of stability and not enough investment in new initiatives. New people can’t dive in and help. Two corporate examples are Facebook and Google.

Hierarchy is a “control” culture. There are existing procedures. Teams will have to be run like well-oiled machines. The hallmarks are stability, results, reliable delivery. There is clarity and people know what is expected of them. It is a high engagement driver. People know what they need to do, and have a greater sense of security. However, it values procedures over people, who don’t feel supported. Rigidity stifles innovation because people are afraid to think outside the box. An example of this type of culture is Government Agencies.

Market culture is a competitive culture. People want to win and accomplish what they set out to do. They are determined, and leaders are demanding. It is a high-pressure environment. Rewards only happen when there are real, measurable results. People are highly motivated to achieve, which results in increased performance. However, this encourages constant competition, and people experience stress and burnout because of constant pressure. An example of market culture is Amazon.

The 8 Dimensions of Corporate Culture:

  1. Results Achievements are goal-focused, achieve execution: like EY or KPMG
  2. Caring: teamwork, communication, relational, trust: like Disney
  3. Order: rule-abiding, civic-mindedness: like Government Agencies
  4. Purpose:  driven mission and vision: like non-profits
  5. Safety: keep people safe while traveling: like Southwest Airlines
  6. Learning: value constant learning, open, experimenting, exploring: like Google, FB, etc.
  7. Authority: dominant, quick speed: like Hedge Funds
  8. Enjoyment: smiles, instinctive, fun-loving, video games: like Electronic Arts

Crystyl then pivots to provide tools and tips for organizations on how to find your culture. You start by looking behind the mask. Culture eats attitude for breakfast. Attitudes are driven by behaviors. You say you value your employees, but the paychecks say that you don’t. All you need to do is check out Glassdoor reviews of your company. Shared attitudes define the culture. (Many company owners feel that only the disgruntled go there to complain, but have you responded graciously to negative comments?)

Four tools were reviewed in order to measure and gauge the culture in your organization.

Tool 1: OCAI

The Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI), developed by © Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn at the University of Michigan, is a validated research method to assess organizational culture. The OCAI is a quick culture tool where you distribute 100 points between four “Competing Values”. These four Competing Values correspond with the above-mentioned four types of organizational culture. Every organization has its own mix of these four types of organizational culture.

Tool 2: Flock

Flock answers questions about your personal and team strengths. What motivates you? It plots people to see to what degree each person is aligned.

Tool 3: DISC with Motivators

Article Continues Below

Those familiar with DISC know the four areas of assessment: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientious. The Seven Dimensions of Motivation are:

  1. Aesthetic
  2. Economic
  3. Individualistic
  4. Power
  5. Altruistic
  6. Regulatory
  7. Theoretical

These assessments are a tool for examining motivators and keys for collaboration.

Tool 4: Humantelligence

You can assess your culture in 10 minutes with their Self-Assessment tool.

They measure behaviors, motivators, and ideal work environments.

Why does this matter now? 99% of talent is going to the top 1% of teams. Productivity in a remote environment is crucial. Overall team engagement can increase productivity by 22-32%.

Next steps for the Hiring Team:

Step 1:

Understand who has contact with candidates and explain how their role ties in.

Step 2:

Understand and influence the impact of said culture; have the team take a couple of quizzes, which assess how to open/not open they are to change. What drives your culture? What juices each team member? What motivates your team? Have them write out their own personal mission statements. What is non-negotiable to you? What drives you? Summarize what you want as a team.

You may be wondering about the “why” of going to all of this trouble. If you think about it, we were never given an instruction manual on relationships. Not in school and not in most companies. In order to be successful in communicating and collaborating with each other, it is helpful to understand how we are all wired. Understanding the context of a comment will elevate our ability to respond and not react to one another. We can respect our diverse backgrounds, talents, and abilities which will enable us to more smoothly navigate successful communications and workflows.

Everyone is responsible for culture. The goal is to flex with awareness, to grow, and to learn.

Jo Weech serves Founder/President of Exemplary Consultants, with a passion is to assist everyone in the talent acquisition process, from hiring managers to recruiters, job seekers to career counseling groups. Speaking engagements include job fairs, military transition, career transition, universities, and national HR, Recruiting, and Talent Management conferences. She also serves as Adjunct Professor at Montgomery College, in their CyberAdvantage Program. In 2016, Jo won the HRLA award for excellence in leadership for a small company.  She guest-blogs on job search, recruiting and retention topics. Additionally, she serves on two advisory groups for the National Initiative for CyberSecurity Education (NICE). In March, Jo was named as one of 300+ Women In HR Technology to Follow and Support. In November, Jo will travel to Japan in a US delegation of 20 top HR and Talent Acquisition Professionals.

Topics