The classic definition of organizational culture is the values and beliefs inherent in a company’s operations and environment. Diagnosing organizational culture is necessary to determine how or why a company does what it does. The different ways of diagnosing organizational culture include reviewing the invisible, visible, and behaviors of a company. The invisible attributes include attitude or values, visible attributes include artifacts that may be employee dress or advertising, and behaviors can be training or financial systems. All three attributes typically reside in a company’s culture.
Properly diagnosing organizational culture starts with a review of the company’s mission statement and purpose. These documents tend to outline the invisible features of organizational culture. The attitude, beliefs, and values present here are typically taught to each employee in the company. In some cases, however, a company may allow different interpretations of these individual invisible attributes. Walking through the company and talking to several managers or employees is often necessary to fully complete this step.
Visible attributes can be much more defined when diagnosing organizational culture. Artifacts represent the visual items seen both inside and outside the company. Employee dress, for example, can indicate how formal or informal a company may tend to operate. Advertising campaigns allow an individual to see how a company chooses to initiate contact with potential customers. Product lines are another attribute here that demonstrate a company’s organizational culture, particularly the quality of each product manufactured.
Another set of visible attributes is the behaviors exhibited by entire departments within a company. Diagnosing organizational culture from these attributes is often very important. Financial reporting, employee hiring and firing, program training, and other practices are among the most common attributes here. Unfortunately, diagnosing organizational culture from these attributes is not always easy. A formal audit or review is typically necessary to review these systems.
It is important to understand a company’s organizational culture. First, a future employee may want to know more about a company prior to applying and obtaining a job in order to ensure a proper career fit. Second, a partner company may desire this information to ensure the other business holds similar values when running operations. Third, external stakeholders or potential investors may desire information on a company to determine if the business is a worthy investment or fits their values. Either way, a company’s organizational culture should provide the requisite information for each purpose.