From Good To Great: Transforming Company Culture Through Strategic Recognition

From Good To Great

Written by Vladimir Tosic

Corporate and Startup Leader. Culture builder. Marketer and product designer.

November 26, 2023

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What kind of company culture are you in? This isn’t a rhetorical question, yet a few seasoned professionals couldn’t give you an accurate answer, mostly because they don’t know that the types of company cultures are clearly defined and they can tell you a lot about an organization.

There are four main archetypes of company culture, according to business professors Robert E. Quinn and Kim Cameron:

Create culture: A magical place where creativity meets business goals, and innovations abound. It’s full of bright ideas and people walking around in oversized shirts wearing beanies.
Clan culture: Don’t let the name fool you. By “clan culture”, they weren’t referring to office cliques, what they meant was that every business aspect was divided into specialized teams working on a common goal.
Hierarchy culture: Think about a bank that follows strict procedures with little to no space for spontaneous ideas or actions – every action needs an approval. Or several even.
Market culture: Think about a sales organization, where everything is fast-paced, measured, and sacrificed for profits and maximum outputs.

As you can guess, all of these cultures are anchored on very different core values. Some of these places value ideas, some prefer following orders, and others don’t care as long as the results are there.

If any company dominantly belongs to one of the four archetypes – it will almost certainly fail. Imagine a Creative culture that doesn’t care at all about revenue or a Hierarchy culture that is never able to implement an innovation. The truth is you will always find overlaps in management styles or core company values because they were all based on their most important resource – their people. 

There is however the fifth archetype, the notorious one… The toxic company culture.

And it’s a widespread corporate epidemic, but there is an antidote. It’s a good dose of leadership and recognition. And recognition in itself is not enough to help your company culture unless it’s strategic.


What is strategic recognition?

Strategic recognition is having a structure in place that will reward and recognize desired employee actions and behaviors based on the company’s core values.

Strategic recognition can be accomplished with three easy steps:

  1. Call out the desired action,
  2. Connect it to a core company value, and
  3. Explain the impact.

For example: Brian didn’t give up on following back with the client and managed to sway their decision in our favour. Thanks to his effort and commitment we secured the deal, and will probably even hire more people to staff the team for this project.

See how we factored in his success and turned it into an organizational message? Not only is Brian now glowing with pride, but we have put in place an important pillar for our company structure. 

Here’s an important step to follow to implement strategic recognition – you need to identify the people to kickstart the program. It can either be managers or change champions, depending on the model of change you are implementing. In one case you’d ask the managers to do it, then remind them about it, then remind them some more. You’d train your team leaders in praising the individual wins of their employees, and make sure they understand your key values so they will know how to recognize them in everyday events. 

In the other change management model, so called “viral change”, you would identify role models and leverage them as change champions. They will bring the critical mass of people with them in due time.

When it comes to strategic recognition it’s best to have a system in place and create a structure where recognition and teamwork will come seamlessly.

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