Is your culture made of gold or fool's gold?

When I hear people talk about how awesome their organizational culture is, I often find myself wondering what sort of “great” culture it is.

For me, great cultures fall into two categories: entitlement and mission-driven. Those “best places to work” lists don’t usually make a distinction, but I do. Here is the difference:

Entitlement cultures

The surest sign of an entitlement culture? When someone tells you why they like their work, they give you an example of a benefit not related to the work itself. Some examples:

I get on-site daycare.
I get free snacks and drinks.
We have great health benefits.
We have a flexible work-from-home policy.

From what I’ve observed, entitlement-driven cultures resonate most with people who have a deeply held desire for safety, security, and quality of life.

Mission-driven cultures

It’s no secret that I believe organizations with a strong shared purpose, mission, or vision beyond the bottom line have a huge advantage over those that don’t. I was able to witness the power of a mission-driven culture first hand at Red Hat, and I see these cultures all of the time in the both the open source and design worlds.

Ask someone why they like working in a mission-driven organization, and they are likely to say things like these:

I believe in what we are doing.
I love coming to work every day.
I leave work each day with a sense of accomplishment.
I am changing the world.

My personal experience has been that mission-driven cultures resonate most with people who have a deeply held desire to find meaning in their work above all else.

Can companies have both cultures at once, and be both entitlement-driven and mission-driven? Absolutely!

And a culture where people believe in what they do and enjoy safety, security, and quality of life is the best kind, right? Let me be controversial:

I don’t think that is true.

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

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