Square peg, round hole?

Oct 21 2005 by Patricia Soldati Print This Article

Your happiness at work has a whole lot to do with the culture of the company you work for. That's because you have a personal style - or way of working and getting things done that is most natural for you, and the organization you work for also has a way of getting things done.

If these two "ways" don't mesh, it will lead to extreme frustration and too often, your departure from the company.

Research shows that from an individual standpoint there are four styles, or ways of getting things done: Structurer, Integrator, Exceller and Developer. Each of these styles has different motivations, values, learning styles and preferences.

For example, a Structurer values getting and keeping control; an Integrator values open discussion and decision-making; an Exceller thrives on achievement and competition, and a Developer values growth and empowerment.

Organizational styles are called "cultures" and they impact every facet of business life - how the organization is structured, reward systems, conditions for judging effective performance and how decisions get made, just to name a few.

There are four core cultures - Controlling, Collaborative, Competency and Cultivating.

Successful companies have a dominant "core" culture, and may exhibit some qualities of the other cultures, too, either as a company or in specific departments.

And here is where the issue of "fit" comes in.

If your personal style is that of an Integrator (valuing open discussion and decision-making), you thrive in a collaborative culture; if you are an Integrator in a controlling culture, survival will be a daily challenge. Similarly, an Exceller will be continually frustrated living in a Collaborative culture, and so on.

Here's a summary of the four common organizational cultures, and their "best-fit" personal styles and leadership emphasis:

Core Culture Best-Fit Style Leadership Emphasis
Control Structurer Policy/rules, power arises from role
Collaboration Integrator Affiliation, team- building
Competence Exceller Setting standards, being the best
Cultivation Developer Shared vision, self-actualization

This "person-culture" dynamic is a critical component of career fulfilment. To the degree you can mould a good fit, you pave the way for a long-term relationship with a company.

So to help determine if you work in a culture that supports your natural style, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How is my natural style re-enforced in my work environment?
  2. How is my natural style not re-enforced in my work environment?
  3. What is present for me that represents a continued source of discomfort or conflict?
  4. How can these sources of frustration be changed or minimized?

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About The Author

Patricia Soldati
Patricia Soldati

Patricia Soldati is a former President & COO of a national finance organization who re-invented her working life in 1998. As a career fulfillment specialist, she helps corporate professionals enhance their working lives Ė both within the organization Ė and by leaving it behind.

Older Comments

4 types of organisational models according to whom? Or based on what research? Is this simply assertive columnist speak or bastardised organisational theory?

Eli Steinberg Kansas

Good point, Eli. This perspective is based on the research of William Schneider, consultant and author. He is one of the few sources I have found who looks at culture from an employee's perspective, not just the organization's perspective. More on Schneider's views may be found in his book, The Reengineering Alternative -- A Plan for Making Your Current Culture Work published by McGraw Hill.

Patricia Soldati