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When it comes to defining company culture it's same o' same o'. This Culture Builder Tool can define your company's culture better than you.

Other than the CEO setting the general guidelines about performance and expectations, I contend defining a company's culture is beyond anyone's personal control. External forces like company size, growth rate and the competitive environment predefine your company's culture. More important, the hiring manager's style and the work assigned define the actual culture for each individual employee.

To demonstrate this point, I created this simple Culture Builder Tool. To determine your company's culture just select the appropriate terms from the categories below. Then compare this summary to what you think your company culture is. Get ready to be shocked.

The Culture Builder Tool to Define Your Company's Culture

The Basics: Pick one term from each set.

  • Energy: Driven, Motivated, Results-focused
  • Team: Respect for the individual, Team-oriented, Collaborative, It's All About You
  • Character: Ethical, Principled, Committed, Authentic
  • Attitude: We Care, A Fun Place, Be Yourself, Things Happen Here, Progress, Professionalism

Our People: Pick one statement from the following.

  • Our people are our pride.
  • At _____ our people count.
  • Our people are #1.
  • You make it happen here.
  • (Or come up with your own generic people-related statement).

Our Customers: Pick one statement from the following.

  • Customer satisfaction drives us every day.
  • Our customers' success is our success.
  • At ____, you're one of the family.
  • No company treats its customers better.
  • (Or come up with your own silly customer-facing statement).

Pace: Select your company's growth rate and use all of the terms.

  • Start-up: Lean, Self-starter, Tireless, Adaptive, Creative, Do-It-Yourself, Wild 'n Crazy
  • Fast growth: Fast decision-making, Think on your feet, Resourceful, Make it happen, Pressure-packed, 24/7, Continuous Change, Individualistic
  • Moderate growth: Flexible, Patient, Adaptive, Goal-oriented, Improving, The Team Counts, Think Scalability, Collaborative
  • Slow growth: Stable, Thankless, Really Patient, Structured, Security, Frustrating, Political, Slow Moving, Changeless

Strategy: Select your company's primary strategic focus and use all of terms.

  • Market Growth: Customer-Focused, Sales Growth, Market Penetration, Customer Satisfaction Counts, Aggressive, Sales and/or Marketing department driven
  • Product Excellence: Design for Quality, User Experience is King, Technical Excellence is Essential, Drive for Perfection, Product and Engineering department driven
  • Operational Efficiency: Analytical Focus, Attention to Detail, Process is King, Six Sigma Thinking, Performance to Plan, Cost Controls, Adherence, Operations and/or Accounting department driven
  • Financial Maximization: Risk vs. Reward Thinking, ROI Approach, Investment Mentality, Performance Matters, Do It Right, No Waste, Hard-nosed, Financial department driven

Managerial Style: Select the hiring manager's dominant approach to managing.

  • Micro Manager: Do it this way!
  • Controlling: It better be my way!
  • Supervisor: We'll do it the company way!
  • Trainer: Let's do it the latest way!
  • Coach: This might be a better way!
  • Delegator: Do it your way!
  • Hands-off: Just do it!

Industry: Pick one, if needed, to make your list longer.

  • Best in the industry
  • Award-winning industry provider
  • Ranked No. 1
  • No one does it better
  • We set the standards

Now put all of the items you selected in one paragraph titled "Our Culture." Then fix the grammar, tenses and focus and you have your company's actual culture. Now compare it to your existing cultural description and make some comments below.

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No matter how important you think it is or brag about it, your company's culture is largely beyond your control. From what I've seen, 25 percent of a company's culture depends on the pace of the organization and industry competitiveness, 25 percent on the hiring manager's style, 25 percent on the person's fit with the job (which drives satisfaction and motivation) and the balance is a collection of everything else. As long as you get the pace, job fit and managerial style parts right and don't hire jerks, your culture will be just fine. Even better, everyone will fit it. A culture built this way will be unique and diverse and one you can truly be proud of. In fact, it will be indescribable.