Paul Haarman: How to create a company culture that supports growth

If you ask most people, they would say that a company’s culture is either something that is there or not explains Paul Haarman. As my close friend and therapist would say “Culture is an elephant’s graveyard” meaning there are a whole lot of dead things in it that slow us down or hold us back from moving forward. I don’t think it has to be this way though. I believe we have the ability to shape the culture so our employees can really thrive.

If an organization’s goals are to grow its business it must first invest in creating a growth-friendly culture. In order for companies to excel, talented individuals need to join them and stay long enough to become true contributors and leaders within said organization. Organizations should work proactively at creating cultures where employees, especially teams, receive continuous feedback on their performance and are given the resources necessary for continual learning.

This article will discuss the different types of cultures that exist within organizations today and how an organization can go about creating a culture where employees are encourage to grow. Finally, this article will look at some tools your company can use in order to start building a positive company culture now.

Types of Organizational Cultures:

The hierarchy-driven culture is based on dominance and control; decisions are made top-down by leadership with little or no input from lower-level employees. The leadership dictates what roles people must perform without much explanation as to why these changes are taking place. Employees feel threatened if they do not know the expectations of management, resulting in fear, overwork, and lack of employee engagement. Top-performing employees who thrive in this type of environment might enjoy the competitive nature but will burn out quickly as they are not given an opportunity to be creative or self-directed. As a company grows, it is important for management to give staff members more autonomy and accountability; otherwise, staff and managers will feel like they don’t have any input into their individual roles and how the work gets done says Paul Haarman.

The entrepreneurial culture is all about risk-taking and innovation; it centers on creativity and autonomy – espoused by today’s startup companies. That values fast decision-making, rapid execution, and innovation above everything else. The entrepreneurial culture places a high premium on employees who want to run with ideas as soon as they have them. Employees at all levels encourage to be creative and take risks. While this type of culture can foster a lot of creativity and innovation. It can also lead to chaos and lack of focus if not managed well. Management must be clear about the company’s goals and what is the expectation of employees in order to maintain productivity.

The adaptive culture is based on responsiveness; it prioritizes change management and quick adaptation to environmental or market changes. In an adaptive culture, there is a strong emphasis on teamwork, communication, and trust. Employees have a lot of latitudes to make decisions within their areas of expertise. As long as they don’t violate any core values or go against the direction of the company. This type of culture works well in companies that are in a constant state of change or are facing ever-changing market conditions. However, it can be difficult to maintain this type of culture over the long term as it can lead to inconsistency and lack of focus.

The bureaucratic culture is based on rules and procedures; it characterizes by formal decision-making processes, extensive written documentation, and centralized control. The bureaucracy emphasizes order and predictability at the expense of creativity and innovation. Paul Haarman says Employees within this type of culture often feel stifled and may have little opportunity for growth or advancement. This type of culture can be very effective in large, complex companies. Where standardization is in need in order to maintain efficiency but can also lead to stagnation and inflexibility.

Creating a Culture Where Employees are Encouraged to Grow:

In order to encourage continual learning and growth. It is important for management to help facilitate a culture where employees feel safe sharing their strengths and weaknesses. They should also be open to feedback from others. And willing to consider alternative perspectives when looking at issues within the company. By creating an environment where employees know that they can come forward with concerns and suggestions. Without repercussion, companies will be fostering positive company culture. That encourages employee engagement and retention.

Managers must remember that in most cases they hired people who had skills similar to their own; by hiring more diversely, managers’ skill sets will expand as well. This is beneficial in several ways:  employees will have different ideas and experiences in the work environment, and management will be better able to relate to employees who are not like themselves.

It is important for businesses to assess their company culture. Identify which type of culture would be best for their current stage of growth. Management must then be willing to put in the effort to cultivate that type of culture. By implementing policies and procedures that support it and by modeling the desired behaviors themselves. Only then will employees feel engaged and motivated to give their best effort to the company.


Paul Haarman says each company culture has its own strengths and weaknesses. It is important for management to understand which type of culture would be the best for their company. And to put in the effort to cultivate that type of culture. Only then will employees feel engaged and motivated to give their best effort to the company.


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