Organizational culture in financial organizations

Many organizations are still pulling through the credit crunch. The wicked ones: banks and other financial organizations.
What would the overall organizational culture be in financial organizations? We analyzed the profiles for the Dutch financial sector: a results-oriented business indeed with more focus on people than thought and a sound wish for less performance and more innovation. But should we endorse that ?

About the Assessment

The Organizational Cultural Assessment Instrument (OCAI) was completed near September 2009 by 133 respondents. They all work in the industry group Financial and insurance activities.
The OCAI measures the results on four culture types: Clan culture, Adhocracy culture, Market culture, and Hierarchy culture. Check out the OCAI model for more information or take the test yourself: OCAI One.

Profits and productivity

In the current financial culture, the results-oriented market culture is number one with 27.68 out of 100 points. This culture values winning, reputation, competition, and achieving goals and targets.
Most people who commented on the assessment acknowledge this: a “work hard, play hard” culture with massive bonuses and a board of directors consisting of successful males that are all highly motivated and dominant. Indeed, profits and productivity rule. It’s this part that got a lot of media exposure and that is assessed as having caused the credit crunch.

Concern for people and procedures

But there is more. The real profile is much more balanced with hierarchy culture counting for 27.30 points. This culture type cares for control, structure, careful planning, clear procedures and efficiency, standardized rules, and stability.

Also, clan culture scores 25.23 points. This people-oriented culture is flexible and friendly.
Least prominent in the present culture is adhocracy: 19.78 points. The financial sector is least a dynamic, entrepreneurial, and creative workplace right now. Even though some eminent bankers have been proven to be very inventive with numbers.

Less performance and more innovation, please

As you can see in the profiles below, the red current profile reveals a pattern focused on results and structure.
financial insurance activities
Compare this profile with the blue preferred profile and we find an interesting discrepancy.Financial people desire an upward shift to more flexibility. Adhocracy culture increases 11.7 points and hierarchy culture decreases 9 points.
With a discrepancy of 10 points or more, it’s often imperative to take action. These scores illustrate dissatisfaction or readiness to change, and you can see them as a call to action.

More innovation: desirable?

Both managers and employees favor the flexibility and dynamics of adhocracy culture that appreciates initiatives, professional freedom, experimenting, and so on. As long as you innovate and deliver quality, it’s OK.

It may be understandable that they like this. But should we favor this culture type for our financial institutions? It appears that banks have been too innovative already, inventing financial constructions that no one could control, and taking too much risk.

We could also argue that a new method of working is desirable in the financial sector. Another culture type could become a healthy focus point for the time to come with less concentration on profits and money. Some European Banks began working on a culture that takes ethical issues into account, a working climate that develops dialogue and allows critical thinking.

It’s an interesting process. The financial professionals that we met in the Netherlands acknowledge the current and preferred culture. They see the call for more adhocracy culture coming from employees who have little space to breathe and occasionally feel crushed by their production targets and an abundance of procedures. All say that the sector is very conservative and does not have good, let alone inspiring leadership in many places. So, maybe, it’s time for innovation indeed.

If you want to learn how to work with culture and the OCAI culture assessment to develop successful change, check out the eBook “How to guide Positive Change with Culture and Positive Leadership”.

For more blog posts and applications of the OCAI, please check the official OCAI Blog.

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