Organizational Culture Components

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.


A business owner from Minnesota called me the other day to talk about her organizational culture, within the context of change management.  Like many companies, her organization is adapting to myriad dynamic changes (e.g., staffing, pricing, inflation) to remain successful, and wisely, she is viewing these new key initiatives through a macro lens, underscored by her sage insight to adjust her company’s culture accordingly.  To that end, I shared the following components with the inquisitive business owner to provide clarity, utility, and direction regarding organizational culture.

Organizational Culture:  According to Edgar Schein, organizational culture is cogently defined as the beliefs and principles of a particular organization; the culture followed by the organization has a deep impact on the employees and their relationship amongst themselves.

Vision Statement:  A Vision Statement describes the desired future position of the company.    Examples of actual Green Industry Vision Statements include the following:

  • “To be the industry-wide role model.”
  • “To be known as the Commercial Landscape partner whose caring team members create joyful customer experiences through clear communication and attention to detail.”
  • “To be the best and most loved company in the area by employees and customers.”

Mission Statement:  A Mission Statement is a taut, memorable explanation of the organization’s reason for existence. It describes the organization’s purpose, by communicating intent and direction to employees, customers, vendors, and other stakeholders.  While a  Vision Statement inspires people to dream; a Mission Statement inspires them to action.  Examples of Green Industry Mission Statements include the following: 

  • “To enhance the beauty and value of every client’s property while exceeding their expectations every step of the way.”
  • “To provide peace of mind to our clients by delivering the best care, because people deserve to work, live and play surrounded by an environment that creates joy.”
  • “To improve the quality of each landscape we service, each customer we serve, and each employee we have.”

Core Values:  Core values are the deeply-ingrained principles that guide every company action; they represent the cultural cornerstones. They are inherent and sacrosanct; they can never be compromised, either for convenience or short-term economic gain.  Indeed, they are the company’s genetic markers.

While this topic will be expanded on during next week’s Tuesdays with Steve post, common core values include:  customer satisfaction, horticultural excellence, employee safety, integrity, truth, accountability, entrepreneurialism, environmental sensitivity, quality, respect, growth, profit, teamwork, and efficiency.

Core values guide employees on how to act when their supervisor is not present, or when they are confronted with a novel circumstance.  To wit: A company with the core value of entrepreneurialism will conduct its operation very differently from another company with the core value of cost containment, in that the former encourages risk taking, while the latter eschews risk in an effort to minimize waste.  

Success Behaviors:  While core values are essential, it is often necessary to define them in behavioral terms to reduce interpretative ambiguity.  For example, the core value of Customer Service may have the following success behaviors:  (a) return every customer phone call or email before the end of the business day; (b) always use the customer’s name when communicating with him/her; (c) treat the customer in a way that exceeds how you would want your mother to be treated by a service provider; (d) complete your task in a way that will put a smile on your customer’s face; (e) never be late to a customer meeting.

More on organizational culture, during next week’s Tuesdays with Steve.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.