Clan Company Culture: Definition, Characteristics, Pros&Cons

Ngoc Anh Luong
Ngoc Anh Luong
Head of Digital Marketing at traicie - The best AI-powered talent sourcing tool for recruiters
Table of contents

A Clan Culture helps companies create a productive work environment by encouraging strong employee engagement and effective teamwork. Especially in a post-corona era, in which a lot of companies moves from a physical office to a virtual one, focusing on these factors is a must. By focussing on positive employee engagement and solid teamwork, companies build a solid framework to stand strong together and stay ahead of the competition. Let’s help you define if your company would benefit from implementing certain elements of a Clan Culture and how to use its best practices in your own company.

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Definition of clan company culture

Definition of Clan Company Culture

In the Competing Values Framework, Clan Company Culture is one of the four main types of organisational cultures:

  • Adhocracy culture (Create)
  • Clan culture (Collaborate)
  • Hierarchy culture (Control)
  • Market culture (Compete)

Most organisations have more than one culture, but one corporate culture usually dominates and defines the whole environment.

Specifically, Clan company culture is a business culture that encourages collaboration and a family-like atmosphere by putting a high value on commitment, participation, and loyalty.

Clan company culture has a horizontal structure with close-knit teams of employees who strongly support the organisation’s vision and mission and work together for a common goal.

As the name suggests, this company culture is based on shared goals and values, a willingness to work together, and a sense of unity or solidarity.

Clan company culture is based on how it is organised and works, which creates a sense of “we-ness” at work.

Clan company culture has gotten a lot of good press and a massive following in the last ten years. Not surprising since a supportive environment with semi-autonomous work teams and programs to get employees involved is hard to mess up.

There are also rules and regulations, but they are practised more through social norms than commands. Independent teams work independently and a culture of trust help define how to get work done. Employees feel free to talk and share what they know, and leaders want to hear what they have to say.

Clan-cultured organisations are usually small businesses, start-ups, or family-owned businesses that focus more on personal relationships and look inward.

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Do you find a Clan work culture in your company?

Do your workers get along with each other? Is there a sense of happiness and peace among the people? Aside from exaggeration and romanticising, you can tell you have a clan company culture when employees work in groups more than alone.

There is a clan company culture when there are group benefits, a group-reward system, an “open door” policy, and no walls between the different levels of management.

If you like the idea of a Clan work culture then you should:

  • Listen to your employees.
  • Leave your doors open so employees can give you feedback and come into your office at any time for a one-on-one chat.
  • Cut down on the scolding and ensure your employees know they can be open and honest with you, whether they want to talk about how happy they are with the company or how unhappy they are with it.

Also, take a page from Michael Scott’s “Somehow I Manage” and have your employees participate in team-building activities. Team lunches and mentorship programs are also great ways to make the organisation feel like a clan.

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Key characteristics of clan company culture:

Key characteristics of clan company culture

A clan company culture is like a family in which everyone sticks together.

Companies with a strong clan company culture are more likely to have the following:

Strong teamwork and active participation

Clan company culture is based on working together and trusting each other, so working as a team is essential. People work on the business outside their jobs to develop ideas and find solutions from different perspectives. Strong bonds between employees help them work well together and work hard to reach goals.

Informality and a flat organisation

Most organisations have a flat structure, so there aren’t many barriers between employees at different levels. Management thinks of their workers as a family, so they will lead in a caring way. Also, employees may need clear roles because they do many different things.

A sense of belonging

People feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves because they are part of the organisation. They have a strong emotional connection to the organisation’s mission, values, and colleagues. There is also an unspoken agreement that people should be loyal to the company and compete with businesses in the same field.

Close connections

Employees work closely together as a unit and have more loyalty to each other than outsiders. Team members often recommend new hires who already have ties to the company. People who work together spend much time together, even outside of work. Employees often act as mentors for each other and learn from each other.

Taking care of employees

With a focus on employee well-being, clan company culture gives employees a supportive workplace where they can learn and grow. There is a commitment to making the workplace safe and pleasant for employees and ensuring they have everything they need to be happy.

Advantages and Drawbacks of A Clan company culture:


Promoting flexibility in how people dress, when they work, and where they do their work can help bosses and their teams get along professionally.

Advantages of Clan Company Culture:

Let’s analyze the other good things that come from clan company culture:

Productivity and the growth of the company

A happy business starts with a happy team. There is a link between happy employees, productivity, and the growth of a business. When the needs of employees come first, office morale is high, and people feel valued at work.

Employees who trust their managers and coworkers are less likely to complain and talk about them. Instead, they are more likely to go above and beyond their regular work. They can say what they think, take more risks, and think outside the box. When your whole team is behind you, it’s nice to know they’ll catch you if you fall.

Easy to understand

Having a “tribe-like” organisational culture helps employees think and work as a dream team. Just like we’re told to sit down with our families at dinner time and “chew the fat,” there are many clear benefits for companies that communicate often and openly.

Clan company cultures put more value on weekly one-on-ones, team presentations, and meetings to which everyone is invited.

Clan cultures encourage everyone in the company, from the cleaner to the CEO, to sing from the same hymn sheet. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the more employees you involve, the louder and farther your message can spread.


Ideas and thoughts

Family-like culture takes a more “inclusive” approach; ideas and feedback are warmly welcomed (a bit like a much-missed daughter back from travelling). From a review point of view, it’s good to air out the office laundry and get honest feedback from everyone. Please remember that there’s a problem to get together and figure out how to fix it. Employee surveys, suggestion boxes, and creativity rooms are significant parts of the rich tapestry of clan company culture traits, which makes sense.

Could you take a look around? Does your office have a place where ideas and feedback can be shared with anyone who wants to?

Setting aside a space for this creativity can help your employees understand your business’s mission, goals, and processes.

This sets the stage for profitable success.

Healthier working environment

When you pay attention to the people on your team and in your company, their health, happiness, and even personal goals come to the fore. We’ve discussed how different areas, rooms, and visuals can help people develop creative ideas. Still, clan company culture encourages companies to take care of their everyday office space.

Now, we’re not saying that every corner should have a yoga mat or that you should sweep through a cloud of incense to find your CEO doing an American-Chief-style sacred ceremony at the end of every quarter.

We’re going to change the look of our empty walls (they’re a blank canvas, darling), so we’re asking our team to come up with motivational quotes and sayings that will boost morale and keep us from falling into the afternoon slump.

Drawbacks of clan company culture:


There is a thin line between talking enough and talking too much. All of us have been there. We sat in a meeting without really paying attention or getting anything out of it because we were so busy and preoccupied with our work. What do you think HR should do?

Don’t just talk about things that can be talked about. Set rules for company meetings and print them on a poster or pop-up for each group space to remind people of them.

Not everyone’s best friend is their boss

As a boss or senior manager, it’s great to get to know your employees. But it is important to have limits. You can have fun with your team, join in, and even joke around sometimes, but in the end, you need a good leader to show you the way and take charge when you need to. What do you think HR should do?

Don’t forget that you’re not their best friend. Stop adding comments to your team’s Facebook page and following them on Instagram. Keep your social life under control and look for ways to help them do their best job.

People don’t get along

When a company has “one vision” and encourages employees to be independent and flexible, personality clashes and stepping on toes are bound to happen. It’s hard to go against the crowd, and if you’re joining a new group, it takes a lot of courage to stand out by having a different point of view.

In this case, clan company culture can cause blind spots where your employees might be afraid to challenge a mistaken group assumption or group bias.

What do you think HR should do? Change the red flag for a plan to help your team do well. Look back at their resumes, reviews, and employee surveys. What do they do well? Does everyone know what they do and where they stand on the team? Ask questions, pay close attention to the answers, and set clear goals.

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Inappropriate action

In the same way, there is a thin line between encouraging employees to have fun and stepping on their fundamental rights. Workplaces with a “clan company culture” can get into trouble if their teams don’t understand: What clan company culture is.

“But I thought the rule was that there are no rules,” or “That happy-go-lucky office “banter” may not be seen as “banter” by the person who hears it.” Talk to your HR advisor and clarify what is and isn’t okay regarding these tricky cases of harassment and discrimination between employees and employers.

What do you think HR should do? Set limits and ensure your employee contracts spell out how the company handles complaints in black and white by putting this on a cloud-based software that everyone can use; like ours, employees always know where they stand, no matter where they are.

How can HR strengthen a clan company culture?

A company with the right culture will be good for business. Teams in your organisation might benefit from the intense teamwork, collaboration, and sense of belonging that is part of clan company culture. Let’s look at some ways you can spread these parts of clan company culture and change the culture of your organisation:

1. Create trust

Trust between employees and between employees and their managers is essential for a good work environment where team members can thrive. Managers also need to have faith in the people on their teams. Here are some ways to get people to do this:

Get managers to spend time getting to know the people on their teams. If you care about what they’re working on and what’s happening in their lives outside of work, you can make a real connection with them. They should also go out of their way to make new employees feel welcome and pay attention to how well they fit in with the team.

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Ensure that executives are seen and can be reached by employees from time to time. Make them come to team meetings or be around in casual settings so that employees can see them as people they can talk to and connect with—advocate for putting more emphasis on successes and less on failures.

Instead of placing blame, leaders should use mistakes as opportunities to learn. They should be bold and admit and talk about bad business decisions. Recognise and praise people when they come up with good ideas or do more than expected.

2. Give rewards to the whole team

Rewarding employees individually can boost morale and loyalty, and rewarding the whole team can help employees work together better. Bonuses, prizes, and annual events to show appreciation are all examples of this type of incentive. For these to work, the goal performance or outcome must depend on what everyone does. Also, the performance standards for rewards must be fair and easy to understand.

3. Promote a feedback culture

The clan company culture encourages openness, feedback, and new ideas, so develop different ways to help these things grow in your teams. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Set up meetings to come up with ideas.
  • Invite people to comment on proposals, etc.
  • Encourage managers to listen actively and to be open to employees’ ideas.
  • Act on the feedback, and then let people know what you decided or changed.

By giving employees many ways to provide feedback, they can choose the one that makes them feel most comfortable. They also need to know that expressing their opinions won’t hurt them in any way so that they can be honest and open.

4. Get employees to talk to each other

When people feel like they know each other, they work better together. Here are some ideas for ways to bring employees together:

  • A micro-mentoring program.
  • Teams for special projects.
  • Structured activities for building teams.
  • Tournaments for team games.
  • We went out to lunch without talking about work.
  • Team workdays for charity.

5. Make people feel like they belong

Employees will feel like they belong to their employer if they know the organisation’s goal and how they help it reach that goal. It’s essential to find ways to connect your employees to the organisation’s goals so that they feel like they belong. Managers need to do more than listen to and act on employee feedback.

They also need to make sure that everyone is heard. This means going up to people who don’t usually say much in a group and asking them for their ideas or giving them a chance to speak up. Even gig workers and people who work from home need to feel like they belong. Remember to invite them to as many companies or team events as possible.

|>>> Read more: Culture Fit: What makes candidate a cultural fit?


Who you can hire and keep at your company depends on your culture. Organisations of all sizes are trying to create a more “clan-like” feeling throughout the business. Helping employees feel like they belong to the organisation and each other will lead to effective teams and success.

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