Clan culture is the name given to an organisation with a family-like feel. The organisations that are labelled as having a clan culture tend to have small teams who feel like a type of family. 

There are benefits to such a small and intimate team relationship, but there are some difficulties too. So let’s take a closer look when a clan culture can be beneficial to an organisation, and when it might not be working.

When Clan Culture Works

Promoting flexibility which supports your team members can build a level of respect and loyalty that cannot be paid for. Allowing people to manage their own tasks, choose their hours of work and even location to empower and motivate workers.

Positive Connections

There is a positive correlation between satisfied employees, productivity and business growth. When you put your employees first, their morale is high which flows into the business in forms of productivity and commitment. People trust each other, feel comfortable sharing ideas and are unafraid to take risks because they feel supported even if they fail.

Clear Communication

Employees operating in a clan culture tend to think and work closely. This means that the channels of communication are open, be that face-to-face or over devices. Discussions tend to be organic and free-flowing, with all team members invited to participate in problem-solving, brainstorming and even crisis management.


Probably one of the biggest benefits of working with a small team that disregards hierarchy (to some degree) is the opportunity to bounce ideas freely. The levels of creativity are not stifled by ideas of hierarchy, allowing people to share their ideas and skills with the team in inhibited ways. This can lead to breakthroughs in brainstorming and product development.

Vibrant working environment

When people feel like the focus of the business, they are engaged, happy and motivated. Their work has a purpose. This leads to higher levels of job satisfaction, which improves the health of your employees. This is important to your bottom line as happy and satisfied staff stay with your organisation, meaning that your staff turnover is low and their skill sets are high.

Relaxed Environment

Create an inviting office space that feels professional yet comfortable. Have plants, open the blinds to let in the natural light and create a breakout space where people can relax or even work.

If you can, offer people the opportunity to work from home, either full time or on a flexible schedule. People have very different needs when working, and this needs to be taken into account. However, it is easy to accommodate everyone when you have a small team.

When Clan Culture Fails

Too much talk

Small teams can get caught up in talking too much. Over collaboration can put the breaks on projects when everyone’s voice is given equal sway. For this reason, there does need to be a clear decision-maker who is well-respected and who can take control when a conversation takes over from collaboration.

The boss is still the boss

The boss still needs to have boundaries with employees. While you might all be friends, the boss needs to be respected as a decision-maker who has the power to determine the direction the organization will take. While this distinction does not need to be overt, there are times that the boss needs to be a leader, even if it is an unpopular decision.

Personality clashes

When you promote employee individualism and flexibility alongside a ‘one vision’ company, you run the risk of personality clashes and stepping on toes. The new person is stepping into an established group and they might be reluctant to speak up if their opinion differs from that of the group. This can lead to blind spots that do have the potential to undermine your business.

Inappropriate behaviour 

The office can get out of hand if there is an attitude of ‘free for all’. There do need to be some boundaries that make employees feel comfortable. These guidelines include things like an expected arrival time to the office, or deadlines for projects, or expectations around communication channels being open at set times if people work remotely. Some boundaries help people to feel secure and know what the basic expectations of their behaviour is, meaning they can’t fail by not understanding what the expectations are.