Employee Engagement, Featured

6 Lessons About Company Culture From Harry Potter


You can love the work you do at your job. You can be passionate about the results. But if your workplace’s company culture doesn’t suit you, you’ll still dread going into work most days.

That’s why companies care about creating a culture that will help their employees feel happy and productive.

To take a closer look at what goes into a happy company culture, let’s take a page out of one of the world’s favorite book series: Harry Potter.

Hear me out.

As a quick refresher if you aren’t a hardcore fan, Harry Potter attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Hogwarts student body is quartered into four houses: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin.

Students are sorted into one of these houses based on common personality traits and shared values. For example, Gryffindors are typically brash, bold and competitive, while Hufflepuffs are hardworking and value teamwork. Harry is sorted into Gryffindor.

All four houses are in competition with one another. The students are awarded points for their houses based on academic achievement, performing good deeds, and general good conduct. The house that is awarded the most points throughout the year wins the House Cup.

So think of Hogwarts as the marketplace and Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin as competing companies with distinct company cultures.

Venngage, a graphic design software, recently sorted 54 tech companies into the Hogwarts house best suited to them based on company mission and value statement. In the end, the companies were pretty evenly split between the houses.

Company Culture Lessons From Harry Potter

There are actually some valuable lessons about company culture that can be pulled from how Hogwarts operates. With that in mind, here are 7 things Harry Potter can teach you about company culture.

It’s important to have shared values

While all four Hogwarts houses value excellence, how they achieve excellence varies depending on each house’s particular set of values.

For example, Hufflepuff values hard work and group success over individual acceleration. Meanwhile, Ravenclaw values the perfection of one’s craft through diligent study.

Gryffindor also values teamwork, but Gryffindors are also notoriously competitive and tend to value taking quick action over careful planning.

Every job will have parts that you wish you didn’t have to do, even a job that you love. But your job should still sit well morally with you. And if something you’re doing doesn’t sit well with you morally, you should be able to bring it up with your management.

That’s why it’s important to find a workplace with values you can get behind. And these values should inform every project your team embarks on and every major decision your team makes.

A clear mission statement will guide your team

At the beginning of each new year at Hogwarts, the Sorting Hat sings a song about the four houses at the beginning of the sorting ceremony. The song introduces the core values of each house. This reinforces the house values for the existing students and also introduces them to the new students as well.

The same idea can be applied to your team. Your company’s core values and mission statement should be listed somewhere easily accessible, and they should be repeated in meetings, in internal documents, and in decision making processes.

Working with different mindsets can make problem solving easier

Harry becomes good friends with Luna Lovegood, a Ravenclaw student who is considered a bit odd even by her fellow housemates but whose unique perspective helps Harry to overcome multiple obstacles.

While having a shared mindset can help keep a team unified, it’s also important to be open to different mindsets. After all, new ways of thinking can spark innovation.

According to research at Stanford University, people are able to be more innovative when their workplace fosters an environment of growth. So when people are able to try new things, offer and receive criticism, and master new skills, they will be able to achieve better, more inventive work.

Find a management style that works for you

The professors at Hogwarts embody a range of different teaching styles. Dumbledore, the Hogwarts Headmaster, directs the school with wisdom, kindness and a steady hand. When Dolores Umbridge steps in as Headmaster, however, she takes a much more controlling and militant approach to leading.

You can imagine which one most students preferred.

From my experience, management can really make or break a job. Finding a company with a management style that you respect and appreciate is important. You should be able to trust that the person you’re reporting to makes sound decisions.

A great manager will know how to get the best out of their staff.  

Be open to collaboration with other companies in the market

The competition between the four houses at Hogwarts is quite fierce, particularly the rivalry between Gryffindor and Slytherin.

This is a basic tenet for good business in general. You want to be aware of who your market competition is and where you stand relative to them.

But it’s also beneficial for your team members to keep an eye out for opportunities to team up with other companies in the market who aren’t your top competitors. This not only keeps your team on the pulse of what’s happening in your industry, but it also introduces you to different approaches that may inspire the way your team works.

There is no one perfect approach to company culture

Hogwarts is strongest when the students and faculty stand united. It’s how they defeat Lord Voldemort, after all. Despite their differences, they unite under a shared cause.

While a company should hold true to its values and mission statement, there should be flexibility within the dynamics of your team. If something in your team isn’t working, or if there’s something that you see another company doing that works better, then don’t be afraid to pull inspiration from them to help your team perform even better.

A magic team is formed over time

It’s very rare for a perfect team to come together right away. Even the strongest, best performing teams have growing pains. But when you find a workplace where you click with the culture, you will feel comfortable sharing new ideas, taking risks, and growing your skillset.

Luckily for us mere muggles, building a great team isn’t sorcery. But it is important to suspend disbelief from time to time and let the magic happen.

For more ideas on how to keep your employees engaged throughout the year, take a look at the strategies outlined in our blog post on the subject.

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