Organizational Culture Essay
Strong culture is said to exist where staff respond to stimulus because of their alignment to organizational values. In such environments, strong cultures help firms operate like well-oiled machines, engaging in outstanding execution with only minor adjustments to existing procedures as needed. Conversely, there is weak culture where there is little alignment with organizational values, and control must be exercised through extensive procedures and bureaucracy. Research shows that organizations that foster strong cultures have clear values that give employees a reason to embrace the culture. A “strong” culture may be especially beneficial to firms operating in the service sector since members of these organizations are responsible for delivering the service and for evaluations important constituents make about firms. Research indicates that organizations may derive the following benefits from developing strong and productive cultures: Better aligning the company towards achieving its vision, mission, and goals.
High employee motivation and loyalty
Increased team cohesiveness among the company’s various departments and divisions Promoting consistency and encouraging coordination and control within the company Shaping employee behavior at work, enabling the organization to be more efficient ,where culture is strong, people do things because they believe it is the right thing to do, and there is a risk of another phenomenon, groupthink. “Groupthink” was described by Irving Janis. He defined it as “a quick and easy way to refer to a mode of thinking that people engage when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternatives of action.”
This is a state in which even if they have different ideas, do not challenge organizational thinking, and therefore there is a reduced capacity for innovative thoughts. This could occur, for example, where there is heavy reliance on a central charismatic figure in the organization, or where there is an evangelical belief in the organization’ values, or also in groups where a friendly climate is at the base of their identity (avoidance of conflict). In fact, groupthink is very common and happens all the time, in almost every group. Members that are defiant are often turned down or seen as a negative influence by the rest of the group because they bring conflict.
Healthy organizational cultures
Organizations should strive for what is considered a “healthy” organizational culture in order to increase productivity, growth, efficiency and reduce counterproductive behavior and turnover of employees. A variety of characteristics describe a healthy culture, including: Acceptance and appreciation for diversity.
Regard for and fair treatment of each employee as well as respect for each employee’s contribution to the company Employee pride and enthusiasm for the organization and the work performed equal opportunity for each employee to realize their full potential within the company Strong communication with all employees regarding policies and company issues Strong company leaders with a strong sense of direction and purpose ability to compete in industry innovation and customer service. As well as price Lower than average turnover rates (perpetuated by a healthy culture) Investment in learning, training, and employee knowledge.
Additionally, performance oriented cultures have been shown to possess statistically better financial growth. Such cultures possess high employee involvement, strong internal communications and an acceptance and encouragement of a healthy level of risk-taking in order to achieve innovation. Additionally, organizational cultures that explicitly emphasize factors related to the demands placed on them by industry technology and growth will be better performers in their industries. According to Kotter and Heskett (1992), organizations with adaptive cultures perform much better than organizations with unadaptive cultures. An adaptive culture translates into organizational success; it is characterized by managers paying close attention to all of their constituencies, especially customers, initiating change when needed, and taking risks. An unadaptive culture can significantly reduce a firm’s effectiveness, disabling the firm from pursuing all its competitive/operational options. Mergers, organizational culture, and cultural leadership.
One of the biggest obstacles in the way of the merging of two organizations is organizational culture. Each organization has its own unique culture and most often, when brought together, these cultures clash. When mergers fail employees point to issues such as identity, communication problems, human resources problems, ego clashes, and inter-group conflicts, which all fall under the category of “cultural differences”. One way to combat such difficulties is through cultural leadership. Organizational leaders must also be cultural leaders and help facilitate the change from the two old cultures into the one new culture. This is done through cultural innovation followed by cultural maintenance.
Cultural innovation includes:
Creating a new culture: recognizing past cultural differences and setting realistic expectations for change Changing the culture: weakening and replacing the old cultures Cultural maintenance includes.
Integrating the new culture: reconciling the differences between the old cultures and the new one Embodying the new culture: Establishing, affirming, and keeping the new culture Factors and elements.
Gerry Johnson (1988) described a cultural web, identifying a number of elements that can be used to describe or influence organizational culture. The paradigm: What the organization is about, what it does, its mission, its values. Control systems: The processes in place to monitor what is going on. Role cultures would have vast rulebooks. There would be more reliance on individualism in a power culture. Organizational structures: Reporting lines, hierarchies, and the way that work flows through the business. Power structures: Who makes the decisions, how widely spread is power, and on what is power based?
Symbols: These include organizational logos and designs, but also extend to symbols of power such as parking spaces and executive washrooms. Rituals and routines: Management meetings, board reports and so on may become more habitual than necessary. Stories and myths: build up about people and events, and convey a message about what is valued within the organization. These elements may overlap. Power structures may depend on control systems, which may exploit the very rituals that generate stories which may not be true. According to Schein (1992), the two main reasons why cultures develop in organizations is due to external adaptation and internal integration. External adaptation reflects an evolutionary approach to organizational culture and suggests that cultures develop and persist because they help an organization to survive and flourish. If the culture is valuable, then it holds the potential for generating sustained competitive advantages.
Additionally, internal integration is an important function since social structures are required for organizations to exist. Organizational practices are learned through socialization at the workplace. Work environments reinforce culture on a daily basis by encouraging employees to exercise cultural values. Organizational culture is shaped by multiple factors, including the following: External environment.
Organization culture’s definition:
The values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization. Organizational culture includes an organization’s expectations, experiences, philosophy, and values that hold it together, and is expressed in its self-image, inner workings, interactions with the outside world, and future expectations. It is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid. Also called corporate culture, it’s shown in the ways the organization conducts its business, treats its employees, customers, and the wider community, the extent to which freedom is allowed in decision making, developing new ideas, and personal expression, how power and information flow through its hierarchy, and how committed employees are towards collective objectives.
“Culture is how organizations ‘do things’.” — Robbie Katanga “In large part, culture is a product of compensation.” — Alec Haverstick “Organizational culture defines a jointly shared description of an organization from within.” — Bruce Perron Organizational cultures form for a reason. Perhaps the current culture matches the style and comfort zone of the company founder. Culture frequently echoes the prevailing management style. Since managers tend to hire people just like themselves, the established organizational culture is reinforced by new hires. Organizational culture grows over time. People are comfortable with the current culture. For people to consider culture change, usually a significant event must occur.
An event that rocks their world such as flirting with bankruptcy, a significant loss of sales and customers, or losing a million dollars, might get peoples’ attention. Even then, to recognize that the organizational culture is the culprit and to take steps to change it, is a tough journey. In no way do I mean to trivialize the difficulty of the experience of organizational culture change by summarizing it in this article, but here are my best ideas about culture change that can help your organization grow and transform. When people in an organization realize and recognize that their current culture needs to transform to support the organization’s success and progress, change can occur. But change is not pretty and change is not easy. The good news? Organizational culture change is possible. It requires understanding, commitment, and tools.
Steps in Organizational Culture Change:
There are three major steps involved in changing an organization’s culture.
1. My earlier article discusses How to Understand Your Current Culture. Before an organization can change its culture, it must first understand the current culture, or the way things are now. Do take the time to pursue the activities in this article before moving on to the next steps.
2. Once you understand your current organizational culture, your organization must then decide where it wants to go, define its strategic direction, and decide what the organizational culture should look like to support success. What vision does the organization have for its future and how must the culture change to support the accomplishment of that vision?
3. Finally, the individuals in the organization must decide to change their behavior to create the desired organizational culture. This is the hardest step in culture change.
Plan the Desired Organizational Culture:
The organization must plan where it wants to go before trying to make any changes in the organizational culture. With a clear picture of where the organization is currently, the organization can plan where it wants to be next. Mission, vision, and values: to provide a framework for the assessment and evaluation of the current organizational culture, your organization needs to develop a picture of its desired future. What does the organization want to create for the future? Mission, vision, and values should be examined for both the strategic and the value based components of the organization. Your management team needs to answer questions such as: What are the five most important values you would like to see represented in your organizational culture? Are these values compatible with your current organizational culture? Do they exist now? If not, why not? If they are so important, why are you not attaining these values?
Changing Culture of an Organization:
There are four primary ways to influence the culture of an organization.
1. Emphasize what’s important. This includes widely communicating goals of the organization, posting the mission statement on the wall, talking about accomplishments and repeating what you want to see in the workplace.
2. Reward employees whose behaviors reflect what’s important.
3. Discourage behaviors that don’t reflect what’s important. There is no need to punish or cause prolonged discomfort. Rather, you want to dissuade the employee from continuing unwanted behaviors by giving them constructive feedback, verbal warnings, written warnings, or firing them.
4. Model the behaviors that you want to see in the workplace. This is perhaps the most powerful way to influence behaviors in the workplace. For example, if you want to see more teamwork among your employees, then involve yourself in teams more often. Here are several articles with guidelines about changing the culture of an organization.