Everything you need to know about organizational culture. The term ‘Organizational Culture’ refers to the norms and values of an organization, which together make the personality of the company.
Improving organizational culture is the need of the hour, as people want to work for a company that enables them to maintain a balance between their work life and personal life and organizations who give importance to organizational culture increase their productivity and lower are the attrition rates.
So, a healthy organizational culture is a win-win situation for all the stakeholders, shareholders, management, customers and employees.
Organizational culture, being unique and distinctive, prescribes some specific modes of behaviour for its members. These modes of behaviour, then, affect the entire behavioural processes.
Though such behavioural processes may have different dimensions, they ultimately create impact on objective setting, work ethic, motivational pattern and organizational processes.
1. Introduction to Organizational Culture 2. Meaning of Organizational Culture 3. Concepts 4. Characteristics 5. Uniformity 6. Improving 7. Types 8. Approaches
9. Indicators 10. Impact 11. How to Keep the Cultural Alive? 12. How is Culture Learned by Employees? 13. Changing Organizational Culture 14. Developing Organizational Culture 15. Emerging Issues.
Organizational Culture: Meaning, Concepts, Characteristics, Components, Types, Approaches, Impact and Emerging Issues
- Introduction to Organizational Culture
- Meaning of Organizational Culture
- Concepts of Organizational Culture
- Characteristics of Organizational Culture
- Uniformity of Organizational Culture
- Improving Organizational Culture
- Types of Organizational Culture
- Approaches to Organizational Culture
- Indicators of Organizational Culture
- Impact of Organizational Culture
- How to Keep the Culture Alive?
- How is Culture Learned by Employees?
- Changing Organizational Culture
- Developing Organizational Culture
- Emerging Issues in Organizational Culture
Organizational Culture – Introduction
Culture is the set of important understandings that of a community share in common. It consists of patterns and ways of thinking, feeling, and reactions that are acquired by language and symbols that create distinctiveness among human group.
Culture of the organisation plays an important role in the area of motivation and the level of economic rewards. It also influences the level of commitment to work on the part of the members. Organisational culture represents a common perception shared by the member of an organisation and has a tendency to describe the organisational culture in almost similar terms.
The term ‘Organisational Culture’ refers to the norms and values of an organisation, which together make the personality of the company. Improving organisational culture is the need of the hour, as people want to work for a company that enables them to maintain a balance between their work life and personal life and organisations who give importance to organisational culture increase their productivity and lower are the attrition rates. So, a healthy organisational culture is a win-win situation for all the stakeholders, shareholders, management, customers and employees.
What makes organisational culture enduring is the socialisation process of an organisation. This process familiarises a ‘fresher’ with the various characteristics of culture and forces him to adjust to it and continues throughout one’s entire career in the organisation.
Socialisation process has three stages – pre-arrival, encounter, and metamorphosis. Selection of only ‘right type’ of person who ‘fit’ the eligibility requirement (which is laid down in the light of prevailing organisational culture) is an attempt to maintain and perpetuate the existing organisational culture even before the outsider has joined the organisation.
If a ‘wrong’ person (whose individual characteristics do not match with the prevailing organisational culture) gains an entry into the organisation, she/he encounter with the new forces. These forces try to change him/her according to organisation culture. The person may decide either to surrender him/herself to these forces and get completely changed or to leave the organisation.
The various forces which a person has to encounter on him/her entry into the organisation and which subsequently bring about his/her metamorphosis are long-standing unwritten rules, rituals, taboos, jargons, and the prevailing work culture. Every organisation has some long-standing unwritten rules of conduct, which its members meticulously follow.
Rituals refer to ceremonies which organisation performs on specific occasions? Taboos refer to the prohibitions imposed on certain forms of speech or acts, e.g., not calling superiors by their first names, not discussing each other’s personal lives in public, not coming to the place of work in a drunken state and so on. Jargon refers to the special language, which only the members of the fraternity understand. This is sometimes referred to as ‘code language’, and may include nicknames for persons, events, and processes, etc.
Organizational Culture – Meaning
Jeane Kirkpotrisk says, “Culture includes the entire symbolic environment”. Culture defines reality- What is?, what should be?, what can be?, it provides focus and meaning. It selects out of the events and interactions in the world those we pay attention too. Culture tells us what is important?, what causes what?, how events beyond our lives relate to us?
Culture gives us values and standard of value. What we may distinguish analytically (and at our peril) as fact, value and goal is existingly integrated in culture in identification and demands of individual persons.
The origin of the word ‘Culture” is revealing. The term has agricultural overtones, as in the word ‘Cultivation’. It meant to prepare the ground, to develop or foster a particular kind of growth.
Culture is training, development and refinement of mind, tastes and manners- the condition of being thus trained and refined. Culture is the act of developing intellectual and moral faculties, especially through education. Culture is the moral, social and behavioural norms of an organization based on the beliefs, attitudes and priorities.
Culture drives the organization and its actions. It is somewhat like, “the operating systems” of the organization. It guides how employee think, act and feel. It is dynamic and fluid and it is never static. A culture may be effective at one time under a given set of circumstances and ineffective at another at another time.
Culture of an organization operates at both a conscious and unconscious level. Some aspects of culture are visible and tangible and others are intangible and unconscious. Avoidance of conflict is a value that is an excellent example of an unconscious norm.
Secondary values are at a more conscious level- these are the values that people in the organization discuss, promote and try to live by some of the most visible expressions of the culture are called artifacts.
These include the architecture and decor, the clothing people wear, the organizational processes and structures and the rituals, symbols and celebrations.
The commonly found manifestation of culture are language and jargon, logos, brochures company slogans, as well as status symbols such as cars, windows, offices, titles and of course value statements and priorities. These artifacts have often become part of the background.
Organizational Culture – Concepts: Dominant Culture, Sub-Culture, Strong Cultures, Weak Cultures, Mechanistic and Organic Culture, Authoritarian and Participative Cultures
These different cultural concepts include:
1. Dominant Culture:
Most of the employees of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) believe that the business strategies of the company are not aggressive compared to those of the private sector. This core shared belief by most of the employees is called dominant culture.
Dominant culture, thus, denotes the core values which are shared by majority of the employees in the organisation. It is the macro-cultural perspective that presents the organisation’s personality.’
HPCL started its own retail outlets. Managers and employees of these outlets have autonomy and freedom to operate. The shared value of the employees of the retail outlets is that they are allowed to be competitive. This retail outlets culture of HPCL is sub-culture.
Thus, sub-cultures are denoted by units/departments/geographic separations. They are mini- cultures within the company.
Employees in HPCL are not allowed to be competitive. It is the core value. Core values are primary or dominant values; those are accepted by the majority of the organizational members.
3. Strong Cultures:
The system of the public sector organisation does not allow the potential employees to be competitive. These values are intensely held and widely spread. Thus, the organisation’s core values which are intensely held and widely spread are called strong cultures.
Strong cultures have great influence on the employee behaviour. As such, most of the competent employees in the public sector are highly frustrated.
4. Weak Cultures:
In a weak culture, the organisation’s core values are lightly held and occasionally shared. For example, Indian Railways is more concerned towards its customers.
5. Mechanistic and Organic Cultures:
The most important aspects of organisation in public sector companies include hierarchies, supervision, control, formalisation, flow of authority and communication from top to bottom, etc., rather than the results or outcome. Organisations with these characters are termed as mechanistic organisations. They follow status quo strategy and therefore resist innovation and aggressiveness on the part of employees. These organisations also lack customer-orientation and employee welfare.
Tata Infotech, on the other hand, is more flexible and open. Jobs and roles are not defined rigidly and employees are given freedom to adjust themselves to the environmental requirements. Concern is more towards the outcome and results, but not the procedure or hierarchy.
Communication in this company is more multi-directional. The informal communication is widely used. Decision-making is more decentralised. People with the ability to handle problems are given freedom to assume authority and responsibility. This company is a continuous learning organisation from the environment and such companies are termed as organic structures.
The mechanic culture de-motivates the competent people and leads to negative organisational culture. Whilst the organic culture motivates the able employees to be competitive and innovative.
6. Authoritarian and Participative Cultures:
Authority to make the decisions is centralised at the top management level in Nagarjuna Fertilisers Limited. Consequently, the CEO of the company makes the decisions and informs them to the lower levels in the organisation. Such culture of concentration of authority and power at the central level is called authoritarian culture. Such a culture kills the initiative and innovativeness of the employees at different levels.
In contrast, Cybertech Systems and Software decentralises the power and authority of decision-making. In fact, employees are involved in decision-making. Communication flows not only from the top to bottom but also from the bottom to the top. Such type of culture is called participative culture. Participative culture encourages the employees to be innovative, aggressive and to take risks.
Organizational Culture – Characteristics: Individual Autonomy, Structure, Management Support, Identify, Performance Reward System, Conflict Tolerance and a Few Others
The following characteristics help us to understand the nature of organizational culture better.
When we mix and match these characteristics, we get the basis of culture:
1. Individual Autonomy:
The degree of responsibility, freedom and opportunities of exercising initiative that individuals have in the organization.
The degree which the organization creates clear objectives and performance expectations. It also includes the degree of direct supervision that is used to control employee behaviour.
3. Management Support:
The degree to which managers provide clear communication, assistance; warmth and support to their subordinates.
The degree to which members identify with the organization as a whole rather than their particular work group or field of professional expertise.
5. Performance Reward System:
The degree to which reward system in the organization like increase in salary, promotions etc. is based on employee performance rather than on seniority, favouritism and so on.
6. Conflict Tolerance:
The degree of conflict present in relationships between colleagues and work groups as well as the degree to which employees are encouraged to air conflict and criticisms openly.
7. Rise Tolerance:
The degree to which employees are encouraged to be innovative, aggressive and risk taking.
8. Communication Patterns:
The degree to which organizational communications are restricted to the formal hierarchy of authority.
9. Outcome Orientation:
The degree to which management focuses on results or outcomes rather than on the techniques and processes used to achieve these outcomes.
10. People Orientation:
The degree to which management decisions take into consideration the impact of outcomes on people within the organization.
Organizational Culture – Uniformity of Culture: Dominant Culture and Subculture
A common misconception is that an organisation has a uniform culture. All organisations have culture in the sense that they are embedded in specific societal cultures and are part of them. An organisational culture is common perception held by the organisational members. Everyone in the organisation would have to share this perception.
There can be dominant culture and subculture as discussed below:
1. Dominant Culture:
A dominant culture is a set of core values shared by a majority of the organisational members. For example, most employees at South-West Airlines seem to subscribe to such values as handwork, company loyalty, and the need for customer service. At Hewlett-Packard, most of the employees seem to share a concern for product innovativeness, product quality, and responsiveness to customer needs.
Culture is a unique concept. Within any organisation we can find variations in culture known as subculture. It is unique but natural that within a society, substantial variations do exist in culture. A subculture is set of values shared by a minority, usually a small minority of the organisation’s member. Subculture typically is a result of problems that are shared by members of department or unit.
It is however possible to classify these subcultures into institutional (vertical subculture) and professional (horizontal) subculture as discussed below:
(i) Institutional Subculture:
An institutional subculture comprises of the behaviour patterns of a particular group of a department within the company of a company as a whole. For instance, a company may place tremendous emphasis on the safety and accident prevention. Similarly, in some organisations, high priority may be on quality of work. Thus, safety in the former and quality in the later will become the part of subculture of that organisation.
(ii) Professional Subculture:
These encamps the customs associated with a particular professional of occupational group within an organisation. Therefore, they are also called as horizontal culture. Some professionals also develop certain code of conduct or ethics applicable to their profession. For example, accountants have some code of conduct and they perform their duties and functions irrespective of the consequences to the particular organisation for which they work.
Organizational Culture – Improving Organisational Culture
Some of the important ways of improving organisational culture are discussed as follows:
1. Training and development of employees in the right way is an important step towards improving the organisation’s work culture.
2. Analysing the existing culture and comparing it with the expectations and perceptions of employees brings changes accordingly.
3. Create a diverse team of enthusiastic people, who are interested in working as a team and improving the work atmosphere as a whole.
4. Healthy communication, good leadership with strategies adopted to build an attractive culture.
5. Handling conflicts by way of creating an unbiased, transparent and impartial conflict resolution mechanism.
6. Team-building along with synergy is a must to attain the organisation’s objectives to build effective culture. Synergetic and cooperative teamwork is manifestation of a healthy organisational climate.
Organizational Culture – 8 Important Types: Mechanistic Organisational Culture, Organic Organisational Culture, Authoritarian Organisational Culture and a Few Others
Over the years a number of organisational cultures have been identified.
The more interesting of these are briefly described below:
Type # 1. Mechanistic Organisational Culture:
The mechanistic organisational culture exhibits the values of bureaucracy and feudalism. Organisational work is conceived as a system of narrow specialisation, as among craft guilds. People think of their careers principally within these specialisation. Authority is thought of as flowing down from the top and information and instructions follow formally prescribed channels.
There is a great deal of departmental loyalty and interdepartmental animosity a strong ‘we’ versus ‘they’ perception. This sort of culture resists changes and innovations, and tends to be found in organisations operating in relatively stabilised conditions.
Type # 2. Organic Organisational Culture:
The organic organisational culture is a contrast to the mechanistic culture. Formal hierarchy of authority, departmental boundaries, rules and regulations and so forth are frowned upon. There is a great deal of emphasis on teamwork. Free flow of information, ease of communication, both formal and informal, across departments and specialisation and up and down the hierarchy, are strongly emphasised.
In given problem situations, the person with expertise may wield far more influence than the formal boss, so that even juniors if they have greater expertise, can prevail over their seniors. There is a widespread understanding within the staff of the kinds of problems, threats, opportunities, etc., the organisation is facing, and organisational members spontaneously, on their own, take appropriate roles required in the situation rather like the fielders in a cricket match.
The culture stresses flexibility, consultation, changes and innovation. This sort of culture tends to arise where a good deal of the work of the organisation is of a developmental nature or involves producing goods or services to the specification of individual customers.
Type # 3. Authoritarian Organisational Culture:
In the authoritarian culture, power is concentrated in the boss and obedience to orders and discipline are stressed. Any disobedience is punished severely to set an example to others. The basic assumption is that, as in the army during wartime unquestioning obedience to orders is necessary if the organisation is to survive. There is also the assumption that persons issuing orders know what is best for the organisation and always act in these best interests. Also, people working in the organisations are looked after so that they can give their best to the organisation.
Type # 4. Participative Organisational Culture:
The participative culture rests on the notion that people are more committed to decisions that are participatively made than to decisions that are imposed upon them. Also, group problem-solving leads to better decisions because so many new points of view and so much information are shared during discussions. Another basic belief is that collaboration is better than conflict, and if there is conflict, bringing it out into the open during discussion can lead to better decisions. Participative cultures tend to emerge where most organisational members are professionals or otherwise see themselves as equals.
Type # 5. Management Systems Culture:
The management systems culture believes in an engineering approach to management. Every operation is carefully analysed to see how it could be done most efficiently, and in doing this heavy use is made of textbook tools of management such as sophisticated planning, budgetary control and information systems, sophisticated techniques of market research. Activity scheduling, network analysis, investment analysis, professional selection and training IT personnel, etc. This sort of an organisation is rife with ‘systems” that is, carefully laid down procedures that are guaranteed to lead to ‘optimal’ results.
The systems culture frowns on ached decisions, lack of procedural clarity, intuitive decision making and so forth dextols the use of science in management. Technocrats rule the roost. This sort of culture is frequently found in highly professionally managed corporations or technology intensive organisations.
Type # 6. Entrepreneurial Organisational Culture:
The entrepreneurial culture is one, which favours growth, big deals and empire building vision, boldness in decision making and going in where angels fear to tread. This sort of culture is frequently found in a new industry or in an old industry in which a new technology or product has come on the scene making current technologies or product obsolete.
Type # 7. Paternalistic or Familial Organisational Culture:
A culture that is very common in societies undergoing a transition from traditionalism to modernity is the paternalistic or familial organisational culture. In this culture the head of the organisation / department is looked upon as a father figure, strict but benevolent, and subordinates consider themselves members of the organisational or departmental family. Just as in a family the employees are expected to identify themselves totally with the organisation and in return the organisation meets the personal as well as social needs of the employees.
Employment is typically for lifetime and there is often a sort of monarchy at the top, with the eldest son typically succeeding the retiring or dying head of the organisation. Not only are employees looked after, their children are also accommodated in the organisation. This sort of culture is commonly found in family controlled enterprises and institutions.
Type # 8. Altruistic Organisational Culture:
The altruistic culture is commonly found in organisation that have dedicated themselves to doing social good.
Organizational Culture – 2 Major Approaches: The Ouchi’s Framework and The Peters and Waterman Approach
Basically there are two approaches to describe organisation culture viz.:
i. The Ouchi’s Framework and
ii. The Peters and Waterman Approach.
i. The Ouchi Framework:
William W.Ouchi has first analysed the cultures of a limited group of companies. He has analysed the culture of three groups of companies viz.- (a) typical US companies, (b) typical Japanese Companies and (c) type Z companies.
a. Period of Employment:
Japanese companies provide lifetime employment. Similar culture of providing long-term employment is also adopted by theory Z companies. Typical US companies do not have the culture of providing employment commitment to its employees.
Theory Z firms concentrate on evaluation and training and promote the employees slowly. Japanese companies also promote the employees slowly. But the typical US companies promote the employees at a faster rate.
c. Career Paths:
Japanese firms follow the culture of very general careers. Employees are rotated among jobs and are encouraged to be familiar with all areas of operations. Theory Z firms also adopt similar culture. But the typical American companies adopt the culture of highly specialised jobs.
Japanese firms and theory Z firms have participative decision-making culture whereas typical American companies have the culture of individual decision-making.
Japanese companies have the culture of implicit and informal control whereas the typical American companies have the culture of explicit and formal control. Theory Z firms’ culture in this regard includes informal control and explicit performance appraisal.
Typical American companies and theory Z firms share the same culture of individual responsibility. Japanese firms follow the culture of group responsibility.
g. Concern for People:
Japanese firms are concerned with the total life of the employee. Theory Z firms also follow similar culture of expanding to more aspects of the worker’s total life. Typical American firms’ culture is limited to worker’s work life only.
According to Ouchi, the culture of Japanese firms and Theory Z firms helped them to outperform typical US companies. Toyota introduced management styles and culture of Japanese firms in North America. Investment and positive belief in human resources by Japanese companies and Theory Z firms resulted in significant improvement in long-term performance.
ii. The Peters and Waterman Approach:
Relationship between the organisational culture and performance is focussed more explicitly by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman in their book on “In Search of Excellence.” Peter and Waterman described the management practices of highly successful US companies. They found that cultural values led to successful management practices.
a. Bias for Action:
According to Peters and Waterman, managers of successful firms make decision, even if all the facts are not available as delay in decision-making costs the organisation. Thus, they show bias for action. Organisations with the cultural values of bias for action out-perform the companies without such values.
b. Stay Close to the Customer:
Superior customer service and building relations with the customers are the cultural values of the excellently performing firms. Scandinavian Airlines with these cultural values started making money when other airlines were in financial problems in 1989. Therefore ‘provide and perform what the customer needs’ should be the cultural value for excellence.
c. Autonomy and Entrepreneurship:
Successful firms never opt for bureaucracy. They go for small, independent and autonomous business units. Managers are expected to be entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in order to bring creations and innovations into the business.
d. Productivity through People:
The most important asset for successful organisation is its human resources. It is the core value for organisation culture. Organisations achieve higher productivity through such valuable people.
Managers should not manage by sitting in their offices. Instead, they should manage by ‘walking-around’ or ‘wandering around’ the plant, the design facility, R&D etc., in order to have first-hand experience in managing.
f. Stick to the Knitting:
Successful business firms stick to their core and distinctive competencies. Therefore, they stick to the business portfolio in which they have core and distinctive competencies and do not opt for conglomerate diversification (or unrelated diversification),
g. Simple Form, Lean Staff:
Excellent firms are with a flat structure with a few levels and less number of employees. This type of firms depends on the performance of the staff concerned and not on their size.
h. Simultaneously Loose and Tight Organisation:
Peters and Waterman view that successful organisations are tight as the members share common values and the organisation is loose as the members can take their decisions.
Various approaches to organisational culture and the cultural values of the excellent firms while discussing the relationship between the culture and performance. We learnt that participative and humanistic culture leads to higher performance. Now, most of us get a nagging doubt that how employees learn such organisational culture.
Organizational Culture – Indicators of Organisational Culture: Value, Selflessness, Faith, Knowledge, Problem Sharing, Risk Taking, Management Perspective and a Few Others
This is revealed by sincerity, humanitarian approach, steadfastness (firmly needs of management and employees to achieve the goals of the organisation.
This exactly means that people who work for the organisation should identify themselves with the organisation. Self-centered people ruin the firm. This indicates the degree of dedication of people who work for the organisation and level of organisational consciousness they possess.
This refers to the extent of belief that employees have about practices in the organisation. Both top management and employees should believe each other to develop overall organisational culture. Good faith is indicated by win-win situation. For example – Tatas, Infosys, who give importance for human factor to achieve their goals.
People in organisation should have the knowledge of work and on other organisational aspects. This will help them to work with devotion and dedication to produce quality work. Knowledge worker can understand the situation and works. This leads to the development of good culture. This also tunes the behaviour of worker/manager/ top management in organisations.
5. Problem Sharing:
Every organisation at every stage is confronted with several problems. The good culture of the organisation in such problem situations is that management should share the problems with employees and together come out with a workable solvation. Hierarchy may prevail in the organisation. But good culture is that the top management should share the problem with employees to develop team spirit instead of bossing.
6. Risk Taking:
Organisations have to take risk to achieve business goals. The culture of an organisation is also governed by the level of calculated risk taken by management and challenges faced by the workforce of that unit. The tasks to be performed by workers look like routine matter. But in each task, disturbing factors come on the way. Employees should face these challenges and drive the organisation to attain good result. To such an extent the employees should have confidence, courage, commitment and conviction.
The cultural indicator is that the top management should train and develop their workforce to possess such spirit to manoeuver the risks that they have to face in performing the tasks. The employees who work for reducing risks in organisation should be suitably rewarded. It is a good culture. Most of the organisations adopt very attractive reward system for good work of their employees and adopt punitive measures for those who err in their work. A good culture is to weed out disturbing elements to encourage honest workers to work in full steam.
7. Management Perspective:
One of the cultural indicators is that the top management should have a healthy perception of keeping the morale of employees on a higher side by developing in them the feeling of security, safety, warmth, feelings of being superior, etc. The cultural aspect is to adapt the principles of equity and justice. This prompts the workers to be more productive.
8. Employee Satisfaction:
This aspect is much discussed in previous indicators of culture. It is an established plain truth that employees contribute more to productivity of organisation, if they are fully satisfied with working atmosphere and individual job satisfaction. The cultural indicator, “Employee Satisfaction” is the fundamental feature of organisational culture.
Tolerance and patience, initiative to develop organisation, functional expertise, assisting fellow workers in times of need, focusing on one’s own job are all the traits of workers which contribute for the development of healthy culture of the organisation. The managements make way for adapting these personal traits of employees of keeping them in good mood and satisfied.
Stability factor of culture says that whatever rules and regulations framed by the management should not hinder the progress of the organisation. This means operational rules should be positive and encourage the workers to stay on in the organisation to have stability in operations. It is a good culture.
Organizational Culture – Impact: Objective Setting, Work Ethics, Motivational Pattern and Organizational Processes
Organizational culture, being unique and distinctive, prescribes some specific modes of behaviour for its members. These modes of behaviour, then, affect the entire behavioural processes. Though such behavioural processes may have different dimensions, they ultimately create impact on objective setting, work ethic, motivational pattern and organizational processes.
1. Objective Setting:
Culture moulds people and people are the basic building blocks of the organization. Therefore, it must reflect, atleast in part, the objectives of its members, particularly those who are the key decision makers. Thus, for one organization, the objective may be profit maximisation, but the same objective may be unworthy, mean and petty for other organizations.
2. Work Ethic:
Ethic relates to conformity to the principles of human conduct. According to common usage, moral, good, right, honest, etc. are more or less used as synonymous to ethical act. Work ethic in an organization is derived from its culture. Thus, corporate culture determines the ethical standards for the organization as a whole and its individual members.
3. Motivational Pattern:
Culture interacts to develop in each person a motivational pattern. Culture determines the way people approach their jobs and even life in general. If organization culture is geared towards achievement, people will find it quite motivating and put their outmost energies for the work. In its absence, high achievement-oriented people develop frustration and desert the organization. Therefore, organizational culture should be achievement oriented.
4. Organizational Processes:
Various organizational processes like planning, decision making, controlling, etc., are determined by the organizational culture because these processes are carried out by the people in the organization. Bhattacharya has analysed the cultures of various professionally-managed companies including multinationals as well as family-managed companies in India to find out how cultures affect organizational processes.
Organizational Culture – How to Keep the Culture Alive: Selection, Top Management and Socialization
Once a culture is created, there are practices within organization that help to keep it alive.
Some important practices which help to sustain the culture are as explained below:
The first such practise is the careful selection of candidates. Standardised procedures should be used to hire right people for right jobs. Trained personnel interview the candidates and attempt to screen out those whose personal styles and values do not fit with the organization’s culture. By identifying the candidates who can culturally match the organizational culture, selection helps sustain culture to a large extent.
Additionally, the selection process provides to the applicants, information about the organizational culture. If the applicants perceive a conflict between their values and values of the organization, they can themselves decide not to join the organization.
2. Top Management:
The actions of top management also have a major impact on the organization’s culture. Through what they say, how do they behave senior executives establish norms that filter through the organization as to whether risk taking is desirable, how much freedom managers should give to their subordinates, what is the appropriate dress code, what actions will pay off in terms of pay raise, promotions and other rewards and the like.
The organization may have done a very good job in the recruitment and selection of the employees, but sometimes the employees are still not indoctrinated in the organization’s culture. Since these persons are not familiar with the organization’s. Therefore, it is very essential for the organization to help the new employees adapt to its culture. This adaptation process is called ‘Socialisation’.
Socialisation as a concept consists of the following three stages:
This stage encompasses all the learning that occurs before a new member joints the organization.
The second stage, the new employee sees what the organization is really like and confronts the likelihood that reality and expectations may diverge.
In the third stage, the relatively long lasting changes take place. The new employee masters the skills required for his or her new roles and makes the adjustment to his or her work group’s values and norms.
Organizational Culture – How is Culture Learned by Employees: Stories, Rituals, Material Symbols and Language
The employees can learn the culture of the organization through various means.
The most effective among these are as explained below:
Employees learn the organizational culture through the stories which circulate through many organizations. These stories related to the sacrifices of the founders, rags to riches successes, difficult initial years of the organization and crisis periods in the later years and how the organization coped with these periods. These stories anchor the present in the past and provide explanations and legitimacy for current practices.
Rituals refer to any practice or pattern of behaviour repeated regularly in a prescribed manner. Key values of the organization, most important goals and most important people are reflected in rituals. Repeated activities help the employees in learning the culture of the organization.
Now-a-days, in the educational institutions particularly, the schools, one of the practices which is religiously followed by the students and the faculty members is to conduct prayers every morning. In addition, every festival is celebrated with religious fervor, with everybody participating in great enthusiasm.
A ritual followed by Maruti Udyog is that every morning, all the employees start their day with assembling and doing yoga.
3. Material Symbols:
Material symbols of a particular organization conveys to the employees, the organizational culture. Most important material symbols are the layout of corporate headquarters, the types of automobiles the top executives are given, the presence or absence of a corporate aircraft, size of the officers elegance of furnishings, executive perks, dress attire, etc. These symbols convey to the employees who and what is important and the kind of the behaviour that is appropriate.
The language used by the organization and the units within organizations, can identify members of a culture or sub-culture. The newcomers who learn this language give their acceptance to the culture and in doing so, help to preserve it. The organizations sometimes develop their own terminology which acts as a common denominator which units members of a given culture.
New employees are frequently overwhelmed with this terminology, but after may be six months on the job, they also become fully part of this language.
Examples- Some acronyms commonly used in ad agencies are – (i) Pronot->Which means quickly, (ii) Cool->Everything is fine, (iii) Account->Client, (iv) Promo-»Promotion and (v) MB-»Monday Morning Blues etc.
Organizational Culture – Changing Organizational Culture: A Dramatic Crisis, New Top Leadership, Young and Small Organization and Weak Culture
Sometimes an organization determines that its culture is unfavourable to the organizational effectiveness and it has to be changed. For example, if there is a change in the external environment, the organization must adapt itself to the changing conditions or it will not survive. Though it is very difficult to change the old cultures, but it is something which the management cannot do without.
The following conditions must be present only then a cultural change can take place:
1. A Dramatic Crisis:
Any dramatic crisis in the organization like a major financial set back, loss of a major customer, or a technological breakthrough by a competitor may force the management to look into the relevance of the existing culture.
2. New Top Leadership:
If some top executives leave the organization and new leadership takes over, they may provide an alternatives set of key values or a new culture. This new leadership may be more capable of responding to the crists.
3. Young and Small Organization:
When the organization is new and its size is small, it will be easier for the management to change the culture.
4. Weak Culture:
Weak cultures are more amenable to change than strong ones. The higher the agreement among the members on the organizational values, the more difficult it will be to change.
If the above mentioned conditions which support the cultural are present, the following suggestions can be considered for implementing the change:
(i) The top management people should become the positive role models. They should set the examples through their own behaviour.
(ii) As employees learn the culture through stories, symbols and rituals, the old stories, rituals and symbols should be replaced by creating new ones which are currently in vogue.
(iii) Adding new members, particularly at the higher level, is a powerful strategy to change the culture, provided the new members bring in new culture.
(iv) The socialisation process should be redesigned to align with the new values.
(v) Reward system establish and reinforce specific cultural behaviours and therefore, a change in culture can be initiated and supported by change in corporate reward systems.
(vi) Unwritten norms and beliefs should be replaced with formal rules and regulations that are tightly enforceable.
(vii) Extensive use of job rotations should be made to shake current sub-cultures.
(viii) Change in the top management can have significant impact on others in the organization, because he may be, in a real sense, the personification of the culture.
(ix) Change in culture will be comparatively easy if peer group consensus is got through uses of employee participation and creation of a climate with a high level of trust.
Even if all the above suggestions are implemented, it will not result in an immediate change in culture. Cultural change is lengthy process, but still it is not impossible to achieve.
Organizational Culture – Developing Organisational Culture: Conduct a Company Self-Evaluation, Use Objective Evaluation, Don’t Settle for the Bandages and a Few Others
Many companies lack an accurate understanding of their own culture and therefore don’t provide the right information to attract candidates who are the best cultural fit. It’s crucial for employers to determine and define the company’s culture so they can assess potential employees’ capacity to fit within that culture.
Company culture is very important because it can influence large-scale managerial decisions, company ethics and more. However, culture is also something that evolves as things like company staff or location change, or as the organisation grows or shrinks in size.
Many companies confuse their brand with their culture. Just because a company sells the hippest mobile device on the market doesn’t guarantee that the culture of their office will mirror their brand personality and commercial success. Conversely, just because a company offers a product or service that may seem staid or boring, it doesn’t mean they have an office environment to match.
Here are a few steps employers can take to help evaluate their corporate culture:
1. Conduct a Company Self-Evaluation:
Is the company culture really what employers think it is? Ask employees to anonymously describe the company culture to determine if there is consistency in their answers and if their answers mirror the beliefs held by the executive team.
2. Use Objective Evaluation:
Bring in a few objective observers for a day or two to provide feedback on the culture.
These could be friends of staffers, temporary staff or professional consultants:
(i) Institute a new dress code (slightly more casual or slightly more formal).
(ii) Arrange to buy the staff lunch once a quarter or bring in bagels every other Friday.
(iii) Organise an afternoon for teams (or the company, based on its size) to volunteer.
(iv) Invite staffers to bring in something indicative of them personally or professionally to use to decorate the office.
3. Don’t Settle for the Bandages:
Many companies are tempted to solve cultural problems by throwing a company party or engaging in other quick-fix tactics. Not only is that unsustainable, but it usually also further degrades company culture because employees see that it is not a genuine attempt at creating lasting cultural change.
4. Nurture Your Culture:
Just as employers have strategic goals for the business, they should develop strategic goals to grow and sustain the company culture.
5. Broadcast it:
If employers find they have consensus on the corporate culture, they must then articulate that message on the corporate.
No matter how great a candidate looks on paper, the relationship will not last if he or she is not a fit with the corporate culture. In economic times like these, many job seekers are reticent to do anything that may jeopardise a job offer, irrespective of whether they think they will thrive in the cultural environment.
It is therefore incumbent on employers to remember that hiring employees is about more than just the duties they perform; it is also about how they will fit in with the ‘personality’ of the company.
Organizational Culture – Emerging Issues in Organisational Culture: Innovation, Incremental Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Intrepreneurship, Empowerment and a Few Others
Cultures change gradually, picking up new ideas and dropping old ones. Therefore, new issues emerge in cultures.
Now, we shall discuss these emerging issues:
According to Fortune Magazine, most innovative organisations, which pickup new values continuously are the most admired organisations. Innovation is the process of creating and doing new things that are introduced into the marketplace as products, processes or services. Types of innovations include radical innovation, system innovation and incremental innovation.
a. Radical innovation is a major breakthrough that changes or creates whole industries. For example, information technology industry.
b. System innovation creates a new functionality by assembling parts in new ways. Combining information technology and process technology and formation of new business process (Supply Chain Management) is an example for system innovation.
ii. Incremental Innovation:
It continues technical improvement and extends the application of radical systems innovation.
Entrepreneur is the one who creates the total venture.
Intrepreneurship is an entrepreneurial activity that takes place within the context of a large organisation.
Empowerment is the process of enabling workers to set their own work goals, make decisions and solve problems within their sphere of responsibility and authority.
vi. Information Technology:
Information technology brought significant changes in the organisational culture through adding values like teamwork, caring for the customer the most, downsizing, delaying, de-jobbing, autonomous work groups and deleting culture values like bureaucracy, authoritarian styles, treating efficient and inefficient employees differently and the like.