Creating an organizational culture does not happen overnight. It takes years of collective learning, incidents, and experience for it to develop. The more established the organization the stronger the culture. Values and beliefs are the core of organizational culture. They are the determinant of the strength of culture. On the other hand, practices and rites are the external expression of organizational culture. In addition, sub-cultures are bound to evolve within an organization, especially if the organization is successful.
Individuals, teams, and departments share a common history as the organization grows and will develop their own set of norms and values. According to Boan (2006), “The greater the success of the organization, the greater the reinforcement of its norms and the more enduring the culture (Pg. 51). The problem that arises with strong organizational culture is a resistance to change. In successful organizations, individuals, teams and departments develop the ‘if it works, don’t fix it’ mentality and resist change agents and change.
In these situations, it is up to organizational leaders to affect change. The effective leader will listen, empower, align others, develop capabilities, embody trust, and relay feedback to affect change. Determining which leadership style to use to accomplish these tasks is situational and behaviorally dependent. Methods of Control Before addressing methods of determining the climate and resultant culture of an organization, it must be said that not all culture is negative. Culture is valuable to an entire organization; from the CEO down to the newest employee.
It provides consistency and augments motivation and commitment. According to Robbins and Judge (2007), “Culture is a liability when the shared values are not in agreement with those that will further the organization’s effectiveness” (Pg. 8). This will normally occur when the business environment is rapidly changing and the organization’s culture becomes a barrier to change. In these circumstances the leadership must accurately identify the organizations culture, the behavior of its key players, those resisting change, and those embracing or affecting change; the change agents.
Organizational Climate and Change Organizational climate surveys and assessments predated the study of organizational culture by a few decades. Consultants and management attempted to diagnose organizational problems with climate surveys to solicit feedback for change. Feedback was also important providing management and senior leadership the information they needed in determining education and training needs and pay and incentive systems. Since climate surveys address practices and rites, etc. ; they are a good barometer of measuring the effects and/or success of change.
Climate surveys remain one of the best ways in which to involve all organization members, regardless of their level, in diagnosing and assessing organizational changes (n. d. ). While determining the organizational climate is important, leadership must first identify the organizational culture and its sub-cultures if it wants to affect positive change and overcome resistance to change. Organizational Culture and Change In today’s scholarly literature there are a myriad of theories about organizational culture and affecting change. One advocates that building strong cultures invariably leads to change.
Another describes ways organizations can use transformational leadership to bring about change. Yet another theory advocates the use of behavioral surveys to diagnose an organization’s culture before attempting change. Culture surveys focus on employee values to decide if they need to be changed and if so, to identify ways to change them. These surveys are also used to identify factors necessary to empower teams and groups; enabling them to work together more efficiently. Whatever the motive or means, leadership cannot hope to affect meaningful change without a detailed analysis of the organization’s culture.
Shaping Organization Culture The ultimate aim of any restructuring strategy within an organization is to build an ethical, customer-focused culture. To do this, leadership must have a firm grasp on how cultures form in order to affect change in an organization with a strong, change-resistant culture. Accordingly, it is evident that the founder is the driving force is shaping an organization’s culture. Whether or not that culture is sustained depends on the success and growth of an organization. Initial sustainment begins with the hiring of the first employee.
The founder will look to hire individuals who think and feel the same way he/she does. This will perpetuate as the organization grows through indoctrination, role modeling, and selection. New employees however, unaware of the culture of an organization, are apt to bring their own values and beliefs to the job. It becomes necessary to socialize these employees to adopt the organization’s culture. Socialization Socialization is a three stage process. The following diagram is a simple representation of the socialization process (Robbins & Judge, 2007).
The prearrival stage acknowledges that Metamorphosis Encounter Prearrival Commitment the socialization of new employees is dependent on past behavior. Therefore, the recruitment and hiring process is critical to an organization. Organizations want to hire employees whose behavior and personality will lead to a seamless socialization and incorporation into the established culture. Once hired, the employee goes through the encounter stage. He or she must balance expectations against the reality of the job and organization as a whole.
If expectations don’t align with reality, which is more than likely, the newcomer must undergo socialization. Finally, the employee will experience the metamorphosis phase. This is the stage where unresolved conflicts are resolved. The more management relies on socialization programs that are formal, collective, fixed, serial, and emphasize divestiture, the greater the likelihood that newcomers’ differences and perspectives will be stripped away and replaced by standardized and predictable behaviors (Robbins & Judge, 2007). The socialization process, whether formal or informal, should lead to organizational commitment.
While socialization is a predictor of the culture and behavior of organization, it does not address change directly. Socialization might lead to a more entrenched, change resistant culture. Therefore, leadership must influence their employees to affect change. One of the most effective ways to influence is through motivation and empowerment. Motivation and Empowerment In the LEADER acronym, ‘empower’ accomplishes the following: interprets leadership’s vision on the employee’s level, eliminates obstacles to change, engages the individual in decision that involve him or her, and provides the avenue for feedback.
Organizations that have been successful at motivating and empowering their employees are performing better and are more successful organizations that do not use the same leadership tools. For example, if business has not improved after equipping employees with all the resources and training they require to function successfully, leadership has to reevaluate the culture and behavior within the organization that is creating barriers to change. Leadership and managers must be committed to empowering employees to feel important to the success of their team, department, and organization.
Otherwise, it will be impossible to be completely successful. If there is discontent, it must be measured in quantifiable terms to be addressed. If the dissatisfaction is internal to the organization it must be addressed in a manner that motivates and creates cohesion. Continue to measure team performance and productivity frequently to see if there is improvement. Productivity comes from motivated, challenged, empowered, incentivized teams of people. Organizational Structure Different organizational structures will require different leadership approaches to affect change.
When an organization starts out it is usually organized in one of two ways: functionally or divisionally. The functional organization is your classic organizational structure where the employees are managed linearly and report to one person, usually the owner. Departments such as finance, marketing, etc. are formed to handle their respective functions. In the divisional organization, divisions are created to handle individual markets, products, or areas. As a company matures and grows, the organization normally transforms into a matrix organization. In the matrix organization, employees are structured by both product and function.
Inherent in all three structures is the span of control; either centralized or decentralized. Centralization In an organization characterized by centralization, control normally rests with top management or one person. Lower-level employees have very little contribution or ability to make autonomous decisions. Centralization usually occurs in new or small businesses. Decentralization At the other end of the spectrum from centralization is decentralization. In an organization characterized by decentralization, lower-level employees are given the power to make decisions or provide input in the process.
The lower the level where the decisions are made, the greater the degree of decentralization an organization has. The trend in today’s global economy is towards decentralized organizational structure. Lower-level managers normally have more detailed and accurate information on the market, technologies, and products of the organization. Decentralization offers the organization numerous benefits. Employees, teams, and departments feel empowered which leads to high job satisfaction, loyalty, and commitment. Decentralization also presents numerous challenges to an organization.
There may be a lack of coordination among teams and groups. Individual managers will undoubtedly have personal agendas that conflict with those of the organization. The biggest problem, especially if the organization has a strong, mature culture, is that decentralized organizations are often resistant to change. Conclusion According to Boan (2006), “because of its shared nature and implicit understanding about organizational norms and values, culture has a dramatic effect on efforts to change organizational behavior.
For better or worse, organizational culture affects any effort to implement change” (Pg. 1). In the online simulation, we find a decentralized, functional organization with a strong, mature culture. Almost everyone, from the team member, department manager, and project manager is resistant to change. They have a particular way of doing business, find that it works for them, and resent interference and change. To make this organization more efficient and productive will take a complete paradigm shift in their way of thinking.
Enacting standardization and a more formalized structure will allow the employees to keep the facets of decentralization that lead to higher job satisfaction and commitment and at the same time increase motivation and productivity. The COO has to adopt a more charismatic, people-oriented style of leadership to accomplish these goals. Once this is accomplished, the organization will function with more synergy; managers and teams will start to collaborate to actualize the vision of the organization and secure their future in an ever-changing environment.