Understanding Organisational Culture
Culture is something that defines ways of human interactions in society. Cultures vary on the global scale, depending on geographical region, as well as they vary from one family to another. Different cultural peculiarities are inherent not only in different people but also in different organisations (Lysons 2000). In my opinion, those types of culture are interconnected. People adapt to the corporate culture when they come to work in a new organisation but at the same time, the management and employees can influence the prevailing type of culture in a workplace.
Among the outer aspects of organisational culture, there are such things as rituals and etiquette between the employees and management, the language they use, physical appearances (for example, dress code) and structures, etc. However, all of those things are the result of beliefs and values in the organisation. They define how people behave at work. And the outer aspects can only be manipulated by influencing the values behind them.
Some organisational cultures are stronger than others are. They do not encourage the subcultures in the organisation and try to suppress them. The stronger culture is more successful in introducing changes to the culture. The studies associated the success rates in installing changes with such factors as strong management, support throughout the period of change, change as a response to a crisis, manageable size of the change, and its specific objectives. These factors were recognised in more than 25% of successful culture projects (Smith 2003, p. 255). In other words, it needs to be understood as a necessity on all the levels of the organisation, by all its members.
Corporate culture has such an important element as mentoring the new employees. Being unfamiliar with all the issues and regulations in the new organisation the newly employed workforce can receive some support or advice regarding rules and norms of the organisation. However, we acquire not only the rules written in the brochure for the newcomers. Often some aspects of the organisational culture can be better learned from the casual communication.
The new employee in the organisation talk to the colleagues and mentors, and they share stories, myths and symbols that have a didactic impact on the person new to the organisation. In my experience, in every community, including the workplace, the newcomers to the culture learns the accepted behaviour and language through communication. It is a means to show an example rather than just a rule. Therefore, it is easier to remember it.
The factors that form the organisational culture include the values of the founder of a certain company, aspects of national and regional culture, beliefs of the senior management of the company, and behavioural patterns in the industry (Smith 2003). However, in my opinion, the employees are the ones that form the environment in the organisation. Although they are influenced by the regulations promoted by the management, the leaders should take into account the culture of the workforce. That is why the international companies slightly adapt their corporate culture depending in which country they create their manufacture.
Managing Organisational Change
The changes in organisations vary in their types and scales. Depending on the circumstances, they can be planned or unplanned, major (radical) or of the smaller size, internal or external, etc. Furthermore, the organisational change can receive a completely different reaction from the employees. For example, the unplanned, unexpected change can be the cause of stress for the employees because it means that they lack control over what is happening in the organisation (Johnson et al. 2005). However, when the change concerns some aspect that used to cause discomfort for the employees or is prompted by the crisis, it is usually well-regarded and soon accepted as part of the culture.
The highlight is that organisational change can deal with various organisational targets, including culture, company’s strategies and purposes, workforce and their tasks, and technological and functional aspects. It is easy to assume that the planned change is preferable to the unplanned one because it reduces stress factors and prepares employees for the change (Johnson et al. 2005). It helps to minimise the resistance.
It is difficult to alter the culture of a big organisation. First of all, a profound change requires a long time because the new values are accepted on all the corporate levels. Sometimes, there are obstacles from the senior and middle management. If the change is caused by the external factors, such as the evolution of the business environment, it can take a lot of time for one of the corporate levels to accept it. Therefore, even if some organisational changes are understood by the initiators as an evolutionary step, they are sometimes doomed to failure if the employees cannot relate to them.
In my experience, the same happens with the organisational norms. When the management tries to introduce the new rule for the employees, there can be a certain resistance from them. For example, if the management changes the rules of distributing the parking spaces, some of the employees may be unsatisfied with the change. However, in a while, when they accept it, this norm will become a part of the organisational culture.
The interesting phenomenon is that some innovations in organisations fail despite the good intentions of their initiators (Kotter 1995). However, one of the steps that lead to successful change is often distinguished as an ability to communicate a vision. In my opinion, the vision of the change can only serve its purpose if it agrees with the strategic course of the organisation. For example, even if the management explains to the employees how extraordinary some new technology is, they might be reluctant to use it. The reason for that can be that it takes a lot of time to master it, or they did not expect the radical change, and they undergo exhaustion and stress because of it.
Also, the question of stress at the workplace includes such aspect as emotional burnout (Johnson et al. 2005). It is the feeling usually associated with the people whose work includes emotional involvement. Multiple contacts with people, supporting conversations, and creating the emotional bonds exhaust the emotional resources. In my opinion, this assumption has to do not only with the type of work (tasks dealing with communication) but also with the organisational culture. The emotional fatigue may occur if an employee does not feel any support or any control over his or her work. Therefore, the sustainable emotional climate at the workplace should reduce stress and fatigue.
Johnson, S, Cooper, C, Cartwright, S, Donald, I, Taylor, P & Millet, C 2005, ‘The experience of work-related stress across occupations’, Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 178-187.
Kotter, JP 1995, ‘Leading change: why transformational efforts fail’, Harvard Business Review, vol. 73, no. 2, pp. 59-67.
Lysons, K 2000, ‘Concerning corporate culture’, The British Journal of Administrative Management, Jan/Feb, no 34, pp.1-4.
Smith, ME 2003, ‘Changing an organisation’s culture: correlates of success and failure’, Leadership and Organization Development Journal, vol. 24, no. 5, pp. 249-261.