"The way we do things around here" is the key phrase in defining organizational culture. Culture is comprised of the pervasive attitudes, values, and norms of a company. According to Hagberg and Heifetz, the people who can truly identify an organization's culture are outsiders- new hires, consultants, et cetera ("Corporate"). This occurs through a process called nor ming, where employees are immersed in the corporate environment and take on attitudes that are prevalent within the organization. These attitudes are defined as the organization's culture, have four distinct types, are modeled by behaviors from management, may actively affect change efforts, and often influence how an individual fits into the team or organizational environment. Culture is learned behavior, fostered by the often unspoken collective beliefs of the organization's members.
It is usually constant, with core values being at the center of those views. These shared ideals can shape behavior. For example, in a law firm, jeans and a sweatshirt is unacceptable attire- sure, the job could still be accomplished, but the culture of the profession dictates the necessity of a polished appearance. Cultures can change, but the change is often arduous and cause great disturbance within the organization.
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld describes four major types of culture within the workplace. An academy culture is comprised of skilled individuals who want to work their way to the top. A member of a baseball team culture has specific, prized skills: they are highly valued and considered high-risk. The club culture values 'fitting in. ' In this club, members are employed for the long run, and seniority is a merit. The fortress culture is less firm, and job security is not a value (McNamara).
Identifying and defining organizational culture is the first step to understanding it, and being able to utilize its positive results when beneficial. Managers, aware or not, are the examples on which the behavior of the company is modeled. .".. what management pays attention to and rewards is often the strongest indicator of (an) organization's culture" (Hagberg). Often, the management of a company may believe that they are operating under a certain set of values, and that it is a norm for the company. However, if asked, most employees would define their organization's culture far differently than the mangers would. This discrepancy causes friction, and can be resolved through active, open communication between management and workers. In the case of management making a change within the organization, culture must be taken into account during that process.
Managers can prepare a perfect plan to introduce a change into the workplace, but if the culture of the company is adverse to it, the plan may never take root and move out of the exploration phase and into the new beginnings phase. One way that management can address this particular problem is to focus on a few secondary value changes instead of attempting to change the whole of the cultural structure. Instead of revamping the core beliefs of a company, focus on issues that are imperative to the coming change, and attempt to revise or abolish those. The needs of the individual should not be forgotten when reviewing organizational culture. In his article, Gerald Bark doll makes an interesting point: .".. individuals with high control needs could be expected to actively work to change cultural attributes that do not meet their personal preferences" ("Individual"). Though collective wisdom may dictate that certain tasks should be done the way they have always been done, sometimes it may go against the individual's personal beliefs.
This may cause discord, job dissatisfaction, and may force the individual to review their employment. Change can be great for a company, but, if handled carelessly, without concern for the members of the team and their values and beliefs, it can be chaotic and cause more harm than good. The constant, frequently unspoken belief system of an organization is its culture. Whether the culture is one of academy, baseball, club, or fortress, the thread of similarity (the way things are done) is the defining factor within each. Management should practice what it preaches, because learned behavior does not derive completely from oral or written dictates. Organizational culture can be taught through actions (or in actions!
). Change within a company can be brutal, but as long as management is sensitive to the needs of the individual, and understands the pulse of the work culture, transition can be eased along. The culture of the work environment is it's personality- the shared beliefs, ideals, values, and norms of the group of individuals that make up the team.