Module 5 – SLP
MANAGING THE ORGANIZATION’S STRUCTURE
For the Session Long Project for this Module, you are expected to explore some aspects of your organization’s culture, at least as you see it. Since the concept of organizational culture is open to many interpretations and classifications, this assessment offers a slightly different approach from your background reading on organizational culture.
Debra Woog McGinty and Nicole C. Moss have compiled a short corporate culture survey aimed at identifying characteristics of workplaces. It is scored in pencil-and-paper fashion. The categories of workplace description that it generates are fairly self-explanatory.
When you have completed the assessment think about it for a minute, and how it compares to the Academy, Baseball Team, Fortress, and Club cultures described by McNamara in the background reading. Then prepare a 2- to 3-page paper discussing:
Your organization’s scores on the McGinty/Moss assessment and whether the results fit your general expectation or constitute a surprise in some ways.
My Organization score were in section:
1-5 Deliberative traditional culture
6-10 we do not have a Established/Stable culture
11-15 Urgent/Seat of the Pants culture
Your assessment of your organizations culture “type” according to McNamara’s categories.
The degree to which these two assessments seem to be telling you similar or dissimilar things about your organization.
Anything that you can infer from these assessments about how your organizational culture fits or doesn’t fit with you, and what (if anything) you might be able to do to make your interaction with the culture more effective. Be as specific as you can in the interests of getting the most value from the exercise for yourself.
Your overall opinion of these typologies as a means of understanding the organization and how you cope with it – what they measure well and anything that you believe they do not measure well or at all.
Your paper should be short (2-3 pages, not including cover sheet—references not generally required) and to the point. You are expected to deal with these issues in an integrated fashion, rather than treating them as a series of individual questions.
Keys to the Assignment
Your completion of all the steps in the exercise.
Your inclusion of the actual instrument or results.
Your understanding of both approaches to culture “types,” both in terms of similarities and differences.
Your ability to interpret the results of the assessment in terms of your own experience, either to confirm or to question the results.
Your ability to derive from the exercise ideas about improving your managerial understanding and/or skills.
The clarity and quality of your writing.
What is Culture?
Basically, organizational culture is the personality of the organization. Culture is comprised of the assumptions, values, norms and tangible signs (artifacts) of organization members and their behaviors. Members of an organization soon come to sense the particular culture of an organization. Culture is one of those terms that’s difficult to express distinctly, but everyone knows it when they sense it. For example, the culture of a large, for-profit corporation is quite different than that of a hospital which is quite different than that of a university. You can tell the culture of an organization by looking at the arrangement of furniture, what they brag about, what members wear, etc. — similar to what you can use to get a feeling about someone’s personality.
Corporate culture can be looked at as a system. Inputs include feedback from, e.g., society, professions, laws, stories, heroes, values on competition or service, etc. The process is based on our assumptions, values and norms, e.g., our values on money, time, facilities, space and people. Outputs or effects of our culture are, e.g., organizational behaviors, technologies, strategies, image, products, services, appearance, etc.
The concept of culture is particularly important when attempting to manage organization-wide change. Practitioners are coming to realize that, despite the best-laid plans, organizational change must include not only changing structures and processes, but also changing the corporate culture as well.
There’s been a great deal of literature generated over the past decade about the concept of organizational culture — particularly in regard to learning how to change organizational culture. Organizational change efforts are rumored to fail the vast majority of the time. Usually, this failure is credited to lack of understanding about the strong role of culture and the role it plays in organizations. That’s one of the reasons that many strategic planners now place as much emphasis on identifying strategic values as they do mission and vision.
Some Types of Culture
There are different types of culture just like there are different types of personality. Researcher Jeffrey Sonnenfeld identified the following four types of cultures.
Employees are highly skilled and tend to stay in the organization, while working their way up the ranks. The organization provides a stable environment in which employees can development and exercise their skills. Examples are universities, hospitals, large corporations, etc.
Baseball Team Culture
Employees are “free agents” who have highly prized skills. They are in high demand and can rather easily get jobs elsewhere. This type of culture exists in fast-paced, high-risk organizations, such as investment banking, advertising, etc.
The most important requirement for employees in this culture is to fit into the group. Usually employees start at the bottom and stay with the organization. The organization promotes from within and highly values seniority. Examples are the military, some law firms, etc.
Employees don’t know if they’ll be laid off or not. These organizations often undergo massive reorganization. There are many opportunities for those with timely, specialized skills. Examples are savings and loans, large car companies, etc.
Understanding the Culture of Your Organization
Quite often, a leader has a very good sense of the culture of their organization. They just haven’t made that sense conscious to the extent that they can effectively learn from, and lead within, the culture.
Different people in the same organization can have different perceptions of the culture of the organization. This is especially true regarding the different perceptions between the top and bottom levels of the organization. For example, the Chief Executive may view the organization as being highly focused, well organized and even rather formal. On the other hand, the receptionist might view the organization as being confused, disorganized and, sometimes, even rude.
Here are some basic guidelines to help a leader assess the culture of their organization.
Understand some of the major types of cultures. There are a number of research efforts that have produced lists of different types of culture. You can start by reviewing the very short list in the previous subsection, Major Types of Cultures.
Describe the culture of your organization. Consider what you see and hear, not what you feel and think. Answer the following questions.
a. Who seems to be accepted and who doesn’t? What is it about those who are accepted as compared to those who aren’t?
b. What kinds of behaviors get rewarded? For example, getting along? Getting things done? Other behaviors?
c. What does management pay the most attention to? For example, problems? Successes? Crises? Other behaviors?
d. How are decisions made? For example, by one person? Discussion and consensus? Are decisions made at all?
Note that there may not be close alignment between what the organization says it values (for example, creativity, innovation, team-building) as compared to what you’re actually seeing (for example, conformity, individualism). This disparity is rather common in organizations. You might explain this disparity to other leaders in the organization. An ideal time to address this disparity is when developing a values statement during the strategic planning process.
Changing Culture of an Organization
There are four primary ways to influence the culture of an organization.
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.
Reward employees whose behaviors reflect what’s important.
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.
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.
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