What is Organizational Culture?
The culture of the organization could probably be described as the environment that surrounds the people at work all of the time. Not only that, but it is also considered to be a powerful element that paves way to shape the work environment, the work relationships and the work processes. In other words, it could also be described as the personality of the organization, meaning to say that the culture of an organization basically highlights what kind of organization it is in the first place.
The organizational culture is basically made up of assumptions, values, beliefs, attitudes and the artefacts of the people in the entire organization. In other words, it is made up of all the real life experiences brought in by the employees in addition to the influence of the organization’s founder, executives and the other managerial staff who are involved in the decision making process of the organization. Having said that, in order to understand the culture of an organization more clearly let us look at some of the characteristics of the organizational culture.
Some characteristics of Organizational culture
• The organization culture cannot be created over night but evolves overtime. This is because the culture is made up of values and beliefs shared among the organization members.
• It is not just possible for an individual to create the culture of an organization alone. Rather it is a combination of the personalities and experiences of all the people working in the organization. To say, everybody who has worked for the organization has some way or the other contributed to shaping the culture. Other than the employees, the founder of the organization in particular and the managerial staff of the organization have too played a role in shaping the culture.
• There may also be subcultures present within the organizational culture. These subcultures are formed as a result of the different needs and wants of the employees. To say, sometimes the employees may look for rewards that are not offered by the overall company. As a result, they may form their group within their own department with their own culture that rewards them with their expectations or fulfils their needs.
• The culture of the organization is thus passed on to the new employees through the process of socialization. In other means, the new employees will come to know the culture of the organization in which they work thus by interacting with the other people in the organization.
• Once formed, it is not an easy task to change the culture whenever possible. This is because cultural change basically requires the people to change their behaviour. It is quite difficult for the people to change their old way of doing things and go into do new things all at once. It has to keep on changing gradually overtime with lot of effort put in.
However, the organizational culture may differ from one organization to another. For example, the culture of a hospital or university is quite different to the culture of a bank. This is because the culture of an organization is quite visible to some extent through their arrangement of furniture, how things are organized, what the people wear and what they talk about etc. Having said that, some organizations have weak cultures while some have strong cultures. Let us go look at each of the two types of culture in a bit more detail.
What is a Weak Organizational Culture?
A weak organizational culture is when the people in the organization do not agree on the same basic beliefs and values as applies to the organization, and in stead they tend to have their very own ideas, beliefs and behaviours etc. As a result, the people are controlled by way of using restricted rules, procedures, supervision and bureaucracy within the organization. On one hand, a weak culture may be the result of many subcultures. In other means, a weak culture would rather encourage individual thought and contributions.
To say, this type of culture would be better for an organization that tends to grow throw innovative ideas, and only if the people in the organization could at least have a common goal and help the management to come up with plans for the future, even their ideas may be different. For example, different departments may have different sub cultures with different believes and ideas but still they should all work for a goal such as helping the organization to grow. But at the same time, if the people in the group think individually having different goals in mind, then this will no doubt lead to conflicts or cause problems between the people and the management. If this happens, then of course the organization falls into a situation of failure because of the different sub groups trying to fulfil separate goals rather than a common goal. It should be said that weak cultures are easily changeable as they are not stable and the organizations with weak cultures are usually considered to be in efficient and less effective at most times. This is mainly due to the restricted rules, supervision and bureaucracy carried out within the organization.
What is a Strong Organizational Culture?
The culture of an organization is considered to be strong when the majority of people in the organization tends to hold the same basic beliefs and values as applies to the organization. In other words, it could also be said that an organization has a deep rooted strong culture when the employees respond strongly to the values and thus passes it on successfully to the rest of people. Having said that, a strong culture in particular has many advantages. To say,
• A strong culture basically paves way to attract people with talent. What actually means by this is that the talented people in general do go in search of organizations that they think would help them to fulfil what they expect such as better salaries etc. With a strong culture they believe that the organization is in a better position to achieve all those.
• The talented people would basically prefer to work for an organization with a strong culture rather than trying to find out places elsewhere. This actually reduces the amount of talented people leaving the organization to a greater extent.
• Now a days what people really want is to get engaged in their work and do it with responsibility etc. Hence so, a strong culture do paves the way for people to take the responsibility and work rather than trying to control them with rules and regulation, supervision etc.
• It is rather important for people to be able to work together and maintain their relationships with the rest of the organization if the organization is to succeed. A strong culture basically helps the people to get to know each other better which will eventually lead to new ideas and greater productivity.
• People working in the organization usually find work to be hard and frustrating most of the time. But with a strong culture that is attractive there is no doubt that the people find the work to be interesting and enjoying, which will also pave way eventually to achieve the goals of the organization.
However, in spite of all the advantages, there are times when a strong culture may not exactly be the culture that is needed when it comes to facing the competitive environment. This is because the organization may have to come up with many innovative ideas in order to face the competition rather than sticking on to the old ways of doing things. To say, if the people in the organization are completely following the values and beliefs of the existing culture when it comes to achieving the goals, then they obviously lack the opportunities to think in a much creative or innovative way in order to come up with unique solutions or ideas to face the ever changing turbulent environment. This is because they all think no beyond than their existing culture. This is basically a draw back in the strong culture. Too, a strong culture is indeed difficult to change at times of need, and needs a lot of effort to do so because people once adapted to the old way of doing things it is unlikely that they are willing to change their behaviour unlike in a weak culture.
It should be said that organization culture may be different from one organization to another. Meaning to say that, some organizations will have strong cultures while the other may have weak cultures. A strong culture is when the majority of people tends to agree on the existing beliefs and values and beliefs in the organization, meaning to so that there is one dominant culture in spite the other sub cultures that exists. On the other hand a weak culture is when the majority of people disagree on the existing culture but instead forms their own sub cultures.
Having said that, it is also important to keep in mind that no culture can be the right culture. Even though many tend to believe that an organization should have a strong culture in order to survive, it is true to a greater extent but not always. This is because it is indeed vital to always keep of watch of the competitive environment thus because the existing culture may not be suitable for the competitive environment at times. For example, when it comes to facing the competition it more or less needs an organization culture that is open for more innovative ideas. In other words, the organizational culture must fit with the competitive environment and the organization in order to meet the goals. As a result, there is no right or wrong culture. But the one that suits an organization best is a combination of both the cultures meaning to say that a strong culture that is open for the people to express their very own (new) ideas. In other words a culture that is agreed by the majority of people but still respects the innovative ideas of the people at times of need.
Original Author : Shameena silva
Courtesy : www.articlebase.com