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Organization Culture … some basic understanding about it

1.0 Introduction:

Building Strong Organization Culture has been always remaining an issue and a daunting task for the Top Management and the OT team.

General understanding of the organizational culture includes all operational aspects of an organisation It also includes the details of the ethical value system adopted by the organisation to guide the employees to form an appropriate self-image for all internal and external transactions such as its work handling experiences, operational philosophy, its present and future expectations from the employees and the other interested parties.

Organizational culture acts as the values that guide the behaviour of its employees and is expressed in their self-image, inner workings, interactions with the outside world, and future expectations.

2.0 How the Culture of an Organization is developed?

We need to understand that organization's expectations are expressed through the Vision, Mission and Values (VMV) and the experiences are nothing but the accumulated organizational knowledge gained through years of operation and ways of functioning. Other than VMV, the factors that shape an organization's culture are as follows:

  • Degree of hierarchy

  • Degree of urgency

  • People orientation or task/functional orientation

  • Organizational subcultures

It is now clear from the discussion that building strong organisational culture is quite possible with –

  • Right organizational policy and

  • Well defined employees' Roles, Responsibilities and Authority

Recently, we surveyed to understand people’s perceptions about the subject, which ended with the following polling outcome:

  • Right organizational policy: 17%

  • Well-defined employees' Roles: 13%

  • Both of them: 67%

  • None of them: 4%

3.0 Features of Organization Culture:

We may add some more elements to this such as - role modelling, visible felt leadership, effective & transparent communication, setting the right expectations, fair consequence management mechanism, establishing life-saving rules etc. All of them are the keys for organizational cultural developments and transformation to happen.

Culture change over the short term is intangible - so the leadership must be prepared for the long haul with a huge amount of patience and belief

4.0 How can we develop an Organization Culture?

Whatsoever it is, all of these can be achieved through a robust Strategy Deployment process as, like any other development, it is about the process and system.

Although policies and well-defined roles for employees play a role in building an organizational culture yet there is another most crucial element, which is the management ownership and commitment from top management towards effective implementation of policies and roles, responsibilities at the ground level to building strong organizational culture. Role model leaders exhibiting felt leadership will certainly encourage employees to follow them and help build the culture.

5.0 Commitment of the Top Management:

Often the commitment and seriousness of the Top Management and the Senior Leadership team is seen as reflected through the formation and following of the Organization’s Policy. However, this may not be a true reflection of the commitment. The Top Leadership Team need to focus more on Strategy Deployment than Strategy Development. They need to exhibit their ‘Role Model’ figures. But many corporates opine that IQ (Intelligent Quotient) and MQ (Moral Quotient) are generally not considered together by the leadership team and this is the major lacuna in the process of developing a good organisational culture.

6.0 Role of Communication:

Organisational Culture HOW do you foster an organisational culture that is characterised by open communication, HIGH-PERFORMANCE WORK, and an engaged WORKFORCE? HOW do you ensure that your organisational culture benefits from the diverse ideas, cultures, and thinking of your WORKFORCE?

7.0 I have a story to share:

Policies and well-defined roles for employees play a role in building an organizational culture. I have a story to share.

Recently, I had come across a very awkward situation in an organization, where I was conducting Safety Audit. As a part of the audit, when I visited ETP (Effluent Treatment Plant) and STP (Sewage Treatment Plant) and was interacting with the plant personnel, I came to know that Mr. Mukandan was in-charge of these two plants. However, when I met Mr. Mukandan, he clearly said that he is an environmentalist and not in charge of these plants. The Mechanical Department takes care of the mechanical equipment and the Electrical Department takes care of Electrical & Instrumentation matters. When I asked about the plant operation, I was told that the plant operation has been outsourced and the Administrative Department and Materials Department select the vendor and do the vendor evaluation as per their usual procedures.

In no time I realised that the organization has not clearly defined the Roles, Responsibilities and Authorities of the people working in the plant. Because of this, the plant people have developed a culture of indifferent attitude. And my comment was “Roles, Responsibilities & Authorities shall be well defined for all employees. Lapses found in ETP & STP”.

8.0 Challenges:

With so many items, it often looks like a near to impossible task to make organizational culture; especially, with the employees coming from heterogeneous backgrounds and high levels of attrition. However, one has to be practical about organizational culture and make its development process simple. Best governance generally comes with minimum expectations. If all employees start learning experience background, detailed expectations, and hierarchical something then cheats will take advantage as governance will be slipshod. We need to always remember that it is the values that reflect and reinforce the organization's desired culture. Values support and guide the decisions made by every workforce member, helping your organisation accomplish its mission and attain its vision appropriately. Examples of values include demonstrating integrity and fairness in all interactions, exceeding customer expectations, valuing individuals and diversity, protecting the environment, and striving for performance excellence every day. The values distinguish right from wrong.

As the organization culture has two main dimensions; promoting ethical conduct and preventing unethical conduct, it is expected that the leaders should devote more efforts to fixing corporate governance, developing a code of conduct etc. Senior leaders should be role models for these principles of behaviour.

9.0 Conclusion:

Each organization has a unique USP and unique organisational culture. The culture is reflected in the behaviour of all of its employees. The value system that guides the organization’s Vision and Mission is the first set point that reflects in the organization's culture. The next major way that builds a strong Organization Culture is through well-defined Roles, Responsibilities & Authorities of each & every employee. Hence, the top Management shall develop & deploy a robust strategy and exhibit a Role Model behaviour that showcases the organization's culture.


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