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Understanding Organization Culture

Today’s business buzzword, especially with the people in the HR domain, is Organisational Culture. What is it? By definition, Organizational culture is the collective effect of the common beliefs, behaviours, and values of the people within a company. But 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? So many issues always surface in our minds. Building Strong Organization Culture has been always remaining an issue for the Top Management and the OT team.


General understanding of the organizational culture includes an organization's expectations, experiences, and philosophy, as well as the values that guide member behaviour, and is expressed in member self-image, inner workings, interactions with the outside world, and future expectations.


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

I assume it is now understood from this so far discussion that building strong organisational culture is quite possible with –

  • Right organizational policy and

  • Well defined employees' Roles, Responsibilities and Authority


Recently, we had conducted a survey, which ended with the following polling outcome

Right organizational policy:

17%

Well defined employees' Roles:

13%

Both of them:

67%

None of them:

4%


Yes, like the right organizational policy, well-defined roles for employees also definitely 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 audit comment was “Roles, Responsibilities & Authorities shall be well defined for all employees. Lapses found in ETP & STP”.


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. Whatsoever it is, all of these can be achieved through a robust Strategy Deployment process.


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.


Although well-defined roles for employees definitely 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 organisational culture. Role model leaders exhibiting felt leadership will certainly encourage employees to follow them and help build the culture.


Hence, 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 and MQ are generally not considered together by the leadership team and this is the major lacuna in the process of developing a good organisational culture.


If you bear any different thoughts, please do write to me on my personal email ID ighosh_airoli@hotmail.com or WhatsApp no (+91) 9224364055.

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