What is your workplace like? Is it a great place for most of the workers? Do they exhibit creativity and are they inspired by their top management? Do they feel good about what they do? At the end of the day, do you and your colleagues leave knowing that you made a change in the world? The answers to these questions can help define the organization culture that is prevalent in your work place.
All organizations exhibit some form of primary organization culture and some other related subcultures. It is important for you, the employee who is thinking about building a career. No one would want to be stuck in an organization in which they are unhappy, unmotivated, not able to reach the full potential and fearful of being let go without second thought. These things are related to the culture present in the organization.
Organization culture is decided by the following factors, ranked on a scale of high-medium-low.
- How much does the organization let you be innovative and take risks?
- Does the organization want its employees to be precise and attentive to minute details?
- Does the organization care more about results or more about following standards?
- Does the management take into account the consensus of the workers into its decision making?
- Are the people within the organization easy going or are they fiercely competitive?
- Do employees work in teams or work individually?
- Do things change often or do they remain relatively the same?
One might think based on these set of questions that organization culture is the same as job satisfaction. Organization culture is a description of the organization rather than an evaluation of the job, which is what job satisfaction is about. Based on the description of organizations, it can exhibit a strong culture where there is strong attribution by all workers to a shared vision and values or a weak culture where such shared values are non existent or minimal.
Organization culture leads to organizational climate, the share perception that employees have about their workplace. Organizational climate takes on many dimensions, such as innovation, creativity, safety, supportive, justice and communication. These dimensions can be either positive and negative. For example, a positive climate of safety will make an individual worker use a safety equipment even if he/she doesn’t believe in the usefulness of safety procedures. It is this result of organisational climate, where the total sum of individual perceptions about a given situation is greater or less than the effect brought about by the presence of such a climate that makes organization culture and climate very important.
Cultures exists, whether organizations are large or small, private or public, well established or just start ups, but where do they come from? When you started working for that new company, why did all the staff seem to be outgoing and friendly, why do they have all kinds of weird decorations and why do they have an in-house gym? It’s all in the culture, and cultures are there from the beginning because of initial leadership, the founders values. Cultures often convey the message of the leadership down the organizational hierarchy and once a culture forms, it’s quite difficult to change. Whether a culture needs to change or not is a management decision, but to ensure that an existing culture perseveres, it needs to be controlled and coaxed through the selection process, activities by the top management and by socialization where new recruits are introduced to the job and the way things work.
Organization culture is difficult to describe, but it’s omnipresent and you can feel the difference between different cultures. It’s what make companies like Google and Facebook standout, in addition to their excellent products. New employees starting to work in organizations learn of the organization culture through stories that are told within the grapevine, rituals that takes form of activities such as charity works and casual Fridays, symbols such as the layout of the offices and the architectural decorations and the language used within the organization that makes them part of a community, which an outsider couldn’t probably understand.
This brings us to the rather controversial topic of organization spirituality, where organizations actively start to care for people, both within and outside the organization. This is organizational ethics taken one step ahead, and its controversial because it hasn’t be proven to be effective to the business model or to the employees working within the organization. Trying to incorporate spirituality within organizations haven’t always worked out, mainly because employees themselves may have spiritual beliefs that are not consistent with the spiritual belief the organization is promoting. The legitimacy of imposing such spiritual values on employees has been questioned.
Organization cultures and climates makes businesses stand out in a way that wasn’t previously possible, by caring and focusing on the employees instead of the customers and suppliers.