Strategic Organizational Culture Management: Training Needs Essay

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Perhaps most importantly culture penetrates to the essence of an organization -- it almost analogous with the concept of personality in relation to the individual and this acute sense of what an organization is -- its mission, core values -- seems to have become a necessary asset of the modern company (Chapter 15: Organizational Culture, p. 4). If real change is to occur in organizations rather than cosmetic or short -- lived change, it has to happen at the cultural level (Chapter 15: Organizational Culture, p. 3).Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Essay on Strategic Organizational Culture Management: Training Needs Assignment

Martin Hahn (21 April 2007) identifies three features that determine a culture's strength. The first is thickness of culture, measured by the number of important shared assumptions. Thick cultures have many such assumptions, thin cultures few. The second dimension is extent of sharing. In strong cultures, layers and layers of beliefs are shared. Clarity of ordering is the third determinant of cultural strength. In their classic 1982 book, "Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life," Terrence Deal and Allan Kennedy proposed one of the first models of Organizational Culture. When the book was published, it had many supporters, although there were also many who felt the idea of corporate culture would be just a passing fad. Now that we are in the 21rd century, the notion of corporate culture is widely accepted as important a business concept as financial control and employee satisfaction. In their work on the subject of culture, Deal and Kennedy suggested that the basis of corporate culture was an interlocking set of six cultural elements (see Deal and Kennedy's Cultural Model, 5 May 2010, p. 1): History, values and beliefs, rituals and ceremonies, stories, and heroic figures. By examining these cultural elements across a variety of organizations, Deal and Kennedy identified furthermore two marketplace factors that they felt influenced cultural patterns and practices. These were: The degree of risk associated with a company's key activities and the speed at which companies learn whether their actions and strategies are successful. Deal and Kennedy presented these factors as four culture types (see Deal and Kennedy's Cultural Model, p. 2) that exemplify the strength and weaknesses of corporate culture: Tough-Guy, Macho: This culture contains a world of individualists who enjoy risk and who get quick feedback on their decisions. This is an all-or-nothing culture where successful employees are the ones who enjoy excitement and work very hard to be stars. The entertainment industry, sports teams and advertising are great examples of this cultural type. Teamwork is not highly valued in this culture, and it's a difficult environment for people who blossom slowly. This leads to higher turnover, which impedes efforts to build a cohesive culture. Thus, individualism continues to prevail. Work Hard/Play Hard: This culture is the world of sales (among others). Employees themselves take few risks; however, the feedback on how well they are performing is almost immediate. Employees in this culture have to maintain high levels of energy and stay upbeat. Heroes in such cultures are high volume salespeople. Interestingly, this culture recognizes that one person alone cannot make the company. They know it is a team effort and everyone is driven to excel. Contests among employees are common here, as they drive everyone to reach new heights. Bet-Your-Company: Here, the culture is one in which decisions are high risk but employees may wait years before they know whether their actions actually paid off. Pharmaceutical companies are an obvious example of this culture, as are oil and gas companies, architectural firms and organizations in other large, capital-intensive industries. Because the need to make the right decision is so great, the cultural elements evolve such that values are long-term focused and there is a collective belief in the need to plan, prepare and perform due diligence at all stages of decision making. Process: In this culture, feedback is slow, and the risks are low. Large retailers, banks, insurance companies and government organizations are typically in this group. No single transaction has much impact on the organization's success and it takes years to find out whether a decision was good or bad. Because of the lack of immediate feedback, employees find it very difficult to measure what they do so they focus instead on how they do things. Technical excellence is often valued here and employees will pay attention to getting the process and the details right without necessarily measuring the actual outcome.

The revealing view in the professional world is that change of organizational culture is a tough issue because organizational culture grows over time by interaction between the participants in the organization and people are comfortable with the current organizational culture. Nevertheless organizational culture change is possible when people in an organization realize and recognize that their current culture needs to transform to support the company's success (see Susan M. Heathfield (2011) and Mary Duffy (2000). Culture change depends on behavior change. Members of the organization must clearly understand what is expected of them, and must know how to actually do the new behaviors, once they have been defined. Training can be very useful in both communicating and teaching new behaviors. Executives in the organization must support the cultural change, and in ways beyond verbal support. They must show behavioral support for the cultural change. Executives must lead the change by changing their own behaviors. It is extremely important for executives to consistently support the change which is an aspect of leadership that is accessible to managerial training.

Academics tend to say that organizational change cannot be managed and thus not be trained (see Chapter 15: Organizational Change, pp. 2ff. with references). Corporate culture would be a kind of image for the company which top management would like to project and that the image of the organization differs according to where one views it. Even in companies with strong cultures the social distance between senior management and shop floor reality could be very wide. Cultures would be hardly planned or predictable; they are the natural products of social interaction and evolve and emerge over time (Chapter 15: Organizational Culture ibid with references). Remarks like this tend to support the widespread notion in academia that corporate culture is a given in a company that is not manageable and therefore management qualities in that special field are not trainable.

Nevertheless, there are also voices in the academic and professional world suggesting that corporate culture is an asset that can be managed and that management in this special issue can be trained. The most widely used organizational culture framework is that of Edgar H. Schein, who adopts the functionalist view and described culture as a pattern of basic assumptions, invented, discovered, or developed by a given group, as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore is to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems (Organizational culture theory, 18 November 2010, p. 1 with references). As Edgar H. Schein noted: "…the only thing of real importance that managers do is to create and manage culture" (see Corporate Culture in Global Business, p. 1 with references). Schein believed that managers try to influence corporate culture through: What leaders pay attention to, measure and control on a regular basis; How leaders react to critical incidents and organizational crises; How leaders allocate resources; Deliberate role modeling, teaching, and coaching; How leaders allocate rewards and status; How leaders recruit, select, promote, and excommunicate. A reasoned and thoughtful approach to this vital subject is critical to the success of the enterprise. There seems to be no cultural type that is better than the other, because the types emerge as a result of circumstances (see Deal and Kennedy's Cultural Model, p. 2). Andrew M. Pettigrew is another representative of the world of academia who believes that cultures can be shaped to suit strategic ends (see Chapter 15: Organizational Culture, p. 4 with reference). Corporate culture has many powerful attractions as a lever for change. The problem is certainly how to get a hand on the lever. Firstly, cultures can be explicitly created -- one has to be aware of what it takes to change an existing culture. The ability of companies to be culturally innovative is related to leadership and top management must be responsible for building strong cultures. Leaders construct the social reality of the organization; they shape values and attend to the drama and vision of the organization. Culture is frequently counter-posed to formal rationality -- in this sense culture helps to resolve the dilemma of bureaucracy; formal procedures are necessary for business integrity but they also stifle autonomy and innovation (Chapter 15: Organizational Culture, p. 3).

I think that awareness of what it takes to change an existing culture, the ability of companies to be culturally innovative and resolving the dilemma of bureaucracy are aspects… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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