Every business has its own set of values and beliefs that make up an organizational culture that is unique to each specific business. “_Organizational Culture_ is a complex set of basic underlying assumptions and deeply held beliefs shared by all members of the group that operate at a preconscious level and drive in important ways the behavior of individuals in the organizational context” (Strategy Glossary, 2006). GE’s organizational culture is considered one of high ethical standard in the corporate world. According to The Age of Ethics (2007) “_GE now has one of the best ethics compliance programs in existence_, says Larry Ponemon, national director of Business Ethics Services at KPMG”. The purpose of this research paper is to identify and evaluate GE’s organizational cultureal appeal, shared values, customer base and customer service standards, characteristics of organizational \ culture, and to determine if GE’s organizational culture is ethical, customer-responsive, or spiritual.
Organizational Cultural Appeal
When looking at an organization’s cultural appeal, one must first realize what he or she looking for in a company. What appeals to me may or not appeal to someone else. Therefore, the following categories will show what it is about GE’s organizational culture that appeals to me personally. These categories include but are not limited to:
Leadership: It is important for me to be with a company that allows leaders to have the freedom and flexibility to contribute their knowledge and expertise in both their daily job and at company levels. “At the top, we don’t [sic] run GE like a big company. We run it like a big partnership, where every leader can make a contribution not just to their job, but to the entire Company” (Immelt, J., 2005).
Opportunity for Advancement: It is important for me to work for a company that offers employees an opportunity for advancement. “GE has six strong businesses aligned to grow with the market trends of today and tomorrow” Our Business, 2007).
Work Environment: It is important for me to work for a company that provides a pleasant and vitalizing work environment that is easy to balance with my personal life. “GE is an invigorating place to work. Ours is a high-performance culture that emphasizes high-integrity business practices as well as work/life [sic] balance” (Our Culture, 2007).
Training and Education Programs: It is important for me to work for a company that provides additional training and educational benefits that will enhance employee leadership capabilities. “We invest nearly $1 billion a year in career development for our employees at every level of professional growth.” (Leadership Programs, 2007).
When looking at an organization’s appealing values, one must first realize what he or she values. Categories in my value system may or may not be the same as someone else’s. Therefore, the following categories will show the values that I share with GE’s value system. These categories include but are not limited to:
Ethics and Integrity: I believe that it is important for an organization and its employees alike to operate with strong ethics and integrity. “At GE, it isn’t [sic] enough to think big. Imagination must be practiced within boundaries of ethics, compliance and integrity” (Our Company, 2007).
Community Volunteer Work: I believe it is important for every person and organization’s alike to come together and address community needs i.e. health and welfare for disadvantaged community members. “Each year, GE volunteers come together as one GE to participate in Global Community Days, working together to improve our many communities” (Worldwide Activities, 2007).
Environmental Health and Employee Safety: I believe it is important for a company to focus on environmentally safe production plants and employee safety. “Operational excellence shapes the tools and measurements that help keep employees safe while reducing our impact on the environment” (Our Business, 2007)
GE has built a strong and loyal customer base by continually meeting the needs of the customer. Robbins, S. (2005) describes six variables that are routinely evident in customer-responsive cultures like GE.
Type of Employees: “outgoing and friendly”
Low Formalization: “freedom to meet changing customer-service requirements”
Extension of Low Formalization: widespread use of empowerment i.e. decision discretion to do what is necessary to please the customer.
Good Listening Skills: “listen to and understand messages sent by the customer”
Role Clarity: “Service employees act as _boundary spanners_ between the organization and its customers”
Organizational Citizenship Behavior: employees are conscience of customers needs and go above and beyond the call of duty to satisfy a customer’s needs
GE has been able to build such a strong and loyal customer base by meeting each of the six variables described by Robbins. Variable one, type of employee, is met through GE’s efforts to provide a diverse work environment. In fact, GE was named among the top 40 best companies for diversity by Black Enterprise Magazine (Employees, 2007). Variables two and three, low formalization and extension of low formalization, is met through GE’s efforts to provide employees the freedom to become closer to their customers while finding new operational efficiencies and ways to work toward customer service (Leadership, 2007).
Variable four, good listening skills, is provided by GE’s customer support centers through 1-800 numbers or e-mail correspondence that provide support for all customers, civil and military, with a variety of innovative support solutions tailored to individual customer needs (Customer Support, 2007). Variable five, role clarity, is met through GE’s effective use of influential employees (_boundary spanners_) who help shape the goals and parameters of inter-organizational cooperation with international markets such as: Algeria, Brazil, Columbia, Egypt, France, Germany et cetera (Worldwide, 2007). Variable six, organizational citizenship, is met through GE’s continued commitment to citizenship issues worldwide including human rights, philanthropy, public policy and environment, health and safety (Citizenship, 2007).
Customer Service Standards
GE’s customer service standard demonstrates their commitment to excellence and customer standards. In an effort to ensure top quality service standards in today’s competitive market, GE has implemented Six Sigma Quality standards. According to Making Customers Feel Six Sigma Quality (2007) “Six Sigma is a highly disciplined process that helps us focus on developing and delivering near-perfect products and services.”
The goal behind training employees through Six Sigma and implementing this system is for GE to be able to evaluate defects and come as close to _zero errors_ as possible. Six Sigma standards have raised the bar and implemented the highest quality of customer service standards for GE since the 1980’s. According to Making Customers Feel Six Sigma Quality (2007) “Sigma … is embedding quality thinking – process thinking – across every level and in every operation of our Company around the globe.” According to Key Elements of Quality (2007)… the three key elements of Six Sigma quality are:
Customer: customer satisfaction i.e. product quality, dependability, competitive pricing, quality service and so on takes precedence so clients will not find another service provider.
Process: _outside-in thinking_ i.e. observing the company from the customer’s viewpoint and identifying areas that could use improvement to ensure customer satisfaction.
Employee: _leadership commitment_ i.e. providing training, opportunities and incentives for employees to excel and focus their talents on customer satisfaction.
Six Sigma centers on reducing process deviations and improving process capabilities. This process is dependant on six key concepts. According to The Six Sigma Strategy (2007) these concepts that GE focus on include:
Critical to quality: customers most important attributes
Defect: customer satisfaction failure
Process Capability: deliverability of the process
Variation: the customers perceptions
Stable Operations: guaranteeing a constant and predictable process that meets with customer perceptions
Design for Six Sigma: designing to meet customer requirements and process capabilities
Characteristics of Organizational Culture
There are seven primary characteristics of organizational culture: (1) innovation and risk taking, (2) attention to detail, (3) outcome orientation, (4) people orientation, (5) team orientation, (6) Aggressiveness, and (7) Stability. Research indicates that GE embodies five of the seven primary characteristics of organizational culture.
Innovation and Risk Taking: GE employees focus on innovation as their basis for taking calculated risks for change in the areas of transforming health care, cleaner power generation, exploring nanotechnology, aviation technology, greenhouse gas reduction, global research facilities and so forth (Innovation, 2007).
Attention to Detail: GE employees focus on attention to detail in such areas as customer service, quality and assembly of products, meeting performance targets, enhanced decision-making through training and education and so on.
People Orientation: GE considers their more than 300,000 employees to be their greatest asset, and they are “passionate about making life better with new ideas and technologies” (Our People, 2007).
Team Orientation: A significant part of GE’s culture as a global company involves nurturing diverse and cross-cultural teams in such areas as public relations, automotives, global research, nanotechnologies, marketing and so on (Employees, 2007).
Aggressiveness: Though GE does provide the tools necessary for employees to be aggressive and competitive, the degree to which people are aggressive and competitive is truly up to the individual employee.
Research indicates that GE’s organizational culture is both ethical and customer-responsive. In the area of organizational culture appeal, it was found that GE appealed to me in four categories: (1) leadership, (2) opportunity for advancement, (3) work environment, and (4) training and education programs. One should keep in mind that these categories may vary depending on the needs of each individual. In the area of shared values, it was found GE had three values that I identified with: (1) ethics and integrity, (2) community volunteer work, and (3) environmental health and employee safety. Again, one should keep in mind that these categories may vary depending on the perception of values of each individual. In the area of customer base, it was found that GE has been able to build and sustain a strong and loyal customer base through adherence to the six variables as described by Robbins.
In the area of customer service standards, it was found that GE has demonstrated their commitment to excellence and high customer standards through the training and implementation of The Six Sigma Strategy. In the area of characteristics of organizational culture, it was found that GE does embody five of the seven primary characteristics of organizational culture: (1) innovation and risk, (2) attention to detail, (3) people orientation, (4) team orientation, and (5) aggressiveness. Based on the above findings, my evaluation of GE’s organizational culture is that they do provide a strong framework for positive attitudes, experiences, beliefs and values that would be appealing to almost anyone looking for job satisfaction and advancement within an organization.
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