Organizational culture can be summed up as a complex set of assumptions, beliefs, perceptions, symbols and values that define how a company goes about doing business. Every organization has its own unique culture or value set. Most organizations do not consciously try to create a certain culture as the culture of the organization is typically created automatically and unconsciously, based on the values of the top management or the founders of an organization.
How things are said and done in a company reflects and shapes its organizational culture and can be seen in the following ways based on norms, critical incidents, rituals and significant symbols. Norms are a set of unwritten rules and guidelines that are standard for appropriate behaviour. Critical incidents are the events that occur in a company for example; a manager pointed out a mistake in the boss’ work and got passed over for a promotion. It shows that the company does not tolerate criticism. Based on this, other employees will learn from it and keep quiet even if their superiors made a mistake on their jobs.
Rituals are the company’s traditions and customs, which are known as rites. Each company has their own set of rituals and can be extremely different from one another. A few examples will be the dress code, work pace, where to sit during meetings and recognition; how achievements are awarded. A significant symbol is how the employees and customers describe the organization. This means the language used to reflect the beliefs that are an everyday part of life for the organization. They are an indication of what values the company holds important.
Based on the above introduction and explanation, we can derive that certain aspects of the culture can and cannot be managed. As said before, the top of the organization are the ones who set the goal and mission for the company. But based on the settings, different values and beliefs branches out as people have different perceptions and way of getting job done. Each culture is like a finger print and there can be no same culture between two unrelated organizations. The culture ‘is one type of environmental influence which impacts the way people (employees) think, perform tasks, and communicate/interact with each other.’
Harris (1994) said: ‘Work is done by people who make up an organization, not by the organization itself. Organizational culture is ultimately manifested, represented and maintained by sense-making efforts and actions of individuals.’ It means organisational culture will first manifest itself before having impact on individuals and in turns affect an organization’s productivity, performance and their good points. In any kind of businesses, having a good culture is key matter in sustaining a good organization and in return creating good working results. Creating a “positive” culture would be extremely difficult to implement.
At a certain point of situation, there will be a need to manage the culture of the organization. This is when there is a change in the tops of the management; the board of directors. It can also occur when there is a merge and overtaking by another organization.
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