Thursday, August 14, 2014

Organization's role in newcomer stress reduction

In the last byte, we looked at what a newcomer could do ro reduce the stress and make the establishment phase as smooth as possible. It today's byte, we look at what role the organization could play in the scenario.

Careful recruitment and selection is definitely the first step that the organizations can take to ensure that new recruits are in tune with the organization's culture and the expectations are rightly set.

The early job assignments that are given to new recruits could be those that t new comers can experience success in, this helps improve the self-efficacy and adjust to the new job more effectively.  Research has also found that new comers who face early job challenges successfully tend to be higher higher performers.
Feedback and encouragement during this phase form a crucial ingredient of the smooth relationship. The immediate circle of the new recruit, i.e the immediate supervisor, peers, other newcomers, support staff are important sources of support during this encounter.
During the change and acquisition phase, rewards play a major role. Organizations should tie the newcomer's rewards as explicitly possible to to performance. Feedback as mentioned earlier is crucial, and it is advisable that the new comers should received daily, consistent feedback. This also communicates that the organization is concerned about their progress and wants to help them learn the ropes along the way.

Individual actions to reduce stress when joining a new organization

In the last byte, we looked at the sources of stress during the socialization process during the establishment phase. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on easing the transition for a newcomer from being an outsider to an insider to the organization.

Making a transition from being an outsider to an insider in an organization smooth involves both the individual and the organization to take up certain set of actions. We begin with the individual actions in this byte and move to the organization in the next. 

A newcomer could ask for the negative side of  the job if they are to get a more realistic perspective of the same - specifically the stressful aspects involved. Other employees too could be a good source of such information. It is often the case that newcomers underestimate the stressfulness of job demands and don't adjust well. Additionally, providing those around with a honest and accurate information about ones own weakness is also useful from the newcomer's perspective.

During the encounter phase, newcomers must prepare for reality shock - realizing that slight depression is natural when adjusting to a new job can help reduce the distress felt there in. This could also help the newcomers to plan ways to cope with job stress ahead of time. 

Newcomers should focus on seeking feedback and improving their job performance during this phase. 

We next look at what organizations can do to reduce the stress felt by newcomers.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Socialization Stress in Establishment Process

In the last byte, we discussed about psychological contracts. In today's byte we discuss about the stress that comes along with the initial socialization during the establishment phase. We also leverage on the discussion on socialization we had earlier - link here.

During the anticipatory socialization phase, the new comer to the organization is seeking information from various sources about the job and organization - ambiguity is one of the major sources of stress during this phase; this could be resolved by providing access to accurate information. It is during this phase that the psychological contract mentioned earlier is formed (so both the parties involved should approach it with good intentions of living up to their end of the agreement).
The anticipatory phase creates expectations in the mind of the newcomer, and during the encounter phase these expectations are put to a reality check.  The demands of the job in terms of role, task, interpersonal relationships and physical settings become apparent. It is possible that when the expectations aren't validated to be true - the newcomer experiences a shock.
An approach that a few organizations take in this scenario is to allow the new comer to adapt - say two, three months for them to reach certain level of independence. If the adaptation to the settings hasn't been possible for the newcomer they would begin receiving negative feedback from their coworkers.
In the last two phases of the socialization process, the newcomer begins to master the job demands and gains control over the job.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Psychological Contracts during the establishment phase

In the last byte, we began our discussion on establishment stage of career-stage model. In today's byte, we look at the concept of psychological contracts in a bit more detail.

A psychological contract refers to the implicit agreement between and individual and an organization that specifies what each is expected to give and received in the relationship. 

Expectations of receiving salary, status, advancement opportunities, challenging work etc that meet an individual's need is what he/she expects. Organizations on the other hand, expect to receive time, energy, talent and loyalty from the individuals they employ to meet their needs.

Psychological contracts form and exist between individuals - during the early stages, newcomers form attachment relationships with many people in the organization. Each person they meet is a potential source of a psychological contract.

The psychological support that a newcomer looks for could be any of the following types.
  1. Protection from stressors
  2. Informational
  3. Evaluative
  4. Modeling
  5. Emotional

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Establishment Stage of Career Stage Model

In the last byte, we looked at the description of the various stages in the career stage model. In today's byte, we begin understanding the Establishment Stage in greater detail.
As mentioned earlier, during the establishment stage, an individual begins his/her career as a newcomer to the organization (he/she joins). The period involves a great dependence on others as the individual begins learning about the job and organization from those around him/her. Most often this face occurs between the age group of 18 years to 25 years.
During this period, there is also another transition that happens in the individual's life - one finds himself/herself moving away from being dependent on his/her parents and becomes more emotionally and financially independent. It is often considered a stable time of exploring the adult role and settling down.
The transition from a school to work is also considered part of the establishment stage - this is clearly a memorable experience for many individuals. (Dont we recollect many films depicting the joy around this event!)
Given these transitions, the establishment phase is definitely a significant phase in every ones life - there are three major tasks that the organization's newcomer would go through:
  1. Negotiating effective psychological contracts
  2. Managing the stress of socialization
  3. Making a transition from organizational outsider to organizational insider.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Career Stages - description

In the last byte, we looked at the career stage model. In today's byte, we describe the 4 stages there in. 

The diagram shown in the last byte, presented the career stage model indicated that the individuals pass through four stages in their careers - establishment, advancement, maintenance and withdrawal. The age ranges shown are approximations and the timing od these career transitions could vary greatly with amongst individuals! Lets now look at what these stages actually describe.

  • Establishment: The first stage of a person's career in which the person learns the job and begins to fit into the organization and occupation
  • Advancement: The second high achievement oriented career stage in which people focus on increasing their competence
  • Maintenance: The third stage in an individual's career in which the individual tries to maintain productivity while evaluating progress toward career goals
  • Withdrawal: The final stage in an individual's career in which the individual contemplates retirement or possible career change.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Career Stage Model - Stages

In the last byte, we looked at organizational choice consideration that an individual entering his/her occupation would need to consider. We begin our discussion on career stages with today's byte.

The following diagram summarizes the different stages of careers.

We shall discuss about these stages in the subsequent bytes.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Organizational Choice

In the last byte, we discussed occupational choice. In today's byte, we look at the organizational choice one has to do at the beginning of their career.

One completely rational way of making the choice of the organization is using the expectancy model of decision making. When applied in the context of organizational choice, we can claim that individuals choose organization sthat mazimise positive outcomes and avoid negative outomes and then compare the probabilities across organization. 

But in reality, this might not be possible - people may tend to make less rational decision. One such approach is the satisficing approach that the individual might use - the first organization that meets one's criteria list might be chosen. The candidate then justify their choice by distroting their perception!

There is no encompassing appraoch that people might adopt - their choice might be a combination of the expectancy theory and others that might seem less rational. The choice may be complicated by the conflicts that can occur between individuals and the organization. 

We shall look into this in the next byte.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Occupational Choice

In the last byte, we classified the choices at the beginning of one's career into organizational and occupational choices. In today's byte, we look at occupational choice.
Individuals assess their needs, values, abilities and preferences and attempt to match them with an occupation that could provide them with the fit they seek. (Many a times, people at the early states of this - would need to pick up the skill of networking to really make this assessment possible)
Personality plays a role in the selection of occupation. The research by John Holland identified six types of personalities - each personality characterized by a set of interest and values. We could group occupations similarly. The following table summarizes these:
 The assumption that drives the theory is that people choose occupations that match their own personalities. 

Beyond the personality that influences occupational choice, others like social class, parents' occupation, economic conditions and geography all play a major role in the occupational choice.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Occupational and Organizational Choices

In the last byte, we looked at the role EI played in Career Success. In today's byte, we look at some of the preparations that would help entering the world of work. 

Prior to beginning one's career, individuals must make several important decisions. We are not just referring to only the educational experience one might have, but also the personal experience that might help an individual develop the skills and maturity needed to enter a career. This preparation is a development processes and takes a long time to develop. 

We can classify the decisions into two buckets:
  • Choice of occupation
  • Choice of Organization
The first also called occupational Choice, while the second is also called the Organizational Choice. We shall discuss these in the next two byte.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Role of EI for Managers

In the last byte, we looked at some statistics about managers and their failure to handle different demands of their career. If we closely look at the statistics again, we can point these to the lack of human skills. In this byte, we discuss the role played by emotional intelligence(EI). 

Recollect, we had discussed briefly about emotional intelligence earlier and highlighted the role it plays in conflict management. For ease of recollection here are some of the attributes of emotional intelligence one could think of: self-awareness, self-control, trustworthiness, confidence, empathy etc. 

As one moves up the career ladder, emotional intelligence becomes more valuable for managers. Employers look for emotional
intelligence in their hiring processes - these may not be consciously always. Even during internships, it was found that the companies where willing to offer long term employments to the interns who had demonstrated higher levels of EI. 

Large corporate have identified the role EI plays and have
consciously included EI assessment as part of their hiring process. This has not just let to improved performance in the traditional measures of their role's impact but also reduced the turnovers - that is a good investment in the long term for the company!

There is good news for those are thinking if they can develop their EI - yes! EI could be developed and also has been found to improve throughout life.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Need for Human Skills for Managers

In the last byte, we looked at how becoming your own career coach would help develop the necessary skills for career management. In today's byte, we look at some of the points for failure of new managers.

Here are some statistics quoted from the reference book:

  • 40 % of new managers fail within the first 18 months on the job!
  • 82% of the failures are because the new manager doesn't buid relationships with peers and subordinates
  • 58% of the failures are because they are confused or uncertain about what their bosses expect
  • 50% of the failures are because of the lack of internal political skills
  • 47% of the failures are due to their inability to achived two or three most important objectives of their new job.
Isn't it pretty clear that these are due to the lack of human skills?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Develop the necessary skills for your Career

In the last byte, we looked at the shift from  the top-down firms of the old career paradigm to organizational empowerment to new career paradigm. In today's byte, we looked at a means of developing the necessary skills for career progression.

If an individual thinks of oneself as being in the business for oneself, even if the individual works for someone else, then there would be an enormous positive impact on the career. Knowing the skills one has to package for other employers, helps acquire the necessary skills. Organizations too need employees who have acquired multiple skills and are adept at more than one job - note that there is the skills that would help dealing with change. The self-reliance necessary to deal with the change is a key skill. 

The flexible and team-oriented people, those energized by change, those who are tolerant to ambiguity are all found to easily adjust in the scenarios of a new career paradigm. The people who have rigid in their thinking, learning styles, and have a high need for control are those who become frustrated in the new career. 

As a famous researcher says - "a commitment to continuous, lifelong learning will prevent your from becoming a professional dinosaur!"

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

From corporate allegiance to project allegiance

In the last byte, we looked at the shift from top-down firms of the old career paradigm to organizational empowerment to new career paradigm. In today's byte, we look at the shift from corporate allegiance model (old paradigm) to project allegiance model (new paradigm).

We could interpret the change between the two in the following table. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

From Top Down to Organizational Empowerment

In the last byte, we looked at the shift from one-employer focus (old paradigm) to occupational excellence (new paradigm). In today's byte, we look at the shift from top-down firms of the old career paradigm to organizational empowerment to new career paradigm. 

We could interpret the change between the two in the following table. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

From a single employer focus to Occupational Excellence

In the last byte, we discuss the shift from Mutual Loyalty Contract (Old Paradigm) to Discrete Exchange (New Paradigm). In today's byte, we look at the shift from one-employer focus (old paradigm) to occupational excellence (new paradigm). 

We could interpret the change between the two in the following table:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

From Mutual Loyalty Contract to Discrete Exchanges

In the last byte, we looked at the broad categories in which the change from old career paradigm to the new one has occured. We discuss this a bit more closely today on the shift from Mutual Loyalty Contract (Old Paradigm) to Discrete Exchange (New Paradigm). 

We could interpret the change between the two in the following table. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Changing Paradigm of Careers

In the last byte, we looked at the definition of career and career management and understood why it would be important for a manager to understand career management. In today' byte we look at the chaging paradigm of career. 

The concept of life-time employement in a single organization is almost a reality today - and the challenge is to create a constantly learning organisation. We use the reference book table 17.1 to understand the old and new paradims of career in this byte and the next few.

We do this on 4 broad heads in which we can look at these transitions:
  • The mutual loyalty contract has given way to Discrete exchange
  • The one-employer focus has given way to occupational excellence
  • The top-down firm structure is now one of organizational empowerment
  • Corporate allegiance has given way to project allegiance
We shall look at these closely in the next byte.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Career and Career Management

In the last byte, we understood the various paths one could take for a cultural change in their organisation. In today's byte, we initiate our discussion on careers and career management. 

We define Career as: The pattern of work-related experiences that span the course of a person's life. Note here that it is beyond the "job" that one does in an organization - it is just related to the job one pick up as part of the role. 

Career Management is: a life-long process of learning about self, jobs and organizations; setting personal career goals; developing strategies for achieving those gals, and revising the goals based on work and life experience.  

As managers we could think of three resons to gain an understanding of career management:
  1. If one know what to look forward to in our career, one could take a proactive step towards planning and managing them.
  2. The experience of employees and coulleagues as they pass through the various stages of careers over their life span could be better understood.
  3. It is a good business! Better trained employees keep up with their fieldds so that organization could protect valuable investment in human resource.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Changing Organizational Culture 2

In the last byte, we began our discussion on changing organizational culture. In today's byte, we continue looking at the same.

Referring to the diagram shown in the last byte; there are two approaches to changing the existing culture:
Path  1: helping current members buy into the new set of values
Path 2: adding newcomers and socializing them into the organizations and removing current members as appropriate
Lets Explore path 1 first:
The first action is to change behavior in organization. Behavior is an artifact of culture - so individuals may change heir behavior bu not the values that drive it. Managers must use actions to justify the changed behavior. All artifacts should send consistent message about the new values and beliefs.
Lets now look at path 2:
The organization can look at revising its selection strategies to more accurately reflect the new culture - and let go of people who resist cultural change.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Changing Organizational Culture

In the last byte, we looked at assessing the organizational culture. In today's byte, we begin looking at how change in organizational culture could be initiated. 

We could visualize the process of changing the organizational cultural in the following diagram.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Assessing Organization Culture

In the last byte, we looked at socilization as cultural communication. In today's byte, we begin look at ways to  assess organization culture. 

There are two widely used quantitative assessment instruments:
  1. Organizational Culture Inventory (OCI)
  2. Kilmann-Saxton Culture-Gap Survey
OCI focuses on behaviors that help employees fit into the organization and meet the expectations of coworkers. The two underlying dimensions of the OCI are task/people and security/satisfaction. 

Kilmann-Saxton Culture-Gap Survey focuses on the gap between what actually happens in the organization and the expectations of others in the organization. It has two underlying dimensions - technical/human and time(short/long). 

While quantitative methods listed above are precise, comparable and objective - the use of qualitative methods like interviews and observations offer a detailed, descriveptive and unique measure of the scenario. Thus, "Traingulation" methods are generally prefered in study of organizational culture.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Socialization as Cultural Communication

In the last byte, we looked at the outcomes of socialization. In today's byte, we look at Socialization as cultural communication.

It could be interesting to note that socialization is definitely a powerful cultural communication tool, but it needs to be understood well: The transmission of information about cultural artifacts is relatively easy, the transmission of values is more difficult. But it is the communication of organizational assumption that is most difficult. 

The source of this problem is possibly that members of the organization themselves may not be consciously aware of the assumptions and therefore difficult to communicate.

Socialization serves one primary purpose amongst others - the transmission of core values to new members of the organization. Interaction with role-models, training that newcomers receive, behavior with respect to rewards and punishment etc are all means by which the newcomers are exposed to these values. 

If newcomers are expected to adopt the values of an organization, it is essential that the message reflect the underlying values of the organization. Both the individuals and organizations should ensure that certain actions are taken for the success of socialization processes.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Change and Acquisition phases in Organizational Socialization

In the last byte, we looked at the encounter stage of organizational socialization. In today's byte, we look at the change and acquisition phase and the outcomes of the process. 

In the change and acquisition phase of organizational socialization, newcomers begin to master the demands of the job. They get proficient at managing their tasks, clarifying and negotiating their roles and engaging in relationships at work.
In terms of timelines, the time when the socialization process completes varies widely depending on the individual, the job, the organization etc. The process completes when new comers begin considering themselves and others as organizational insiders.
New comers who are successfully socialized should exhibit better performance, high job satisfaction, and the intention to stay with the organization. The stress displayed is relatively of a lower level.
It is often found that a successful socialization leads to high levels of organizational commitment.
A successful socialization is often signaled by mutual influence, that is the newcomers have made adjustments in the job and organization to accommodate their knowledge and personalities. The newcomers are expected to leave their mark on the organization and not be completely conforming!
(Could we really find many such situations? )

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Encounter Stages in Organizational Socialization

In the last byte, we looked at the anticipatory socialization stage, in today's byte we discuss the encounter stage of organizational socialization. 

Encounter is the stage where the newcomer learns the tasks associated with the job, clarifies roles, and establishes new relationships at work.
In terms of timelines, this stage begins with the first day at work and could go to the first six to nine months on the new job. The demands on the new comer during this stage could be classified into:
  1. task demands
  2. role demands
  3. interpersonal demands

Tasks demands involve the actual work performed. Learning to perform tasks is related to the organization's culture - here are some scenarios: In some organizations, new comers are given considerable latitude to experiment with - to do the job, and creativity is values; there are others where newcomers are expected to learn the established procedures for their task.
Note: Early experiences in trying to master task demands can affect employee's entire career.
Role Demands involve the expectations placed on newcomers. These newcomers may not know exactly what to expect of them (role ambiguity) or may receive conflicting expectations from other individuals (role conflicts).  The way newcomers approach these demands is dependent to a good extent on the culture of the organization.
Interpersonal demands arise from relationships at work. Politics, Leadership style, and group pressure are interpersonal demands. All these reflect the values and assumptions that operate within the organization.
At this stage, the expectations formed in anticipatory socialization stage might clash with the realities of the job.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Anticipatory socialization

In the last byte, we looked at the various stages in organizational socialization process. In today' byte, we look at the stage of anticipatory socialization.
Anticipatory Socialization encompasses all the learning that takes pace prior to the newcomer's first day on job.
There are two key concerns at this stage:
  1. Realism
  2. Congruence
The degree to which a newcomer holds realistic expectations about the job and about the organization.

For a very clear understanding of the organizational culture - it is suggested that the new comer receive information regarding this on the first day. This information could help the newcomer to begin constructing a scheme to interpret their experience in the organization. This also helps deepen the understanding of this culture over time about their experiences in the organization.
Congruence could be of two types:
  1. between individual's abilities and the demands of the job
  2. between the organization's values and individual's values.

Value congruence is very important for organizational culture, and is important for the new comer adjustment. If the adjustment is fine, then the new comer would stay longer with the organization.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Stages of Organizational Socialization

In the last byte, we looked at how hiring and firing decisions by leaders indicate their belief in culture. Beginning this byte, we start our discussion on Organizational Socialization.
Organizational Socialization refers to the process by which newcomers are transformed from outsiders to participating, effective members of the organization.
The beginning of cultural socialization is a careful selection of the newcomers - and the reinforcement of the organizational culture through it. Once selected, the newcomers pass through the socialization process.
The organizational socialization process could be thought to have three stages:
  1. Anticipatory Socialization
  2. Encounter
  3. Change and acquisition
The following diagram shows these stages pictorially:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Organizational Socialization

In the last byte, we looked at how hiring and firing decisions could be important indicators of the organizational culture. In today's byte, we look at organizational socialization. 

We have clearly understood, based on our earlier discussion the role of leaders in defining organizational values, that leaders play a key role in shaping an organization's culture. Another such process that perpetuates culture is the way it is handed down from generation to generation of employees - the underlying process here is "Organizational Socialization".

Organizational Socialization refers to the process by which new comers into an organization are transformed from outsiders to participating, effective members of the organization.

We have earlier discussed how the new-comer selection often reinforces the organization's culture. It is just the first step in the process. Once selected these people pass through the process of socialization in the organization and this is thus the vehicle for bringing newcomers into the organizational culture. 

We shall discuss the various stages of organizational socialization next.

Culture and Leadership 5

In the last byte, we looked how rewarding could help get the organizational values aligned. In today's byte, we look at how hiring and firing decisions by leaders could reinforce the organizational culture.

Hiring and Firing decisions are very strong indicators of the way leaders reinforce the organizational culture. 

Often leaders unconsciously look out for new members who are similar to the current organizational members in terms of values and assumptions. As a practise in some companies that recommendations by a current employee, and this too helps find new employees who have similar values. The policy of promoting from within also servs to reinforce organizational culture. 

The way an organization deals with firing an employee and the rationale behind the act are important means to communicate about the organization's culture. Some companies poor performers are transfered to another department where they could perform better and make useful contributions. In others these employees would be qickly be sent away from the organization. 

In some case where the reason may not be communicated to the employee, the speculation plays a major role. Imagine: An employee caught displaying unethical behavior and if simply reprimanded even though the behavior is against the organization's values - other employees in such a context would think that this is a failure to reinforce the values within an organization.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Culture and Leadership 4

In the last byte, we looked at how an organizational culture would be reflected in how the  leaders behave. In today's byte, we look at how one could understand organizational culture from how leaders allocate resources.

Rewards are widely used by organizations to get the expected behavior. Leaders could use these rewards to encourage and ensure that the values of the organization are consistently followed by all employees. 

Lets take a couple of examples:
  1. Imaging a company where it is generally heard that there is a pay-for-performance system implemented. If the company at  point of offering increments decides to increase the compensation based on the years of service with the company rather than performance, think of the feeling an employee who has performed exceptionally well but relatively new into the organization!
  2. Imagine a second company where the company claims its value to be teamwork. They form cross-functional terms and empower these teams to make important decisions, however when there is the point of performance appraisal the criteria for rating employees focuses on individual performances!

The confusing signals to the employees about the company's culture could demotivate the employees.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Culture and Leadership 3

In the last byte, we looked at how one could understand the leaders focus by observing what the leader pays attention to and how he would react in crisis. In today's byte, we look further to understand how leaders could reinforce culture by how he/she behaves.
How Leaders Behave?

By role modeling, teaching, and coaching, leaders reinforce the values that support the organizational culture. One could often find employees emulating the leader's behavior and look for cues when they would like to understand what the appropriate behavior would be.
In the dynamic business environment we stay today, we often hear organizations say that they are encouraging employees to behave more entrepreneurially - taking up more initiative, and be more innovative in their jobs. Even in this case, it is required that the leaders themselves behave  entrepreneurially.
One could extend the above example of entrepreneurial culture to any value in an organizational culture. Employees often find themselves observing the leader to find out what the organizations' values are.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Culture and Leadership 2

In the last byte, we began our discussion on the role a leader in managing the organizational culture and also noted the 5 major questions to ponder over. In today's byte we look at a few of these questions.

What leaders pay attention to:
Leaders n a organization communicate their priorities, values and beliefs though the theme that consistently emerge from what they focus on - one could observe these by noticing what they notice, what they comment on, what they measure and what they control. 

Leaders must be consistent in what they pay attention to, measure and control; in order to communicate to the employees and give a clear signal on what is important in the organization. In consistency on this front would get the employees confused thanks to the inconsistent signals.

How leaders react to Crisis:
Crisis is a situation when leadership is actually tested - how a leader deals with such situations communicate a powerful message about culture. Often emotions are heightened during crisis and learning is intense.

It has been observed that difficult economic times present crisis from companies and illustrate their different values. Some organizations do everything possible to prevent laying off workers while others claim that employees are important but quickly institute major layoffs at the first signal of economic downturn.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Culture and Leadership

In the last byte, we looked at the benefits of an adaptive culture on firm's performance. In today's byte, we explore how a leader could play a role in shaping or reinforcing culture. 

Leadership in an organization plays a huge role in the way an organization develops its culture. To effectively manage culture, the following five elments need to be carefully throught through:
  1. What leaders pay attention to?
  2. How leaders react to crisis?
  3. How leader behave?
  4. How leaders allocate rewards?
  5. How leaders hire and fire individuals?

We shall briefly discuss on some highlights of each of these elements over the next few bytes.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Adaptive Perspective of Organizational Culture

In the last byte, we looked at the fit perspective to understand its influence on organizational performance. We not move to another angle of looking at organizational culture - the Adaptive Perspective. 

A culture could be called adaptive it it encourages confidence and risk taking amongst employee, possesses a leadership that produces change, and focuses on the changing needs of customers. 

Researchers studies the performance of companies with adaptive and non-adaptive cultures and were surprised to find what differentiates them to be clearly striking! 

Following is a brief summary of the same:
Adaptive cultures facilitated change to meet the needs of three major groups of constituents:  stockholders, customers and employees. It was found that the managers strongly valued people and process that create useful change. The close attention of the managers to the customers (mostly and other constituencies to a limited extent) helped them identify when a change was needed and then act when the change served their legitimate interest and even if they entail taking some risk. 

The non adaptive cultures were characterized by cautious management that often tried to protect its own interest. 

Given the high-performing cultures are adaptive ones, it is important to know how managers can develop adaptive culture. We discuss the leaders role in managing organizational culture in the next byte.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Fit - prespective of Organizational Culture

In the last byte, we looked at the role a strong culture is believed to have on performance of an organization. In today's byte, we look at another way in which organizational culture is believed to have an influence on its performance - the "fit" perspective.

The "fit" perspective, claims that a culture is good only if it fits the industry or the firms strategy. It identifies three particular characteristics of an industry that may affect its culture:
  1. Competitive Environment in which it operates
  2. Requirements of the Customer
  3. Expectations from Society
Lets take the example of the computer manufacturing industry - it is notes that there is a highly competitive demand for products - new features, new experience and every vendor is pushing something new; customers wish for a highly reliable product; the overall society expects a state-of-the-art technology and high-quality service. The traditional hierarchical structure and stability wouldn't work well in this industry - there should be a lot of experience, team/project centered decision making with keen oversight from the top management right!
Note here that - the fit perspective is used in explaining short-term performance but not long-term performance.
It is not going to be any easy to change culture quickly, especially if the culture is widely shared and deeply held.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Strong Culture

In the last byte, we looked at the function organizational culture plays. In today's byte, we look at the strong culture perspective. 

Strong culture in an organizational context refers to one where there is a consues on the values that drive the company and with an  intensity that is recognizable evel to outsiders. 

It is generally observed that strong culture perspective steates that organizations with "strong" cultures perform better than other organizations. Strong culture is deeply held and widerly shared!
Strong culture are ones that facilitate performance for three reasons:
  1. The culture is characterised by goal alignment
  2. It creates a high level of motivation of values shared by members
  3. It provides control without the oppressive effects of a bureaucracy
However there is a perplexing set of questions that we believe is worth wondering:
  1. It has been observed that strong economic performance can create strong culture, but would it be the reverse?
  2. Would a strong culture always lead you up the path of growth?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Function of Org Culture

In the last byte, we looked at assumptions and how they influence organization culture. In today's byte, we look at what functions organizational culture performs.
We could think of organizational culture to be playing the following 4 functions:
  1. Culture provides a sense of identity to members and increases their commitment to the organization: when a person internalizes the company's values, they find their work intrinsically rewarding and identifying with the fellow workers!
  2. Culture is a sense-making device for organization members: It provides a way for members of the organization to interpret the meaning of  organizational event.
  3. Culture reinforces the values in the organization
  4. Culture serves as a control mechanism: norms guide behavior, and the culture should reinforce the norms. A task - think of what you need to do when you say the norm is one of teamwork!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Assumptions in Organizational Culture

In the last byte, we looked at values for discussion. In today's byte, we look at assumptions. 

Assumptions refer to the deeply held beliefs that guide behavior and tell members of an organization how to perceive and think about things.

Assumptions are the deepest and most fundamental level of an organization's culture and form the essence of culture. If fact,  this is what gives it the strength! It is alsmost unthinkable to find some one violate these assumptions - this indicates the strength to which the members hold on to these assumptions. Organization members may not be aware of their assumptions, and so may be reluctant or unable to discuss them or change them.

Though unconscious, assumptions often guide a firm's actions and decisions, some companies are quite explicit in their assumptions about employees.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Values in Organization Culture

In the last byte, we looked at a presentation on company culture by TaxiforSure. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on Values. 

We have already seen that values are the next layer of understanding culture after the visible representation of culture through artifacts. Values reflect the underlying belief of what should be or should not be - and often consistently articulated both in conversations and in a company's mission statement or annual reports.

Values could actually reside in two forms:
  1. espoused values: refers to what members of an organization say they value
  2. enacted values: refers to values reflected in the way individuals actually behave.
It is interesting to note that a firm's values and how it promotes and publicizes these also affect how employees would feel about their job and themselves - there has to be a synchronization between what is spoken and how it is acted on!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sample - presentation on organizational culture

Since we have been discussing about organizational culture for the last few days - I found a presentation on the same by Taxi4Sure.

Please refer to the embedded presentation here in (they talk about their values and systems after the slide 25).

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Role of stories in organizational culture

In the last byte, we looked at the role played by ceremonies and rites in creating an organizational culture. In today's byte, we discuss about stories.

Stories regarding an organization play a huge role in reinforcing role in communicating the organizational values. As stories are told and retold, they give meaning and identity to organizations and are found to very helpful in orienting new employees. 

Some of the themes of stories that are common in organization are:
  1. Stories about the boss
  2. Stories about getting fiered
  3. Stories about hwo the company deals with employees who have relocated
  4. Stories about whether lower-level employees can rise to the top
  5. Stories about how the company deals with crisis situation
  6. Stories about how status considerations work when rules are broken.
The information from these stories serve to guide the behavior in an organization.
Stories are extremely powerful medium of communication as the listener is left to draw his/her own conclusions.

One should always remember that for stories to be effective as a cultural tool, the stories should be credible. Stories which are not backed by reality often lead to cynicism and mistrust.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Role of Rites and Ceremonies in organizational culture

In the last byte, we began our discussion on artifacts. In today's byte, we look at ceremonies and rituals. 

Ceremonies and rites refers to relatively elaborate set of activities that are enacted time and again on important occasions. These
occasions provide opportunities to reward and recognize employees whose behavior is congruent with the values of the company. The ceremonies and rites send a message that individuals both expose and exhibit corporate values should be admired. These also help members bond together.

Research has identifies 6 types of rites:
  1. Rites of passage - show that an individual's status has changed.
  2. Rites of enhancement - reinforces the achievement of individuals.
  3. Rites of renewal - emphasizes the change in organization and commitment to learning and growth.
  4. Rites of integration - unites the diverse groups in an organization and bring back the focus on the larger organization.
  5. Rites of conflict reduction - focus on dealing with conflict or disagreement that emerges naturally from an organization.
  6. Rites of degradation - are used by organizations to visible punish persons who wouldn't have adhered to the values and norms of behavior.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Artifacts - Organizational Culture

In the last byte, we looked at how organizational culture has different layers and visually understood what each layer contains. In today's byte, we begin discussing about Artifacts.

Artifacts refer to the symbols of culture in physical and social work environement. Clearly these are the most visible and accessible level of culture. We shall discuss three of these in today.

Personal Enactment - refers to the behavior that reflects the organization's values. For example: the way a manager at the top of he organizational hierarchy      behaves with his subordinates could reflect what the organization's culture would be like.

Rituals - refers to every day practices that are not repeated over and over. Often these are unwritten, but they send a clear message about "the way we do things around here". For Ex: Imagine a case where Calling employees in an organization with their first name, and another where people always put refer each other with Mr. Mrs. etc and their surnames!

Symbols - refer to the communication about an organizational culture through unspoken messages. These are representative of organizational identity and membership to employees. These also help build solidarity in the organizations.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Organizational Culture 2

In the last byte, we listed the various means of communicating the organizational culture. We discuss the various levels of organizational culture today.

The following diagram capture the various levels of organizational culture:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Organizational Culture

In the last byte, we looked at the emphasis of various organizational structures. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on organizational culture.

Defining organizational culture is a challenging task. Following is one definition of organizational culture that would be useful for our discussion here:
"Organizational Culture refers to the patter of basic assumptions that are considered valid and that are taught to the new members as thee way to perceive think and feel in the organization"
Note here that the definition has a corporate tinge.
If one were to think what were the basic means of communicating an organization, we could identify the following:
  • Artifacts
  •     Personal Enactment
  •     Stories
  •     Rituals
  •     Symbols
  • Values
  • Assumptions
Before we jump into the understanding of these means of communicating organizational culture we should understand the different levels of organizational culture. This is the subject of our next byte.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Structural configurations

In the last byte, we looked at some of the questions that one would need to ask when designing an organization. In today's byte, we try summarizing the various designs and some of the characteristics associated with it.

The following table summarizes 5 structural configurations:

We have earlier discussed about the various organizational structures possible and the implications of these designs etc in our discussion on organizational theory and development concepts.

Your could read more about these form the following links:

So we shall limit our discussion on organizational structure and move to understanding organizational culture.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Dimensions of Organizational Design 2

In the last byte, we looked at the definitions of the various dimensions of organizational design. In today's byte, we continue the discussion a bit further.

Most often we can think of organization design, and wonder where to start. Prof Henry Mintzberg has suggested begining with the following questions to help get clarity:

  1. How many tasks should a given position in the organization contain, and how specialized should each task be?
  2. How standardized should the work content of each postion be?
  3. What skills, abilities, knowledge, and training should be required for each position?
  4. What should be the basis of grouping of positions within the organizations into units, departments, divisions, and so on?
  5. How large should each unit be, and what should the spn of control be?
  6. How much standardization should be required in the output of each position?
  7. What mechanisms should be established to help individuals in different positions and units to adjust to th needs of other individuals?
  8. How centralized or decentralized should decision-making power be in he chain of authority? Should most of the decisions be made down in the chain or authority or at the top?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dimensions of Organizational Design

In the last byte, we looked at horizontal linkage as a means of integration. In today's byte, we define 6 dimensions of organizational design:

  1. Formalization - the degree to which the organization has official rules, regulations and procedures
  2. Centralization - the degree to which decisions are made at the top of the organization
  3. Specialization - the degree to which jobs are narrowly defined and depend on unique expertise
  4. Complexity - the degree to which mny different types of activities occur in the organization
  5. Hierarchy of authority - the degree to vertical differentiation across levels of management.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Horizontal Integration

In the last byte, we looked at vertical integration linkage. In today's byte, we look at the horizontal integrator mechanisms.

As mentioned earlier, horizontal integration mechanism provides the communication and coordination that is required across the different jobs and departments in the organization. The need for such horizontal linkages increses as the complexity of the organization increases. When built into the organization, the forms these linkages could take forms like liason roles, task force, integrator positions and teams. 

Liason roles is created when a person in one department has the responsibility to coordinate with the other department. Task force are temporary committees composed of representatives from multiple deparments and focus on solving specific problem.
The strongest means of horizontal integration is through teams.
Note that these linkage mechanisms vary from organization to organization, as well asaa within the same organization. A simple observation is that the flatter the organization, the more necessary are horizontal mechanisms.
We next look at the various dimensions of org design.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Vertical Integration

In the last byte, we began our discussion on integrations and the role it plays in an organization. In today's byte, we look at vertical linkages.

Vertical linkages as mentioned earlier used to integrate activities up and down the organizational chain of command. Many structural devices can be used to achieve vertical linkages viz - hierarchical referrals, rules and procedures, plans and schedules, positions added to the structure of the organization, and management information systems.

The vertical lines on an organization chart indicate the referral up and down the organization. While work is delegated down the organization chart, when an employee has a doubt he refers up to the chart for consideration and resolution.
The various vertical integration linkage mechanism help the manager have a wider span of control. The employee handbook, procedures etc reduce the demand on the manager's time to focus each employee  and could choose to manage only in exceptional situations.
For a greater understanding, one would need to think of each linkage mechanism.