Elements of a strong culture
According to Dunbar and Starbuck (2006), organisations have their embedded cultures, which are classified into strong and weak cultures. Linnenluecke and Griffiths (2010) agree with Dunbar and Starbuck (2006) that most often, strong organisational cultures serve as substitutes to the formal way of doing things within organisations. Dunbar and Starbuck (2006) argue that strong cultures are characterised by internal consistency, are widely accepted and shared by employees, and provide clear explanations of the behaviour expected by organisational workers. The culture reinforces the organisations’ core values and beliefs, which are distinguished by the strong response workers show to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
Maon, Lindgreen and Swaen (2010) established that strong a culture facilitates the performance of workers because the culture creates a high level of motivation, which makes workers develop a strong engagement in executing company jobs by following existing procedures without the management resulting in the use of the oppressive effects of bureaucracy. According to Schein (2010), a strong culture makes employees responsible for their actions and motivates them to align the company operations towards its mission, vision, goals, and objectives.
People respond through loyalty, strong cohesion within teams across different departments, effective coordination and control within the company, and high levels of efficiency (Maon, Lindgreen & Swaen, 2010). Within such an organisation, extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is achieved through job enrichment, career enrichment and the provision of benefits such as retirement plans, sick leaves, family leaves, and compensation plans (Bate, 2010).
A study by Bate (2010) shows that a strong culture makes people work hard to do the things they consider are right. However, a strong culture risks making employees work against the formal structure of the organisation, which is likely to cause groupthink. Groupthink is a situation where “a quick and easy way to refer to a mode of thinking that people engage when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ striving for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternatives of action” (Dunbar & Starbuck, 2006).
Steps for changing organisational culture
Organisations sometimes embark on processes of changing their cultures because they are not aligned with their core values and beliefs (Dunbar & Starbuck, 2006). However, culture cannot be changed at once and changes can only be introduced in steps (Maon, Lindgreen & Swaen, 2010). Changing the existing culture within an organisation is difficult because the commonly shared values and beliefs are already entrenched in the way of life of the employees, which makes it difficult to modify (Bate, 2010).
To modify the existing organisational culture, employees have to be made aware to appreciate the desired change to make them part of the change process to reach the future state of the desired culture. The work of different authors shows that the future state should fall into any of the hierarchical, clan, adhocracy, and market cultural profiles.
Once a change has been implemented, the outcomes of the change process include new methods of communicating, intrinsic and extrinsic methods of motivating employees, values and beliefs, symbols, and methods of making conversations (Bate, 2010). The change agents involved in the change process should possess the required knowledge, skills, and position to start and implement change. However, no universal standards for implementing change because different managers have different approaches to start and manage the change process (Bate, 2010).
According to Maon, Lindgreen and Swaen (2010), the first step of the change process is to determine the meaning of change by analysing the current culture to develop a strategy of introducing and implementing the new change. At this step, questions must be answered about the attributes that must be emphasized when introducing change to create a new organisational culture according to the desired profile. It is important to determine the dominant attributes of the new culture and the attributes that must be removed or abandoned from the old culture (Bate, 2010; Maon, Lindgreen & Swaen, 2010). Some of the aspects to consider when changing to a new culture include the core aspects and functions of the organisation and the weaknesses in the current culture, which have made it necessary to start change (Bate, 2010).
Maon, Lindgreen and Swaen (2010) identified storytelling to be the second step in the change process. Stories communicate different aspects of the current organisational culture and the reasons for starting the new change. Stories provide information about the positive and negative incidents, which have occurred within the organisation. In addition, stories provide information about the desired values and beliefs, which characterise the organisation’s desired future culture (Bate, 2010).
When starting change, it is important to narrate motivational stories in the presence of organisational workers to help them understand the importance of changing from the current culture to the desired future state. In addition, stories provide a strong foundation for clarifying the desired behaviour and the key values to move into the new culture. It is important to note that “when the parts of the past being carried forward are examples of best practices, peak performance, and aspirational levels of achievement, organization members are motivated to pursue them” (Bate, 2010).
The third step “is to determine the strategic initiatives of activities to change, stop, start, or enhance” (Maon, Lindgreen & Swaen, 2010). It is important to identify the activities and processes to be redesigned and changed, and the best approach to leverage the core competencies of the organisation to introduce the new culture (Bate, 2010).
The fourth step is to introduce changes in steps and to create metrics, milestones and measures, which can be used to determine how much change has been achieved. Measures “provide the key indicators of success and whether to use hard or soft measures of progress” (Bate, 2010). The use of data to evaluate the extent to which change has been achieved is important and the achieved change has to be recorded using clearly defined reporting structures (Bate, 2010).
The fifth step is to communicate the culture change to the members of the organisation because culture change often generates strong resistance to change and the resistance can be overcome by communicating with the workers (Maon, Lindgreen & Swaen, 2010). Communication answers the why, what, and how questions, which arise when changing the culture of the organisation (Bate, 2010).
Maon, Lindgreen and Swaen (2010) argue that leadership is the most critical element of the culture change process. According to Schein (2010) and Bate (2010), leadership provides the direction, starts culture change, ensure broad participation, training and motivational opportunities, and aligns the change process to the desired culture.
Case study of ship repair
LPA is a company, which deals in the repair of ships and employs 50 workers in its different departments. The workers are assigned tasks, which they handle as groups and work in teams underline managers who are directly under the leadership of LPA’s company manager. Recently, the company hired five new workers because of a drastic decrease in performance. The recruitment was also in response to a highly successful ship repairing company, which opened an office next to LPA’s company offices. The new company advertised vacancies for workers with more than a year’s working experience and promised different incentives and promotions, based on their skills, knowledge, and experience for new study opportunities for those aspiring to enhance their skills and knowledge in the industry.
LPA’s management recently realised that most employees had developed poor working relationships among themselves and each working day did not pass without an undesirable incident being reported or observed by the manager himself. The company has experienced a drop in overall performance and an increase in the number of workers applying for leave. When scrutinized, some of them leave application forms to have false information on them. On a certain day, the manager was surprised when his close confidant revealed to him that some employees did not feel motivated and expressed the desire to change and seek new employment elsewhere.
When the manager was walking along the ship’s repair yards, he overheard three employees discussing how they have worked for the company for the last three years without the prospect of promotions and an employee commented that he was bored with his current job and preferred to work in a different department. He complained that successive managers limited his working experience to a single department, a fact that made him and feel that it was unjust to work in the same station for three years without any promotion.
The worker concluded that he had shown exceptional skills in discovering a problem in the ship, but nobody seemed to care about his use of exceptional skills to discover the problem, which had taken other employees three weeks without establishing the problem. However, the manager feigned innocence and directly intruded on the workers. Once they saw him, they pretended to be working as a team. However, some workers who had not seen the manager were deeply engaged in an argument on what to do and what not to do about the repair of a ship they were assigned, which they had worked on for three days without completing.
Perceptions of culture
My perceptions about culture could change when employed at the entry-level because it is the point at which an employee tries to learn the values and beliefs of the organisation to fit into the organisation. As part of the top management, I could view culture as a collection of social attributes, which provide a shared experience for controlling behaviour, promoting commitment, and conveying identity, for building friendship and understanding within the members of the organisation to optimise their skills, knowledge, and experience for better organisational performance.
Factors to view culture differently
The factors, which have made me view culture differently, are that culture consists of a dominant culture with subcultures, which are characterised by different values and beliefs. Culture must be innovative, aggressive, friendly, and people-oriented. The core values are generally shared by all workers of an organisation and subcultures are shared by different groups of workers of the organisation.
Bate, S. P. (2010). Strategies for cultural change. London: Routledge.
Dunbar, R. M., & Starbuck, W. H. (2006). Learning to Design Organizations and Learning from Designing Them. Organization Science, 17(2), 171-178.
Linnenluecke, M. K., & Griffiths, A. (2010). Corporate sustainability and organizational culture. Journal of world business, 45(4), 357-366.
Maon, F., Lindgreen, A., & Swaen, V. (2010). Organizational stages and cultural phases: a critical review and a consolidative model of corporate social responsibility development. International Journal of Management Reviews, 12(1), 20-38.
Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership. New York: John Wiley & Sons.