Identifying and Shaping Organizational Culture


“That’s not my job,” “The company doesn’t value its employees,” and “I’m not doing that, nobody cares” are all examples of statements made by employees of organizations with poor cultures. No organization wants a poor culture. A poor, insular culture is damaging. This leads to employees who do not want to take responsibility for their jobs, nor do they want to go above and beyond what they are expected to do.

Many times these issues are due to organizational and leadership issues within the company. Usually this stems from a lack of strategic leadership and/or an outdated and purposeless vision/mission statement. Leadership often dismisses the ideas that are suggested. The ideas and information that could benefit the organization from employees are not valued.

“Influencing employees to voluntarily make decisions that enhance the organization is the most important part of strategic leadership,” according to W.G. Rowe. Unfortunately managerial leaders are unable to provoke this type of influence in employees. This inevitably leads to lack of motivation. This is detrimental to an organization. When Organizational leadership/key-leaders are focused on traditional style management, they overlook the techniques needed to address the growth of the organization.

The organization also has a vision/mission statement that does not effectively communicate where the organization is headed. The organization should have a vision/mission statement that would convey to the stakeholders and customers where the organization is headed and inspire the stakeholders to come on board with the visualization. A strong, inspiring vision includes content that appeals to an organization’s shared values and ideals concerning customers, employees, and the mission of the organization. The vision is usually shaped in an open-minded, collaborative process involving key stakeholders. Another important aspect of a strategic vision is communicating that strategic vision to stakeholders. Stakeholders have to believe that the company is able to head in the direction senior management is planning to take the business and understand the changes that are ahead for the organization. Senior management must be able to get the employees on board. Without the people the vision is stifled, it will not prosper.

In order for an organization, suffering from these issues, looking to continue successfully will need to address organizational culture development and the development of a strategic

According to Schein, culture is defined 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.” The shared values of people refer to culture. Mamood, Bashir & Ismat, defined culture in relation to an organization as personality is to an individual.

Organizational culture involves assumptions, beliefs, and values that are shared by members of a group or organization. Individual leaders of the organization, from top management to immediate supervisors, influence corporate culture. These leaders are responsible for setting and modeling patterns of values, beliefs, expectations, and priorities, including setting and reinforcing core assumptions about how to solve organizational problems and challenges. What is important and unimportant is defined by the organizational culture, it is the relationship that forms what occurs in an organization.

In organizational culture, the assumptions or shared assumptions are the core of corporate culture. They are non-conscious, ignored perceptions that are believed the correct way to handle problems and opportunities. Because the shared assumptions are so deeply entrenched, they can only be discovered by observing employees, analyzing their decisions, and questioning them on their actions. Organizational culture influences employee behavior, it leads employees to feel more involved in the business.

In order to determine a company’s organizational culture, workplace behavior, conversations between staff and customers, documents and emails, physical structures and settings, and corporate stories must be observed. Organizational stories and legends, rituals and ceremonies, language and physical structure, and symbols come together to make up a company’s artifacts. These artifacts offer us important information about a company’s culture. We are able to assess a company’s culture through the use of these artifacts. This offers insight into an organization and how it works. We are then able to change an unhealthy organizational culture through the knowledge of these artifacts.

In order to improve performance, the organizational culture of the company must change. In order to transform this culture, the organization should start with a campaign blast across the company that is both substantive and symbolic, to ingrain a new set of behaviors, practices, and cultural norms.

Substantive culture changing actions will include replacing key managers who reflect the old culture and are opposed to change, promote those individuals who truly possess the desired cultural traits, appointing outsiders with the desired traits to high-profile positions, careful screening of new candidates to ensure they fit into the new culture, instituting culture training programs to better learn the new practices, mandatory to all employees, and revision of policies and practices that help drive the cultural change.

Symbolic culture changing actions will include top management leading by example, holding ceremonial events to reward those whose actions and performance exemplify the new culture change, and by participating in employee training programs to stress strategic priorities, values, ethical principles, and cultural norms. Every gathering is an opportunity to reinforce and ingrain values, praise good deeds, expound on the merits of the new culture, and to refer to instances of how the new work practices and operating approaches have worked to good advantages.

Changing a problem culture is not one that will happen overnight. It takes time for a new culture to emerge and prevail. This is why it is necessary for management to take each and every opportunity to convince employees of the need for the culture change and to communicate to them how new attitudes, behaviors, and new practices will facilitate the interests of the entire organization.

Leadership is responsible for instituting the guiding principles. Effective leadership hinges on the type of culture present in an organization. Nurturing a healthy corporate culture will shape the organization’s actions and the way the organization conducts business. Sustaining a system of core values is another responsibility of leadership.

Culture determines the direction an organization will take. From being successful to maintaining to closing. Many organizations do not realize the culture of the organization is the problem. Changing a problem culture is difficult. Here we look at some problems facing organizations and their culture and make some suggestions for change.