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You will immediately notice that this blog covers a wide range of themes - in fact, whatever takes my fancy or whatever I feel strongly about that is current or topical. Although themes may relate to business, corporate or organisational issues (i.e. the core talents of JCG), they also cover issues on which JCG also feels warranted to comment, such as social issues, my books, other peoples' books and so on. You need to know that comments are moderated - not to stifle disagreement - but rather to eliminate obnoxious or incendiary comments. If a reader wishes to pursue any specific theme in more detail, specifically in relation to corporate, business or organisational issues, or in relation to my books, then the reader is invited to send an off-line email with a request. A prompt response is promised. I hope you enjoy this blog - sometimes informed, sometimes amused and sometimes empassioned. Welcome and enjoy.

28 March 2014

Changing culture

There is a range of tools that organisations use (intentionally or unintentionally) to affect its culture. Some of these tools include:
Employee promotion, selection, recruitment and removal
An organisation will promote those people who play the game and who play it well. The people who don't play the game become non-team players and reasons are found to replace them or remove them from the organisation.
The organisation will also hire only those people who it’s felt will fit in to the organisation's culture - whatever that is understood to be.
Conversely, removing certain influential players can be used effectively to send a strong message of the inappropriateness of certain attitudes or behaviours, or to protect the existing attitudes and behaviours.
For example, a culture that preaches equality and tolerance will have a problem with someone who demonstrates intolerance or racism.
Both through formal induction training and informally, new employees are exposed to the value system and practices of the organisation.
Normally there is not much room for debate here - the new hire is told what the expectations are, not asked if they are happy with it. The attitude is commonly, "If you want to work here, then this is what you need to do and think."
Carrot and stick
People who play the game get rewards. Those that don’t won't. And those who won't, and who do it badly, get removed from the organisation.
Role model
"If it's good enough for the boss, then it's good enough for me," plays an important role in modelling behaviour and attitude.
In the same way that nobody got sacked for buying IBM, nobody can be accused of fighting the system if they emulate the leader.
In principle, strong involvement of the people being changed is a good way to enhance cultural understanding and commitment.
However, it's not a guarantee: poor implementation will only reinforce existing negative feelings and require strong remediation.
Sometimes a deliberate strategy to fight negative cultural behaviour or attitudes is to involve deeply the target person in a change initiative that has cultural overlays. To succeed in an important or sensitive, but highly visible initiative, the target must decide to either play along for the sake of the initiative and the organisation, or to resist.
If the change succeeds, the target's opposition will probably have diminished, and by association the target owns the change. That's a good win-win outcome.
If however the change fails as a result of the target's opposition, then the target will be, and be seen to be responsible and a strong candidate for removal - also probably a win-win as the target might be happier in another organisation.
The way the organisation 'talks' to its people and the way its people talk to each other is often a subtle way to reinforce the cultural values of the organisation, or conversely a way to suppress those attitudes and behaviours that are not appropriate.
A typical organisation records its expectations, standards and aspirations in its formal and official documentations and constructs.
These include its manuals, policy documents, structures, procedures and the way it allocates its resources across the organisation.
For example, an organisation that valued corporate governance would probably have robust governance procedures. An organisation that valued quality would have robust quality procedures and resources.
An organisation that valued honesty, sharing of knowledge and mentoring, for example, would embed them into their documentation and ensure that it formed part of the performance appraisal process.
In other words, organisations have the ability to ensure that their cultural hot buttons are embedded in all that they do to ensure uniformity, compliance and acceptance.

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