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Organizational Culture and the Informal Side of the Organization

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Organizational culture refers to the assumption of values and principles guiding day-to-day operations of an organization. These operations may be in the form of decision making, personal relations among employees and adaptation and integration of the changing environment such as technological, political, social and economical changes. Organizational culture may be either formal or informal. Formal refers to the written rules and regulations in the company. This may include the flowchart that dictates the hierarchical structure of the organization and who should report to who regarding reports and assignments. The informal organization refers to those norms that are not written. These may include hoe the employees dress, the office arrangements and how they communicate to each other and the society. In the formal culture, Values incorporated into an organization have been operational over a long period and have proved economical to the organization’s goals. Each employee is bound by these cultures and faces the consequences in case of breach. Some of these principals play a vital role in the selection, recruitment and retention of an employee. Culture differentiates successful organizations from those organizations which are lagging in both production and sales of its products. Adherence to the organizational culture instills discipline and understanding among the stakeholders of a given company. Management of culture refers to how the management controls the culture of the organization. This could be through setting of goals.

Organizational culture is not highly incorporated in the informal side of the organization, and so it is easy for the senior management to manage it.

Formal organizational structures are easily understood and give a true picture of who reports to whom. However, the layers of bureaucracy may delay decision making in an organization. This is because decisions are made by the senior management who may be busy most of the times due to the many duties they have to perform. On the other hand the informal structure responds to the changing situations and enables the employees to adapt to the new developments in the market. Alvesson (2011, p. 22) asserts that he rules and regulations are not as rigid as they are in the formal organization. This makes the employees comfortable as they relate to each other. The formal culture is formed by the board of directors at the annual general meeting when the company is being formed. This shows the hierarchy of the workers from the top management to the lowest rank employee. It shows the duties of each of the employees, from whom they will receive orders from and report to. Elsbach (2006, p.81) affirms that this is shown in the organizational chart or the constitution of the organization which lays down the rules and regulations in the organization.

The senior management sees the both the formal and the informal organizational culture as useful in the determination of organizational growth. This is because employees need the freedom to work on their own without being followed. It also builds teamwork and understanding among them as they communicate. Hill (2011, p.35) confirms that the dressing code among the employees also enhances discipline and freedom as they carry on their duties. The formal organizational culture is useful to ensure order smooth running of the organization as there can be no order without authority.   

Retention, recruitment and selection of the employees depend on their adherence to the organizational culture. Most employees adhere to the organizational culture in order to get and maintain their jobs. With the fear of being sacked or demoted, most employees will never question the formal structure of the organization, but adhere to it without fail. Roberts (1992, p.99) affirms that those in the management can question the validity of a given culture and demand for a change in case they feel it is not right. They can do this because their jobs depend on their qualifications and competence. Moore (2008, p.47) asserts that in most cases, it is those in the senior management level that determines and control the culture to be followed by the employees of the organization.     

The image of the organization is mainly portrayed by the employees. Their behavior, communication with one another and the society, their dressing codes and their reaction to contingencies determine how the public views the organization. Schein (1996, p.59) confirms that an organization that has its employees misbehaving and disagreeing will lose trust and confidence from the public. The goodwill of the organization will reduce, and this will negatively affect sales of its products. In order to improve its image, the organization must introduce a culture that will guide the stakeholders through their daily activities and ensure that they are strictly adhered to.  

The different methods of incorporating organizational culture mainly focus on the output and sales of the company. These methods include training, communication through mission statements which they are required to adhere to as they do their daily activities, manipulation by the use of symbols and clothing given to the employees and different stories told to them with their meanings. Moore (2008, p.28) asserts that most organizations have mission statements that guide them towards achieving their goals. Schein (1996, p.19) affirms that it is those in the senior management that dictate the organizational culture that spearhead the success of the organization. 

The culture of honesty and transparency in every organization is mostly embedded in the informal structure as employees fear the consequences of being caught cheating or misappropriating the organization's funds. The senior management decides the punishments given to any employee caught stealing. Kramer (2005, p.20) asserts that junior employees do not handle the most sensitive areas in the organization such as the daily transactions of the business. Those in the senior levels handle cash transactions and are required to exhibit honesty so that the organization realizes profits. Employees caught cheating may be sacked or suspended from their duties.

There are different types of cultural practices to be incorporated in the organization; these must be adhered to by all the employees in the organization. For instance, hard work is a culture that is incorporated in most organizations. This culture is mostly emphasized to increase the level of production. This is because most of the success of the organization depends on the hard work of its employees. Quinn (2011, P.102) confirms that senior management gives instructions on how, when and with whom work is to be done. It is, therefore, upon the junior to strive and achieve the targets set for them by the management. It is also the senior management that ensures that organizational activities are going on. The management will only control and give instructions on how the activities will be carried out. Secrecy can also be a culture that helps to protect top secrets of organizations. This mainly applies to monopolies which hold secrets to their production. Both the junior and senior employees hold so much information regarding the operations of the business as they are engaged in the daily activities of the organization.   

The informal structure forms the majority of any organization’s daily activities compared to the formal structure. In order to uphold the organizational culture, it has to be embedded in all employees at different levels. The success of any culture lies within the numbers that support and adhere to that culture. Kramer (2005, p.55) asserts that management must ensure that each individual in the organization follows the provisions of the culture. This can be done by offering rewards to those who fully adhere to the organizational culture. It can also be done through creation of awareness and educating the employees on the importance of adhering to the culture.

Most of the people in the junior levels have to be supervised and their performance monitored by the senior management in order for them to work properly. This is provided in the formal structure where the junior employees have to report to the senior management. The informal structure provides employees who are self driven and will always strive to do their best to achieve their goals. Quinn (2011, p.98) asserts that some of these organizational cultures are meant to ensure that the people in the employees work properly and on time. Since most of these people are unskilled, they need guidelines and policies to enable them work properly and on time. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the management to liaise with junior employees to come up with organizational culture and the punishments for breach.

Some organizational culture such as participation in community development programs and cleaning of the environment are done by the employees to improve the image of the company. Hill (2011, p.67) asserts that the senior management in the course of planning and decision making, will provide the time and resources that will enable the employees to physically clean roads, dispose garbage, plant trees and help in distribution of donated food to the community. These activities help to create a positive image of the organization as being mindful of the environment.

Incentives in forms of rewards and sanctions are also given to the employees to encourage them to adhere to the organizational culture. These rewards may be offered annually after analyzing the performance of every employee in each department. Elsbach (2006, p.42) confirms that this encourages most of the employees to adhere strictly to the culture in order to get the rewards. Sanctions are also given to those employees who act contrary to the organizational culture. These sanctions may be in the form of demotion, retrenchment or suspension from duty. This is done to ensure that employees adhere strictly to the culture set by the management.

The relationship between employer and employee also influences the embedment of organizational culture in the formal structure. Hill (2011, p.79) affirms that in most organizations, senior management will want to be different from employees in the junior level. They will, therefore, come up with cultures that differentiate them. For instance, in some organizations, the junior employee has to be differentiated from the management by putting on uniforms. The difference in arrival and departure times also creates the distinction. Junior employees have to report earlier and leave later than the management. Communication between the junior employees and the management has to be formal. While addressing the senior management, junior employees have to speak with respect.

For a culture to be wholly operational, it must be acceptable to both the employees and the management. It is easy for the senior management to control the informal culture of the organization because they decide on the goals of the organization. For instance, when the management set high standards for the company, employees will have to work harder in order to attain these goals. They may be required to report early for work or work late to increase the time dedicated to their duties.

Some cultures imposed by the management may not be accepted by the employees and tend to favor their own interests rather than consider the interests of the junior employees. For instance, the management may require employees in the informal sector to spend most of their time at work while they are not being paid enough money. This is imposed to the interest of the management to increase output by working more hours. To the junior employees, this may not be acceptable since they are human beings who need sufficient rest in order to be productive. The result of introducing such a culture will be poor quality and low quantity of output. Kramer (2005, p.17) asserts that this may even result to industrial strikes by employees and high labor turnovers. The senior management will therefore meet the employees’ representatives and introduce a culture that fits them, making it easier for the senior management to manage organizational culture.

Some organizations may have people from different cultures. These may be religious or social. These people have to be appreciated and accepted by the management in order for them to work efficiently. This poses a challenge to the management as they strive to control the organizational culture. The management cannot change peoples’ ways of life by denying them their right to worship in those organizations which want to introduce working during worship days. Some communities have different cultural practices which they have to adhere to. For instance, in some communities, women are not allowed to wear pants or Muslim women who are supposed to put on full dresses. Elsbach (2006, p.87) affirms that management cannot introduce a dressing code that is against their cultural practices. This poses a challenge to the senior management in managing organizational culture without considering cultures of employees. However, with proper consultations and interaction with the employees, the management can come up with a culture that suite all the employees hence making it easier to manage the organizational culture.

The location of the business also influences its organizational culture. The management cannot introduce a culture that goes against the culture of the people around the industry. For instance, the management of a company cannot introduce a culture that associates with the supply of pork to its employees when the organization is exposed to Muslim culture. Christiansen (2000, p.56) affirms that this would lead to resistance from the society. Environmental factors will also influence the culture of the organization. These changes are natural and unpredictable. The management will find it easier in controlling the organizational culture depending on the location of the business and the environmental changes as employees are aware of their environment and will not do anything that is contrary to location of the organization.  

The senior management interacts with junior employees in the organization. It is, therefore, easier to manage the informal culture that guides these people in their daily operations. In order for them to manage the operations of the organization properly, they need to interact with the junior employees, inform them of the goals of the company, explain to them the importance of adhering to the culture of the organization, and consult them before introducing a new culture. Christiansen (2005, p.55) asserts that the freedom created through the interaction with the management boosts the morale of the employees to work towards achieving the goals of the organization. In most organizations senior management interacts regularly with those in junior positions know their strengths and weaknesses, they will find it easier to manage the organizational culture.

Constitutional laws and regulations also regulate the culture of the organization. The management cannot introduce a culture that is against the laws of the country. For instance, the management cannot employ people below the majority age. They cannot also sack people without proper justification as this will be against the rules regarding employees’ welfare. Roberts (1992, p.85) confirms that changes in these laws also influence the culture of the organization because the organization has to change its policies to match these new changes in laws. Rules such as taxation are an obligation to business, and management cannot decide to evade tax. Through these laws which the employees know they have to be adhered to, the management will find it easier to control the culture of the organization.

The success of any organization is based on the employees’ freedom to act and make decisions. A free employee is in a better position to be creative and innovative than the one who is bound by strict organizational cultures. The management is interested in the success of the business and will do anything to achieve their goal. The decisions made include determining the culture that is suitable for them to produce. Quinn (2011, p.34) affirms that if the senior management comes in to impose their culture without consultation with the employees, they may not achieve their goal. Hence, for the management to achieve their goals, they need to let their employees take part in determining the culture of the organization as long as it is within the provisions of the law. This is done to maximize the potential of the employees. In some organizations, senior management may introduce a culture which discourages other employees from innovating new methods of production, yet they want to achieve goals of the organization. This, therefore, poses a challenge to the management on the best culture that will ensure the organization to attain its goals.

Senior management is made up of a few people who have to control the culture of all the employees in an organization. An organization is made up of different departments which have many people. The management holds meetings and has regular discussions dealing with the smooth running and analyzing the proper strategies to enable the company achieved maximum production. Kramer (2005, p.45) asserts that their positions as managers also make them vulnerable to traveling frequently and researching. They make new discoveries each day on how to manage the operations of the business in line with the goals of the organization. In this way, they acquire the necessary skills on how to control the behavior of the employees which makes it easier for them to manage the culture of the employees.

Economic factors also influence organizational culture. All employees are informed of the present economic times and have to survive. For instance, during inflation, many employees are motivated to work more. They would like to work above their normal hours in order to earn more to meet an increase in the prices of commodities. Hill (2011, p.79) asserts that management will be forced to increase the pay of the employees who work overtime as this would lead to an increase in output and profits. Changes in the demand and supply of the organization’s goods also influence the culture of the organization. When the demand is high, the employees would have to develop a culture of hard work, persistence and tolerance so as to increase output. Changes in economic factors make it easier for the management to manage the culture of the organization. 

In conclusion, organizational culture is not so deeply embedded in the informal side of the organization and this makes it easier for the senior management to control the culture of the organization. For instance, the management sets goals for the firm which influences the employees to strive and reach the goals. Setting a high goal will influence the employees to work harder by going to work early and leaving late hence dedicating most of their time working. However, the formal structure of the organization is rigid as it is provided in the organization’s flow chart or constitution.   

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