Organizational culture refers to characteristics and personalities, including values, shared beliefs, assumptions on how individuals need to behave, the way decisions are made, and activities. The key factors of corporate culture are history, people, and the environment. Leaders and managers have known that the value of understanding an organization is to have better performance in leadership (Groysberg et al., 2018, p. 47). Typically, leaders or managers would be better positioned to implement plans and achieve desired outcomes if they understand the culture within an organization well. Otherwise, strategies deemed inconsistent with a company culture would meet resistance and become impossible to integrate. Sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint what drives a specific culture, although its effects can easily be observed. For example, the culture of a software company can differ from that of a financial institution or a hospital. In this paper, the focus is to discuss the importance of organizational culture in driving change management strategies and whether it helps or hinders business in the process.
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Organizational Culture on Change Management Strategies
In a leadership context, corporate culture is identified as a crucial component that strategic leaders apply to develop organizational dynamics. Culture reflects how people set goals or objectives to meet tasks, manage resources and perform. Ideally, it is not easy to lead an effective change as most organizations have experienced failures in the process. One of the main reasons for a failing change is a lack of understanding and blending with the available culture. The other reason cited is an industrial mindset about changes. According to Warrick (2017, p.4), managing change has a linear world perspective, in that reality needs to be planned for while major changes require huge efforts. Executive teams design change by ordering the team what to do and the process is rolled out top-down.
Leaders and managers are supposed to work with the existing culture in the organizational change instead of going against it. Most entities cherish this mindset knowing that the main obstacle to major changes is employees’ resistance and ineffective management (Felipe et al., 2017, 0. 5). Committing to lead change based on the available culture is winning people on the side of transformation. Change leadership infers that organizations value inclusiveness, and they have every person contribute to a practical shift. People are key drivers of organizational change since they must change typical behaviors, beliefs, or attitudes, or nothing will change at all. At the core, implementing a plan requires essential elements such as building and sustaining a corporate culture that will accelerate transformation. Moreover, there is a need to foster a sense of personal accountability during strategy execution. Constructing a culture that creates flexibility, understanding, and acceptance of responsibility is helpful for change. The initiative starts with seniors who communicate the agency’s plan and priorities often.
Every person in an organization has a role to play in contributing to success. Mainly, individuals must feel accountable personally and be role players for an anticipated change. For example, the case of a telecommunication company such as AT&T pointed out how an organizational culture of openness can lead to successful change management (Davis & Dolson, 2018, p. 51). The company revealed that effective participation between teams, commitment to workers’ actions, and open Communication with senior management led to creating an environment where everyone at different levels felt accountable in the change process.
Organizational culture is crucial to change management because it impacts the process from performance to how an organization is perceived in the public eye. At a glance, a culture defines an entity’s internal and external identity. Corporate culture defines how activities are done; the way business interacts with other enterprises, and how the team relates with the outside world. In that case, a culture will reverberate across different business aspects since it represents how operations are conducted. Second, business culture can turn workers into advocates of change, which is a significant advantage to a company. With a strong corporate culture, an entity can keep the best talents. Unsurprisingly, employees who feel like being part of the community are more likely to stay, and that is what most job seekers are looking for in the market. Top performers report that one main thing that keeps them in the company is that the culture is focused on individuals (Nikpour, 2017, p.68). Thus, hiring for cultural fit is a strategic way to attract top performers.
What Influences Organizational Culture
From Deal and Kennedy’s model of organizational culture, the main dimension influencing a company’s culture is the environment it operates in. Organizations function where there is a degree of risk due to activities in place, and workers get information from leaders or managers on whether strategies are effective or not (OpenLearn, 2020, par. 1). Communication is provided in the form of feedback on results.
A feedback-rich culture leans on the foundation of healthy Communication, safety, and trust. Individuals learn to identify toxic habits and eliminate them to succeed. A healthy culture driven by a good feedback system between employees at all corners of a company creates the ability to embrace change positively (OpenLearn, 2020, par. 1). Without feedback, companies could remain stagnant and hold back. An environment that acknowledges the role of communication shape people into learning to correct mistakes recognize strengths, and set objectives.
Does Organizational Culture Help or Hinder Business?
During the change process, corporate culture is among the key drivers of success. Organizations are founded on a whim, and whether they focus on solving certain problems or assisting communities, entities are created with visions to be a force for positive change. The founding vision of a company forms the cornerstone, encompassing the problems that the founders aimed to solve. Thus, history as an element of organizational culture help to steer change for a better future (Mind Tool, n.d, par. 1). A strong culture will protect an entity from changes and confer the values or stability needed for survival. Human resource management is at the heart of the corporate response to transitions, including mergers, acquisitions, or confronting pandemics. During major changes, some plans within the company, such as new advertisements, can take a break but not the culture. Maintaining an organizational culture by focusing on quality values would provide the necessary support for workers to remain engaged.
Organizational culture is what help business know what they can or cannot do and how to attain agility in a changing environment. With a strong organizational culture, business leaders and managers retain the best people who will help to support the change process. Changing from one perspective to another requires individuals to understand, embrace, and carry-on transformation processes for better results. Such would be achievable where the best team is involved, built by a strong corporate culture. Moreover, the change process may require a shifting of structure, such as during the merger process.
With that, a well-functioning organizational culture would assist companies with onboarding. The culture at the company acts as a guiding force for recruits, and it must start with onboarding. On the other hand, organizational culture can hinder business in a time of change.
How Culture Hinder Business
While corporate culture could help businesses embrace and adopt change positively, it can also hinder progress when featured by negative elements. A poor organizational culture could be a major transition failure, while it should instill a vision for a company. An example of lousy aspects of lousy culture includes poor Communication, which can hinder the development and implementation of strategies. A culture where leaders fail to communicate effectively about change due to negative behaviors and people’s attitudes will unlikely succeed in enforcing changes. For example, bottom-up Communication makes employees feel unconformable and their voices not being heard. Thus, they will not contribute ideas, opinions, or views concerning change. Moreover, feedback is limited, while Deal and Kennedy’s model asserts that responses should keep everyone engaged.
A common situation where culture has hindered business change is during mergers and acquisitions. Where organizations settle on merging, the main subject considered is culture since it is hard to measure or manage, unlike finance. An example of a failed merger due to cultural incompatibility is Amazon and Whole Food in 2017, a vertical integration aimed to enable Amazon to grow in eCommerce (Phillips-Connolly & Connolly, 2017, p. 618). Amazon’s culture is well-rooted in technology effectiveness but not highly personalized.
On the other hand, Whole Foods’ culture is driven by an idealistic set of approaches. The mismatch of values which are cultural fabric, was thus a major source of failure.
To conclude, organizational culture can be the key driver of company change and a barrier at the same time. Success occurs when employees are motivated or engaged by being kept in the loop of change management. Making individuals feel like part of the change process and accountable in roles induces significant responsibilities that see the transition in progress. However, where cultural features such as values conflict, it is difficult to get people on board, and chances of failing are likely.
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