Culture, it is something leaders must develop within their organizations to achieve world class. It is also one of the most daunting tasks a new or existing leader must confront within their society. This is the first step, to have a perspective of society and not a perspective of organization. Changing culture might have the effect of changing the organization structure but it is the people who will accept or hang on to an existing culture. It is extremely difficult to change because it can stem from many years of development.
Take the historical examples of the French society within Canada and the American civil war. Since the first European settlement (New France) in Canada, around 1605, a French society has continued a want for a sovereign country. The latest effort was the Quebec sovereignty movement referendum in 1980. This stems from cultural, social, and political differences. This culture continues with some parts of the society today. The civil war ended in 1865 with a violent conclusion and the North and South developed into two distinct and very different regions.
We are a society of rules. Think about it. We have rules for everything from how we tip to how we are legally able to spy in the NFL. It is not against the “rules” to spy, you just have to follow the rules for when and how to spy. Have you thought about how and why rules are made? How and why do we amend rules?
Look for the measurable, observable evidence that either supports your rule or provides evidence to change the policy. When is a rule a rule and when is it a policy? Webster defines a rule as a prescribed guide for conduct or action. Interestingly, policy is defined as prudence or wisdom in the management of affairs.
Expatriates and foreign nationals who relocate to the United States to live and work often have mixed perceptions about this young nation. Those feelings are probably best described by the late Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde, who referred to America as “a land of unmatched vitality and vulgarity.”
While most Americans rarely think of their country as “foreign,” the fact is that non-Americans who relocate to the United States to do business and “do lunch” are often surprised to find they experience a severe case of “corporate culture shock.”
Observation and change signal that people are to be treated differently. The aggrieved groups are mollified by the appearance of an administrative structure to deal with the problem, regardless of whether anything is done. Finally, its task is to break paradigms when they become dysfunctional. Symbolic actions may also be used to mollify dissatisfied groups in organizations. For example, universities establish ombudsmen to handle student complaints about issues ranging from grades to sexual harassment, and privilege and tenure committees to protect professors from administrative capriciousness.
In manipulating symbols, managers can effect change simply by creating patterns of activity and staging the occasions for interaction. The task of management, then, is to help organizational participants arrive at shared norms and values or the shared paradigm of what the organization is all about. Its task is also to manage the social definition of the organization. This expectation results in increased motivation. At McDonald’s, for instance, the corporate creed is “quality, service, cleanliness, and value. It refers to the finding that people who are subjected to observation, change, and special treatment may respond with better performance regardless of the content of the observation, change, or treatment. Promising an open-door policy without delivering openness or access, or pledging to involve employees in decision making without doing so, can backfire by alienating workers. From this perspective, managers provide explanations, rationalizations, and legitimating for the activities of the organization. On the other hand, managers must be cautious not to manipulate symbols without providing any content. The language used in annual reports, for instance, reveals some facets of an organization’s culture. The other actions bear more discussion. High accountability and simultaneous centralization and flexibility are also part of the culture of these organizations. This activity may be a far more effective and common way to obtain change than any other we usually think about. Managers invest an activity with significance by spending their own time on it or by changing the work environment to better accommodate it. Examples are nuclear power plants, air traffic control systems, and complex weapons systems. The symbolic approach to culture is particularly visible in organizations in which reliability rather than productivity is the bottom line because the costs of error can be catastrophic. An amalgam of culture as shared norms and values, myths and stories, and rites and ceremonials is achieved by looking at organizations in terms of symbolic interaction.
We all know that different countries have different cultures. Most of us began learning about that in grade school. But did you realize that work environments also have their own cultures? If you are coming into a new work environment, either as an employee, a boss or a client, it is very beneficial to learn what the unique culture is of that workplace.
What is “culture?” You can certainly “Google” the word and find a number of definitions. In the workplace, culture is usually defined as a set of attitudes, goals and practices shared within that workplace.
The simple definition of institutionalized HSE is when a company has “embedded HSE into the way the company does business, e.g., HSE becomes as normal a routine as production and maintenance”. It begins as a concept, which might be loosely defined as a mixture of culture and adopted norms of behaviour. It is a learned behaviour which over time becomes company culture. Institutionalization must be seeded and embedded and will not develop on its own. In short, it is a concept put into action through behavioural modification over time. When fully developed, HSE becomes such a norm that it is no longer considered as a separate task from production or other operations.
Eight (8) Distinct Characteristics of an Institutionalized Organization