What you’ll learn to do: Describe the internal factors associated with organizational culture
There are many obstacles and challenges organizations face on a daily basis. This section will explore a variety of internal factors and how they contribute to organizational culture. Identifying these internal factors and understanding how to influence them to change culture is a valuable life skill. Organizational culture can be found within every family unit, every friendship, school system, corporation, or wherever there is a group dynamic. Understanding factors associated with organizational culture can help you to better navigate relationships in your everyday life.
- Describe internal factors and their influence on organizational culture
- Discuss organizations’ methods for developing and maintaining culture
- Describe the progression of workplace design
The best part about internal factors is that organizations control them. In this section, we will explore different types of internal factors and examine both how they influence organizational culture and how an organization can influence them.
People are a huge internal factor that impact organizational culture. As we discussed in previous sections, every individual has a unique set of personality traits, backgrounds and experiences. While organizations cannot fully control individuals and the way they act, they can use guidelines and mandated expectations to help guide the behavior of their employees. A mission statement, code of ethics, and policies and procedures guidelines are among a large number of documents and standards organizations use to help foster and direct their employees.
Organizations also have control over who they hire. Even one bad hire has the potential to negatively impact organizational culture. By developing a hiring process that focuses on making smart hiring decisions, organizations are better able to hire individuals that embody the vision and mission of the company. This is crucial to maintaining and promoting a strong culture.
Organizational culture is outlined at the highest level of an organization and then communicated, supported, and enforced throughout every other level. Therefore, leadership is a big internal factor that drives culture. A poor leader can have a detrimental impact on company culture. A bad leader who disregards the rules and behaves as they please sets a terrible precedent and gives permission for other employees to behave the same way. Leaders should lead their teams by example and set the standard for expected behavior. In addition, they should be comfortable to course correct employees who stray from the path of desired behavior and performance.
Capability & Support
As we discussed in external factors, training and development is a big part of a successful organization. The best way for a company to support their employees is to provide them with the support and training necessary to complete their job functions. Employees who are supported and have the capabilities to complete their job are generally happier and more satisfied with their company. By hiring qualified candidates and continuing to support their education and training, organizations can have a positive impact on their culture.
Nature of the Business
Each industry has differing focuses that help to shape their organizational culture. An accounting firm will have different standards and expectations than an art gallery. While certain ethical concerns may be universal, the nuances within each industry will look different. These differences will help to shape the culture within organizations.
Resources & Technology
Providing employees with the necessary resources to complete their job is a non negotiable for a successful company. When organizations are unable or refuse to provide their employees with necessary resources, they are met with disgruntled and frustrated employees. A lack of resources has a negative impact on company culture and can create an unsatisfactory work environment. By providing resources, organizations can better support their employees to complete their jobs more efficiently.
Technology can be considered both an external and internal factor. Internally, technology can play many roles. Since technology is a large part of day-to-day interactions, it is important for organizations to create policies and procedures to clearly outline electronic communication expectations. In addition, technology is a modern resource that is necessary to complete a number of job functions. Providing employees with updated devices, software, technology support, etc. will improve employee morale and create a happier and more efficient culture.
Developing and Maintaining Culture
The last section examined a number of internal factors that influence organizational culture. But how do organizations manage these factors? While some examples were discussed in the last section, there are other documents and procedures organizations can use to develop and nurture their culture. This section will explore a variety of methods organizations should use to create a foundation for a strong company culture.
An organization’s vision statement is a broad explanation of what the organization aspires to be. This is not the time to provide detailed goals or explanations but rather a way to inspire employees and customers alike to be a part of the journey. Vision statements are directional and should give insight into where the company is heading. Check out the examples below to gain a better understanding of the broad yet inspiring nature of visions statement:
- Google: To provide access to the world’s information in one click.
- AirBnB: Tapping into the universal human yearning to belong—the desire to feel welcomed, respected, and appreciated for who you are, no matter where you might be.
- Toyota: To be the most successful and respected car company in America.
- Southwest: To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline
There is a common misconception that vision and mission statements are the same thing. However, unlike vision statement, mission statements should clearly define the purpose of your organization. Mission statements focus on what the organization needs to do in order to achieve their vision. While the vision and mission statement work together, the vision statement is broader and focuses on the future whereas the mission statement is more specific and focuses on the now. Below are mission statements from the same four companies we discussed earlier. Compare the vision and mission statements to see how they are closely associated yet different all together:
- Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
- AirBnb: Belong anywhere.
- Toyota: To attract and attain customers with high-valued products and services and the most satisfying ownership experience in America.
- Southwest: The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.
Both vision and mission statements mold organizational culture and provide parameters and goals for employees and leaders to work towards.
Code of Ethics/Values Statement
Code of ethics and values statement are used interchangeably. The purpose of a code of ethics is to clearly outline acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Providing behavioral guidelines for employees helps companies align their teams and streamline their processes. A code of ethics also helps to ensure every member of an organization is acting ethically and maintaining the organization’s brand.
In addition to setting guidelines, a strong code of ethics should clearly explain how the organization plans to enforce it. The code of conduct should be followed and exemplified in every level of an organization. There should be audits in place to check for ethical behavior and correct any unethical actions immediately. This audit system should be unbiased and consistent. If something is considered a violation of the code of ethics, it is a violation no matter who commits it. Consistency and follow-through are essential to creating a strong and ethical culture.
A vision statement, mission statement, and values statement all work together to align an organization. These three pieces play a crucial role in outlining acceptable behavior and outlining organizational goals. Without these three things, an organization would fracture and fall apart.
Policies & Procedures
Policies and procedures differ from one workplace to the next. Simply put, policies and procedures are created to streamline processes and outline expectations. These can be specific to certain departments or job titles and should be a framework for employees to abide by. While the code of ethics primarily focuses on ethical and unethical behavior, policies and procedures focuses on how to complete important job functions. Watch the video below to better understand why policies and procedures are so important!
Like technology, the workplace is constantly adapting and changing. Over the last century, the workplace has undergone a number of transformations. So why is it constantly changing? How complicated can an office space be? As we have discussed in other modules, productivity is essential to running a successful company. In order to increase and promote productivity, companies have changed their office spaces to better accommodate employees, ramp up motivation and increase efficiency. In this section we will discuss a number of different workplace designs and examine the rationale behind each of them. Some may be very familiar to you and others may seem very foreign. Let’s get started!
Defined office spaces date back to the Romans, who created designated places for individuals to work. While labor intensive jobs were extremely common, the Romans felt it was important to provide a place for men who used their minds and not their hands to make a living. Over the centuries, office spaces have changed drastically but still have the same goal: to provide a designated workspace for people to perform their job tasks efficiently.
In the early 20th century, Taylor’s Scientific Management Theory, which we discussed in Module 1, inspired “Taylorism” office spaces. Taylorism office spaces were large rooms with wall to wall tables where people worked directly next to each other. Managers monitored the room from their offices which surrounded the large working spaces. The entire motivation around the Taylorism office spaces was to increase productivity. Later in the 20th century, with the rise of large buildings and skyscrapers, more space became available. Workspaces changed to include a mix of open working spaces and private offices and also included common areas like kitchens and eating spaces where employees could gather and recharge. This new, modern office design is best exemplified in Frank Lloyd Wright’s design from the Johnson Wax Building in 1939. This state-of-the-art design incorporated bright lighting, sound absorbing materials and warm, inviting spaces. Not only were Wright’s work places beautiful, they were also practical. Watch the video below to learn more about the rationale behind Wright’s design.
By the 1960s, an office trend from Germany called Burolandschaft (translates to “office landscape”) became popular in the United States. It reverted back to a more open workplace, allowing employees and managers alike to socialize more easily. Burolandschaft was intended to replace a rigid office design with a more organic and natural vibe. Partitions were replaced with plants and the walkways through the office were reimagined to promote socialization. Many components of Burolandschaft are still apparent in today’s modern workplace. In the 1960s, more women were entering the workforce which brought additional changes to the workplace. For example, many women began requesting “modesty boards” which was a board that covered the front of their desks, concealing their legs. While these were subtle changes, they made an impression on workplace design.
The next popular workplace design trend is now known as the Cubicle Farm. This was a drastic change from the open workspace design and the ideologies of Burolandschaft. Cubicles were inexpensive and allowed organizations to compact employees together in smaller spaces with the hopes of minimizing overhead costs and maximizing productivity. Cubicles created tiny work spaces for employees and minimized visibility and ease of interaction between coworkers. With the rise in computer technology, cubicles remained popular for decades. Some organizations still rely heavily on cubicles today.
This leads us to office spaces as they are today. Technology advancements allow ease of mobility with the vast variety of electronic devices. Employees no longer need to be chained to their desks but can ultimately work from anywhere with a laptop, cell phone and internet access. These advancements inspired the changes in workplace designs as they are today. Open work spaces with multiple seating options but no individually dedicated workspace is a popular trend today. Fun activities have also been incorporated into the work space including video games, bikes, fuse ball, pool, rock climbing walls, etc. While some may view these as distractions, other view them as helpful brain breaks that allow employees a change to decompress.
People could argue that one type of office space is better than all the others, but there are benefits and shortcomings of each one. Watch the video below to see a critique of the modern workplace.
So, what are your thoughts? Would you prefer to work in one work environment over another? Or are there components of each one that could be combined to create the perfect workspace? Only time will tell how the workplace continues to evolve and change.
“History of Office Design | From the 1700’s to Today | K2 Space.” K2space. August 01, 2017. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://k2space.co.uk/knowledge/history-of-office-design/.
- Skrabanek, Britt. "Difference Between Vision and Mission Statements: 25 Examples." ClearVoice. August 19, 2018. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://www.clearvoice.com/blog/difference-between-mission-vision-statement-examples/ ↵
- Ibid. ↵