Company Culture

The rapidly changing pace and focus of management has to be considered within the context of the organisation and that of its competitors, to gain any relevance or meaning. With this in mind, it may be useful to consider the impact your organisation’s culture has upon both management style and employees’ involvement in their own and company decision making, writes Meryl Bradshaw.

Meryl Bradshaw is senior lecturer in organisational behaviour with the Warrington School of Management (University of Chester). Meryl Bradshaw is senior lecturer in organisational behaviour with the Warrington School of Management (University of Chester).

Organisational culture has been defined as ‘the way things are done around here.’ Reviewing a company’s culture is not always as simple as it may seem… as any culture is value driven. The origins of most corporate cultures lie in the belief and value systems of its original management, however that was constituted. Hence, we can argue that mission statements, objectives and management style are all predisposed to reflect the dominant values of the company. If you consider your own organisation – the layout, artefacts, even the codes of behaviours taken by employees, will naturally be supportive of the culture.

Cultural Types

It is interesting to look at the different characteristics associated to the four most frequently used cultural types, placing your organisation either in one dominant culture or across several.

  1. Control (Hierarchy) Culture
  • Mainly found in autocracies and bureaucratic management led organisations.
  • Formalised recognised rules / procedures
  • Specialised process
  • Hierarchical structure
  • Communication top-down
  • Promotion through recognised stages
  1. Market (Compete) Culture
  • Core values of competitiveness and productivity
  • Oriented toward the external environment instead of internal affairs
  • Competitiveness and productivity achieved through external positioning
  • Assumptions that the external environment is hostile rather than benign, consumers are choosy and interested in value
  • Leaders are hard-driving producers and competitors are tough and demanding
  1. Clan (Collaborate) Culture
  • Shared values and goals, cohesion, participative, individuality
  • Typical characteristics of clan-type firms were teamwork, employee involvement programs, and corporate commitment to employees
  • Rewards on the basis of team (not individual) accomplishment
  • Customers are best thought of as partners
  1. The Adhocracy (Create) Culture
  • Management foster creativity, adaptively and flexibility
  • Titles, job responsibilities, and even departmental alignments change frequently
  • Dynamic environment of skilled individuals

To accept that organisational culture has a strong identifying influence on both the internal and also the external customer, it is valid to question how managers can shape the motivational behaviour of staff through it. Interestingly, there can be very different interpretations of culture within one organisation, i.e. what may be perceived by senior management as a highly effective learning environment, directed through an efficient policy driven management team, might be perceived by lower level staff as an organisation that is confining in terms of training and development opportunities and is disorganised with a confused management structure. This mismatch is not unusual and is often reinforced through a weak communications policy.

Many may remember Ricky Gervais’ character Brent’s motivational endeavours in the ‘Office’. Motivation is a complex and difficult task for management, requiring a need to understand not only the company’s cultural context, but having access to information concerning the extrinsic and intrinsic needs of staff.


Management Style and Staff Motivation

There are many examples of organisational recognition of the positive relationship between management style influences and motivational behaviour. Central to most are:

  • Employee expectations
  • Line management engagement
  • Resources fit for purpose
  • Recognition
  • Communication

It is useful to reflect upon the findings of the theorist Herzberg in the context of staff perception. He suggested that employees do not necessarily become motivated by what they expect to be in place at work, such as: opportunities to work in teams, a fully equipped work station, access to line management and so on. However, if these were not available, the individual may well become demotivated. Thus, it is the ‘extra’ extrinsic or intrinsic opportunities made available that can motivate staff (features such as: new responsibility, training initiatives, acknowledgement of their work) that positively influence behaviour. But, it is worth recognising that what motivates one employee may not another – so what strategies can managers put in place to best access this knowledge?

Many companies have a rigorous performance management (PM) strategy that furnishes them with detailed information concerning staff members. How this strategy is perceived by staff, again, depends upon the management communication style and how line managers view their role in the process.   Ideally, PM initiatives should be the product of collaborative communication, to engender a more responsive and committed workforce.

In conclusion, the culture of any organisation is the key influence on internal and external perceptions, impacting upon the image and reputation of the company.

Driven, in many cases, by traditional beliefs, management need to be responsive to the changing demands of both the internal and external customer within their particular market, to ensure they maintain or improve their position.

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