Managing Organizational Culture

Posted on February 13, 2013 by

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Strategic leaders understand the impact of organizational culture on the organization’s ability to achieve goals and be innovative. “Because organizational culture has such a profound effect on the behavior of the individuals and groups within the organization, it must be clearly understood and appropriately managed to ensure goals and objectives are achieved” (Mgbere, 1009, p. 188).  Leaders can be deliberate in their actions to create and sustain a specific organizational culture through hiring, training and how they treat their employees.  During the hiring phase, leaders should ensure that the culture is clearly communicated.  State the elements of the organization’s culture upfront during the hiring process to allow the candidate the opt out or in based on their perceived fit with the culture. Ideal candidates will have both the attitude (reflection of shared values & beliefs) as well as the aptitude (ability to perform).

Leaders can also use the training process to promote organizational culture.  Training can be used to communicate the heritage and tradition of the organization.  When members of the organization know the values, beliefs and morals of the organization, it becomes easier to make decisions, take risks and innovate. When members feel connected to the fabric of the organization through the shared language and symbols, they feel a sense of connectedness to the organization and other members. Finally, when members share embellished stories of organizational heroes, they create a respect for the past and a sense of hope for the future.

The final element is found in how leaders treat their employees as a means of promoting or managing culture.  This can be done through creating a supportive and diverse environment that allows for sharing, learning and growth.  Walt Disney recognized the importance of creating an environment in which members felt genuine care and valuation by leadership.  Walt Disney famously stated, “You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality”.  By recognizing employee actions, rewarding behaviors and celebrating success, leaders are able to create an environment that values behaviors that support the desired culture.

Mgbere, O. (2009). Exploring the relationship between organizational culture, leadership styles and corporate performance: An overview.  Journal of Strategic Management Education 5(3&4), 187-202.

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