The topics for the Bee School sessions three and four were “Professional Culture” and “Organizational Culture” where Dr. Linda Herkenhoff discussed the differences between the two, how to measure them, and ways to ensure your organization is strong in both.
She delved into how these cultural values increase commitment and provide a sense of identity for employees, allowing for a more productive workplace.
You had some great questions and we appreciate you taking the time to send them to us. Below are the questions from other managers and you can read Dr. Herkenhoff’s responses.
Q&A with the Professor
1. What are the main differences between professional and organizational culture? Should the emphasis be placed more on one than the other?
Organizational culture is a pattern of basic assumptions that are considered valid and are taught to new members as the way to perceive, think, and feel in an organization. Organizational cultures are learned over short periods of time since people have to adapt to the new organization they’re entering quickly.
Alternatively, professional cultures are learned over long periods and are more inherent. In fact, most professional culture is learned even before employees start a new job.
Since organizational culture is more difficult to learn, the focus for a manager should primarily be placed in this arena. That’s how you’ll get new hires to become familiar with the team and corporate culture so they feel comfortable and aligned. Those qualities poise them to be a more successful contributing member.
2. What are some immediate steps I can take to start enhancing our organizational culture?
Through role modeling, teaching, and coaching, leaders can reinforce the values that support organizational culture. Here are six guidelines to help establish corporate culture:
- Create a clear and simple mission statement.
- Create systems that ensure an effective flow of information.
- Create “matrix minds” among managers. In other words, broaden their minds to allow them to think globally.
- Develop career paths that allow employees to rotate between offices.
- Use cultural differences as a major asset.
- Implement management education and team development programs.
Since every company is different, you’ll need to tailor each one of these to fit your business needs. Start by assessing your current status in these areas and finding where there’s room for improvement.
3. How should culture be a part of the onboarding process?
Newcomers learn culture through organizational socialization. This is the process by which newcomers are transformed from outsiders to participating, effective members of the organization.
There are three stages of socialization:
1) Anticipatory socialization
This first stage encompasses all of the learnings that take place on the first day on the job. On the first day, storytelling is a great way to set the right tone.
Here are a few ideas of different stories to weave into the content of your first day:
- Tell new employees something about how their bosses are human and espoused one of your corporate values during a stressful time.
- Everyone is worried about not making the grade on the first day.
- Recounting a story about the company’s hiring and firing history will be better coming from you and put your newcomer’s concerns to rest about job security.
- If applicable, you can tell stories about how the company deals with relocation or other major life changes that happen in an employee’s personal life.
- Stories about how lower level employees rise to the top are always motivating.
- Explaining how leadership dealt with a crisis situation will often speak volumes about that company’s culture. It starts at the top!
- Stories about how status considerations work when rules are broken. For example, when one of the former CEO’s of IBM wasn’t wearing his badge, a dutiful security guard confronted him and required the correct credentials before allowing him to pass!
The second stage of socialization is when newcomers learn the tasks associated with the job, clarity in their roles, and establish new relationships at work. In this stage, be sure to set firm expectations to avoid ambiguity for the newcomer and, possibly more importantly, existing employees.
3) Change and Acquisition
Here, newcomers that are successfully socialized begin to master their domain and should be exhibiting good performance, high job satisfaction, and intend to stay with the organization.
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