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Creating And Maintaining A Healthy Organizational Culture

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There are many different definitions of rganizational culture. Most of them suggest basically the same principle, that the oganization's culture is the shared values, beliefs and assumptions of how the members should behave. The purpose and function of the culture is to understand how organizations function and gives meaning to the organizations way of doing things. It helps to foster internal integration, bring staff members from all levels of the organization much closer together, and enhances their performance. Much as personality shapes an individual, organizational culture shapes its members responses and defines what the organization can and is willing to do. The goal of the organization should not only emphasize on being profitable but also to ensure that its members are working in a healthy organizational culture.

Roles and responsibilities

Management is responsible for setting the expectations of how members should behave in a given situation. They should be followers as well as leaders.

"Effective followers are distinguished from ineffective ones by their enthusiasm and commitment to the organization and to a person or purpose--an idea, a product other than themselves or their own interests. They master skills that are useful to their organizations, and they hold to performance standards that are higher than required. Effective followers may not get the glory, but they know their contributions to the organization are valuable. And as they make those contributions, they study leaders in preparation for their own leadership roles." (Bateman & Snell, 2004, Ch. 12 Pg. 22)

The most important asset in any organization is its members, and nothing affects the day to day lives of the members more than the culture in which they work. Per Eric Fraterman there are 8 traits of a healthy organizational culture:

1. Openness and humility from top to bottom of the organization

2. An environment of accountability and personal responsibility

3. Freedom for risk taking within appropriate limits

4. A fierce commitment to "do it right"

5. A willingness to tolerate and learn from mistakes

6. Unquestioned integrity and consistency

7. A pursuit of collaboration, integration, and holistic thinking

8. Courage and persistence in the face of difficulty

Recommendations and examples

The first recommendation is that the organization must set and follow a code of ethics which will help to create and maintain a healthy organizational culture. To be successful ethically, it must go beyond the notion of simple legal compliance and adopt a values-based organizational culture. Thought and care must go into constructing the code of ethics and the implementation of it. The organizations need to infuse ethics and integrity throughout their corporate culture as well as into their definition of success. The importance of having a code of ethics is to define acceptable behaviors and promote higher standards of practice within a company. The code should be used as a benchmark for members and provide a framework for acceptable behavior. The organization's code of ethics must also make sense to its employees. It must be written in a practical and understandable manner. It should provide clear statements that indicate what actions should be taken and what should not be done. The code should be clearly integrated with the company's mission and vision. It should be apparent to the employees how following the code of ethics will aid in accomplishing the organization's vision and the employees must see a tie that following the code aids in their personal success within the company (Hawkins, 2003, pg. 1).

A corporate code of ethics can be a very valuable and integral part of a company's culture but it is not strong enough to stand alone. One of the main contributions to a successful code of ethics is the management with in the organization. It must start with the very top executives and trickle down to the lowest level of management. Managers must lead by example. As soon as an employee sees a manager break or even bend the company's code of ethics, it can potentially cause them to feel that the manager's action opens up the doorway for them to behave unethically. Unfortunately it may not stop with just that one employee. They quite possibly could tell their co-workers about the unethical action they have seen, and this could open the doorway for others to get the idea and break the company's code of ethics. An example of an organization that had an excellent code of ethics was Enron and it is obvious that it was completely disregarded.

The other recommendation is for the organization to encourage team building. Team effort requires cooperation and collaboration between the members of the team. Individual effort is not enough; the partners need to work toward a common goal in order to achieve competitive advantage. Team work starts with each individual person. As individuals in a team, we need to be accountable, flexible, adaptable and willing to take on challenges. A team cannot be effective unless each person is going



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