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Unformatted text preview: ProFile 3 UNIT 5 Company culture
Management writer Charles Handy claims that everything of value he has ever learnt he learnt from organizations. If we think about it, the same probably applies to most of us. Whether we are aware of it or not, many of our reactions, attitudes, and ways of doing things are moulded by the organization to which we belong, or have belonged. Organizations, like countries, can often have a culture all of their own. When companies merge there are often clashes caused by culture and the different ways of doing things. After some mergers, some companies have had to establish a special department to deal with cultural issues. People who move between companies may simply feel that they do not fit in because they were raised in a different corporate culture. They may feel like a ‘fish out of water’, or ‘a square peg in a round hole’ – at least until they become familiar with the way things are done. THE SEVEN Ss The consultants McKinsey have created a useful checklist for taking the pulse of an organization. By thinking in terms of each of the seven Ss we can create a mental map of the culture of an organization. • • • • strategy structure systems style • skills • staff • shared values NAMES AND DRESS CODES Many firms in the US and UK use first names as a matter of course. Understandably, this can appear strange and make people who are from less informal cultures feel uncomfortable. First names, after all, until comparatively recently, were the preserve of family and friends even in Anglo-Saxon cultures. In countries such as Switzerland and Germany, surnames and titles are still used extensively. In France, we often come across the rather strange combination of first name used in conjunction with the polite vous form. Dress codes too have relaxed over recent decades. James Dyson has even gone as far as to ban ties from his company as he claims they stop people from thinking. Few businesses now insist on jackets and ties for men and skirts and blouses for women. Nevertheless, they will require smarter dress for people who deal with customers and for their front of office staff. SHAREHOLDERS AND STAKEHOLDERS Some businesses feel that their sole responsibility is to their shareholders and that the company is there to maximize shareholder value. Everything else is subordinate to that aim, including the aspirations and contentment of the employees. Perhaps a more enlightened view is to consider all the people connected with the firm as its stakeholders, i.e. those people who have some sort of commitment and relationship with the firm other than simple ownership. Thus salaried employees, suppliers, and customers are all recognized as having a stake in the firm. COMPANIES ACROSS CULTURES There have been a number of studies of business attitudes across different cultures. Books such as Fons Trompenaars and Charles HampdenTurner’s Riding the Waves of Culture, and works by Geert Hofstede, provide a fascinating insight into how national and regional cultures influence attitudes and the way business is done in different countries.
Photocopiable © Oxford University Press MISSION STATEMENTS Most organizations nowadays have a mission statement. Mission statements should be short, yet able to summarize the aims, values, and vision of the organization. A good mission statement should be jargon free and act as a beacon to employees by establishing common goals. If the business fails to honour the commitments and promises carried in its statement, then it will deservedly attract derision and cynicism. See the ProFile Student’s site: www.oup.com/elt/profile ...
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- Spring '10