Factors Influencing Organizational Culture and Climate and its Effect on Organizational Efficiency
Carina Confalone – Pestana117220850
Department of Management and Marketing
MSc Management and Marketing
James FairheadWord Count : 8082
Contents TOC o “1-3” h z u Executive Summary PAGEREF _Toc523401532 h 2Introduction PAGEREF _Toc523401533 h 2Literature Review PAGEREF _Toc523401534 h 3Methodology PAGEREF _Toc523401535 h 11Research Findings and Analysis PAGEREF _Toc523401536 h 13Discussion and Organizational Implications PAGEREF _Toc523401537 h 21Leadership PAGEREF _Toc523401538 h 21Recommendations PAGEREF _Toc523401539 h 24References PAGEREF _Toc523401540 h 26
Executive Summary Running a business is very complex and considerable research aims to discover the best ways to optimize organizational efficiency. There are many factors that could be influencing organizational effectiveness and they are often difficult to identify. Specifically, organizational culture as an influence is often problematic as it is engrained into the roots of an organization and often goes unnoticed. However, it has a strong influence on employee satisfaction and productivity which is central to organizational performance. This paper focuses on millennial workers, as they are the largest demographic to enter the workforce and organizations will need to know how to retain them. Employee retention is highly correlated to job satisfaction. Therefore, this paper explores the factors that increases or decreases Millennial job satisfaction. Research identified four factors that influenced organizational culture and climate. The first major theme was leadership behaviour as they are the main facilitators of culture in an organization and have the ability to change it for the better or worse. Followed by cultures surrounding communication, flexibility and Human Resource Management (HRM). These themes were common across interviews with millennial workers and were said to greatly affect their experience in the workplace. To conclude, leadership behaviour was found to be the most critical factor as it is the cause as well as the potential solution. They have the power to alter organizational culture to create a better working environment for Millennials; one that will support the development, happiness and well-being of their employees. It is left in the hands of the leader. Take action, make change.
IntroductionProcedures, policies, organizational culture have the potential to limit business success. It is extremely difficult to manage all the factors that influence a business, especially in Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are usually “restricted by their size, technical knowhow, managerial expertise, personnel limitation and inadequate financial resources” (Kaur and Sharma, 2014, p.18). Therefore, in order to compete with growing competition, SMEs must optimize their efficiency. Total quality management (TQM) aims for continuous improvement in all functions of an organization in order to not only build a competitive advantage but to survive in the long run (Kaur and Sharma, 2014, p. 18). As human relations have become such an important aspect of business success, managing organizational culture and climate falls under the umbrella of TQM. The “soft model of TQM involves “the qualitative aspects such as employee empowerment, customer focus, employee involvement, employee training, continuous improvement, feedbacks and appraisals, top management commitment, and teamwork (Ahire et al.,1996; Yong and Wilkinson, 2001; Arunachalam and Palanichamy, 2016, p.386), while the hard TQM involves the technical factors including design, implementation and improvement. All factors that fall under organizational culture or climate and can greatly affect the functions and success of an organization.
This paper will focus on discovering the factors that can influence organizational culture and climate, which in turn can affect employee work attitudes and job satisfaction. This is important as employee work attitudes, job satisfaction and commitment lead to various organizational outcomes. Research suggests that positive work attitudes and high job satisfaction lead to the success of a business (Arunachalam and Palanichamy, 2016, p.398). This paper will explore leadership, human resource management, communication and adaptability to discover how they create and maintain organizational culture and climate, and effect organizational performance and efficiency.
Organizational Culture and Organizational Climate
Poor organizational culture and climate may lead to negative work attitudes, resulting in higher turnover and inability to keep employees satisfied and motivated, thus, reducing overall organizational effectiveness (Aarons and Sawitzky,2006). Therefore, it is important to develop an understanding of aspects involved in climate and culture to ensure that they maximize business efficiency. Organizational culture is probably the most underrated influence on success and is often overlooked by businesses as they focus on organizational climate. Zacher and Gielnik (2014) describe organisational climate as “the specific and observable activities, processes and procedures through which the more abstract and implicit organisational culture is expressed (Moran and Volkwein, 1992)” (p. 329). Unlike climate, organizational culture is difficult for outsiders to notice as it is so deeply engrained in the organization. Moreover, as it often rooted in history and is created as a by product of the organizations leadership (Zacher and Gielnik, 2014, p. 329). Especially in small businesses, when there are few in leadership positions, that persons values and perceptions are imposed on to others. Additionally, their power allows them to “maintain an organisational culture that is consistent with their own assumptions and beliefs” (Zacher and Gielnik, 2014, p. 331). This has the potential to influence the organization positively or negatively depending on the nature of CEO or leaderships’ beliefs and values. “Schein (2010) has argued that the creation and management of organisational culture is one of the most important tasks of CEOs” (Zacher and Gielnik, 2014, p. 331). However, it is difficult for leaders to analyze their impact on culture objectively. The challenge for the organization is to accept and therefore change any unfavourable organizational culture occurring within. This can become a serious concern for the organization as shared and implicit assumptions (organizational culture) can impact organizational climate overtime. Thus, greatly impacting “individual attitudes and behaviours as well as organisational effectiveness (Ashkanasy et al., 2011; Calori and Sarnin, 1991; Denison and Mishra, 1995; Gordon and DiTomaso, 1992; Schein, 1990; Zacher and Gielnik,2014, p.328).
Leadership style and behaviour
Leadership is a critical factor to consider as their contributions to organizational success is widely acknowledged and accepted (Nguyen and Mohamed, 2009, p.206). Organizations rely on leadership to enhance the business by increasing productivity and improving processes. However, research has shown that organizational culture and leadership behaviours can influence their ability to improve the business. “According to Schein’s (1983, 1985) theory of organisational culture, leaders exert a major influence on the creation and development of organisational culture” (Schein, 1983, 1985; Zacher and Gielnik, 2014, p. 330). Leadership values, beliefs and behavior can influence aspects in an organization that will inherently affect an employee’s experience in the workplace; simultaneously determining job satisfaction and employee productivity. Therefore, effective leadership “requires that attention be paid to the human and cultural aspects of business” (Nonaka and Konno, 1998; Nguyen and Mohamed,2009).
There are many factors that can shape a leader’s management style and behaviour including demographics, values and beliefs, personality etc. It is often discussed that generational differences exist among workers and shape employee behaviours and motivators, but do these generational differences in views and values impact leadership? Research shows that certain characteristics are associated with leaders and employees of a certain demographic. As mentioned above, since millennials will be entering the workforce, while older generations will remain in the workforce longer, it is important to identify age -related differences that may affect both leadership as well as employee satisfaction. For example, older leaders tend to be stuck in their ways, resistant to change and therefore can inhibit the growth of their business, nevertheless, they have accumulated a lot of experience over the years which allows them to respond to problems efficiently (Oshagbemi, 2003, p.16). Not only will demographics impact leadership style, but it can also affect leaders’ perception of workers from a specific demographic, thus, influencing their attitudes and behaviours. Depending on the age of a leader, they may hold demographic stereotypes that can affect the way they manage or see employees; and these perceptions can develop as organizational culture and become shared assumptions which can implicitly influence the way individuals perceive and treat one another. However, to ensure workers are satisfied, it is important for people in leadership positions work on the elimination of any stereotypes that may “result in discriminatory behaviours and unfair human resource practices” (Zacher and Gielnik, 2014, p.328). Obviously, mistreatment could lead to unsatisfied employees, resulting in higher turnover which “negatively impacts staff morale, short and long-term productivity, and organizational effectiveness” (Gray, Phillips, and Normand, 1996; Jayaratne and Chess, 1984; Mowday, Porter, and Steers, 1982; Aarons and Sawitzky,2006).
Furthermore, organizational culture emerges from beliefs and social interactions between members which involves shared values, understandings, patterns of beliefs and behavioural expectations (Giberson, Resick et Al., 2009 p.124). These cultures don’t just emerge out of nowhere; they are circulated top-down through the organization. For this reason, leadership behaviour and style play a crucial role in the development of the shared cultures that exist in the organization. Organizational culture stems from leader decision making and behaviour which is a reflection of leadership characteristics (Giberson, Resick et Al., 2009 p.124). Leader personality will determine how they interact with others, how they behave in and what type of leader they will be. Recent research studies have shown that the transformational leadership style has gained the attention as being the most effective. Transformational leaders “obtain support by inspiring followers to identify with a vision that reaches beyond their own immediate self-interests”, while “transactional leaders obtain cooperation by establishing exchanges with followers and then monitoring the exchange relationship” (Judge and Bono, 2000, p. 751). Transformational leaders become role models while supporting the intellectual development and individual improvement of their follower. The transformational leadership style has surpassed transactional leadership as it has accumulated much support in terms of is validity and is strongly linked to leadership effectiveness (Judge and Bono, 2000, p. 751). Additionally, Transformational leadership is very important because it has the capability to shape and change organizational culture. Through transformational leadership, “through their actions and behaviors, leaders contribute to the substance of an organization’s culture” (Tsui, Zhang et Al., 2006, p. 115; Sarros et Al., 2008, p. 148).
Research has identified that transformational leadership has an ethical component within this style, in which leaders can behave ethically or unethically (Kalshoven, Den Hartog and De Hoogh, 2010, p.350). However, it is important to consider ethical leadership as a style in itself. Kalshoven, Den Hartog and De Hoogh (2010) defines ethical leadership ”the demonstration of normatively appropriate conduct through personal actions and interpersonal relationships and the promotion of such conduct to followers through two-way communication, reinforcement and decision-making.” (p.351). This is important to touch on as “effects of ethical leader behavior demonstrates mainly positive relationships with a variety of followers’ attitudes and behaviors, such as commitment, satisfaction with the leader, trust, perceived leader effectiveness, and organizational citizenship behavior” (Kalshoven, Den Hartog and De Hoogh,2010, p.349). Authors argue that ethical leaders are respectful, fair, trustworthy and offer open communication and transparency, while clarifying expectations and goals (Kalshoven, Den Hartog and De Hoogh, 2010, p.351).
So how does a leader come to be? Well, personality traits can greatly influence the way one behaves, interacts and makes decisions. Thus, it is important to discover what personality traits are related to effective leadership, specifically transformational leadership as it is highly linked to leadership effectiveness and has the ability to mold culture and therefore climate. It is acknowledged that transformational leadership is a behavioural theory and that behaviour can be learned, however, unconscious behavior stems from personality, and is identified as an underlying factor that influences leadership (Judge and Bono, 2000, p. 751).
Finally, if certain traits are correlated with both effective leadership and ethical leadership behaviour, it may be in an organizations best interest to seek out leaders that exhibit the ideal leader traits. The Big Five model is a generally accepted theory on personality traits suggesting that all characteristics fall under the five broad traits and that it can gauge how one might behave. The big five include agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, emotional stability or neuroticism and openness to experience (Costa and McCrae 1992; Goldberg 1990; Giberson, Resick et Al., 2009, p.124). Judge and Bono (2000) explain the meaning behind each factor of The Big Five Model:
Factor 1, Extraversion, represents the tendency to be outgoing, assertive, active, and excitement seeking. Individuals scoring high on Extraversion are strongly predisposed to the experience of positive emotions (Watson & Clark, 1997).
Factor 2, Agreeableness, consists of tendencies to be kind, gentle, trusting and trustworthy, and warm.
Factor 3, Conscientiousness, is indicated by two major facets: achievement and dependability. Conscientiousness is the trait from the five-factor model that best correlates with job performance (Barrick & Mount, 1991).
Factor 4, Emotional Adjustment, is often labeled by its opposite, Neuroticism, which is the tendency to be anxious, fearful, depressed, and moody. Emotional Adjustment is the principal Big Five trait that leads to life satisfaction and freedom from depression and other mental ailments (McCrae & Costa, 1991).
Finally, Factor 5, Openness to Experience (sometimes labeled Intellectance), represents the tendency to be creative, imaginative, perceptive, and thoughtful. Openness to Experience is the only Big Five trait to display appreciable correlations with intelligence (p. 760).
“Past empirical research has found that certain personality factors are associated with increased employee performance and leadership effectiveness” (Carnes, Houghton and Ellison, 2014, p.362). Studies found correlations between the big 5 personality traits and leadership effectiveness which shows that personality can predict leader behaviour. It can also predict the ethicality of their behaviours.
For example, Judge and Bono (2000) suggest a strong correlation between extraversion, agreeableness and transformational leadership as charisma and agreeableness asocial trait and leadership takes place in a social context” (p.761). Not to mention, agreeable leaders are more sensitive to the needs of their followers, which can lead to an improvement in employee satisfaction. Moreover, conscientiousness is related to the leadership traits of “discipline, dedication and hard work” while those high in openness to experience accept and influence change (Carnes, Houghton and Ellison, 2014, p. 362). Additionally, leaders low in emotional stability tend to be anxious, moody and experience lower self-esteem. These characteristics are not perceived as leadership qualities. Specific leadership qualities will have an effect on the organizational culture as the way they lead their followers can foster the shared behavioural expectation, and organizational constructs that dictate the way people behave and interact as well as creates the tone of the work environment (e.g. Atmosphere). All these factors, together, can impact an employee’s job satisfaction and thus, effectiveness. Since, human capital is at the center of an organization, it is important that leadership effectiveness is optimized to improve productivity and overall organizational success.
Adaptability influences employee productivity and job satisfaction and drives organizational success through the ability to adapt to changing times, and unpredictable circumstances. Particularly, taking new millennial workers into consideration, organizations will be forced to adapt to changing employee values, desires and needs. Millennial employees increasingly place value on flexible work environments and programs as they strive for the work life balance. Research shows that although these programs do not have a direct correlation to employee productivity, they are considered rare and thus, very valued by employees (Sivatte, Gordon et al. ,2013, p.897). Additionally, the availability of the programs has a positive correlation to organizational productivity. Moreover, work-life balance is linked to reduced absenteeism and turnover, thus reducing organizational costs and improving efficiency (Eaton, 2003). However, an important factor to consider is that flexible work-life employee practices may not align with the surrounding organizational culture (Sivatte, Gordon et al., 2013, p.897). Meaning the availability of flexible work-life programs does not mean that the organizational culture supports the use of such programs and thus, limiting the potential effects that flexible work programs can have on employee productivity.
Secondly, an employee or organizations’ ability to adapt to new situations and social, economic and political changes is crucial to their survival (Kalleberg, 2003, p.154). For example, changes in technological advances, consumer or employee trends, economic systems, government policies etc. can affect a business. Regardless the influence, organizational flexibility is the key that enables companies to anticipate or confront change in order to survive and maintain competitive advantage without incurring significant loss (Verdú and Gómez-Gras, 2009). Businesses must be open to change in order to stay relevant in this ever-changing business-environment. It is essential that organizations exhibit strategic and structural flexibility; always learning and improving the strategies that will propel the business forward and the structure of the internal organization, including the people within (Verdú and Gómez-Gras, 2009). For instance, strategic flexibility includes responding to social changes in the impact marketing strategies, while structural implies responding to the changing needs of employees in order to keep them satisfied.
Additionally, a flexible organizational culture can stimulate responsiveness to change within its employees; allowing them the autonomy to make strategic decisions when problems arise. However, “companies that have an excessive number of rules and routines will manifest difficulties to adapt” (Stoica, Florea and Lukacs, 2012, p.13). Therefore, allowing employees the autonomy to complete their work can lead to higher job satisfaction and motivation, but also higher employee adaptability. Autonomy allows employees the discretion to solve problems, while managing and minimizing risk and responding to any unforeseen issues (Verdú and Gómez-Gras,2009, p.685). Additionally, investing in the increased employee flexibility can be beneficial when organizational change and restructuring is needed. Overall, flexibility allows a business to adapt and face uncertainty which can reduce cost, keep employees satisfied and continuously improve business strategies and structures to enhance organizational effectiveness.
Communication has become such a crucial component within an organization, it underlies all business functions and is vital for the success of the organization ( Sebastião et al., 2017, p.865). Communication plays numerous roles within the business including building trust and employee relationships to create a good employee morale and relaying important information about business operations so that everything that needs to be completed, is completed. It is imperative to foster a culture of open communication to ensure that operations are running as smoothly as possible and that each employee understands the role they play. For this to occur, the culture must nurture “an open, two-way, and responsive internal communication system including management and employees that encourages the sharing of opinions and concerns, facilitates internal collaboration and dialogue, and boosts mutual understanding, thereby improving trust, satisfaction, commitment” (Rita Men and Jiang ,2016, p.462). This will allow for everyone within an organization to be on the same page and work cohesively and effectively to achieve company goals. In theory, communication seems like it does not require much attention, however, there are many factors that lead to poor communication, including “transmission problems (ex: one-sided communication processes), suppression of information, mistakes in what is communicated, rumours, type of language used and purposeful distortion and misinterpretation” (Chmielecki, 2015, p.35). All in all, communication is vital and if maintained correctly can benefit the organization in many ways; resulting in the improvement of organizational performance and efficiency.
Human Resource Management and emphasis on concern for people
Since people are at the center of every business, working towards making sure they are satisfied can enhance overall employee effectiveness. Motivation is a constant concern for employers; they are always trying to improve employee motivation as it is directly connected to results (Jovanovic and Bozilovic, 2017, p.98). Organizations need to discover the factors that might influence employee job satisfaction, morale and employee attitudes which is often left up to the department of Human Resource Management. Behavioural theorists have suggested that a company that places focuses on HRM demonstrates the importance of their employees (Chow, Haddad and Singh, 2007, p.77). This creates a people oriented organizational culture and shows that the organization values their employees. However, as stated above, culture and strategy may not always line up, thus it is important to ensure that the organizational culture and organizations genuine concern for employee satisfaction matches the organizations HRM efforts. Improving employee performance depends on the commitment from the organization to increase employees job satisfaction. This can be achieved by identifying the employees needs and desires and actively implementing programs that will improve employee well- being.
Focusing HRM efforts around employee physical, emotional and social wellbeing, will inevitably enhance not only individual well-being, but also employee performance (Guest, 2017, p.27). This differs from the standard practices that focus on employee productivity with employee well-being as a secondary concern. This difference can influence the organizational culture regarding employees; people can feel if the relationship is authentic and if there is a genuine concern of the wellbeing of their employees. HRM practices to improve employee motivation and commitment can involve many different aspects such as organizational support and value, training and development, extrinsic/intrinsic rewards, recognition/ reinforcement, positive work environment, trust etc. On the basis of reciprocity, if organizations are committed to investing their time and effort into the goals and needs of their employees; employees will be more satisfied with their job and more motivated to invest their effort and time into supporting and achieving organizational goals (Guest, 2017, p.28). Thus, simultaneously improving employee productivity and organizational performance.Methodology
General business operations and culture can have an impact on business success. Specifically, it is crucial to analyze the business as a whole as both organizational climate and organizational culture can have a significant impact on employee productivity and therefore, the efficiency of the business. There are so many factors in an organization that could be affecting organizational culture and climate, and therefore employee effectiveness. Accordingly, I felt that using an inductive research approach was the best fit as it leaves it very open, in order to discover potentially new factors that influence a person’s experience in the workplace. My personal observations on organizational culture and climate sparked an intense curiosity, however, I did not have any preconceived notions on what my research might suggest as factors differ for every employee. Therefore, I wanted to see if employee experiences in the workplace would support the observations that I had made, and whether further research could help identify patterns or themes.
The primary research includes in-depth interviews with millennial employees to understand their wants and needs; to understand what makes them happy, engaged and motivated. As the baby boomers grow old and retire, millennials will need to take over current business positions. Thus, they are an important age group to analyze as discovering their motivations and desires can influence future business success. As they are newly established in their careers, they aren’t as devoted to their workplace as older employees. Moreover, there is a high demand for knowledge workers; people have much more choice in job opportunities. Companies have to compete to attract the best employees thus, there is potential for high turnover if workers are not kept happy. It is important to ensure that the company climate and culture lives up to employee expectations. For these reasons, I will interview millennial employees to get understand what is occurring within businesses to figure out what aspects will attract or push workers away. Since human capital is a huge component of a business operations, gaining insight on the reasons why employees like or dislike their jobs will provide us with the necessary information to judge how it could be affecting business performance. After all, at an individual level, happy workers “perform on average better than other workers” (Taylor and Francis, 2018, p. 121). Moreover, the secondary research will help me draw conclusion from the primary data findings and support my analysis.
When conducting interviews, I ensured that questions were kept as open as possible. This allowed interviewees to interpret the question how they want, to avoid skewing data. As I wanted to make sure that responses were an honest depiction of their work environment and experience, respondents were not informed on the topic of research, so they wouldn’t sway their responses to fit what they thought I wanted to hear. When needed, I would only ask clarification or follow-up questions if they had not elaborated.
All the participants range in age but fall under the “millennial” age group because research shows that Millennials may be the largest generations joining the workforce (Taylor and Francis, 2018, p.121). Since Millennials have different values, desires and needs than other generations, current management will have to learn to manage these workers efficiently. Therefore, my study aims to learn the values and desires of millennials to provide management with tools to understand their motivations to work. The interviewees were half female and half male to gain a gender-neutral perspective and ensure that any gender differences could be identified. Respondents participated in my study on a voluntary basis and included both university graduates as well as current students who worked throughout their education. Despite differences in situation, themes were consistent across all participant interviews and reached saturation at approximately six interviews.
Additionally, as my study focuses on Millennials, a natural bias exists. Logically, since Millennials have only recently entered the workforce, majority of the participants were in entry-level positions or lower in the hierarchy. However, a few candidates were higher in the hierarchy to see if perspectives changed and to ensure I was getting the entire story.
In order to ensure the ethicality of my report and research conducted, I was completely transparent with all my participants and outlined exactly what their interviews would be used for and who would have access to the final report. Moreover, participants were informed that they can withdraw their consent at any point. With regards to employee interviews, to ensure that their privacy is respected, all participants and organizations will remain anonymous. Additionally, any information that the employee withdrew will not be considered when drawing conclusions and the parts of the interview that contained sensitive information will be withheld to respect the wishes of the employee.
Research Findings and Analysis
Candidates were asked to tell stories about their experience at previous jobs. Respondents distinguished what they like and don’t like about their jobs and would follow up with an example or story. Given that these findings express their likes and dislikes about their experience in the workplace, it is fair to assume that these factors can influence job satisfaction and thus, motivation. When critically reviewing interviews, various themes stood out and were common across almost all interview findings. Results displayed themes of leadership behaviour, communication, adaptability and human resource management. The interviews expressed both good and bad examples of these factors.
There is a clear difference between a good boss and a bad one and their behaviour can make all the difference. Various interviewees had experienced similar situations with their bosses. According to the stories that were told, the way their boss behaves in certain situations is an important factor affecting their attitudes towards their workplace. For instance, some respondent experienced their bosses talking behind their back:
Respondent A: “I heard from other employees that my boss would talk behind my back, and often it would be to my siblings.”
Respondent B: “Many times, my coworkers would inform me about rude comments he was making behind my back.”
Talking about others behind their back is disrespectful and when this happens it can lead to resentment and a loss of trust. This could be explained by the leader potentially scoring low on agreeableness; implying no tendency to be trusting and kind. Obviously, this could foster negative employee attitudes which can have an effect on employee satisfaction in the workplace Additionally, the same respondents also experienced mistreatment or unreasonable treatment:
Respondent A: “My boss often flipped out at me for a small mistake that was not even my fault” and “My boss would make passive aggressive and degrading comments, I always felt like I was walking on eggshells. Everyone knew they had to watch his attitude.”
Respondent B: “I did not think I had made a mistake. But I still had to deal with my boss spazzing at me for it. To be honest, he was very mean and unreasonable about it, I almost cried. He yelled at me and told me everything I was doing wrong. After that happened, I was always stressed, and worried about making a mistake, and unmotivated because I felt like I was not appreciated.”
Everyone makes mistakes, especially when employees are in the learning stages, or any stage for that matter, however, when things do not go as planned there are certain ways to deal with situations. There are always two sides to every story and it is the leaders’ job to analyze what went wrong before putting blame on anyone. These examples demonstrate the leaders lack of understanding and emotional stability. Additionally, when an employee is at fault, it should be approached in a calm respectful manner while using constructive criticism as it gives employees an understand of what went wrong and a learning opportunity on how to act in the future. Criticizing employees, the way respondent 2 described, would make any employee feel unvalued, unmotivated and lead the employee to doubt their capability. These are just a few examples that demonstrates poor leadership behaviour, however, there are a number of ways leaders can behave poorly and as seen above, it can be a result of their personality traits. The quotes from the interviews demonstrate that poor leadership led to negative attitudes toward their leader and their work.
Moreover, demographic related views can affect the way leaders treat their followers. As much as people say that age, gender and other demographical qualities don’t affect their judgement, it can still have an impact on the leader views and behaviours. Respondent C mentioned being forced to do work that was historically known as to be done by female workers.
Respondent C: “Even though I had a lot on my plate, my boss always wanted me to do the organizational tasks. Even when a male student intern was always looking for jobs to do. They always said that they wanted me to do it, but it was clear they just didn’t want a guy to do it. I just felt that there was a bit of a sexist culture there.”
The respondent explained that upper management were all men were aged 40 – 60, who might still have the same “old school” mentality; that women do a certain type of work and men are in charge. At least that was the culture that she sensed existed in the organization. Stereotypes or mentalities were discussed by multiple respondent regardless of whether their stereotypes were based on age or gender. For example, respondents discuss the lack of respect and trust they felt due to their age:
Respondent B: “I felt like he didn’t respect me because I am young and that my opinions didn’t matter.”
Respondent D: “I appreciate when my boss trusts me to do good work and doesn’t feel the need to micro-manage, but often times he takes over my calls.”
In respondents’ 5’s full story, they go on to explain that they feel that their lack of experience due to age is at fault. While respondent 2 felt that she was treated unfairly because of her age. Even though there is a possibility that demographics are not necessarily influencing the leader’s decisions or behaviour, the fact that the employees feel like it is, is an issue in itself and should be addressed.
However, other respondents describe more positive experiences with their CEO’s or supervisors and explain that as much as a bad leader can make someone unmotivated and dislike their job, a good leader can equally make someone love their job. A leader has the ability to create the culture that surround their business and a good leader will lead by example.
Respondent E specified that “The CEO shows up everyday and works as hard as his employees.”
This leader shows their conscientiousness which is indicated by dependability and achievement. Demonstrating that the CEO believes in their business, their goals and is willing to get their hands dirty. It shows that employees can depend on the leader to help the organization and its employees succeed whichever way they can. For good leaders, its not only about the bottom line, its about the people and processes that make a company successful.
Respondent E also stated “The CEO will take the time out of their day to say hi and put in the work to get to know everyone and making sure they are happy.”
Many respondents suggested that good leaders care about their employee’s happiness as well as growth. By getting to know his employees he can figure out what aspects influence job satisfaction and can implement changes where needed. Additionally, showing employees that they are cared for demonstrates that they are of value to the organization. Some respondents expressed the importance of a leader’s actions:
Respondent F: “A CEOs personal actions are very important when it comes to feeling valued in an organization.”
Not only does this demonstrate that a CEOs actions can make an employee feel valued or not, but it also shows the role a leader plays in an organization and the importance of that role in creating culture. Their behaviour has the ability to create culture that can make or break an employee’s job and greatly impact their job satisfaction.
All in all, after analyzing the interviews it seems that good and bad leadership behaviour is clearly defined and common across all interviews. Each respondent had a story to tell about their organizational leader and how it affected them. Most people have a general sense of appropriate ways to behave, however, effective leadership seems be governed by factors such as demographic related views or personality traits.
Flexibility and adaptability as a theme could have various meanings within an organizational. Firstly, a factor that seemed to be of value to employees, was flexible work environments.
Respondent C expressed: “We want to do something that is meaningful, but we also want to enjoy our life.”
Meaning that she appreciates when her workplace offers flexible programs that will allow her to enjoy her life outside of work. It demonstrates that employers might benefit from understanding that employees also have a life outside of work, and that things may come up unexpectedly, where employers will need to be flexible. It also implies that when she is working, she will be motivated and productive because she wants to contribute to something meaningful. Thus, creating a flexible culture could not only improve job satisfaction, but also increase motivation and productivity.
Moreover, a flexible organizational culture could benefit the business as it could help employees to strategically respond charging circumstances or problems that arise. An employee in a supervisory position explained a situation where he had to deal with a number of problems in which the owner couldn’t. Respondent F stated:
“Things break, things go wrong. I can handle it, I don’t get put under pressure by him. I’m too black and white, I plan ahead. I know when I tell him everything that went wrong today, I know hell go “ahhhhh”, but I will sit there and say this is ridiculous, can you calm down and I will start sorting everything out. But you have to get X, Y and Z. and everything will then be fine.”
This shows his ability to strategically respond to problems that arise, while his boss became stressed and anxious and unable to respond. However, this employee was given the autonomy and trust to adapt to these circumstances and figure out a solution. In a business, things wont always go smoothly, that is the nature of it, but what matters is how you adapt to these changes and solve problems. Finally, the organizations ability to adapt to changing times and social, economic and political changes is crucial to their survival. Respondent B mentioned:
“My boss is stuck in the past; marketing has changed but he hasn’t.”
Due to advancement in technology, marketing strategies have changed. Digital and social media marketing have become the platform in which most people consume content. They are consuming less content from television, and print ads, making these methods less effective than new digital marketing strategies. This respondent explained that her boss would not consider new marketing strategies or methods that she was recommending; he was sticking to old fashioned methods of marketing. Organizations that do not adapt to changing times will experience a loss of time and money, as strategies are not as effective. Thus, resulting in reduced organizational efficiency; they could be doing better.
It is not surprising that Communication was a common theme across all interviews, communication underlies all business functions. Communication inefficiencies can lead to a variety of mistakes in which businesses can’t afford to make as there is immense competition. Creating a culture of open communication is essential for a business to run smoothly; but could become inefficient through transmission problems, misinterpretation, suppression of information etc. For example, one of the respondents expressed:
“My boss would ask me to do things for him, and not communicate them well and then would get annoyed if I asked any clarification questions. Then he would criticize what I had done, and I would have to keep going back to fix all the mistakes.”
This shows more than one communication error. Firstly, according to this respondent, her boss did not clearly communicate his expectations for the project. Secondly, her boss getting annoyed when she asks clarification questions fosters a culture that doesn’t encourage or support open communication. Finally, it seems as though blame was only put on her if things went wrong or if the project wasn’t not completed the way he wanted, despite the issues in communication. Additionally, poor communication can make it difficult for employees to complete their work efficiently as expectations are not communicated clearly. This respondent wasted a considerable amount of time fixing the mistakes, that could have been avoided through efficient communication. Employees need direction and need to be informed about organizational goals and expectations in order to succeed.
On the other hand, the next quote shows and example of good communication. It exemplifies a communication system among all levels and departments of the organization.
Respondent E: “Our company has very good communication; everyone feels like they are on the same level and everyone knows what’s going on.”
It helps create relationships and good morale regardless of if you are the CEO or just an entry level intern. It shows that everyone is valued and encouraged to collaborate and voice opinions, which can help the organization identify and anticipate opportunities or threats. Effective communication can essentially stimulate a culture of teamwork where everyone is encouraged to work together to achieve organizational goals. Every employee is valuable and brings something different to the table; teamwork can improve organizational efficiency as one employee’s weakness could be another employee’s strength. Individuals can use their strengths to help each other succeed by communicating suggestions, knowledge or insights that might improve aspects of their work. Open communication, and good relationships can improve trust, work efficiency and job satisfaction.
Human Resources management and concern for employees
How could you go wrong creating a culture emphasizing the well-being of its employees? Employees are human too, they have physical, emotional and social needs that if not fulfilled, can hinder performance. For instance, respondent B expressed concern about the workload that he had been given.
“My boss would give me a workload that can’t physically be done in the amount of time they gave me. I was always stressed, trying to complete everything. He had unrealistic expectations; he once told me that the receptionist should be able to take two calls at once…which is physically impossible.”
Unrealistic workload could be detrimental to an employee’s emotional well being because it creates added stress, which could affect an employee mentally and physically. It is important that organizations understand that they only human, and only have so much time in a day. Additionally, this relates to employees becoming overworked.
Respondent E: “There is a culture of employees pushing themselves a too hard – and being overworked – it is discouraging.”
This confirms that an unrealistic work load can lead employees to feel like they need to push themselves beyond their capabilities. This could lead to a physical burnout and can fosters negative attitudes towards their working environment, which can cause a decrease in motivation and productivity. Another common theme that was identified was the feeling that they weren’t valued. They said that they are more motivated when the people in the organization show a genuine concern and care for their employees. Demonstrated by the following quote by respondent D:
“I’ve really like working for people when my supervisors are positive and really want to see me grow.”
Value could mean recognition, reinforcement, support, trust, a positive environment and the opportunity for growth. Respondents wanted an organization that actually cared about their goals and wanted them to grow and cared enough to help them succeed.
Respondent C: “A lot of the time management doesn’t give you the tools to succeed, but then when you fail it is put on you as an individual. But I think it should be seen as a failure of everybody because when you are not given the support, you’re bound to fail.”
This reveals that in order to be the best they can be, they need the support and guidance of the organization. They want the organization to care about their personal development. Investing time and effort into employees will lead the employees to be capable and motivated to do better work. Overall, focusing on employee well-being is a way for organizations to show that care and value their employees. When someone cares, they tend to want to go above and beyond to improve their overall wellbeing because they want to see them develop into the best version of themselves and be the best they can be. Thus, implementing HRM with employee’s wellbeing in mind can create a culture of an emphasis on people, one that employees can feel is authentic.
Discussion and Organizational ImplicationsLeadership
Evidently, leadership plays a huge part in facilitating and maintaining organizational cultural values. Leader behaviour and how they interact with their followers could determine how they feel about the organization. It is important to identify the leader characteristics and mentalities that will benefit the organization. Research suggests that age related mentality can have an impact on leader decision making and behaviour. The primary research show that the employees experienced differential treatment that was influenced by age or gender related views or stereotypes. This unfair treatment could reduce job satisfaction, and therefore increase turnover (Aarons and Sawitzky,2006).
Additionally, it is clear from the primary and secondary data, a leader’s personality and mentality can impact the way they behave, and this behaviour can create cultures within the organization. Previous research has suggested that there are various correlations between a leadership effectiveness and the Big 5 personality traits (Carnes, Houghton and Ellison, 2014, p.362). For example, good leaders are said to be charismatic, agreeable, conscientious, while neuroticism is not perceived as an effective leadership quality. Although some studies could not link emotional stability to good leadership qualities, the primary research suggests otherwise. In the interview, the leader’s emotional instability created an atmosphere of stress and worry and was said to impact the employee’s emotional well-being and motivation. The primary data also showed that the examples of good leadership behaviour coincided with traits such as agreeableness and conscientiousness which is positively correlated with effective leaders. Thus, there is a clear link between leader personality and effectiveness.
Leaders are like role models; they lead by example through their behaviour and interactions which has the power to foster culture. Although transformational leaders have been found to be effective leaders, they can be influence by both ethical or unethical motives. This could be dangerous as they have the ability to shape and change culture, and climate (Tsui, Zhang et Al., 2006, p. 115; Sarros et al., 2008, p. 148). If they are influenced by unethical motives, it could potentially foster a culture of inappropriate conduct. Therefore, it might benefit organizations to consider ethical leadership as an individual style. Ethical leaders, lead by the “demonstrations of normatively appropriate conduct” (Kalshoven, Den Hartog and De Hoogh, 2010, p.350). By seeking out ethical leaders, the organization won’t have to be concerned with molding the culture because an ethical leader’s behavior will naturally shape a positive organizational culture. It will shape a culture that values respect, fairness, trust, open communication and transparency all while ensuring that expectations and goals are clarified (Kalshoven, Den Hartog and De Hoogh, 2010, p.351).
Primary and secondary research concludes that significant value is placed on flexibility in the workplace. Primary research results suggested that employees desire a good work-life balance. As research shows, it is beneficial to implement work-life balance programs as it can improve employee productivity and job satisfaction (Eaton, 2003). However, it is important that a culture of flexibility is established for employees to take advantage of it. Additionally, employee and managements ability to adapt to changing circumstances is crucial to the survival. Social, political and economic environments are always shifting and will force changes upon an organization. The organizations ability to adapt to these changes will determine their capacity to succeed (Kalleberg, 2003, p. 154). Overall, flexibility is important as an excess number of rules creates an atmosphere in which is difficult to adapt (Stoica, Florea, Lukacs, 2012). Having employees who are flexible will benefit the company as they can adapt and respond to unforeseen issues but also be open to structural and strategic changes made to the organization itself. Thus, forming a flexible culture through flexible programs and autonomy, can increase job satisfaction and an employee’s aptitude to adapt.
Communication is key; it is essential to the organizations success (Sebastião et al., 2017). This factor played a major role in the performance of their employees as poor communication has the ability inhibit an employee. For instance, it limited one employee from doing an assignment correctly. As one of the respondents discussed in the interview, if a task is not explained well and expectations are not clarified, failure is almost inevitable. The employee had to take time to fix the mistakes that could have been avoided if expectations were communicated. This lack of communication inhibits organizational performance; therefore, it is important that the organizational culture supports open, two-way communication that encourages everyone to voice opinions or as questions (Rita Men and Jiang ,2016, p.462). Moreover, it can also help create relationships with people in the organization which can boost employee morale. Many respondents suggested that they enjoyed their job when they got along with people at work. Communication is a key component in creating meaningful relationship that can create positive employee morale. This shows that, good communication can improve job satisfaction which in turn can have a positive effect on motivation and productivity (Rita Men and Jiang ,2016, p.462).
Expressed concern for people through human resource management
Majority of respondent’s voice concern about feeling valued within an organization. They suggested that their good work goes unnoticed and their feel like they are left with no direction or support. Any employee who feels devalued by an organization will not be committed to the organization or its goals, which reduces motivation and job satisfaction. Since job satisfaction correlates with motivation and performance, many organizations implement human resource management efforts in order to boost job satisfaction. It is up to the organization to create a culture that has concern for their employee’s experience at the organization. Research suggests that organizations that focus on HRM efforts, tend to be more concerned and place importance on their employees (Chow, Haddad and Singh, 2007, p.77). However, it is important that the concern is authentic as respondents stated that they can feel when the organization and people in it actually care. Genuine care and efforts made to improve employee physical, emotional and social well-being will result in an increase in employee performance (Guest, 2017, p.27).
Although this paper outlines the characteristics that millennials value in a leader, it could differ depending on demographical or cultural influences. Therefore, it would be beneficial for the organization to identify the behaviour that they would like their employees to exhibit and seek leaders whose characteristics match with the ideal leader and culture that the organization would like to foster.
Implementing a culture of flexibility and autonomy will allow employees to take advantage of flexible work programs but also become more adaptable to organizational changes. This will not only improve employee’s ability to respond to arising problems but also improve their capacity to adapt to any structural or strategic organizational changes.
Create a culture of communication by ensuring that communication throughout the organization is as easy as possibly and that all employees support one another by taking the time to reach out. Be aware and ensure that employees understand the message that has been communicated, and don’t make any assumptions.
Creating HR initiatives that support overall employee well-being and taking the time to get to know all employees. Efforts made to ensure employees happy and valued will be reciprocated; employees will be more motivated to support the organization, if the organization supports them (Guest, 2017, p.28).
It should now be clear that the factors identified in this paper do have an indirect effect on organizational efficiency, through organizational culture and climate. However, people and organizations are often unaware of the existence of these cultures. To optimize business operations, it is important for organizational leaders to step back, and objectively analyze their organizational culture and climate to understand how these factors could be affecting efficiency. Organizational culture and its effects will be different for every company, however, understanding their effects is the first step in understanding how to change them. As stated above, culture is influenced by behaviour. Therefore, culture must be reformed by taking action.
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