The objective of this assignment is to choose and organization, describe its culture, and discuss the impact of its culture on its performance. This paper will examine the organization from several different perspectives. This paper will utilize the Organizational Culture Questionnaire (OCQ) (Osland, Kolb and Rubin, 2001) there will also be an examination of common characteristics (7 key dimensions) which seems to capture the essence of an organization’s culture. Additionally, the paper will explore the various metaphors that can be used to describe their perceptions of the workplace. The eight organizational metaphors that Morgan’s (2006) work provides an important framework for understanding the dynamic relationship of organizational metaphors and organizational culture.
Organizational behavior is an integral aspect of any organization. More specifically the culture of the organization is what guides and develops that organization. When defined culture of the group is
“a pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems is external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.” (Schein, E. H., 1993)
When posed with this assignment I had to think of an organization that I knew well enough to speak on and apply the lessons from this class. The only place that I could think of was Wegmans. The organization that I will analyze is the different aspects of Wegmans that I have experienced (corporate to store environment). I spent many years working for this company in store and in the office allowing me to have been part of the culture on both sides.
Dimensions of Organizational Culture
In any organization the culture is a key component of that environment. Wegmans does a great job to cultivate organizational culture. According to fritz J. Roethlisberger (p. 161) research was done to develop a more useful and fruitful point of view when it comes to work environment. The goal was to understand employee aptitude and sentiment. Wegmans does an excellent job to create an environment that is conducive to the success and fulfillment of the employees. You can find elements of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs fulfilling employee’s ability to afford food, drink and shelter as well as self-actualization through employee competencies in their positions (Maslow, 1943). Each manger takes it upon themselves to constantly include, when the opportunity was there, for employees to have input and say with what goes on in the department. When I worked in the deli, my manager always wanted feedback on what was going on in the department and listened when we knew that something could be changed or done better. For instance, when my coworkers and I were concerned that the set-up of the case could lead to sprains or strains on the job she asked how we thought it could be fixed. Little things like this greatly improved employee outlook and enjoyment of the job.
When looking at this organization from an organizational behavior standpoint you start to realize some interesting things. When looking at the organizational culture it can be good to think about where the organization stands. When looking at the organizational behavior questionnaire there are several questions that stand out to me. One of the questions that stood out to me was standard. Across the company having the highest standards was a top priority. Chili Paul Wegmans like any other store was held to the high standards required by the company. In the deli the level of cleanliness in the work environment and the level of care shown to customers was higher than an average grocery store. Wegmans standards and procedure are set to be two-three times higher than that of the state department. Part of being in the customer service industry warmth and support always need to be conveyed. Friendliness has become a valued norm in the organization. Every person that left the deli or even the store in general was supposed to feel cared for, feel like all their needs where meet and a trusting relationship was created. These kinds of values come straight from the head of the company (Organizational Culture Questionnaire (OCQ) (Osland, Kolb, & Rubin, 2001). Wegmans has built these standards based on the example that the Wegmans family has displayed. When the President of the company stops talking to a manager or employee to help a customer find a product, get a new cart for them or even find someone to help carry the groceries that says a lot about what kind of values the company needs to display. This type of value was cultivated by Rob Wegman followed by his son and then to his grandkids after that. What many people may not realize is that Wegmans has been around since 1916. What also is surprising especially in todays society is that it is still a family run organization. Through out the years the company has steadily grown to over 100 stores but what has not changed is the family-based culture that you can find in every store. This was started back when the company first started and has been a consistent factor since.
Organizations as cultures is something that Wegmans does well. When I worked at Chili Paul and now that I am at corporate I what a major aspect of the community Wegmans is. In the store it’s a place where people can eat, socialize, and buy groceries all in one fatal swoop. The Wegmans brand as a result of the community-based feel is having an entire culture and different norms affected by the company’s decisions. This works so well because the employees are engrossed into the culture as well. During work or even on days or times employees don’t have to be at work you find them utilizing all that the store has to offer whether it be meeting friends, doing homework or shopping. In addition, there are no discrepancies that could affect the customers experience. I think what accounts for this is the values and set standards that are held throughout the organization. Whether it be in the deli or the pharmacy call center, where I currently work, these values are about serving the customers as quickly and as warm/smooth as possible. One thing that I think is important to keep in mind when looking at culture is to keep in mind the group dynamic. Many times, when getting engrossed in the culture people can lose themselves or feel that the organization gives them a false sense of safety. Norms become present and employees might fall into a groupthink mentality (Janis, 1991).
Organizational Culture Metaphors
Organizational culture metaphors are about being open, flexible and suspend judgement can recognize several perspectives. Through this opens more than one possible way of dealing with organizations and their problems (Morgan, 2013). The culture of an organization is very telling to how that organization is running and what kind of values are held. When thinking of metaphors it’s important to see them as symbols that can be viewed as central to accounting for how we make sense of reality, think about things around us, and set the problems we try to solve (Ocal, 2011).
When trying to come up with something that would be a good metaphor, I could not really think of anything and in the end, I decided on something that correlates more to my current position compared to my last position. I had to think of my habits and what is most distinct in my mind. When thinking I had to reflect on my habit-patterns, action-patterns, and motor-sets to make a decision (Follet, 1926). Both positions where customer serviced based and to some degree independent but in the call center, I rely more on myself to find answers and communicate with customers compared to cutting meat and cheese. Taking these factors into account I could have created a few different metaphors that could have gotten my point across and represented the organization very well. In the end I came up with my metaphor based on the pharmacy call center.
A metaphor is a powerful thing and developing one can be a great tool. The way that I completed the exercise of creating a metaphor was one that is true to where I work. I took elements that are fundamental to my position and brought them together. This brings culture in as a variable. This is taking things in at a functionalist viewpoint (Martin, 2002). But I did not stop there I also brought in aspects of the organizational life. When first looking at my drawing a computer monitor, and keyboard are what draws attention first. Following this a prescription bottle and a gear are found inside the monitor screens. There is great symbolism used here where the gear represents that I am a component of a larger organism in a fixed position. I spend most of my time sitting or standing at a desk with minimal interaction with coworkers. The headset and computer is how I gain information and speak with customers and the prescription bottle is what my job is bases around. I work in the pharmacy call center at Wegmans where I answer the phone and speak customers about their prescriptions. Wegmans at its heart is a customer and family orientated company and those values come out in how interactions go with customers i.e. through the headset in this case.
Morgan (2006) has outlined eight organizational metaphors that depict where companies fall. I most feel that the brain and culture metaphor is the best representation of my organization. This is not to say that other metaphors like the psychic prison metaphor or the organismic metaphor. Wegmans is a very culture-based organization many of the company’s values and norms are based in the culture of the organization. The culture of the organization even has an influence on the customers and their lives as well looking for the Wegmans way in their personal experiences. This fits right in with what Morgan (2006) defines as the culture metaphor. Wegmans is constantly trying to integrate new technologies into the way that they operate. The brain metaphor is a great example of this. The Wegmans way is a standard for all others in the grocery industry, one could call them the brains making decisions and processing information. Wegmans did not get on the Forbes top 100 for over twenty years in a row for nothing. Being the only company to be on that list since it came out both is an indication to Wegamans’ culture and brains. I would not say that these metaphors fall in the same categories, they go hand in hand but not line up. Both metaphors have a specific place in the company.
The metaphors presented offer great help to this organization. Being an industry leader and thinking outside of the box is what makes this company so great. If anything, these metaphors enhance the company and make it easier to see what kind of company Wegmans is and what the company stands for. This company performs very well and as a result continues to uphold all that the metaphor stands for.
A Reflective Statement
Organizational culture is a powerful part of any company and is a driving force towards company success. At Wegmans the organizational culture is the backbone to the company. The values and foundation of this organization are deeply rooted in the culture. This is what helps make the company’s culture so strong. The culture itself is reliant of a few things firstly employee attitude and sentiment. The response to what is going on around them and to them is dependent of the significance of the events (Roethlisberger, 1941). If employees feel happy and appreciated the culture is continuously fortified and improved. Focusing on the success and development of the employees is a paramount. Having a focus in areas like this are what make the organization of the culture flourish and stand out. Part of the success of the company is creating this mentality that the employee is just as important as the customer. This part of the culture is not developed over night it takes years of work and dedication to reinforce this into the culture. Employee satisfaction, recognition, and appreciation are the man reasons why the culture of this company is so distanced. Place those on the who we are values and the company culture becomes very clear.
The culture of this organization has a great impact on my behavior. The standards and how those around me act influence the way in which I conduct myself. I have become engrossed in the way of life for an employee how I talk, the way that I act, even how I view others has changed because of my employer and the culture with in it. It can be noted that the culture has influenced a positive change with in me. I have become more of a how can I improve others’ experiences or how can I be of the most help kind of person as a result of the influence that has been placed into me. I believe that I myself have begun to strengthen the culture of the organization. When I was at the store level and new employees joined the team, I wanted to make sure that they understood the kind of culture that we had. I enjoyed sharing stories and guiding my fellow employees on how best to conduct themselves and where to get answers to questions they had. In doing this I was setting them up for success and how best to treat customers and allow them to strengthen the culture as well.
To create an effective culture it takes time, patience and persistence. Culture is not made over night it can take a long time especially when bad habits and improper culture can be created. It is easy to get off track and have what some would say is a “bad” culture. It becomes even harder to correct or guide the culture once bad habits set in. This is where patience comes into play because the envisioned culture can easily get off track or change and it is important to understand when the change is beneficial and when it is not. Couple this with the fact that once the culture has been created that it needs to be managed and things get increasingly more difficult. It takes focus, understanding, and a strong sense of right from wrong to manage culture. Much time needs to be spent on monitoring the changes and learning way to influence change and grow yourself to manage the culture. There is also a need to have employees that are devoted to doing their part to see the culture succeed.
- I chose this metaphor because I think it is a good representation of my job. The prescription bottle represents the medication and people that I speak with. The gear is how I am just one part of a larger well-oiled machine. The computer represents how I do my work and get information.
- I see myself as a simple component that brings all of these elements together. I am one part of a larger design.
- I believe that the brain and culture metaphor are the two that best represents my metaphor. Culture is a key component of my organization it is most of what the company is about. Mix this in with this company spends a lot of time influencing and processing information, and you see that this metaphor lines up perfectly.
- Gareth Morgan’s Organisational Metaphors. (2013). Retrieved from https://hannekemli.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/garethmorgan.pdf).
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