What Are the Different Methods of Managing Organizational Culture?

D. Nelson

Organizational culture describes the shared beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of the members of an organization. A healthy organizational culture is one in the which attitudes and opinions of employees help an organization to achieve its goals. Unhealthy cultures are often marked by resentment, inequality, and passiveness within organizations. One of the most important methods for managing organizational culture is to communicate an organization's goals and values to all members. Likewise, executives should develop systems for monitoring behaviors and attitudes, so they can learn when beliefs need to be reinforced.

One common method for managing organizational culture is to create rules or guidelines for all employees to follow.
One common method for managing organizational culture is to create rules or guidelines for all employees to follow.

It is common for professionals to use a reward-based method for managing organizational culture. In short, this is a method in which employees are recognized for upholding organizational values. For example, a salesperson who is thought to have gone out of his or her way to satisfy an important client might receive an award, or acknowledgment in an organizational publication.

Motivational speakers can help employees develop and maintain a positive attitude.
Motivational speakers can help employees develop and maintain a positive attitude.

Another common method for managing organizational culture is to create rules or guidelines for all employees to follow. Rules might include a dress code and policies regarding employee conduct. This method allows members to gain clear understandings of what is expected of them. This method for managing organizational culture also tells employees that executives and managers take behavior and attitude seriously.

Routines, such as weekly meetings, also help professionals responsible for managing organizational culture. Schedules encourage employees to stay on track with their respective goals. By participating in regular group activities, employees feel that they are part of a team and are more likely to share attitudes with their colleagues.

It is essential that upper level managers and executives uphold organizational values as well. For example, if one trait of organizational culture is that employees' ideas and perspectives are important, managers should make an effort to hear employee ideas for growth and change. In some cases, it can be important to act on these ideas to show that they are taken into account. When members of an organization feel that their leaders are not upholding their own values, they can grow resentful and counterproductive.

A common method for some executives is to introduce a third party. Managerial consultants, for example, are experts who specialize in helping organizational leaders to implement new practices that improve productivity. A consultant might meet with leaders to discuss goals, problems, and potential solutions. He or she might then take part in training employees. Motivational speakers can help organizational members to develop new positive attitudes that help to strengthen a culture.

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Discussion Comments


@JessicaLynn - I think it's good that the company your boyfriend works for actually takes the time to train their employees on the organizational culture. It would be hard to be a new person on the team and figure that kind of thing out for yourself.

I think the best way to manage organizational culture is to hire people who fit in with your ideals. For example, a company that specializes in marketing fur coats might not want to hire an animals right activist. (The activist probably wouldn't want to work for them either, but it's just an example.) I think starting from the ground up is the best way to make sure your organizational culture is the way you want it to be.


I think when you change jobs, it's important to keep in mind that different companies have different organizational cultures. So, the organizational culture might not be the same at new companies.

For example, my boyfriend got hired awhile back to work for a company that provides DJs for weddings and corporate events. Their organizational culture is a bit different than other mobile DJ companies.

The put the client first, engage in "green" business practices and try not to get to sales-y with their potential customers. They don't even display their business cards or anything when they DJ events.

They manage their organizational culture by providing all of their DJs with extensive training. They also reward the DJs who adhere to their organizational culture with more opportunities to get gigs.


@croydon - I've been in a situation sort of like that, when I was living in a university dorm.

Everyone kind of ganged up on the people who ran the dorm, and they in turn didn't trust us at all.

But, you know to some extent I think a lot of our resentment came from us complaining to each other and then letting small things build up, rather than because those small things were actually all that important.

If the people who ran the dorm had spent more time with us, or been more involved, I bet there wouldn't have been much resentment at all.


@croydon - I know this isn't always possible, but in a case like that I'd say the best thing they can do is bring in new blood. Not just new workers, but also new supervisors. People who aren't going to be so jaded, and can bring a fresh perspective to the job.

And the folk who are moving on will be able to start afresh as well, perhaps somewhere else with the same company, without the prejudices they've built up where they were.

I think sometimes people just get too invested into a negative organizational culture and can't step back and see the bigger picture, or the situation from someone else's perspective.


I was part of a large organization which sent volunteers overseas to third world countries in order to teach people and help with infrastructure and so forth.

We had a very negative organizational culture in our group. We were poorly managed and we were smart enough to realize it.

I think part of the problem was that there was no trust. We were not informed when important events were happening, and we were not ever given the benefit of the doubt in a bad scenario. They always acted as though we were going to misbehave, and I feel like in fact a lot of people in the group only misbehaved out of spite.

It was a real shame too, because we were all there do try and do the same thing. But it was a vicious circle that didn't seem to have a solution, at least while I was there.

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