Learning Cultures

Many factors influence change within an organization.

Since culture emerges from the actions of employees that have been programmed over a long period of time, employees tend to be acclimated to particular ways of doing things and resist change. This is a natural response since most people prefer the known to the unknown. This can make changing a culture difficult. Under the most favorable conditions, cultural changes have to be measured in years, not weeks or months.Making a compelling case for change is the recommendation of theorist’s. Research has shown that in 95% of successful changes, most stakeholders saw a compelling need for things to change.

(Maurer, 2004) Learning Cultures Developing a learning culture is another key factor to achieving and maintaining change management success. Over the past few years, a concept called “the learning organization” has developed out of the systems view of organizations.The systems view is an inclusive sense of an organization, which id designed to raise management and employee consciousness that everyone in the organization is a part of the larger team and that to a large degree success of the team is dependent on how well everyone works together to achieve objectives. A learning organization is one in which change and improvement are institutionalized, not for the sake of change but to help the company more effectively and efficiently meet its purpose of delivering quality to customers and satisfying its other stakeholders.The learning results in continuous improvement in areas such as work processes, products, and services, the structure and function of jobs, and effective management practices. “One of the ways to effectively manage organizational change and reduce the negative impacts on employees is to provide learning opportunities that help people in organizations prepare for, and cope with such changes.Learning opportunities often occur by way of internal or external learning programs involving small groups of employees, which commonly include programs on legislative changes, communication, conflict resolution, quality or continuous improvement, or group process facilitation.

” (Sheehan, 2004, pg. 179) Teamwork Teamwork is another key factor in change management. The history of American industry is filled with personal success stories – individuals who started with nothing and diligently created a very successful organization. John d.Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, for example, rose from low paying jobs to become two of the world’s most influential men.

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Henry ford mad automobiles affordable for the masses with mass production of the Model T automobile. His production process made his a national hero. Today, the exploits of industrial heroes still captivate us. Steve Jobs built Apple Computer Company in his garage and became a multimillionaire before he turned thirty.

Bill Gates crated Microsoft, one of the most successful computer software companies and became the richest man in America.The accomplishments of these individual, and many others have inspired a countless number of entrepreneurs. However, individual accomplishment is not sufficient in the business world. Even the heroes discussed above had to build effective teams within their organizations to achieve their goals. One concern leaders have about teams is how much autonomy or self-direction they should have. Autonomy refers to the amount of authority team members have to decide what to do and how to do it and the amount of responsibility group members have for group outcomes.

What is the best level of autonomy for teams?The answer is that there is no one best level. It depends on what the organization would like to accomplish and what the people are capable of doing. Three general levels of autonomy for teams include Management-Directed Teams, Semi-autonomous Teams and Self-Directed teams. Management-Directed Teams At lower levels of autonomy, groups exist simple to share information. In a management-directed team, the leader makes all of the important decisions, informs employees about the decisions made, and then clarifies what is required and responds to employee questions.This type of interaction encourages conformance to organizational policies, procedures, and standards. Management-directed teams are best in situations where work is standardized and requires little creativity. Conformance may be important, but it is constraining.

It does not free team members up to engage in creative problem solving need to come up with the innovations and improvements necessary to remain competitive in today’s business world. Semi-Autonomous TeamsThe amount of autonomy increases with an increase in the use of joint problem-solving groups and more opportunity for self-direction. A semi-autonomous team is somewhat on its own, but with management retaining some control over team activities. Self-Directed Teams At the highest level of autonomy, a self-directed team is given responsibility for planning, controlling and improving a whole process and the authority to take appropriate measures to do so. Team members are expected to manage their own processes, from receiving through production to shipping.Self-directed teams foster complete ownership of a process, product, or service, thereby increasing team member commitment and contribution to the team, cooperation with each other, and full accountability for team decisions and actions. Making the transition to self-directed teams requires extensive management training and socialization in order to deeply embed Theory Y and participative management values into the organization’s culture.

(Krietner & Kinicki, 2004)Leading-edge organiztions aim for teams that become as self directed as feasible. Teams and the people within them have important needs that must be met for the team to stay alive and productive. Facilitative leaders view teamwork as an ongoing negotiation among diverse individuals working together toward common goals. CrysTel Analysis by Behavioral Parameters In anticipation of branching into other technological product lines, CrysTel ordered an assessment of the organization in order to determine its’ readiness for change.The assessment of each department at CrysTel identified behavioral weaknesses in two departments: Sales and Delivery, and Marketing.

Leading by Example The Sales and Delivery department has a multi-team structure with many reporting heads at the senior level. This reporting structure requires that leaders from different teams coordinate the efforts of the employees. Additionally, the Climate Survey shows that the leadership of this department is not very satisfactory. Research shows that teams operate better when under the leadership of a single leader, i.

e. , in an article titled Lessons Learned from the Brink of Disaster, Laura Gregg cites a case where four different departments reporting to four different directors, and providing separate but interrelated products and services, were reorganized under a single director and given a senior leadership challenge to turn themselves into a high-performance cross-functional team whose ultimate job was to lead the transformation of the larger organization of which they were a part.The results were that within just over a year, they all managed to overcome mistrust, misalignment, and misgivings to form a customer-focused, cohesive working team, with demonstrated measurable value to the division they supported. Gregg, 2005, pg 8) I think that this research evidence makes a good case for CrysTel to reorganize its interrelated departments under one leader in order to achieve team dynamics that can result in effectiveness and efficiency for the organization.

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