An organizational culture is the internal environment of an organization including the shared beliefs and values that influence the behavior or organizational members (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2005). Having a strong culture allows an
organization to operate with their sight on the future that should be supported by well developed and well communicated beliefs and values. A high performance level, emphasized teamwork, and risk taking will also be prevalent in a strong culture. In every organizational culture there are easily recognizable aspects, that when observed, a strong or weak culture can be identified. The aspects that are going to be discussed include how communication flows within an organization, conflict management, and organizational policies.
How Communication Flows
Organizational communication is the distinctive process in which information moves through formal and informal channels. The formal channels that will be discussed are; down ward channels, upward channels, and lateral channels. A downward channel of communication will typically follow the chain of command, from top to bottom, within an organization. This type of channel is normally used to portray influence through the information that is dispersed.
Strategies, objectives, instructions, policies and feedback are some aspects that might be influenced by this type of communication. This form of communication allows lower-level personnel to know what the higher-level of personnel is doing, and they can remain informed on the organizations policies. Upward communication usually informs the higher-level personnel about problems, results, suggestions, questions and the needs of lower-level personnel. This channel keeps the higher-level informed of what the lower-level is doing. Employee surveys are an excellent form of this communication channel. Upward communication can also aide in conflict management. The final channel is the lateral communication channel. This channel allows coordination of problems, the needs and advice, and feedback of departments that work at the same level. This channel makes timely and accurate feedback, product information, and resolution to conflict to be handled at the same level, but between all cooperating departments. This requires people to be willing and capable to communicate across department and functional borders and to listen to one another’s needs (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2005).
Conflict exists whenever there is a disagreement over issues of substance, or when the issues involve an emotional underlying. A manager/team leader needs to be comfortable with handling the different kinds of conflict that will arise. Also should be able to recognize situations with the potential for conflict and deal with those situations so that they will benefit the employees involved and the organization as a whole. An organization should make the goal of conflict management resolution. Unresolved prior conflict generally assists in setting the stage for future conflicts over the same issue. Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn (2005) sate that most conflict will develop in stages, it is always best to deal with important conflict so that they are completely resolved. A condition from which conflict will be likely to develop is considered a conflict antecedent. The antecedents become the basis for all emotional and substantive based conflicts. When the antecedents have not been removed or repaired, unresolved conflict can cause sustained emotional discomfort and eventually escalate to dysfunctional emotional conflict between the involved individuals.
Conflict can occur between supervisors and subordinates over resources, goals, deadlines, or performance results. Conflict also occurs between persons or groups that work at the same level, often times over goals, resources, or just interpersonal differences. When faced with conflict, it is important for the manager to handle it in a way that will be the least damaging to the organization as a whole. Some suggestions to indirectly resolve conflict could include reducing the level to interdependency between groups or individuals, focus the attention of conflicting parties to the desirable end result, or refer the conflict to the more senior managers to reconcile. To more directly resolve conflict a manager should take steps necessary to resolve the underlying causes as well. Ideally, a “win-win” situation should occur, but in some conflicts that is not possible. When the underlying issues will remain unaffected, and an unavoidable conflict will arise in the future, a lose-lose situation occurs, generally in the form of avoidance, accommodation or compromise. When one side of the conflict achieves its own desires at the expense of the other side, a win-lose situation is in place. The strategy does not resolve the underlying issues, and will suppress the desires of one of the sides in conflict. To achieve a win-win situation collaboration or problem solving should be used to resolve the conflict. This does require assertiveness, cooperation, and time on both sides. This is because those involved in the conflict take the time to resolve the underlying issues to ensure this conflict will not arise again.
An organizations polices are unique to that organization, because it sets in place the standards, and how that specific organization should be run. Policies should discuss how the employees are to conduct themselves, what the organization expects from the employees, how the communication should flow within, and conflict management. The policies of a company can also establish upward, downward, and lateral lines of communication. This is important because employees need to understand all the aspects previously mentioned. It will allow them to operate and conduct business everyday with in their organization.
All organizations have an organizational culture, and within each culture there are aspects that can be observed to identify whether the culture is strong or weak. How communication flows within an organization is pertinent because the communication flows freely, and through the proper channels, conflict management and policies can be easily communicated. Conflict management is put into place to help managers deal with the inevitable fact that conflict will arise. Polices are generally set in place to help the employees understand what is available to them.
Schermerhorn, J., Hunt, J., & Osborn, R. (2005). Organizational Behavior. [University of Phoenix Custom e-text]. John Wiley & Sons Inc. Retrieved September 27, 2005, from University of Phoenix, Resource, MGT331—Organizational Behavior Web site: https://mycampus.phoenix.edu/secure/resource/resource.asp