Organisational culture. When and how it fails.

In the last decade all over the web there has been more and more chit chat about how organisations failed, went bankrupt, lost their employees and all this wrapped in a phrase ‘’The organisational culture failed there very bad’’. 

How can this be? How can the culture of an organisation fail so bad that can lead to the things that I wrote above. In all the articles that I’ve read lots of explanations were given but always everything ended up with a syntagm: BAD MANAGEMENT. Sure that ‘’bad management’’ means a lot and goes in all areas of the company but I never read about the social influences of the country where the organisation has its headquarters. And believe me people: the place where the company is located has a direct impact on the organisational culture of the company and will be related to two distinct phenomena that influence the changes: predisposition and causality. 

How can bad management bring down companies, departments or make good people leave the organisation? Well this is very simple. You will not believe how simple it is. And from this point of view this is very scary.

There is no such thing as the perfect working place or the perfect company. Each company has its good and bad and depends on each individual to determine and make his/her own assessment on how good he/she fits in that organisation and can blend with the organisational culture.

People are the core of each organisation. Organisations are made of people and the culture is being given by the people that work inside that organisation. And here is where the magic happens: on the one hand you have the organisation culture of the company, and on the other hand you have the social culture of the people that work in that organisation. And both of them blend. The company will always try to impose its sets of rules, code of conduct on the people that work in the company and with this the company tries to make the people better individuals in the society – it’s like the educational phase of a grown-up. At the same time the people are bringing inside the organisation social habits from the society in which they are living and here is where the bad things can happen if they are not controlled and addressed. 

People from different countries have different social behaviors that are being dictated by the country in which they are born, educated. Each person has a certain level of social development that is in relation to the social development of that country. I will not take into consideration extremes or deviant behaviors.

An organisation will give in to new cultural inputs from the country in which the company is located. This will happen through the people that work there. And this is quite a good thing due to the cultural diversity. Or is it? 

This is good because all the companies are showing flexibility towards social input but at the same time this can prove to be very dangerous. Why is that? Here is what I personally think.

As established above, organisational culture blends with the social culture of the people that work inside the organisation but often this can lead to failures. More often than desired, organisations fail to keep the standard high in respect of work ethics, task management (who does what), promotions. Why, you might  ask. Where does this failure come from? Well unfortunately it comes from the predisposition of the management towards encouraging the social behaviors that are not appropriate (laziness, neo-feudal behavior, patching the behavior of corrupt politicians inside the organisation). Management is not an entity. Management is made out of people who were entrusted with the fate of thousands or more. They are people who were put there to inspire, to lead by example and more important to practice what they preach. So when the management fails in fact people fail. The people that were put to do their job fail. They failed at preserving the company’s culture, beliefs, philosophy. They failed by patching to other standards, a standard that set the benchmark lower. It is as simple as that.

What can cause such a failure? Where can we look for causality? As stated above the company’s culture blends with the society’s culture and each country putting aside the level of civilization has its social issues.

As potential causes I would choose two of them (out of many):

  • the level of corruption in that country. How one may ask? I don’t mean that the organisation itself is corrupted and is involved in acts of corruption. I refer to the type of behavior that is being seen at the politicians or business people that achieve their goals through deceit, lies, zero professional ethics. And they get away with it.. You will also see people inside the organisation that condemn that type of behavior openly but in order to achieve a goal they will reduce themselves to exactly that type of behavior. If you observe this in your organisation then the Pandora’s box was opened. 
  • the educational level of people. Having a diploma hanging on a wall above your ivory seat does not mean that you are educated. The golden times of education (from my perspective the 19th century – early 20th) are done. The educational structures in many countries are outdated and what comes out from the universities are just ‘’seat warmers’’. So when a ‘’seat warmer’’ will somehow manage to occupy a management position will do anything to remain there. And they are very dangerous (this reminds me of a picture with Bush Jr. when he got elected US president, calling his father ‘’Dad I am here! Now what?).

There can be lots of other causes involved even psychological but the main topic is: if you opened the Pandora’s box then you have to face the consequences. 

The consequences will be severe because these types of people that adhere to that type of behavior need around them people who see no problem with that and they even consider it as normality and encourage it. Everything blended with the highest level of hypocrisy, fake smiles, and the cult of personality. Because each and every time when people bring subculture inside an organisation and make it the ‘’new cool’’ they need to be told that they are right and that is the only way to do it. 

This is how organisational culture can fail. Simple.

In the end remember: the culture of an organisation will always blend with the social culture of the people that make that organisation. So when an organisation is failing try to also look at what sickens the society. You will be surprised to see the similarity.

Author: Cristina Manaila CEO brightANTITY

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