Environments that interconnect people and a purpose for coming together (Organizational Culture)
Nowadays, we hear more often about the importance of organizational culture and empowerment for business success. What is organizational culture, what does empowerment have to do with it and why are both so important to companies?
Studying the organizational history, we see the emergence of two approaches: hard and soft. The hard approach emphasizes the importance of structures and technologies capable of dealing with environmental turbulence. The soft approaches want to privilege the cultural, symbolic and reflexive aspects, also linked to the giving of meaning of the subjects involved.
The main representative of this perspective is Edgar Schein. According to Schein, culture is articulated on three levels, where the first two are simple manifestations of the third. To learn about culture, one needs to examine its deeper levels, underlying the following:
- Artifacts - the visible, tangible and audible expressions of culture as technology, physical objects, verbal expressions and behavioral manifestations;
- Explicit Values – they indicate what is important to the members of an organization and form the basis of the judgment regarding what is right or wrong. Values are at a higher level of awareness, but are verifiable in the physical environment only through social consensus;
- Implicit or Basic Assumptions - they contain beliefs, perceptions, basic thoughts, feelings that constitute the most important level to understand the essence of the organization, but they are also the most difficult to detect because they are taken for granted and are often unaware.
How to get maximum employee engagement? (Organizational empowerment)
This is a question that many managers and human resources managers are constantly asking. The answer is not simple. To reach the maximum involvement of the collaborators, it is necessary to cross and integrate different phases: information, consultation, sharing, delegation and finally empowerment. Indeed, empowerment is not a black and white phenomenon, but rather a process that can be continuously developed and improved through leadership, work groups, organization and therefore organizational culture.
Organizational empowerment aims to develop an empowering culture with empowered individuals. Empowering culture appears as a culture opposed to the culture of control, centered on people and their potential, where there is an atmosphere of trust and open communication, where there is space for fun and continuous learning. This culture stimulates innovation, as it favors the assumption of new perspectives and experiences, the redefinition of oneself and one's role within the company and stimulates new styles of behavior, which lead to surprising and innovative results.
These results, if supported and encouraged by management and the whole organization, do nothing but improve learning and increase the self-esteem of workers who will be even more likely to "empower" themselves and others in a virtuous circle.
Furthermore, the leadership's task of management is to recognize the importance of people and convey the dream to be achieved. It seems clear that an excellent culture cannot be built without putting people at the center, without facilitating their freedom, creativity and autonomy.
Some of the key secrets to empower employees are the following:
- Information sharing. There is no need to put in the company the slogans on empowerment, if then the collaborators are not given the possibility to act responsibly thanks to the information shared;
- Autonomy of the collaborators through the creation of borders. Unlike the hierarchical structures that inhibit people's behavior, borders define the limits in which people are free to operate;
- Replacing the old hierarchy with self-directed teams. Many decisions are very complex and require more effort to produce the desired results. Teams are more effective in these situations and can offer high performance.