The Concept of Culture
Culture has been seen as the means by which people communicate, perpetuate and develop their knowledge about attitudes toward life. Culture is the fabric of meaning in terms of which human being interpret their experience and guide their action. Culture is mainly man-made, confirmed by others, conventionalized and passed for younger people or newcomers to learn. It provides people with a meaningful context in which to meet, to the themselves and the outer world. Culture can be distinguished from one environment to another.
Culture also comes in layers.
– the outer layer
the middle layer
the core layer.
This presents itself as an explicit product. This is the observable reality of the language, food, monuments, mode of dressing. The outer layer of culture is the symbols of a deeper level of culture and it is this symbolic and observable level that prejudices start from.
The Outer Layer
The Middle Layer: Norms and Values
Norms are the mutual sense a group has what is “rig ht” and “wrong”. Values are the definition of what is good or bad and therefore closely related to the ideas shared by the group.
The Core Layer
This has to do with Assumption about existence
The basic value people store for is SURVIVAL. The core layer of culture refers to the solving of daily problems in such a way that these problems disappear from our consciousness.
This specific organizational culture is nothing but the way in which groups have organized themselves over the years to solve problems and challenges presented to them.
Culture is part of organizational life that influences the behaviour attitudes and overall effectiveness of employees.
Edgar Schun (1985, P9) defines organizational culture as “a pattern of basic assumptions invented, discovered or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problem of external adaptation and internal integration that has worked well enough to be considered valuable and therefore to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to these problems.
These definitions highlight two important characteristics of organizational culture:
(1)Organizational culture influences people’s behaviour at work.
(2) Organizational culture operates on two levels, which vary in terms of outward visibility and resistance to change. At the less visible level, culture reflects the values, shared among organizational members, these values tend to persist over time and are more resistance to change. At the more visible level, culture represents the normative behaviour patterns accepted by members of the organization. These patterns of behaviour are passed from one generation to another through the process of socialization. At these levels, culture is susceptible to change. It is instructive to note that each level of culture influences the other.
Culture helps in the shaping the behaviour of both an individual and an organization.
Interaction and Socialization among organizational members is inevitable, when people interact, they use common language, terminology and details that are related to defence and demeanour.
Norms, these are standards of behaviour that exists within the organization.
– Culture dominates values. These are the major values the organization advocates and expect the participants to share.
– The philosophy of the organization is the policies that set forth the organizations beliefs about how employees or customers are treated.
– Rules are the strict guidelines related to getting along in the organization. New entrants into the organization are to be inducted into these rules and regulation. They (rules) determine the behaviour of the participants and where behaviour that does not conform to their rules may be termed a “misnome r”.
– Organizational Climate: This is the overall feeling that isconveyed by the physical layout, the way the participants interact and the way members of the group conduct themselves with the customers. Organizational climate could be friendly or aggressive.
Organizational culture first and foremost gives members an organizational identity. This allows members of staff a higher sense of commitment. It helps them to identify with organizational goals and objectives.
Secondly organizational climate facilitates collective commitment. Commitment here is a series of identification, loyalty and involvement expressed by employees towards the organization. Where this exists the tendency is that there will be a low rate of turn over.
Thirdly it promotes social system stability. This is the extent to which the work environment is perceived as positive and reinforcing with conflict and change managed effectively.
Socialization and Culture
Organizational Socialization is the process by which a person learns the values and norms and required behaviour that permits participation as a member of the organization. The socialization process of an organization is the key mechanism used by organizations to embed the organizational culture i.e. a transmittal of values, assumptions and attitudes from the older to the newer employees.
The process of socialization goes on throughout an employee’s career in the organization. However, it must be pointed out that the socialization process is not static or stereotype, but rather dynamic, as the needs of the organization changes. Employees must adapt to these new needs i.e. they must socialize to conform to these needs. Insipte of the endemic nature of socialization as an agent of organizational culture is more useful at the early stage of an employee’s career in the organization.
Socialization and Mentoring
Mentoring – This is a process of forming and maintaining an intensiveand lasting developing relationship between a senior person (the mentor) and junior person (the protégé). Mentoring as an specta of socialization is important in developing a high performance cultures by three basic ways:
i) Mentoring contribute in creating a sense of oneness by promoting the acceptance of the organization core values.
ii) It promotes a sense of mentoring
iii) It increases interpersonal exchanges among organizational members.
Initiation is a period six months to one year during which timerelationships gets started and begins to have importance to both the mentor and the protégé.
Cultivation – This is a period of two – five years during whic h time therange of career and psychological functions provided, expanded to a maximum.
Separation – A period of six months – two years after a sign ificantchange in the structural role relationship and/or in the emotional experience of the relationship.
Re-definition – An indefinite period after the separation phase, duringwhich time the relationship is ended or takes on significantly different characteristics making it a more peer-like friendship.
Mentoring roles includes the following:
– Respecting the confidentiality of the relationship and actively building trust.
– Giving encouragement to the learner to progress and being enthusiastic about the relationship.
– Supporting learner’s personal development and their learning ability
– Building the confidence of learners.
Source National Open University of Nigeria