Training Needs Analysis Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Training Needs Analysis

Abstract/Introduction: This paper focuses on "Strategic Organizational Culture Management and Its Training Needs" as a tool to preserve a company's competitiveness in a given market. While there seems to be unanimity that "Strategic Organizational Culture" has become a necessary asset of the modern company, there is the question of whether such culture can be managed and whether such management can be trained. The purpose of the paper is to reflect the current state of art in the area by reviewing both academic and professional (practical) orientations. By discussing the implications of that research it aims to provide conclusion drawn from the available research by showing that "Strategic Organizational Culture Management" is an aspect of managerial leadership that is accessible to and in need of ongoing training.

Main Part: A strategic plan maps out the direction a company will follow to achieve an organizational vision or goal. Strategic plan development requires analysis of the internal and external environments in which a company operates and identification of potential opportunities to gain or strengthen a competitive advantage. Internal organization considerations for the development of a strategic plan include workforce strengths and weaknesses, financial considerations and organizational culture. There is unanimity in academic and professional literature that organizational culture plays a large role in a company's ability to adapt and thrive under changing conditions. Deal and Kennedy (1982) argue that culture is one of the most important factors accounting for success or failure in organizations (see Chapter 15: Organizational Culture, p. 2). A good, well-aligned culture can propel it to success. However, the wrong culture will stifle its ability to adapt to a fast-changing world (see Chapter 15: Organizational Culture ibid). For example, a company with a tall organizational structure, that is with many layers of management and complex reporting relationships -- may find that its structure impedes a strategic goal to improve customer service survey scores, since front-line employees must have management approval for all remedial actions (see INGRAM, p. 1). Unfortunately, very often companies try to be everything to everybody. They fail to identify and sustain their competitive advantage by neglecting their company's culture. They waste time and money in markets that may never give them a worthwhile return on investment (Denison, May 15, 2009, p. 1). So, the question is: How do we attempt to understand corporate culture? And what steps can we take to create a strong corporate culture that will best support an organization's activities (see Chapter 15: Organizational Culture, p. 2). Like art, people not think we know a lot about it, but they recognize a company's culture when they see it. People see evidence of it every day in the willingness of people to work together on a deadline, the empowerment one can sense in a front-line employee and the dogged commitment of sales people to provide the best overall solution to customers. Even the design and layout of company offices can provide insights into what an organization really values. Signs of unhealthy culture also abound and are manifest in an "It's not my job" mentality, poor customer service and ultimately, deteriorating financial performance. The link between culture and performance is discernable and proven. Getting to the bottom of what drives your individual organization is not only a "nice to do" to promote a harmonious work environment but absolutely necessary in preserving and growing corporate profitability (Denison, May 15, 2009, p. 1).

For a long time, business leaders innately knew what academics later came to acknowledge and name. Corporate culture was described back in 1966 by McKinsey & Company managing director, Marvin Bower, as "the way we do things around here." Again, like many things, often the first impression is the most powerful and accurate. The natural simplicity and resonance of the phrase strikes a chord with anyone who has been in the middle of a culture change. A more scientific definition by one of the leaders in this field, Edgar H. Schein, suggested that culture is: & #8230;a pattern of shared basic assumptions that was learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems (Denison, May 15, 2009, p. 1).

Culture has long been on the agenda of management theorists. Culture change must mean changing the corporate ethos, the images and values that inform action and this new way of understanding organizational life must be brought into the management process. There are a number of central aspects of culture: There is an evaluative element involving social expectations and standards; the values and beliefs that people hold central and that bind organizational groups. Culture is also a set of more material elements or artefacts. These are the signs and symbols that the organization is recognized by but they are also the events, behaviors and people that embody culture. The medium of culture is social interaction, the web of communications that constitute a community. Here a shared language is particularly important in expressing and signifying a distinctive organizational culture (CHAPTER 15: Organizational Culture, p. 2)

According to Geert Hofstede "Culture is the collective programming of the human mind that distinguishes the members of one human group from another." He also later stated that culture entails mental programming ... patterns of thinking and feeling and potential acting. A key term in these definitions is the word "programming'." Other authors suggest that culture is not something that is easily acquired. It is a slow process of growing into a society. It includes: learning values (dominant beliefs and attitudes), partaking of rituals (collective activities), modeling against heroes (role models), and understanding symbols (myths, legends, dress, jargon, etc.) (see Dartey-Baah, 7 March 2011, p. 1). Hofstede's research effort commencing in 1980 is the most celebrated of its kind. The study comprised 116,000 questionnaires, from which over 60,000 people responded from over 50 countries. Hofstede worked with IBM (at the time identified as Hermes) staff over the years 1967 to 1978 to obtain this research. From the data he obtained he provided a factor analysis of 32 questions in 40 countries. From this he identified four bipolar dimensions (Power Distance; Individualism/Collectivism; Uncertainty Avoidance; Masculinity/Feminity), which became the basis of his characterizations of culture for each country. A subsequent study conducted by Hofstede and Bond introduced a fifth element 'Confucian Dynamism' or 'Long/Short-Term Orientation', which was an attempt to fit the uncertainty avoidance dimension into the Asian culture. Hofstede's research has had a remarkable effect on academics and practitioners alike. Hofstede's model has been instrumental in the implementation of many business systems, including: compensation practices; budget control practices; entrepreneurial behavior; training design; conflict resolution; workgroup dynamics and performance; innovation; leadership styles; management control systems; participative management (see Dartey-Baah, 7 March 2011, p. 1).

A healthy corporate culture can positively influence a company. Corporate culture is heavily influenced by external and internal factors such as the industry in which the company operates, its geographic location, events that have occurred during its history, the personalities of its employees, and their patterns of interaction. Some of the formal definitions offered include "a cognitive framework consisting of attitudes, values, behavioral norms, and expectations," "the collective thoughts, habits, attitudes, feelings, and patterns of behavior," and "the pattern of arrangement, material or behavior which has been adopted by a society (corporation, group, or team) as the accepted way of solving problems" (see Dartey-Baah, 7 March 2011, p. 2 with references).

In more useful terms, a positive corporate culture typically encompasses several key elements. It is fostered not merely by a mission statement, but by a clear corporate vision, which is a mental picture of the company's desired future (see Dartey-Baah, 7 March 2011, p. 2 with references). Corporate visions are most effective when clearly communicated by top organizational leaders who exhibit strong values and have dynamic, charismatic personalities (see Dartey-Baah, 7 March 2011, p. 2 with references). In addition positive corporate culture is supported by corporate values that are consistent with the purpose of the company and aligned with the personal values of organizational members (Dartey-Baah, 7 March 2011, p. 2 with references.). Furthermore organizations with positive corporate culture highly value employees at all levels of the organization (they are often referred to as "associates" or "team members"), and there is extensive employee interaction both within and across functional departments (see Dartey-Baah, 7 March 2011, p. 2 with references). Another mark of organizations with positive corporate cultures is their ability to adapt and adjust quickly in response to external conditions and is consistent, treating all employees equally and fairly (see Dartey-Baah, 7 March 2011, p. 2 with references). Corporate culture is also perpetuated in some way, perhaps through tangible symbols, slogans, stories, or ceremonies that highlight corporate values (see Dartey-Baah, 7 March 2011, p. 2 with references).

Organizational culture is apparently unifying and this strongly appeals to management's concern with…

Sources Used in Document:

Organizational culture theory. 18 November 2010. 1-5. Accessed 4 December 2011.

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