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Beliefs, Values, and Norms

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1 Beliefs, Values, and Norms
The unseen core of every organization

2 Introduction Beliefs, values and norms within an organization are a part of what is commonly referred to as organizational “culture.” Norms and beliefs are expressions of values. Every organization develops distinct beliefs and patterns over time. Many of these are subconscious or taken for granted. They are demonstrated in the beliefs, values and norms of an organization as seen in the rituals, stories, ceremonies and other symbolic forms.

3 Beliefs - Theory An organizational belief system embodies the myths, values, and ideologies of the organization. “While these taken-for-granted ways of seeing the world (beliefs) are often invisible to those who hold them, they shape organizational practices, guide how people do things, and, in turn, determine what skills and capabilities people develop based on those organizational practices.” (Senge,2006, p. 285)

4 Beliefs – Theory Continued
“To really understand culture, we have to get to the deepest level, the level of assumptions and beliefs.” (Schein,1985) National cultures influence those of the organization. (Hofstede, 1997, 2001) The beliefs (and values and assumptions) shape behaviors and help individuals understand the organization. (Shafritz, Ott, and Jang, 2005) Organization cultures emanate from norms, values and beliefs.

5 Beliefs - Positive Impact
“Beliefs and assumptions, established practices, skills and capabilities, relationships, and awareness and sensibilities are five elements of culture that influence one another and impact the success of an organization.” (Senge, 2006) “The beliefs …. shape behaviors and help individuals understand the organization.” (Shafritz, Ott, & Jang, 2005) Strong organization beliefs, when pronounced and made visible, help to shape the character (internal) and the perception (external) of the organization. Example: Southwest Airlines “You are now free to fly…” “Culture (beliefs, values, norms) informs employees of exactly what is expected of them. In a strong culture, employees waste little time in deciding how to act in a given situation. … The impact on productivity is remarkable.” (Deal & Kennedy, 1982)

6 Beliefs - Negative Impact
“Culture (beliefs, values, norms) is often so strong and so powerful that when there is a discrepancy between the current culture and goals of organizational change, the culture will win, and status quo will prevail.” (National Defense University, n.d.) Significant changes in the organization’s environment are often ignored when the organization is too entrenched in its beliefs and inflexible. Example: US intelligence community prior to 9/11. “Culture informs employees of exactly what is expected of them. In a strong culture, employees waste little time deciding how to act in a given situation. In a weak culture, the reverse is true. The impact on productivity is remarkable.” (Deal & Kennedy, 1982) “An organization’s culture is directly related to it’s effectiveness and has everything to do with its success or failure.” (Center for Organizational Effectiveness, n.d.)

7 Beliefs – What to look for…
Look around. What do the headquarters and other buildings look like? How are people dressed? How much interaction is there? Who is talking to whom? How does the place “feel”? Read newsletters and other internal documents. What values are emphasized? Who is held up for praise? Are parties, celebrations, or other ceremonies mentioned? What sorts of things are discussed? Look at annual reports or other communications to those outside the firm. What “face” is being presented to the world?

8 Beliefs – What to look for…
See what you can learn about rites and ceremonies in the organization. What happens when people accomplish something? Are there “rites of passage” such as promotion ceremonies and retirement parties? Are there regular “get-togethers” such as holiday parties, social events, and company softball games? Ask, “What sorts of behaviors are expected and rewarded here? What sorts of behaviors are punished? Ask people outside the firm what they think of it. As appropriate, use quantitative measures such as the QFIT-C, Organizational Culture Profile, Organizational Culture Inventory or a tailored Culture Survey.

9 Values - Theory “Values are the social principals, goals, and standards that cultural members believe have intrinsic worth. They define what the members of a culture care about most and are revealed by their priorities.” (Hatch, 2006) “Values are also beliefs and are defined as ‘Beliefs about what is a desirable or a “good” (e.g. free speech) and what is an undesirable or a bad (e.g., dishonesty).’” (Krech, Crutchfield and Ballachey as cited in French & Bell, 1999). Values can be good or bad. They are concerned with what it is good to desire. (Stacey, 2007).

10 Values - Theory “Values influence every aspect of our lives: our moral judgments, our responses to others, our commitments to personal and organization goals. Values set the parameters for the hundreds of decisions we make every day.” (Kouzes & Posner, 2002). Values guide our behavior. Values empower our decision making. Values motivate us. Values keep us focused. (Kouzes & Posner, 2002; Holman, Devane, & Cady, 2007; Stacey, 2007)

11 Values - Theory The highest level of commitment to an organization comes from a person who is clear about both personal and organizational values. The lowest level of commitment comes from people who have high clarity about organizational values but low clarity about personal values. (Kouzes & Posner, 2002) “…members of an organization are able to recognize their values fairly easily and they become particularly sensitive to them when someone challenges their culture in some fundamental way, such as breaking with tradition.” (Hatch, 2006, p. 186) “Norm are expressions of values…While values specify what is important to the members of a culture, norms establish what sorts of behavior to expect from one another.” (Hatch, 2006, p. 187)

12 Values – Positive Impact
Values are the foundation for an organization’s mission, vision, and overall business drivers, so we must: Clearly and continuously communicate organizational values to all members at all levels. Enroll new members Collect feedback Revisit and update (if necessary)

13 Values – Negative Impact
Without clearly articulated values: An organization lacks direction An organization lacks a foundation for the work it does Outsiders cannot understand an organization’s purpose Members do not understand their purpose as part of the organization Dysfunction can develop

14 Values – What to look for…
Are the organization’s values explicit (written in value statement, mission, etc.) or implicit? Are the organization’s values clear to all members of the organization at all levels? Is there a high level of commitment to the organization’s values? Do the leaders “live” the values of the organization? How are new members taught the values of the organization?

15 Norms - Theory Norms should be consciously set to be most effective.
The facilitator (or leader) of a team/organization has the responsibility to set the norms that guides the team. These are the agreements the team will “live by” during the initial stages of team development. (Jones, Bearley, Corkrum 2001) “Norms are informal ground rules that provide guidelines concerning appropriate and inappropriate behavior in a group. They are implicitly understood by members and are substrata beneath behavior in and of the group.” (Smith & Berg 1987)

16 Norms - Theory “Norms stem from the values and beliefs that constitute the group’s culture” (Schwarz, 2002) “Norms can promote change if the group is not in the desired state; they maintain the status quo if the group is in a normative state” (Arrow, McGrath, and Berdahl, 2000) “Establishing norms for adjudicating and resolving competing claims is thus a key issue for groups…” (Arrow, McGrath, and Berdahl, 2000)

17 Norms - Theory “Norm are expressions of values…While values specify what is important to the members of a culture, norms establish what sorts of behavior to expect from one another.” (Hatch, 2006)

18 Norms – Positive Impact
They control the groups interactions They allow fair communication Help keep people respectful of others, Distribute Power to weaker members of the group

19 Norms – Negative Impact
Not having group norms causes lack of trust Group becomes more task oriented Fail to recognize and tap into one another's skills and experiences Lack of relationship building Members’ lack a clear understanding of their purpose within the organization

20 Norms – What to look for…
Does the group test assumptions and inferences? Is all relevant information shared? Are specific examples used to agree on what important words mean? Are reasoning and intent explained? Do they focus on interests, not positions? Is there a combination of advocacy and inquiry? Does the group jointly design next steps and ways to test disagreements? Are undiscussable issues discussed? Do they use a decision-making rule that generates the level of commitment needed? (Argyris as used in Schwarz, 2002)

21 Conclusion “Organizational culture is the culture that exists in an organization, something akin to societal culture. It is composed of many intangible phenomena, such as values, beliefs, assumptions, perceptions, behavioral norms, artifacts, and patterns of behavior. It is the unseen and unobservable force that is always behind the organizational activities that can be seen and observed.” Shafritz, J., Ott, J., & Jang, Y. (2005), p. 351.

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