Organizational culture: an enabler or disabler?

Culture in the context of an organisation should be understood in the perspective of the setting it's in. In order to understand organisational context, it's important to see the organisations as communities. Using classical sociology as basis, there are two key cultural relationships in communities:sociability and solidarity. Sociability refers to effective relations between individuals who are likely to see each other's friends. They share ideas and values and associate with each other on equal terms. This represents relationships valued for their own sake. No real conditions are attached.

CultureSolidarity on the other hand, describes task focused cooperation between individuals and groups. It does not depend on close friendship or even personal acquaintance nor does it needs to be continuous. A perception of shared interest is enough to spark it which once in place solidarity can produce high levels of focus. To bring this home, if we were to ask someone to describe their ideal family, their would typically go straight to one where members like and love one another (sociability) and one that pulls together when times get tough (solidarity).

Thus, where there is high levels of sociability with low solidarity we find highly networked cultures. Most organizations fall into this category hence exhibiting such negative manifestations as clique formation, informal information exchanges that generally degenerate into dangerous rumour and gossip machines; friendly meetings that produce of talk but little action; and most importantly, considerable energy, especially among senior managers, that goes into organizational politics and making the right impression. There is more often than not managing upward rather than managing outcomes.

Most of us know or have read about these symptoms. Seeming perfect is the holy grail, with leaders seeking that out of their people which constantly makes people strive to impress the boss regardless of the consequences to individual relationships or team dynamics.

It is crucial for organisations to seek to have Hugh levels of solidarity and sociability. This keeps the team focused on common purpose while relating on a high trust basis.

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About Tebogo G Molapisane

Tebogo Molapisane is a serial entrepreneur with interests in private equity, consulting, business process outsourcing (BPO), human capital management and social justice. He is currently Executive Director at OMNI HR Consulting and directly runs the Commercial function, Founder and Chairman of Spirit Dominion Foundation, an Advisory Board member at BLDE Consulting PTY and Executive Director at Iridium Private Equity. He is former CEO and Board Director of Business Processing Enabling South Africa (BPESA). Tebogo has experience in Financial Services having spent 15 years in 3 of the big 4 players in South African banking industry as well as one of the largest insurers. He chooses the method of executive coaching to co-create and implement within the teams he leads. A graduate of the University of Cape Town, Tebogo further studied with Gordon Institute of Business Science as well as Rotterdam School of Business, The Netherlands.

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