Our organization is an IT project composed of a relatively large number of people, 130 staff employees in addition to part-timers. Culture, in general, can be characterized as slightly loose, non-restrictive, and open. Communication flows through both formal and informal channels that include electronic, written, and oral communication. Most of the documents and reports are submitted online since we communicate by e-mail or ICQ to those employees seated in a different room or at the other end of the same place since we have somewhat large premises. It is usual to address a fellow employee of the same rank in an informal, casual manner if one needs a problem solved or just wants to discuss certain aspects of the assignment.
Regarding diversity, our organization does demonstrate cultural differences across staff, and the background of many members that have come together from different parts of the country is often distinctly different. Speaking of foreign-born team members, our staff includes a number of Chinese, Indian, and Hispanic employees, all or most of them with a long history of residence in the US. Managing across cultures is usually not an issue with managers since our IT business is structured in such a way that each person does a roughly equal share of work and therefore there is little ground for conflict.
Since our clientele are mostly reached online, there is no need for a rigorous dress code. Top management prefers to appear in the formal dress. The majority of employees, however, wear casual clothes, and the managers do not seem to enforce any strict dress code, choosing to concentrate on different aspects of work such as timely completion of assignments, etc. The use of informal language harmoniously blends in with an otherwise relaxed climate. The norm is to address a fellow employee unless it is a high-level executive by the first name even if people talk for the first time, and with managers, the shift to the first-name basis is rapid.
Conflicts are infrequent. When they do happen, one of the tactics often used by our employees is avoiding: due to the relatively large size of the office and workforce, it is easy to get lost and lose contact to the person one has a bad relationship with. If communication is unavoidable, it is common for the upper-level manager to interfere with the aim of negotiation; such interference, if it does not eliminate the hard feeling, can at least suppress the row.
Organizational policies aim at promoting professionalism among staff and retention of qualified specialists. In recent times, the relatively high turnover among programmers attributed to an economic renaissance in the area and increase of vacancies for IT professionals. Therefore, preference is given to those who have been with the organization for some time since newcomers can quickly switch to another company.
Therefore, health and pension benefits are somewhat delayed, but good work can be rewarded with expensive presents and trips to resorts as a way of stimulation. Organizational policies do not require employees to spend a pre-specified amount of time on the job and instead link pay to performance and timely completion of assignments.
As should be the case in an IT project, technology is recent and software in some departments is state-of-the-art. Innovation in this area has been a distinctive feature of organizational culture. A few years ago, the integration of data from all units in one system enabled all employees to access a base that includes updates on the progress of different smaller projects, which greatly improved communication.
As our organization is a recent startup whose history numbers only three years, culture has not yet developed any significant artifacts, symbols, or stories. One such example can be the nearby lake with stunning surroundings. A corporate picnic there once a month or in two months has become a tradition, and new employees are supposed to dip their feet in the water there to become fully-fledged members of the community. It is performed almost like a ceremony that is enjoyed by everybody who has once been through it earlier.
Thus, our organization has a pleasant, friendly, relaxed culture. The focus of our culture is professional competence, delivering results, and informality. The management has created an atmosphere in which tiny details like dress or language are less critical and do not obscure the enormous picture – the way an individual copes with his or her job. It results in flexibility and effective communication facilitated by high-quality technology.
Diversity Coalition. Organisational Diversity Assessment. Retrieved April 30, 2006, from http://www.diversitycoalition.org/uploads/84/50/UTs_org_diversity_assessment.pdf
McNamara, C. (1999). Conflict Management in Groups. Retrieved April 30, 2006, from http://www.managementhelp.org/grp_skll/grp_cnfl/grp_cnfl.htm
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