Looking Forward...

Looking Forward...
No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up!

Friday, July 30, 2010

How culture can impact empowerment and coaching and how will a leader handle this?

Organizational culture is the pattern of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that lead to certain norms of behavior, or in other words, “the way we do things around here” (Osland, Kolb, Rubin, and Turner, 2007). Organizational culture is the personality of the organization. Culture serves as the glue that holds the organization together. An organization’s culture is made up of all of the life experiences each employee brings to the organization. Organizational culture consists of the values, symbols, stories, heroes, and rites that have special meaning for employees. Based on the writer’s experiences, culture is a powerful element in the organization that shapes the work enjoyment, work relationships, and work processes. Culture also provides members with a sense of identity, generates commitment to something larger than self-interest, and helps people make sense of what occurs in the organization and the environment. Culture is the environment that surrounds people at work all of the time. Culture is the behavior that results when a group arrives at a set of--generally unspoken and unwritten-rules for working together. Culture represents the emotional, intangible part of the organization. If structure is the organization’s skeleton, culture is its soul. Culture is transmitted through various mechanisms: socialization, stories, symbols, jargon and language, rituals and ceremonies, and statements of principles (Osland et al, 2007).

Most organizations recognize culture and try to influence it. To foster a creative and productive environment where employees are motivated to achieve exceptional performance, the organization’s culture needs to empower its employees. “Empowerment is defined as granting employees the autonomy to assume more responsibility within an organization and strengthening their sense of effectiveness (Osland et al, 2007, p. 528).” Empowerment seeks to break the cycle of powerlessness in organizations by giving employees a real sense of control. Empowerment gives people in organizations the ability to get things done, often at levels of the hierarchy where the power can be most directly and effectively applied. Organization requires a different style of management, and there has been a gradual shift from a command-and-control model to an involvement-oriented approach centered on employee commitment and empowerment. The involvement-oriented approach is the best way to organize is to give employees the freedom and responsibility to manage their own work as much as possible. So, employees are given both information and the power to influence decision about their work.

In order for managers to be effective, they must be able to influence their subordinates, peers, superiors, stakeholders and many other individuals both affiliated and unaffiliated with their organizations (Elias & MacDonald, 2006; Vecchio, 2007) There are many actions organizations can take to foster empowerment. Recent studies demonstrate the empowerment of an organization's members is closely related to the type of organizational culture (Osland et al, 2007). Normally leaders or managers in the organizations try to develop cultures which are helpful in motivating employees, keeping employees committed to the organization, and helping employees make appropriate decisions. Organization should let employees to participate in decision making. They will gain a sense of control over their work lives and will be more enthusiastic about implementing decisions. Actually, according to Osland et al (2007), it was proven that employees involvement in decision making, fair rewards for their efforts, good training, and career opportunities on the part of the organization: in return, the employees contribute their brains, enthusiasm, higher productivity, and responsiveness to customers.

Managers should also allow people room to feel and know that they matter; that what they say is heard and know that what they do will have an impact. Employees should be given empowerment with responsibility and trust, and in that process, coaching—because empowerment cannot be sustained long-term without real coaching behind it (Osland et al, 2007). According to Osland et al (2007,), coaching is defined as a conversation that follows a predictable process and leads to superior performance, commitment to sustained improvement, and positive relationships. Organizations expect managers to master coaching as a way to develop their subordinates. Managers require expertise and experience in-order to know which type of coaching to be used in specific situations with specific people. Good candidate for coaching are people who are willing to accept feedback, have a sincere desire to improve and an intrinsic need to grow, and who are lifelong learners (Bacon & Spear, 2003).


Bacon, T. R., & Spear, M. I. (2003). Adaptive coaching: The art and practice of a client-centered approach to performance improvement. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.

Elias, S.M., & MacDonald, S.R. (2006). “Consequences of restrictive and promotive managerial control among American university professors”, International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 14, pp. 239-50.

Osland, J. C., Kolb, D. A., Rubin, I. M., & Turner, M. E. (2007). The Organizational Behavior: An Experiential Approach (8th ed.). NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Vecchio, R.P. (2007), “Power, politics, and influence”, in Vecchio, R.P. (Ed.), Leadership: Understanding the Dynamics of Power and Influence in Organizations, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN, pp. 69-95.