MANAGERIAL VALUES AND ETHOS

The managerial values affect perceived characteristics of the internal environment of an organisation. At this juncture you may well ask what some of these values are. How do these values develop? How do they get transmitted from one generation of managers to another? In this, we are going to explain briefly some of these issues.

Ethos refers to habitual character and values of individuals, groups, races, etc. Managerial ethos is concerned with the character and values of managers as a professional group. Contemporary managers hold some specific values which affect work and some of these are: autonomy, equity, security and opportunity.

You may recall that individual autonomy is a very important dimension of OC. Enlightened managers believe that most people prefer to feel free and to do things as they like within the constraints imposed by their group. These managers tend to allow enough latitude to individual employees as long as the use of this freedom does not violate basic norms of the organisation. In the last two decades, some management practices have been innovated which are in keeping with this value of autonomy.

Equity refers to justice in rewarding performance. Here again, modern managers strongly feel that a person must get a reward proportionate to his input. In any case, deliberate exploitation is to be avoided and as far as possible “fairness” is to be maintained.

Another highly rewarded value is security, both economic and emotional. Keeping a person on his toes by making him feel insecure is slowly but steadily getting discredited as a management philosophy. Even the societies which have practiced “hire and fire” policy are unmistakably shifting towards providing security of job. Providing enough career advancement opportunities to employees is yet another contemporary managerial value. For several reasons it may not be possible for many organisations to create enough vacancies for everybody to advance in their career.

However, modern managers encourage themselves and others to continue growing through various modes of education, although, it does not necessarily lead to career advancement. Besides these four values which affect a manager’s work, the manager may have a strong “Work Value”. Work Value refers to the worth a person ascribes to the opportunity of work. If you have a “strong” work value you are going to identify the worth or value of work to you in more ways than one. You may view work as an opportunity to: (a) accept challenges, (b) serve others, (c) earn money, (d) enjoy prestige and status, (e) be creative, or (f) be independent, etc. 

MANAGERIAL ETHOS: ITS CHARACTERISTICS

Apart from these values, the managerial ethos of high order requires certain other characteristics as well. Let us describe these very briefly to you. 

Action goal orientation: Persons with high sense of adequacy have clear goals about their future and are directed by these goals. They usually do not think their goals in status terms (i.e., what they would like to be) but in activity terms (i.e., what they would like to do). For example, when a junior manager thinks that he would like to be the “Chief of Marketing” he is status-goal oriented; but when he thinks that he would like to be influenced the marketing policies of the company, he is action-goal oriented. 

Pro-action: Proactive people do things on their own without having to be told by any one. Such initiative taking behaviour leads to a high level of activity and experimentation. As contrasted to these people are reactive persons or conformists who spend most of their lives in doing things that others expect them to do. Reactive people are other-directed, whereas proactive ones are inner-directed. A superior managerial ethos requires more of pro-action than reaction. 

Internal resources: Managers with high sense of adequacy are aware of their internal ‘strength and are guided by these strengths. They are aware of their weaknesses but this awareness does not deter them from acting positively or to look for opportunities for continuous self-improvement. They are open to feedback and ready to learn from experience. 

Problem-solving attitude: A superior ethos requires that managers view themselves as problem solvers, rather than problem-avoiders. These managers have a positive orientation to problem situations and do not want to run away from problems. They tend to approach problem situations with optimism because they have internal locus of control, i.e., a strong belief that they can change the environment through their own efforts. 

HOW CULTURE AND ETHOS ARE MAINTAINED

You may have often experienced that every organisation has its own unique traditions and customs. Seldom are these traditions and customs explicitly spelt out, yet, over a period of time, organisations do develop long standing unwritten rules, regulations and rituals to commemorate special moments, standards for social etiquette, taboos about what is not to be done or spoken, jargon or special code language understood only by insiders. These, with a whole lot of other features taken together, ate generally viewed as the “culture” of an organisation. You May also have seen that often there is a uniform perception held about these features of an organisation. Sometimes these “images” are fairly stable passing from one generation to another generation without undergoing much of a change. You might have wondered how this happens.

In this section, we are going to discuss this issue; How does an organisation maintain uniformity of its traditions and customs?

The process through which the people are indoctrinated to accept the tradition and maintain the homogeneity of ethos and behaviours is termed as socialisation. It is a process of adaptation by which ‘new’ members come to understand the basic values, norms and customs for becoming ‘accepted’ members of an organisation. Though the most intense period of socialisation is at the ‘fresher’ stage of entry into an organisation, the process continues throughout one’s entire career in the organisation. This is done to ensure traditions and to maintain uniformity. The people who do not learn to adjust to the culture of the organisation become the targets of attack and are often rejected by the organisation.

Socialisation process has three stages:

  • Prearrival
  • Encounter
  • Metamorphosis 

Prearrival: This stage tries to ensure that prospective members arrive at an organization with a certain set of values, attitudes and expectations. This is usually taken care of at the selection stage itself. Selectors try to choose the “right type” of people, who they feel, will be able to “fit” the requirements of an organisation. Thus an organisation, even before allowing an outsider to “join”, makes an attempt to ensure a proper match which contributes toward the creation of a uniform culture within the organisation. The views of the founding fathers of an organisation as well as the ethos of the present top management influences-consciously or inadvertently the selection of the parameters of this “proper match”. 

Encounter: After gaining an entry into the organisation a new member faces an encounter stage. There is always a possibility of difference between his expectations of an organisation and the OC. If the expected image and OC matches, then encounter stage passes off smoothly leading to confirmation of the image. If the imbalance between the two is acute, the person has usually two choices open. First, he undergoes further socialisation which detaches him from his previous expectations, replaces these with another set of expectations and thus helps him get adjusted to the prevailing system. Second, he drops out due to disillusionment. In both the cases the final result is the same: the status quo of traditions and customs are maintained.

Metamorphosis: People who had discovered an anomaly between their expectations and OC, but decided not to drop out, enter into the metamorphosis stage. They must sort out their problems and go through changes-hence this is called metamorphosis. When this metamorphosis is complete, the members develop a uniform perception of OC and feel ‘comfortable’ with the organisation and job. Successful metamorphosis results in the member’s productivity being as per organisation’s ‘norm’,  ‘average’ commitment and lowered propensity to leave the organisation. All these are indications of “typical” or “normative” behaviour.

For a very few persons, the metamorphosis stage may remain incomplete or unsuccessful. These people, as yet, have not been able to “accept” the OC and thereby remain nonconformist. This phenomenon is likely to result in atypical behaviour. Sometimes they continue to `fight’ the system, at least for some more time, with zeal and enthusiasm. A larger number are likely to alienate themselves to soothe their feelings of disappointment. The process of socialisation is shown in Figure I.’

 Socialisation Process and its impact on OC

Here again, you will be able to see, the results remain the same – organizations maintain their traditions and customs till the time the “fighters” win their case.

Sometimes an organisation, anxious to break away from its stifling OC, may choose to deliberately appoint people without subjecting them to metamorphosis stage so that they bring organisational change.

Model showing relationship betn Ethos and OC

You can see (Figure II) that there are some determinants in the form of Internal and External factors which influence various dimensions of an organisation’s internal environment. These dimensions are perceived as OC, i.e., characteristics of climate and culture of an organisation. Both Managerial Ethos and Socialisation Process help maintain OC.

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