By Janet Udogu
I once read about a group of scientists who put 5 monkeys in a large cage. At the roof of the cage, well beyond the reach of the monkeys, they tied a bunch of bananas. Underneath the bananas was a ladder to enable the monkeys to reach the bananas.
The experiment recorded that immediately the monkeys spotted the bananas, one began to climb the ladder. As he did, the scientists sprayed him with freezing cold water and then proceeded to spraying each of the other monkeys.
The monkey on the ladder scrambled off. And all five sat for a time on the floor, wet, cold, and bewildered. The bananas were really irresistible; soon another monkey began to climb the ladder. Again, the scientist sprayed the ambitious monkey with cold water and all the other monkeys as well. When a third monkey tried to climb the ladder, the other monkeys, in order to avoid the cold spray, pulled him off the ladder and beat him.
One monkey was removed and a new monkey was introduced to the cage. Spotting the bananas, he naively began to climb the ladder. The other monkeys pulled him off and beat him.
The experiment took an interesting twist when the scientists removed another monkey from the first set of monkeys and replaced him with a new monkey. The new monkey again began to climb the ladder, and again, the other monkeys pulled him off and beat him including the monkey who had not been sprayed.
By the end of the experiment, all of the five original monkeys have been removed and replaced with new monkeys. Although none of the new monkeys have experienced the freezing cold water spray, somehow they have all learned never to go for the bananas. So, they become the guardians of this rule without knowing its purpose.
When we speak of the culture of an organization, we refer to the behavioural patterns and standards that bind it together. Over the years, organisations develop routines, habits and practices, which eventually metamorphose into what we call the firm’s organisational culture. These cultures differ remarkably from one organisation to the other in terms of what is acceptable to them and what is not acceptable.
By adding what works and taking away what does not, these habits and conventions are developed. Often times, nobody actually remembers the origin of the culture or why they were started in the first place.
The origin of these habits and conventions always seem to vanish with the departure of the members of the group who were present when the patterns and standards were initially established. In a long-lived organization, there might not be members left who know why a given behaviour is considered acceptable or unacceptable. The guy with the freezing water hose may have long gone, yet all members of the organization are quick to enforce whatever the cultural standards might be.
The question is, are company cultures enshrined to reduce the employees to inefficient robots or puppets? Do companies set out to form cultures that will stifle productivity? There is no denying that some company cultures may be out of touch with the times and if not reviewed, over time, may become a cog in the wheel of the company’s productivity. But hey! If it still works efficiently, why fix it?
Organizational culture and productivity are closely related. Productivity is a result of motivation, and motivation thrives in a good climate.
Below are 5 ways company’s culture impacts employees’ productivity:
Lower the walls that inhibit cooperation among various units of the organisation and open them up to effective communication. This will help to achieve the organization’s objectives.
To promote organizational clarity, involve all members of the organization in the goal-setting and planning process. Fostering this feeling of involvement and direction is more important than presenting lists of objectives and detailed plans.
The main purpose of the structure is not to build bottlenecks and roadblocks in the way of decision making. Ensure that information flows freely throughout the organization when making a decision and that the structure for disseminating that information allows positive outcomes.
Human Resource Development
Make the organisation a fertile ground of opportunities for people to develop to their full potential. How the organisation hires, fires and rewards meritorious service will go a long way in determining whether or not it has a culture of success.
Compensation and Appreciation
Put in place a system of compensation that is equitable, competitive, and that rewards both long and short-term performances.