Organizational Communication

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last updated 10/3/2016

Entering a New Organization / Culture


§         The organization’s view -- You should fit our role! (You're being socialized into the organization's idea of the role you should adopt.)

§         The employee view - Get a niche and meet your personal needs (affiliation, esteem, autonomy, creativity, etc.), thus

·        Master new task skills.

·        Learn other’s expectations (boss, co-workers) for you.

·        Plan how to get/stay motivated.

§         "Reality Shock"   It turns out that, inevitably, the new job isn't what you expected entirely.



  Stage I.  Anticipation (1st few weeks)

1.        It's kind of like a new romance.

2.        Be prepared to manage unrealistic expectations! ("reality shock") - implied (and often inaccurate) contracts occur during the hiring process.

3.        Manage your self concept!  (In the professional world it has two parts and two faces, at least.)

A.        Your generalized self concept  (Some of this involves the public face, some the private face.)

(1)     competence level

(2)     need for autonomy

(3)     sense of self respect               versus

B.        Your organizational specific self concept (the role/persona you adopt at work - mostly public face.)

(These two types of self concept may be inconsistent)

New employees will receive messages confirming and denying elements of their self-concepts.

4.         Let go of past patterns of interaction and previous organizational cultures as needed and soon.


  Stage II.  Encounter ("It feels odd here."  Ask questions!)

1.             Learn the culture - recognize it's a symbolic construction. (Story telling often gets at this). 

A.          Learn formal structure/expectations from your supervisor.

B.         Learn informal expectations. etc. from colleagues

*  colleagues will "frame" culture for good or bad

2.             Assess behavioral expectations ("White shirt" rule example)  real vs explicit  Don't blow this!!

3.             Deal with emotion and communication

A.     note the morale curve - learning a new culture is hard work.

B.     get into the local informal cycles of communication to learn to fit in, build relations, get power.

C.     you need to find support because your self concept needs reinforcement - some people overdo it (bragging, etc.)


4.        Develop task skills

A.        Regardless of the lack (or extent) of training, it's your job to get skillful and valuable.

B.        Don't forget learning future skills.


  Stage III.  Metamorphosis -- Identification occurs leading to: 

  1. Shared values, decision-rules, norms, interpretations - that is "culture.  These become "taken-for-granted."

  2. You come to feel comfortable and connected to the organization.

  3. Others see you as "an old hand."


Discussion Question for Thursday:

What do you think are key elements in creating a positive image at work?  Bring a list of 3 items (actions) you would consider doing to create a positive image for yourself at your first professional job.