Organizational Culture: Food for the Hungry

The organizational culture and climate comprise of the natural forces, which impact an institution. They have a strong influence on the organization, principally during transformational change. Organizations should be aware of not only the culture dynamics, but also the climate. Although, theoretically, they are two different concepts, they have a close interconnection and interdependence. In essence, the culture of an organization forms its climate. Understanding of the concepts of culture and climate, as well as change in an organization requires further delving into the issues and focusing on a real organization so that to understand the concepts. Current paper concentrates on the study of all the concepts in relation to Food for the Hungry - the international relief and development organization, which is based on the Christian faith. It serves the poor through emergency responses and long-term development programs. The paper will concentrate on the culture and climate of the company and the approach that can be taken in the introduction of change within the entity.

Food for the Hungry

It is an organization that assists people in more than 25 countries so that people could overcome hunger and poverty. As an international relief and development organization, it must have a well-connected network of operations. It assists the victims of disasters leading to poverty and famine. The company started its operations in 1971 with a mission of walking with the church, leaders and families in the quest of eliminating poverty by developing good connections with God. The initial projects of the organization also included the help for refugees in war-torn countries throughout the world. It works under the biblical worldview and its faith statement corresponds to that of the National Association of Evangelicals. Although it is based on the Christian faith, it is nondenominational and it has no affiliation to a specific church. It serves all the people in need regardless of their diversity, including gender, religion or race among others. Although the members of staff members do not proselytize the participants of the programs, they infuse biblical values into them.

Organizational Culture

In an organization, the culture can be classified into five components, including myths, norms, traditions, beliefs and values. The values comprise of the approaches through which people assess various traits, activities, qualities or behaviors as good or bad, prolific or inefficient. For instance, the organization can have high levels of service as its core value, and it is reflected by its motto: reliability, actual measurements of performance and response time. The values of Food for the Hungry are based on the Bible. Its work is influenced by the work of Jesus Christ when he fed the hungry and assisted the poor. It is well-documented in its mission and vision statements. The beliefs reflect the understanding of the individuals in relation to the operations of the organization, and how their actions may impact it. In some organizations, the employees may try to introduce a new service or product with the belief that it is the best way towards achieving success. In other organizations, the people adhere to the rules believing that through the control of risks they will succeed and the organization will prosper, as well. Such beliefs exist among the individuals in the organization Food for the Hungry. Anyway, as the organization is highly influenced by the Christian principles, most of the individuals’ beliefs are also based on them. Therefore, they focus on succeeding in supporting the needy and feeding the hungry throughout the world.

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The other part of the organization’s culture is myths. Myths are the stories that may exist in the organization. They could be stories about the probable implications of taking a given action within the organizations. For instance, there could be a myth surrounding the danger of taking initiative in the presentation of new concepts; they could be considered as unwanted impositions. The existence of such story offers much information that transmits the actions that new associates can or cannot do, and it has an effect on any change efforts. The stories that exist in the organization entail the massive work conducted by the founder and the manner, in which he achieved his goals of assisting the needy in war-torn countries and other regions. Myths act as motivating factors for the employees to ensure that they meet their target in line with the mission of the organization.

Traditions entail the repetitive noteworthy events that take place within the organization, which may include special awards, retirement parties and other celebrations. They create predictability within the organizational environment and perpetuate cultural values. In addition, traditions indicate the issues that are held in high regard within the organization. Food for the Hungry recognizes the efforts of its employees who work under deplorable conditions in order to reach and assist the needy. It acts as an inspiration for them to persist and extend their reach.

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The norms represent the informal rules in the organization regarding work habits, communication and interpersonal behavior among others. They indicate whether the organization encourages honesty and openness in communication or whether there exist rumors and prattles. They are the informal rules of conduct, which are not presented in the employee handbook. The components of organizational culture are difficult to quantify, but they exist and require the attention of the management when introducing change. The culture has numerous variables, and some of them are beyond the control of the leaders. The informal rules within Food for the Hungry relate to acting in accordance to the biblical teachings throughout the program. Although it is not required that the members of staff preach to the aid recipients, they share the word through advice and encouragements as people cannot live only on food; they also need spiritual nourishment. Hence, such norms give the people hope about the future and eliminate the mentality of ineptness among the needy. They also act as an expression of love for the people as it is endorsed in the Bible.

Organizational Climate

It describes the dimensions of the work environment, which can be quantified with relative meticulousness. In an organization, there are numerous factors that determine the climate. Some of them include communication, leadership, organizational structure, accountability standards, behavioral standards, historical forces, trust, rewards, commitment, connection, visions and strategies. Leadership is an integral determiner of the organizational culture as the leader influences the expectations and behavior of other people within the organization. When a leader understands how to handle and manage change, he develops a climate where other employees commit to the changes. The exponential gains made by the organization indicate the degree to which the leader is able to address the change dynamics. The regional offices at Food for the Hungry are under the leadership of regional presidents, who report directly to the CEO. However, they are allowed to use independent strategies according to the needs in their regions. The organizational structure is also a powerful determiner of the organizational climate. It includes the formal and informal structures created within the organization. In addition, such structure reflects on what the organization considers critical to its success and it also communicates about the commitment and values of the workforce. Streamlined structures take much time and efforts to attain, but their return on investment is great. Since Food for the Hungry operates throughout the world, it has a system where regional offices implement their own strategies, but they must align with the overall direction of the organization. It is a structure that promotes flexibility and rapidity in decision-making.

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The historical forces affect the culture of the organization, and over time, they impact the climate. Such forces entail the circumstances surrounding the foundations of the organization, the approaches used to solve previous crisis, previous reactions to change and how they were handled and other transformations. If an organization is established by innovative pioneers to provide a leading edge service, such circumstances may continue influencing its operations for a long time. Alternatively, if an organization has failed to adopt innovation or has been resistant to change, it is easy to predict that in case of change introduction, there will be massive resistance from the side of people unwilling to support the change. Food for the Hungry was established to serve the needy people and its founder, Larry Ward, based its genesis on the Christian faith. It has since been operating through the Christian guidance, which has led to its existence to date.

The accountability standards in an organization quantify the ways in which the individuals take responsibility and are held responsible for their actions. The standards of behavior entail what is heard and observed. The leaders in an organization can command acceptable behaviors and reinforce them through the performance appraisals. For example, a desired behavior would entail treating one another with mutual respect, and a violation of such norm may be observed through the statements made to other people or lack of cooperation. The employees should understand what is expected from them. They should be answerable for their activities, and the leaders should have the courage to dismiss those who violate the values even if they do their jobs. It is a way of promoting the desired job climate. The standards of behavior and accountability at Food for the Hungry are based on the Christian teachings. The organization has a commitment to the scripture statement, which is inspired by 2 Timothy 3:16; and John 1:1-5, 14; 5:24, 39. The ethical standards of the partners in the organization are based on loving God and other people and are derived from biblical scriptures, including Matthew 22:37 and Matthew 5:17.

Communication is a vital component of the desired organizational behavior, which is measured by the organization’s prevailing patterns of communication. Unacceptable behaviors, such as rumors, unproductive criticism, blames and focus on problems, as opposed to solutions, corrupt the climate of the organization. Food for the Hungry has established channels of communication within the organization. As an international organization, it is indispensable to ensure that there is a direct and frequent communication at the management level. It also has intra-organizational communication networks that have promoted its success. It has also incorporated technology in its system as it has an operational website, and it is also active on the social media platforms. In addition, the rewards are applied so that to measure the competencies of the employees. Such rewards are given after appraisals, which may be quarterly or annually. They reinforce the climate of the organization. Recognition within Food for the Hungry is a necessary tool of employee motivation. It assists in ensuring that they realize that their efforts are recognized and they assist the organization. Trust in an organization reflects the prevailing feelings of support and mutual respect. It is normally high when the individuals feel that their efforts are valued and supported by others in constructive and direct manner. There may be cases where people fail to meet deadlines or break agreements that affect others. In such cases, people may be disappointed, which damages the trust and make it difficult to reconstruct. Over time, the lack of trust may lead to a negative organizational climate and prevent the organization from achieving its goals.

Organizational climate is also expressed through the commitment of the individuals involved. It reflects their sense of pride in belonging to the organization, as well as their degree of support in regard to its future. Reduced commitment makes it difficult to make changes in the organization. It develops a climate of disengagement and unwillingness to participate. The vision and strategies of an organization indicate its desired future. They are the indicators of the organization’s context and focus. When an organization has selected a bellicose, far-reaching vision, which is successfully aligned with the goals, priorities, strategies and resources, it will impact its climate in the future. The connection of all the components in the organization is complex. The affiliation of individuals with different teams creates sub-cultures. A healthy organizational climate requires an alignment of all the subcultures. The Christian foundation of the organization promotes the commitment of the people. It enhances their sense of belonging. The vision and strategies are also aligned with the goals, which have prompted the success that the organization has witnessed.

Organizational Change

Change is an unavoidable course of events in any organization. Changes take place regardless of the fact whether they are planned or unplanned. There are multiple issues that could prompt the need for change in an organization. The need for change can emanate from within the organization, or it could be external. In most instances, external environment creates pressure for change, but the internal environment inhibits the change, unless it is well-undertaken. In most organizations, the only constant thing is continual change. The process of organizational change is critical and relies on a number of factors. Communication is one of such factors. Change enhances the development of the organization, and the manner in which it is communicated affects its success. Change faces many barriers, and poor communication is one of them. Communication is important during the change process as it facilitates vision, enhances feedback, provides social support and helps in modification of the change as it unfolds. Lack of appropriate change communication plan results in counterproductive rumors, which leads to the failure of the entire process.

Changing the culture of Food for the Hungry will require numerous issues to ensure that the leadership and the management support the change. Although the organization has been successful by operating through its current structure, it can improve its performance by means of increased support structures. Therefore, the necessary change would be the development of an organizational structure that increases the control of the head office on the regional operations. As a non-profit organization, Food for the Hungry relies on donations from the people and other organizations. Such donors expect their contributions are utilized in an appropriate manner. When the head office lacks the strict control over the regional offices, some decisions may lead to conflicts, which is detrimental in regard to donations. The steps for the changes in the organizational culture will be based on the eight steps outlined in the Kotter’s model. Kotter describes a process that follows eight steps to creating lasting transformations.

Change Process

Establishing a Sense of Urgency

It entails examining the realities within the organization, identifying and discussing current and potential crises or major opportunities. It assists the stakeholders to understand the need for a change and they become convinced on the importance of immediate action. In case of Food for the Hungry, it is necessary to provide effective communications to the people involved, including the regional presidents and top-level managers. The rest of the employees should also be notified, and such communication should indicate the necessity of the change and its urgency.

Creating the Guiding Coalition

It encompasses the creation of an assemblage within the organization, which is mandated to lead the change process. It must have power and work as a team. The team at Food for the Hungry should include the top managers, as it is a structural change. It should include the regional presidents and directors and the Board of Directors.

Developing a Change Vision

The change process should have a vision and objectives, which will act as guides through the whole project. It should also include the development of strategies, which will foster the realization of the change objectives. The vision of Food for the Hungry in relation to such change is to increase the control over the regional departments in order to avoid conflicting interests.

Communicating the Change Vision

Communicating the details regarding the change process and goals is vital for the realization of the aims. All the relevant stakeholders should receive information about the change, timeline and their contribution to the entire process. There should also be frequent and direct feedbacks in the process of changes implementation. It will indicate whether the short-term goals are being achieved, and it will also assist the management in dealing with resistance and other issues relating to change.

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Empowering Broad-Based Action

The team supervising the change should ensure that all the obstacles that destabilize the change process are eliminated. They should encourage the development of novel ideas and activities.

Generating Short-Term Wins

The change should have short-term goals that are easily achieved, in order to encourage the continuance of the process. People supporting a change process need to feel that their efforts are directed towards an achievable target.

Consolidating Gains and Generating Additional Change

It entails the utilization of credibility to change the policies, structures and systems, which are not in-line with the change vision. It also involves hiring and promoting individuals, who can implement the change process.

Anchoring new Approaches in the Culture

There should be a transformation of the culture so that to improve the performance by using behaviors that encourage productivity, improved leadership and management strategies. It will lead to a culture, which increases the control of the head office over the activities in the regional offices.

SWOT Analysis of the Change Procedure

Strengths

  • It is focused on the commitment of the staff members as a success tool. When the employees understand and support the change process, it is highly expected to succeed.
  • It has clear steps that are easy to follow and assess. The assessment will enable the change team to identify midterm success or failure and make appropriate rectifications.
  • When proper communication is incorporated, the process can easily succeed, and it also fits well in any type of organization.

Weaknesses

  • There could be development of wrong assumptions resulting from the linearity of the procedure, and once it occurs, it is difficult to alter its direction.
  • As the steps indicate, it is a top-down model, which does not allow co-creation and participation.

Opportunities

  • New technology can be incorporated, especially in the communication aspect. It favors the international nature of the organization.
  • It can be replicated in the future changes as it is easily adaptable to any form of organizational change.

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