When serving as a consultant, it is vital to approach the situation with an objective perspective, as Schein (2010). The key is to understand the culture of the organization rather than bringing in preconceived notions about how the culture should operate. With an objective perspective, a consultant maintains clear vision to gain insight into the micro and macro cultures of the organization as they are. Since people are an organization’s greatest asset, and culture is the collective existence of people, then objectivity by a consultant will equip strong leadership of an organization to navigate long-term effectively. (Hultman, 2001, Kindle Location 1758)
Macroculture is a large cultural system that containing numerous microcultures such as nations, ethnic groups, religious groups, and even global occupation groups. (Schein, 2010, p. 2) Microcultures, on the other hand, are smaller groups that share common tasks and histories within an organization such as a department, a building floor, or a level in the hierarchy. (Schein, p.67) To clearly understand the culture of an organization, it is important to take into account the macrocultures that are influencing the individuals of the organization in their microcultures.
With this in mind, it is important a consultant seeks to understand subtle cultural elements as well as obvious ones. Espoused values that are paraded and posted give great insight into the culture of an organization, however, equally vital to understand are things such as building structure, dress, or jargon shared among members of the organization. As a consultant, it is important to have eyes open to subtleties in speech patterns, celebrations, thought processes, communication lines, meeting structure, and mentorship models all give insight into a given organizational culture. (Schein, p. 14)
Of the areas of culture to be considered, as a consultant, which is most challenging for you to observe objectively?
Hultman, K. (2001). Balancing Individual and Organizational Values: Walking the Tightrope to Success. Wiley.
Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.