The Taj Hotel case is an interesting and amazing case to me. This is because despite of the knowledge of the hospitality and tourism industry cultivating their employees to go-the-extra-mile for the customers, I had never thought and expect that the employees of an organization will be willing to go all out for its customers even at the expense of their lives. As the case and theory have suggested, Taj’s culture was formed though the hiring criteria, top managers’ actions to set out the general climate, training employees’ with the organization’s values and providing incentive systems that supported the values to show appreciation. With these knowledge, it leads me to think about the important of an organization’s culture.
The thought of this leads me to the Enron case as it is in contrast with a strong, good, ethical and successful culture of the Taj, and instead is a strong, bad, unethical and unsuccessful culture that may had leads to the fall of Enron. When looking at Enron, I looked into the similar aspects of hiring, general climate of acceptable behaviors and rewards systems. Firstly, Enron typically hires employees based on merely the academic credentials, innovative ideas and raw ambition. In comparison with the Taj which looks for integrity in their supervisors and junior managers, Enron focus was more towards ability rather than character and virtues of the employees. Secondly, according to Sherron Watkins, Enron’s have an unspoken message that drives what is deemed to be acceptable behaviors in the organization. This message was to ‘Make the numbers, make the numbers, make the numbers—if you steal, if you cheat, just don’t get caught. If you do, beg for a second chance, and you’ll get one.’ This eventually promotes little integrity and instead promotes the value of profitmaking. Finally, Enron also have a performance review policy of “rank and yank”. Employees in Enron was rated 1 to 5, where 1 is the best and 5 is the worst, depending on how much money they had made. Additionally, Jeffrey Skilling mandated that 10 to 15 percent of the employees had to be rated 5 and get fired. Thus, this rewarding system had implies that profitmaking is valued by the organization. Ultimately, all of these contributed to the organization’s culture of risk-taking, entrepreneurial work culture which has led to the fall of Enron.
The contrasting culture between the Taj and Enron has enable me to understand that organizational culture is important for organization’s success and can be cultivated through selection of employees to the organization, development of values of acceptable behavior, training and rewarding systems, which is in line with the theory that I had learnt from this class. This means that the human resource department (HR) hold a very important responsibility to ensure that selection, training and reward systems are in line with what the organization values and to ensure that what the organization values are ethical. HR and other managers will also need to be observant so as to be able to detect any possible unethical behaviors or misbehaviors that may occur given the implementation of certain systems which have influence on the organization’s culture. Last but not least, the comparison between the two cases had allowed me to realize that strong culture may not always be a good thing as an organization may have unethical yet strong organization’s culture which can leads to employees within the organization sharing similar bad values and conforming to it without realizing it. Overall, these has provided me with insights and alertness to detect possible systems that may have bad influences on the organization’s culture.
Moreover, I have an additional thought about organizational culture. As organizational culture can be influenced by hiring of employees, this leads me to think about the Attraction-Selection-Attrition (ASA) model I had learnt from another module. As the ASA model suggested, people tends to be attracted by people who are similar to them. For the organization’s case, people may be keener to work in an organization’s culture that they find suitable for them, while the interviewers may tend to hire candidates who are more like them. Therefore, this leads me to the question of what an organization which is changing its culture do. Should they fire their current employees who might not fit the new culture? Or train them to adapt to the new culture? And if they are not fired, will they continue with the existing culture and influences the new hires through socialization? For me, I would think that there is possibility that the change in reward systems and general climate of acceptable behaviors may cause employees to adapt to the new culture. But are there anything besides these that can help employees change their values to adapt to a new culture?