When an executive is newly hired or is transferred to a different division, his introduction and orientation will influence his subsequent behavior and attitudes toward his own people and others and, hence, will exert a considerable impact on organization climate.
Like performance appraisal, socialization or orientation does take place, whether by accident or by design. Usually a series of events serves to undo old values and prepare the executive to learn new values. The process of unlearning can be an unpleasant experience and often requires strong motivation to endure it. If there are other newly hired executives, they will form a peer group to support organizational norms. Usually,the executive learns from a variety of sources such as the official literature of his organization, the examples set by the behavior and demonstrated attitudes of other key executives, the instructions given to him by his boss, This process often produces uncertainty and anxiety. Formal orientation sessions and company literature do not teach the organization subtle values. While these may be well understood by senior management, they are often subtly communicated by peers: how the boss wants things done, what higher management thinks about issues and actions, and what things are considered heroic as well as what things is taboo.
The values of the individual may not be consonant with the values of the organization. As an example, in most management consulting firms, productivity as measured by results achieved is the chief criterion for success. This is stressed accordingly in the orientation of new consultants because the product is the sale of professional counsel and advice. Yet sometimes bright, young, experienced consultants become so engrossed in providing client satisfaction that they tend to overlook the importance of developing harmonious internal relationships and integrating their efforts with those of other consultants and officers.
One creative young consultant, in the course of setting new records for individual productivity, broke a lot of china to find new shortcuts and killed a few sacred cows in the process.
The orientation procedure provided guidelines relative to establishing appropriate internal organizational relationships. When critical relationships, procedural matters, and policy guidelines are glossed over or not discussed, and day-to-day coaching with feedback of developmental needs is neglected, the organization climate produces anxiety and tension; relationships are strained, and eventually productivity is impaired and voluntary resignations increase.
Organizational socialization is supposed to build commitment and loyalty. This requires an investment of time and effort to earn the new employee's loyalty, encourage him to work hard, and facilitate his learning. The employee, in turn, will want to learn how to act in a way that will lead to acceptance and incorporation of company values.
New people are often frustrated because they are compelled to perform menial tasks that older members are unwilling to do themselves. The intent is to let them learn how the company really works before they take on an assignment with real responsibility. These transitional tasks are meant to help the new member incorporate new values, attitudes, and norms into his total experience. Finally the day comes when the new man is given real responsibility; confidences are shared with him and trust is shown in him and in his abilities. The new executive feels this strongly. He knows when he has been finally accepted. This could take a year or longer.
While most organizations place a premium on conformity, they do attach differing degrees of importance to their particular norms and value systems. Many of these are necessary for survival: doing a good job on time, having a profit orientation, following the proper channels of communication, seeking cost improvement as a way of business life. Others are desirable for compliance, such as manner of dress and appearance, living in the right neighborhood, belonging to the right club.
An organization has to focus on norms and values that are important for success and stop seeking and rewarding conformity to norms that have little relevance to results. This requires a positive and carefully planned sequence of experiences to orient new executives coming into the company. The really important organizational norms should not be learned by chance. If management comes to understand the process of socialization in its firm, it can use and control it to build a healthy environment.