Written by Geoff Newman on 6/2/2010
It is said that organisational culture has a far longer lasting and real effect on people than any other formal policies and procedures associated with the organisation. Practically speaking, people working in a certain area act and react in a similar manner. This is because they are following UGRs, which are termed as Unwritten Ground Rules within an organisation. UGRs are not set by the organisation in writing or any other formal method, but still people tend to act in certain ways, which suggests the presence of culture within an organisation.
UGRs can be both positive and negative in nature. For example, in certain organisations it is assumed by the workers that if they have a problem it is not worth complaining because they know that nothing would be done. This sort of culture is termed as negative. Similarly, in a certain organisation customer complaints are termed as priority and every possible step is taken to resolve their issues, this type of culture is termed as positive.
Many medium and large sized organisations have a separate HR department that is responsible for the generation of written rules and policies that need to be followed by every person working within that organisation. But there are certain unwritten rules as well that are not specifically monitored by any department of the organisation but still have a strong impact as everyone tends to follow them. It is observed that UGRs are found in almost every walk of life, from professional organisations, to sports teams, religious institutions, educational institutions and family life. They are an indicator of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
It is very important for the senior employees within an organisation to understand that unwritten ground rules can have both a positive and a negative effect within an organisation. They should not be assuming that UGRs are a method of bringing positive culture to their working environment because sometimes it can adversely affect the performance of the organisation. So it is better to address the issues that can be a hindrance in the growth of the organisation. It is observed that the behaviour of senior management influences the way everyone interacts, works and the way decisions are made. If an individual is rewarded fairly for his contributions then he would be willing to work more efficiently. This way a positive culture is seen, where everyone is recognized and rewarded for their efforts. But certain UGRs have such a strong impact that even the leaders and senior management are unable to bring about changes.
To bring success to an organisation it is necessary to build a culture that helps and supports the growth and development process. For this purpose, certain UGRs can be changed or modified. People tend to act and mould their behaviours according to the prevailing UGRs in their work environment, and they characterise their behaviour accordingly. The unwritten ground rules have no written form of course, but they are still identified by the members of an organisation because they tend to observe each other’s behaviour in certain situations and take note of the actions taken against certain behaviours. In this way people tend to follow certain set UGRs.
This article has been written based on original content by Steve Simpson - creator of the UGR concept. Please visit his website www.ugrs.net for more information.