In this lesson, you will learn how organizations use the socialization process for prospective and newly hired employees.
This process is used to maintain the existing culture of the organization.
Maintaining Organizational Culture
Captain Kirk Stewart loves to fly. After working as a commercial pilot for several years, Kirk started his own airline. Because Kirk wants everyone who works for his organization to love their jobs as much as he does, he named his new airline ‘Fun Jet.’ Captain Kirk established Fun Jet with a culture that places a high value on camaraderie among coworkers and maintaining a fun working environment. Kirk believes that if his employees enjoy their jobs, they will provide a good travel experience for his customers.
The fun-loving culture of Fun Jet encourages employees to use their sense of humor and creativity to make their jobs more enjoyable. Fun Jet pilots have been known to use their best Elvis impersonation when reading flight information to passengers, and Fun Jet flight attendants sometimes hide in the overhead compartments of airplanes and jump out at unsuspecting cleaning crews. The playful atmosphere of Fun Jet creates close bonds between employees who have a good time while working together.Having established this strong and successful atmosphere at Fun Jet, how can Captain Kirk be sure that the people he hires will conform to the culture? In order to maintain that culture, potential and newly hired employees will go through a socialization process. Socialization is a process through which new employees learn the attitudes, skills and behaviors required to function effectively in their new work environment.
How does the socialization process accomplish this? Let’s find out.
The Pre-Arrival Stage
The socialization process contains three stages that occur consecutively. It starts with the pre-arrival stage, which consists of anything a potential organization member has learned about the organization prior to joining. Part of the pre-arrival stage is the selection process, which is used by the hiring company to hire people who can adequately perform the job but also to select people who will fit well into the culture of the company.
The selection process provides the organization with information about the candidate but also gives the job-seeker information about the organization. Candidates who find that their personal values do not match the core values of the prospective company should disqualify themselves from the selection process at this time.When Fun Jet needs to hire new pilots, the human resource department sorts through the hundreds of resumes they have received and eliminates all applicants that they believe are not qualified to perform the job. The remaining applicants are then screened, and the candidates that appear to have a fun-loving attitude that matches the values of Fun Jet are called in for an interview.
The first step of the interview process at Fun Jet requires all candidates to have their face made up as a clown and then have their picture taken. These pictures are hung on the wall of the offices along with the clown faces of everyone who works at Fun Jet, including the CEO. Fun Jet uses this screening process to determine which candidates will likely perform well in the playful culture that exists at Fun Jet. Any applicant who feels that being made up as a clown is inappropriate can refuse and disqualify themselves from the pool of applicants.
The Encounter Stage
Once a candidate accepts a job offer, they enter the encounter stage.
This stage is where the expectations of the new employee meet the reality of the job. If the reality of the new job is different than what the new employee expected it to be, socialization methods are used to orient the new employee to the existing culture and to help them make sense of the culture of their new organization. Some of the socialization methods that are used include stories, rituals, material symbols and language.
Let’s explore each of these methods.
Stories are a narrative of events that anchor the present culture in the past. Veteran employees tell stories to new employees about past organizational events that serve to illustrate and reinforce the current culture of the organization.A common story told to new employees at Fun Jet is the one about how Captain Kirk started the airline with only one airplane that he would fly himself.
Every time Captain Kirk would land the plane he would yell, ‘Whoa big fella, whoa,’ over the cabin PA system, which always brought a round of laughter from the Fun Jet passengers.
Rituals are repetitive sequences of activities that express and reinforce the key values of the organization. New employees participate in planned organizational events with fellow employees that serve to demonstrate the key values of the organization.
An annual ritual at Fun Jet is the company Halloween party. Employees plan their costumes all year, and prizes are given out for the most outrageous and most creative costume. The winner last year was Captain Kirk himself, who dressed up as an opera singer, got up on stage and sang ‘Ave Maria’ to all his employees.
Material symbols provide observable cues that provide insight into the core values of an organization. New organizational members receive visual clues from veteran members on behavior that is acceptable within the culture of the organization.Even though he doesn’t fly planes anymore, Captain Kirk still wears a pilot’s uniform and always keeps it clean and pressed.
His appearance sends a message to the rest of the organization that while he wants his employees to have fun, he also expects them to maintain a professional appearance.
Language consists of acronyms, slang and organization-specific jargon that, once learned by a new member of an organization, helps them to feel like part of the group. Fun Jet employees have developed their own jargon for things they encounter in their day-to-day job. For example, a wide-body airplane with two aisles is called a ‘whale,’ an irate customer is called a ‘screamer’ and a passenger with an oversized carry-on bag is called a ‘Sherpa.
The Metamorphosis Stage
The socialization methods used during the encounter stage will cause new members of an organization to make changes to adapt to the new culture. That is why the final stage of the socialization process is called the metamorphosis stage. In the metamorphosis stage, changes that orient the new employee to the culture of the organization take place. This stage is complete when the new member of an organization has become comfortable with the culture of the organization and their job. The new member now understands the customs of the organization and feels accepted by the group.
Let’s review. The culture of an organization governs how people in that organization behave.
Once a company has established a successful culture, it is important to the organization that this culture remains in place and continues to function properly. Organizations use a 3-step socialization process to ensure that they select employees who will fit their culture and who will keep their culture in place. The three steps of the socialization process are:
- The pre-arrival stage: This stage consists of anything a potential organization member has learned about the organization prior to joining. An important part of the pre-arrival stage is the selection process, which provides a two-way exchange of information between the job candidate and the organization.
Candidates who find a conflict between their values and the core values of the potential organization should disqualify themselves from the candidate pool at this early stage.
- The encounter stage: When a new member is accepted by and agrees to join an organization, the encounter stage begins. In this stage, the expectations of the new employee meet the reality of the new job.
If the conditions of the new job are different than what the new employee expected them to be, socialization methods are used to orient the new member to the culture of the organization. Socialization methods include:
- Stories: Narrative of events that anchor the present culture in the past.
- Rituals: Repetitive sequences of activities that express and reinforce the key values of the organization.
- Material symbols: Observable cues that provide insight into the core values of an organization.
- Language: Acronyms, slang and organization-specific jargon that, once learned, help new members feel like part of their new organization.
- The final stage of the socialization process is called the metamorphosis stage. New organizational members go through the changes that are necessary to align them to the culture of their new organization in the metamorphosis stage. This stage is complete when the new member of an organization has become comfortable with the culture of the organization, understands their job and feels like a valued member of their new organization.
When you have completed this lesson, you should be able to:
- Recognize and explain the stages of the socialization process: pre-arrival, encounter, and metamorphosis
- Name the stage in which selection occurs and describe that function
- Recall the methods of socialization: stories, rituals, material symbols, and language