No matter how good a job the organization does in recruiting and selection, new employees are not fully indoctrinated in the organization’s culture. Because they are unfamiliar with the organization’s culture, new employees are potentially likely to disturb the beliefs and customs that are in place. The organization will, therefore, want to help new employees adapt to its culture. This adaptation process is called socialization.
All Marines must go through boot camp, where they prove their commitment. Of course, at the same time, the Marine trainers are indoctrinating new recruits in the Marine way. All new employees at Neumann Homes in Warrenville, Illinois, go through a 40-hour orientation program. They are introduced to the company’s values and culture through a variety of activities-including a customer service lunch, an interactive departmental round table fair, and presentations made by groups of new hires to the CEO regarding the company’s core values. For new incoming employees in the upper ranks, companies often put considerably more time and effort into the socialization process. At Limited Brands, newly hired vice presidents and regional directors go through an intensive 1-month, called on-boarding designed to immerse these executives in Limited Brands culture. During this month they have no direct responsibilities for tasks associated with their new positions. Instead, they spend all their work time meeting with other senior leaders and mentors, working the floors of retail stores, evaluating employee and customer habits, investigating the competition, and studying Limited Brands’ past and current operations.
As we discuss socialization, keep in mind that the most critical socialization stage is at the time of entry into the organization. This is when the organization seeks to mold the outsider into an employee in good standing. Employees who fail to learn the essential or pivotal role behaviors risk being labeled non-conformists or rebels which often leads to expulsion. But the organization will be socializing every employee through maybe not as explicitly, throughout his or her entire career in the organization. This further contributes to sustaining the culture.
Socialization can be conceptualized as a process made up of three stages pre-arrival encounter and metamorphosis. The first stage encompasses all the learning that occurs before new members join the organization. In the second stage, the new employee sees what the organization is really like and confronts the possibility that expectations and reality may diverge. In the third stage, the relatively long lasting changes take place. The new employee masters the skills required for the job, successfully perms the new roles and markets the adjustments to the work group’s values and norms. This three stage process has an impact on the new employee’s work productivity, commitment to the organization’s objectives and eventual decision to stay with the organization.
The pre-arrival stage explicitly recognizes that each individual arrives with a set of values, attitudes, and expectations. These cover both the work to be done and the organization. For instance in many jobs, particularly professional work, new members will have to undergo a considerable degree of prior socialization in training and in school. One major purpose of a business school for example, is to socialize business students to the attitudes and behaviors that business firms want. If business executives believe that successful employees value the profit ethic, are loyal, will work hard, and desire to achieve, they can hire individuals out of business schools who have been pre-molded in this pattern. Moreover, most people in business realize that no mater how well they think they can socialize newcomers, the most important predictor of newcomers; future behavior is their past behavior. Research shows that what people know before they join the organization and how proactive their personality is, are critical predictors of how well they adjust to a new culture.