Organization culture – Virgin group

1. Describe the culture of Virgin group by seven dimensions of organization culture? Every company and organization whatever government or non-government are having their unique organization culture. So what is organization culture? ‘Organization culture has been described as the shared values, principles, traditions, and ways of doing things that influence the way organizational members act, and there are seven dimensions – attention to detail, outcome orientation, people orientation, team orientation, aggressiveness, stability and innovation and risk taking.’ (Robbins, and Coulter, P80)

These cultures accumulate through a long period of time, and it bases on the background of the company, the values of the founders, the action of the top managers and other factors. The difference of each company’s organization culture is depending on the extent of these seven dimensions and how many dimensions they have used.

In this article, we can see cleverly that the Virgin Group have five dimensions of organization culture, respectively are people orientation, team orientation aggressiveness, innovation and risk taking and attention to detail.

Firstly, ‘People orientation is the degree to which management decisions take into account the effects on people in the organization.’ (Robbins, and Coulter, P80) Richard Branson, the chairman of Virgin group, emphasizes that ‘good people are crucial to business success’ in paragraph one and ‘people are company’s key assets’ in paragraph four in the article of ‘People power – the Engine of Any Business’.

It shows that the top manager of Virgin Group attaches importance to their employees and people orientation is the most important point of Virgin group’s organizational culture. Moreover, Richard Branson trust that ‘everyone messes up sometimes’ then he was willing to give a second chance to his employee who stole and sold boxes of records to secondhand shop, and he even had holed an expectation on him.

Because of his trust, this employee had done the best. In general, no one will want to let somebody down or lost someone’s confidence, so they will do better than before. Furthermore, he also set up parties for staff. Employees enjoy these benefit which provided from company can led them have stronger sense of belonging.

Secondly, Team orientation is degree to which work is organized around teams rather than individuals. In the article, Mr. Branson highlighted that the importance of the good leader on the team. As a leader, he does not only understand the strengths and weaknesses of his team, but also emphasize socialize and listen to the team. For socializing, he set up parties for staff to build relationship with each other. Less misunderstand can help to have a harmonious working environment and enhance the cooperation of them.

About listening to the staff he use an example is that a manager discouraged and stopped the staff from drinking with their guests, and his behavior aroused the dissatisfaction of employees. Then, the top leader of Virgin group had to restore the staff morale. It told us that the managers have to listen to staff. In addition, Mr. Branson accepted Brett Godfrey’s plan and Matthew Bucknall and Frank Reed.’s idea and the management team’s suggestion in the article. It shows that the leaders of Virgin group are willing to listen to the employees’ opinion and allow them to be involved in decision making process.

Thirdly, Innovation and risk taking is degree to which employees are encouraged to be innovative and to take risks. Richard Branson does not mind the forms of his employees’ idea. For instance, Brett Godfrey wrote his plan on a beer mat and took to him directly. His actions inspired and encouraged the creativity of staff. Otherwise, In the case of Virgin Records, although employee had betrayed the Virgin group, he was still willing to have confidence in his staff. Actually, he was taking a risk. He could not confirm about this staff would not steal and sell the record again, so that the company may suffer losses.

Fourthly, Aggressiveness is degree to which employees are aggressive and competitive rather than cooperative. For example, the health club chain – Virgin Active, was a new business of Virgin group in 1999 in UK, and within two years can rescue a chain in South Africa. The Virgin group has more than 90 clubs in South Africa and another 100 in another four countries until 2010. Virgin group can build up near 200 clubs in a short time is an amazing development speed.

Lastly, Attention to detail is degree to which employees are expected to exhibit precision, analysis, and attention to detail. For example, in paragraph two of the article, Richard Branson mentions about that their Virgin airline crews have a high quality services. Virgin airline have a higher requirement for the attitude of the crew. Crews must be smiling, cheerful and please to help. It is because in the situation of using the same hardware, such as airplane type, with competitors, it is necessary to upgrade the software, such as staff’s attitude, to stand out.

2. How culture affects the managers? The organization culture affects the managers by four aspects: Planning, Organizing, Leading and Controlling.

Planning is the degree of risk that plans should contain, whether plans should be developed by individuals or teams. For example, in the article, if Virgin group plans to hire people, the conditions of the applicants must include having a strong team spirit and creative. Because the Virgin group emphasize that employees should have teamwork and innovation. Manager has to choice the applicants’ base on the company’s culture but not the inclination of his or her individual

Organizing is how much autonomy should be designed into employees ‘jobs. If in a company just like Virgin group, employees have the opportunity to participate in designing their work, and can be selected in accordance with their own wishes. So that managers must know how to according to employees ability and help them to formulate the job. If the tasks should be done in teams, managers cannot assign works arbitrarily; he or she should arrange consultations with staff. Moreover, different department managers should interact with each other regularly to increase the cooperation between each department.

Leading is the degree to which managers are concerned with increasing employee job satisfaction. If employees feel satisfactory in job, they will have a strong sense of belonging, and willing to pay out and easy to be lead. In the article, as the top manager, Richard Branson know more about the importance of satisfaction of employee, so that he provide many socializing activities such as set up parties, and he use an open management style, willing to listen to employees, in order to create a satisfactory working environment for staff. In contrary, the general manager who discouraged the staff from drinking with guests, was mentioned in the article, decrease his employees’ job satisfaction. Lastly, this manager was replaced.

Controlling is whether to impose external controls or to allow employees to control their own actions. The Virgin group has a freedom culture; most of employees are spontaneous type, so that manager can give less monitor and the employees also complete the tasks well. Then, manager can be able to focus on greater decision-making.

Reference: ← Robbins, S.P. and Coulter, M. Management Global Edition. 11th edition. Hong Kong: Pearson Bibliography: ← Virgin Group (2012) Available from: