Small-business owners teach norms and values to help employees understand their company's culture. For example, employees need to know how to communicate new ideas to the business owner. An owner meets this need by telling employees how to share in an innovation model. He might support individualism, or a focus on individual achievement, over collectivism, or a focus on teamwork, especially if he believes that individuals will produce more innovative ideas than collaborative teams.
Employees working in a small business quickly develop a sense of whether an owner emphasizes individualism or teamwork. An individualistic culture is one that places the highest value on uniqueness. Employees are encouraged to think independently and are recognized for their respective achievements. Small-business owners might reinforce this by giving much attention to individuals who generate great ideas, but this may not help other employees not being recognized feel like they belong to the culture.
Promoting individual accomplishments over teamwork can exert some side effects on employee communication. Employees who are not encouraged to solve problems as a team may become less likely to seek ideas from others that will enhance their individual projects. They may give one another quick advice when asked for help but not probe the deeper causes of problems. A company might avoid this kind of dysfunction by offering training in effective communication and scheduling times for employees to obtain input on their respective projects, such as a weekly meeting. Fresh perspectives help individuals hone their innovative ideas under development.
Different forms of written communication in a small business often reflect an individualist style. For example, a small-business owner communicates how work routines should be performed through written policies and procedures. An individualist culture might be found in a specific procedure. For example, a customer service representative might be instructed in a procedure to use his own judgment to solve problems for dissatisfied customers. Employees also find their expectations in their job descriptions and performance evaluations.
To implement her annual goals, a business owner creates performance targets for employees. She collaborates with each employee to write personal performance targets or writes them herself. Goals may measure an individual's outputs, such as the number of customers served per day. Employees bring their cultural beliefs, with a preference for individualism or collectivism, to the workplace. Employees who do not thrive on individual achievement may seek work in team-oriented organizations. A business owner rewards individuals who achieve, sometimes with more choices in work assignments, and may promote them to jobs with more status and compensation.