Ethnographic Research Methods
6, May 2002
Much research has been conducted within the workplace trying to
discover the who’s, what’s, where’s, when’s and why’s relating to
individuals who make up the “workplace culture.” Unfortunately
though, this research has been overlooked by many of the inhabitants
within the culture, and rather has been used by Human Resources to
recruit employees. The problem exists when this information is
not filtrated down to the employees themselves. In this research,
I wish to examine and unveil the dynamics of the workforce and the
workplace. Discovering why people work where they do and what
retains them will hopefully benefit those individuals who are actively
or even non-actively seeking new job opportunities. In this
research, I have chosen to examine a “for-profit” corporation, Target
Corporation, and a non-profit organization, Metro Transit.
Examining two different organizations will hopefully reveal different
dynamics within the workplace. This research will benefit not
only the employer seeking quality candidates, but also more
importantly, the employees themselves.
From the perspective of the social sciences and the workforce in
general, there was a strongly felt need to provide reliable data
describing the variations of working conditions (likes, dislikes, work
environment) encountered by employed people in the U.S. This
information is needed to complement the information already out there
available to those seeking new employment. As mentioned in the
abstract, the purpose of this research is to benefit primarily the
employee, rather than the employer. Searching through the depths
of research that has already been conducted on this subject matter, I
feel there is a strong need for employees themselves, who are seeking
new jobs, to have direct access to information (that has already been
conducted but retained by employers) that will benefit them when
seeking new jobs.
The majority of us have all searched for new employment. The only
information we have to back our decisions is that given my Human
Resources. What HR department isn’t going to give ALL positive
information regarding their employees? What we (outsiders to the
prospective employment) need is an inside look at what really goes on
and how current employees really feel about their current position.
Why do people work where they do and who or what retains them in their current position?
This is the main question I have regarding this research. The
following pages were extracted from my research questionnaire.
Although I didn’t blatantly ask the question, “Why,” I feel my
questions steer me in the direction of coming to a deductive conclusion
that will answer questions raised in my introduction as well as
See Appendix for Interview Questions.
I have chosen these questions to indirectly answer my main questions
about employment in the workforce. After the conclusion of my
research, I realized that some questions are and will be irrelevant to
the individual seeking new employment. I chose a lengthier
questionnaire to give me as much information about employees in their
current positions as possible. This also gave the interviewee an
opportunity to express any and all concerns surrounding their current
work environment and satisfaction with their current employers.
Although there is a plethora of research previously
conducted on this subject matter, very few researchers, in this area,
have collected qualitative data. Charles Spencer, author of “Blue
Collar,” did an internal examination of the workplace and the cultures
within. Linda Rodgers (Team Dynamics), has researched workplace
culture for many years, examining the environments in which people
work. Robert P. Quinn and Graham L. Staines both from the
Institute for Social Research have conducted research on the workforce
as well as the workplace. Reading through their data “The 1977
Quality of Employment Survey,” I found primarily quantitative data with
very little qualitative analysis. Finally, I found a great
website entitled “Coffee Breaks and Birthday Cakes.” This site
publishes a book that examines the workplace culture…it includes
everything from what people wear to work, to how they talk and act and
even how people get to work.
I chose to conduct my survey on a total of 18 subjects.
Currently, I am an employee for Target Corporation, located in
Minneapolis, MN. I asked 6 colleagues to participate and all
agreed. My brother works for Metro Transit in Minneapolis,
MN. He asked for 12 volunteers as well to help in this research
project. After all 18 subjects agreed to participation, I began
conducting my research topic and questioning. I
randomly chose these 18 subjects. The 6 I chose from Target were
“chance-encounters.” I didn’t set out beforehand to recruit any
particular person for the research. The 12 from Metro Transit
were recruited similarly to those from Target.
I collected my data through personal interviews. A sample of the
questions I used precedes the abstract in the beginning of this
paper. Interviews ranged from 15 minutes to 2 hours. A few
subjects requested to complete the survey on their own. They felt
too much stress having to answer questions in a given time period (one
hour as described to them before interviewing them). A few
colleagues also expressed concern regarding the confidentiality of
their answers. I reassured all subjects that any information
gathered would be kept in strictest confidence.
In the following section, I will define the settings of each
organization in greater detail. What these companies publish to
the general public about their organization is very important to that
information gathered from the interviews.
Finally, after all the information was gathered from interviewees, it
was time to analyze the data. I have set up several spreadsheets
in Excel and SPSS to help analyze the quantitative data I have
gathered. The qualitative data will be expressed in the
findings/results section. Since my subjects are being kept
anonymous, I will openly discuss dialog and information they shared
with me leading to the answer of my questions raised in the
abstract. The following section, Findings/Results/Ethnographic
Narrative, will be the most beneficial section of this research.
I will hit at the heart of every question I posed in the abstract and
to those I interviewed.
Target Corporation’s Culture:
At Target, “Fast, Fun and Friendly” describes their work atmosphere as
well as their guests’ shopping experience. At Target, a positive
attitude is not only part of their corporate culture, but comes
naturally when working for one of the world’s most successful retailers.
Target believes in celebrating success, applauding risk and bringing
out the best in teams and individuals. As you may know, Target
works on a “Team-work” employee atmosphere. Employees are
referred to as “team members” rather than employees. To that end,
Target encourages personal and career development through individual
growth plans designed by team members, an array of training programs,
regular performance feedback and more. Together, Target team
members are more than a sign of the times. They’re a sign of the
Each week, Target Corporation gives over $1 million to the communities
they serve. This dedication to supporting local communities and
schools makes it easy to feel good about coming to work every
day. As a whole, Target team members donate over 170,000 hours to
5,000 projects and raise millions of dollars for the United Way every
Target prides themselves with their vast diversity within the corporate
culture. It’s people who make Target successful.
Individuals with a wide range of ages, beliefs and backgrounds.
At Target, valuing diversity is more than a slogan, it’s a
mission. Target corporation is a performance-based company with
equal opportunities for all who perform.
Diversity at Target is an attitude and commitment that extends to team
members, to guests and to their business equally. Target defines
diversity as individuality, or anything that makes someone
unique. Listening to, valuing and responding to each individual
translates into innovative products and solutions, a friendly
environment and future success for everyone.
Finally, diversity has been one of the strengths of Target Corporation
and will continue to be an important part of their business strategy as
they expand into new and different markets and position their business
for success in the 21st century.
About a month ago, Target re-launched their “Fast, Fun and Friendly”
slogan. Prior to this “motto,” Target used the “All For One”
slogan. “All For One” backed up Target’s philosophy of
teamwork. Target’s main goal was to initiate a work environment
that would propel team members to work for one another. Although
Target’s organization is separated by divisions (Lead, Supervisor,
Manager, V.P., etc), Target believes that everyone is equal in their
own job and without one position, the work could not be
Metro Transit’s Culture:
The mission of the Metropolitan Council is to improve regional
competitiveness in the global economy so the Minneapolis-St. Paul
metropolitan region is one of the best places
to live, work, raise a family and do business.
Metro Transit is one of the country's largest transit systems,
providing roughly 95 percent of the 73 million bus trips taken annually
in the Twin Cities. Each weekday customers board Metro Transit buses an
average of 250,000 times.
Metro Transit operates 132 routes -- 63 are local-service routes and 48
are express routes – and 31 contract service routes, using a fleet of
939 buses. The majority of the company's fleet (792) are standard
40-foot buses while 120 are articulated ("accordion") buses, with 25
small buses, and two coach buses. All new buses will be equipped with
wheelchair lifts or ramps -- currently this equipment is available on
Metro Transit is an Equal Opportunity Employer and an Affirmative
Action Employer committed to cultural diversity in the workplace.
We hear a lot about a company's culture, but what determines culture,
and why is it important? Random House
(www.randomhouse.co.uk/home.htm) defines culture as the “behaviors and
belief characteristics of a particular group.” Workplace culture
is the sum of the formal and informal behaviors that an organization
adopts as their way of doing business. The formal side will
include written statements of value, such as respect for individuals,
and a written organizational chart. The informal side
deals with how work gets done--whether through written procedures or by
circumventing those, how employees treat one another, how willing they
are to share ideas and information, and how the hierarchy allows
employees to cross "turf" boundaries to get work done.
Highly structured hierarchical organizations are quick to reinforce
boundaries of position, often slowing processes. Conversely,
teams who can address issues, and form "snap-in" temporary teams to
address roadblocks, can move work more efficiently, and enhance systems
in the process.
Workplace culture filters through to customers and vendors. An
employee who feels undervalued and frustrated will project that to
customers and coworkers. We've all experienced "unhealthy"
culture, whether as customers or employees. In the former, we may
get the opportunity to wait to be acknowledged by a sales clerk while
they look up a phone number. In the latter, we may have
experienced the down side of the company rumor mill. Either way,
we're dealing with people who are or aren't giving their best to the
As a senior who is currently seeking new employment, I find myself
running into several roadblocks when looking at “corporate or workplace
cultures.” I’ve always been told to investigate the organization
and find out as much information as one can before actually applying
for a position with them. But where do we start? What
characteristics or beliefs should we look for in an organization?
The answer to this question is quite simple. First, invest time
in yourself and discover what your individual needs and wants
are. Second, begin searching job-databases that list companies
with your expectations and values. I guarantee that there are
companies out there that will fit your needs. For example, when I began
looking for a weekend job during my college years, I had only a few
requirements. First, I needed an employer who was
non-discriminatory…an open-ended non-discrimination policy,
particularly sexual orientation in my case. Second, I needed to
know how the management system was set up. And finally, I needed
a leadership style that was flexible and one that would challenge
me. In the end, Target Corporation fulfilled all of my needs.
Once again, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the workplace
cultures of two different organizations. Meeting with individuals
who make up these cultures and recording their experiences within the
workplace will hopefully help the reader discover what they want in a
I felt it was imperative that I include observations from both of these
organizations. I have worked for Target Corporation in the same
position for 2 ½ years. After taking a more in-depth look
at both work place cultures, I can conclude that they have many similar
characteristics, yet differ in many ways as well.
In my department, where I did most of my interviews, the majority of
the team members are middle-aged females. The atmosphere is very
casual. We are allowed to wear pretty much anything all seven
days of the week. Yes, Target Financial Services is open seven days a
week and nearly 360 days a year. It is a very relaxed
department. In the summers we are allowed to wear sandals and
shorts. Most team members enjoy this casual atmosphere where they
don’t have to spend great deals of money on new clothing every
month. The department I work in is called RPC (Remittance
Processing Center). RPC is made up of approximately 60 people. In
RPC, we collect all of the credit card payments for the Target, Target
Visa, Marshall Field’s and Mervyn’s credit cards. The process
consists of opening the mail, separating the stubs from the checks,
keying in the amount of the checks, and finally sending the checks back
to the appropriate banks. Of course in this day and age, many
machines do the actual physical labor (opening and separating).
Most of the team members don’t have time to mingle around and visit
with other departments. The majority of the team members come in,
punch in, take their timely breaks and then punch out for the
day. The workday is very structured and monotonous with little
time to deviate away from the schedule.
Every month, RPC has a “monthly” birthday party to celebrate any team
members’ birthdays during that month. The manager of RPC gives a
little feedback of how the company is doing, but his comments can be
summed up in a matter of minutes. Quarterly, RPC has meetings to
discuss in more detail the financial background of Target
Corporation. We look at RPC’s financials as well as Target as a
whole. 75% of RPC team members don’t have financial background to
understand what the manager is talking about. In many ways, I
think most team members see these meetings as a waste of time. I
could only suggest that these meetings be brought down to “laymen’s”
terms for those who don’t even understand what EBIT stands for.
Some people I asked during my participant observation think EBIT
(Earnings Before Interest Taxing) stands for Early Breaks in
Transit. Transit is the sub-department I work for.
I didn’t see many people talking about personal issues at work.
Their conversations were pretty much restricted to “shop talk.”
On breaks, the smokers would congregate together and talk about the
weather…that was the easiest thing for them since they were
outside. Some would even talk to others from different
departments while they were outside. Most of the time, I just
heard a great deal of bitching going on. If it wasn’t their
supervisors who were pissing them off, it was a co-worker who wasn’t
doing their share of the work.
As I mentioned previously, Target just launched the “Fast, Fun and
Friendly” slogan. A few days after hearing the spiel on that, we
were sent a memo from the V.P. of Target Financial Services. We
are no longer allowed to wear shorts in the summer, no sandals, no
sweatsuits and no shirts with printing on them. The shirts can
have the little Polo or Tommy sign on them, however nothing can be worn
with printing across them…sorry grandma’s, no more sweatshirts made by
your grandkids that say “I love my Grandma.” My entire casual
wardrobe of Abercrombie and Fitch will now need to be saved for those
“extra” casual moments. After we received this memo, I thought
WWIII was going to break out. I would say this “issue” was the
talk of the shop for nearly a week. I couldn’t believe how upset
most team members were. “The mere fact that Target just
re-launched ‘Fast, Fun and Friendly,’ and now we are not allowed to
have as much fun anymore really upsets me…” This phrase was
resounding throughout the entire department. “Oh well, it’s just
a job…as long as I get my paycheck…life will go on.” And that
final statement was the overall consensus of how Target team members
feel about their workplace culture.
Metro Transit was certainly a much different environment to observe
than I would have imagined. As previously mentioned, my brother
has worked for the Metropolitan Council for three years. I have
visited him numerous times and was always amazed at how “relaxed” a
public government agency’s environment was. Metro Transit’s
workplace culture is much different than that of Targets. I am
comparing “office” people to Target’s “office” people. As people
read through this research, I want to be very clear that I am comparing
apples with apples and not apples with oranges…bus drivers.
The people who make up Metro Transit are different than those at
Target. From the Administrative Assistants to the Operations
Analysts, the majority of the MT people have four-year college degrees.
The majority of the people who work for Transit dress in business
casual attire. I didn’t see a single person wearing jeans or
tennis shoes. There, of course, are still some people who wear
suits and ties to work every day. The age group ranged from early
20’s to mid-60’s. I didn’t notice a single “time-clock” at
Transit. I observed Transit on a number of occasions and always
went in to work with my brother around 7:00. He is not required
to work at 7:00, but pretty much sets his own schedule. As long
as the employees work their 8 hours, I don’t think they run into many
problems. After talking with several people about their
schedules, most said they are in to work by 8:30 and leave around
5:00. If they have an appointment, they will either come in later
or work later without having to request any time-off. In my
opinion, Metro Transit’s work philosophy is… “you are on your own, as
long as the work gets done, come and go as you please…” Now, I
don’t know if this is the way upper management feels, but this is the
feeling I got.
I felt there was a great deal of interaction between co-workers during
the work day. A number of my brother’s colleagues stopped by to
visit him and ask how his weekend was. One of his colleagues
spent 2 hours sitting in his office just “chewing the fat” with
us. For lunch, a number of the employees left together and went
downtown to eat. When I went with my brother and a few others to
lunch, not once did they discuss work issues. Their philosophy
was “when at work, talk work.” When outside of work, “don’t talk
Employee relations didn’t seem to be a problem with any of the people I
observed. I would hear a few gripes about another colleague, but
that was because of a project that needed to be completed by a certain
time. I found that deadlines were the topic of conversation at
work. Service Planning, the department that creates bus
schedules, seemed very tense and uptight all the time. This could
be because of the new schedules that need to be completed fairly soon.
I felt that Metro Transit had a much warmer work environment than that
of Target’s. Although it seemed like Transit’s biggest employee
relation’s issues were deadlines, everyone seemed to work together to
get things done.
A number of Transit people do smoke. I was surprised at the
number of times people would go outside to smoke. I could almost
set my clock by it. As I visited with a number of non-smokers,
they said how frustrating it is seeing people, especially during the
winter time, always going out for smoke breaks. In an 8 hour day,
it is not uncommon for people to go out 8 times a day. During the
winter, by the time people get their coats on, go outside for a smoke
and return, 15 minutes is up…that’s two hours a day that people are
outside smoking. After I raised this issue to a few non-smokers,
they did say how much they disliked the fact that people get away with
smoking so much during work. A few people even said they would
love to only have to work 6 hours a day and not take any breaks!
Overall, Metro Transit’s actual culture seemed to be much more relaxed
and casual than Target’s. I found people weren’t as stressed out
about getting things completed. As for the company itself,
everyone loved working for the company and was satisfied with where
they are at. “There is always something for us to do. We
work together to accomplish our goals. Metro Transit is a great
company to work for and I love that what I do is important to so many
millions of people who utilize our service.”
Ethnographic Narrative/ Findings/ Results:
After my research was completed and I began analyzing my data, I found
that my quantitative data surpassed my qualitative data by far.
My research questions didn’t hit at the major points of the workplace
culture and why people work where they do. Several hours later
after re-conducting some of my interview questions, I came up with what
I needed. The following findings were gathered from personal
interviews I had with 18 interviewees. Since my quantitative data
is still very valuable, I will reference them throughout the
narrative. For the purpose of organization and clarity, I will
reveal the dynamics within Target Corporation first and then move into
Metro Transit. In the end, I will compare the two organizations
and point out the major differences within each organization’s
When asked why they chose Target Corporation as a place of employment,
I had varying answers from all 6 subjects at Target.
My first interviewee(1T) has worked for Target for only two years, but
chose to work at Target because of “Target’s flexible hours, good
pay and location.” “Having a son and going to school full-time, I
needed a job where I could pick my schedule and hours, yet maintain a
healthy wage.” Interviewee (2T) chose Target because “at the
time, I was a day-care provider and watched television quite a
bit. I saw an add on television about working for Target and the
benefits they offered.” “I was tired of being a stay at home mom
(15 years) and wanted a change of pace.” “Target had everything
to offer to me, so that is why I applied.” (3T): “I had worked in
several jobs prior to my current one. The companies I had worked
for were never very stable. I wanted a job where I knew I would
have stability. Through stability (financial), I felt comfortable
applying with Target because of their strong history.” “Without
an education, I also had the opportunity to move up within the company,
something Target offers, without needing an education.” (4T): “ I
have shopped at Target for many years. It seems that I can never
walk in the store without walking out of there under $100.00. The
company seemed to be doing well while I was just randomly looking for a
new job. I figured the Target discount of 10% would really help
me out.” “ I had heard great comments from other people that
Target was a strong, stable company to work for…so I applied.”
Interviewee (5T) has worked in her current position for 7 years.
Recollecting why she chose Target is a little vague to her.
“After being in Finance for 8 years prior to Target, with no
possibility of advancement, I knew I wanted a change. The company
I previously worked for was unstable and I knew I should leave before
getting canned.” “I knew that Target had an opening in their
Finance department and so I applied. Target advertised their jobs
as being flexible, stable and good pay. Those are the things that
make a company a good company.” (6T): “As a college student, I
needed a company that would be flexible and a fun atmosphere to work
for.” “Prior to applying at Target, I had interviewed at several
other places for weekend employment. After seeing what went on
and the little interaction between employees, I knew those companies
weren’t for me. I got a tour of where I would be working prior to
being hired. This really gave me a feel for what I would be doing
and who I would be working with. That is why I chose Target.”
I asked Metro Transit (MT) employees the same question. (1MT): “I
have been in the business for many years now. I chose Metro
Transit because of the lack of Service Planning they had. My
services would have and have benefited them greatly. I chose
Metro Transit because of their need for help.” (2MT): “Metro
Transit has a long history of good service providing millions of people
with bus rides. I have had a passion for the industry and have
lived in Minneapolis for a number of years. When you have a
passion for something like Transit, your options for other jobs within
one city are very limited. Transit is a very stable organization
with great benefits. I had heard in the past that Transit valued
their employees and gave them a sense of being…that is what I was
looking for in a company.” (3MT): “I have a passion for what I
do. My wife and I live in Minneapolis and Metro Transit was the
best organization that would fulfill my passion to work in the public
sector of transit.” (4MT): I have worked for Metro Transit for
nearly 15 years. I don’t recall exactly why I chose Transit in
the first place. I do remember, though, that I would ride the bus
quite frequently when I was younger. The bus drivers were always
friendly to me. I would see recruiting signs on the bus looking
for bus drivers. My education was framed at service
development. I knew the organization was strong and
healthy. I wanted to work for a company that everyone knew
about. What better organization to work for than one that
millions of people know about…the Metro Transit.” (6MT): I had
always wanted to work in the public sector of transit. Growing up
and staying in Minneapolis, the MTC was my only option.” (7MT): “
I graduated from school a few years ago. I have always had an
interest in the mass transit industry. I had an internship with
Metro Transit my Senior year of college. The organization is very
well structured and that is why I applied to work for Metro
Transit. I have looked at many other large city transit systems,
however, Metro Transit was a developing transit system that would work
with me as I was getting my feet wet.” (8MT): “Metro Transit had
some really good wages to offer me. I worked in another
organization similar to Metro Transit. I was really pleased with
the organization and the people after coming here for an
interview.” (9MT): “I chose Metro Transit because they were the
only ones to hire me for an internship. I didn’t know much about
the company before applying but it’s been pretty cool working
here. I guess I just chose Metro Transit because they’re the ones
that hired me!” (10MT): “I had several friends who worked
for Metro Transit that raved about the company. I decided to look
into it and found that Metro Transit was the organization I was looking
for. I was fresh out of school and needed a job. My
background was fitting for the position. I guess I chose Metro
Transit through word-of-mouth and my first lasting impressions.”
(11MT): “I worked for the MTA in Houston for only seven months. I
didn’t care for the position but wanted to stay in Transit. I
decided looking elsewhere and Metro Transit had a clean, healthy
environment, a great pay structure and advancement opportunities, so
that is why I chose Metro Transit.” (12MT): “I chose Metro
Transit because of their advancement opportunities. I had always
seen commercials on television for bus drivers. It seemed like
they offered a competitive wage and were very flexible.”
After asking all 18 subjects different questions relating to different
characteristics about themselves and their occupation, I defined
workplace culture to them “as the behaviors and belief characteristics
of a particular group. Workplace culture is the sum of the formal
and informal behaviors that an organization adopts as their way of
doing business.” I asked them to describe to me their experiences
and how they feel they fit into Target’s and Metro Transit’s workplace
(1T) “Target’s culture is a very friendly and open atmosphere. I
enjoy working for them because of their great benefits and the
interactions I have with my co-workers. I feel that because
Target is so large, I don’t really directly effect the company as a
whole. I know my peers see what I do and appreciate that.” (2T)
“I feel very much like a part of a very large community within a
community. I enjoy doing things with my colleagues at work.
I wish we would do a few more things outside of work. I feel
valued in what I do.” (3T): “Does Target have a culture? To me, I
don’t really see any striking characteristics about this company.
In many ways, it just seems like an uncollective effort to get the job
done. The Fast, Fun and Friendly atmosphere has no direct
reflection on the culture itself. I thought individuals within
cultures usually work together.” (4T): “Within Target’s culture,
I can easily say we are a Fast, Fun and Friendly company. I’ve
worked here for only a few years, but this company almost feels like
home to me. When I shop at a Target store, I see the same
attitudes in the store clerks as I do in the office. We are a
Fast, Fun and Friendly environment.” (5T): “Over the last
seven years, I have seen Target change in many ways. Right now, I
feel as much a part of the organization as I ever have. I love my
job and the company itself. We work hard for one another and work
together to get jobs done. No one is better than anyone else and
all of our work is recognized. Our great team cards (cards given
out to anyone doing a good deed) are a way of acknowledging others’
work. I feel very much a part of this culture. We are ‘all
for one and one for all.’” (6T): “I guess if I am to look
at the formal and informal behaviors within Target, I would say that
Target’s workplace culture is a Fast, fun and friendly one. Our culture
is made up of many diverse employees who all have one mission…to
satisfy millions of peoples wants and needs. I feel privileged to
work for the “bulls-eye” company. We are everywhere. When I
think about a culture, I think demographically to one particular
area. When looking at Target, our culture is spread out all over
(1MT): “I never really thought of Metro Transit as having a
culture. Rather, I’ve thought of it as many cultures making up an
organization. Truly though, it seems like we all work for the
same goals and objectives…why can’t we be many organizations within a
culture…a group of people with individual ideas and diverse
characteristics.” (2MT): “As the ---- -----, I feel I play
a very important role in Transit’s system. I believe that we all
play important roles in our service to the people. I think it is
very rare for an accomplishment to go unnoticed.” (3MT): “Metro
Transit has a very strong, individualistic culture. Most people
are driven to accomplish things on their own. Most people I know
don’t wait around for someone to ask them to do something, they find
things on their own. I know my work is valued around the
office. We work together which is very important.”
(4MT): “No comment” (5MT): “I see Metro Transit as having a
very strong culture. We are a very healthy organization which is
reflected not only in the office but out on the streets as well.
Our ethical behaviors in the workplace represent who we really are out
on the streets in Minneapolis. I feel like a big part of
Transit’s culture. Our work relations don’t stop at 5:00 at the
end of the day. When looking at other “cultures,” people don’t
just live in their cultures for a few hours a day, they continue on as
long as they are a part of that culture. I AM a part of the Metro
Transit culture.” (6MT): “Metro Transit’s culture is very
unique. We behave in a very professional manner when at work and
outside of work. Seeing that our culture can be viewed by so many
people, we strive to do our best when presenting ourselves.”
(7MT): “Workplace culture is not only the formal and informal
behaviors a workplace adopts, but rather it is also the people who make
up the culture. I feel that it is the people who mold the
behaviors that the companies adopt, which then become the culture of
the company. My experiences thus far have been very
positive. I work hard, have fun and enjoy what I do for this
organization.” (8MT) and (9MT) chose not to answer this
question. (10MT): “I feel like I fit perfectly into Metro
Transit’s culture. I am diverse, just as everyone is. I
have a strong work ethic just like Metro Transit’s culture and behavior
is.” (11MT): “Metro Transit is valued in the public eye as
well as the private eye. We do what we need to in order to
satisfy our customers. Are dedicated behaviors to the public is
what we stand for. I feel I fit in to this culture very
well. My working conditions are favorable and that’s what I look
for in an organization and a culture.” (12MT): “My position
with Metro Transit is valued by most all of my co-workers. Taking
pride in what I do is what Transit stands for. Sometimes, I feel
like I initiated Metro Transits culture. I think they got their
culture from me!!”
Finally, I asked my subjects “what motivates you to show up to work
every day and what or who keeps you with the company you are currently
(1T): “The people I work with motivate me to show up to work
everyday. If I didn’t have the great people I work with, I
probably wouldn’t stay with Target.” (2T): “The challenge
of my job. It’s not always the same thing to do each day.
The people I work with. They all motivate me to show up to work
every day.” (3T): “Bill, bills, and more bills.
Family responsibilities are the only thing keeping me with
Target.” (4T): “Money is what motivates me to show up to
work every day.” (5T): “Responsibility to the family,
Accountability on my behalf and respect for those I work around are
what motivate me to show up to work every day and are what keep me with
Target.” (6T): “Money of course is a motivating factor for
me… I guess the flexibility and thought of having a job that
changes every day is what keeps me with Target. I love the
benefits and Target treats me with respect. The least thing I can
do for them is show up and do my best.”
(1MT): “The challenge of serving the public is what motivates me to
show up to work every day. The fact that what I do has such an
impact on the city of Minneapolis is overwhelming. I love what I
do and that’s what keeps me with Transit.” (2MT): “I like
my job. I like the diversity of our employees and
customers. I like new challenges and opportunities to think
outside of the box. I think it’s important for me to lead by
example, which in this business is reliability and attendance. I
like to make the employees laugh and interact with them so I got to see
them to do so.” (3MT): “I have a family to support and
ultimately this is what motivates me to show up to work every
day. I love what I do and that’s why I stay with Transit.”
(4MT): “The pride I have in what I do is what motivates me to
show up to work every day. The respect I get from colleagues and
the atmosphere I work in is what keeps me with the Metro
Transit.” (5MT): “I have pride in workmanship.”
(6MT): “I like my job and I believe in our product. This is
what motivates me to show up to work every day and why I stay with
Metro Transit.” (7MT): “Knowing there is a job to be
done, that I enjoy for the most part, and being successful at that job
is what motivates me and keeps me with Metro Transit.”
(8MT): “I like who I work with…very cohesive team.”
(9MT): “The idea that this job will put me in the right direction
for my next job and money are the two motivating factors. I stay
here for the money…until I can find another better paying job.”
(10MT): “I have pride in what I do and enjoy the job that I
do. Coming in to work is satisfying to me. (11MT):
“Knowing I do make a difference in the performance of my job and see
results is what motivates me and keeps me with Metro Transit.”
(12MT): “Money motivates me to stay with Metro Transit.”
Summary and Conclusion.
As you can see, there are some major differences in
the behaviors and attitudes of those individuals who work for Target
compared to those who work for Metro Transit. The three main
questions I asked are questions I would like answered from current
employees regarding the companies they work for. What Target and
Metro Transit publicly publish and say to recruit members varies from
those ideas of individuals within the workplace. I have come to
realize that individual personalities also play a great role in
workplace culture. Those who are just working a “job,” tended to
have a negative attitude about the company they worked for.
Individuals from Metro Transit, where the majority of them were
executing a passion, enjoyed where they worked and had a much more
positive outlook on the environment they were working in.
Do organizations create the “workplace culture” in
which individuals work OR do individuals create “workplace culture”
that organizations adopt? Looking at the behaviors and attitudes
that make up “workplace culture” within Target, I feel that the
organization itself has created a culture in which the individuals
within that culture are going against what Target wants to represent to
the public. These individual’s personalities and work ethics are
working against what Target has created for them. For Metro
Transit, I feel that the individuals are what created the
organization’s workplace culture. Their positive attitudes,
behaviors and ethics create Transit’s culture and how they want to be
seen and viewed to the public.
Birch, David (1987). “Job Creation in America.” New York: The Free Press
Ketchum, Lyman D. and Eric Trist (1992). “All Teams Are Not Created Equal.” Newbury Park: Sage Publications.
Spencer, Charles (1977). “Blue Collar: An Internal Examination of the Workplace.” Chicago: Lakeside Charter Books.
Quinn, Robert P. and Graham L. Staines (1977). “The 1977 Quality
of Employment Survey.” Michigan: Survey Research Center.
Appendix A. Interview Questions
Highest Education____________________ (Be specific)
Name of Company_______________________
What exactly does your job entail you to do?
What are your hours?
Do you work weekends?
How long have you been in your current position?_______________________
What was the last job you held?
For how long?
What are the three most important qualities you look for in a job when seeking new employment?
What two characteristics of a company do you steer away from?
How important are company benefits to you?
Currently, which benefit do you value and utilize the most? Why?
If this benefit was taken away from you, would you consider leaving the company?
How influential is your wage/salary in keeping you with this company?
If your wages/salary were cut, would you consider leaving the company?
What is more important to you…making more money or enjoying what you do?
Do you consider this occupation to be a job or an execution of a passion?
Are you happy where you are at?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how stressful do you feel your current job is?
(One being low stress, 10 being high stress) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
What factors contribute to your stress level at work?
What kind of interactions do you have with your
co-workers/colleagues? Do you do things together, either at work
or outside of work?
Is maintaining a healthy relationship with your co-workers important to you?
If you could change three things about your current job, what would they be?
If you could change three things about the company you work for, what would they be?
How much contact do you have with your direct supervisor? Hourly/daily/monthly (Describe in detail)
Would you like to change the amount of interaction you have with your supervisor?
When problems arise, do you feel like you can talk openly to your supervisor about
Does your company keep you informed of what’s going on around you…goals/objectives within the organization?
Is this important to you?
Finally, what motivates you to show up to work every day and why do you stay with the company you are currently with?