Organizational Socialization with AT&T

By: Torin Wetzel







The purpose of this case study is to examine the organizational socialization within the company AT&T. This concept of organizational socialization is a factor in most companies throughout the world. AT&T has within the last couple years, had some changes that has affected the organizational socialization for the employees. This changed the ways that current employees were training as well as new employees. The goal of the case study is to examine these changes and provide examples of the effectiveness.

Organizational Socialization is the process where individuals are learning the ropes of an organizations culture because of a new or changing role. Essentially, it is how an employee learns to fit in to his or her role with the organization.  This process included an employee understanding the organization as a whole, as well as the specifics that the job will entail. There are multiple steps for organizational socialization, starting with the anticipatory stage. The anticipatory stage is all of the prior socialization efforts related to the organization that were known by the newcomer prior to entering the organization. This can also be the knowledge that a current worker has of the new programs that may be set in the future which demand for organizational socialization. Newcomers are almost always subject to this stage because prior knowledge at all falls into the anticipatory stage. Information that you may know from the internet, friends and family, or media all falls within this stage. The second stage of organizational socialization is the encounter stage. The encounter stage is where employees start to be able to learn the ropes, like corporate training. Usually, a person cannot get enough knowledge in the anticipatory stage to be able to breeze through the encounter stage. The encounter stage involves learning from coworkers, teachers, and supervisors. The third and final stage of organizational socialization, according to the book Organization Communication: Strategies for Success is the metamorphosis stage. The metamorphosis stage is in which employees begin to accept and manifest organizational norms and become organizational insiders. This is time when employees are brought into the organization just as everyone else and seen as a coworker. Employees at this point have learned the necessary training and information needed to continue as part of the organization.

Organizational socialization is very important within a company. Companies need to make sure that every employee fits in and is ready to take on the tasks of the company. An employee out of place can be very detrimental to a company, especially a company that is trying to grow and expand. New employees and current employees can both be affected by this socialization. New employees need to learn the ropes and the culture of the organization. They need to learn how to act in the business place and how to work for the best interest of the organization. Current employees are affected by the organization as a whole taking a turn to new ideas. New technology or work environments can leave a current employee with some organizational socialization to work on. Being able to adapt to new ideas and formats is part of the socialization. Employee training of most kinds also fall into this category. Employees, whether new or current, need to be open to learning more about the organization and how they want operations to run. The employees that are more socialized with their organization are typically more satisfied, committed, and make more than others. Employees that are socialized well are also less likely to quit their jobs, and are more likely to build successful careers.

Organizational socialization promotes change in the workplace. The concept promotes people to be able to adapt and to be eager to learn new ideas and concepts.  While promoting possible change, it is interesting how organizational socialization can also add stability and unity. While employees may be coming and going from time to time, the operations of socialization are implemented to make sure that the main theme in the workplace and in the environment stays the same. Newcomers learn the ropes and lay of the land as people say, before they are welcomed as a coworker. This enables the organization to continue to conserve unity.

The company being analyzed in this case study is AT&T. AT&T stands for American Telephone and Telegraph. AT&T is a telecommunications conglomerate. AT&T is the second largest provider of mobile telephone services and the largest provider of fixed telephone services, and in the United States it also provides subscription television services through DirecTV. This statement regarding the company is on the about us page of their website, “At AT&T, we’re bringing it all together. We deliver advanced mobile services, next-generation TV, high-speed internet and smart solutions for people and businesses. That’s why we’re investing to be the premier integrated communications company” (att). AT&T is a huge company out of Texas that is always working to try to become the largest prover of mobile services in the world.

In this case study examination of the organizational socialization will take place within AT&T. This involves employee training as well as employee development and mentoring. The main reason behind this case study is the recent shift of the company that has left current and new employees with the task of completing new and vigorous training. New workers are being trained differently than they once were as the company is adapting and current workers are being told to adapt, or not be a part of the company anymore. This is a trait we have seen in case studies with other companies. If someone’s skills are no longer needed and are outdated in the company, even if they are liked, there services are to be terminated. It is a harsh reality. At AT&T there are at least giving the current workers a chance to stay with their current positions as long as they complete the required training. New software and new ideas make for changes with current employees and that’s exactly what has happened at AT&T. This is unique because training was needed for over 130,000 employees at AT&T. Another reason that it is unique is because it changes the dynamics of the company. The new employees are now taking the same training as the current employees in order to learn the new software and ideas. The question is if it will make more unity between workers or less. Organizational socialization is easier when the new group of employees are coming into a “freshmen” type role where they learn from the older employees. What happens when the new employees are learning the same information as current employees for the first time? The unity within the organization has to still be kept in check. AT&T does this with asking employees to buy into training. Many new employees are having to pay for some of their training and classes. This is a way to keep a feeling of initiation for the newcomers, thus keeping somewhat of level heads for the more seasoned workers.

“By 2020, AT&T has said 75% of its network will be controlled by software. To make this happen, the company has reorganized about 130,000 employees to tear down the walls between IT and network operations to move faster to release software. The company is shifting to a DevOps mode, a software development method that emphasizes collaboration between developers and other IT professionals. DevOps was pioneered by companies such as Netflix. It’s part of a big pivot for the company that will require employees to learn new skills such as software-defined networking architecture and protocols as well as how to apply cybersecurity in a highly virtualized environment” (King, 2015). Many companies in the past have taught small groups new software of this kind, but never such a massive group. To achieve this large goal, AT&T teamed up with Georgia tech and online education company Udacity to teach these skills. Online course and classroom courses are offered by AT&T. department leaders with AT&T say that employees at AT&T have great skills to bring to the table, but the goal of the training is to get them to be able to adapt to where the company wants to be in the future. In other words, the company wants its employees to be able to evolve as the company does without slowing down production.

There are multiple organizational socialization factors involved with AT&T’s process of “retooling” over 130,000 employees. The anticipatory stage will change regarding AT&T. People from the outside have heard of the huge reform that AT&T is involved with, and word of mouth travels fast. Articles in newspapers, and on the media show people of the complexities of this reformation. This is turn will leave possible new employees with different prior knowledge of the company gin into working at AT&T. It is not for the better or worse it is just different. They will know that many current employees are having to take and some pay for training classes in order to keep their job. They will also know that the training will be given to them prior to joining the company if it applies to their job. This is affect decisions in some ways and it is not clear in which direction.

The second stage of encounter will largely change with AT&T. Workers will encounter this new training whether they are new or current. This is a fact and it will be different than it ever has been before. The demeanor of current employees may also change, either for their good or bad and that will also affect how they treat new employees. The fact that new and current employees may be in the same training sessions may also change the organizations morale and demeanor. Lastly, the metamorphosis stage will stay similar because being part of the company will stay the same. A new employee will be involved just as before and jobs will be given to the most qualified.

This new system at AT&T will push people aside who refuse to adapt and train to become more knowledgeable. It is said that workers who do not adapt will not have a future in the company. The organizational socialization in this company seems to be able to have some improvement. When employees are told to basically adapt, or leave, it can leave a very sour taste. AT&T wants their employees to be happy and work well together, but it also needs its employees to be up to date with the new software that the company is implementing. The company is taking a hit with their organizational socialization in that workers are not going to be happy to take courses and new training, and especially not happy to pay for some of them. The new employees will also have to adapt to this new software and that will also cause some sonority type issues within the socialization. AT&T could do a better job implementing organizational socialization in the recent past. They are adapting as a company, so they need to work to help the employees come along in a way that keep them happy and working with the same unity as before.

Other organizations could learn a lot by AT&T’s example of organization socialization. With the organizational socialization changing so much because of the new software, it is important for a company to keep the workers morale and the goals of the company the same. Other companies can see how AT&T chose to adapt with its employees and decide whether that way would be best for them or not. Every company is trying to evolve, so at some point there will be a time where new and current employees will have to learn futuristic and evolving ideas of the company. When this time comes the company will have to initial organizational socialization to keep the goals, and the missions of the company at hand, but also making sure the employees are satisfied and happy.

AT&T’s organizational socialization was strongly affected by the adaption the employees had to make with the new software. Changes in the company’s ideas should not change the socialization that needs to occur.




AT&T Asks Employees to Buy into Training. (2016). Retrieved October 31, 2016, from

Avtgis, T. A., & Rancer, A. S. (2012). Organizational communication: Strategies for success. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Pub.

Buckley, S. (2015, June 8). AT&T shifts 130K employees to focus on software networking transition. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from

King, R. (2015, June 5). AT&T’s Shift to DevOps and New Tech Requires a Massive Training Effort. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from

Hardy, Q. (2016, February 13). Gearing Up for the Cloud, AT&T Tells Its Workers: Adapt, or Else. New York Times. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from

Numbers, B. T. (n.d.). AT&T Company Information. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from

Organizational Socialization in Career Development – IResearchNet. (2015). Retrieved October 31, 2016, from

Time, F. (n.d.). How Does Socialization Promote Change in Organizations? Retrieved October 31, 2016, from