Employee Experience and Culture
A person who visits Mumbai between month of March & May will experience, temperature going up to 40*C and humidity touching 75% , such hot and humid condition forces a person to avoid running , jogging and playing outdoor , the person will feel sluggish and will get tired very quickly. Those who come to Mumbai on rare occasion will experience fishy smell from the entire island city, on contrary a person traveling to Shimla at same time of the year will experience clear sky with temperature oscillating between 15*C to 25*C , with humidity less than 50% and smell of pine across the town that energise a person to indulge in outdoor activities such as running, trekking, river rafting and going for walk during in the afternoon. Person will not mind enjoying soaking sun in the vibrant atmosphere on Mall Road. A weather in one city makes a person feel too sluggish and too invigorating in the other city.
Often companies are creating hot & humid chamber of Mumbai inside themselves. Despite hiring best talent available in market and paying best salaries, such companies still see inactivity, lethargy, lack of initiatives, lack of innovation, employees complaining about work overload. It is the enervating culture of organisation that saps away all the energy and creativity of their people. Such companies’ makes considerable investment in employee engagement and behaviour training programs without getting intended results for either company or the employees. The challenge for such companies is to transform their culture into one that is as energising as summers in Shimla.
Some simple observations in companies such as, number of CCTV cameras installed in the company, number of access card points installed , bathroom or smoking zone conversations of employees, walking style of employee , artifacts in the organisation , emotions on the face of employees, can give deeper insights of organisation culture.
As per Sumntra Ghoshal, Culture of such organisations will have four typical characteristics:
Constraint: Senior Management in such companies will take all the decisions, they will make all the choices, they will have lots of information to design every strategy, they will work for 12-14 hours a day and they will tell everyone exactly what need to be done, resulting in constraint for middle and junior management in using their own initiative, creativity and thinking. Constraints on the choices they can make, constraint on joy and excitement they can drive from working on their own.
The second Characteristic is compliance, senior management of the company create all kinds of systems and process. Each System by itself is totally justified, however, it creates a feeling of compliance for employees at the bottom.
The third characteristic which pervasive in most of the companies is control, the role of senior management and entire organisation structure is designed to ensure they control employees below them and ensure that these employees do not do the wrong things.
Finally Contract, the relationship employee and company is driven by contract, relationship between departments, divisions and colleagues are all driven by contract.
The culture within companies is characterised by constrain, compliance, control, contract and senior management wants employees to take initiative. They want their people to learn continuously and bring that benefit of learning to the company, to support its success. They want people to collaborate, to share, to help each other. They want their people to feel a sense of commitment to the company and with prevailing culture of constraint, compliance, control and contract.
There are companies which creates summer of Shimla within them, they are bursting with activities, energy, joy and such companies are able to achieve very high level of performance on the strengths of the behaviour of their people.
As per Sumantra Ghoshal, such companies have distinct culture and characterised by four different attributes:
Constrain is transformed to stretch, compliance to discipline, control to support and contract to trust.
Stretch means that every individual, in whatever he or she is doing, is trying to do more, rather than less. In that process each individual is continuously pushing himself or herself. But with that, all of them are pushing the management, pushing the company, to do more, to do better to realise true potential of company and people instead of sitting with “Satisfactory Underperformance”.
The first change in culture observed is from constraint to stretch. The second change is from compliance to discipline. The difference between compliance and discipline is subtle but profound. People comply with something that is external or outside of themselves. Discipline, in contrast is internal, integrated in day-to-day behaviour of individuals and in the management process. The absence of heavy load of compliance does not imply a free for all chaos. Nor does it means that a company cannot have the systems. Discipline is management by commitment. Self-discipline in people means that if there is meeting at nine, everybody is in room at nine. Self-discipline means that even if management team takes a decision that one particular member of the team disagreed with or argued against, he or she will fully commit to the decision once it is made.
Third, the culture of high performance companies replaces control with the norm of support. As oppose to perception that bosses exist to control, to ensure people do not do the wrong things , organisation experience a genuine culture change when people at junior management believes that their bosses exist for one reason and one reason alone: to help them win,
- To help them win by personal coaching, guidance, mentoring.
- To help them win by helping them gain access to resources of the rest of the organisation, that they themselves may not have access to, but ultimately, to help them win.
That creates a culture of support.
Finally, there is shift from contract to trust Not just as the contractual instrument , instrument version of trust but a deeper level of trust where is trust you as we are part of same organisation and I trust you is a starting condition , and till you prove unworthy , and not the other way round.
The core belief behind employee engagement is that, employees need extrinsic motivation to perform and make best use of their potential. More often than not companies organize employee engagement activities without any well thought employee engagement philosophy or strategy. External consultants, rather than asking tough questions opt for easy route and in order to make “foot in door” entry and earn quick money join bandwagon. Organizing engagement survey has become annual ritual, often questionnaires and engagement models are changed without revisiting observations of previous year or evaluation of last year’s initiatives. The time has come for organisations to make a paradigm shift and reflect, if their system, process, policies are creating a hot enervating culture of Mumbai or pleasant invigorating culture of Shimla within themselves. Such transformative reflections are very difficult for companies till they gets into crisis ,very few companies have consciously created “pit stops” or provisions for “preventive health check-up”. Such reflections process will not be part of ‘tick mark’ activities and initially their budgetary provisions will be difficult, but sincere efforts will be visible in bottom-line and top-line of the companies. The key to remain agile and high performing organisation is to invest on creating employee experience.
Image credit- http://fredmouawad.com
Rajesh Trivedi, Founder & Director, Tui Consulting: Rajesh is a passionate change leader and Certified Organisation Development Consultant. After having 10-12 years of experience in various corporate like Vodafone, Siemens, Fortis Healthcare etc, and last 5 years he is working on various Organisation Development assignments to unleash organisational energy and build organisation culture.