I believe there is a straight route to business excellence – Define a powerful vision, back that with values that you would live by and then walk the talk. Culture is the sum total of this ‘walking & talking’.
Putting talent at the centre of business, at all times, strengthens the case for success.
Two powerful incidents elevated my thoughts on culture –
- Taj Mumbai and its management exemplified what humane culture is all about. On 26/11 terrorists invaded and attacked the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai. On that fateful day, throughout the attack, employees of the Taj put themselves out there, helping each other, putting safety of customers and colleagues above themselves. The aftermath saw management take over and every employee was extended the necessary support to rehabilitate themselves and take forward the spirit of putting people at the centre of the business.
- In another incident, a long-standing employee embezzled some money in a known, family owned organisation. He was caught. I was the point person in HR. However, my boss, the founder asked that the entire episode be kept private. The reason, – “He is a our long-standing employee, if he took this step, we failed as an organisation. Our process was weak, and our understanding of him and his needs poor. It is not his fault. We have recovered the money. Let us not run him dry of his life. As a human, he surely must feel ashamed of his doing”.
What was the driving force for the behaviours in both these instances? Values.
In both cases, organizations lived by each of the words as defined in their business value system. And in the case of the Taj, they told the world that this is possible, in life and in the face of death. All you need to do is to commit to those values.
If I were to take notes from these instances on shaping talent culture, they would be as follows –
- Choose your values thoughtfully. Keep them simple.
- Communicate them, induct them into the routine, into policies and processes, into lifestyle and living, into stakeholder’s value proposition.
- As humans, it is the most important thing to be accepted and recognized. Accept people for who they are, respect them. Acknowledge them every day.
- Be fair in dealing with each other.
- Be inclusive of human beings.
- Diversity is accepting the vast differences between one human and another in every way. Put that in practice.
- Communicate, communicate and communicate: up-down, sideways, backward, forward and however needed so that values germinate from the system and become a part of the mainstream.
- Make vision and values a part of the employee experience. Reward and recognise behaviours that exemplify values.
- Induction & Exit – Make these areas the touch points of values. Most often when employees leave the system, organisations don’t care. Values play a great role in exit. Remember humans carry learnings and experiences with them. Don’t miss the chance to give your exiting employees the experience of a lifetime.
Finally, Culture by definition is intangible. The business context makes it tangible, data-oriented, process-led and measured.
However, its success lies in the intangible & unsaid – in living the culture because you believe in it and not because you are being watched.
Author- Rashmi Deshpande is an HR specialist, a business coach, a transformation specialist and a leadership champion with 27 years behind her. She’s a co-founder of Crafting Capability Pvt. Ltd., a boutique HR services firm. Through Crafting Capability, she and her team, build dream teams, help organisations put together sustainable talent architectures, align teams under the umbrella of a vision, run executive coaching & development programs, and work with business to create a world class talent function as outsourced partners