“I have discovered with advancing years that few things are black or white, but more often different shades of grey”
There are good things and bad things and I think it’s kind of blindfolded to say one idea is more wonderful, as it may be, but there may be a lot of bad things as well. A particular concept may not resonate with me, but the same concept may give successful results to some other individual.
Authoritative, closed door and extremely controlled atmosphere dominated one of my client’s work culture. I remember clearly how at a meeting with this client I sat there observing and absorbing the environment. From cabins to cubicles, from VPs to trainees, from the company owners greeting us as we entered to seeing us off, I made a mental note of everything. I quickly judged the work environment to be completely opposite of what ideally it should be – simple, open and flexible.
I love ideas & concepts that are simple, fun and transparent, so this culture was in complete contradiction with my virtues.
‘The decisions are taken by the Managing Director alone’
‘Our lunch & snack breaks are timed. If we miss the time deadline more than 2 times, then our leaves get deducted.’
‘We have to reach office by 9:00 am sharp, or we get a cut in the salary’ said some of the employees and confirmed my belief in the fact that the culture was extremely stifling
So armed with data points and an analysis, I marched ahead to change the culture. My initiatives brought about positive changes initially but suddenly there was no progress. It was as if the project had become stagnant. The environment suddenly became neutral to my initiatives.
I headed back into my idea culture zone, with a pen in one hand & coffee in another. I noted down all my observations and used the Google tool all night long. After a thorough research and analysis of the case, I realized that I was trying to change the culture according to what I thought was good and bad.
As they say, not everything is good or bad, there are shades in between. The employees at the client place had adapted and were rooted in the culture of their company. What was needed was a subtle change, some tweaks in the culture keeping their base principles constant.
We often make our own judgements of what is good and bad based on our values. But it may not always be right.
This client company had core principles of a more conservative nature, but that is what worked with the employees as they had subconsciously adapted to those virtues. One of the principles of the company was that the MD made all the decisions. He was the ultimate authority on everything. Another core principle that the company gave a lot of importance to was discipline. What we did was we clearly defined the principles and designed positive programs around these core principles.We introduced initiatives in such a way that they benefited both the employees and the employer.
Eg: We turned the central decision making culture into a strength for the company by introducing various mentoring programs that maintained the MD as the sole authority. We increased the communication channels between the employees and the employer. This resulted in employees understanding the logic behind every decision taken by the MD. It made work for the employees easier& increased their engagement levels.
What I learnt from this project was that it is not as important to change the situation completely as it is to use it as a strength by tweaking it a little.
Culture forms the foundation of your company and is the base for your decision making and strategy planning.
Culture affects your daily decision, strategies and outcomes. So understand the core principles of your culture and give it as much importance as you would to building products.
Create an idea culture & see the change happen.