I walk into a Software MNC for a 7 pm meeting and I am greeted by a 40 something gentleman, wearing bright linen half sleeves and a earthy coloured Bermuda. “Hey Sachet, I am Sid, lets grab some black coffee” he says as I follow him towards an entertainment cafe within his 5,000 sq. ft. office. As I walk down the passage, I cannot help but get awestruck by the software nerds plugged into their system, some playing Counter Strike and jumping a couple of times every fourth second and shouting “Yes, Yes, Yes, you are dead mate”. The meeting goes well and I return home carrying some fond memories of a work culture that seems more like a teen party than corporate.
The next day, I meet MD of another MNC in similar industry as the day before and I am greeted by an MD wearing a well-fitted suit. “Welcome Mr. Mehta” he says, as I am rescued by him towards the meeting room. Yet again, I can’t help my inquisitiveness to peep into the work space and I am greeted by a series of boards that speak about the 5 S, Kaizen, Team work and a host of other banners and danglers that shout about process and structure.
This is India – the land of contrasts, the only place where you experience Rapid strides taken in the global economy, have drawn people closer. Refreshing congruent methods of businesses dealings between organizations took birth. India’s opening up of the private sector coupled with brilliant “Information Enlightenment”, threw open the country’s economic doors to the outside world. With more ‘players’ in the field, competition grew hotter as choices available for customers went up. Customers became Kings ! Obviously, it called for strategized planning and execution, leading to effective working methodology. Management of staff, stocking of resources, processes formulations AND a customer-oriented approach were keys within the business world.
To encompass the above variables so as to achieve targets, called for a well-defined, clear thinking and approach to both management and work execution. Innovation and Imagination got wedded to planning. ‘What method am I going use to guide my team?’ ‘What principles do I need to bring in so as to adopt the right culture for everyone be on the same path?’ Answers to these need to be well-aligned with organizational goals. The Mantra – “I win, my customers win, and MY people also win”, ELSE, get ready to lose talent to competitors. Pondering on these, our focus invariably falls on two of the most popular known working styles – The American and Japanese philosophy of work.
The American Way – Define the Problem, Scope, Identify ALL needed resources (including manpower), Identify Risks, Draw Timelines, Execute. The last part would put a smile on the faces of those who like the “Shoot-Or-Scoot-Just-Get-It” method. Something is implied there. Its the “Somehow, Anyhow” factor !! Uncle Sam doesn’t care as long as the target is achieved. The top Boss, who after targets are set, only WANTS EXPECTED RESULTS, period, case closed ! He ain’t bothered how and what way was taken, as long as the organization’s ethics and code of conduct was not compromised. Boss isn’t bothered whether you went to pick up groceries on a “working” day, or you banged away on your keyboard at work. You delivered the results he wanted, on time, with desired quality, period !
Japanese – Put that cowboy gun back in and take a DEEP breath ! Adherence to the organization’s code of conduct and processes are a must. You HAVE TO BE in office – on time, everyday ! That’s part of the process. Consultation with subordinates as part of decision making is common. Japs believe in collective contribution – team first, individual later, even while scripting success stories !
Indians – We are talented, technically gifted, yet confused. A unique but colourful conflux of different cultures and languages is what the world lauds about India. We believe in Karma – As you sow, so shall you reap ! Indians love it when they are treated like a family members. Family values run deep in our blood. But these seemingly sweet traits, somewhere tend to cross swords with effective working in the corporate world. Add to it, a curse Britishers left in our education system – fixation with score-sheets and ranks, narrowing the scope of thought process. Indians tend to come up short on communication, office etiquettes, positive attitude in adhering to processes, timeliness. Self-learning by staff via learning portals, encouraged participation in meetings and discussions are to be pushed.
Above ‘problems’ are KEY challenges for Human Resource Professionals. They are the doctors. Conducting Personality Development, Study Tours, and Employee Engagement Exercises are a must. Drawing positives from every style, and basing it on our core values would be THE INDIAN STYLE !
A change in paradigm
It is said that Monday mornings are most wonderful days for the employees and the employers, for they ask the most critical question of their life – “Why am I doing, what I am doing?” The only negative thing about this question is that it is often addressed to THE GOD. The same question, if asked to the SELF, holds the key to miracle…. a miracle called Self-Actualisation.
Isn’t it true that we can be a thousand times better than what we are today? “If only it wasn’t for the poor grades in the class. If only we had a different boss, a different organisation, a different country, a different profession, a different income ……”, and the blame game continues.
Let’s face it!!! We are also a thousand times better than what we could have been. This is a paradigm shifting thought. The second parah talks about the situation where we are being “used” – by grades, boss, organisations, situations and circumstances. This parah, the paradigm shifting thought, talks about the situation where we are being “built”. By its definition, a resource is what gets used and an asset is what gets built. Resources make us dependent/weak with their usage; Assets make us strong as they get built.
Stephen Covey in his best-selling book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, quotes an example of an employer who was once talking about his team being weak, they lacked a sense of responsibility, they were lazy and blah, blah, blah…… He was then asked “what do you do to fix it?” He replied authoritatively, “Bombard them with grenades of warning, threat and fire them”. To this, he was asked “who clears the dead bodies?” The employer didn’t believe there were dead bodies of crashed emotions, organisational unrest and a non-sustaining business. He was then asked “why don’t you do the same to your customers?” to which he exclaimed “Well, they are your customers, you can’t do that to your customers!” “But your employees are in your employ, so you can do it to your employees?” He was then asked whether the employees were dedicated. How was the employee turnaround? To this, the employer replied saying “You must be joking, there is a big turnaround, it’s difficult to find a good talent these days.” The employer was reminded that hiring & firing people is not a long-term solution. The organisational weakness need to be addressed at the core. Customers build your business outside and you grow inside. Employees build your business inside, so that you can grow outside. Customers and Employees both are, in that sense, and every sense, an ASSET. The former is outside while the latter is inside.
There is an Organisational AHAA with HA (Human as an Asset)!!!
While there is a frustrating AHRRRRRGH with HR (Human as a Resource)!!!