Tag Archives: Organization

S Venkateshwaran On Dysfunctional Organization Cultures And Falling Corporate Empires

ganesh article on Culture

A reader of Mission Sharing Knowledge S Venkateshwaran had this to say on one of our previous articles. Since we thought the comment to be really relevant, we have published it in its entirety. 

Dysfunctionality tends to occur in those organization more often than not, where the Boss is either a self made person who thinks that he / she knows how to run the business, or has an aggressive approach to business more out of the need to over achieve. I have worked in an organization where the Boss was so stern that he would keep pushing people in all directions. Every day would start off with meetings in which all the heads had to participate.

This would go on for an hour (discussing the activities of the previous night in terms of production targets etc.), followed usually by two or three in depth meeting with selected departments and finally followed by end of day meeting to review what was supposed to be done in the day. At the end of it all, he would rave and rant because work did not happen. To ensure this, he would make all the Heads stay back late.

The irony was he wanted a strong HR team that would “fearlessly” tell him when he was wrong. Quite obviously, when that happened, the poor guy was out of work the next week. Highly emotional, and rigid, the person would shower abuses which would put a rickshaw driver to shame.

The only group of people who were able to work with him, were, not surprisingly, those who could flatter and live up as his ego alters, who also used the same technique of imposing themselves on the poor “lower the line” persons. Not surprisingly, attrition was very high; but this did not affect him, even though others in the company knew the reality but choose to keep quiet.

Based on my observations, some of the traits of a dysfunctional Manager I would think are:

Tells you to do something you don’t want to do, but blames you when it goes wrong.
Says He / She wants you to take responsibility, and then publicly overrides your decisions.
Loves to be in front when there is a big audience otherwise will send sub juniors to attend a customer.
Intimidates with aggressive words and posture, knowing that you will never confront but becomes a pacifier when confronted. .
Handles meetings as though he is the only speaker.
Revels in the invention of creative curses for just the right occasion.
Verbally approves new requisitions, later denies doing it.
Gets too personal in his berating.
Ride you mercilessly while pet employees can do no wrong.
Always right: when confronted with mistakes, blames them on someone else.
Fiercely protective of pet projects.
Highly compulsive and obsessive about minute details.
Displays a good understanding of the “Good Cop” and “Bad Cop” routines and generally practices it.

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Dysfunctional Organization Cultures And Falling Corporate Empires

ganesh article on Culture

Ganesh Subramanian from IIM Trichy writes why without transparency in communication organizations would invite doom. 

A friend of mine called me up a few days ago seeking some suggestions to come out of the problems that she finds herself in, in her company. She works as a recruitment executive in a firm. She said that a week before her recruitment, the firm had rolled out offers to candidates who are joining a multinational firm, which is a client of this recruitment firm. Despite slogging for a week and achieving targets which have never been achieved before, there was little appreciation for the work done. Forget appreciation, there wasn’t even a mention of the work in the subsequent team meetings by her boss. To complicate matters, the recruitment team was asked to report to a lady who is supposedly well known to the boss. Now this lady is new to the business of recruitment having moved into this role only a few months back and behaves more like a school teacher than a team lead. In this scenario, my friend was contemplating quitting her job and she says that the organization culture is bad beyond repair.

In another example, a CEO of a firm is known for his frequent outbursts of anger, shouting at his subordinates, in front of others. The CEO’s behaviour has percolated down to the individual business units as business unit heads shout at their subordinates because the CEO shouts at them. The funny part is that this organization had a 360 degree appraisal system for assessment of performance. No wonder that the employees of the organization are scared to death when it comes to rating their superiors.

These two examples set me thinking on how organization cultures can make or mar organizations. Organizations such as those mentioned above fall into oblivion and get into a very bad cycle because nobody knows how to change this bad culture. It is very obvious that the cue has to come from the top management. The behaviour and the culture of the organisation have to be driven by the CEO and carried on by the business unit heads.

For sustainable growth of organizations, there must be transparency in communication, freedom and autonomy in work and more importantly an environment where everyone feeds off each other’s growth which in term helps them grow. The HR in the bad-cultured organizations become the scapegoat in the whole process as employees blame the HR for anything and everything little realizing that HR in such organisations do not have the power to overhaul systems in one go and they are mere spectators in the whole game.

To conclude, top management must be proactive in setting the right environment for a thriving organizational culture and must give the HR department the full freedom to maintain the culture, suggest changes for betterment and even change it.

Next Gen HR Mantra – Competency Based Approach

Business people crossing finish line

By Gurulakshmi Iyer-Hait

Dramatic growth will take place when we focus on the organization-with technology a part – rather than on technology alone.

-C.K.Prahlad

As a HR professional in a knowledge and tech based organization, when I had to frame a model for the annual appraisal process, I was surprised to see a paradigm shift by the top management. Instead of evaluating what is achieved, there has been a shift in the method to it being how it is achieved. Such competencies actually develop when multiple technologies are harmonized. Knowledge in most organizations is held by people. What is more difficult to identify are managerial competencies. Research shows leveraging on managerial competencies clubbed with efficient organization management can give an organization a competitive edge. So the framework basically comprised of managerial competencies.

It is expected of a manager to react to constant business changes in internal and external environment. Hence it has become a challenge for the HR to identify the managerial competencies. The biggest benefit of such approach is that it focuses on a specific employee and not the work position and does not comply with the HR policy. Hence not only training and development has to be taken care of, but also the career development factor is taken care of in this approach. This in turn also complies to the Maslow’s law of Hierarchy.

While I was working there, we had developed a model in connection with the organizational values rather than individual work positions. The model really helped in enabling to identify, measure and evaluate competencies within the organization. However every organization has their own models and there is no common consensus in regard to what framework should be followed.

According to Lucia and Lepsinger, certain competencies might be generic across several organizations but behaviors relating to those competencies vary widely from organization to organization. Hence in this approach it is the employees who are an important source for achieving a competitive edge to the organization.

next_generation_employee

Organizational Values – New Age Ingredient for Sustainability

Organizational Values

Gurulakshmi Iyer- Hait talks of why Business of business need not always be business and why importance to culture and value building can actually yield positive bottom line results

That business purpose and business mission are so rarely given adequate thought is perhaps the most important cause of business frustration and failure – Peter Drucker

“Don’t lie”,” Do not steal”,” Respect the elders” are some of the gyaan our parents and teachers give us time and again. We would either decide to follow those or not to without even realizing their relevance in our life. Value is definitely not an unknown word for us. And its relevance is such that all our actions, behavior and goals are determined by, knowingly or unknowingly, following such set of values.

We often hear people cribbing about their bosses, work and work environment. It was only when I attended a training programme on Values and Culture that I really came to know how those words from our parents and teachers can actually drive our conduct in the professional world too. While it not only got into my brains but I was thoroughly convinced they are more than theory and training materials.

Professional education in India has come a long way. However little attention has been given to subjects like Business Ethics and Social Responsibility. So much so that the management graduates now believe that they cannot survive in the corporate world if they hold on to their ideals and that these values and ethics are irrelevant in the world of work. There has always been a tussle between our personal ideals and the ones emerging in the society.

The fact that values impact decisions and when these are upheld by managerial decisions determine the organizational culture cannot be ignored. However most organizations perceive culture building as an image building exercise. Such organizations do have a statement of Organizational Values that are never brought into practice. It is because of inadequate competence in practicing rather than lack of intention.

Also as children we are always conditioned to be in the crowd and follow others. This conditioning to a large extent leads to imbalance in the corporate world wherein we follow what others follow in the organization not knowing whether they abide to our personal values or not. In fact we ourselves do not know what our personal values are. It requires huge amount of capability and courage to apply those. Dissatisfaction in work place is nothing but the incongruence of such beliefs.

Winning organizations are deeply concerned about their values and they invest time and money in nurturing and aligning their employees’ personal values to the organizational ones. And such are the organizations that consider values as one of the competence while hiring. In the past too, there has been many instances of big organizations failing because of its culture.

While metrics is all that matters to reap business results, it has been proved by many value driven organizations that giving importance to culture building can actually yield positive bottom line results. But any intervention towards this way is based on the belief that an organization can build culture around its chosen values only if its employees see their part in creating and practicing those values. And such culture has to percolate from the top level of the organization. Value driven organizations characterized by effective working relationships and great leaders to guide definitely yields business sustainability.

The crux of the matter is.. Business of business need not always be business!!!

crossed fingers at handshake