Tag Archives: Organizational culture

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.

Are You a Good Boss or a Bad One?

Gurulakshmi Iyer- Hait strongly believes that employees don’t leave jobs, they leave their managers! To this end, she delves a little into the quality that makes a person a good boss or a bad one. 


If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.
Bill Gates

bill-gates“Boss Calling” flashes on our cells and we jump out of our seats to answer the call. None of us are leading an absolutely free life – either we manage others or we are being managed by others. Simply put, either we boss around or are being bossed by someone else. Since subordinates mimic every move of their bosses, it is very important for managers to keep this in mind. Their work profile includes not only to projection of power but also setting a particular path for their subordinates to follow.

Do Bosses and Their Behavior Matter?

According to a study, the average boss adds about 1.75 times as much output as the average worker. The culture of any organization percolates from its top management. The style of leadership followed in an organization starts from the CEO’s office. The ripple effect of the leader’s style either helps in bolstering or undermining the cultures and performance levels.

A few years back, I had attended a Culture Building Programme. One of the exercises in the Programme involved collecting feedback of co-workers. Surprisingly, 65% of the feedback offered was for managers! It’s then that I realized the Halo effect. Employees give prominence to certain trait in their bosses and the whole evaluation in the employees’ mind happen on the basis of that. Every move, every decision of a boss is mimicked and scrutinized on such trait and yes, bosses really do matter.

leadership-skillsThe best bosses work relentlessly and use their power to their advantage. They control the organizational performance by tuning in to the people. Bosses who fail to do so not only make their lives hell but also ruin the peace and happiness of their subordinates. Almost 90% of attrition is directly or indirectly because of lousy bosses. People adjust to any moods and moves, but not to impossible bosses.

James Meindl’s research on “the romance of leadership” shows that the leaders get far more credit and blame than they deserve. If you are a leader in your organization, this is a part and parcel of your life.

If as a boss, you aren’t able to present negative feedback as constructive criticism, you are bound to spoil the morale of your subordinates and ruin their desire to work with you. At the end of the day, it’s your work that will suffer!

“Know how to project power, since those you lead need to believe you”.

Bob Sutton,Stanford Management Professor


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