Culture eats process for breakfast!!

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Written By Voitto Insights

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Every organization has a certain inbuilt culture, which is mainly driven by the promoter and managers. There is a high risk that the structure can be turned upside down due to external interferences also E.g. Political interference, trade unions etc.

Organizations that thrive, understand the importance of having a right culture within. They understand that performance and merit should be the top most criteria for evaluating promotions and rewards.

These organizations are aware and also know that performance can only be a byproduct of great processes.

However, very few recognize that only a right culture will ensure right adherence. Else, wrong self serving processes can be easily set up with the wrong culture, which was already in place earlier. The onus lies with senior management to avoid pitfalls.

1. What is culture?

Culture as defined in Wikipedia as an umbrella term encompassing the human behavior and norms found in human societies. It includes the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of individuals in groups. It also includes the behaviors, which are an outcome of the above.

2. What is process?

Process is anything, which is formed to make a sequence of tasks easier to perform and in a standardized form. Standardized, so as to adhere to uniform quality, else brand value and reputation may suffer. This is usually from a perspective of achieving an end goal. The sub steps are the best practices learnt from experience or in general, from text books. Objectives may differ. For example a process for recruitment, client acquisition, fraud prevention, manufacturing etc.

3. How does culture impact process?

A good culture can bring best practices of process formation and adherence. Processes can be made by outsourcing too, however adherence to processes has to be carried out by internal stakeholders i.e. employees for the most part of it. A good culture ensures employee satisfaction, who then ensures that process adherence is for the benefit of the organization.

Let us explore in more depth. Below points contribute to poor work culture and should be avoided.

a. Employees not being enthusiastic about company vision

It is extremely important for promoters and and specifically HR to effectively communicate the company vision with employees. Why? As it helps propel everyone towards a common goal. For example, if the vision of an organization is to innovate. Will it succeed in fulfilling the vision, if no innovator is included in the team or no one makes consistent efforts to strive towards the same? Will current employees recommend innovators to work here if they are not aligned to the vision? Thus, it has to be collective efforts and people have to be on board.

b. Milestones rarely celebrated

An organization with excellent culture will leave no stone unturned to celebrate milestones achieved. Celebrating even the smallest of milestones can be bit of an overstretch. However, one should not ignore the benefits of such celebrations. It also strengthens team bonding as employees collaborate for such celebrations.

Activities bring people closer and such office wide celebrations actually helps intermingling between departments. So, Bob from Finance would know Mark from marketing better.

c. Inadequate recognition and training for the employee

Not every employee can be self motivated and it will be a big mistake to assume the same. Hence, it is so important to keep motivating employees frequently. These can be be simple activities like small gift and thank you notes. They will know that you care. Celebrating employee life milestones can be another simple idea. E.g. a marriage, first born etc.

Employees, if not recognized and appreciated soon wither off and all initiative vanishes. Few organizations stop appreciating employees as there is no growth envisaged in the organization or salary cost is perceived to be high. However, they miss the chance to challenge and develop his/her skills. It is usually left to the employee, who is unable to upgrade himself due to other financial commitments at home.

Few believe, what is the use of training an employee, if s/he would ultimately leave. I find this argument hilarious as it is like saving pennies at the cost of pounds. Or more appropriately as being ‘penny wise and pound foolish.’ It also indicates that management does not have a long term view for that employee.

In such a culture the employee is fast to recognize these signals and then forms a mindset of only doing the bare minimum. The processes go for a toss as the person on ground feels it is just another transaction. This then boils down to deteriorating service quality for clients. Who then prefer better serviced companies.

The other company with motivated staff and great culture was able to provide better service to clients and therefore attract good creditworthy clients to itself. It is that simple.

d. Inadequate remuneration for the work performed

Remunerations should be benchmarked with other competitors. It sends a positive signal and helps in attracting the best talent, if there is true zeal to grow the organization. On the other hand reducing remuneration is an effective way to drive away talent. The organization will be left with low grade talent, who are not able to truly appreciate and implement growth strategies for the team.

Many a times talent does not come cheap but that person is able to rejuvenate the organization through his vision and charismatic appeal. Create many such leaders in the organization by paying adequately as per industry standards or even better. They will appreciate you for this.

e. Social life and health security not ensured for employees

In the rush to generate maximum profitability for the department/organization, we often forget the need for employees to recharge themselves by having a decent social life. Low pay staff needs health security for their family as well. It has a very simple logic. If the employee is engaged with issues of mental health or family health, s/he does not have that head space to contribute meaningfully to the organization.

It always helps to watch out for burnout symptoms in your team and build in periodic buffers for work life balance. Also ensuring the team member’s loved ones are taken care of in the form of a simple health insurance can go a long way in ensuring loyalty and long lasting relationships.

f. Internal departmental silos

Departmental silos exist, if there are lack of cross departmental activities within the organization. These silos dampen the culture building initiatives and help promote unnecessary power centers. These are extremely harmful as the major impact is on the organization culture. Lack of inter departmental trainings also contribute to the formation of such silos.

The most effective way to break these is to have more mental model trainings and joint activities or projects for the team.

4. Concluding remarks

Being the cut above the rest requires thoughtful efforts and collaboration of the team. Aim to build that culture. Inculcate the vision and values of the organization by planning activities at regular intervals and at the same time helping the human recourse upgrade skills. It can be as simple as guiding the person towards a course, which you think can help him realize a dream or goal.

It works both ways. Once the employee knows that you are out there helping him/her realize dreams, s/he will go all out to support yours. Your processes will no longer be compromised and there would be willing adherence. Focus on the culture ! Give it a mindful thought.

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