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Tony Hsieh, CEO -
I became the part of that culture and soaked in it day and day out. It didn’t stop here though as I was absorbed in the system. During the course of my journey there came many a pivoting points where my abilities were tested to the hilt. One thing which always kept me going was the supplement continuously injected in me i.e. building on my abilities. Yes, that’s right my skills were being upgraded from to time to time, keeping me abreast with changing scenario.
Yes sir, I am talking about providing your employees with tools which keep them in league with their peers which helps them in organizing, managing & achieving their goals irrespective of the fact whether it’s on personal or professional front i.e. Training (Self Development) your teams for battle/s to come is the route to success. It is one of the most sought after tool which every employee looks forward to being provided for. It infuses that confidence nee zest in everyone which is necessary to beat one’s competition hands down. In today’s competitive scenario where keeping up with the opposition is a challenge, roles change, new products/tools keep coming, and multitasking is norm rather than an exception, all these require constant up gradation of ones skills, and it is not just the technical Training I am referring to but, also including skills other than that such as communication, people handling, time management etc.
One more brick which provides strength to this wall of culture is to gauge the health/thought process of your employees’ vis. a vis. their leaders. In one of the organisation I know of, a well-
How time flies one doesn’t know specially in corporate setup, until and unless your days spent there are turned into a celebration of sought. One more thing which really astonished me was a practice followed in another organization. I noticed that every now and then all of us would be called for an impromptu gathering and then the senior people would come forward and announce to the surprise of one of us that the person has completed, say a month, a quarter or an year with the organization followed by a round of applause by everyone and a commendation certificate as a gesture of goodwill from the organization.
This gesture on part of the organization of celebrating an employee’s completion of certain days with them was looked upon by everyone and helped in creating that buzz in each and every one right from the top of pyramid to the bottom.
There is another aspect related to the one shared above. One works for an organization... Period!!!, you reach your workplace exchange greetings with others usually sitting next to you or close by and that’s about how the day begins with the same routine followed in the evening. A thought though does cross our mind maybe, just out of curiosity or otherwise that who is the person sitting next to me, who are the people in the organization I am working with, what about their families etc. Seldom do we go all out or are encouraged to know the person next to us. Do you think this is a healthy sign for an organization?
Well the answer is quite obvious. One can easily imagine the monotony of work in such an organization, the solution to this was quite simple which was encouraged by the organization I was associated with. In order to bring some semblance to our daily grind and break the wall nee barrier between us, a day was kept aside every month whereby right from Top leaders to everyone down the line would congregate at our office premises along with our families in toe and then the fun would begin. There used to be a lot of hype created around this monthly activity and not for nothing as we all got a break from the dreaded work monotony and came to know each other a little better than before through activities like children’s competitions, family outings with outdoor activities thrown in for good measure.
This not only brought us closer to colleagues but also helped us bond better with others by giving us a chance to interact/connect with each other, other than just being establishing a working/superficial relationship. Bonding with an employee’s family was thus another reason why this organization provided a better work / family balance. Moreover inviting the families of top performers and facilitating them on bigger platform in presence of the entire forum worked wonders and created a WOW factor not only for the employee being recognized but also for their immediate family as well.
Another way this was taken a step ahead was celebrating special days in every employee’s life. Every senior was supposed to have a calendar with them highlighting special occasions in their team’s life beyond workplace like not only our birthdays when a personalized mail was circulated by HR to the entire organization wishing us and also, every last day of the month was reserved for celebrating combined birthdays of all the employees whose birthday fell during that month, what with a huge cake being arranged along with a personalized card signed by everyone in the organization being handed over to you by the TOP Management in presence of one and all. Apart from that, we were given a day off to celebrate the same with our families, but also birthdays of our family members, anniversaries etc. It was not only restricted to this, the organization stood by each and every employee during the times when one is most vulnerable or needs a supporting hand i.e. during any adverse crisis. Like one huge family we all were encouraged to stick together through thick & thin with the Top Brass leading the way.
One more arrow in the quiver of a great cultural organisation which I came across was activities related to connecting their employees with the community/society. My Organization was engaged with NGO's working towards the upliftment of Orphans and other down trodden where by we were expected to donate old clothes, toys and everything which would apparently of no use to us but, could make difference in the lives of others. This aspect of the organization broadened our understanding of the life on the fringe of society and how we could connect with them in a humane way. Apart from that, activities like blood donation camps, tree plantation, recycling of old papers, bottles etc. were organised from time to time. These are the ways which keeps not only an organisation but, its employees as well rooted to ground realties, thus making valuable contribution to the society in the process.
Another classic example of a great working culture would be how an organization treats an employee who is on the verge of moving ahead in life. This is crucial as the employee would already be under duress with his ties getting severed with you and the impending task of joining and living up to the expectations of his new organization. Most organizations slip on this whereas to make things easier for your employee and also to do a quick self-
Here, I would again like to quote an example of the organization which is among the top 10 organisations in the country, which I was engaged with and decided to move on a new assignment due to unforeseen circumstances with no time to serve a prior notice/handover forget about any other formality including my clearance. What do you think the organisation's reaction would have been under the given circumstances?
I was taken aback by the response of this organization when I received all my dues including my relieving letter via courier at my place after a month of my leaving them. This was not the end of it as after certain period when my PF was about to lapse with me being not even aware of it, I get a call from the HR stating the same and sending me the form by courier to be filled and sent back to them by a certain date. I received my PF within the stipulated time post my sending the form back. WOW!
Well to conclude this epilogue the Organizations big or small need not go for overkill to retain their most precious thing their people. Small gestures as shared above executed with heart & soul will do the job where expensive concepts would fail. Humans crave for care, love, sincerity and little appreciation and don’t necessarily look for monetary/worldly benefits from the organization they are
I have given you ample clues so as how to build a great culture in an organization irrespective of size. It’s up to each one of us regardless of the position we occupy in the ladder of hierarchy of how we engage our teams.
To summarize, building a great organizational culture where people are not mere commodities but a valued partner what better would be than the fabulous words of Steve Jobs -
"The people who are doing the work are the moving force behind the Macintosh. My job is to create a space for them, to clear out the rest of the organization and keep it at bay".
Rest as they say is history.