How to build a sustainable culture at the workplace

Updated: September 22, 2017 4:23:48 PM

For an organization to have a sustainable business model in the long run, it is necessary that it builds a sustainable culture within it.

sustainable culture at work place, work place ideal culture, work place environment, develop a good work place environmentSustainable culture is one which resonates with every stakeholder of the organization – be it customers, employees, suppliers, so on and so forth. (Reuters)

By- Kinjal Choudhary     

For an organization to have a sustainable business model in the long run, it is necessary that it builds a sustainable culture within it. Sustainable culture is one which resonates with every stakeholder of the organization – be it customers, employees, suppliers, so on and so forth. It is a culture where customers return repeatedly, where people feel the urge to contribute their best to the organization on a continual basis, where suppliers want to do business again and again. None of them for monetary benefits alone but because each of them feel that the organization values resonate with their own values and thus there is an inherent satisfaction. This is in sharp contrast to a mercenary culture where people are motivated by monetary rewards alone and contribute as a quid pro quo to the monetary rewards which the organization promises. While the latter can deliver results, even exceed expectations in the short run, sooner than later the steam runs out. A sustainable culture, quite to the contrary, builds a work environment which is inherently satisfying and therefore does not have to rely on extrinsic lever like monetary rewards to engage people.

The essential sine qua non for a sustainable culture is that the organization must have a set of values which resonate with those of the employees who work therein. When the personal values of the employees are aligned to those of the organization, there is a resonance which occurs and results in intrinsic motivation for employees.

With millennials being the most intrinsic part of people matters in the organization, companies are setting up practices that encourage innovation, assist in career building, drive a strong sense of purpose and brings in stability.

Aligning Company Goals to Personal Values

The values are put in place at the time of hiring to ensure that the talent which comes into the organization is aligned to the organizational values. This alignment ensures enthusiastic fresh talent in the office premises that is charged up from the very first day and hits the ground running. But what is more important is that since the individual values are aligned to those of the Organization, the employees tend to contribute and go the full nine yards as if it were their own business. In other words, it creates committed employees who show a high degree of ownership.

Listening to the Voice of the Employees

Not only have many more organizations adopted anonymous surveys as a method to listen to their employees, they are now creating differentiated opportunities to gather employee suggestions for taking decisions. More organizations are developing values that are put to place in every people related decision- be it performance evaluation, promotion or succession planning.

Performance Evaluation

When it comes to performance evaluation, it is not only the “what” which is important but so is the “how”. High or low performance in a single Quarter or for that matter even a year, can be a function of various factors; but how that performance has been achieved, whether the employee has demonstrated the values of the organization or not is what determines the sustainability or the lack of it. As far as promotion or succession planning is concerned, it is essential to ensure that as the employees move up in the organization they are visibly demonstrating the values which the organization believes in. People below look up to their seniors on what values are being demonstrated and if they find a dichotomy between the espoused values of the organization with what the senior management is demonstrating visibly, it creates confusion in the organization and leads to cynicism and lack of trust on the management per se. Therefore, for all promotions as well as succession planning is done basis values demonstrated rather than basing them simply on past performance alone.

Believing in Customer Centricity

This means keeping the customer at the center of every decision. At the end of the day whatever we do should add value to the customer is some way or the other; if it does not, then it is not worth doing. The inherent belief is that what is beneficial for the customer would certainly be beneficial to the Company in the long run.

Building Excellence

It’s essential for resources to constantly raise the bar to challenge themselves to greater heights. This helps develop an individual’s personal strengths, stimulates competitiveness and helps companies improve quality.

Being high on Passion

You “own” what you do and do not treat work as a set of KRAs (key result areas). You behave like “owners” and lose sleep when you are not satisfied with what has been achieved. It is not good enough saying “I have done my part”; what is important is to deliver the value for the customer. It is this relentless passion to deliver value to the customer which keeps an organization going and builds sustenance.

Ethics & Transparency

Millennials today believe in being clear and upfront about their expectations. With the choices increasing day by day, it’s important for organizations to build in trust and credibility through a transparent work culture. This entails instant and honest feedbacks, over the year performance reviews and maintaining an equity in pay-scale. This holds true for dealing with stakeholders, be it customers, employees or suppliers. Even if the actions are unpopular at times, they would always stand the test of being fair and ethical.

Respect for People, Processes and Systems

It is an old adage that respect you get is the respect you show. To implement a flat work culture, it’s important to respect people in each and every interaction, whoever she/ he may be, adhering to processes and systems wherever required. Processes and systems are not some printed material to be kept in some cupboard or archived in some remote folder in the computer, but something that’s sacrosanct to business operation on a day to day basis.

(The author is Sr. Vice President and CHRO at VE Commercial Vehicles)

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