Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Creating “culture of ownership”

Scenario today is that almost all companies, while recruiting new employees, consider investing in a person for 1 quarter and expect payback from the 2nd quarter. In my opinion there is nothing wrong in keeping such expectations and 1 quarter is certainly a reasonable period for any new employee to understand company, job responsibilities, work culture and perceived value to the company clients along with their expected outcome.

Unfortunately the reality is very different displaying huge gap between the expectations and results. In record of my experience, expected results and actual results are never found in sync with each other so either you set the expectations at a right level or you work on how to create fear free “culture of ownership”.

End of the day result matter the most to every business owners and no company will invest in an employee who is not generating revenue or create value for their clients in some form or the other. We all know that in digital economy, tools & technics, buyer’s behavior, expectations and perceived values have become volatile. They keep changing very fast however most of the companies do not have mechanism to initiate conscious efforts in re-evaluating things that will keep their employees happy and satisfied. This situation has created high iteration situation. Employees have also developed an attitude of looking at their jobs as stepping stone for their next job. In crude language we can say that they have developed an attitude of “use & throw” even for their jobs.
This situation can never ever create “culture of ownership” for any company. Work culture that exists since long time is task driven and deliverable or meeting deadlines matter the most. 

Creating “culture of ownership” is something that everyone talks about but how to create will require vigorous brain storming session. Creation of “ownership culture” is a tough job since most of the tasks are inter-dependable in nature, which becomes easy for employees to start blame game. Escapism is seen increasing in companies and ownership feeling is completely missing.

This situation will have bad impact especially on newly recruited employees and what is seen is that, non-performers leave their jobs (may be asked to leave), few employees fall in “acceptable-average” category so if you decide to continue with them, you need to be ready for “more investment” into them in terms of their training - coaching, efficiency, perception clarity. Very few employees are identified scoring high on their commitments. They are the ones who have the capabilities to bring high value for the company clients. How to retain them is a question that will require matured thinking, experience and knowledge of their COO. In fact, you actually have to identify and introduce corrections for your existing work culture.

Over a period of time employees who have displayed consistency and positive results are the “true performers”. They are the one who bring maximum amount of value to the customers and retaining such employees is of prime importance for every company. Key stakeholders and senior management of the company should device sound strategy that can help retaining such employees from numerous perspectives. Think about the “total cost to the company”, for losing performing employees, it is very high considering hiring expanse, their productivity, impact of client experience and cost of training and coaching new employee replacing the performing employee.

Point here is what can be done about it? Company image is always a reflection of their company culture and building of company culture is closely integrated with real client focus. Real client focus is required to be reflecting in the customer experience, every time when they interact with the company. If you wish to initiate route level corrections, you will have to change your company Image and there is no short cut for it.

Try shaping up perception of “ownership”

For doing this, you need to first create a “fear free” work environment in the company and allow individual to decide his / her own job role. I am sure they know what they are good at and integrate it with their own job role. "Ownership" will automatically get integrated with their job role so their performance outcome will be true reflection of the efforts with their full potential. Encourage them to dream big and provide enables that will help them reach their dream destination.

New outlook for rewarding performers

First identify and then introduce some new ways of incentivizing the performer and recognition should be across the company. This is not a new theory since most of the companies do have “performance awards”, “pay for performance” or awards kind of tools used for recognition. You actually need to evaluate fresh and decide whether the perceived value of these incentivizing tools is still the same or reduced? This can help you identify some new ways and tools for incentive's for the performers.

Create new opportunities for identified performers

Recognition by awards or cash incentives does not work all the times and you need to create new opportunities for performers. May be some higher responsibility linked with abroad tour, paid holidays for them with their family, ownership for new business vertical.  It could be something different than the above mention.

“Long weekend” and “Happy hours”

Declare holiday for the day that fall between festival holiday and weekends so employees can have long weekend to go out with their families. (This is tried and tested technic in Europe and USA but in India, the perception needs shaping up) Long weekend holiday will always be the best stress buster for all. Once a quarter, organize “happy hours” randomly on some Friday and provide an opportunity to employees to socialize. 

Sitting against the monitor for almost 8+ hours a day is becoming stress builder for many employees so unexpected-unplanned-suddenly declared “happy hours” on some Friday will work as energy bite. They all can talk about life outside of routine task and delivery.

Think about it.

Matured thinking minds with conceptual perceptive clarity are the caretakers of the company

Bhartesh Sagar

February 4, 2014

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