Are we in for ‘democratisation’ of organisation?

0
188

Collaborative leadership is the way. It gives employees a seat at the leadership table and makes them partners in defining the vision and plan for their organisation.

Recently, employees compelled Google to give up on a contract with Pentagon as they didn’t want to get involved with anything to do with war, and they felt that their work was being used for the same.
 
Google’s case in not unique. Nike was forced to cut ties with Bangladeshi suppliers – because its employees lobbied against unsafe working conditions back in Bangladesh.
 
In the automobile sector, employees have forced companies such as General Motors, Ford and Chrysler to reduce their carbon footprints.
 
The fact is employees are now using their megaphones to raise voice against their own companies for causes they care about or ways they think are right.
 
Can we call this a ‘democratisation’ of an organisation where not just the leadership takes all strategic and business decisions but employees have an equal say.
 
Says Kamlesh Dangi, group president HR, UTI MF, “Democratisation of organisations or employees dates back to the era of IR in manufacturing or labour intensive industries where a unionised environment impacted various organisational decisions.”
 
“Quality circles in organisations are a proof of democracy within. While there can be other committees such as for food, employee health and so on to ensure employee satisfaction, quality circles that have a direct impact on productivity and business results show how democratisation of organisations can work in favour,” he adds.
 
Employees are not just forcing companies to take a business decision that’s aligned with their thoughts. Leadership also has to succumb to the employee pressure and step down in case of any wrong doings.
 

Sunitha Lal

We are democratic in how we work because our values and associated behaviours encourage people to express their views. One of our most important values is – Know your true north – which directs us to always understand and focus on the ‘why’ of everything that we do.

In 2014, a handful of Mozilla employees got the then-CEO Brendan Eich to resign for his involvement in an anti-gay marriage campaign.
 
So what led to this change?
 
Increasing number of millennials at the workplace, gravitate to jobs and products that align with their thoughts and values.
 
In the past, employees were told ‘what to do’ and this system worked for a longer period of time.
 
When organisations realised that the top-down approach doesn’t work any longer, they started to get the employees involved in the business decision process wherein their views were welcome but the final decision was always taken by the leadership team and more often they ignored or gave less weightage to employees’ opinions.
 

Kamlesh Dangi

As most Indian setups are promoter led. While in the US, since the organisations involved are professionally managed, the whole situation was looked at with a mutually beneficial professional perspective, whereas in India where most organisations are promoter driven such situations may be treated differently.

Now employees have proved that their opinion cannot be brushed aside any longer and their views are of utmost importance so much so that organisations are forced to change their business decisions even at the cost of financial loss.  

Experts believe that to avoid such uncomfortable situations and internal agitations, collaborative leadership is the way. It gives employees a seat at the leadership table and makes them partners in defining the vision and plan for their organisation.

Sunitha Lal, head, people operations & strategy, Ather Energy, says, “At the end collaboration is key as we believe that none of us is as smart as all of us.”
 
Lal says that her organisation is open to employee ideas. “We are democratic in how we work because our values and associated behaviours encourage people to express their views. One of our most important values is – Know your true north – which directs us to always understand and focus on the ‘why’ of everything that we do.”

The benefits of collaborative leadership include higher quality options and strategies, greater employee buy-in for new directions and the required actions, greater organizational agility in the face of rapid change, and ultimately, better business performance.

Globally, yes! But back home in India, do we see such a trend coming up?

Not likely now.

“It’s tricky! As most Indian setups are promoter led. While in the US, since the organisations involved are professionally managed, the whole situation was looked at with a mutually beneficial professional perspective, whereas in India where most organisations are promoter driven such situations may be treated differently,” opines Dangi.

Comment on the Article

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here