The culture of a place is determined by the attitude of its people, as well as their values and beliefs. In a workplace, culture manifests itself in the way people dress and speak, their beliefs, their daily work habits, customs, traditions, work ethics and experiences.
Mangesh Bhide, head-HR, Reliance Jio says in his personal capacity, “Based on the operating philosophy and culture values of an organisation, a boundary condition is derived, which becomes the culture.”
Alignment of employee culture with organisational culture
Companies establish culture fitness of an employee by aligning their core values against that of the employee.
“At Times Internet we have a unique ecosystem of multiple digital businesses. There are ten strong values (called the TIL10) that define our overarching value system, though each business unit within TIL has certain distinct cultural traits,” says Rattan Chugh, chief people officer at Times Internet.
Senior business leaders have a vision to change the behaviour of people in their organisation to improve their preparedness in changing environments. Shilpa Vaid, CHRO, Arvind Lifestyle says, “An example of leadership behaviour, which we believe in is bias for action, where we recognise someone for exemplary execution skill. That’s a behaviour we put a premium on.”
“At Times Internet we have a unique ecosystem of multiple digital businesses. There are ten strong values (called the TIL10) that define our overarching value system, though each business unit within TIL has certain distinct cultural traits.”
The employer determines the culture fitness of a potential employee through a job interview. In the interview, the core strength and behavioural attitude of the candidate is established. The longevity of an employee in a workforce depends on the cultural compatibility between the organisation and the employee.
Chugh shares a few behavioural questions that can be asked to determine the cultural value of a potential employee at an interview, “Share an example of a time when you were successful in doing something important to you and tell us how you achieved that goal. This helps in understanding what success means to the candidates, their perspective on achieving success (how, what)”
Bhide says it is not a foolproof mechanism, but based on a candidate’s responses and expression at the time of interview one is able to comprehend whether she or he fits into an organisation.
“I do not recollect too many who have backed out due to culture, but if a person does not join due to any reason, it is better to have not joined in the first place than leave after joining.”
Culture weaves employers and employees together and makes them a company.
According to Chugh, “Cultural fit is hard to define, but one knows when it is missing. One does make mistakes at times and the important thing is to accept the mistake at the earliest and identify the way forward.”
What makes it a two-way street?
India has seen a large wave of foreign companies entering its boundary across industries. It is witnessing a big expat population in its workforce. The market dynamism and technology have led to a vibrant culture in the workplace. Ticking the core strength category is not enough for a potential employee. Other parameters that all sum up to culture also need to be matched before they candidate accepts a job.
The following points act as a catalyst for an employee, who is deciding which company to join.
1) A team-player most of the time or likes to work individually
2) A small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond
3) How people dress and talk to seniors
4) Motivation, incentive and practices followed
5) Employee engagement and employee support programmes
A company’s culture is its basic personality and employees have multiple avenues to appraise that and find their perfect fit. For the workforce today, resonation with culture has become an important rationale behind joining an organisation.
“There is an emphasis on ‘will do’ culture, which we want to preserve as that has made us successful till now. Though there are elements that need to evolve as we are growing, there are tell-tale signs around us, which provide an impetus to change. We are pushing attitudes like open-mindedness, external focus, and agility among our people.”
On asking Bhide, if he has seen candidates back out on grounds of culture disparity after receiving an offer letter, he responds, “I do not recollect too many who have backed out due to culture, but if a person does not join due to any reason, it is better to have not joined in the first place than leave after joining.”
“I am aware of people conducting reference checks, but we have not had any instance where people have backed out,” says Shilpa.
Change in culture
Values and operating mechanism go hand in hand in creating the culture of a place. However, culture is modified from time to time. An aspirational leader tries to change people behaviour for higher goals or to keep abreast with changing environment. Employees are also motivated to develop values and behaviour that make them better at their jobs. At Arvind Lifestyle, there are awards given to employees based on values. Employers consciously create a work culture that will ensure the success of the organisation.
“There is an emphasis on ‘will do’ culture, which we want to preserve as that has made us successful till now. Though there are elements that need to evolve as we are growing, there are tell-tale signs around us, which provide an impetus to change. We are pushing attitudes like open-mindedness, external focus, and agility among our people,” says Vaid.
Culture is built over years, guided by emotions to fulfil a purpose. A lot has been spoken and written about culture, but the truth is that it remains a secret. Culture is a mind-set. It is instinctive and behavioural, and evolves slowly.