Gossip mongers are an integral part of any work culture. Almost everyone tries to avoid them until the time they themselves are affected. However, here is a young company that has a zero-tolerance policy towards gossip. So much so that every new joinee has to sign a ‘No-Gossip’ agreement at the time of joining, and follow it religiously throughout their tenure with the company!
Founded in 2014, Chalo, a bus-mobility company, takes this rule quite seriously. It is not just any other rule or simply a point on papers. The Company takes strict action against those who fail to abide by this rule. In fact, many employees, even good performers, have been asked to leave, simply because they were found to be gossiping or taking the rule lightly.
“We wish to build an open culture where employees are courageous enough to initiate discussions. People should feel free to discuss their discomfort without the need for anonymity. If something is not right in the organisation, they should speak up without fear. More than being right or wrong, it is all about expressing their views”
It is not as if employees are never pulled up or warned when they are found to be in the wrong. The rules implies that if an employee is not present during a conversation or in a meeting, the remaining employees can only talk positively about that person.
Yes, if the person is present in the conversation or the meeting, she/he can be told about his/her mistake.
“We are strictly against people talking ill about somebody who is not present in the room. Instead, we appreciate people and talk about them in a positive manner in their absence. One should have the courage to talk to people to their faces, no matter how crucial the conversation,” says, Priya Dubey, chief people officer, Chalo.
That is why, apart from the ‘No-Gossip’ policy, the Company also has another policy in place, called ‘Act with Courage’, wherein every employee, irrespective of rank, is expected to have the courage to express his/her opinion.
“The ‘Act with Courage’ takes more time for people to adapt to. All of us are conditioned to adapt, and have learnt to be careful. Silent disapproval leads to frustration and demotivation. Both aspects are extremely harmful for any setup in the long run,” says Dubey.
The real test for this rule happened during the lockdown when the ‘trust’ factor played a very important role in ensuring that all 50-60 members of the team remained motivated and committed.
Dubey opines, “Today, everybody is working from home, and for companies that are not well knit and have no trust, the new normal can turn out to be a nightmare. Here, communication plays the real deal. Anyone, irrespective of the designation, can call anyone and take feedback.”
The practice of ‘no gossip’ was introduced at the onset when the Company was founded. It is now a part of the organisational DNA, which is based on respect, ownership, dependability and trust.
Sharing an interesting incident, Dubey says, “Recently, one of our team members questioned me on why full salary was being paid to a new joinee, while others had to take a salary cut during the lockdown.”
“We wish to build an open culture where employees are courageous enough to initiate discussions. People should feel free to discuss their discomfort without the need for anonymity. If something is not right in the organisation, they should speak up without fear. More than being right or wrong, it is all about expressing their views,” she adds.
In Dubey’s words, more than policy, it is a guideline that the company follows.
Chalo also has unlimited leave policies for its employees. As long as the project is delivered on time, the Company does not really bother if the person comes to office or not.
Unlike many other companies, there are no additional compensation and benefits given to the employees. “We do not believe in variables and other schemes to motivate people,” claims Dubey.
With a versatile team of more than 1300 employees, the training during the induction process plays an important role. It is during the induction that implicit trust is built, right from the moment the employee starts working with the organisation.
“All of us are working in the interest of the Company’s belief in us doing better as individuals. Through the hourly interview sessions on culture and values, every employee is tested on whether he/she will be able to contribute and be a part of the zero-tolerance policy,” Dubey explains.
“Gossiping leads to no trust. Even if a person possesses immense talent, but fails to follow the guidelines, we will not tolerate it. We strictly follow a no-criticism culture,” she concludes.