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Why Indian companies need culture chiefs?
Sanjeev Agrawal | Mumbai | Wednesday, 06 April 2016

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Building a strong organisation culture seems to be on top of the list of priorities for companies

The latest addition to the management hierarchy, the Chief Culture Officer (CCO), has taken the corporate world by storm. In 2014, Merriam Webster had already declared ‘culture’ as the word of the year. A global survey of C-Suite executives by McKinsey & Co. revealed that investment on building a culture is amongst the top priorities of successful firms. Innovation giants like Google and Zappos have also recently included the Chief Culture Officer position in the traditional management hierarchy. It is about time your company also made the shift.

The Chief Culture Officer isn’t the one organising a multitude of cultural events for the organisation, but the one quite tenaciously protecting the ethical thread of the same. It is the responsibility of the CCO to set an underlined organisation culture that fosters joy and dignity of labour and strengthens relationships, both internal and external.

Experts have already revealed a direct relationship between a healthy organisational culture and achieving short- and long-term goals of the enterprise. Leaders, over the years, have only been involved in creating a strong organisation culture.

Given the same set of circumstances, if we were to analyse why one enterprise thrives while another fails, the answer eventually would include the culture of an organisation, amongst other reasons. Not only does a strong organizational culture directly impact the bottom-line, but also influences adaptability and flexibility of the employees as well as the resilience to absorb failure to snap back into the game.

There are three typical stages that may warrant the need for a Chief Culture Officer.

The first stage is when the company goes through a phase of rapid growth. Suddenly the realities and the circumstances change so much that it may get overwhelming for everyone to adjust. There may be a need to hire new employees to combat the workforce, shift the location to accommodate the growing size and even change and introduce new policies and strategies. In such a situation, a CCO may help introduce a newer, improved culture, streamline processes and ensure holistic health of everyone involved. Given the mushrooming startup ecosystem in the Indian subcontinent and the #MakeInIndia initiative, the need for a CCO cannot be overstated.

The second stage arises in case of Mergers & Acquisitions. When one company takes over another while retaining the workforce, a lot of cross-cultural dialogue needs to happen. The onus of the same falls upon the CCO, who has to ensure effortless adjustment and a higher morale to work together as a singular unit and achieve the new goals and objectives. In the present day volatile business environment, India needs the presence of culture chiefs.

Lastly, while rolling out a new business strategy or streamlining the processes all throughout the organisation, you may utilise the services of a CCO. Operating as an invisible and intangible force, the culture once set, is very difficult to alter. If the present employees show massive resistance to change, no matter how beneficial it maybe, the change will not come through. The CCO shall utilise the special skills necessary to maintain the ethical thread of the organisation, while streamlining new processes and policies.

As an entrepreneur or a business owner, you would pursue success, and hence, focus on building a strong organisation culture that keeps the employees motivated and inspired. Amidst the fast pace of the business world, deadlines and cut-throat competition, a CCO strives to maintain and nurture the humanity of the companies. While building a strong organisation culture, a CCO would also work on clear and constructive communication, reorganise and simplify processes to bring about operational efficiency, and create an environment where the workforce feels self-driven to perform and achieve the shared goals and targets.

 

(The author is Vice President - Operations & Human Empowerment, Impetus Infotech.)

© 2016 HR Katha

2 comments

  • Comment Link Ajay Sahoo Thursday, 19 May 2016 posted by Ajay Sahoo

    Great read, Sanjeev! You said a lot in a short article. I can, for sure, vouch for the first two stages of the need for culture formation from my own experience - when the organization goes through a phase of rapid growth and in the event of a merger/acquisition. Without an overriding organizational culture, the organization, instead of being a crucible to amalgamate the different cultures becomes of cesspool, which gives off a bad odour and corrodes.

  • Comment Link Lakshmi Shankar Wednesday, 06 April 2016 posted by Lakshmi Shankar

    Great Information. I would agree with you as i have seen the same change across a lot of companies in this year.

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