Article (February-2018)


2018 - World of Careers : Culture neutrality?

Dr. Ganesh Shermon

Designation : -   Managing Partner for

Organization : -  KPMG LLP


"The cultural bent of employees in India is more oriented towards relationships, as it is a very collectivist culture. Personal relationships are a very strong fabric of the Indian society which translates into the workplace. Indian employees view having a friend at work as critical as to their work engagement. Relationships at work with peers and superiors are as important as the job itself. Though organizations are moving from such family - contexts to a sense of professionalism, relationships at work is very important. Personal loyalty to organizations is very important for Indian employees", says Dr. P Rao of Marymount University, VA. Amit S Mukherjee of IMD, Singapore, in SMR 2017, states, "Companies today work with an increasingly diverse array of people. To thrive, organizations need culturally neutral and globally coherent leadership standards. Digital technologies, too, are producing profound change in the ways we work. The transformations they are enabling, even requiring - such as the distribution of work over time and across geographies - have become quickly well established. Executives now run projects and businesses that span the globe, incorporating both internal and external teams". The new leadership challenge is how to effectively manage the "networked" organization. He emphasizes the need to understand a rising need for culturally neutral leadership standards. The organizational impact of digital technologies undercuts two core assumptions of legacy leadership models that he considers outdated, "Most people working together belong to a single company and are subject to the same organizational structure, policies, and processes. In actuality, many projects today bring together people from both different companies and different cultures. For instance, the creation of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was the result of collaboration between four American companies, four Asian companies and five European companies. In addition, he considers that, "Most employees have a common cultural, lingual, religious, and political heritage. In fact, many companies today are made up of people from a broad variety of cultural backgrounds. And leading companies understand this : For instance, IBM is conducting research on cognition, key to its future, in six very different countries - the United States, China, India, Ireland, Israel, and Switzerland. Companies that still operate according to outdated assumptions produce leadership standards that implicitly embody "home country" cultural values. Employees from non - mainstream backgrounds or other nations must adapt and conform or forfeit the right to lead. Even companies renowned for progressiveness aren't immune : In the 2000s, Johnson & Johnson considered the quality of being "indecisive - shows reluctance to commit to decisions" a career derailer. This standard could discount, however unintentionally, the deliberative decision - making common in the Asia - Pacific region, potentially limiting opportunities for competent Asian executives."
"Individuals will have a chance to grow their career horizontally, rather than grow a career vertically. Task specialists and entrepreneurs will move from project to project, being increasingly compensated for new competencies and gain sharing in contributions created by their project. Other individuals interested in boundary spanning and social and political influences will operate between projects and missions and between mission groups and the central intelligence headquarters unit. For this form of differentiated leadership to work, we are going to have to change the notion that there should be an enormous difference in status between people occupying liaison/coordinator activities and people engaged in entrepreneur/task specialization activities. We are going to have to surrender the notion that either role is superior, but rather understand that they are different forms of contribution. For example, you would want to have a skeptical, very analytical senior scientist in your laboratory; but that's not the profile of the optimistic entrepreneur trying to implement innovation. In turn, the boundary spanning manager has still a different profile. We are going to see a collapsing of the differential salary structures associated with leadership differentiation and an increase in salary differentiation based on competencies within each of the varied roles" - refer Cavaleri Fearon.
From an enterprise perspective the authors state that, "Talent markets are most appropriate for large (and growing), complex and talent - driven companies - companies with a significant proportion of their employees engaged in the complex, judgment - based work that economists call "tacit" interactions. These can be young millennial talent or mature competent workforce. "With time in the workplace comes experience - experience that an employer must capture to succeed. How does a company evaluate that experience and see that it is valued across the organization? How does it ensure that it does not foster a climate of ageism? The Conference Board research found that mature workers are often the first to take advantage of their own experience. According to the 2008 Executive Action paper "Can They Take It? What Happens When Older Employees work overtime," longer company tenure brings an understanding of what does and does not work in creating products and services. Armed with this knowledge, older workers can maximize operational efficiencies - for their companies and themselves". Even in these companies, talent market places may be most appropriate in limited arenas (for example, functional groups such as product design or software engineering). And they are most appropriate for junior and mid level talent, not for a company's most senior leadership, where a highly intermediated process is more appropriate for matching talent to roles". Alan Townsend writes, "In terms of concrete steps for hiring managers, a commitment to being open - minded in terms of the years-of-experience window cited in job ads can help ensure you're not discouraging non-traditional applicants. After all, candidates may appear overqualified in terms of their years working, but are willing to take a step back in terms of title or salary to start afresh in a new sector or industry. Paying close attention to cover letters and mission statements can also shed light into motivators driving experienced workers for roles not necessarily consummate with their years of experience, and these are the people worth spending some time on."