Article (March-2019)


Weaving the thread into the minds of people

Kumaar Priyaranjan

Designation : -   Senior Vice President & Head -Human Capital & CSR

Organization : -  Hikal Ltd., Navi Mumbai


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Do you think that developing and maintaining a high performance culture is practically possible and easy in organisations or it is merely a buzzword far away from reality and difficult to achieve?
KP Developing and maintaining high performance work culture, to my view and experience, is absolutely practical and possible and it can be sustained for longer period. However, it's important to focus on the following :

Companies need to create a well structured plan to develop high performance work culture and review the plan - Is it primarily directed towards achieving results therefore, it's built into everyone's goal sheet or focus is on people's attitude & behaviour. In most of the cases generally approach would be aligning the objective wit individual's goals and that's when becomes short lived and difficult to sustain. But if companies keep patience, take the route of changes in behavior of people to drive business results HPWC would be reality for long period.

Companies need to discern the performance inhibiting people factors and address them appropriately. This will create tremendous impact on workplace behaviour and team's interdependence.

What should be the key initiatives for creating high performance culture in your view and how do you define them?

KP Major initiatives must be in the area of culture building through

a. Transparent employee communication - Every member in the company should be aware of the vision and see themselves part of the bigger picture.

b. Sincere collaboration - Wherein people take interest in working together and helping one another.

c. Inspiring work environment - Non-political work place, seniors practicing open & non - hierarchical approach.

d. Employee overall wellness - When employees are healthy physically and mentally, lots of issues automatically get sorted.

e. Desired human behaviors - It must be defined in the context of business and must be communicated properly.

f. Well defined business aspiration and connecting people - Every initiative must be drawn with inputs from employees in structured manner.

In this complex process, what challenges and issues do you expect, HR should be ready to address?

KP This process is generally long drawn and requires collective efforts from all members in senior management. Process is not complex but certainly highly dependent on every individual's own independent thinking. That's why at times it appears to be complex but if HR functions as facilitator and connects with people on regular basis most of the issues get sorted out.

HR has to weave the thread of high performance work culture into the minds of people naturally, providing them vision of self achievement and what legacy one would like to leave behind. While relating with individual's concerns HR must be ready to show them the right path for individual success and collective wins.

Does high performance mean high pressure and more stress on employees? How do you propose to handle this side effect?
KP Not at all. High Performance work culture would actually bring ease at work and make people naturally comfortable. High stress or pressure will lead to very short term gain and medium to long term burn out of people and that would be very heavy for company. If the employee engagement programs are deployed well and people see value in every action, major side effects otherwise foreseen, would not occur. If at all that needs to be sorted out jointly by line managers and HR. Instead of citing policies every time, some adjustment, as required must be done to accommodate the genuine factors or concerns highlighted by people.

Having a high performing culture is a matter of direct influence from the top? In such absence, what strategies should HR adopt to keep employees' morale high to maintain high performing culture?

KP Everyone wants to work with progressive company as the growth provides opportunities of learning and higher potential of earning. High performing culture can be a matter of direct influence from the top but if it's communicated in the right context, connected with individual's career advancement plan, it wouldn't create such situation which would require separate strategy to keep morale high rather the growth driven high performing culture itself can be morale booster and engagement plan.

In organisations having diverse workforce and multi generational effect where technology is fast coming in to mainstream employee processes, what kind of obstacles and psychological blocks you foresee in creating high performing culture and their possible solution?

KP In many organizations certainly there are issues because of generation diversity like resistance to change, adaptability to technological advancement, sometimes age difference leading to feeling of old vs. new or superiority complexes etc., which need to be addressed skillfully. How different generations can be brought together for mutual benefits like new people can work with older generation to learn the legacy of the past which helped organization grow, factors which kept people together, how multi tasking was done by everyone irrespective of hierarchy whereas older generation can depend on new ones for new ideas, new technological advancements.

Rewarding all based on performance and recognition also based on length of valuable contribution to the company would go extra mile.