Organizational Culture - Another Dimension of Human Relations

Employee Engagement, Employee Relations, Rewards and Recognition

I was in a meeting when my mobile buzzed. A closer look flashed the name of Kabir. I excused myself from the meeting and answered the call, “Hey, Kabir. How are you? Tell me, what can I do for you? How come you thought of me at this moment”? “Sanjeev Sir, I need a career advice from you”, he said. He needed a career advice through a phone call at this time of the day. It was very confusing. “Kabir, right now I am in a meeting. Let’s meet at my place at around 7 PM. We will discuss it there”, I suggested. “Okay, Sir. I will be there sharp at 7 PM. Thank you”, he reconfirmed.  

Kabir and I stay in Hermes Heritage Society, Pune. He is 32 years old. His marriage is scheduled in less than SIX months from now. He is staying with his parents. Kabir was working with a leading Infrastructure Development Company as a Project Manager. Few months ago, he had joined a mid-size Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Organization as Vice-President Operations.

He reached my flat at 6:45 PM. As I got freshened up, Shraddha made coffee for three of us while Kabir waited in our drawing room. After exchanging greetings and daily pleasantries, I asked him to share his concern. “I need your help in finding me a new job. I am willing to compromise on my current compensation package”, he said.

“Why do you need a new Job? You joined you current organization around FIVE months ago. You seemed very excited about it. Your compensation package was also met, without any negotiation. You are a part of the leadership team. So, why do you want to change?” I asked curiously.   

He took a deep breath and said, “Sir, you are right. They have given me good package and benefits. I am in the leadership team. I have great opportunities for growth. But the route to encash those opportunities are very weird. The organizational culture is not good. It is much more complicated and complex than the plot of any daily soap opera”.  

“Hold on. Career Opportunities, Organizational Culture, and Daily Soap Opera, I don’t know what you are trying to say. Please elaborate?” I asked.

He explained, “Our organization is privately held. We are 200 employees. Last year, our total turnover was 50 million USD. I am heading the Operations Team of 37 employees. Anish Jain, 42, is Founder and CEO of our organization. His sister Anita, 37, is one of the FIVE Directors and look after legal compliances and approvals. Anish and Anita are well connected across political galleries. It is needless to say that no matter how educated and capable our employees are, these two take all strategic decisions. However, they don’t interfere in the personal life of one another. Our Leadership comprises of Anish, Anita, Yogesh (VP-HR), Rajeev (Creative Director), Sachin (Head – Digital Marketing), Sameer (Head – Information Technology), Sunil (Head – Customer Service) and me. Our Company allows family members to work together. Every week, CEO directs Department Heads to invite THREE employees from each team for an informal stress-buster meeting of leaders and team members on Friday nights at a pre-decided venue. Many HR decisions such as increments, incentives, promotions, employment terminations are taken in these meetings over drinks”.

“Priyanka, who was a girlfriend of Sunil, until last year, is now the wife of CEO Anish. Disappointed by this act, Sunil got involved with Anita, CEO’s sister and is also dating Rajeev’s wife Yasmin. As for Anita, she is also interested in VP-HR Yogesh but he never responded to her advances. Nikita, who is a girlfriend of Sameer, also has romantic relations with Sachin. Over last few months, CEO developed liking for Sachin’s girlfriend Madhuri as well but he doesn’t want them to break-up in order to remain clean in his wife’s eyes. Hence, Sachin is offered expensive perks, bonuses, and rewards for no reason related to his job and performance”.  

“Each Department Head needs to invite THREE of his team-members to the Friday evening party. The hidden ugly motive of leaders behind such meetings is to find themselves a companion to spend a weekend with, unethically.

I asked, “What is the role of Yogesh, VP-HR? What does he do in the organization? If most of the decisions are taken my Anish and Anita, and the culture is so shoddy then why does your organization need HR?”

He continued, “Usually, after Friday parties, some of those chosen team members, either resign out of exasperation or they get terminated for refusal to leaders. As a result, some of them file a legal case against the organization. The role of Yogesh is to manage employee separations, hire new employees, and face litigations and execute instructions issued from leaders.

“Sanjeev Sir, I am not able to turn a blind eye to such to organizational culture.  It’s beyond my understanding of human relations. These are not my learnings, values, and ethics. Out of 37 members in my team, 18 are females. I haven’t yet invited any of my female team members to these parties but I can’t avoid for long. I don’t want my team members, especially females, to encounter this filth.

Others have started taunting me, saying ‘I want to keep all girls to myself’ or that ‘I belong to old school’, etc. For last few weeks they have been insisting on inviting Anshita, my fiancée, to the party. I have been making one excuse or another. I don’t feel like going to this office anymore.”

I have no doubt that there are such organizations. These organizations do not have long-term vision or strategies. Finding a new job for Kabir at such short notice was a challenge. His marriage was scheduled in few months. He was getting depressed. I asked him to share with me his updated profile along with his expected CTC. I also asked him to explore with his last employer, where he had worked for SIX years.

Maybe because of his good deeds and clean heart, last week he got a new job offer. The compensation package is less than his current package by 20% but he is more than happy to get this offer and will be joining them next month. He will be getting married soon.

Organizational culture is an important aspect for the growth of any organization. When business experts say that over 89% of start-up companies fail within three years of the commencement and less than 0.01% become billion dollars organizations, probably they take into consideration the organizational culture. Successful organizations are focused and value-based organizations. For them, core values are much more important than few pointers documented and posted on organizational walls.

The organizations such as the one where Kabir was working and bosses like Anish and Anita are unlikely to fade away. A large chunk of people of both sexes, caught in wide mouthed unemployment, are willing to compromise to get jobs and growth.

How would you have responded to this situation? Please share your stories and experiences.

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