Culture wins workplace and employees win marketplace

Steven ten Napel By Steven ten Napel on December 1, 2017

To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.

Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell soup

We now live in a knowledge economy, where the ability to transform knowledge into tangible products and services is the key driver for economic growth.  In this digital age, access to knowledge and technologically skilled talent are the key drivers, replacing physical labor, natural resources, and means of production which drove the global economy in the earlier eras. Therefore it is only natural that businesses which master the ability to attract, recruit, and retain top talent will not only win the war for talent, but also win in the market place. In this context, I would like to elaborate on the central role of organizational culture in winning the talent wars, and share our holistic approach to human capital development in coMakeIT, as outlined below:

  • Treat people as your greatest asset
  • Stay relevant 
  • First who, then what
  • Culture wins workplace and employees win marketplace 
  • Commit to lifelong learning and continuous improvement
  • Celebrate Work

Treat human capital as an asset and not as a resource

This is a motto that we strongly believe in, and our approach is predicated on the notion that in a people-centric business, we are only as good as our people. This fundamental belief is fully reflected in the strategic importance that is accorded to Human Capital Development (HCD), which is directly managed by our leadership. Every aspect of our HCD strategy is carefully crafted to attract, retain, and grow the right kind of skilled talent. And most importantly we practice what we preach, which is demonstrated by our view of people as precious human capital, and our notion of stewardship and fairness, which are part of our core values:

Stewardship We don't own the people or resources, but are temporary custodians who channelize them for sustainable and productive purpose
Fairness  Treat others as how you would like to be treated yourself

 

Stay relevant in the job market

In a competitive job market, it is often a challenge to standout and be noticed. And trust me, it’s also not going to happen overnight. The smaller you are, more important it is to create the right brand and perception. Centennials seeking fulfilment prefer to join organizations for who they are rather than what they do. If you are operating in a niche space, or seeking a niche skillset, it is equally important to widely share your thought leadership in that domain, which will go a long way towards strengthening your credibility and enhancing your visibility. In this era of social media, a wide range of channels are available for sharing thought leadership through a variety of content including blogs, videos, ebooks, etc. You must be consistent and diligent in creating brand awareness, and building thought leadership through the right channels, as they are key for attracting the right talent.

Sharing is caring, so share as much knowledge as possible, and even better, invest in building communities around topics that you are passionate about. Staying engaged, relevant, and visible is key for attracting the right talent.  Please be aware that millennials are motivated by " What's in it for me? ", and are impatient to climb the traditional corporate ladder. They are also much more ambitiuous and entrepreneurial than earlier generations. Building an organisational culture that thrives on the ideas and innovation power of people is the need of the day, which calls for a mindset shift from top down to bottom up.

First who, then what

The great Steve Jobs, once said:

I’ve learned over the years that, when you have really good people, you don’t have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things. The original Mac team taught me that A-plus players like to work together, and they don’t like it if you tolerate B-grade work.

We certainly believe that it is crucial to recruit the right person for the right role. As they say, you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole, but sometimes you have to hire a square peg since it’s a good one, irrespective of whether you have a suitable role! Right people by nature are adaptable and capable of fulfilling  varying roles as per need, which is the hallmark of great teams.  It is one of the reasons, why we encourage senior managers to be actively involved in the recruitment process, so the right spirit is maintained in hiring.

Also, as a principle, we never indulge in bulk recruitment for narrow skills. Every team that we put together for a customer, is customized and every role is mapped to broader competencies & attitude and not narrow skills. We also insist on (our) customer’s active involvement in the recruitment process to ensure that there is proper evaluation and validation in terms of team fitness, cultural fit, and broader competencies. Rigor at the recruitment stage can reduce if not eliminate, potential mismatch in competencies and expectations of performance.

Culture wins workplace and employees win marketplace

If recruiting the right people and getting them on board is one-half of the challenge, creating a professional and enabling work environment to make them productive is the other half. The core values, and beliefs of an organization influence its behavior and culture. The culture of an organization must have well-thought out processes, structure, and incentives that influences the behavior of its people. There is no universal, one-size fits all organizational culture, and every organization must define and evolve its own culture, based on its business needs, competencies, and constraints. It is fair to say that both the organization and its employees might think ‘What’s in it for me’, and it is very important to create the conditions and culture to provide an answer for this question.

As they say, you can copy someone else’s strategy, but not their culture. Culture of an organization is directly influenced by how the leadership behaves. An insecure management will lead to insecure teams and lack of transparent leadership will breed a culture full of obscurity. The right organizational culture can go a long way in encouraging its people to give their best, and is a powerful incentive for nurturing and retaining skilled talent. At coMakeIT, in addition to stewardship and fairness, our culture and behavior is influenced by the follwing core values :

Integrity Do what you say and say what you do
Respect Respect people for what they are, rather than how you want them to be
Trust through transparency
Transparency breeds trust

  

Commit to lifelong learning and continuous improvement

Gone are the days, when getting a decent college education was the ticket for lifelong employment. As the pace of technology change increases in virtually every industry, university education is increasingly becoming obsolete and irrelevant.

The days of relying on one's university education to provide lifelong employability are long gone. The fastest way to becoming a dinosaur is giving up on learning and continuous improvement. Lifelong learning is not only essential to stay relevant, but also to demonstrate your ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

In a dynamic landscape, where there is a near-steady stream of technology disruption, it is very easy to be complacent and suddenly realize that you are struck with outdated and legacy skills. The only way one can be competitive in a technologically disruptive era, is by continuously acquiring new skills and staying relevant.  Organizations must realize this changing dynamic, and create a framework to assess people, their current skills and competencies, identify their training needs, and facilitate a learning environment for continuous improvement. This is a crtical and strategic business need.

We believe in a simple logic, if our people are growing, we grow as a business and vice versa. By creating a learning environment that ensures relevance, longevity, and sustained growth, we demonstrate our commitment for nurturing human capital. 

Celebrate Work

People also look for a great workplace environment and the right, work-life balance. Celebrating success of an employee or that of a team enhances their morale and creates a positive and joyful vibe at work. Timely appreciation and recognition is a great incentive for people, as they feel valued. It is important to engage your employees with creative activities in which everyone can participate and have fun, and this is a generation that truly believes in the motto of "Work smart and play hard".  For example, at coMakeIT, we have a fun at work initiative called TArAng, which provides a platform to our people for showcasing their talent and share their happiness. 

Concluding thoughts

As the global economy rebounds from the depths of the global financial crisis,  innovation-led growth has become an increasingly important component, and  there is an ever-increasing demand and intense competition for technically skilled talent. At the same time, thanks to the robust growth of the past few years, most western economies are experiencing historically low unemployment rates, and severe shortage of skilled talent. To overcome the acute skill shortage, businesses from developed economies adopted a Follow the Sun and Globally Distributed Innovation strategy, giving rise to a global-scale technology outsourcing industry in countries such as India.

In the best of times, finding and keeping right people is a challenge. In a tough business climate, with fierce competition for attracting scarce talent, it is absolutely imperative to have a holistic strategy and the right organizational culture for human capital development.

 

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Steven ten Napel

CEO

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