Hi Friends,

Even as I launch this today ( my 80th Birthday ), I realize that there is yet so much to say and do.

There is just no time to look back, no time to wonder,"Will anyone read these pages?"

With regards,
Hemen Parekh
27 June 2013

Monday, 10 July 2017

Corporate Culture : Defining and Measuring

At 3P Consultants , we are debating :

“ How to conclude whether a candidate is a good fit with the culture of our Client company or not ? “

In a two hour interview , judging a candidate’s technical / managerial competence is not easy but judging his ATTITUDE towards his Job / his Colleagues / his Subordinates / his Bosses / his Customers / his Suppliers / his Bankers / local and central Authorities and the Society at large , is next to impossible !

An executive gets selected / recommended by us ( the Headhunters ) and even passes muster in the Client Interview and gets appointed , only to be discovered later that he simply does not GELL with the client organization !

That bags the question :

“ How do you figure out a Company’s culture ? How do you measure it ? “

I am not sure about how to measure it , but the way employees and bosses , react to a situation , does give some hint into the nature of a Company Culture

Let me illustrate through following examples during my 31 years tenure with L&T :

Mr Holck Larsen , once telling me ( around 1974 ) :

 “ Parekh , the best thing we are doing for our employees , is to provide them with a wholesome ‘ thali ‘, at 27 paise – far cheaper than its real cost “

·         Same Mr Holck Larsen , re-paying the Company , Rs 72,000 / - from his personal bank account , when it was discovered that this was the amount that L&T had spent on maintaining his personal car , to which he was not entitled since he had ceased to be an Executive Chairman !

·         We recruited an executive from a BABU company , as our Maintenance Manager , ( who reported to me )

     Within a few days , I sensed that employees of that department were unhappy
     and feeling stressed

I cornered one employee and asked : “ What is with this long face ? “

He hesitated – then said : 

“ Every time , Mr NEW walks into my cabin , he asks me to vacate my chair ( for him to occupy ) and asks me to sit across the table “

I felt obliged to walk down to the cabin of Mr  NEW , sit across him ( in visitor’s chair ) and explain to him that what he was doing was just NOT acceptable in L&T

Within a few days , he resigned and left !

( I am reminded of a recent incident in Mahindra Tech – for which , Shri Anand Mahindra felt obliged to apologize , setting a personal example for entire group )

·         While heading Central Personnel Department ( 1977-79 ) , I issued an appointment letter to a fresh engineering graduate , as a GET ( among many others )

A few days later , my boss ( Mr S R Subramaniam – Director , HR ) called up to ask , if I had issued an appointment letter to this young man

After checking up , when I phoned back to confirm , boss asked :

“ Parekh , have you read this guy’s declaration on the 4th page of company’s Application Form ? “

Now , who reads every piece of info on each page of a 4 page form !

In any case , I called up his application , read it and found that his father was a Director on L&T Board ( none of the interviewers had bothered to read this ! )

I phoned boss to tell him what I had found and to emphasize that his selection was purely / absolutely ON MERITS alone . 

No one had even noticed his relationship to a Director of L&T !

In such a situation , the normal procedure is to put this up as an item of AGENDA , for approval of the shareholders in Company AGM ( a formality ) – pointing out that the appointee is a “ Close Relative “ of XYZ director of the Company

However , in this case , not to cause an embarrassment for himself , the Director concerned resigned from the BOARD – obviating the need for this !

If you want to know how culture of a Company manifests itself in thoughts and actions of its employees , you may look up 41 episodes of :

  [http://hcplntstory.blogspot.in/2016/03/ramesh-d-grover.html ]

Then , if you can think of a WORD or a PHRASE that you believe “ describes “ that culture , do enter your COMMENTS ( under each Story )

11  July  2017