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 :

  [ ]

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


1 comment:

  1. Well - it is possible to subject candidate to BEI and subject him/her to Assesent Center to get 70 to 90% fit of his/her match with the corporate culture.