Culture Begins at the Top
An interview with Mr Rahul Amin, Head-HR, Digital Nirvana, Hyderabad
What are some of the characteristics or indicators of an irresistible workplace?
I think some values or characteristics that we like to portray here at our workplace are being transparent, being true to our word and being honest in what we do. This is in relevance to our internal functioning. My journey in HR has led me to understand that these two qualities are very important. Another characteristic I can think of is being fair in your decision making and all your judgements because you’re going to be constantly evaluated. Another part of the same is to treat everybody equally and with respect. That is something we pride ourselves in; whether it’s the person serving tea or any of our bosses we ensure that we treat people with respect. These are some of things that come to mind when I think of an irresistible workplace. These are the driving forces and enable people to be confident to be able to speak out or feel that it’s not a vengeful place to work.
What role does leadership play in creating an irresistible workplace?
I think it’s a very important role. A company’s HR function is only as good as what the CEO and the people of the organization envision. It has to be top driven and the culture needs to come from the top. Whenever my CEO Hiren Hindocha comes down from the US, he requests for a list of all the leaders, with their pictures, names and the process they are in and whenever he is interacting with them, he addresses them by name. He has a tremendous sense of people.
We have an office boy who has been with us for the last eleven years, he knows the names of this person’s family, his birthday etc. He wants a report sent to him on all the birthdays and anniversaries of the important people in the organization. He makes it a point to call and wish them. I think these are some of the important factors that the leadership needs to display. That’s how the culture gets created.
What are the challenges that an organization faces in implementing the things that make it an irresistible workplace?
One of the biggest challenges, I think, is communication. You are trying to send a message with positive intention but it gets lost in “Chinese whispers” as it goes down. All the leadership teams have to be mentored to convey the message in the right sense so the essence is not lost and it does not come out in the wrong way.
There are cases where business requirements take over people needs but if the HR function is strong they can step in and the balance is maintained.
How do values contribute to making a workplace irresistible?
When people believe that they are contributing and offering something of value to the organization, irrespective of their position, a lot of good will is built. We’ve had employees leave us for better pay and better prospects and come back and join us because they feel that this is a great place to work. These things keep our people connected.
What may be some of the initiatives that you take on a regular basis to be called an irresistible workplace?
Some of the initiatives that we undertake to stay connected with our employees are:
We try and listen to people. We have initiatives called “Open Forum / Town Halls” and Employee Satisfaction Surveys which we use to measure the pulse of our employees. Issues/concerns raised during these interventions are documented and followed up to closure so that there is strong belief in the system that concerns/issues are genuinely addressed. This helps in creating an open culture within the organization where people are free to speak their mind.
On a proactive approach we try and meet employees on a one to one basis regularly to see what issues they are facing and how they can be solved before they escalate into larger issues.
Since most of our hires are fresher’s and they require a minimum of 3 months of training to become productive we tend to start with smaller salaries but this is countered by having a very transparent growth chart available for all the employees so that they know what exactly needs to be done to move up the ladder and there is a clear & achievable growth path for them.
One suggestion that you would like to give to organizations to move towards becoming an irresistible workplace.
Have a mechanism in place where the core values of the company are demonstrated in your day to day workings. It is values like trust, fairness, transparency, honesty in your dealings that make people start believing in the system. Of course you have to practice what you preach. It cannot just be words but its acting upon those words that matters. This will strengthen the belief in values of the organization and its culture.
Any experience that you would like to share from your professional journey that made you want to continue in the organization because you felt that was the place to be.
Out of all the companies I’ve worked in, Digital Nirvana is the most pro-people. I shared one about my CEO and his amazing people skills.
One thing that I have realized in this organization is that people are not afraid to share. I consider my boss to be my biggest Guru. He has a lot of experience and he has the open heart to share that knowledge. So the kind of learning I’ve had in this organization is very good. I know I can approach him without the fear of judgement and that is the culture amongst the people in this organization and this is encouraged. This is not the case in most organizations. People hold themselves back and not speak their mind. That has been a very big learning for me.
Message to the youngsters just starting their career.
Students who are about to start their career should not get into a job because of peer/parental pressure but make an informed decision while deciding your career path. One would be to be aware of what you are getting into. Don’t get into a job because of what others have said or done.
Work hard in the first few years because that is when you will get a chance to prove yourself and have the energy to do it. Hard work, humility & integrity are the only things that will take you forward in this phase of your life. Constantly upgrade yourself, continue to learn new things. Don’t get stuck in the “I know it all” attitude. This will help greatly and also constantly evaluate yourself and your career.
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