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Monday, December 10, 2012

Good Work Culture but a Bad Work Place

Many organizations claim to have "good work culture". And in this context "good work culture" represents one or more of the following  elements:
  • Top management propagates open door policy and is seemingly accessible to others without taking prior appointment from the executive secretary
  • Top management or the CEO has an email id like write2ceo@abc.com or mail2mgmt@abc.com to which employees can freely send suggestions and concerns
  • Team members are encouraged to walk to their manager, without any prior appointment, to discuss their concerns
  • Teams go out on outings, picnics, lunches, team building etc. which are assumed to strengthen relations of managers to team members and team members to team members in an informal setting
  • There are events like annual day, annual night, sports day, open house, family day, annual meet, annual picnic, etc. where employees can interact with top management in an informal environment
  • Top management conducts monthly open houses, all hands meeting, town hall meeting, etc. where organizational updates are shared with the rank and the file
  • The organization has a set of core values (six to eight generally) and a code of conduct (consisting of eight to twelve points generally) which all employees are expected to imbibe and practice
  • The organization claims to provide career growth opportunities through lateral movement, promotions, cross training, new assignments, etc.
  • The organization claims to have employee friendly policies like work from home, family bereavement leave, flexible working hours, self service portals. etc.
Unfortunately, in many organizations the above elements become a means to camouflage the intrinsic structural weaknesses in the organizational strategy, structure and culture. Such organizations with apparently "good work culture"could be a "bad work place". And in this context "bad work place" represents one or more of the following  elements:
  • Top management is seemingly accessible but the all powerful executive secretary cannot be bypassed. Not only that the top management gives an impression of all talk and rarely walk.
  • Top management or the CEO email ids are not attended to many times and when attended to end up sounding over-sincere but in the end justifying why the suggestions and concerns cannot be taken up
  • Team members are encouraged to walk to their manager but the managers are mostly busy in first getting their concerns addressed in the hustle and bustle of organizational dynamics
  • Teams go out on outings, picnics, lunches, team building etc. where team members enjoy the day off, have a nice lunch and indulge in a lot of irrelevant, trivial talk
  • There are events like annual day, annual night, sports day, open house, family day, annual meet, annual picnic, etc. where employees do interact with top management but must always keep the guards on
  • Top management conducts monthly open houses, all hands meeting, town hall meeting, etc. where organizational updates are shared but in a very ritualistic manner
  • The organization's core values and code of conduct are enforced amongst employees through a corporate mandate but actions of top management are at times exempt from those
  • The organization effects lateral movement through management force (manager may disagree but is forced to take a member in the team) and promotions are tenure-based rather than role-based
  • The organization claims to have employee friendly policies but the approvals and oversight on such policies are such that employees avoid using them

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