Making Cultural Change Fast-paced: New-Gen HR

This empowers employees to become adaptable to change, to course-correct, but remain agile

learn more about George Varghese

By George Varghese


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An organization's culture is synonymous to behaviour; it's a process forged through time, an identity to the brand, both internally and externally. But while outward culture is best built via ambassadorship and marketing, the inner workings fall to the function of Human Resources (HR). It's a two-fold part to digital transformation, a buzzword that excites most companies relevant in the marketplace today.

In many ways, the process stands as desirable due to an emerging millennial ecosystem. It inspires change, for a fresher generational dynamic, but change – it's not easy. Some start with symbolic gestures, abolishing strict rules around dress codes, for example, while others attempt an overhaul with limited success. But the fact of the matter is that we live in an innovation-centric, digital age. And despite cultural change requiring time, speed and agility is what's necessary to remain incessantly relevant.

An Environment for Rapid Decision-making

In a digital era, problems are solved in days, not months. It points to operational speed and the critical nature of delivery. What this entails is quick decision-making. If we embrace our centricity to innovation, ensuring a security blanket for mistakes; it encourages people to take ownership over tasks, and make smart, but fast business or technology decisions. The process is simple – to try, fail, and switch to success, over prolonged and clunky decision-making. In a way, this empowers employees to become adaptable to change, to course-correct, but remain agile.

It's an altered take on transformation, to bridge the people and business component – to encourage extreme ownership, and to treat ourselves as People Champions, and not merely HR by traditional definitions. This is a perspective that is probably a result of my background as well, corporate heavy but with entrepreneurial experience. It adds to the insight, to identify the importance of process over people, to know that problems or escalations are best trailed to the latter than the former.

What this demanded was a conclusive session to remedy the said problem. But it's more than processes around productivity; the target is to remove redundancies and eliminate areas that are simply unfair, allowing for an open opportunity towards the embrace of egalitarian culture.

Contextual Leadership

Digital cultures are best formed around a flat structure, that is without hierarchies. It's about understanding the situation and the people involved. In terms of leadership, it's important to set and understand the context. A discussion that caters to the strengths of an engineer shouldn't be hindered by a non-expert on account of authority or rank. What this implies is that we make the technologist in the group a leader with regards to discussions around technology and look to the entrepreneur for conversations around business and strategy.

In HR, we should identify with this concept in the form of extreme ownership. Simply put, problems are solved and not pushed for the sake of convenience. It builds trust, a sense of camaraderie, and a company with values that people can buy into. The idea is to trim down on processes that curb productivity, to make ownership an easy quality amongst people across levels, and to eliminate the rigidity of the old guard.

A Different Take on HR and Cultural Change

It's a debatable process, a cultural change that is. Several organizations have strategized and adopted different methodologies to the process, and with great success. This could simply be one of many, an experimental process suited to making fast-paced and productive decisions.

Another story in development presently is the workings of an application or platform designed to enable employees to contribute to the growth of a company with ideas or processes – something real-time and public. It's built to foster transparency, to ensure that we should cover everyone and eliminate the concept of unsung heroes.

At the end of the day, we're all writing our own stories; technology makes it easier. The concept is simple, to simply not wait. And when you're able to take smart, calculated, and fast risks to great improvements, why hesitate?

George Varghese

Chief People Officer, Marlabs Inc.

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