Culture 101 : Sirisha B

Leader: Sirisha B

I’m Sirisha, and I work as a consultant with corporates- I help them in culture building and their organization design. I work in a wide variety of small, medium-sized companies today.

There are multiple aspects when it comes to talking about culture.

Today, we’ll start with some basic things, demystifying what culture is.

And over the next few videos, we’ll talk quite a bit about, you know, when is it the right time to build a culture in an organization? What do you do after the culture is defined in the board rooms? And how do you translate the culture into real action? What kind of culture suits what kind of companies, what is the role of leadership in culture. Why is culture important? Why is it very important to have a culture aligned with the purpose of the organization, the strategy, etc?

So we’ll talk about all of those, but today, we’ll try talking a little bit or define for ourselves, what does culture mean?

And how is it important for us, so after the real capital, which is the financial capital, right, what is most important or what is required to run a company is its people and so, people capital determines whether a company’s successful or not .

Now, if people are so important, every company needs to put a lot of direction interest into how people are hired, their experience, when they are with a company, how employees conduct themselves with each other, you know, the decorum that is followed, and most importantly, what is important for the employee to work for the company? So, what inspires them to give their best while working with the company is what is very critical for any CEO or the board or any leader for that matter. Now, the culture of a company helps you define all of those.

A good culture; company culture stems from the massive transformative purpose that the organization is meant for right? So what is the purpose of the existence of that organization? And what do they want to deliver? What problem are they going to solve? It is what actually inspires people to follow work for a company or give it their best. So if you have to define what culture is, how would we put it, so a company’s culture is not about just having a fusball table or pool table, or, having all those fun activities that are arranged once every month, etc.

Culture is a shared set of values and beliefs, it’s, it’s essentially how people behave at their workplace. And it’s about how things get done in the company, it reflects in everything that people do within the company.

So what works, what doesn’t work, what kind of behavior is appreciated, what is not appreciated all of that. And it also determines what kind of people are onboarded, it also determines how meetings are conducted, it also determines how people are in all their interactions.

In effect, it’s like the operating system of your company. Right?

Now, for example, if you take brutal honesty as one of the company cultures, right, then there shouldn’t be a scenario where somebody is talking behind somebody else’s back, people should be able to say directly to the person, what they would have otherwise said, had they met that person, right. And it should be a structure where the organization is structured in such a way that his feedback is no longer hierarchical and everybody and anybody can give feedback.

Obviously, there’ll be some boundary lines and rules that you set around this in terms of the tone of voice that you’re using, when you’re giving feedback, it’s not about the person, but it’s actually about the event that happened. You’re actually, giving something that is more developmental rather than accusing or abusing someone.

Now, if a company says honesty is our culture, what should be the kind of company environment or systems inside the company that you should have. You know, let’s say we’ll take a few examples, about company culture.

If you take Netflix as a company, right, one of the best companies for its culture, which revolves, puts people in front of processes,  so they believe in freedom and responsibility. So everything is built around context and not control because they respect people. So they say, we trust our people and when we are trusting our people, we’ll give them some things to do. We’ll tell them what is good, good to do, what is not good to do for a company, and we always tell them to make decisions in the best interest of Netflix. So what would this result in, what resulted in Netflix is fewer policies, lesser controls, greater trust, and greater empowerment. Now that’s how you actually bring a culture down to action and bring it to life.

Let’s look at Google. Now Google has a culture that is centered around flexibility, fun, and fostering a lot of creativity. Now employees are encouraged to work, when and wherever they want, however they want. There’s a lot of fun. So the offices have nap pods, video games, ping pong balls, etc. And it’s all founded on trust. Collaboration is key, even outside of work, right, people are encouraged to collaborate.

So you’ll have programs like Googler, to Googler, where anybody who is good at something can actually teach this skill to other people at Google. So those skills could be something as technical as Machine Learning and AI-specific skills and nuances that somebody has learned, to talking about public speaking, management orientation, and also extracurricular activities like kickboxing and music. As I said, Google culture revolves around flexibility, fun, and fostering creativity, right, to ensure people are created at their creative best in the Google X lab, people are encouraged to shoot for the moon; failures are celebrated. Every experiment that is done is looked upon as an opportunity to learn something. Essentially, people are asked to dream big, and nobody’s punished for actually failing. And they lift the culture in that way, right? When people are feeling safer, they don’t have the fear of being ridiculed or, you know, pulled up. There’s no fear of punishment there.

So culture is not about HR, doing some training, it’s not about a set of town halls that are conducted, but it’s about how people are living in the organization, the ethos of the organization.

Now, that means culture cannot be copied, right, no two organizations are the same, no two organizations are designed to operate in the same way. So when the founders or when the core leadership team is actually envisioning the culture of the organization, they need to keep in mind that they can’t take what is good with somebody else. You know, somebody says freedom over responsibility, or, brutal honesty as a cultural aspect, you cannot copy from others unless you’re ready to actually live through that.

And more importantly, your culture has to make sense in the business context, right, it has to serve the purpose of the context. And that is, that is extremely critical to understanding the purpose of your organization. And accordingly, looking at the desired identity that you want to build when you get to that stage. And from that desired entity, you pull out your cultural aspects and you build the kind of company that you want to work with.

And when you define your culture, it’s important to live by it.






One response to “Culture 101 : Sirisha B”

  1. […] what does culture help us in? Right. Culture helps hire, train, develop people and also retain people. It’s all to do with the kind of people that you want to hire, train and develop. Why is this […]

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