Peace at home ensures higher productivity

Nawab Mohammed Abdulla Ali, the Prince of Arcot, underscored the importance of cultural harmony in not only ensuring social progress but also corporate profits.

“As companies become more diverse, employing larger numbers of ethnic peoples, their owners and managers would have increasing responsibility of maintaining cultural harmony among their staff. Such harmony will impact on the productivity and success of the companies,” he said, speaking at the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards 2013 Presentation Ceremony held on Monday, November 18, 2013 at Sky City Convention Centre in Auckland.

While globalisation has exposed small, medium and large companies to acquisitions and mergers, companies that have evolved their own brands of corporate culture will be blessed by homogenous staff conscientiously promoting interfaith, mutual respect and understanding and a sense of purpose, all designed to foster corporate development and individual career advancement.

Understanding the core, collective values of staff is vital for a company to enjoy a high level of employee morale, begetting commitment and passion of individuals to achieve corporate and private goals.

Walmart, the world’s retail giant, is a prime example of corporate social responsibility and individual career advancement. As the company grew into the world’s largest retailer, its staff were subjected to a long list of dos and don’ts covering every aspect of their work.

There was growing discontent, which made the firm realise that its rules-based culture was too inflexible to cope with the challenges of globalisation and technological change. The company has instilled a values-based culture, in which employees can be trusted to do the right thing because they know the aims and objectives of the company.

‘Values’ is the latest hot topic in management thinking. PepsiCo has started preaching a creed of ‘performance with purpose,’ while Chevron, an oil firm, brands itself as a purveyor of ‘human energy,’ though presumably it does not really want you to travel by rickshaw.

Nearly every big firm claims to be building a more caring and ethical culture.

A new study suggests that there is less to this than it says on the label. Commissioned by Dov Seidman, boss of LRN, a firm that advises on corporate culture the Boston Research Group conducted research on ‘National Governance, Culture and Leadership Assessment,’ surveying thousands of American employees, from every rung of the corporate ladder.

The study found that 43% of those surveyed described their company’s culture as based on command-and-control, top-down management or leadership by coercion—what Mr Seidman calls ‘blind obedience.’

The largest category (54%) of respondents saw their employer’s culture as top-down, but with skilled leadership, rules and a mix of carrots and sticks, which Mr Seidman called ‘informed acquiescence,’ employees found that the ‘going was great.’

Nor surprisingly only 3% of the respondents belonged to the category of ‘self-governance,’ in which everyone is guided by a set of core principles and values that inspired everyone to align around a company’s mission.

The study found evidence that such differences matter. Nearly half of those in ‘blind-obedience’ companies said that they had observed unethical behaviour in the previous year, compared with around a quarter in the other sorts of firms.

Tragicomically, the study found that bosses often believed their own guff, even if their underlings did not. Bosses are eight times more likely than the average to believe that their organisation is self-governing. Likewise, 41% of bosses say that their firm rewards performance based on values rather than merely on financial results.

Only 14% of employees swallow this.

Nonetheless to say that employers are increasingly accepting the need to become colour-blind, employ talent that may come from any ethnic quarter and achieve cultural harmony, as a harbinger towards soaring profits.

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