Article: Use disruption to bolster the culture core: Margaret Dsouza, Head HR, Zeta


Use disruption to bolster the culture core: Margaret Dsouza, Head HR, Zeta

Technology should be looked at as an enabler and not a solution to strengthen culture. It has the potential to influence shaping up our culture if we make the right decisions around the type of tools and its use case, believes Margaret Dsouza, Head HR, Zeta.
Use disruption to bolster the culture core: Margaret Dsouza, Head HR, Zeta

The pandemic forced organizations to relook at their infrastructure, benefits, culture & practices thoroughly. For organizations striving to scale to the next level of productivity and performance in the COVID-hit world, exploiting tech to build the social fabric that attracts and holds the best talent together is a must. The need of the hour is to integrate technology in a way that strengthens their culture and embeds trust and transparency as they gear up for the digital culture reset.

In an exclusive interaction with us, Margaret Dsouza, Head of Human Resources, Zeta shares how can organizations integrate technology in a way that it strengthens culture and embrace a forward-thinking approach to sustaining their organizational culture.

As companies pick themselves up and start trudging on in the COVID-stricken world with new working arrangements, how are organizations revamping their work culture in line with their core values? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has made us rethink our ways of working and has presented us with a unique opportunity to reboot our work culture. Organizations that embraced agility and working in a dynamic environment were able to swiftly adapt to the new normal while the others took much longer to adapt. 

Organizations have an opportunity now to rethink employee experience at the workplace. It will have to account for phase wise roll out to ease the workforce back to operating from an office set. This requires transformational thinking grounded in what we value as an organization. Some organizations have gone back to basic and are marrying design principles to core values to reimagine ways of working.  

How can leaders make sure their cultures are adaptable now that it’s harder to solidify shared beliefs with a distributed workforce?

Leaders need to play a significantly different role than what they have in the past. They need to revisit the core tenets of their culture fabric to ensure it is built to absorb the changes in the environment today.

There must have been certain elements that helped shape our past and got us here, but one needs to diagnose what kind of culture we need to adapt to achieve our vision. We need to prepare our organizations to adapt to continuous change and pivots and be agile. 

Another factor that plays an important role is working with various demographics within the organization to adapt to this change. Some employees may thrive on adoption and continuous learning, while others like to stick to the old tried and true policies and routines that they’ve been using for years. 

Few ways in which leaders make sure their cultures are adaptable in today’s time:

  • Frequent communication on vision, mission and purpose
  • Celebrating wins, acknowledging failure and recognizing impact and contributions 
  • Create multiple channels for soliciting feedback 
  • Leading by examples by practising what they preach
  • Focus on leadership enablement at every layer
  • Continuous focus on learning
  • Strong emphasis on employee wellbeing 

How can organizations integrate technology in a way that strengthens culture? 

Technology should be looked at as an enabler and not a solution to strengthen culture. It has the potential to influence shaping up our culture if we make the right decisions around the type of tools and its use case. 

Increase in access to information - Leverage technology to ensure that employees feel connected and informed. Use state of the video conferencing, intranets or internal communication related blogs etc. to ensure information is not limited to a few segments or lost in translations as it passes down multiple channels.  

Focus on Team and Collaboration - Use of real time messaging technologies that can aid in bringing teams across geos together to collaborate, learn, discuss and take faster decisions.  

Culture of appreciation and recognition - Use employee recognition technology that can help the organization to amplify the feeling of being recognized beyond just the team.

Culture of radical candor and feedback - Technology can be leveraged to get real time insights and feedback on culture, ways of working and various drivers of engagement. This helps real time action planning which in turns builds trust and encourages constant flow of feedback. Leverage tech to anonymous channels where employees can feel safe to provide feedback without fear of repercussions. 

Focus on health and wellbeing - Partner with specialists in the health and wellness space to help employees maintain, improve their health quotient. 

What are some of the best practices you will advise to organizations to embed trust and transparency in the virtual working environment? 

Prioritise wellness - Today, employees want and prefer work to be designed in a way that integrates their personal lives, they want to work in a way that is fulfilling and engaging, seeking emotional, physical and mental care now more than ever and lastly, financial security and empowerment. The pandemic has required all of us to pivot internally in ways that we are now seeking in our workplaces. Thus, the heart of wellbeing is to not just offer a slew of well-being related benefits but also focus on the adjacent aspects that enhance this feeling – clarity at work, a supportive work environment, an opportunity to apply autonomy over the structure of their work lives.

Focus on virtual onboarding of new joiners - Refining your onboarding process for the remote workforce is imperative as more and more employees are demanding work-from-home schedules.

Solicit feedback - It is important to have a pulse of the organization. What's working well, what is not. Understand the kind of challenges that employees have working virtually.

Communicate frequently - Effective employee communication allows everyone to stay informed and work toward shared organizational goals.

Interpersonal relationships - Take time to socialize virtually. Virtual teams need to have a channel that replaces the social interactions in a physical environment. Encourage individuals to share updates from the personal front, from how they spent the weekend to talking about a hobby they picked up. Invest time and energy in building that rapport: this is an investment that will lead to enduring relationships.

With the uncertainty still ongoing, how can organizations take this moment to embrace a forward-thinking approach to how they will sustain their organizational culture?

Culture is the holistic and somewhat mysterious force that guides actions and interactions in the workplace. In today's world of abundant online collaboration tools, there is often no substitute for correspondence when communication, problem-solving, and creativity are called for. In part, this is because as humans, we make sense of the world and our interactions through our body language, emotions, and embodied experiences, all of which are much different in a virtual space.

  • Make culture visible by calling it out
  • Welcome modifications to the culture tool kit
  • Use disruption to bolster the culture core
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Topics: Culture, #DigitalCultureReset

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