Article: Breaking free from the old and welcoming the new!

Life @ Work

Breaking free from the old and welcoming the new!

As we celebrate India’s 73rd Independence Day today, we take a look at what most of India Inc’s working professionals want freedom from at work.
Breaking free from the old and welcoming the new!

With the workplace evolving at a drastic pace, while we have let go off of a lot of aspects plaguing the very foundation of organizations, there are still many traditions and old-school practices like workplace bullying, bias, nepotism, bureaucracy, office politics, micro-management and many more that feel like impediments to creating a free and transparent workplace. If you ask any employee of today, you will find consensus as to why these deep-rooted practices need to be totally removed from the system. This Independence Day, here’s a look at what India Inc wants freedom from.

Freedom from punching in and out!

On one hand, we talk of anytime, anywhere work, the gig economy which is fueling our workforce from any and every corner of the world, of digital bots who are entering the workforce, and on the other hand we are still reliant on the archaic method of keeping track of the number of hours employees work during a day by making them punch in and out. Why should productivity be measured in the number of hours you spent at the workplace when so much of the work is happening outside the workplace today as well? Why should not organizations trust employees to deliver their daily work as expected out of them and make that their measure of productivity? 

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Your gig employees or remote workers do not punch in and out and yet are able to deliver work as expected out of them. Then why should regular employees be treated like factory workers of yore? This independence day, organizations should take a pledge to leapfrog into the modern workplace and get rid of punching machines for measuring employee productivity! After all, an employee who is demotivated to work will not work despite punching in the required 8-9 hours of work. Trust your employees to do their daily work without the sword of punching in the requisite number of hours hanging over their heads!

Freedom from workplace bullying

Goodbye, playground bully! See you never. Hello…workplace bully? Aah!

Unfortunately, bullying isn’t one of those things you can put behind you when you become an adult, like awkward yearbook photos.

Workplace bullying is not new but what is concerning is that it has been identified as one of the major existing challenges for occupational health and safety. It is also linked to other emerging risks such as work-related stress and violence. 

Workplace being a type of social setting, a certain amount of banter does occur naturally. However, when it becomes persistent and repetitive, causing severe stress to the targeted individual; it crosses over to the line of bullying. A range of bullying behaviors can be described including isolation, personal attacks, verbal threats and task-related difficulties.

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Acknowledging and accepting that you are a victim of bullying at work will give you the road ahead. It is the first step towards your freedom from workplace bullying and harassment.

It should also be noted that workplace bullying is not country specific. It is universal and is also gender agnostic and can be carried out by both male and even a female manager or colleague. Compromising with the harassment is ending up your freedom and motivation to work and live.

Freedom from bias

Organizations spend a lot of time curating the best rewards and recognition practices to have a competitive edge over other organizations and in the process skip the very basic service they can offer any employee, freedom from bias. Creating a culture free from any and all sorts of bias in itself fosters a sense of fairness, transparency and faith in organization’s practices and goals. 

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With the focus of workforce not just being on the salary component anymore, there is a burning need to create a culture free from bias and focusing more on inclusion of all genders/ages/experience/lgbtq as well persons with disabilities, paving the way for a people-focused culture. Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.  This independence day, let’s take a pledge to make our employees feel free from bias.

Freedom from micromanagement

If you feel like someone’s always watching you work, picking apart every mistake or deviation without due cause, you are dealing with a micromanager. Or if you are the one who is always watching over the shoulders of your reportees, well then, you are a micromanager. While paying attention to details and making sure the work is getting done are important, it takes away the freedom from your teammates and restricts their ability to innovate and also hinders their growth. Further, micromanagement is unhealthy not only for the mentees, but also for the managers, as they squander their time instead of focusing on bigger issues. 

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This Independence Day, let’s pledge to give up the practice of controlling every minutest of details and put our energies into something more constructive. Starting today, you can subtly change some of your behaviors, and better channel your energy into supporting and leading your team. Use your time and effort in asking the employees about their goals. Then, assign them work accordingly, and let them fulfill their responsibilities in autonomy.

Freedom from silos

Almost every other organization has siloed structures at a time when we talk about business ‘agility’. The Silo effect happens when different departments or teams within an organization do not collaborate with others in the same company. And as studies show, the conventional hierarchies that silo workforce into functions are less productive. Teams often fail to work in sync because their objectives diverge.

Today, things have changed and the complexity of today’s business dynamics needs agility.  With businesses agility, teams in large or small organizations work as one entity toward a common goal.  

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For organizations that are still siloed need to get freedom from the silo structure. Because teams that collaborate cross-functionally tend to be more transparent and answerable, allowing them to move quickly and drive better business outcomes.

So, if you want your organization to be more adaptive to changes in the market including escalating your customer expectations, you have to eliminate the silos. This will likely produce better results than you would if you just focused on each of your functional areas in seclusion.

This Independence Day, let’s pledge to go agile and dismantle organization silos.

Freedom from office politics 

The offices of today can very well turn into the breeding ground for office politics, if unchecked. Unfortunately, politics is everywhere--be it in a hierarchical organization or in a lateral workplace. When human emotions are in the equation, strategizing, manipulating and hidden agendas become a part of the work culture. There are those who complain for no apparent objective reason and the gossip mongers who love themselves a good game of Chinese Whisper. There are those who feel threatened by others’ success. Their own insecurities get the better of them and they start reading into perceived slights either from their coworkers or from the boss.

A culture that is marred with jealousy, unhealthy competition, manipulation and drama turns into a toxic one. Employees tend to be unhappy and stressed, managers are always looking over their shoulders, and the CXOs are unable to trust their teams! All leading to a lack of focus on the business results--resulting in disengagement and trouble for the company’s success. 

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Completely uprooting office politics from the workplace might seem like a herculean task. However, you can start off this fight for freedom from office politics right from your desk. Focus on building strong professional relationships, provide constructive feedback to fellow colleagues and have an open dialogue with your immediate manager. Make sure that your team’s expectations from each other are aligned and transparent. If each member has a different role, take the time to understand their work flow as well. 

It all starts and ends with the culture. A transparent, safe and encouraging environment is bound to create leaders who are open and positive about feedback thus building an overall culture that is devoid of drama and politics. 

Freedom from bureaucracy 

If you work for a large corporation, you may be familiar with bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy. Strictly following the rulebook, long drawn out stakeholder consultations, layers of approvals - all of which can be deeply frustrating when you're trying to innovate and introduce a new idea.

While some highly regulated industries like banking and financial services, airlines etc., need to work closely with regulatory bodies to make sure that the customer's interest is not compromised, bureaucracy can make work painfully dull and boring.

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This Independence Day, let's pledge to be free from bureaucracy when the situations warrant it. As the new paradigm of work focuses on empowering the worker, talent leaders need to constantly relook at their people processes and assess themselves, are the rules and approvals just for the heck of it? Or are they enabling the employee to be more independent?

These were only a few of the many shackles that are holding the India Inc back. In case you would want to highlight something else that you think we missed out on, please share with us in the comment section below.

Happy Independence Day!

Topics: Life @ Work

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