Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Promote Transparency, Performance, Equality to Boost Culture

Transparency, performance-based behavior and egalitarian work culture foster employee development at all levels of an organization.

1. Transparency

Regardless of their level within the company, all employees should have the same access to, and understanding of, HR policies, especially regarding staffing and development. Insight into what is expected of them allows employees to operate more effectively and to reach their professional goals. For example, if employees want to earn higher compensation or to rise through the ranks, having a clear understanding of HR's expectations for each level will enable them to take the appropriate steps to grow within the organization.

Transparency also improves employees' relationships by providing an understanding of how performance is assessed and why certain employees are given opportunities within the company. An effective and easy-to-implement strategy to increase transparency into HR policies is to provide access to an HR portal on the company intranet where policies are clearly defined and employees can find answers to their questions about career options and development.

2. Performance-based Behavior

Another similarity among organizations with healthy corporate cultures is the way they measure performance. Performance should be measured in terms of outcomes - not on effort but on results. For example, the number of hours an employee or a team puts into a project is not as important as the speed with which it was completed and the quality of the final result.

To measure employee performance, organizations need to look at two different types of performance: task performance and contextual performance. Task performance refers to what is explicitly expected from employees. For example, for a programmer, the measure of task performance is how well he or she programs. Contextual performance is more difficult to measure, but understanding it is key to promoting a positive culture. It refers to how employee performance translates into the success of the company as a whole. By focusing on contextual versus task performance, organizations can ensure better end results and more satisfied customers.

3. Egalitarian Work Culture

Some sort of a hierarchy must be in place for organizations to function. However, in terms of performance, all employees should be treated as equals and should feel they are performing a role that is important to the company's overall success. Organizations can implement several policies to promote a sense of equality. For example, organizations should encourage everyone to refer to each other by their first names to cultivate a sense of equality. Further, an open-door policy helps employees at all levels feel they can freely partake in discussions and collaboration, and it creates a sense of empowerment. This egalitarian atmosphere also strengthens the organization as a whole by inspiring an environment where everyone is encouraged to bring new ideas.

If organizations focus on these three areas, they will be able to move toward a healthier, more positive corporate culture in which all employees feel valued and perform to their highest potential.

By Srinivas Kandula - executive vice president and the global head of human resources at iGATE Patni