The Important Aspects of Organizational Culture by Amit Sharma

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For someone who graduated as recently as 2012, it’s truly remarkable to see Amit Sharma’s meteoric rise to being the Head of HR at Tenshi Life Sciences. He oversees operations across 3 continents. His previous stints have included working for Cipla and Oil & Gas major Reliance. A big proponent of Work-Life balance, he talks to us about his journey from wanting to be a cricketer to becoming an engineer, working in Data Analytics, and somehow magically finding himself in the people’s function. 

Amit was named among the prestigious ‘Top 50 HR Influencers’ by SHRM in 2019. He speaks a lot about the culture and he took it from the top in the conversation. He also shared his experience across various industries and their cultures. He explained to us how human nature is different between various industries. 

Let us walk you through some of the highlights of our conversation with Amit!

What drives a company culture?

According to Amit, a lot of things that happen within an organization are shaped by industry realities. The only truth in a corporate setup is that resources are limited and an organization has to make the most out of these resources available. Whenever you change industries, the first thing that comes to your notice is the availability of resources and the budget.

With reference to an oil and gas industry, Amit shares that in this sector, the manpower cost can be as low as 2-3% to as high as 20-25%, of the total revenue. If you’re working in an industry with a high-profit margin, sales are considered the most important there.  It revolves around the idea of planning and selling at the right time and building a sales-driven culture.

Culture is a part of every industry. If you quantify between tech versus distinct, the question that you have to ask is, 

  1. What is it that you value the most? 
  2. What is it that we believe is driving our business?

It is important to keep your salespeople happy as they have different needs and lifestyles when compared to all the other functions. They work day in and day out on target numbers. Long-term visions do not make sense to them, as they live their everyday lives on targets. While having a conversation with them, you have to quantify everything in a shorter form, be it goals, promotion, or appraisals.

Truths about culture

Amit believes that culture has everything to do with care.

There are three truths about any organization’s culture:

  1. There is no right or wrong. Netflix does not have the best culture in the world but a culture which suits them. Culture fits according to its purpose.
  1. Culture is never static. No organisation can work within the same culture through a long period of time. They have to keep finding improvements every few years.
  1. Every organization’s culture will always have a historical element within itself.  There are many change agents/factors which dive in to change the culture that prevails within an organization. However, it is important to appreciate the historical element of your culture. 

It is important to understand that it is the leader who defines the company culture to a large extent. HR and people managers will act as guides. That’s why the islands of culture are simply a reflection of the latest personality of the leaders being followed by their employees. 

Input vs outcome based management

Amit shares a quote by Peter Drucker terming it as his favorite pandemic code:

The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence itself, but to act with yesterday’s logic.”

It is important to understand that working from home is nowhere near to working from the office. Everything, right from something as basic as writing emails, has to change completely because of the changed work setting. Organizations need to reassess their technological and people capability. In addition, leadership and managerial capability are also important. 

Amit also throws light on one of the biggest failures of HR in the last few decades: performance management. The lack of new ideas since the 60s-70s is a major example of it. Currently, in this technology-savvy world, output-driven management is what we need today. Managers generally have difficulty with output control also it requires a lot of trust in the employees. Delegating and releasing responsibility is what one has to do. It makes more sense to manage your employees in this manner as it gives your employees the freedom and space to show their creativity and use their strengths.

HR needs to be Tech savvy

One of the skills in which HR is struggling is technology. The HR function is not as tech-savvy as it should be. According to Moore’s law, “the price per performance of tech doubles every 18 months”. We are not ready for the next 18 months, because we are not even ready for now. For any HR process, technology along with its utility is essential in order to achieve a good result. The reason behind this is the managers who are averse to change.

HR managers and employees need to be comfortable using technology if they plan to expand the location of their employees, especially today with an increase in remote work. Hiring remote workers can save overhead costs that are borne by the companies. To convince them, HR managers need to show them an end vision. The end vision has to be a business vision and how it will bring in a positive change within the organization. 

Follow Amit Sharma on LinkedIn

Priya Bhatt

I cover Employee stories at Springworks.

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