Companies should be careful about not getting people to choose between culture and results: Ashok Soota
For leaders, the choice should not be about deciding between how much time they spend focusing on results versus pursuing happiness. The element of happiness needs to be incorporated in everything they do, Ashok Soota tells Sangeeta Tanwar
We just saw how Jeff Bezos had to firefight when reports emerged that Amazon is not exactly a happy place to work in. Since most leaders spend a majority of their time on results-aligned activities, how does one convince leaders to spend a larger chunk of their time on culture-aligned activities?
For the leaders, the choice should not be about deciding between how much time they need to spend focusing on results versus pursuing happiness. To my mind, the element of happiness needs to be built in everything that leaders do. This is so because pursuing targets and achieving results alone is not going to change things for an individual or an organisation, instead it is the execution which holds the potential to impact the results. Essentially, what is more important is the way you do things. This could also be looked at in terms of how a leader treats his people, is he mindful of his people; is he or she considerate towards the team members, and takes into account the challenges faced by the team.
Keeping these considerations in mind does not impact a leaders’ commitment to chase results. When one talks about achieving results, there is a ‘how’ part – how leaders achieve results. And it is this ‘how’ part which makes up the culture of an organisation. So, for the leaders it should not be a question of choosing between culture-aligned activities and results-aligned activities. Organisations should be careful about not getting people into a mindset of choosing between culture and results.
Fire drills seem to be pervasive in company cultures. How can employees reduce firefighting when it is such a strong part of the organisational culture?
There are two types of organisations. The first type are those where people work collectively and collaboration rules. The second type of organisations are those where finger pointing is the norm. Now, the moment a team takes ownership of an outcome collectively, the need for a firefighting culture within an organisation becomes less important. I believe 95 per cent of the people are the ones who are sincerely working towards achieving organisational goals. Firefighting can be minimised by ensuring that organisations avoid cynical approach while targeting results and work collectively towards goals.
How important is corporate culture in any case? For a job-seeker aren’t there more important factors to consider, such as the job itself and salary ?
Essentially, most of the organisations would have market-based compensation. Having said that, and other things being equal in an industry, the crucial question is going to be why a person should choose one entity over the other. And this is where culture starts playing an important role. With all things being equal, a job-seeker while choosing one organisation over the other, will consider factors such as how supportive the new work environment going to be and do the organisational values resonate with his personal values. In a job market, all these considerations and differentiators help organisations with a strong culture attract and retain the right talent.
How much of happiness is really genetic in an individual? Can organisations inculcate happiness in people?
External research shows that 50 per cent of happiness in an individual is genetic. My personal view is that an even higher percentage, up to 75 per cent of happiness, is under one’s control and largely linked to circumstances around a person. Happiness is a mindset that can be inculcated in individuals. Individually each one of us has the power to be happy. All we need to do is understand what makes us happy, invest in those areas that make us happy and exercise the choice to be happy.
What is your strategy on goal prioritisation at Happiest Minds?
According to Aristotle, “the purpose of human existence is happiness” and yet people do not realise. So at Happiest Minds what we say is that we are not here to make people happy, instead we are there to see if we can help our people realise the importance of happiness. Therefore, when we say “Happiest People. Happiest Customers”, the promise of happiness is linked to an assumption that the happiest people will lead to the happiest customers, which carries an implicit promise that Happiest Minds will give customers an experience that will lead to a higher level of happiness.
At Happiest Minds, we have attracted people from multiple organisations and cultures. Each culture has its own pluses so we are not trying to transform people but make them aware of Happiest Minds’ values. Accordingly, we are promoting awareness through which comes self-assessment which in turn leads to happiness.