Company structures are attempting to become flatter, leaner and more transparent. No longer can companies afford to wash their hands off by letting junior incumbents ‘mingle’ with senior management by simply holding one annual event of formal address. If organizations want the benefits of efficient leadership to percolate down to their junior most rung, they have to try and devise ways to do so. Here are 5 ways in which companies can reduce the gap between senior management and employees.
Offsite activities and events
Activities beyond the workplace are an easy way to allow juniors to share one on one space with senior management without being intimidated. These are the times when HR plans offsite socialization for employees as permanent fixtures in the annual work calendar. This could be a high tea, a sports event, a special day celebration set up by the company and so on. Simple outings like day trips to resorts that witnessed soaring popularity with the BPO culture are passé now. Companies have woken up to the fact that team building exercises and leadership jargon have no meaning until the employee shares a bond with the company and its people, ET reports. In fact, special HR solution firms are roped in to plan activities with trained facilitators who can drive these lessons home whilst employees are having fun. If not for offsite events, there is no way senior and junior employees panning different cities in larger organizations would ever meet.
“The context that you create during the offsite will speed up work and output the next time you reach out within the firm.” – Devashish Chakravarty, Quetzal Verify, HR Solutions firm
“Activities that bridge the gap between management and employees is not considered as an expense but an investment.” – Vivek Punekar, Chief HR Officer, HCL Infosystems [Source]
Addressing by first name
Calling each other on first name basis is an inherent feature for the corporate world in the West. But in India, corporates and organizations still maintain respectful addresses of Sir and Madam for seniority by position or age. These words of address are inherently hierarchical. Addressing seniors on a first name basis helps in the process of ideation and brings a certain openness in discussions and forums. A layer of intimidation is also removed between the two and a first name address makes the senior management seem much more approachable. A small but effective step like this one can go a long way in reducing the gap between senior management and employees.
Corporate social responsibility has become a mandatory initiative for almost all major Indian corporate. Unfortunately, CSR initiatives of many Indian companies still functions out of a small CSR department with a handful of employees which in fact falls within the purview of the Corporate Communications department. Letting junior and senior management engage together in CSR initiatives of the company, whether it is strategizing for CSR or doing some hands on grass root level work, would work very well in bridging the gap between the two. Additionally, the organization can get some PR take away from such initiatives where the top brass is seen and heard mingling with juniors.
Corporate social networking platforms such as Yammer, SociatText, Socialcast, Quad, Jive, Connections, Chatter etc. encourage teamwork and best practices, add the spice in company intranets and allow employees to have fun simultaneously, states Pramod Bhasin, Non-Executive Vice chairman, Genpact, reported TOI. These networks facilitate collaboration amongst employees across the board to allow ideation to happen from the bottom up.
This is unlike the traditional top down technique, where the lower rung is only involved in the nitty-gritty of implementation. Let junior incumbents enter the process of familiarization with senior / top management without the involvement of HR through social media where they can share ideas about a new product or service, brainstorm about where the company should hold the next social do or engage in harmless banter about which stocks in the share market are doing well. Companies like Wipro Technologies, Bajaj Auto Finance, Asian Paints and Mahindra & Mahindra amongst a host of others are already using business social software to help employees move beyond their cubicles and reduce the gap between tiers of managements.
Midyear reviews to complement periodic performance appraisals
Companies who follow the system of having yearly appraisals can arrange for periodic reviews to take place on a midyear basis. Appraisals are opportunities when junior employees get to hear feedback straight from their bosses. Midyear reviews can be a bridge between two annual appraisals. For junior employees, these reviews will show a way forward to perform better in the coming annual appraisals. On the other hand, senior employees can get more insights on junior incumbents – Are they getting the resources they need? Are the systems complementing their skills? Are their ideas being heard? After all, it is all about bridging the gap, isn’t it?