Thursday, January 23, 2020

PMP Protein: Changing Work Cultures and Organizational Impact

By K Suresh, PMP

In this article, we will see how changing work culture can hurt an organization’s productivity, profits and sustainable growth. 

With a new set of workers, an organization also brings new cultural aspects, which will impact the organizational culture. 

While I have had experiences in power and construction industry, these challenges are also being felt in other industries as well. 

Changing Work Culture
Let me outline some areas and inform how the organizational culture is impacted by a variety of causes related to new generation of workers. 

Cause #1: Lack of awareness of work place ethics among the Gen – Y and the Millennials (the fourth-generation employees) 
Since childhood, the younger generations – predominantly Gen-Y and the millennials - were brought up with:
  • High comfort levels,
  • Marks oriented education without proper maturity on human values,
  • Lack of beliefs,
  • Lack of respect for an individual,
  • Poor understanding of work place ethics,
  • No ground rules, and 
  • Inability to face practical challenges in versatile environments. 

With these, teams formed by the fourth-generation employees are becoming prey to their own shortfalls in work places. On the other hand, organizations are facing challenges in rendering basic intensive training to re-orient the teams and increase work engagement.

Cause # 2: High Diplomacy by Top Management
The executives in top management are concentrating less on the understanding levels of junior executives by maintaining high diplomacy. Because the senior executives have the positive assumptions that junior executives are aware of work place ethics, have good behavior and attitude, and go with analytical planning approaches related to work execution. In core industries, other than software industry, more physical efforts to be exerted with patience at junior working levels. This needs to improved. However, I do agree that the new generation of workers are having good soft skills. 

I would like to mention this diplomacy is costing billions of dollars in losses to the organizations and it’s losing sustainability goals of the organization in the global markets. 

While optimum diplomacy is mandatory to empower teams, a high diplomatic approach based on flawed assumptions will not produce the needed results.

Cause # 3: Generation Gaps 
If we can classify the graduates into by grouping them in decades, the below ones will be the comparison of capabilities for majorities of active employees. Do note that it’s a rough estimate. 
  • Decade of 1980-1990: IQ > 50%, EQ < 50%
  • Decade of 1990-2000: IQ = 50%, EQ = 50% 
  • Decade of 2000-2010: IQ < 50%. EQ > 50%
    (IQ – Intelligence Quotient, EQ – Emotional Quotient)

This shows a downward trend for the attitudes and behaviors of the team members, which is also compounded by the effect of degrading quality of academic educational standards.  

Cause # 4: Reduced Physical Working Capacity
The changing food habits and the degraded food quality due to mechanized foods - instead of natural products - are the inhibiting factors for the decreased physical capacities. Reduced physical work capability can’t be compensated by good soft skills. 

This leads to stress in team members while executing their works. It becomes worse when team members are asked to work in environments that require a great deal of physical movements. 

Cause # 5: Employee Expectations 
The younger generations, such as the late Gen-Y and the millennials, are smart working in nature. But smart work is no replacement for hard work. Both have to be together. 

The new generation of workers are sharp in grasping basic fundamentals, but feel saturated that they have learnt the maximum if they cover the basics! And nothing innovative needed to done further. Also, in few years they start looking for managerial roles instead of being engaged in their roles and responsibilities, for which they have been recruited.

Cause # 6: Capabilities for Construction Industry
Working conditions in construction industries are obviously tough due to many factors such as:
  • Versatile climates, 
  • Working cultures, 
  • Handling large teams, 
  • Long working hours.
Hence leaders with high emotional intelligences (or EI) are required to achieve the results and meet the milestones. In other words, high working capacities and capabilities are desired to achieve successful project results. But the capacity to work hard and capability to perform is lacking in the fourth generation of workers.

Impact - Employer Challenges 
All the above causes are leading to various limitations, which in turn leave the founders, and investors of the organization at stake with unsustainable business in global markets. Big corporate organizations, which are operating with diversified portfolios are also in the danger of extinction.

My guess is that if the trend continues, then these organizations will cease to exist in next 10 to 15 Years.

Scope for Improvement
Though there are many problems with the changing work cultures, there are also scope for improvements, some of which I’ve noted below.

Improvement #1: Basic grooming of children by parents
Positive grooming of children is necessary with respect to behavior, awareness of critical situations and challenges to face in personal and professional lives. They should be taught the value of patience, value of critical thinking and increased ability in analysis, etc. We as parents should not be limiting children to high comforts and more CGPA in academics.

Improvement #2: Educational institutions to improve students on behavioral aspects 
In India, we can implement the South Korean concept of minimum 1 to 2 years of work in the defense sector or in short service commission. This will be an eligibility criteria for organizational (human resource) recruitment. This will also improve employee behavior.

Improvement #3: Following global standards 
There can be stringent process approach implementation in organizations by maintaining global standards leading to evolutionary reformation. This can maintain sustainable business in the long-term.

Improvement #4: Change in organizational orientation
To remain in the longer term and be effective, organizations need to build leaders who aspire to achieve excellence in business instead of business excellence models for branding. While brand is important, more important is to actually achieve business excellence. 

Improvement #5: Corporate governance
Organizations need to take period surveys to have a complete depiction of working cultures and improvements by employing effective leaders within the functional and administrative levels. Effective implementation can be started off by Periodic Dip Stick Surveys.

As I work in Indian industries, I ask these two questions (only from an organization perspective) to my colleagues and fellow professionals. I find these questions yet to be properly answered.

Question – 1: If the organization is being driven in a misleading direction, who will take an initiative to re-orient and how it will be done?

Question – 2: If the human resource (HR) department takes short-cuts while recruiting, who will be responsible for the reduced standard in working cultures?

I welcome your suggestions and ideas on these two questions. 

Organizational have changed from people driven approaches to process driven approaches and finally are stepping into the principle driven approaches for sustainability in global markets.

Every Individual will have flashes of brilliance and ideas, but taking a lead in re-aligning the mismatches in actual facts and combining the same with actual implementation is important. Because organizations are now becoming outcome oriented on a vector scale to survive in high competition of the global market.

Brief Profile
Manager – Projects, Adani Raipur Energen Ltd (formerly GMR Chhattisgarh Energy Ltd). I can be reached at:

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