This morning a senior colleague wrote me a good-natured line: “It takes a village to keep employees happy, focused, and engaged”. It triggered a cascade of realizations transporting me back briefly to a small dose of my village life in Southern India as a young child, that I felt compelled to share.
Though I was brought up in India’s premier City, Mumbai I used to love my family trips to Trivandrum, in ‘God’s own country’, the state of kerala in India.
Here’s what I remember of things that went on there that may have some ideas for how we work in the corporate world.
Takeaway #1 : Everyone treated everyone else well. Everyone was greeted, was smiling and cheerful, there was some happy gossips and above all there was great mutual respect. The word that is closest to respect is ‘admiration’.
Takeaway #2 : There were two families who were cantankerous. One of them was borderline criminal. The strategy adopted by the villagers was patience, tolerance and willingness to seek external help, if situations got out of hand. You could not take the easy way out and evict these people. The villagers did not.
Takeaway #3 : There was division of functions. There was a spiritual leader who’d take care of the spiritual wellness needs. There was cousin brother, the doctor, who the people could go to for medical consultations. My dad’s brother was a much respected individual who worked in the King’s palace as the palace accountant. So he was the accountant for the village investors, etc.
Takeaway #4: People lived holistically well day in and day out with a strict adherence to a personalized set of rituals. Optimizing their environmental, social, physical, financial, mental and spiritual wellness. For example, every morning people’s entrances were swept and decorated with floor frescos- a sign that guests were welcome. Think about you as a leader, creating such a team in your workspace and see what it does for your brand.
Takeaway #5: there was cultural homogeneity. Outsiders stayed out. Translate this to Talent acquisition and as how important new employee orientation is in ensuring everyone understands the operating culture of the place. Let this not confuse you. Cultural homogeneity did not exclude diversity.
Takeaway #6: When adversity struck any family, there would be a spontaneous outpouring of help. No one waited to be asked to help.
Takeaway #7: Everyone lived together for the joy of it. Not for money. They had their jobs for achieving it. Just as we have our roles in the corporate world for achieving it. Yes we need to deliver results and we can do it like the way the village did it. For the joy of it.
Takeaway #8: Yes there was politics but nowhere close to the likes of the US primaries (apologies my respected American friends and you know what I am talking about). People intervened constructively to help resolve conflicts.
Translating all this to apply to a corporate setting is what this HRM article attempts to do.