“I don’t agree, this is not the best way to solve the problem”
“I know you want me to do it, but I don’t want to because ….”
These are snippets of my conversation with my son. This is not unique! Similar conversations are happening between parents and children across families in India. There is a marked shift in this relationship today.
Back in my childhood days (which many of my generation would recollect), we would rarely disagree with parents or share our opinions freely. It was considered impolite, rude and disrespectful. You simply couldn’t answer back!!
Yet, it’s a completely different culture today. Children share their thoughts freely, whether they agree or disagree. If a parent wants the child to do something, he or she cannot get away by saying.. I am telling you to do. I know the best, just do it. The parent has to explain, have to discuss; the child may agree or continue to disagree.
I believe that this culture shift in Indian families has been mostly brought about by children. In management terminology, this is a bottom-up culture change.
Over last few weeks, I have been reading about bringing culture shift in organizations. Almost all my reading has indicated one essential criteria – driven by the top leaders. In other words, a top-down culture shift. Most papers indicated the need to inspire employees down the line to imbibe the culture. But the initiation was from the Top.
This makes me wonder….if such a big societal cultural shift can happen bottom-up, why can’t it happen in organizations. What’s so different?
Element of permanence in relationship – Children cannot change parents or vice versa. This is a big difference from corporate world. If a young employee does not like the organization culture, he has the option to quit – move to another organization that matches with his style of working.
Strong desire to maintain positive relationship – specially in parents. They are willing to accommodate and change their style to see their children happy and have a positive relationship. Question for corporate leaders – how much are they willing to change themselves or their style of working in order to retain their employees? Or have a rich engaging relationship with them?
Wide spread micro changes – behavior of children has changed across families, not just in one family. When parents speak to each other, they quickly realize the trend and find ways to adapt to new style of parenthood. Many have started enjoying it!
So, can a bottom up culture shift happen in organizations?
Probably yes, but it needs several employees to care enough for the organization and introduce changes in their immediate eco system. More importantly, managers / leaders should be willing to accept the changes and not feel threatened.
Both are equally difficult propositions. Is that why bottom-up culture shift doesn’t happen in organizations?
I have more questions than answers.
Would love to hear your thoughts on this.