Monday, 4 May 2009

The workplace... silos or collaboration?

We were reading a note on how engaging today's workplaces are for employees. It suggested that current work place structures are a turn off for the new generation of employees coming into the workforce.

The argument being that Gen Y employees, young, energetic, idealistic seem to look for more collaborative work places...technologically alive...and often get put off by silos and IT firewalls.

We thought about this and came up with a counter question... if all work places got re-designed for the Gen Y, what would happen to Gen X? Should we expect them to change? Should we help them to change? Or should we simply replace them? (not possible numerically, unless you are in India or China)

Should we simply ignore the Gen Y employee?

If you're working with a business unit that has been around 20 years or more, don't expect a dynamic flexible environment. Be ready to see around you a lot of folks that have been around 20 years. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"....people have risen over time and doing a set of things that they expect will carry them another 20 years. Most of these units work in silos. With defined boundaries and control structures.

Find out when was the last time the organisation reworked its business process to keep in touch with its customers. Remember, you can do this before you join, and its your responsibility to do so.

Companies that are young, probably got created by young people who are more adaptable to "matrix" structures/ collaboration...or simply the lack of hierarchy.

But the surest sign of whether you fit in or not is to compare your work experience in years with the age of the business. If you've worked many years, be careful of joining a start up. If you're entering the workforce, be sure that established companies will work in established ways.

Re-organisations may lead you into silos/ or into collaborative environments. Unfortunately, what works for employee A, may not work for B. Be aware of this as you enter a workplace. Sure, you may want to change the DNA of your workplace. But the only way you will get to do that is to gain credibility by imbibing the current DNA.

Are you ready for that?

Ritu and Venkat

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