Bringing An Air Of Positivity

Bringing An Air Of Positivity

Change is the only constant, and, rightly so, in this ever-transforming world of various opportunities and business needs, to keep evolving to stay in demand, and, ahead of the competition. For the business to stay ahead, it is important that the employees remain happy and perform to the best of their abilities. HR will have to play a major role to make this happen through regular exchange of dialogue, constant feedback and redressal of grievance and lead to meaningful solutions. To influence organisational culture and change, the key is to keep the dialogue as close to the day‑to‑day experience of employees as possible. Career in an organisation today is viewed as experienced rather than mere loyalty, so the more leaders and employees see the transformation being close to their real work, more the chances of success. It is also critical that the message of transformation is weaved into various organisational processes, to make it simpler for the employees, almost as easy as walk the talk.


Accelerate Workshops – Activity Based Learning


A few years ago, we at Philips started a programme “Accelerate Workshops – Activity Based Learning.” With this came in performance and growth culture centred key behaviours to be driven as common language across the organisation.




The most common challenges thrown to the team were:

a. Behaviours can be simple English words. How do we make employees believe that there is something more than simple English keeping in mind the organisation’s context?

b. Value/Behaviour sessions are quite dry and one-sided dialogues; how do we attract employees towards it?

c. How do we cover all employees via an interactive medium – posters/mailers/blogs are again one-sided modes of communication?

That was the origin of “Accelerate! Workshops.”




Based on various focus group discussions and mandate from the Leadership Team the following structure was decided for the “Accelerate Workshops – Activity Based Learning”:

1. A fun/interesting game

2. Reflections/discussion around linking those games to the Accelerate! behaviours




The HR team members wore their thinking hats and based on their experience, came up with a list of games, and, it was decided that the workshops will be conducted together by the HR Team members and employee champions. The teams were also given an option to conduct these workshops outside the four walls of a training room. There were no PPT’s/Handouts during the session. The teams could use the open space available in office or during their Outbound Learning visits outside the office.




The result was a super enthusiastic participation and maximum learning for the employees. The activity won us an award at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.


One of the most difficult challenges for the leadership in an organisation is to change the existing culture within. The challenge gets tougher if it is large, and, has been in existence since many years across the globe. This happens because an organisation comprises of many interlocked attributes like, process, roles, goals and the employees, communication process, values and assumptions.


SAFe Agile ways of working


To be able to successfully implement change in any large organisation, the leadership needs to play a key role along with a structured plan, and, we managed this in a very productive way through our SAFe Agile ways of working.


A few years ago, Philips started the journey to imbibe SAFe Agile ways of working for all the software teams across the world. SAFe Agile methodology talks about taking the same steps in software development as traditional methods (such as waterfall), but, doing it in much smaller chunks of increments.




This posed some challenges for us:


Since it was a cultural and mindset change – Management and leadership style had to change -


1. From being command and control to collaborative

2. From performance feedback to performance coaching

3. From board room conversations to increased transparency

4. From work assignment by a manager to teams deciding the scope and definition of success of work to be don

New organisational roles were needed

5. New roles/career streams needed a change in the way careers were managed or guided

6. New organisational capabilities were needed

7. New company operating systems and processes were needed

8. Non SW teams/stakeholders/customers had to get ‘SAFe ready’




This also had a major impact on how HR functions in an organisation work, for example:

1. Organisation Design / Decision Making - Empowered team, decision making close to customer feedback 

2. Job Designs, Career Paths – Career Lattice instead of traditional career ladder. Broadly defined jobs, Agile and mobile workforce with high focus on behaviours

3. Performance Management – no individual heroes, Quarterly Targets, Group objectives and achievements, real time 360 performance feedback




To cater to this, we proactively started multiple-site teams to benchmark internally and with software and product development organisations to understand organisational structure, HR practices, and how change was managed.


This team of HR professionals organised itself in SAFe Agile manner and launched following resources that have been serving as go-to for SAFe Agile Teams:


1. For all new roles we have Job Descriptions and Success Profiles

2. Performance Management: there is a resource guide available for leaders and team members to help them marry the organisation’s global performance management system and SAFe Agile principles. There is a strong focus here on creating a balance between individual and team goal setting, flexibility to adapt to change in goals during the performance cycle, 360 degree feedback.

3. Career Lattice: Our outlook towards careers is shifting along with time. This resource guide helps individuals and leaders look at career as an option of movements, which could be horizontal and diagonal along with the traditional vertical moves. We encourage individuals to look at their careers as a basket of experiences rather than vertical movements.




This has been a big success story in the organisation, as and when teams moved to the new way of working, they already had all the resources available to make them a high performing team.


This said, it is also important for an organisation to have pre-existing policies in place to bring about the desired organisational change. It is important that employees trust the management and embrace the change in a positive way. Deeply embedded cultures cannot be done away with such ease, and for this, it is needed that the leadership understands it well, goes to the root of the culture, and, understands how it can be changed or modified to bring out positive responses from the employees. To put it in the best way – an organisational culture has both yin and yang qualities in it!


In Quotes “Deeply embedded cultures cannot be done away with so easily, and for this, it is needed that the leadership understands it well…


An important thing to bear in mind is to focus on “the critical few” behaviours. It is not important for everything to change in one go, the change needs to be slow but steady. Focus on “the critical few,” a small but substantial amount of behaviour that will help in influencing employees’ behaviour and help establish a standard in the company. For example, one can look at changing a few things that will positively affect the productivity of the business, like the way you start a meeting or address customer complaints. This should be done after ensuring that they are in tandem with the company’s strategy. Once you have a few employees who have managed this successfully and embraced it well, you can use them as your mascots to bring about the change. These chosen employees will be the ones who respond strongly to this new change and will prove to be the ones who will percolate this change amongst the others.


Steps towards positivity


At Philips, we have been constantly focusing on adapting our behaviours and processes to establish itself as a Health Tech leader. We have been using multiple processes to make this happen, some of them which received positive feedback from our employees are as below:


Strategic Workforce Planning


Every year, leadership teams review the capacity and capability of the roles that are critical to our business success in coming years. Specific investment is made in terms of hiring or developing talent for these roles.


Accelerated Workshops


Game based learning sessions to create a dialogue around behaviours – these are easy to understand and implement sessions that teams can facilitate themselves to discuss key behaviours


Culture carpet sessions - Leader led Sessions to introduce new competencies


1. To reflect where we are in the culture journey

2. Get introduced to new competencies and what it does mean to each team

3. Agree on how the team will act to take the competencies forward


Coffee corners across groups


1. To share business updates and how everyone can contribute to making a difference

2. To discuss behaviours, we demonstrate how to enhance, how we work together as a team

3. To share our success stories to build PRIDE


Team Collaboration playbook for managers and HR


Guides leaders and teams to plan and lead a team diagnosis and combination of exercises that address their key needs to create and sustain high–performance.




1. Sessions facilitated by internal facilitators (HR + practicing people managers) to build capability amongst line managers to manage change and to be talent magnets

2. The idea is to provide both process + skill support

3. Some of the topics discussed over the years are ‘building PRIDE’ and ‘managing change.’


For leaders, to bring about a change in an organisation is to ask themselves a few questions. The questions should focus around the policies of the organisation and employee benefits - will this change be well received by the employees, is it in tandem with the organisational goals? Or, what can a few leaders do differently to bring about a positive change in the organisation? Though, the change would not be overnight, the seeds of positivity seeking such a change have indeed been sown. The key is to approach any change with a positive mind set, and, be open to discussions and a few more changes in the course of final acceptance. The right attitude from the leadership team is bound to get favourable results.

Deepak Shetty is the Senior HR Director and Head HR for the Philips Innovation Campus in Bangalore. He has more than 25 years of experience as a HR Leader and has previously worked in Hewlett Packard, BEA Systems, and Genpact. Deepak did his Master's in Human Resources from XLRI Jamshedpur and his B.E in Mechanical Engineering from Regional Engineering College (NIT), Surathkal.


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