What is your definition of an ideal workplace?

Workplaces should be an extension of your personal life.

In what kind of an organization would you thrive?

A friend asked me this sometime back, and it made me ponder for a while. Though my spur of the moment response was a great culture and meaningful work, I gave it some more thought in this article.

My idea of an ideal organization would be different than yours. Some people would like more structured, hierarchical organizations, while others would prefer more entrepreneurial ones. And for some others it would be a an organization that values and invests in its people.

For example, employees who are driven by sales and targets, get their kick out of working for organizations that are more market driven and competitive. However, if your value system and interests are not aligned to that kind of organization, you would simply not be able to survive in such an organization.

People who value freedom, autonomy and like not to be bound by rules and hierarchy will thrive in an entrepreneurial organization.

However different these organizations may be, there are certain cultural aspects that are valued by most employees.

I have tried to articulate below, my idea of an ideal organization, an organization where I think I would thrive the most. I believe the characteristics of my ideal organization would apply to most people today, who are of my generation, or even otherwise.

The below are the dominant characteristics of my ideal organization:

1. Organizations with a high EQ: Organizations much like human beings, can also have emotional intelligence. EQ reflects the organization’s ability to empathize with its employees. For example, a high EQ organization is considered employee friendly - an organization where employees get a sense of being valued and heard. Some of the ways that companies do this is through providing employee friendly benefits and policies, that value the personal life of its employees - like providing adequate Paid time off, Sabbaticals, Parental leaves, Flexi schedules, Customized careers/Career lattices, etc.

2. High Transparency and Meritocratic: Transparent organizations make sure that there is no politicking and nepotism in play. By virtue of which, such organizations are by nature meritocratic. The management is fair, employees are promoted solely by performance and potential and not by any other unfair means. For example, a transparent organization would make its succession planning road-map visible to its employees.

Transparent and meritocratic organizations achieve this by:

i. Building robust systems and processes: Keeping organizational processes, data and information on centralized systems and making those as less people-dependent as possible, ensures that managers and employees do not game the system to advance their personal agenda. This way, there is no information asymmetry, that a manager or employee can misuse.

ii. Management is culturally sensitized and is not biased towards someone or something. Managers ensure they dig deep into issues/concerns and do not go by hear-say or grapevine. They take 360 degree feedback into account before taking any decision.

3. Values and role alignment: Am I happy with the work I’m doing? If the answer to this question is no, there are two things that are possible. One, is that the work that you are doing, is uninteresting, because it doesn’t match with your area of interest. And secondly, there is just no impact or larger purpose behind the work that you’re doing. The work that we do should be helping the organization achieve its larger vision which in turn should give meaning and purpose to our work. For example, an engineer at SpaceX, will find meaning from his work, because he’s helping his organization with the “ultimate goal to enable life on other planets”

4. Learning organizations: These organizations are ones that value continuous learning. Such organizations have a growth mindset (they believe talent can be developed) and ensure employees’ aspirations are aligned to the work they are doing. They support seamless internal movement of its employees and have robust learning and capability development systems to aid employee learning. These organizations listen to their employees and have a constant check on the pulse of their workforce, which helps them understand aspirations, concerns and to act accordingly.

These are some of the traits, according to me, of an organization where I feel I would thrive.

What is your ideal organization?