Organisational Dynamics The Times Of India Business Essay


The Times of India is a daily, English language broadsheet of India. It has been certified as being the most selling and widest circulated English daily in the world by the Audit Bureau of Circulation. The average circulation of The Times of India for the year 2010 was 34.3 lakh copies.

The Times of India has a readership of 70.3 lakh readers daily, as per the Indian Readership Survey's 2010 figures. It is hence the top English daily in India in terms of readership as well.

The Times of India has been in existence since 1838, when it was established as the Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, headquartered in Mumbai. In the mid-19th century, it was renamed as The Times of India.

After independent, the newspaper passed into the hands of the Dalmiya family, and later went to the Sahu Jain family, who are the current owners. Today's The Times of India is published by Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited (BCCL). This media house also publishes various other newspapers, such as Economic Times, Mumbai Mirror, Maharashtra Times, etc.

Culture of Times of India

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Given below is the culture of Times of India newspaper is described based on interviews conducted with employees of the organization.

Bureaucratic: It is gathered from these interviews that TOI is a bureaucratic organization. There are formalised rules, procedures and processes in place to manage the organisation. The division of roles is formal and complete. There are clearly defined hierarchies as well, with a clear line of authority. This is primarily because it is a big organisation, and having commonly established practises makes managing it easier.

Less propensity to risk taking: The organization does not believe in taking big risks, or chances that could mar the image of the organization. The employees are encouraged to conform to fixed codes of conduct and play safe, rather than thinking out of the box. Experimentation is therefore not a part of the organizational culture.

Rigidity: In keeping with its bureaucratic structure, the organization follows an established and rigid way of functioning. It is hierarchical, and there are strict rules, regulations, codes of conduct and job profiles, so that every employee has a very specific job description and the areas of overlap are also defined. Hence, there is very little room to allow for individual cases or issues that the employee may have. This rigidity also makes the organisation less open to experimentation or change.

Individuals, not teams: The work of departments, and within the department, each individual, is clearly outlines. Hence, because every employee has a differentiated job, the focus is on individual performances and roles rather than a team is an integral part of the organization. Also, most of the jobs are such that only one person can do them at a time-only one person can write an article, conduct an interview or do a graphic. However, despite this division of labour, the final product should look like 'one'.

Ethics held supreme: Ethics are valued above everything else. TOI has a Journalistic Code of conduct that deals with ethics. Any violations of this code are dealt with severely. The paper has a huge reputation to protect in the market, and its current status is primarily due to this reputation.

Task oriented: The newspaper industry is highly volatile. Employees readily change jobs. The contract system is operational, and hence changing jobs is easy. Further, there are constantly new media options, and employees have more and more offers from outside. Hence, the focus at TOI is on the task and not the employee. Essentially, the position and the job are more important than the person occupying the post. This is interestingly seen in the way that the HR addresses employees: By their designation (position) first, and then their name. This order speaks a lot.

Large power distance: Because the organizational structure is hierarchical, there is a large power distance between employees at higher levels and their subordinates. Power at higher levels is acquired through experience, and the inequality in power is seen as acceptable. Further, the subordinates almost never interact with their much higher-ups.

Conformity: The culture is conserving in nature as it encourages conformity to already established norms and values. This ties in with other elements of the organisational culture as well, namely focus on playing it safe rather than experimentation and the rigid and bureaucratic structure of the organisation.

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Less openness: There is less openness and confrontation within the organization as employees are not very comfortable with expressing themselves to their superiors. Further, the organisational culture encourages that conflicts be resolved through diplomacy and tact rather than open confrontation.

Confidentiality valued: This is also an important characteristic of the culture of TOI. Confidentiality and mutual commitments are honoured in the internal and external dealings of the organization. The employees who were interviewed refused to share the evaluation processes that are carried out within the organization.

Traditions and rituals: TOI, being an old and established organisation, has a lot of traditions. These include events such as celebration of festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi, Holi and Makar Sankrant. The organisation also builds its culture using stories and narrations from the past, which embody the TOI culture.

Inter-departmental distance: There is a large distance between the departments and also, the various newspaper publications. The editorial and business sides of the newspaper are constantly in conflict due to their seemingly contrasting roles.

Less politics: Unlike most large organisations, TOI does not have a lot of petty politics at play. This is primarily because the promotions happen on basis of seniority and experience in the organisation, and are not subjective. Appraisals also happen through more than one person, and hence are not completely one-sided and prone to bias. Also, since the organisation's culture focuses on the profile and not the person, the importance of personal politics is greatly reduced.

Autonomy: TOI has clearly defined roles and profiles for all its employees; hence division of labour is complete. Within their designated roles, employees are given a fairly free hand with quite a lot of autonomy. The editors and superiors are available for consultation or collaboration, but the employees are encouraged to get the work done themselves. They can also make key decisions related to their roles.

Information flows freely: Due to the large organisational size, employees are not always consulted in decisions-the decision making happens at the top and is not participatory. Even so, employees are always informed of decisions, events, change that is imminent, etc. TOI, as a media house, has good intra-organisational communication channels as well-by means of an intranet, e-fliers, in-house newsletter, etc.

TOI Mission Statement:

"To be the leading provider of news, by providing timely, accurate and multi-dimensional news. To be the first paper the reader reads today and every day, by delivering consistently high standards of journalism."

Functional aspects of culture:

Organisational pride: The members of the group take pride in the organisation; it gives them a sense of identity for organization members. This increases loyalty to the organisation.

Less politics: This is a functional aspect of the culture, because it helps deliver consistently high standards of journalism. Politics often leads to bickering, gossip, formation of factions, partiality, etc. As a result, often the best person is not chosen for a task due to bias in the selection process, or there is unnecessary conflict forming between individuals and groups. High levels of politics make the work environment extremely volatile, and are unwelcoming for new employees. Politics also discounts the importance of good and hard work, merit and dedication, and encourages a culture of power play, schemes and 'sucking up.'

Control and uniformity: Culture serves as a sense making and control mechanism that guides and shapes the attitudes and behaviour of employees.

Autonomy: Autonomy is a functional part of the organisational culture because it helps achieve the mission of 'timely' news. Employees are empowered to act autonomously within their designated roles, without the constant interference of their colleagues or superiors. This makes the delivery extremely fast and efficient, and 'timely.'

Diversity and multiple perspectives: TOI seeks to be a media mega mart that informs the customer, creates community value, delights the smart shopper, provides cutting-edge solutions to the advertiser, and believes in the magic of the idea. This is ensured by diversity in the employees of the organisation, and helps achieve the 'multi-dimensional' goal of its mission statement.

Regular feedback: The employees are given regular feedback from their superiors. This is extremely motivating, as employees feel their work is being marked / noticed. This motivation will lead to better and higher quality output. Further, if any employee is delivering quality that is not appropriate of the TOI standards, the feedback mechanism can bring this to his notice. Hence, regular and comprehensive feedback is a suitable manner of ensuring and sustaining quality of the output-consistently high standards of journalism.

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Ethics: TOI insists on very high ethical standards. Dodgy and underhand journalistic practises are disallowed and against the organisation's culture. This helps maintain the accuracy of the news, as well as ensure its multidimensionality. Because collection of news has been done ethically, accuracy of news is guaranteed. Also, the journalist must speak to all persons involved in the issue, and give a balanced, non biased view. Hence, all dimensions of the issue are considered fairly.

Free flow of information within the organisation: Information flows freely in TOI. There are good intra-organisation communication channels, such as the intranet, newsletters, etc. Hence, employees are always kept up-to-date about the management's decisions and imminent changes. This has a positive, binding effect on the organisation, and inculcates a sense of oneness in the employees. Feelings of alienation are averted. This improves the individual's loyalty to the organisation and dedication to their job, which again positively affects the output.

Dysfunctional Aspects of culture:

Interdepartmental discordance: There seems to be discordance between the different departments of the organisation, especially the business and editorial departments. This is a dysfunctional aspect of the culture, because both need to work together to achieve the best possible output. Both are dependent on each other, and none can work in isolation. Mutual understanding will ensure a more harmonious relationship and overarching organisational unity.

Large power distance: The hierarchical structure is fairly rigid. Hence, the lower levels do not interact with the higher levels at all. This can lead to a sense of alienation. The higher-ups may be out of tune with the prevailing problems or mood at the lower organisational level. The large power distance can affect the organisation's cohesiveness.

Low scope for experimentation: TOI does not really encourage experimentation, preferring that employees play safe and stick to tried-and-tested options. This is an age of change and media explosion. If TOI wants to survive in these times, it is necessary that it inculcate a sense of experimentation and risk taking. This will help it remain the 'first paper that the reader reads,' because even the reader wants novelty and something new.

Limited recognition: TOI does not really recognise achievements of its employees formally and publically. Informal feedback and praise by the superiors does happen. But formally, it does not. To motivate employees and get from them the best possible output, it is necessary to recognise them publically as well.

Rigidity: Rigidity comes through the prevailing bureaucracy. This acts as a barrier to change. Consistency of behaviour is an asset to an organisation when it faces a stable environment, however it can burden the organisation and make it difficult to respond to changes in the environment.

Lower levels are intimidated to make suggestions: Some of the best suggestions in corporate history have come from those in the lower hierarchies, simply because they deal with the paper and the target audience on a direct basis. However, the lower level employees at TOI often feel intimidated to make suggestions to the higher ups, because of the size and history of the organisation. There is no easy, fast-tracked system to make suggestions without going through the hierarchy. This means that the newspaper is not as good as it could be, because there may be some excellent suggestions which have not been heard yet.

Role, rather than person oriented culture: Over-emphasis on the role rather that the person performing the role makes the employee less loyal to the organisation. TOI needs to start building better relationships with its employees, so as to retain them. Constant turnover of employees affects the organisation's stability and may lead to reduced quality of output. Further, employee's motivation levels will be higher if the organisation culture starts focussing on the person as well.

Action Plan for change:

We have adopted the Kotter's eight-step plan for implementing changes and improving the work culture of Times of India by doing away with the dysfunctional aspects of the internal working of the organisation.

Step 1: There's a need to create urgency for change among the employees. People tend to procrastinate and let things be as they are if not made to realize a need for urgent changes. For that, we need to give them a genuine reason that compels them change. As we have listed down in the dysfunctional elements, we need to bring these to the notice of employees to evoke an urge for change in them.

Essentially, the employees of TOI need to realise that these are all dysfunctional elements, and the manner in which each of these is having a negative impact on them and well as the entire organisation.

This can be done by organising a large meeting of the employees and the management, where the Chairman or any such respected and distinguished individuals lays out the dysfunctional elements and asks for the employees' allegiance to organisational change. The Chairman should also outline how times have become very competitive, and that it is only on changing these negatives that the paper will continue to grow from strength to strength.

Step 2: One needs to form a coalition with enough power to lead the change. In any real time organization, there would be advocates as well as opponents of change. Hence it becomes important to convince enough people for change that one is able to form a coalition that drives the whole process of change. One person cannot bring about a change; he can only show the direction.

Hence, TOI could form a coalition consisting of a cross section of employees, management representatives, etc. These should represent all the various publications, departments and also all hierarchical levels. The coalition should be powerful enough to bring about the change, have respected members so employees believe in it, and also represent all sections of the organisation. By including even lower level employees, the change can be inclusive rather than forced.

Step 3: It becomes important to create a new vision to direct the change and strategies for achieving the vision. People need to have a reason to support change. If there's no proper vision that directs the efforts for a change, then it's like absence of an aim or goal which people might want to achieve.

TOI should outline a new vision-a vision of a functional culture, where the existing dysfunctional elements have been reversed. This vision should be one of optimism and inclusion. It should stress the advantages to all the members of the organisation, as well as the paper itself. The vision should at the same time be specific, realistic, achievable and come with a specific timeline for implementation.

Step 4: Only creating a new vision would not help until and unless it is communicated throughout the organisation. All the employees in the organisation should know the reason of so much efforts being put in the process to bring about a certain changes. The vision itself might act as a driving factor for many who wish to see themselves and the organisation at that level sometime in the future.

This vision can be communicated through the organisation using verbal communication channels such as speeches, addresses by the management; informally by the superiors to their teams; or through the prevailing intra-organisational communication channels such as the in-house magazine, intranet, e-fliers, etc. The role of informal channels such as the grapevine should not be discounted.

Step 5: Empowering others to act on the vision also becomes very important. For this, barriers to change should be removed and risk taking and creative problem solving should be encouraged. Like in the case of TOI, we saw that lower level employees are too intimidated to make any suggestions. Thus, these employees need to be empowered and should be listened to, to make the best of their knowledge.

Hence, TOI can organise suggestion boxes, or a fast-track suggestion process whereby the lower level employees can make their views heard. Focus group meetings or participatory sessions with employees can also be conducted, to involve them in the change. All employees should be encouraged to be dynamic, experimentative, build relationships and understand the working of other departments.

Step 6: Short term plans should be given as much importance as long term plans. There should be a reward system for short term wins. This helps to reward people at regular intervals and that acts as a motivating factor for more hard work in future.

As we saw in case of TOI that the level of experimentation is very low, the employees should be encouraged to experiment more, and in case of any successful results, they should be awarded suitably.

Step7: During the change process, it becomes necessary to consolidate the improvements brought about and reassess the effect of changed on the organisation so that necessary adjustments could be made in the new programs. For example, if the changes made in the internal functioning of TOI are focussed on more team works than individual performances, and if the results of that are not those desired or expected, then necessary changes should be brought about as soon as possible so that the organisation does not suffer through any losses.

The HR can also hold sessions that involve members of the business and editorial departments, where they can bond and understand each other's roles, so as to reduce conflict. To cement the dynamism in the organisation, and to make the higher-level managers more accessible to the lower level employees, mixers and informal sessions can be organised.

Step8: It becomes important to reinforce any change that has brought about a success in the organisation. Hence, the new vision of the organisation should be consistently communicated on every occasion. Short term rewards should be complemented with long term rewards.

Interview 1

Interview with Pooja Bhaktal, junior copy editor, TOI

How long have you been working at TOI?

I have been working at TOI for the past eleven months. I joined directly after my graduation; this is my first full-time job.

Do you enjoy working at TOI?

I do enjoy my work. It is a good place to work because there is a lot of history to the organisation; it is one of India's oldest and best known papers.

If you have a problem or a suggestion, how comfortable are you to approach your seniors?

I am quite comfortable approaching my immediate superior, the senior copy editor. However, beyond that, I am not comfortable approaching the higher-ups. To be honest, the interaction with them is also limited.

What has your interaction been with your higher-ups?

Well, I was interviewed by the editor-in-chief of TOI. Occasionally, I receive mass mails for them, with certain guidelines or instructions for an on-going project. They sit separately from us; they have their own elevator, and even their own dining areas. So meetings are basically chance ones. They do not really mix around at the HR events either.

Are your suggestions taken seriously, or even implemented?

I have made a few content suggestions to my senior editor, but nothing too big, because I am still fairly new. I think I need to spend some more time and learn many more things before I am in a position to make suggestions. However, if I make a good suggestion, I do think it will be implemented. However, the sheer size and history of the organisation makes it very intimidating for a newcomer.

Are there a lot of politics at TOI?

Politics are everywhere...! But the entire "water cooler culture" is not as much at TOI. I think that is because the organisation is very open with the employees, so there are not too many rumours or opportunities for speculation. We receive constant updates from HR, have our own intranet, have monthly in-house publications, briefings, etc. Also, promotions are strictly made on basis of experience. The evaluation process also seems very fair to me. Hence, the regular bitching-backstabbing routine does not exist here.

Does the organisation encourage you to take risks?

Although TOI is trying to change, it is predominantly an old school newspaper. So no, risk taking is not actually part of the culture. We are always encouraged to play safe, even if that may cost u a good opportunity.

Does the organisation provide opportunities for employees of different departments to interact?

Yes, the HR department often organises events. Recently, we have a New Year's party. We also have celebrations for various festivals, an office picnic every six months, outings, joint training programmes, etc.

Is there a lot of inter-departmental conflict or distance?

The editorial and the business sides of the paper don't get along all that well, to be honest. Nether actually understands the other. The business wants to maximise profit, sell more ad space, put out news that is popular and will sell. The editorial wants to maintain the quality, keep more articles. Obviously there is bound to be regular tension. Even I deal with this on a daily basis.

Does TOI encourage team work or individual work? How are assessments done?

The stress is on individual work. Everyone has their own tasks and jobs to be done. Most of these are independent of others, even in the same department / editorial section. I cannot talk about the assessment procedure.

Is there a fair amount of autonomy?

Autonomy is there, it increases as you climb the ladder. No one interferes with your work; the editors are more like guides. You can approach them for help at any time. Once your story has been approved, it is all yours. Collaboration, however, is always available.

Does the organisation encourage assertiveness or diplomacy?

The focus is on diplomacy. Even if you have a problem with someone, you cannot go tell them directly. It has to be done tactfully. In my opinion, TOI encourages employees to discard their individuality and behave as TOI employees first.

Is the organisation people-oriented or job-oriented?

I would say job-oriented. It is a highly dynamic industry, people come and go. The jobs are constant.

Do you get regular feedback, recognition for achievements, etc?

We get annual evaluation reports. The organisation does not really give any other recognition or awards. We get regular feedback from our immediate superiors, and occasionally one level above.

Are you a part of decision making processes of the organisation?

No, employees, especially at the junior levels, are not involved. That's because it is a very big organisation.

Are you consulted or at least properly inform of changes?

We are not consulted, but we are informed, usually in good time before the change happens. We also get relevant details and may approach the HR if we do not understand the change or have any sort of concerns.

How important are ethics and morals in the organisation? Are they more important than results?

Ethics are very, very important. We have an Ethics Handbook which we must follow at all costs, else risk being fired. This high value on ethics makes the organisation a very good place to work, because we follow the journalistic principles of honesty and integrity in letter and practise. This also translates into our behaviour at the workplace.

Interview 2

Interview with Gauri Mane, Editor, Time N Style

How long have you been working at TOI?

I have been here for about six years, give or take.

Do you enjoy working at TOI?

I do enjoy working here. That's why I've stuck on for so long! There is something very honest about this organisation and what it stands for. There is also a lot of scope for growth and opportunities to learn because it is a huge media conglomerate.

If you have a problem or a suggestion, how comfortable are you to approach your seniors?

As an editor, it is my right and privilege to make suggestions and highlight issues.

Are your suggestions taken seriously, or even implemented?

Very often. I recently suggested that the website for my paper be revamped, which was approved by the Editorial board.

Does the organisation encourage you to take risks?

TOI is not really a risk-taking organisation. We are already established as the number one paper; hence the need to take crazy risks is minimal. Also, if we take a risk and that does not work out, it means that we are in trouble...

Does the organisation provide opportunities for employees of different departments to interact?

Yes, the HR organises many such events that are for mixing and meeting.

Is there a lot of inter-departmental conflict or distance?

The legendary divide between the editorial and business departments exists too. It is a strange paradox. Both departments want the same objective-the success of TOI. Only the means to achieve them are different. The editorial sells the paper, but the ads sustain the paper. Who is to say which is more important? Sometimes, I feel employees of these two departments do not understand each other, and view each other as competitors rather than collaborators.

Does TOI encourage team work or individual work? How are assessments done?

Most of the work is individually done, that is simply the nature of the work. Plus, journalists are such free souls with strong, diverse views. Often, it is best to let them work individually.

Do you not miss out on the advantages of collaboration?

Collaboration also happens. No one can produce a full newspaper alone. It is just that the roles are properly divided. Division of labour, so to speak.

Does the organisation encourage assertiveness or diplomacy?

Diplomacy. The organisation does not like people who kick up the dust or yell themselves hoarse. There is a method to doing things diplomatically, which should be respected. There is no need to shake up the peace of the organisation.

Is the organisation people-oriented or job-oriented?

The newspaper industry used to be very people-oriented till the mid 1990s. Now it is job-oriented. People fill jobs, and not the other way around. Hard fact but true. Most of us here are on contract, and not "employees for a lifetime." If we get a better opportunity elsewhere, we are free to leave. Of course, we do value the employees a lot!

Do you get regular feedback, recognition for achievements, etc?

We have our annual appraisals. I make sure I give my team regular feedback. There is no formal, pan-organisational recognition programme really.

Are you consulted or at least properly inform of changes?

I am consulted if it affects my paper or department. I am also informed of it properly through official channels.

How important are ethics and morals in the organisation? Are they more important than results?

Ethics are supreme at TOI. We value them above all else. We are a paper of values, morals and ethics. We do not resort to cheap stunts and gimmicks like other papers just for short term wins.