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"Practices such as emphasizing individual accountability, encouraging internal competition, practicing goal setting, and emphasizing budgets may be counterproductive"-- Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer (Stanford Graduate School of Business).
Like most service industry, the outsourcing division of Accenture Services Private Limited are client (the end customer to Accenture) centric. It believes in providing 'Faster, better, cheaper' (Manson 2004) solutions to the client, keeping employees interest and creativity at the least. Because of no improvised solution, the client satisfaction rate decreased on additional sporadic project modules. This review is focused the work culture at Accenture, which directly or indirectly encourages internal competition and deters employees' creativity, thereby affecting the innovation process overall. In addition, suggestions for avoiding internal competition and encouraging innovation based on different examples.
What is Accenture?
Accenture, chaired by William D. Green, is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, operating in 52 countries and serving thousands of clients in 120 countries. The Application Outsourcing (IT solutions for clients) is operated from India. Accenture has been ranked No.1 in Outsourcing Service Provider for the third consecutive year by IAOP (International Associations of Outsourcing Professionals). Hewitt and Outlook Business Magazine awarded it as the Best Employer in India in the year 2009. In the same year, it was also famed as the Best Working Mother's Company.
In a project, a resource inventory is estimated after designing the Solution-Implementation at the high-level. The number of resources estimated then, is fixed until the end of that project (usually 1 to 5 years). The increase in the demand of service providers, after the IT evolution, has made the objective of project managers to get things done with minimum number of resources in the shortest period and proceed to the next project module1. This resulted in adapting standard procedure of delivering solution and increased work per resource.
To extract maximum work from each resource project managers adapted Bureaucratic Control (F.W Taylor), focusing on external, control of employees through rules and procedures, performance appraisal, rewards and recognition and close supervision (David A. Buchanan and Andrzej A. Huczynski, 2010). Adapting such culture might have profited the organizations but the same was also instrumental to hamper the Psychological Contract between the resource and the organization (Rousseau 1990, 1995) which resulted in disappointment, frequent turnovers and decrees in job-satisfaction.
The reason for adopting a standard procedure is because of, the similarity between any two-project modules and the nature of implementing solution for it. George Ritzer would define it as McDonaldizalisation, as the work design is aimed at achieving efficiency, predictability, calculability and minimizing human effort (David A. Buchanan and Andrzej A. Huczynski, 2010). As a result, there is no professional development in the employees. The resources' creativity is affected by the high repetitiveness, lack of challenge in work and to follow the standard procedures. In addition, the mismatch between the characteristics the person doing job and the requirements of doing a it, resulted in demotivation (Diana C. Pheysey, 1993).
Work Culture Conflicts with Soft-HRM Policies:
As a part of Employment Cycle (David A. Buchannan, 2010), Accenture practices an appraisal procedure by measuring a resources contribution in three areas, which are defined as:
Value Creator: This level measures a resource contribution in developing (or enhancing) software or tools which can be reused across different projects and contribute to the organizations by saving significant amount of Man-Hours in the long run.
People Developer: This level measures a resource contribution in developing ones knowledge and skill, and contribution in developing peers or subordinates knowledge and skill.
Business Operator: This level measures a resource contribution in developing the organization (for example, resolving more number of issues within a given time).
The worst thing for resources happens when the Role Culture (David A. Buchanan, 2010) contradicts with Soft HRM policies, which emphasizes on the need to develop the resourcefulness and the ability of employees to deliver high performance and encourage commitment in pursuit of shared organizational goals (David A. Buchanan and Andrzej A. Huczynski, 2010). Considering the nature of work, a resource can hardly contribute to the Value Creator and People Developer objects; thereby making them no basis to be evaluated. The only object to which they could contribute is the Business Operator. Resources who are associated with a project for a long period could resolve issues quickly and effectively than resources who had less tenure. However, the skill level required to solve any issue is same irrespective of the experience of the resources, this encouraged internal competition within a group. The closed supervision by managers disables resources to take advantage of novel or creative ideas. The focus on solving maximum number of issues diverted resources from thinking 'out-of-the-box', which diluted the quality of the solutions on sporadic project modules, which needed different kind of attention. This thereby resulted in a decrease in the client satisfaction rate.
Improvements by change in culture:
Managers need to realize that individual accountability and closed supervision can cause deteriorating effects on resources moral (Laurie J. Mullins, 2005). Doing so, a resource could distinguish work for the organization from work for him, and weighs the former more heavily (Howell S. Baum, 1987). According to Diana C. Pheysey (1993), people with a high ambition of professional growth would want to be challenged by the chance partly to design their own jobs. They will also value organization where they are not closely supervised or rule-bounded. Consider the Achievement work culture of Google, where the self-motivated resources are not bounded by any rules or procedures and which is known for achieving technical excellence in its field. The work-in-community atmosphere enables resources to utilize their complete knowledge in developing a solution, which gives greater satisfaction at work than where they live. Also, consider the example of the work culture of Toyota where designers think and work with sets of design alternatives rather than pursuing one repeatedly (Fred Luthan, 2005). The Human Resource Department should also play a dynamic role in understanding resource ambitions, career goals and work closely with them to design a robust appraisal procedure where high repetition of work is there. Doing so will not only discourages internal competition but also, increases job-satisfaction and re-establishes the psychological contract between the resources and the organization.
The understanding of bureaucratic control implemented in a role culture fashion helped us to realise the cause of internal competition and lack of creativity, and also helped to realise the reason that cause the damage to the psychological contract between the resource and the organization. The review gives an understanding about how the overall effectiveness of the organizations and its employees can be increased by implementing Achievement work culture. Also it emphasize on the need of motivation and the role of mangers in process/job design which keeps the organization and its employees in win-win scenario.