5 Challenges of Organization Culture in India

“Performance more often comes down to a cultural challenge, rather than simply a technical one.”

Lara Hogan

Organizational culture constitutes the artifacts that structure a company. It is commonly understood as the beliefs, values, norms that a company adopts and practices. Organizational culture varies from company to company and also from country to country. 

The simple reason being the culture of a country is inbred within the people of a nation as those are values passed on from generation to generation. Hence the Indian way of life has an overbearing effect on the Indian employees. There are both good and bad effects of it in the work culture. 

Keeping in mind the corporate today are having global competitors and rearing profit is their own box of challenges, mostly related to people and strategy. There are five major challenges related to organizational Culture in India


Indian families believe in respecting elders. It is quite a norm in Indian homes to listen and obey the elders. 

A ‘No’ from someone younger in age is not accepted normally without reproach. 

It’s more a kind of authoritarian family set up.

Though I would be biassed if I don’t accept that Indian families are learning to open up.

We find a similar culture is mostly followed in organizations in India. 

People who are senior in age may take offense to small refusals from younger people. 

Yet, the young Indians today, coming with a new set of ideas, ambition and knowledge want to put forth their ideas. 

With competition, comes the need to have people with the right abilities at the right jobs. 

Hence someone younger in age may occupy a senior position or be a reporting authority to another person of a higher age bracket. 

This creates psychological barriers and ego clashes between people. It is also seen in some organizations that some elders resort to being non-co-operative. 

Many times the young blood runs out of his /her patience to handle a grumbling or non-cooperative senior. 


Communication, as has been practiced for centuries in India, is mostly downward communication. 

Every though I must say with pride that most Indian households have grandparents and parents telling folk tales, Amar Chitra Katha, stories from Vikram and Betal to the kids for ages.

I must admit dinner table conversations did happen when I was a kid. 

Wait a minute, rather monologues while dining- advice about good values, academics, and how to grow up ladylike or as a gentleman. 

However, that doesn’t fit aptly to the need of the hour. 

Today’s India is consisting of the world’s highest young population.

People, who are in a hurry to achieve, grow, become rich and have luxuries and freedom. Something their parents could manage in their late fifties.

The young Indian, equipped with professional or technical degrees, exposed to consumerism wants to spell out his ideas, experiment at work, and have a say in every day works of his department/ unit/ team. 

Studies have shown that organizations in India do not follow very open participative communication and seek suggestions from all members of a unit or team.


Though it may sound absurd to the western community, we in India have the habit, so much soaked within our DNA- to be less expressive. 

Just to put a point in place, how many of us really thank our moms for sweating out four-course Indian meals every single day of her life, even if she is a working woman?

How many of us really appreciate our children when they improve in a particular behavior, do well in sports or studies?

I would not like to be doubted being prejudiced, but to be honest, I or people of my generation did not experience it much as kids. 

I am sure many would agree. 

Yet without batting an eyelid, I find an increasing trend amongst the urban educated middle class and upper class to appreciate their children, recognize a family member’s contribution or achievement. 

The reflection of this is exhibited in the corporate. 

Indian corporate Leaders, managers, and team leaders have a more conservative attitude towards rewards and recognition.

Let us not lack behind in recognizing the contribution of team members, subordinates timely.

Mind you! it becomes the responsibility of the team leader in assessing the value each member brings to the team and organization.

It is one of the focal responsibilities of a manager to guide subordinates, interact, allow them the opportunities to speak out their minds, respect their suggestions, feedbacks, and grievances if any.

Just hear them out!

Recognizing an individual employee’s contribution and performance in a way that flatters his/her self respect is so crucial. 

Giving value-added and timely rewards to employees if they deserve is a requisite for great employee engagement.


No two humans are the same but all are equal under the law. 

The principles of natural justice apply in a work setting too. 

Discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, community, gender, specially challenged is the biggest spoiler in the game.

We, being the most diverse country in the world, have a bigger challenge - to break barriers existing in the minds on the basis of caste, religion, and gender. 

Though overtly today’s India is more inclusive and inter-caste and inter-faith marriages are more common, yet in the subconscious minds of many employees, caste, religion, gender barriers may exist. 
I am cautious in using the term may, as many Indians have embraced inclusivity more openly, especially the younger generation. 

Corporates need to widen their arms in welcoming and providing a conducive atmosphere with proper facilitation for transgender, the specially challenged people, women, etc.

Diversity training, awareness, more open discussion, and the team leader is an enabler, and a mentor for the marginalized groups will help.


When I think about this subject, I often wonder can we really strike a 50:50 balance between work and life?

Indian society thrives on the unit called family.

We Indians place a lot of value on the togetherness of family members.

Keeping the kids in crèches for 12 to 13 hours and sending the old parents to old age homes is not an acceptable norm. 

Yet, when people go to work, they are professionals hired to add value to the organization, be a stakeholder in the growth of the organization. 

Hence for any organization to expect that employees are always available would be elusive. 

Let us be pragmatic!! 

If organizations want to grow, have a commendable profit, untainted reputation, and a powerhouse of talented retainable employees, they cannot escape providing a safety valve to Indians to strike a work-life balance. 

When I say strike a balance, I am in no way suggesting corporate to practice altruism, but to provide space, flexibility for employees to prioritize, and respect that priority as no two days are the same.

An employee must be given the right to avail flexibility by means of timing, mode of work, and priority of pressing factors. 

A boss needs to show consideration and provide flexibility if a subordinate’s child is sick or an employee needs a work from home option to meet a family need. 

Keeping women employees at the office till late at night or calling for a meeting in the evening must be avoided if it has women employees to attend. 

The personal lives of employees need to be respected and alignment should be struck.

Though it can never be 50:50.

“Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company.”

~Brian Kristofek, President and CEO, Upshot