Dinesh Divekar
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Cite Contribution
Community Manager
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Soft Skill Trainer / Hr Consultant - India
Human Resource Domain
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Hr Manager
+6 Others

Hi All,
I am working with a small software firm,i am alone in HR dept here.
Employees who are working with this firm are talented and served a good tenure here.they are undisciplined regards to working hours and leaves.
There are two group mgmt and employees.Employees have created a college like atmosphere considering mgmt as professors.
pls suggest for make my employees professionals.
Did the management ask you to look into this and resolve ? This culture must have been set by the owners, with a goal in mind. We appreciate your effort to bring in a change, which seems to be legitimate and need of the hour.
Looking forward to hear from you
Rather interesting and seems this is a case where the leadership style is probably the main cause of such a scenario. Although I would be careful of sudden changes as that may crumble the organisation and productivity.
Had it been me I would've strengthened the performance based incentive structure and added an employee of the month award to move the system to a slightly more formal structure. You also need to realize that the reason why you have low attrition and talented folks still in the company is because of the relaxed ambience. You just need to concentrate on driving these individuals towards professional excellence.
Sid gave very practical suggestion to you as to how to induce some method into this madness.It appears that the prevailing culture in your office seem to have the sanction of senior leadership who might have bargained talent for a relaxed and flexi work culture. You may be embarking up on a misadventure if you start a knee-jerk action like marking late coming or issuing memos etc from next day. First ake your senior leadership into confidence by discussing the issue and but not by merely discussing the issue but going to them with solutions that bring about a change in the present culture slowly but surely. You can also introduce incentives like attendance bonus etc. and engage them more in decision making process so that a sense of responsibilty seeps in slowly which will bring about behavioural changes along with it. You need to act as a change agent but not as a disciplinarian.
I agree with Ms. Nobomita and second to her. This is purely how you perceived as the current workculture in your company. I am sure your top management is aware of it. Unless it is within tolerable limits, i believe your management is favoring it. You being an HR, you have limited roles and responsibilities to deliver. Now, you try to figure out, to what extent this culture is hindering employee and organisational growth(including profitization) factors. Focus on organisational growth factors because majority of the managements are keen to see their companies making more and more profits.

As long as it(workculture) is supporting organisational growth factors, i suggest you to ignore whatever you had come across because you are not be held responsible for fine tuning existing workculture unless you are empowered, held accountable, responsible for setting up and maintaining pre-defined disciplinary work culture in your organisation. Let your employees enjoy their worklife as students while management plays the role of a professor. Students will come to know the reality only when these professors amend changes in their behaviour reflecting a different attitude from the existing one.

With profound regards
(Cite Contribution) has raised valid questions and other HR experts have given some useful ideas. Hence, This sort of problem is faced by CEOs of even large organisations. For example, see the news reports on Yahoo which appeared in Feb 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/26/te...bXtHJ19jB4ADEg
and 4 Reasons Marissa Mayer's No-At-Home-Work Policy Is an Epic Fail - Forbes
So my suggestion is kindly tread with caution and do not do anything without the backing of the bosses.
The first thing that pops in our mind when we hear the term corporate culture? A great many people refer to the classic phrase coined by the McKinsey organization, that culture is "how we do things around here". And while that may be true, there are so many elements that go into determining .

Different scholars have classifed culture differently . One such classification and its definition perhaps suits your type of culture...Baseball team Culture: A baseball team culture considers the employees as the most treasured possession of the organization. The employees are the true assets of the organization who have a major role in its successful functioning. In such a culture, the individuals always have an upper edge and they do not bother much about their organization. Advertising agencies, event management companies, financial institutions follow such a culture.

So there is no IDEAL culture it has to be inculcated and nurtured to align with organizational effectiveness. In your case you have to judge for the thin line between Flexibility and Indiscipline...and derive a strategy to induce Discipline in given culture (if the exisitng culture delievers effectiveness to organization.)

Good Luck

Shailesh Parikh

Vadodara, Gujarat

99 98 97 10 65
Good day dear all,
I also belong to a similar situation - a small software company, kind of indisciplined staff, allowing a relaxed ambience in fear of talented employees from quitting, and yes, silently developing a system\'s \"cage\", to \"trap\" them! Myself is not much experienced in this world of HR and slowly learning. This portal is a prime resource for me. One thingI became sure of is that, such a situation can only be handled with patience and personality of the HR. This is a very sensitive standpoint between the management and the employees.
Subhabrata Seal
May be from the HR point of view, they are indisciplined and lack in culture etc. These days being informal in IT industry, is the norm. As our learned friends have pointed out above, you cant change anything without the blessings of the Management. So long as the productivity is there without any slip-ups and deadlines are met as per schedule, you dont have to worry at all.
If, on the other hand, Management is also equally concerned about these kind of college-type atmosphere and casual attitude and approach to work, then you should take the initiative of giving alternatives to Management to establish, systems and procedures, disciplinary action and so on...
So you have to take a call on it, before jumping the gun !
In such a firm laissez-faire leadership is important. You can prepare ways you could affect them indirectly. For such employees group discussion and rehearsing the company final GOAL and mission statements are very important. You can also support them in family affairs, such as marriage and how they could lead their life simply. Stability of them and job satisfaction is the main important issue you have to consider.
Sincerely yours
Daru Selam
As a HR it is a good concern, but you have to look and frame policy as per the requirement
If you look at a software industry generally the project is time bound and hence ideally these team usually have no specific working hours. Developers can do coding sitting hours if they find a friendly atmosphere. Hence generally for development team there should a a flexible atmosphere, but one sure ensure that daily they are putting in minimum amount of hours as decided by project manager or management. If you make then wear a tie and formal dresses they might be not comfortable.
usually a awareness of well manner should always be conveyed from time to time. But they should always be motivated.
Whereas if you see the sales team or the management team who are generally exposed to client to outside world , yes they should have a formal attire as this give the image and impression about the company.
Dear Raginiti,

Lot of seniors have given their replies. However, let me give some opposite view.

Culture of indiscipline is bane of software sector. Your company is no exception. Now coming to the main problem. Has anybody tried to calculate "cost of indiscipline"? Has anybody tried measuring tangible and intangible ill-effects of indiscipline? We need to weigh benefits vis-a-vis cost of indiscipline and then we need to come to conclusion whether this arrangement is working fine or not.

May be that you boss has not bothered to measure the cost of indiscipline. May be that he did not know how to measure and neither he tried knowing it as well. Ignorance is the bliss. Hence the present situation!

You have not directly said about attrition but hinted about low attrition. Who knows, those who left were equally talented but could not digest this indiscipline. Organisation has lost talent anyway.

Sid has told you about creating a culture of performance. Yes good suggestion. Drivers of performance are quality, quantity, consistency, accuracy, delivery, customer satisfaction etc. Start measuring the performance on these parameters. These parameters are interspersed and not mutually exclusive. Culture of discipline will come anyway. Without this culture, culture of performance will not come.


Dinesh V Divekar
Any small Softare Co., working atmosphere is exactly what you says.... Software engineers are educated.... and at the same time vulnerable... From HR angle a weak person cannot deal with them.... since from their angle HR is a week issue.... They dio not bother HR etc.,,, as long as HR people friendly with them..... IF HR goes against any software engr. they will teach lesson to HR by not cooperating with their project and ultimately it will affect the growing of the profitable concern....

I will tell you one small example: In this small kind small s/w companies, everything is free for employees because they do the job to ring the profitability. My friend says this practical example...... In one of the small similar company...... cool drink stocks got emptied the previous day.... and morning some engineer want some cool drinks and the admin guy said to them he will organise to get it. By that time the concerned Engineer along with come other engineer went to MD and told him that there is no cool drink stock at all..... Then MD called the Admin guy and shouting.... This is only example.... This kind of scenes are the Software engineers will create....

In any Software co., Software Engineers are the Asset of the Company. To start a software business minimum You need only Place, Computers, Internet or with high bandwith and the engineers.... and some US marketing tactics. That's all.... Here the Govt will give you quick license etc.,,, where as you are bringing Foreigh exchange thru the company profit.

Whereas if you want to start any kind of manufacturing co....you need a big place, labours and lot of formalities to get aprovals etc., license etc.,,,,, where the govt is also very strict...to sanction anything....

So........... software companies and their engineers are pet for everybody including for any management.....

So Just leave this issue to the Management.....

Regarding leave and attendance you just politely talk to the concerned and get the thing done...

- regards - ramani -
Dear Raginiti,

Indiscipline is subjective. If you talk to engineers, they may have their own version.

Take example of working hours. I had teams that worked with different clients, spread across different geographical regions. Teams working with US west coast used to come late and stay late. Teams working with Korea and Japan used to come early and go early. Good overlap with client's working hours was very important in those cases. It could also be the case that some talented engineers feel they are indispensable and take others for a ride!

This situation is best handled by line managers. They are the ones who know what the project requires and the best way to deliver it. Having said that, many front line managers don't have the maturity to handle these tricky issues well. Ideally, senior managers should mentor and coach line managers in this regard.

However, in many organizations, senior leadership hardly finds time to mentor and coach front line managers. Often they are busy with finding business, funding and dealing with customer issues. In such situations, alternative solution is to find an external coach/mentor, who has done senior leadership roles in same industry.

If you like to discuss further, you can contact me at


There seems to be great flow of learning from this post.
(Cite Contribution) has asked a really valid and practical question and the others like Sid, Saikumar, Khadir, Simhan, have given key inputs to this discussion.
this is a practical problem. Everywhere, it is believed to have disciplined, matured and systematic culture. But the truth is different. I agree to the above points and also believe that the suggestions would help us in making a strong culture of the organization where we work regardless the type.
I also believe that this post would actually keep the viewer thinking constantly of change required, the patterns in change, the adaptive change and the transformational change required in the organization. This would help all the viewers to engage in a healthy discussion on what elements are required for a change to happen.
Hello Ragini

It is really turning out to be a learning discussion, looking to the valuable inputs from the learned members of the forum.. You have stated that your company is a softwrae company and that the employees are talented but indisciplined.The other memebers who seem to be acquainted with organisational culture of software companies referred to the 'laissez-faire' kind of environment in software companies which resents restrictions and restraints on the freedom of individual employees as it believes that an employee' potential finds it's best expression in a free atmosphere, In other words it sums up that aculture of free enterprise paves the way for aculture of performance in a software company, given it's peculiarities like knowledge base and global time schedules etc.

If you view the prevailing culture in your comapny in the context of the thought provoking contributions to this thread from all enlightened members of the forum, you need to ask few questions to ensure that you sized up the situation properly.They are:

1)whether in a software company , such culture of free atmosphere is inevitable ?

2)Is this culture yielding results and delivering goods to the company?

3) if so whether such culture of performance can thrive only in a culture of free enterprise ?

4) Am I misunderstanding the culture of free atmosphere for culture of indiscipline ?

5 )Am I apprehending that culture of free atmosphre, if continued , may lead to a culture of indiscipline and if so what are the symptoms that are visible and gave rise to this apprehension?

6) what are the options, available to introduce discipline or positively stating to bring about cahnge in the perceptions and behaviour of the employees? - (Jot down the options)

8) Which option provides me a win-win situation ?

In my view, you need to answer these questions as probably you are walking on a thin ice and need to be doubly sure that you sought a solution but found a probelm.


HR & labour Law Advsior

These discussions here remind me of my days at work in to types of educational establishment. One, a college where 9am to 5pm attendance, 5 days a week, is expected whether a tutor has to take lessons or not; and two, a university where no attendance was required only when classes were being taken and/or meetings were held. However, in the latter, tutors were held responsible to meet the demands of the students in terms of project supervision, guidance, etc.

In the former institution, the staff resented the attendance reqirement. I was told that in some Indian colleges staff are required to attend even during when classes are not held to meet AICTE regulations. They just go there, sign, and then go home. People have told me what of waste of time, transport, etc, this stipulation causes.

In the latter university, tutors were available to guide students on line and were able to guide then even during summer vacations. Where as when a staff member is forced to attend 5 days a week, (s)he will be very unwilling to help during vaction time.
Dear Ragini,
I would like to know whether any policies are formulated in your organisation like leave policy, working hours etc. If not you please formulate the same and make employees to understand and educate them regarding the same. Explain them about the benefit of keeping the leave records, com off and late working hours and at the same time you explain the benefit for starting the day at the right time.
With Regards,
Generally the cause for in discipline not having company guide lines and decorum. Therefore, one has to set the examples of articles stated above, need to be considered with good spirit and suggestions implemented to wards employees behavioral aspects and relation with middle management.
In my opinion at present the competency rules the organisations goals, in young generation we shall appreciate the same and make them counsel to groom to the company set of guide lines.Secondly bosses need to establish and participate in team work hand to hand to build a strong relation. Self dignity,status and pride comes with the behavioral aspects, knowledge and logical solutions.
Dear Rajiniti,
Valuable comments from Sid and Dinesh. To add little apart from the ones suggested, I have seen HR people in start ups or SME's especially being a single contributor will try to exhibit sudden changes. Few of us think that as a HR we need to bring in changes, immediately. We need to understand that, always we should have an ASIS analysis. You can make a situational study which comprises of morale, cost, productivity, management road-map, culture, etc.
Once you have a valid report, please sit with your management and discuss. Also please don't initiate any changes to them, until they comment on the process. Also let the management understand that this (if the culture is demoralized) can be resolved by certain process withstand. This is purely because you have mentioned that the employees are good at work and the organization faces a minimal attrition. Good luck!
Hi Sapna, How relevant is your posting with regard to the topic ? Just in case you want to say something not related, you can always start a fresh discussion. Best wishes
Dear ALL,

I wudlike to say whether management has permitted or not OR known all these "free" culture, a disciplined HR person is answerable at the end for any lapse say late attendance or early leaving of staff. Absenting duty without prior intimation or not keeping informed to HR.

When every thing goes well, no one questions and every body will be happy.

When the Company suffers losses and not getting sufficient business, then HR will be asked to screw-up for all these indisciplined activities, then in that case it will be very difficult to handle by the HR to bring discipline all of a sudden.

Hence, as per me discipline must be maintained in any IT or non IT companies. When work is these, they will have to stay back and complete the work. When work is not there as per Policy, they should obtain approval / permission for early leaving or late attending to their duties.

Any how as said by some of the HR professionals, HR must discuss the prevailing situation with top management or local HOD and upon getting their permission, the systems and procedures have to be introduced slowly.


S Rao/ Hyderabad
Dear Rajiniti,

Interesting post and interesting answers.

As one of the members mentioned, discipline is a very arbitrary / vague / ambiguous term. It like one country's solider is other countries terrorist.

Every good at some point of time becomes bad. There as to be a discretion on how to use it.

Understand the current scenario in your organisation.

A start-up is always look out for quality people and since its has to manage quality manpower in limited resource they tend to be lenient on in tangible things eg: flexi timings.

However as the organisation grows it has to evolve itself as per its peers in segment, or else it would be difficult to attract talent from competitors.

Next when its really big it can have its own set of rules,the best example is Google.

During this transitions there will be clashes, you need to draw a proper road map to implement your desired change, There should be proper communication as well.

I will give an example:

My organisation faced similar issues, we had flexi timings initially, however as we grew work increased and it was difficult to have flexi timings. There was lot of resentments on this. Especially the old employees, who were performers.

We took a small meeting of all employees (its possible in small org) and put the issue on debate. Over the discussion all the pros and cons were discussed and finally we got consensus. However easier said than done. While actually implementing this we faced issues again majorly from old , loyal and performing employees.

To overcome this, we started a new award for people coming on time, also punctuality was incentivised. Slowly there was a sort of competition among people to come on time [:)]. Those who were not able to cope had to change or perish gradually. you also need to understand that during churning you get bad experience also.

I recon you talk your management, understand the current situation / phase of the organisation. Give independence for the employees to create their own unique culture, let them be part of growth story of the organisation.

Hope this was of some use to you.


Best Regards

Hi Sagar,
Good observations on what really happens as the organizations grow. I have seen similar situations during merger and acquisitions. All these situations require mature frontline leadership to deal with changing group dynamics.
Dear Raginiti, (Cite Contribution)'s response is precise and complete. Look no further, just chill, no one asked you that there is a "problem". So dont see it as such.
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