Jyotin Purohit, Founder, and CEO of EcoLayers, highly enthusiastic about the No Sir No Madam cause. He has over 35 years of global experience in commercializing innovative technology solutions for complex problems in infrastructure industries in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Before incorporating Ecolayers, he held key positions at General Electric, AT&T, and Amoco. Jyotin received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in electrical power designing from the Indian Institute of Technology, India, and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY, USA. He earned his MBA in finance and marketing from the Wharton School of Business, USA.
He believes that “No Sir No Madam” is a phenomenal and admirable idea that has a great potential to make a difference and should be actively promoted among Indian corporate entities.
The excessive use of Sir/Madam in many aspects of Indian life undermines individual self-confidence. “It tends to make the other person more dominant, and in a subtle, way becomes a class issue” he remarks.
Removing the culture of Sir/Madam will reduce obstacles to organizational improvements. For example, it will allow junior staff to take greater initiatives, and not wait for orders or instructions from their boss. Junior staff will also feel more encouraged to offer feedback and be more actively engaged in meeting organizational objectives.
He described examples of the Sir/Madam culture in highly structured organizations. In a study conducted following an accident on a Korean Airline flight, turns out that, all the crew members were trained to take orders from their superiors.
Therefore, during the emergency, nobody could take the crucial initiative, locally resulting in disastrous consequences. On the other hand, it is generally known that the US military encourages thinking and decision-making across all levels, i.e., very bottoms-up driven.
In Indian organizations, the top executive is generally exceptional, on par with any in the world. However, the leadership/decision-making ability seems to be very thin. The middle and especially the junior levels are very hesitant to take decisions and take up leadership on a specific problem or situation. The Sir/Madam culture could have a lot to do with it.
Furthermore, this culture fails to develop self-confidence, when you get trained to get orders or directions from someone else. Jyotin’s opinion was that adoption of the No Sir No Madam culture will also benefit organizations with an increase in productivity and efficiency of its workers.
From his US experience, communication in US organization is informal and horizontal without much of the class or status issues playing a role. At his workplace, he addresses staff and customers by their first name; though, occasionally he may include Mr./Ms./Mrs. He does not believe this approach has caused any problems in his work. Personally, when addressed as Sir, especially when dealing with India, he feels uncomfortable.
In his organization, internal team members and clients are addressed by first name. He says, “If you need to interact with somebody outside the organization, then you need to talk to him/her with a certain sense of knowledge and self-respect. The overuse of Sirs/Madams can make you feel subservient.”
Large-scale adoption of and cultural change due to No Sir No Madam would require a lot of time and efforts. Jyotin indicated that the corporate workplaces in India ought to be the main area of focus for this cause. Individual companies can then drive this culture to other sectors.
The staff should take a chance, instead of droning sir and madam constantly, for once they may call their supervisor with his name, and might get a positive response from him, he suggests.
Moreover, the Indian corporate leadership (CEO/President/CFO) should start adopting this No Sir No Madam culture. Though practically impossible, in the government sector, senior political leaders and officials can encourage staff to be more informal in addressing others. Furthermore, to reach large audience, the No Sir No Madam initiate should conduct outreach programs and address some key decision-makers to bring about a positive transformation, he advised.
Overall, Jyotin believes that No Sir No Madam is having a good start, and it will have a great impact on government and industry.