Ashish Nimodia, Founder at Snackit boomingly voices the need for No Sir No Madam habit in India. Snackit is a startup that installs snack vending machines at corporate houses. Apart from storing regular snacks, these machines also provide healthier options like oatmeal cookies, Millet foods, jalapeno peanuts, Sundried Fruits, and granola bars.
Ashish, hails from the corporate finance division in the banking system. There his life moved around deadlines, research, conference calls, managing client’s expectation, e-mails etc. Many times at around 4 pm he realized, he have not eaten his lunch ! This is how Ashish came of setting up Snackit, a vending machine. The Snachit not only saves time for employees but also enable them to remain productive and quick access to healthy snacking.
He has always believed in respecting people according to their behavior. Ergo, he wanted to imbibe a culture in his employees, where they could be highly efficient. His employees do not have to address him or any other founder with a salutation.
Ashish states — Addressing each other on a first-name basis helps to communicate confidently. This in turn, creates an environment where people can be open and express their views.
Ashish often interacts with managers and executives of various companies regarding his work. He voices, “I never refer to them with a salutation. I address them by their first-name and attach a prefix such as ‘Mr’ or ‘Mrs’. I believe that respect should be earned and not demanded, irrespective of a person’s designation.”
According to him, India is noticing a change in corporate culture too. MNCs in India have completely adopted No Sir No Madam ideology. On the other hand, Indian companies continue to be adamant about ‘Sir/Madam’ culture. He ventures — It is only the difference in mindsets that has led to such different corporate customs, in the same country.
He believes the perception of ‘Sir/Madam’ followers can be changed. People at the top-level management need to understand the benefits of first-name order and implement it in their companies. This would also enable the employees to generate beneficial ideas. As, to create a gainful product, the right mental space is crucial. Moreover, referring each other by first-name also minimizes any confusion between peers.
He reminisces over one funny instance during his tenure in one of his existing companies. While, Ashish was working, he had a senior manager who resigned and re-joined after a couple of years. The person re-joined, as a branch head. Funny enough, now there-joined branch head became the boss of his own ex-boss. Even the person under whom, the re-joined person was working, had to address him as ‘Sir’. This created an awkward situation for the existing boss, as well as the new branch head, as the title of referring, Sir was exchanged.
Additionally, ‘Sir/Madam’ decree has deprived blue-collar workers of the respect they deserve. Indian’s generally discriminate people from poor-economic backgrounds and consider them as unequal. On contrary to, Ashish advocates, people should be judged on the basis for their work and not by their financial background.
He cites an example of Ola-Uber drivers. “When you hire a taxi, you are going to judge the service based on the driving and decorum of the driver. Him referring to you with a salutation is not going to change your judgment of his driving skills. So why do people expect petty job workers to subordinate themselves in order for them to feel honoured?”
In addition, he mentions, “let your helper address you by name, and he will forever hold gratitude for you.”
He recommends, schools to adopt the first-name practices. Students ought to be instructed about No Sir No Madam doctrine. Ashish quotes example of pre-schools that have already abolished ‘Sir/Madam’ tradition. “I have seen play schools letting kids address their mentors as ‘Aunty’ instead of ‘Sir/Madam’. I believe this a better approach, as it connects the kids and mentors. Thus, making the learning process, much more enjoyable.”
Overall, he conveys, to approach more companies and educate them about No Sir No Madam drive. Even correspond with government sector officials and make them understand the benefits of first-name habit.
Salutations only create a barrier between two people, and in a society, we are inter-dependent on each other. “You definitely do not want a hierarchical constraint stopping you from approaching someone for help.” Therefore, adopt No Sir No Madam teaching and make communicating cordial.