Parul Mehta, Director at Motif is a fervent follower of the No Sir No Madam initiative. Motif Inc. is a customer-centric niche Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) company. Motif primarily serves e-commerce marketplaces, online retail companies, travel agencies, and financial service companies.
Parul is an electronics and communication engineer graduate from L.D College of Engineering, Ahmedabad. She received her master’s in computer engineering from the University of Texas. Before commencing Motif, Parul worked as a senior design engineer at Intel in California.
No Sir No Madam culture has been practiced at Motif for the past 17 years. Her employees do not have to use Sir/Madam to address their seniors. According to Parul, removing salutation compulsion brings more openness in communication. Moreover, she enunciates that, new employees are briefed about the casual environment during their orientation.
“I came across first-name culture in California, while working at Intel,” she states. Furthermore, communication was transparent and it never made anyone feels the hierarchical difference. Breaking down communication barriers ensured that employees could give their opinions without any limitation. This created a sense of belongingness within the employees. In many ways, effective conversation begins with mutual respect, correspondence that inspires others to do their best.
Many organizations in India still do not follow Sir/Madam ideology. “Removing salutation obeisance gives employees the liberty to question their seniors. It is vital that employees should not feel obliged to obey any orders given by their seniors,” she advocates. Respecting everyone is a more effective way of helping them improve their working efficiency.
In India, Sir/Madam practice exists dominantly in the government sector. People conceive being addressed by their first name as an insult. One needs to address even the clerks and assistants as Sir/Madam to get their work done. This is a form of demanding respect to show supremacy, Parul believes.
Parul recollects one instance, where she addressed an executive from a venture capital group by his first name. “I quickly realized that he felt uncomfortable and then addressed him by his last name followed by ‘Mr.’.” This is the mindset of many individuals in India. A revolution cannot be brought about overnight. Thus, persistent efforts need to be put into educating people that respect can be shown without using salutations.
People have imbibed in themselves the notion of Sir/Madam as a sign of respect. This attitude can be changed only from the grass roots. Children in school need to be taught of addressing their teachers by their last name followed by ‘Mr/Mrs’. Parul cites examples of few Catholic schools in Ahmedabad, where this method is implemented. She adds, schools need to inculcate this habit with discipline.
Parul emphasizes—“the context in which children use first name to address their teachers is pivotal.” The difference between respecting and disregarding an individual should be taught from the early stages. As it is rightly said, “Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners.”