Christina Lewis is the Head of People & Performance at Restless Development and recently undertook a support visit to our offices in South East Asia. Here she reflects on how the same ‘Restless’ culture is shared the world over.
I’d never been to Delhi (India) or Kathmandu (Nepal) before and once I arrived I felt a long way from home. When I first went into the office in Delhi it was great to finally put names to faces. The black and white Restless logos and familiar posters instantly made me feel connected and part of the team.
When I met the team in Kathmandu it was great to see our Restless Values not only up on the walls but also part of day to day conversations and delivery. The values were alive, just like they are in London. Just like they are in each Restless office.
The main business objectives for this support visit were to deliver generic HR/People training to the teams, to work strategically with the Country Director and Senior Managers around their People planning and policies and to also establish a connection between staff and the International People unit in London.
However, my own personal objectives were to live, breathe and understand the culture in each office. Gauging an understanding of the working culture allows me to provide much more valuable support and means that any advice I give or suggest is far more bespoke and meaningful for the given working environment.
I have worked in different global organisations for over seven years. Each country office, although part of the same organisation, normally has its own identity and with that its own working culture. An overarching global organisational culture is hard to achieve and something that cannot be forced, it has to be created organically through the staff/volunteers/teams themselves.
It’s a hard nut to crack. But one I believe that Restless has. The posters, the branding all this helps to create organisational identity but essentially it is the people that create and grow the culture. From London to Delhi to Kathmandu the culture is evidently Restless. The work ethic, the passion and the ambition is the same and very present in each person in each office. As an HR professional this is amazing to see and something that a lot of global organisations strive for.
I have always had to make allowances within my global HR work for cultural differences, customs and practices especially when it comes to delivering training. However I delivered the same Valuing Diversity training in London, Delhi and Kathmandu and the response to it was very similar. Similar questions, findings and comments over what can be a very provocative topic.
By then end of my two weeks I didn’t feel so far away from home. I was inspired massively by both teams. Delhi for their proactive thinking around the People function and Kathmandu for working so hard and passionately in a post disaster situation. But it was the working culture that struck me the most. The majority of our staff in country are national so yes of course the culture was Indian and Nepalese, but above all it was Restless.