I graduated from college and joined a MNC. I was a newbie, freshly out of the cocoon, ready to take on the world. The corporate world gave me goosebumps; big buildings, amazing offices, gorgeous ladies in formals and all that suave. It was a dream come true, something I fantasized.
I used to take the office bus to commute to the office. I observed that the fellow commuters didn’t talk to each other, in fact they didn’t even knew the names of each other. Earphones plugged in the ears, mobile screens flashing on their faces and people smiling, perhaps reading the jokes on their cell phones. Devices had already replaced humans was what I thought.
Then I met my team leaders and project manager. We broke for lunch, I saw my project manager, he was a 60 plus aging man who had spent his entire life working in IT. He was having his lunch all alone, far from his team, far from everyone else.
Later sometime, I overheard him discussing with a colleague; “we have 25 resources in this batch”. I was taken aback for a while. “Resources that are what supplies or reservoirs are called”-I thought to myself. But the harsh truth which unveiled to me was-people are called resources in the corporate world. That was the day, I decided to build my own startup; where people would be humans and not resources. After 3 long years, I got an opportunity to create my own startup and today we are a 45 member strong and happy team.
For me my team is not only "Human Resource" but they are humans working for our vision and contributing their best toward our dream of making EngineerBabu bigger by each passing day.
Every leader needs to understand one thing; running behind numbers all the time won't make your employees fall in love with their work. Numbers will surely help you grow but not the energy in the people who make you grow. Without falling in love you can’t get passionate. Love is what drives passion. And as a leader you need to make your team fall in love with whatever they do.
“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it” - Simon Sinek
So what does then? The answer is - your care and affection. Good leaders are responsible for the "People" who in turn are responsible for the numbers. Care about your people and the people will give you the numbers you desire.
Here are 5 things we did:
1.No designated chairs:
There are no chairs with names on them in our office unlike many companies. Anyone can sit on anyone’s chair. This is the first principle to diminish the boundaries. To get an equitable working environment you need to get everyone on the same platform first. People shouldn’t feel the difference set by the hierarchy.
2. Juxtaposing functions:
We believe in synergy. Synergy makes a team achieve the desired goals smoothly. To facilitate synergy in our team we have juxtaposed the functions like sales and development. The sales guy should understand what a developer is building. He should have an idea of the aspects like pricing, technicality, what man-hours are going into it. Similarly, a developer should understand the ground realities that he/she will get from a sales guy. Market insight, practical application, what a consumer seeks etc. It also helps us in bypassing all the possibilities of blame game and inter-departmental frictions as these functions are different from each other but by cooperation and understanding they work as 2 wheels of a cycle, all synced.
3. Pick yourself up and move on:
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new” - Albert Einstein. We believe in to err is to human. We encourage people to learn from their mistakes and move on. The way you make people understand the learning from a mistake makes the difference. We have an accepting and learning work environment which helps people to learn and remember.
4. Humble and desire:
It is not a team of geniuses, it is a team with fire. Our hiring is not sourced from big colleges, rather it is sourced from normal institutes. We praise the humility and see the desire to grow in a candidate, which is fulfilled by the students of normal institutes. Big names bring huge attitudes and we are humble to the core. People from small places have bigger dreams and greater values, although they are grounded but they desire to touch the sky.
5. We hire but don’t fire:
We are a family and members are not expelled from a family."You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.” - Herb Kelleher.
We believe in taking aboard, nurturing and developing people. A good leader doesn’t direct but coaches. Just like a sculptor identifies which wood to carve, a leader should identify the right attitude and carve out the skills.
“Happy employees ensure happy customers. And happy customers ensure happy shareholders” - Simon Sinek
With that note I believe, if there is dearth of people in the market, there is a dearth of that bond too. Leadership is not about pointing that one finger to show directions, but it is how you clench the fingers to form a fist which bangs on on the target each time it hits.