As Ola changes the experience of traveling and the face of mobility through its foray in sustainable mobility, it is simultaneously building entrepreneurs through its culture. Its vision for driving mobility for a billion Indians has expanded much beyond that punch line with its foray outside the country as well as in newer sectors such as food delivery in the country itself.
While Ola started out as an institution to solve the basic problem of mobility, it realized that it cannot be done without people who can’t dream big. In this respect, it is redefining the way it is building entrepreneurs inside the organization as well as outside of it. For any organization, it’s a challenge when it attracts the smartest of the lot, the risk-takers yet is not able to retain them. The reason they joined you was that they wanted to understand how a company is set up and they leave when they want to start something of their own. And that’s a vicious circle. Hence you really have to have a solid people system if you want to retain these people grow them as entrepreneurs in the organization-or what we call as intrapreneurs. Giving them that risk-free environment to enable them to achieve their big dreams is a key of manufacturing entrepreneurs.
How can organizations do that?
Fostering diversity of thought
The first step towards this is getting the inclusive diversity of cognitive thoughts from all such people in the company is very important. How Ola is building that culture is by having a very open discussion with its employees about what do they want to achieve. How do you take that risk?
Visibility and opportunity
Also important is how talent moves within the organization. Gone are the days when an employee should think about spending two years in a role and then aim for that promotion. If you are smart enough and you are part of a big problem to be solved at a workplace which has a big impact, it actually matters you give visibility and you start moving around to solve bigger larger problems. So HR should make sure that these bright guys keep moving and give them an opportunity to do something bigger than what they are doing much faster. Otherwise, these people will leave the organization on account of the lack of challenge. Technology can be used to measure their engagement levels to improve retention. Also, internal talent recruitment and retention initiatives play a big role.
Encourage risk-taking and groom them to think big
It is important for organizations to encourage these risk-takers to try things out, dream big, and take risks. It is important for these employees to daydream big, try things out and not worry if things don’t work out. What’s unacceptable is not trying at all.
Sharing examples of what are the kinds of initiatives that Ola has put in place to build such a culture, Rohit shared about the initiative Central, which is a jam session where they share ideas with each other. Then there is the learning platform Uday, where people talk about what could be done better and skilling and smaller problem statements. The Elevate platform is about getting them on-boarded and giving them the dose of taking risks, take ownership, and failing fast. Edge is benefits related platform which is about giving specials benefits and environment to the talent to propel them to a bigger idea. AcknowlEdge is the rewards and recognition tool which is aimed at rewarding and recognizing the efforts of the employees who have taken risks.
Organizations should also remember that while it may want to retain all such intrapreneurs, it will still lose some of them. Ultimately, growth happens when employees are encouraged to embrace failure and the organizational culture fosters ownership, gives autonomy, empowers decision making, ignites innovation, and provides for freedom within the ecosystem.
(This article is based on a session Manufacturing Entrepreneurs - Ola Case Study by Rohit Munjal, VP and Head HR, Ola Fleet Technologies at TechHR 2019. Register here for TechHR Singapore from 19th-21st February, 2020.)