This anecdote is a part of a series from the People Matters June cover: Travails of Team building. The story focuses on learning the first principles of attracting and enabling the core team from entrepreneurs. Read it in two parts Travails of team building: Learning from startups and Travails of team building: Enabling, not retaining.
Entrepreneurship is a state of mind– it is about whether you can influence your work by your own adjustment and exercise that level of control. We are a very transparent and open company and we also love to see people go out and start their venture. Rules, I believe, are for people who cannot manage themselves. When I look at employees in big companies, I realize how non-empowered they are to do anything. They are just told what they have to do and asked not to bother beyond that – tuned from the start to go check, check, check. What organizations should have is people empowerment – they should never lose sight of people who truly want to influence and make a change and allow them to make decisions and go through their own struggle.
Every quarter we have a CEO-for-the-day initiative – where the employee gets to read my emails, pick up my calls and even take decisions. They only refer to me for context. That’s well received. It was my way of making it transparent. It builds a sense of familiarity.
There is no CEO-ship around me. I have lunch with my colleagues four days a week. We don’t have a cabin culture, and there is always room in my calendar to meet with people. That kind of approachability really helps. Moreover, I feel that there has to be constant communication and it should be about giving people the importance that they deserve.
Last year, we hired someone who was open about being homosexual and his first question to us was, “Do you have a policy about conduct and discrimination?” When he learnt that we didn’t, he wanted to know if we intended to have one. I said “Why don’t you write one for us? Who better to write one for us?” So now, we have that policy drafted by that individual. Similarly, we realized we didn’t have a bereavement leave policy and one of our employees who was in a critical role had to urgently go on leave due to the demise of family member. Once she came back to work, we asked her to help us curate that policy – so it is a policy that has been designed by an individual who went through that experience. We want our employees to be people managers.