Its been over 2 months since I last posted. I am trying hard to overcome the laziness, that comes with age, for all things “unproductive” – like writing. Also, it gets a bit difficult to take time out these days from my work schedule :-(
We, at WebEngage, are fast growing on all counts – revenues, reach and people. This post is to share my experiences with one of the most important pieces in the growth puzzle – People.
As founder(s), do you have growth in your DNA?
Its a tough question to answer. For the world outside, companies are viewed in a top-down formation. A company’s culture code trickles from the top. Are you transparent enough? Can you articulate your thoughts? Do you review your own performance? Do you question your own decisions? Most importantly, do you ever think you were an idiot on certain instances? It takes a lot to answer “Yes” to all of the above. Let’s pick one of these traits – say, transparency. The very fact that you are transparent, makes you vulnerable. You will be asked questions that is unacceptable for others, but since you are the flag bearer of transparency in your organisation, you are supposed to respond. You’ll discover that there’s a natural tendency of people around you to piggyback and hide their inefficiencies behind your otherwise seemingly beautiful quality. And in all likelihood, you’ll give up that trait. That’s what differentiates good from great. That’s what DNA means. When they use terms like “vision”, this is what they mean. The ability to stick to your great qualities. The ability believe in what you stand for. Once. Forever. Back to the original question – please ask yourself, “do I have it in me?”. Your growth depends on your answer to that question …
Why people matter?
My work life spans across a 9 year window – of which, 8 long years have gone into building startups. Most of the prior startups that I worked for, unfortunately, could not grow into becoming large organisations. Why? Well, when drunk, we’d blame it on lack of money or market. But, whenever I used to contemplate, the reasons appeared to be way more simpler – People. We were just not cut for it. We thought way too small all the time. Growth is a mindset. All startups that grew early had just one thing in common – they had people who were hungry for growth. And for that one simple reason, people matter.
Building and maintaining the company’s culture code
This is one of the most difficult things to do as you grow. I am experiencing it first hand. A good chunk of my time goes into resolving people issues these days. When you are small, it is easy to control the flow of information and communication. You can simply stand up, wave your hands, get the other guys attention and speak up. With a slightly bigger team, by doing the same thing you are unnecessarily distracting several others. Small things like these create an impact on people’s minds in terms of what’s acceptable in the culture versus what’s not. It, ultimately, boils down to being clear about what’s not acceptable. Wanna know what’s not acceptable at WebEngage? There you go:
- Don’t command respect, earn it.
- Don’t lose your patience, ever.
- Don’t encourage mediocrity, negativity and arrogance. Find it, kill it.
- Don’t be gut driven, have data/logic to back your thoughts and actions.
- Don’t hire a person who doesn’t understand the meaning and importance of all of the above.
Did you ask what has any of the above has got to do with growth? Hmm. Its not an easy thing to explain my friend. But here’s what growth is – a disciplined execution of an otherwise set of arduous and monotonous tasks that you have to do everyday. Our core belief is that people who believe in all of the above are the right people to build a well oiled execution machine called WebEngage.
And, in the end …
Know what your priorities are
Here’s something I have never said before in a public forum - We are an employee first company. Customers come in second. Everyone else is a distant third. This pretty much drives all the decision making in the company. Happy people create great products that gets us happy customers. I work everyday to find people who we’d love to keep happy. People who love to challenge the status quo. People who love to deliver more than what is expected of them. People who want to be a part of the next product onslaught. People who can imagine the unknown … Rings a bell? Come, join us – we are looking for you.
I hope to have made some sense in this post. I’d love to know if your idea of people versus growth is any different.