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Thoughts on Startups, Culture, Hiring, and More

With just over 4 years of work-ex I have had a short yet eventful career. I started off as a field sales guy, moved to content marketing without knowing what it was, and worked my way learning it on my own. Switched jobs to work in another industry. Lived in different cities all this while.

There were people who helped me grow as I learned a lot from them. And then there were many of them who showed me exactly what I didn’t want to do, what I didn’t want for myself, what I didn’t want to become. I am thankful to each kind. It is because of them I made the choices I made, took the decisions I took. When I look back, the dots connect all by themselves and explain in hindsight why it was the way it was. Notably, also explains why it is the way it is at present.

In hindisght, reality is fancier than fiction. It is, indeed.

Here I pen some of my observations on Startups, Culture, Hiring, Attrition and more:

#1 Organizational Culture is the hardest thing to hide.

Generally people claim that company culture is invisible. Such belief comes from either ignorance or naivety. Be that as it may, culture is the exact opposite of invisible. It is at the front, right, and centre of what you do. Netflix’s culture deck sums it up brilliantly. [Read the Netflix’s culture deck if you haven’t already]
Netflix culture deck

#2 You cannot stress enough on the importance of listening to customers.

My experience –> For something simple, right there in front of us, we couldn’t realise it until a customer mentioned it. There it was staring right at us but we failed to look at it that way. The customer didn’t know that his proverbial words will change the course of our marketing.

Used the JTBD framework to interview the customers.

#3 What happens when good resources leave a company?

The overlooked downside of good people leaving an organisation is that the under-performers get to stay, and stay comfortably.

#4 Should you hire brilliant assholes?

Short answer, a big NO. Long answer, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Well, it is true. In organizations success is a function of how well people collaborate, work as a team. A brilliant asshole is going to offset the good he/she might contribute as an individual by disturbing the team dynamics with unnecessary friction. The long term costs are too high as opposed to the short term benefits.

When you’re scaling a team you need to put filters to only hire people who share the same values as you do. This is not to say that you don’t hire people who are different from you. You should hire people who are different from you. In their style of work, personality type, backgrounds. Such kind of diversity adds immense value to the organisation as a whole.

#5 Commanders don’t duck from responsibility. And if they do, they ain’t one.

Often a times, people equate responsibility with mistake. They are not the same. For instance, your kid breaks your neighbour’s window. Although the mistake is not yours, it is your responsibility. In organisations, managers are commanders, they are the ones incharge of outcomes. If things go south, they take the bullet. Period.

#6 Firing. And the need to have some balls.

The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. [#GOT] You may have decided to move on with working together, but least of all do it honourably. Show that you are strong enough to sit opposite to the person, look into his/her eyes and do it. Part ways respectfully, everyone deserves a discussion.

#7 The problem with referral hiring.

Few super connected individuals bring in more referral hires than the rest. These referral hires then form a group with an unrelenting allegiance to the one who referred them. These clusters cause friction when challenged by anyone who doesn’t belong in the group.

#8 People in Top Management are deprived of arguments, starved of disagreements.

Since everyone around these powerful people is conditioned to nod, agree, appease; the people in top positions don’t usually get challenged. Problems like group think, escalation of commitment arise and there’s no easy way to change the status quo. When an individual lower down in the food chain disagrees or counters the arguments of people on top the status quo is challenged. The ones on top may react in two ways, either appreciate the courage and treat the argument on its merit or make it an ego battle and suppress the dissenting voice. You’ll be lucky if you see the former in action. Most often you’ll see the latter.

#9 Givers and Takers.

Broadly, there are people in organisations who help others even when it is not part of their job description. Then there are those who do their jobs not giving a damn about others they could potentially help. Givers are the Dark Knights that save the day without getting any visible credit. When you look long enough they shine. [Give and Take, Book by Adam Grant]

every-time-we-interact-with-another-person-at-work-we-have-a-choice-to-make-do-we-try-adam-grant [Source]

#10 This is not the usual listicle. I shall stop at 9 and not make it a forceful wholesome 10.

Until next time.

Posted in Marketing

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