Q. Now that you have 6 hubs, how have the challenges and problems changed and how are you addressing them?
Anand: It’s not just 6 hubs, it’s 6 hubs across 4 cities. So, with more distance comes one of the main problems that plague companies: effective communication. This challenge grows as the number of people and number of hubs grow.
With more people, the number of linkages between them grow ‘n’ squared. As we all know, the nature of communication on the phone is very different from communicating face to face.
To be honest, there isn’t one right answer to that question, it’s a combination of things you need to keep thinking about, applying and improving and this has to be an ongoing effort with no ‘end-date’.
Varun: When you’re just starting out, the hardest thing is getting talent to join you. Most people don’t buy into your dream.
For example, the idea of creating a coworking space where you unleash ideas, create connections and foster a community might have seemed like a crazy man’s idea to begin with, but now as we can see, it’s a reality.
When you’re small and are just 5 people, it’s hard to convince the 6th person to join you. When you’re 90 and are convincing the 91st, it’s much easier. Luckily, we’re at the second number today, so it’s easier to have that conversation.
As you grow, maintaining that family-like tightness amongst the team gets increasingly difficult. So, what we’ve done is we’ve tried to find as many ways to keep in touch and spend more time together as a team. To touch base on various levels through various mediums, both formally and informally.
Let’s take a look at a few things that we have implemented in order to maintain the communication and keep our work culture intact…
Quarterly City-Wide Parties: Everyone from the various teams in any given city get together and interact in a more informal setting, once every quarter. This helps make people more comfortable with each other outside of the workspace as well. The more time they spend with each other, especially informally, the more trust is built, and this does wonders to the work relationship as well.
Annual Nationwide Offsite: A 3 day trip for our entire team from across the country, where everyone meets with the sole objective of having a good time.
This helps bring the entire team together and bridges any gaps that may have built up by giving people a chance to interact with team members from different teams and cities.
This trip usually comprises partially of planned team building activities and partially of time for people to just hang out and do whatever they feel like doing.
Monthly Team Dinners: We have an allocated budget of Rs. 1,000 a month per team member for a monthly outing. This is for teams to spend time outside the office and get to know one another better. We strongly believe it’s always better to have a relationship that’s more than just work centric, being friends outside of work helps a lot.
Bi-Annual Reviews: These meetings are centered around work. An employee/team does a review of the work they’ve been doing, highlight strengths and evaluate potential areas of improvement. For this review, aside from people from your own team, you have the option of choosing someone from another team that you’ve worked with to review you as well.
It helps to get this kind of interdepartmental feedback from other teams as there’s always a new perspective you get when there’s an ‘outsider’ looking at you.
We encourage people to choose others outside of their department, as feeding off each other is the best way to learn and grow.
Apart from this, it goes back to the culture related points such as:
- People in all these places need to be independent and have ownership over their local area.
- We need to trust them and give them freedom so that they feel comfortable enough to be transparent about sharing both, good and bad news.
These are the headline items. Aside from this there are little tweaks that we keep trying and testing every now and then.
For example we’ve started using Google hangouts instead of phone calls. Something as simple as being able to see the person makes a world of a difference.
The basic idea is simple, get your fundamental principles clear and keep trying to think of things that work for your team and your people.
It’s also important to recognize that this is an ongoing effort and not something you solve for once and then forget about. So keep thinking about it consciously and keep trying different things until you find something that appeals to majority of your people. Then work on keeping that consistent and improving it when the need arises.
This was part two of a three part series that will talk about work culture and how we’ve gone about establishing, implementing and maintaining it. Part three will highlight how we plan to sustain this culture as we scale up even further. So, Stay tuned for part three.
*Thoughts and words by Anand Vemuri & Varun Chawla, co-founders, 91springboard.
P.S – We’re always looking to add talent to our ever-expanding team. Think you’ll be the right fit? Umm, did we mention we have an unlimited leave policy? #JustSaying