How to manage people in a startup?

As quoted on the Economic Times 11/12/15

If you’d ask an Entrepreneur how he manages people in his company, he’d say he doesn’t have time to manage them! For entrepreneurs have been known to be especially childlike – in their big, often unrealistic visions, their huge and almost impossible expectations of execution and worst of all their temper tantrums when targets get missed! How many entrepreneurs are really remembered for their leadership capabilities?

Steve Jobs, with his mammoth personality was often known to tear people down referring to partners level employees as “D***less A**holes”! Closer to home, Zomato is known to follow a ‘hire & fire’ policy causing much media furore over the cut throat culture and lack of job security. Many, many more such examples exist, more so because a startup is a vulnerable creature and entrepreneurs focus keenly on keeping the business alive and growing…As one scales, organization culture and employee motivation become key. Here are some techniques that I use to keep my employees happy –

  1. Work while vacationing!

We allow our employees to take a week off and work from any of the V Resorts properties. This allows them to unwind and relax amidst our quiet serene resorts, at the same time using the wifi to remain connected and work, experience the facilities, activities and provide feedback.

  1. Explore a hobby.

Each of our employees is encouraged to explore their hobby and contribute in some way to the overall experience. As an example, our call center executive doubles up as a photographer, taking wonderful wildlife pictures at resorts, at the same time gaining enough experience to be able to sell the resort to our customers. Similarly our sales executive doubles up as a chef and serves his unique take on burgers at some of the resorts.

  1. Manage your own targets.

We allow our employees to set monthly targets for themselves and keep track of their own performance through a weekly MIS. At the end of the month I don’t have to ask why they missed their target (if they did), I only hear and comment on their plan to achieve next month’s goals.

  1. 2 or more bosses!

Since startups are usually lean organizations and each person is managing more than one role, every employee may be reporting to 2 or more people. Matrix organizations foster closer relationships and information flows easily, which facilitates quick decision-making, extremely important during the initial phase of a company.

  1. Make ‘Sales’ all pervasive

Revenue is paramount and everyone is incentivized to sell – from bloggers who write interesting content that leads to a potential customer, employees who reach out to older organizations to conduct an awareness campaign, operations folk who recommend the resorts to their friends & family, even our vendors and taxi drivers who recommend our places – everyone earns as they contribute to the revenue.



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