One of the books that I am currently reading is The High Performance Entrepreneur by Subroto Bagchi (of Mindtree Consulting). To start with, I find the book to be a very easy and intuitive read. Bagchi’s narration sounds effortless and is more like a story/conversation rather than an accumulated capsule of advice (which many people are loath to listen to). While the entire book is certainly worth talking about, I’d like to – in this post - quote some of the persuasive statements that Bagchi makes in the chapter on getting good people and keeping them. They are really worth your time and I think if teams understand and follow these aspects well, life in an organization would be so much more effective and fulfilling. In most cases, I do not have anything much to add to the statements….
“Nothing binds people better than trust, freedom, accountability and stretch”
“Once the people know that the system does not play favourites, most of the problems are prevented from happening” (….if it is true that the organization does not play favourites or for that matter dirty politics, then it is important to do everything to ensure transparency……which, in turn, is what will help employees trust and understand that such immoral elements are absent in the organization)
Bagchi believes in five things for managing high-performance professionals – a performance management system that everyone understands, communication with evangelical regularity, feedback capturing via outside support, development of leadership, and support network for leaders.
Bagchi says some interesting things about a certain category of outstanding people – He says they need to be understood, nurtured and valued and goes on to add that they’d be most interested in stretch goals, freedom, constant communication, encouragement in risk-taking and a strong peer group. He reiterates the importance of a strong peer group in the case of a start-up environment.
There was one particular paragraph that struck a resonant note in me. “If the founding team has figured out everything and all it needs is a bunch of order-takers, why should brilliant people take the risk of working in a start-up? People seek inclusion in strategy and problem-solving. Towards this, you have to constantly inform them of issues, problems, opportunities and concerns. For this, they must have access to information at all times – even when it is inconvenient” (I believe that this is quite true even in established companies. A manager who believes that his reportees are there to just take orders will soon run out of luck and reportees. The more competent and impatient the reportees, the sooner they will attempt to run away for such a manager will never ever be respected)
Bagchi quotes Ashok Soota’s interesting ‘information’ principle that says 95% of the people must get access to 95% of the information 95% of the time. Bagchi minces no words to say that despite there being good reasons for secrecy/privacy, competent people hate an environment of secrecy. I’d like to tie up two aspects here and point out that absence of communication can very well be interpreted as an environment of secrecy.