SPONSORED CONTENT

'Culture-first organisations can withstand turbulent markets'

February 08, 2021 23:30 IST | ANI Press Release
Tennis player James Blake
Abhishek Paul, Culture Shepherd at Kissflow

New Delhi [India], February 8 (ANI/Mediawire): Kissflow, a leading global SaaS company, wants to be known as much for its workplace culture as for its enterprise software products. Recently ranked among India's top 75 best workplaces in the IT sector, Kissflow has been on a hiring spree while many companies have massively laid off. Abhishek Paul, Culture Shepherd at Kissflow, spoke about what are the core values that the company stands for and how they have managed to keep the workplace culture intact in spite of doubling in employee strength.

In an interview with Alokesh Bhattacharyya, Senior Editor, ET, he says his unique designation only reminds him about his responsibilities and the deeper meaning behind his profile. Edited excerpts:

We all speak about the importance of company culture. How would you define it? And what would be the principles of ideal company culture?

The word culture means different things to different people. Earlier, it used to be about free food and fancy offices. But if a culture has to be at the core of how you are going to invest in people and people practices, then it has to be deeply rooted in learning and not just about entertaining people and making them feel nice. Our culture is based on a set of values that we believe in. Culture is actually manifested in our everyday life, how we interact, how we prioritise things, how we reward people, and so on. Kissflow's culture is what an employee lives out on a daily basis. We just try to be intentional about it, and it automatically manifests in the way you hire people, the way you promote people and in the way you let some go.

How do you keep the workplace culture intact through the growth stage and change in leadership?

I believe the culture of a company comes down from the leader's value system. You can't have a leader who doesn't buy into the culture. Secondly, the culture has to be co-created, it can't be dictated from above. For example, when we were framing our core values, we involved everyone in the company -- we spoke to half of them and the other half answered a questionnaire. People who join us now are given the opportunity to voice out what they like and

dislike about the culture, and also bring about change. The third is to have rituals in your culture; like every Friday evening, we have a time for learning, fun, and connecting which involves everyone including the CEO (we call this G2G or 'Good to Great'). Like this, we have several rituals in the company that makes the culture as important as our work.

We have doubled in employee strength in the last two years and we can proudly say that our investment in culture over the years has started delivering as we scale.

How do you enforce a company culture in an organization which is spread across geographies?

It's difficult because externally companies may try to show that they follow a certain culture through the way they speak and address each other, but without an idea of why things are done a particular way, there is no common identity. However, if a company has the culture deeply rooted at its core, its value system will be imbibed by its employees irrespective of whichever part of the globe they are in, who might then express it in their own unique way. It's like an extended family that we have abroad. We may have different accents and lifestyles but what binds us at the core are the same values.

Is it possible to quantify company culture? Do you think Glassdoor ratings are true indicators of the organizational culture?

There are multiple ways to quantify company culture. Glassdoor is a good measure because the ratings & reviews come from the employees themselves.In fact, we value their feedback, particularly if it's negative because that makes us take stock of where we are going wrong. We also analyse the exit data to understand the kind of attrition we have. Our culture is defined as 'ensuring an environment where high performance thrives'. So, you can't have good people leaving. But at the same time you should also move out people who have been non-performers for a long time.

We run on an Objective and Key Results (OKR) model. Your business unit should deliver high on OKRs, you can't say my engagement score is high and people love me as a manager. Our Youtube page specifies that culture is created when high performers are happy delivering high performance -- which means people are happy because they have the freedom to work on things that they can't in other companies.

An average employee spends 40 per cent of his waking hours at work. An organization's culture can either help the employee thrive or lead to their burnout. What does Kissflow do to create a vibrant culture that boosts employee happiness?

I think people actually spend 70 percent of their waking hours in the office. One big problem is that people don't know how much they can do to influence a company's culture. For example, a manager can influence his team more than a CEO or a People Ops team ever can. What the company can do is to equip these people, give them authority not just a designation. People close to the problems are in the best place to solve them. We, at Kissflow, try to keep teams small and self-contained so that they can manage their daily issues.

How have we solved the problem of onboarding/hiring remotely? How do we do this effectively?

We underestimate the impact of hiring in India. Everyone believes it's a numbers game. Culture is ultimately two things - performance management and hiring. If you can't crack hiring, you will only waste money in fixing your company culture. I credit Laszlo Bock, the former CHRO of Google for this. He has called it front-loading your people investment -- he says to put most of your money and resources into finding the best talent, not in giving them training.

Till a year ago, when we weren't as big and popular, Suresh Sambandam, our CEO, used to interview each and every candidate. It wouldn't be a functional or a technical interview as those would have already be done, he would just get to know them personally to see if they would fit into our culture. After observing all his interactions, we created something called the value alignment interview and evaluated how each candidate mapped to our six core values. So, for us it doesn't matter if the interview is done remotely or face to face, what's critical is to have clarity in what we are looking for. As far as remote onboarding is concerned, it is tougher because you are trying to build a relationship, but with initiatives like G2G, we've been able to succeed.

It looks as if Kissflow has cracked its work culture. What's the way forward now?

Work culture can never be set in stone; especially one that is based on constant learning. We have laid a strong foundation for our culture through our core values and people practices, and it continues to evolve into an intellectual, inclusive and high-performance culture at every level. There is no secret ingredient or magic bullet to cracking work culture - it is relentless effort and good hires that keep it thriving and growing. As we scale and evolve, we will strive to manifest our values and practices in our everyday work and the long term processes. Culture will continue to be the core that binds us all.

This story is provided by Mediawire. ANI will not be responsible in any way for the content of this article. (ANI/Mediawire)

DISCLAIMER


(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

 

Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

'Culture-first organisations can withstand turbulent markets'

New Delhi [India], February 8 (ANI/Mediawire): Kissflow, a leading global SaaS company, wants to be known as much for its workplace culture as for its enterprise software products. Recently ranked among India's top 75 best workplaces in the IT sector, Kissflow has been on a hiring spree while many companies have massively laid off. Abhishek Paul, Culture Shepherd at Kissflow, spoke about what are the core values that the company stands for and how they have managed to keep the workplace culture intact in spite of doubling in employee strength.

In an interview with Alokesh Bhattacharyya, Senior Editor, ET, he says his unique designation only reminds him about his responsibilities and the deeper meaning behind his profile. Edited excerpts:

We all speak about the importance of company culture. How would you define it? And what would be the principles of ideal company culture?

The word culture means different things to different people. Earlier, it used to be about free food and fancy offices. But if a culture has to be at the core of how you are going to invest in people and people practices, then it has to be deeply rooted in learning and not just about entertaining people and making them feel nice. Our culture is based on a set of values that we believe in. Culture is actually manifested in our everyday life, how we interact, how we prioritise things, how we reward people, and so on. Kissflow's culture is what an employee lives out on a daily basis. We just try to be intentional about it, and it automatically manifests in the way you hire people, the way you promote people and in the way you let some go.

How do you keep the workplace culture intact through the growth stage and change in leadership?

I believe the culture of a company comes down from the leader's value system. You can't have a leader who doesn't buy into the culture. Secondly, the culture has to be co-created, it can't be dictated from above. For example, when we were framing our core values, we involved everyone in the company -- we spoke to half of them and the other half answered a questionnaire. People who join us now are given the opportunity to voice out what they like and

dislike about the culture, and also bring about change. The third is to have rituals in your culture; like every Friday evening, we have a time for learning, fun, and connecting which involves everyone including the CEO (we call this G2G or 'Good to Great'). Like this, we have several rituals in the company that makes the culture as important as our work.

We have doubled in employee strength in the last two years and we can proudly say that our investment in culture over the years has started delivering as we scale.

How do you enforce a company culture in an organization which is spread across geographies?

It's difficult because externally companies may try to show that they follow a certain culture through the way they speak and address each other, but without an idea of why things are done a particular way, there is no common identity. However, if a company has the culture deeply rooted at its core, its value system will be imbibed by its employees irrespective of whichever part of the globe they are in, who might then express it in their own unique way. It's like an extended family that we have abroad. We may have different accents and lifestyles but what binds us at the core are the same values.

Is it possible to quantify company culture? Do you think Glassdoor ratings are true indicators of the organizational culture?

There are multiple ways to quantify company culture. Glassdoor is a good measure because the ratings & reviews come from the employees themselves.In fact, we value their feedback, particularly if it's negative because that makes us take stock of where we are going wrong. We also analyse the exit data to understand the kind of attrition we have. Our culture is defined as 'ensuring an environment where high performance thrives'. So, you can't have good people leaving. But at the same time you should also move out people who have been non-performers for a long time.

We run on an Objective and Key Results (OKR) model. Your business unit should deliver high on OKRs, you can't say my engagement score is high and people love me as a manager. Our Youtube page specifies that culture is created when high performers are happy delivering high performance -- which means people are happy because they have the freedom to work on things that they can't in other companies.

An average employee spends 40 per cent of his waking hours at work. An organization's culture can either help the employee thrive or lead to their burnout. What does Kissflow do to create a vibrant culture that boosts employee happiness?

I think people actually spend 70 percent of their waking hours in the office. One big problem is that people don't know how much they can do to influence a company's culture. For example, a manager can influence his team more than a CEO or a People Ops team ever can. What the company can do is to equip these people, give them authority not just a designation. People close to the problems are in the best place to solve them. We, at Kissflow, try to keep teams small and self-contained so that they can manage their daily issues.

How have we solved the problem of onboarding/hiring remotely? How do we do this effectively?

We underestimate the impact of hiring in India. Everyone believes it's a numbers game. Culture is ultimately two things - performance management and hiring. If you can't crack hiring, you will only waste money in fixing your company culture. I credit Laszlo Bock, the former CHRO of Google for this. He has called it front-loading your people investment -- he says to put most of your money and resources into finding the best talent, not in giving them training.

Till a year ago, when we weren't as big and popular, Suresh Sambandam, our CEO, used to interview each and every candidate. It wouldn't be a functional or a technical interview as those would have already be done, he would just get to know them personally to see if they would fit into our culture. After observing all his interactions, we created something called the value alignment interview and evaluated how each candidate mapped to our six core values. So, for us it doesn't matter if the interview is done remotely or face to face, what's critical is to have clarity in what we are looking for. As far as remote onboarding is concerned, it is tougher because you are trying to build a relationship, but with initiatives like G2G, we've been able to succeed.

It looks as if Kissflow has cracked its work culture. What's the way forward now?

Work culture can never be set in stone; especially one that is based on constant learning. We have laid a strong foundation for our culture through our core values and people practices, and it continues to evolve into an intellectual, inclusive and high-performance culture at every level. There is no secret ingredient or magic bullet to cracking work culture - it is relentless effort and good hires that keep it thriving and growing. As we scale and evolve, we will strive to manifest our values and practices in our everyday work and the long term processes. Culture will continue to be the core that binds us all.

This story is provided by Mediawire. ANI will not be responsible in any way for the content of this article. (ANI/Mediawire)

DISCLAIMER


(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

image
Business Standard
177 22