At 13 Llama Studio, we are a young and energetic team who works on multiple ideas at the same time. We are makers … people who tinker with code, libraries and see if we can put all of them together and create a beautiful kaleidoscope of an experience for our audience.
We recently shifted our office to Sakinaka to a larger, much open space. Shifting to a commercial property has its charms, and it has its overheads as well.
This office will see us through for atleast the next couple of years, and hopefully we will be forced to move on to a much larger space after that!
Yes, the cake was our own celebrations on having finished the furnishing of the office. More teaser photos of our office here.
9 months into this business, here’s a gem of a lesson that I have learnt. It’s good to have vendor’s guilt (you need to be clued in on Amit’s blog for this term, he
is going to has shed more light on this – Vendor’s Guilt). It keeps you on the edge, it makes you deliver on time. However, it’s great to learn how to control this feeling and not get overwhelmed by the same. On a more personal note –
One of the primary reasons for starting a services firm was to beat the run of the mill service providers that I see in the Indian IT Services market. Service providers need to be value adding rather than extracting value from the organization.
Being steered by this value, the focus has always been on adding value. Getting recognition and paid for providing this value is the differentiation between a good and a great vendor.
I read about the recent Julie Horvath issue which is out there on the internet, and thought that I might share some of my experiences on this topic.
In case if you are not familiar with the Julie Horvath issue, Google it, or simply head over to TechCrunch who gave Julie’s side of the story.
tl;dr – Julie was an employee at GitHub who quit after feeling threatened at work
GitHub have tried to clean things up with a sincere and apologetic reply to Julie. They have taken some prompt action and that’s what matters.
So what went wrong?
In the entire episode, Julie must have felt threatened at work. Imagine having to battle out on multiple fronts with multiple people … and apart from that handle work as well. The nausea an employee might feel with so much politicking going on is natural. Who would not quit?
One of the most basic requirements of an employee (keep this term in mind folks) implicitly wants, is to feel secure. Be it financially, physically and mentally. These are the very basic requirements, if these are threatened, then the employee is bound to quit. If I were to use Maslow’s hierarchy as a model, then these would be the hygiene factors.
In letting a non-employee (the founder’s wife) sit within the working premises next to Julie, the physical security was in question. The mental security was being questioned by the love lost colleague and the founder in question. Add to it the way the organization reacted with radio silence and hushed tones, the financial security was also put in question. The next move should have been obvious, perhaps the reaction of the organization might have been to incite this move. The GitHub blog update suggests other wise, but we will never know that shall we?
The reason I chose to write about this matter, is because recently we had a similar situation at work. One of our earlier employees went through this insecurity … thanks to my behaviour. It took some time for me to reflect and talk to a few other founders to understand what drove this employee in question to leave … leave at such a short notice. Do I regret this, yes. Did we lose a good player, perhaps. Can this be avoided in the future, definitely.
It’s a lesson learned for me that employees are not to be treated as co-founders. You can cross certain boundaries with co-founders … those boundaries are a strict no-no with employees … even if these are the people who help you grow your organization.
Sometimes, the founder can go to extraneous lengths to retain employees … not because the organization cannot survive without them, but because of the achievements that individual can do if properly channelled. In doing so, lines are crossed … sometimes it helps in bonding the individual closer to the organization … almost like a trial by fire. Sometimes, it backfires … and even worse spreads like wildfire on social media.
In Julie’s own words, what the founder did was to retain her at the organization … however things escalated to such an extent that the very opposite happened. This is what would happen when you mix professional relationships with personal ones. In trying to build a personal relationship with your team, you sometimes cross the boundary. Most of the times it pays off.
So what should a founder do?
A start-up would always face this issue. In order to do greater things, the team has to work outside its zone of comfort … constantly. How then do you build this sense of security within the team?
One simple approach would be to not fraternize with the team. I have seen many a good start-up founders do that … and to good effect. Reduce the fraternization only during moments of celebration.
One of my clear learning from the past episode is work towards fostering a sense of security for the employees … so that means take all conflict discussions offline. Conflicts which endanger the sense of security should not be openly discussed.
What I am saying is to clearly have two separate levels of information parity. What are the things that you have tried at work and it has paid off?
PS – I don’t have all the answers, however I am learning as I journey on.
When I was going for my first interview, no one told me this … however as time went by, all of us learnt the hard way.
- Always sit upright in the chair, slightly lean forward
- Never cross your arms or legs, that makes your posture defensive
- Always smile and be forthcoming about your weaknesses
- Be honest and do not be afraid to say “I don’t know”
After a decade of working and interviewing people, this infographic is a great summary of what are the basic things you should do when going for an interview.
In the course of our lives, we create a large paper trail which we take with us as a means of identifying who we are, this trail involves
- Identification proofs such as driver’s license, pan cards, UID (hope that works!), ration cards
- Bills (telephone, electricity, credit cards) and their respective receipts
- Mark sheets and Passing certificates (and thank god I have gone through that phase!)
- Insurance policies and other financial documents (pass books, cheque books, shares)
The list of paper documents we manage is endless … in fact as I am writing this, I know that there is one drawer-full of electricity bills in my house, all of my family members have a separate file for certificates and documents which is at least 2 inches thick. Despite of maintaining this growing trail of papers, when the time comes to fill taxes (which should have been a mundane task since I have been doing it for the past decade of my working life), I end up running around till the last-minute.
A paper storage and retrieval system which is messy at best and chaotic at the worst. I am not alone in this war against documents, businesses suffer the same problem as well. For start-ups, the first 5 years go in peace, in the sixth year though, there is a drastic need to get all of your papers in place. That includes TDS filings, bills for incidentals, purchase documents, sales receipts … the list goes on. So what is to be done?
This is where Document Storage Solutions come into play.
Document Storage involves storage and management of important documents, records management for example or simple archival of the existing documents to be fetched at a later time. These solutions are also useful for governments, for example the UK government does use strong record management facilities to support their Freedom of Information requests from the citizens. However, FOI can only be useful where the document is actually stored, what about those documents which are destroyed? Some problems are beyond the scope of Document Storage
What is important for us here is that sometimes maintaining and storing all these paper documents becomes an issue (in terms of space, in terms of finding the documents at the right time), and that’s why services which can effectively maintain these services are being founded and I find them just the solution for saving you (or your organization’s) paper trails.