Category Archives: Entrepreneurial Success

On-boarding for a Job Role STACK

Unless you have been living under a rock through the last decade, you have heard of tech stacks. A tech stack is the set of underlying elements of a software application. These are the frameworks, languages, and software products that everything else is built on. Every developer who joins a tech team needs to learn his stack.

Similarly, I believe that every business role has a stack. A stack that has to be mastered by anybody looking to do that role.

Skills

Skills are what we all need to know how to do in order to our job effectively. There are two broad categories of skills – Soft Skills and Functional Skills. In the context of this framework, the “Skills” being referred to are Functional Skills only. Every role demands certain core functional skills, that are essential for the employee to function in that job.

Good examples of these are Javascript expertise for a ReactJS developer, Negotiation and Presentation Skills for a salesperson and Accounting Skills for a credit analyst. While such skills can be trained for, true expertise comes only from experience. This is why expertise in such core skills is typically evaluated during the recruitment process itself. And once in the job, organizations trust employees to progressively get better the longer they perform the role.

In the context of role on-boarding, there is very little that can be done in a short duration program to build up these core skills. Instead, what is recommended are skill assessments and quick refreshers. Essentially, just show them a mirror and jog their memory.

Don’t spend inordinate amounts of time (not more than 10%) on skill training during on-boarding.

Tools

Can you imagine a carpenter without a saw or a blacksmith without a hammer? A skill is useless without the tools that go along with it. Similarly, every job role typically requires an employee to use a set of software and hardware tools and systems to perform their jobs.

Good examples of these are IDEs for developers, Canva and Amplayfy for content marketers and Microsoft PowerPoint for salespersons. Apart from industry-specific tools like these, most companies also have their own company-specific ERP, CRM, LMS, HRMS, etc. that the employees need to familiarise themselves with.

In the context of role on-boarding, expertise on industry-specific tools is akin to having the core skills. It is not recommended that any industry-specific tool training be undertaken during the on-boarding program. Instead, it is recommended to focus on providing primers for company-specific tools. Most people are hesitant to learn new systems, and the on-boarding program is the best place to manage this trepidation through these introductions to the tools. Giving them access to manuals or help videos in a repository format will encourage deeper self-training at a later date.

Spend more time on training on tools (about 15%) over training on skills during on-boarding.

Attitudes

Attitudes are a mixed bag of soft skills, beliefs and habits that are required for working in a role. These dictate how well you can work or interact with others to form relationships, create trust and dependability, and lead teams.

Good examples of these are leadership abilities in team leaders, assertiveness in analysts and persuasiveness in salespersons. Beyond the role requirements, all companies have a clear set of values, principles and guidelines that they look to inculcate in their workplace. Every employee must learn, internalise and display these attitudes to fit into the company culture.

In the context of role on-boarding, such attitudes need to be communicated right up front. These are best done through meet and greets, icebreakers, evangelical sessions and value discussions with the employee. Given that these require significant face-to-face interactions, it is perhaps the most expensive part of an on-boarding program in terms of time and effort and might seem to have a lower direct benefit in role on-boarding.

However, attitudes are critical in integrating a new hire into the company on the whole, and deserve significant resource allocation (about 20%) during on-boarding.

Customers

Customers are the only purpose for existence of any business activity. Customers can be internal or external, depending on the nature of the job role. But in all cases, knowing about and understanding customers is critical to performing the job well. Such customer education is unique to role on-boarding, differing from organisational induction in its application.

Good examples of these could range from retailers for front-line FMCG sales, website visitors for SaaS inside sales teams and company employees for an HR team. A stakeholder mapping exercise would be a good starting point for identifying the customer for a role.

In the context of role on-boarding, the difficult question is determining the best approach for the customer familiarisation exercise. In the case of institutional sales, it could be one-on-one meetings with the clients and account planning exercises. In the case of B2C sales, it might be participating in surveys, focus groups and interviews. Attending reviews and meetings might be a good way to familiarise the employee with internal customers.

Customer familiarisation during on-boarding requires significant time expenditure (about 25%), but reduces the need for on-the-job training in the long term.

Knowledge

Knowledge required for a job role spans a matrix of Industry-Company-Employee and Information-Concepts-Expectations. This has been explored in great detail in the ICE Cube induction framework I and II which are linked here and here.

Good examples of knowledge needs are company background, regulations, company policies, business concepts, etc. A larger part of required knowledge are job role specific knowledge of concepts, processes, products, expectations etc.

In the context of role on-boarding, the knowledge requirement takes up the largest chunk of time. It is recommended that to the extent possible, the knowledge sections should be administered through e-learning and not instructor-led training. The knowledge content should be structured as a combination of course-ware and reference learning centers, with a focus on on-demand learning and personalization. Try and find ready learning resources on LinkedIn, Coursera, Udemy, etc. before starting to create your own learning resources.

Knowledge training forms the base of the entire role on-boarding program (about 30%) and needs to be planned smartly to manage time, cost and effectiveness.

* * *

The Job Role STACK approach integrates really well with competency mapping and organizational development. Ideally, we typically recommend getting veterans of each job role in the organization to define the STACK and its constituents. Post that, taking the common elements of multiple Job Role STACKs into a common company induction program becomes easier. The remaining STACK components then move into a relatively shorter role on-boarding exercise that finally gets integrated with on-the-job training and coaching.

Do let us know your opinions on job role stacks and whether you see them being applicable in your businesses. And if you are looking for an easy to use tool to create interactive content for such programs, do consider giving Amplayfy a spin…

P.S. This was first published on LinkedIn – Click here to see the original post

The 7 Advantages of Remote Working

People have always been drawn to the idea of a flexible workspace that provides them with professional and personal control over their career and life in general. While some corporate organizations were hesitant and sceptical about the concept of a productive remote working scenario, the current pandemic situation has forced many to re-evaluate their opinion.

The last couple of months have highlighted the fact that working from home is not only a great alternative to the routine office set-up, but also benefits both, the employee and the business organization. 

Highlighted below are the seven main advantages of remote working :

Increased Productivity

Many corporate companies are of the opinion that working from home can result in their employees becoming lazy and unproductive, but factually, the opposite is true. 

Distance work gives people the freedom to select their own workspace. They can choose to work in comfortable clothes, relax on a comfortable chair or even have their laptop stationed on the kitchen counter. This familiar and ergonomic workspace helps in reducing stress, thereby increasing productivity and performance. 

Moreover, people do not have to expend their time and energy in daily commuting to their offices. Not having to travel long-distance or suffer traffic congestion reduces the anxiety of being late or wasting too much time. People doing remote work are often, more inclined to start their work early or even extend their work hours due to not having to travel to their workplace.

Independence of Location

A flexible workspace allows people to continue working despite a change in their location without having to change their company or start over in a new organization. 

It also provides access to a broader range of employment opportunities that are not limited by geographical location. People can thus, avoid moving to a major metropolitan area with a high cost of living simply to have a career that they desire. 

Companies will also not lose their employees if they re-locate and can thus enjoy a greater degree of employee retention in their organization. 

Reduction of Expenses

Telecommuting can be a great way to save money and reduce expenses. Having a remote job instantly reduces the cost of petrol, vehicle maintenance, professional attire, daily meals etc. It also benefits the companies and allows them to save money as it decreases the cost of real estate and technology.

Inclusion of People

Digital workspace is not limited by geographical location and hence, it allows companies to hire people from different places. This enables greater diversity in the work environment as employees belonging to different culture, language, race, religion, etc., all come together and enhance the social dynamics of the organisation.

Moreover, it also provides an excellent work opportunity for people with disabilities and others who cannot work an on-site job, to follow their career goals without having to worry about external factors like work commute, etc.

Better work-life balance 

Telecommuting makes it easier for people to balance their career and family life. It reduces stress, gives time for recreational activities and improves personal relationships. In addition, the interaction between the employee and the employer is greatly enhanced without all the distractions and politics that come with an on-site job. 

Working remotely also encourages people to live a healthier life by eating well, having time to exercise and not being stressed or over-burdened by external factors.

Flexible Timings

Many remote jobs come with flexible timings where people can start and end their day as they desire, as long as the work schedule is not compromised. This factor is desirable to people as it allows them to take an active part in their family and still maintain their career. It allows them to balance time for their children’s school activities, family functions, medical appointments etc. Thus, an off-site workspace can lead to a more fulfilled and satisfying life.

Environmental Impact

Telecommuting not only benefits people on an individual level but it also proves advantageous to the world at large. When many people choose to work from their homes, it positively impacts the environment by reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases and saving oil resources. Reducing travel also helps in reducing pollution and carbon emissions which greatly affects the climate. 

Moreover, distance work negates the use of too much paper, air-conditioner, lighting etc in a corporate set-up which in turn can leave a positive impact on our globe.

 Although the current on-going pandemic situation has been the catalyst for people turning to a digital workspace, many are realizing its multifarious advantages. It is thus, safe to say that this  is one trend that isn’t going to slow down anytime soon

HR Tech and Startups in 2018: The year that was

How was the year 2018 for startups in the HR tech space in India when it comes to adoption and talent? Read on to find out.

December is a time to look back and take stock-where did we start from and where have we reached after 12 long months. And when the startups in the HR Tech space look back, they will mostly say it has been a good year. From the degree of adoption to the amount of funds flowing in, the startup space has generally seen an increased awareness around technology in HR. With the talks of AI, automation, technology dominating the whole year around, HR Tech saw a definite uptake both in India and globally.

So if in the first quarter, Degreed, a global platform for discovery, learning & certification of skills, made news by raising $42 Mn in a funding round, back home, in the second quarter, Indian corporate social responsibility and sustainability management technology platform, Goodera brought raised around $12 Mn. Similarly, employee focused HR tech app Hush also saw itself raising three funding rounds in the year, a major thumbs up for employee engagement apps. 

The space also saw major consolidations taking place in the HR Tech space this year. Globally, US-based job review and job hunting website Glassdoor was acquired by a Japanese human-resources and consumer-information provider, Recruit Holdings Co. Similarly, global consulting firm Mercer acquired India based HR tech startup Mettl.


Which brings us to the first trend in the space-awareness, fund flow, and consolidation.

A good year for HR Tech- more awareness, more funds

We talked to a number of startups in the HR Tech space such as game-based learning platform Quodeck, employee engagement startup Hush, sustainable credit provider SalaryFits, HRMS provider Zimyo, talent discovery platform Vyre, on-demand video platform Monjin, and Zeta which digitizes employee benefits, HR talent marketplace Noble House, among others.

Majority of the startups agreed that globally as well as in India, there has been a huge spike in interest and fund flow into the HR Tech space. 

Quodeck’s co-founder Kamalika Bhattacharya says, “There has been a marked increase in awareness for the need for technology-enabled employee engagement amongst the HR community and companies. For the HR tech startups that have kept up with the evolving needs of our clients, this year has been good, steadily moving up the value chain of the requirements for our clients.”

Most of the startups believe that the major acquisitions in India and globally point towards interest as well as consolidation in the space.

Kumar Mayank, co-founder of Zimyo believes that HR Tech startups had a great year in 2018. “From Recruit’s $1.2 Bn acquisition of Glassdoor to Mercer’s $40.5 Mn acquisition of Mettl in the Indian subcontinent, HR Tech is now drawing the long due attention it deserved. Incidentally, Mettl’s acquisition is not only one of the biggest HR tech acquisitions from the country but also one of the biggest SaaS acquisitions too thus making it the joker in the pack for drawing international investors’ attention to Indian SaaS startups.”

Ashutosh Dabral, Co-founder & CEO, Hush reiterated the same belief that it was a good year with multiple startups in the space raising one or multiple rounds of funding.

“This industry is poised to be a $400 Bn dollar industry so the funding activity reflects this assumption.”

Aye for adoption, aye for technology

The startups agreed that early-stage startups too have quite been successful in making inroads to mainstream HR with many of them raking in early customers and investments. 

Sudev das, co-founder, Vyre shared, “From an adoption perspective more organizations specifically the ones which are growing have a larger appetite to try out newer HR Tech solutions to support rapid business growth and efficiencies.”

This was reiterated by Kunal Kapoor CTO, Monjin who believes that HR tech is gaining importance in the era of skilling and tech-based recruitment and employee management services. 

Another major trend was that hiring has seen a big surge in adopting technology to screen and assess candidates. There has been an increase in off-premise interviews assisted by use of tech to shortlist resumes, online assessments, and video interviews. Similarly, there has been a significant uptick in interest shown by teams within large organizations and SMEs including startups for simple, attractively priced and quick to deploy Learning Management Systems. 

“More than hiring, we believe that companies are taking definitive steps to enhance engagement and productivity in the workplace as a retention tool,” says Guilherme Mota, Head of Operations, India, SalaryFits. 

Referral hiring has also become a preferred route but companies don’t find it easy to run effective referral programs, avers Ashutosh.

Then again, adoption of video in hiring, learning and engagement has significantly increased and will increase significantly in the next couple of years. This would be largely driven by Gen Z as we go forward. In fact, organizations from a hiring perspective will have to focus on Gen Z as they would significantly change the landscape of a workplace and drive change significantly as they become a part of the workforce. 

Hiring talent in the non-tech world will become a major focus for organizations across the board, adds Sudev. Consumer-facing roles will be in demand but the supply will always be shorter. The current way of hiring this talent will go through significant change. 

Moreover, recruiters will have to move beyond the traditional job board and platform sourcing to actually embed themselves in the real-life contexts of the candidates and attract them. 

This leveraging of technology will only ramp up as the volume and quality of data increases and AI improves. While awareness of AI and acceptance of AI in the HR Tech has increased, however, it would take a couple more years for us to see the real benefits of AI as systems and tech matures in the AI world

Challenges ahead: A dearth of talent, funds and market access

Notwithstanding how highly hopeful and happening the year 2018 was for startups and HR Tech, there are still many significant barriers they have to cross before they can scale greater heights of success.

For instance, hiring talent itself in the space is a problem. Mayank of Zimyo shares that it is becoming difficult day by day to hire quality talent. He revealed,

“We floated over 20 openings during the year, each carrying a 40%+ hike & ESOPs and yet we failed to generate good interest among potential candidates. Many of our partner HR Tech startups (from our HR marketplace) complained of the dearth of quality talent too; especially, at senior levels.”

The same thoughts are shared by Sanjay Lakhotia, Co-Founder, Noble House Consulting Pte who reiterated that a significant challenge for HR tech startups is a scarcity of talent in the market, across all functions, technology, sales, operations etc. He also added that price realization continues to be a big challenge for most HR tech startups.

Bhavin Turakhia, co-founder of Zeta feels that a major challenge with HR Tech companies is that the user interface has mostly not been built from the standpoint of easy adoption, which is what makes ready adoption difficult. The real challenge he feels is creating that HR tech mindset among companies where the goal of HR Tech is beyond managing operations all the way to empowering and enabling people to be their best. With that as an objective, the scope expands 10X for HR Tech. 

Unavailability of a ready-market they can sell their business to is another challenge, adds Mayank. For SaaS based HR Tech startups like Payroll or AI Chatbots, it is the lack of cloud adoption in the Indian subcontinent; for Niche HR Tech startups like Compensation and Benefits it is the lack of domain knowledge. Being enterprise solutions, HR Tech startups have to undertake a lot of shoe and leather cost to make every sale happen.

“While the market is there for the taking, quite a few of us in the HR Tech space find it difficult to get across to potential customers. We are not great at selling the product or even marketing or engaging customers. Even platforms which could help us do that are limited and very costly, adds Sudev.

The same is reiterated by Kamalika who shares that HR departments in companies face hurdles in getting business buy-in for tech products. A significant percentage of product/service acquisitions are led by the business teams rather than the HR team. Moreover, companies in India, view HR tech as a service rather than a product. This leads to delays in deployment due to discussions on feature additions and customizations. Ironically, companies still adopt an extrinsic motivation approach (reward vs punishment) as against intrinsic motivation approach (micro-learning, immersive experience, casual game-based learning), which hopefully should shift majorly in 2019.     

Then there are global big incumbents in this space and for startups, it’s difficult to build a competitor. So most startups are looking at working on niche areas that can make them an acquisition target for the behemoths, shares Ashutosh.

Interestingly, though the year 2018 saw a lot of funds pour in, yet the number of VCs interested in investing in HR Tech startups are still far and few.  Hopefully, the startups believe that in the next 1-2 years, HR Tech will hit the tipping point where investors users and businesses will invest significantly in HR Tech. 

For now, some feel there need to be more cost-effective platforms where Tech HR startups can come together meet learn and share experiences, where seasoned HR leaders, tech leaders, and founders come together on a regular basis. An ecosystem that supports startups at a fledgling stage would be more than helpful in the current scenario. A little guidance in sales and early client acquisition would go a long way for the startups. 

While technology (AI, video, automation) will definitely push up adoption and increased interest from both buyers and investors up the ante for HR Tech startups, we will have to wait till 2019 to see if the dreams and hopes of HR tech startups will materialize. 

By Shweta Modgil, Feature Writer with People Matters

This article was first published on People Matters

Enterprise Gaming – Once an Opportunity, now a Trend

Having spent a large part of my career in the financial services space driving traditional business growth, using gaming to achieve business goals was not a cause I expected to be championing. Gaming was always a personal interest, but the business parallels only became apparent after we started experimenting with service engagements for enterprises. Given the planet anyway spends 3 billion hours a week playing games, the challenge was really to figure out how learning could fit in that construct.

We formed QuoDeck in 2010 to bring gaming into learning for enterprises. Having started with some elementary game engines and simulations, QuoDeck quickly moved on to make an omnipotent system built with the changing business environment in mind. QuoDeck’s platform today is one of the most powerful and engaging learning platforms in the world, catering to enterprise requirements for mobile learning. And as a leading player in this category, our advice to new entrants is to stay true to course, understand that the market is huge and that innovation is the key.

Mobility is here to stay

Mobile learning was just about appearing on the horizon in India when we entered the market. In fact, it was still at a nascent stage globally as well. While enterprises saw the demographic shift coming, the speed at which the device shift happened took everyone by surprise. Within a period of 3-4 years, millennial users had junked tablets and wouldn’t access their desktops or laptops for anything but sit-down work. They wanted everything on their mobile – on-demand, anytime, anywhere. Being a generation bred on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, they also wanted content and technology that was easy-to-use, visually appealing and in bite-sized pieces. The learning evolution that needed to happen in enterprises was phenomenal and existing products just weren’t prepared for this. Mobility as a trend forced a change in behavior, technology, content creation and consumption patterns across all strata of business.

There is always an element of luck in startup success and we were no different. Perhaps being at the right place at the right time with the right thought process is what its all about. QuoDeck has been at the forefront of this shift, shoulder-to-shoulder with enterprises looking to stay ahead of the curve.

EnterpriseGaming_MobileLearning_CEO_QuoDeck_2018.jpg

Gamifying the world

Our personal insight of gaming being habit-creating and creating long-term associative memories, was the inspiration behind the approach we took. Countless times, behaviors and constructs learnt in gaming had been translated by us to address real-world problems with excellent results.

We had a learning curve here as well. Having played on consoles such as PlayStation and Xbox, we assumed the world was ready to deal with highly complex games and constructs. However, working closely with business heads, HR teams and the Learning & Development function, we learnt that hyper-casual games create the best impact from a learning perspective. This is because they are somewhat repetitive in nature, with a greater level of participation & addiction to ‘scoring’.

While we initially worked on gamification applications on functions such as marketing, research, and learning, we chose to go with learning as a primary focus. Having started in this category long before games became the buzzword of today, we were fortunate to be able to take a pole position and we hope to actually drive the future of gamification for learning in the enterprise. But there are still a lot of white spaces to go after in enterprise gamification.

For New Players

Gaming as a learning solution is so vast in its scope, that it can’t be characterized or identified with any particular industry or even a clutch of industries. Wherever there is widespread staff or skilling required, gaming solutions can take charge and lead the change. So, when new players come in, they must remember that competition comes in various guises and is very rarely with another player. You will end up competing for mindshare against the likes of video-on-demand platforms or search engines where users can find information and content at their fingertips. Knowing what creates pull is perhaps the only challenge you should worry about.

Look out for learning opportunities

Gamification as an industry has a widespread application with learning being only one of them. A space was created for us because existing products failed to keep pace with what was required – large entrenched players became irrelevant in a matter of months. Overnight, enterprises recognized that resistance against this changing paradigm was futile, and mindsets started changing. Gaming and mobility were no longer bad words.

It would be foolish of us to think that we cannot be on the other side of such a trend. Keeping your offering relevant and at the cutting-edge requires you to have an innovation engine, which stops for no one. This requires tremendous willpower and a staunch refusal to settle into a comfortable spot.

 

This article was first published at YourStory

By Kamalika Bhattacharya CEO & Co-Founder at QuoDeck Technologies

Discomfort is the Route to Entrepreneurial Success

So why is Discomfort so essential for entrepreneurial success and how to embrace it?

Entrepreneurship has always been about seeking out the new, in uncharted waters. Across ages, be it explorers or individuals, who have made a mark in their chosen fields or Entrepreneurs who have sought to change the world, have stepped out of their comfort zones. In an age when comfort is the buzzword for consumers, Discomfort is the mantra with which Entrepreneurs need to live by. Discomfort is not about putting oneself in a tough spot. It is stepping out from what you know, to the unknown. Exploring new opportunities, new areas of interest and nurturing a vision. An Entrepreneur seeks of problems and makes solutions for those problems while tackling the new-world questions which arise with these solutions. And that is where discomfort stems from. From seeking the unknown, from seeing problems in a new lens and attempting new paths. So why is Discomfort so essential for entrepreneurial success and how to embrace it?

Embracing Change

Discomfort comes from a change in what you have been doing. Change requires moving forward by going beyond what is holding you. Be it a safety net of certainty, an appraisal plan or just comfort with your work. To make yourself the next success, you need to embrace change as an integral part of your life. Start small but stay steady. A little change, one day at a time can bring success your way.

Say Goodbye to the Comfort Zone

Comfort zones are places which we are used to. We know how they will behave in any given situation. Coming out of this comfort zone is very important for an individual, especially for entrepreneurial successes because that is the only time when your mind is open to new opportunities and solutions where none existed. Discomfort is not just a punchline here, it is a way of life.

Nurture the Unconventional

Great ideas come from unconventional thoughts. The first wheel came because someone wanted to break the convention of walking. Discomfort makes you explore ideas and solutions which are unconventional and gives you the ability to experiment with varied combinations. It is the one thing which makes you think beyond what you think are your limits.

Calculated Risks

Risk taking is second nature to an Entrepreneur. But that doesn’t mean that you dive head straight into it. Study the problem, understand it, appreciate its presence and then find the solutions. Its okay not to have the perfect solution in the first go. Every failed attempt brings you one step closer to success. You may not have all the cards in your favour but a calculated risk towards your goals can get you there a lot faster, along with all the learnings.

Growing with Discomfort

There is only one thing for you to do- Get Up, Get Out & Get Moving. This is what will let you grow, explore opportunities and get a closer understanding of the world around you. You will start seeing things, you never did before. Go ahead to seek the new, forge your tools, mark your own paths and try your hands at everything that you can. It is Discomfort which will test you to the limits and will give you the experience to set on the right path.

By Kamalika Bhattacharya, CEO & Co-Founder at QuoDeck


This article was first published on Entrepreneur India