What is a day in your life like?

Posted by kamal on July 15th, 2016

Sanjay Sethi (SS): It’s a routine. Get up in the morning, drop the kids to the school bus, have tea with newspaper. At work by 9 am, meet key people, get status updates, plan out new initiatives, hiring, meeting potential partners, lunch with the core team. Home by 7:30 pm, spend time with kids, go over their school day. Dinner by 9:00 pm and settle for the night by 10 pm. Take about an hour to plan the next day, reply to emails and then lights off with my favourite audiobook puts me to sleep.

Radhika Aggarwal (RA): Every day for me is innovative, passionate and filled with inspiring stories. There is always a buzz of something new and exciting in the air.

How do you prepare for an important business meeting?

SS: A lot of walking and thinking goes into it. I talk to my co-founder on the desired outcome a meeting. We go over what we want from the meeting and what the other party would need. I go over some win-win scenarios, but most important is to be in the right frame of mind. Right before the meeting, I typically take a few minutes alone to breathe deeply and clear my mind.

RA: Just like I prepare for the less important ones — with all my heart!

What do you think are the best ways to hand out pink slips?

SS: There is never a good way to do this. Handing over pink slip is a failure on our part — we need to share the burden and the responsibility equally. I make sure that the message is given in clear, direct and honest manner by the reporting manager (HR can be present, but it is not HR’s job to give the message). I believe it is important for all people managers/leaders to go through the pain of this exercise. I do not delegate this part of my work to anyone. It humbles me every time. I have seen that in many cases where I happen to meet the person long after the event, both agree that was the right thing to do for the individual and the organisation.

RA: I think what’s most important is to be empathetic while handing out pink slips. You need to stand in their shoes, understand how it could impact the employee and then go about it.

How do you motivate your staff? Any favourite incentive programme for good performers?

SS: I don’t believe in extrinsic motivation methodologies like “if you do this you will get that”. I believe in the long run it creates a negative culture in the organisation. I believe in encouraging intrinsic motivation techniques. I believe in the fact that it is my role to create an environment in which employees can thrive, it is not my job to motivate them with carrot and/or sticks. The environment creation needs to have the following two key elements: It needs to be safe for employees to fail and second it should provide, to the extent possible, autonomy for the employees to choose their task, their team, their technique and their time. We call it the 4Ts. The good performers are rewarded by harder tasks, higher autonomy and a longer runway for failing.

Five interesting things in your office...

SS: The life, it is always noisy, there is a cheerful energy, I love it. The veggie sandwich from the cafeteria. The names of the floors and conference rooms. The people — there are so many now whom I don’t know and I am constantly amazed by how amazing these people are. Feel humbled and lucky to have them. My co-founders desk, it is filled with mythical characters like phoenix, unicorns and so on.

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