Viswanath Ch VK, Executive Director, Sarda Solutions and Technologies Pvt Ltd, and Group HR Head, Sarda Group, on effective team building.
Viswanath Ch VK is a ‘TechnoHRcrat’ with over 20 years experience in the field. He is part of the management team looking after the growth, expansion and sustainability of business from an HR and IT perspective at Sarda Group. Here he shares some of his learnings on how to build a strong team.
“The most difficult machine to manage on earth is a human being,” says Viswanath Ch VK. “Any machine can be managed, any jet can be flown, but managing a human being is a tough assignment. It is a different ball game all together. To understand human behaviour, aspirations, various facets of personality is most difficult. And at the same time, human beings are also the most precious assets on earth. When it comes to business, information, whether it resides in machines or human brains, ultimately needs to be synthesised and aligning towards the organisation’s larger goal. And that’s where the role of a leader comes in.”
You build the team you want
“To start with, you need a good mix of team members who have expertise in various fields, right from the technical to the behavioural. Their level of competency should be high. And these individuals have to be aligned with the organisation’s business goals. The team you want is the team you need to build. You can’t hire a ready team. That’s not possible. So you have to get your people together and do a SWOT analysis. Understand their competencies and accordingly devise an approach. You can’t select one way that you think works for all. You need to have a multi-pronged approach that is specific to what the person in front of you requires. For example, you can’t say you’ll be a mentor to all. You might be mentor to some, to others you might just give guidance, to others you might just be a colleague. You need to have a multi-facetted approach to building a team. And it’s important to periodically assess your team members, see how they’re faring. Are some lagging behind? Do others need motivation? Do some need more challenging tasks?”
Make sure the aspiration levels match
“Hiring the right person for the task/role is a difficult activity. Only time will tell whether you’ve hired well. Requirements and expectation should be clear. Leaders need to do homework before hiring someone. If a person has come for an interview, we need to pay attention and try to understand his/her motivation. Is it the salary? Is it job satisfaction? Is it the desire to do something new? Something to do with self-development? You need to dig out these details and see whether they match the criteria you have set for the role. Sometimes I find that there are very competent guys working with me but they don’t have any aspirations. If I give them a job they’ll perform it well. But they won’t show initiative and do something on their own, because there’s lack of aspiration. So what’s the point in having an excellent worker with no aspirations?
“These are the things that we as leaders, holding important strategic positions, need to look into. Can this person be developed? Does he have the urge to develop? And it’s not that we always need the best of the best for a particular job. So we need to take a hard look and ask ourselves: ‘Yes, this person is excellent, but will this resource fit the requirement?’. That’s the tricky question we need to answer. That’s where the success or failure of hiring comes in. You have to see how the person will fit into your scheme of things. Nowadays even the best organisations are not recruiting from premiere institutions like IITs and IIMs. Earlier there was a rush for them because they were excellent candidates. But now companies are asking if they have the right ambience and requirement for such candidates in their current scheme of things.”
Do your homework
“When grooming your team, you need to correctly gauge people’s competencies. Every individual has a threshold limit, and you need to identify it. This is a critical assessment, every leader has to do, and this is the basic homework.
“A customer will only be interested if you have good performance. So your employees and their competencies are critical to your performance and success. Without them you don’t have anything to offer to customers. The competency within is what you’re offering as a product or a service to a customer.”
Coach and not instruct
“Coaching in a sense is developing people, also sometimes called mentoring. However, this does not mean hand-holding or instructing. Framing the correct questions and asking them at the right occasion is a good process of coaching. Making people realise what is correct by asking the right questions is the best way to coach. This is a good tool to develop your team.”