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When people leave…

The Indian Internet and Mobile space is set to explode: there’s a great deal of money (Flipkart – $1billion, Amazon – $2 billion, Hike – $65 million, 99Acres -$120 million, Olacabs – $216 million, and more) that has been committed, and a great deal more that appears to be on its way. At the same time, the struggle for digital talent continues, and the number of people with skills and knowledge about mobile, Internet and mobile Internet remains limited.

This means that there’s a great deal of poaching that is going to take place, both at a senior level, as well the mid and junior levels. For employees, there is upward mobility. Digital companies are gearing up for pushing for exponential growth in customers and users, and there will be an increase in cost of operations for most companies. People will move. What is important here is how they move: in an environment where you needed people, like, yesterday, the pressure to move quickly will be high, and with lack of available resources, companies will be constrained in terms of how soon they can let people leave.

I’m reminded of two conversations: one, that I had with Deepak Shenoy of Capital Mind, who told me, much to my surprise, that (as far as he knows) the UK doesn’t have a significant notice period. Once someone resigns, the company wants them out of the system as quickly as possible, because most employees are who quit are no longer interested in working, they often linger and this leads to others being demotivated. Leaving early, in that context, serves both the company and the employee. Of course, in case of those who perform critical functions, this can be tricky.

The second, was something that Raj Nayak, the current CEO of Colors, said five years ago on HR issues in the media, while he was the CEO of NDTV Media: that when people quit, he ensures that they leave in a manner that they’re happy; and that when they join other organisations, he sends them flowers and chocolates, wishing them all the best. I don’t know if that was, or is still the case, but it struck me as being particularly apt: from a personal perspective, it ensures that a bond created while working together remains in-tact, and professional disagreement (if any) doesn’t lend itself to the spoiling of a personal relationship. Colleagues are people too.

The other, from a professional perspective, and this is something that Nayak mentioned, is that despite working in another organisation, they become (or remain) your brand ambassadors. Others in the industry will rely on them for feedback on your company, and given that the Internet industry is already in a situation where there are fewer people for roles, and the situation is going to get worse, it helps when someone recommends your company. I know because I get these calls, asking about how a particular person or a particular company is to work with.

The other, more important thing is, that when great people leave your company, you want to be in a situation where they want to return, and work with you, because you want to work with them again.

I don’t know about you, but that’s the way I always look at it.

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