Friday, July 29, 2011

The team's contribution to a company's identity

I have been a part of two startups. Effigent and NephroPlus. I have seen both these companies from scratch. There is one thing that I have seen in both. The identity of the company is often shaped by the first few employees in the company.

I find this to be universally true because the management can do only so much in shaping the attitude and behavior of the team. Though the overall guidelines can be given, values and missions stated, unless the first set of hires really believes in them and adopts them genuinely, it is very difficult for the rest of the hires to do so.

That is why the first set of hires is so important!

At Effigent, we were really lucky to get someone called Neelapalla Srinivas as one of the first few employees. He was an amazing guy. Technically solid. Amazing attitude. He would help the juniors come up to speed, spend time with them, coach them. Not only did this help the juniors in grasping programming concepts the right way but it also encouraged them to help others at work. This attitude in everyone was one of the most liked by the Effigent team. The folks that joined later carried on this legacy much after Srinivas left.

At NephroPlus, Sara the nurse that was hired in the early stages set the standards in nursing care at NephroPlus. The NephroPlus standard of care was informally institutionalized by her. She walks out all the patients after dialysis holding their bags and seeing them off. This is one of the many things that patients love at NephroPlus - personalized, homely care. Today, as Sara moves on to bigger challenges, her impact will not be lost. Nurses after her must adhere to the same standards that have been set.

Fortunately the managements of both these companies strongly believed in the values that the first few employees were torch bearers of! And the companies were fortunate enough to get these people to actually help realize their dreams.

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