On this episode the Full Stack Leader we sit down with Abhimanyu Saxena, the Co-founder of Scaler!
Abhimanyu has led a high-velocity team that designed NYC-based retail marketplace Fab.com’s entire front end before joining Scaler as a co-founder. As a seasoned entrepreneur, Abhimanyu co-founded his first enterprise Daksh Home Automation System in his engineering days. He worked on developing a cost-effective and green AI system to reduce electricity consumption by at least 15% per household.
Abhimanyu’s Top Leadership Tips:
Below is a summary of the Top 5 Leadership tips shared during the interview this week. Take a listen to the episode to learn more about the thoughts behind these tips.
- Never compromise on the quality of the people that you hire
- Do not set ambiguous goals
- Do not micromanage
- Prioritize people over profits
- Integrity and ethics are important
We hope you enjoy the episode. You can find even more Full Stack Leader episodes here:
Full Stack Leader Show Transcript:
Ryan: hello everyone and welcome to this week’s episode of the Full Stack Leader podcast. This week I’m here with Abhimanyu Saxena. He is the co-founder at Scaler. It’s great to have you here, Abba.
Abhimanyu: Thank you so much for hosting the Ran. It’s great to be here on your
Ryan: podcast. I’m excited to talk about everything today that you have to share.
You are working on some really interesting projects, and I know that you live in the world of leadership and think about it a lot. So maybe we can dive in and talk a little bit about where you came from and how you ended up where you’re at.
Abhimanyu: For sure. My, my journey is pretty interesting in a way that while today I am running a business, which is into computer technology, but a fun fact is that when I started my higher education, when I got into the university, before that I had never even touched a computer.
And my own life journey is a great reflection to the fact that irrespective of where someone come from, technology is such an amazing. That it doesn’t distinguish if you can learn their skills there is an opportunity for everyone. And going from there, when I went to the university me and my business partner and Truman, we were in the same class.
We shared the same dormitory. We tried building a lot of startups even during our univers. And from there we were fortunate enough to land up at two very young and small startups. So I started my career with a New York based fashion startup called fab.com, while Truman was a early engineer at Facebook.
So the experience at these two companies, which were, while were very small when we joined them more than a decade back, but both the companies were growing very. And this experience of working at the Super Farms based company gave us an opportunity to compress probably decades worth of experience into just few years.
And then from there about after spending quite some time at these companies and hopefully getting a chance to learn a lot of skills of building high impact startups. About eight years back is when both of us quit our jobs and started working on solving a problem, which is very close to our hearts, and at the same time, very high impact to the world as well, which is solving for quality.
In higher tech education. The issue, the problem statement that we have stuck to for the last eight years is making sure that there is a platform offering an employment focused tech education providing a platform for people, anyone who is, who could put hard work to give them all the resources and guidance, which can help them crack the most aspirational technology jobs in the.
So that is where we come from. That’s where we are.
All right. That
Ryan: sounds amazing. One of the things that really struck me about what you just said was this combination of working at a startup and experiencing the kind of speed and the depth of what you have to learn in that, and then translating that into helping teach. About development, about working within the engineering field itself.
How did those two things come together to help create this? And what did you learn as a startup technologist that made you wanna get into the education part of it?
Abhimanyu: Absolutely. So I think when we were wor working at the companies that we worked at, Both of us were tasked to build a high performance tech team.
Fortunately, both Facebook and Fab were very well capitalized, the startups. So while salaries like we were willing to pay really good salaries, but as a hiring managers, one very big challenge that we faced is that finding talent, which meets the hiring bars that we have is very hard often. We might end up interviewing hundreds of people without being able to find anyone you know, who fits our role.
And particularly when we go to universities to hire. And this problem is very, like much more pronounced in many of the developing countries, including India and probably fully well in US as well, that majority of our graduates coming out from the univers. Unfortunately haven’t been given the skills that the industry demands.
So while they might have a great degree with them, and along with of course, a huge educational debt as well, unfortunately, but they will not have the skills that the industry absolutely needs. And that creates a massive problem on both the sides. On one side, the technological innovation and growth of many of the startups is bottlenecked by the supply of the telink that they don’t have.
And often because of that, often they have to either find people from outside or even set up remote and you know, offshore development centers or just have the bottleneck growth on the other side. The problem is even. Bad on the students or the, you know, learner side that people have finished their degrees, they have got a nice degree, which is just a piece of paper along with a huge education debt and it’s very hard for them to find employment.
So it’s so fortunate that both the ends are at trouble just because the universities are today very distanced from what industry really needs. And when we digged into that, what is causing. The fact is that if we want to create people, engineers who are industry ready, they must be trained by industry professionals you know, practitioners who are building, you know, the cutting edge technology.
Unfortunately, in majority of the universities, however, the entire training, teaching, and even curriculum design is owned and driven by career recognitions who probably have never worked in the industry. And it is impossible to hope that someone who have never worked in the industry, who have never been a practitioner to be able to create very high quality practitioners.
On the other hand, if I compare it with the medical sciences field, fortunately the world is much better here. So for example, if there is a surgeon who is teaching, or you know, like if there are people who are being trained to be surgeons, they will be trained by people who are surgeons themselves who are doing the surgery, the.
And probably if you, if I tell you that you are gonna undergo a medical treatment, but the person who was, who is going to give you the medical treatment has never actually been a practitioner and he has never been taught by people who have been practitioners. Probably you would never want to go to such a pr, you know, such a medical professional or a surgeon.
Right? But on the other hand, unfortunately, when we talk about technology, majority of other, our technology education is owned by non practitioner. So this was the problem statement that we noticed during our job that how hard it is to hire quality indigenous cause of the gap between industry and academy that has gotten created.
And there we felt that on one hand it’s a very interesting and high impact problem to fund leading to much better employability for our young people who are graduating. Universities and at the same time create a very high qual value for the businesses because we can give them supply of a lot more capable engineers.
What we felt was that with our experience of hiring for our companies, the companies that we were working with, also having trained a lot of engineers, having taken interviews of thousands of people, what we felt that we are very uniquely positioned to be able to solve this problem better. So that is, you know, like, of course our time at Facebook and Fab helped us a lot, one, identify the problem and also build some skills that would help us with this problem efficiently.
Ryan: Yeah that’s really interesting and I think you offered a really great breakdown of some of the challenges related to being trained in the field. I’ve got a lot of experience with the same, where you would have somebody go in and have a very theoretical education happen at a university and then they would get into the field, not really know how to apply it until they get in and work with other people who are more senior than them within the environment.
Correct. One of the, one of the things that I always wonder about and we think about as well, is what is the incentive for the leader to want to do that? Why do you think that leaders really would benefit from helping put together effective training programs or in this case, participating in a training program like yours?
Abhimanyu: Right, right, right. So if you are absolutely correct that if we just ask, you know, like an engineer working at a company, if you just ask them that out of your workshop, you will take out extra, additional hours to just train people. There’s no reason for them to invest because of course, most of the engineers.
Would be already too occupied with all the deliverables, all the products that we, they need to build. And of course, tech workforce is already innovation in shortage, so people are generally always overworked. That being said, another valuable is also that being a great trainer for technology being great and technology is necessary, but not sufficient for that.
There could be a lot of engineers who are exceptionally good as an engineer, as a software engineer or a developer or a data. But they might not be the best teachers at the same time. So to be a great teacher first, you have to be a great technologist and a great pr. Really good at what you practice, a great practitioner.
But at the same time, you also need to have very strong pedagogical, academic, and you know, teaching skills, storytelling skills as well. So firstly, you need to identify subset of people who could do it really well. And the second part is, How, what, how do you incentivize them to be able to take out the time to actually train people?
Well, in our experience, what we see is that it is pretty hard for anyone to quit doing what they do and dedicated their entire job, you know, bandwidth or take up a full-time teaching job because one probably it might not be exciting enough for people who are really good at what they do. Second, that if you do that for long, Then eventually these people might also lose touch with the industry.
So let’s say even if there’s a very high performance engineer, but if you take him or her out and ask her to start teaching full-time, probably next five years even, she might get out of touch. Not to address this. What we have devised it at Skiller is that most of the people who teach at. They might be in a full-time day job working at our top tech company, building really world class products.
And over the weekends, or you know, whenever they have few extras, they’ll take the time out to take few classes. Now that gives them best of both uss on one side, they’re continuously being in touch with advances in the field of technology. They’re building things hands on and they’re improving their skills and at the same time, people who are passionate about.
Out of their schedule, you know, like in their free hours, on their off hours, on the weekends, they could just spend few hours in a week to take some classes. And that is also where power of internet comes into the play that our entire curriculum, our entire teaching system is entirely online. So while all these classes are live classes with, you know, the instructor to learner interactions happening life, but no one needs to travel anywhere, what that means is that, I could take a class right out of my study room or my home or my lobby.
All I need is a laptop and a good internet connection to take the class. So that also makes it very efficient. And in this modality, we, for example, as of today, there are close to 1,500 senior industry professionals across the world who play the role of an instructor or a mentor on our platform, and they could take out just few hours every week out of their.
Which makes them feel good because they’re able to give back to the community. They’re able to fulfill their passion for teaching, but at the same time, they do not have to quit their job. They do not have to compromise on their, you know, on their core technical responsibilities. And of course we compensate them well in one way or another.
Either it could be, you know, of course I, a good compensation for their time in teaching. Some of them, many of them sometimes. Kind of, donate the money to cause of their interest, which is left to their discretion.
Ryan: Great. That sounds amazing. Sounds like a, such a great program with the chance to get very direct on the learning aspects of coding.
I have a question for you related to this. , what do you think is the value of one-to-one mentorship versus more class type teaching? And do you think that there’s a maximum class size in which people start to lose benefit? Right,
Abhimanyu: right. No, that’s a very thoughtful question, RAAM. Thanks for asking that. And on the comparison of one to one mentorship versus one to many classroom.
Our learning have been that both are important. We couldn’t ask the question of this versus that. Both add very unique value to a learner’s learning journey. Talking about the one-to-one mentorship first. So one-on-one mentorship is extremely crucial and adds massive amount of value. While often people do not are not able to appreciate the value of it un until they have gotten it.
But the fact is, That when you have access to someone who is already at a place that you aspire to get at, has a past journey similar to yours, but at the same time is not very far removed from where you are. Probably just few steps ahead of you. This person might be able to give you very direct, very actionable suggestions, inputs on where you should spend energy on this person.
Make sure that you are not wasting your resources on the wrong directions, because to grow very fast in career, of course, hard work or putting in the right efforts is necessary. . But equally important is also the fact that these efforts are being put in the right direction. So a personalized mentor and this direction correction probably might be very personalized to each and everyone, depending on their personal goals, depending on the personal background and history and the interests, this could not be generalized.
What I strongly believe is that it is impossible to say that this is one size fits all mentoring program. Now, that being said, however, when we talk about building a strong career, particularly. There are a bunch of hard skills that you need to develop, and for those probably a one to many classroom settings work very efficiently because there you could also get benefited from the peer to peer learning aspect.
For example, if I just need to teach a fundamental concept, let’s say something as simple as a binary research, how does the binary research work? Or probably, you know, how does load balancer work or what kinda algorithms a load balancer could use to distribute traffic between different app? To teach these concepts a one to many classroom session with a lot of peers.
Learning it together, much works much better cause the instructor can pose a problem and make sure that it is not active learning instead of passive learning. What I mean by active learning versus passive learning is that the teacher can throw the problem at the group, ask them to discuss among themselves, teacher could just nudge them in the right direction, help them build their own problem solving abilities better.
And that peer-to-peer learning of learning is of course very important. This way, people are having active learning where they are debating, figuring out solutions, evaluating pros and cons of different solutions being built and built by them, and develop the critical ability to be able to tackle new problems through
So this peer-to-peer learning could only happen when there is a. Now coming to the third part of your question, that when we are talking about one too many classroom setting in context where it is valuable when people are absorbing new concepts, learning new frameworks to solve problems. Now one too many learning the class size.
What we have learned that the class size is not a function of just the number, but equally important is also the homogeneity of the class. So, for example, we might say that a very small classroom is efficient. Let’s suggest one to 20 or one to 10. Classroom is efficient, but even a one to 10 classroom might not be efficient if all the 10 people in the classroom have very different knowledge background.
So no matter how small a classroom is, but if there are few people who have absolutely very low prior knowledge and few have very high prior knowledge, then it is very hard for a teacher to be able. Design a content which is valuable for all of them. On the other hand, however, even if the classroom is fairly large, but if the group is very highly homogenous, in that case, probably just the number could be much larger.
Now, it also another variable that comes into the play that in one too many class, what is the mode of teaching? So for example, if I’m teaching in a physical classroom, Even if the classroom members, people, the students in the class are very homogenous, even if they have almost the same amount of prior knowledge.
But in a physical classroom, there are certain physical limits that comes into the place. For example, if it is a classroom with, say, more than 50 or a hundred people, It is close to impossible for the teacher to be even able to see the people in the last row or people far behind might just not feel connected to the tea teacher.
They might not feel encouraged to ask questions, et cetera. But on the other hand, let’s say if it’s a online classroom now, then suddenly all these physical limitations kind of gets removed. If it is an online classroom where let’s say there are even 200 or 300 people attending a live classroom at the same.
In a way, all of them are at the front row in an online class. There is no the first row, second row in the last row. And everyone could probably interact in the same page. Another very interesting part of the online classrooms is that while in a physical classroom, there are a lot of inhibitions that get trigger regarded in an individual.
That’s how I’m sitting in a physical classroom, and there’s a certain point that I couldn’t underst. Often there is a hesitation that creeps into the student’s mind that should I really ask this question? Because I don’t know how everyone is gonna think about me if I’m not able to understand this certain point.
But in a virtual classroom, because you are not, you do not have eyeballs of rest of the class on you. Or probably you can just send a direct messages to the teacher directly if something is not clear to. So what we have seen is that the inhibition to ask questions or inhibition to tell when something is not clear to you becomes much lesser in a online life classroom.
So with these variables of hoity and the modality in which class is being conducted, what we have seen is that if planned very efficiently, even a one to 200 or one to 300 classroom in the online mode works absolutely great.
Ryan: Yeah that’s really great insight and I have thought a lot about the online education aspect of things and how well people actually digest information and learn it.
And it’s definitely an evolving field. So it’s great to hear your perspective on that. One thing that came up for me in listening to you talk was, Teaching as a platform is a very interesting perspective within the business world itself. I’ll clarify what I mean by that. When we bring new people into a company, we have to go through a teaching process.
Much like somebody entering into an industry has to learn how to work within the industry. There’s a little bit of a teaching platform for companies when they bring new employees on, when they introduce new contractors into environments and need them to learn quickly, to be able to get up to speed on knowledge of the organization or specific knowledge around products.
I think there’s a correlation between kind of the speed at which you wanna learn within an education environment compared to the expectation of speed that you have to learn within an org, a company or organization. I wanted to ask you related to your own onboarding process with your educators, how do you teach?
What is your process for teaching them to get them involved and understand how to teach within the scaler platform?
Abhimanyu: No, So that’s again, a very interesting question and thanks for asking that. And very interestingly, in a way, the learning platform that we have built for our learners, and in a way it also works in a meta way that we use the same platform to.
Train our own employees, people who join scaler, they also get added to the same learning platform for their initial onboarding training. Even the teachers who get onboarded, we use the same platform and process to even train them initially. And fundamentally what we look at is that for anyone, if we go back to science of learning, how do people learn?
And if I segment that into few parts, which we have tried to inc. Into our entire learning platform. One is that there are certain hard skills know-how that you need to master, which is generally achieved through one to many sessions, driven by an practitioner expert, followed by everyone should have access to a personalized mentor.
So probably once in a week or once in a fortnight, people can catch up with their mentor. Review the progress so far on the regular. And the knowhow or the skill sessions that are being conducted by a, by an expert, they must always be associated with assignments where you don’t just absorb the knowledge, but you also the AP apply that knowledge to solve a real world problem.
At the same time, if you need assistance in solving that problem, if you need guidance in solving that problem, or if you want to discuss the solution that you have built with someone. So there have to be a infrastructure to be able to either discuss that with your peers, learning with you, either you are an employee or a student into the platform.
So all of these put together, which is one, one too many classes led by practitioners one-on-one, me. Ability to get support if you are stuck with anything in real time. And fourth, enabling peer-to-peer learning massively. These are the four ingredients. What we feel works really well, whether it be an employer training side, the onboarding training for the employees, or it’d be a gen, you know, general education system for any new topic.
So we use the same framework and. both for our employees and of course for the learners who join our courses. How much
Ryan: freedom do you give your teachers that come in to work within the the framework that they wanna work within? Or do you teach them how you want them to work?
Abhimanyu: Right. So at our scale, what we felt is that that things have to be standardized.
These, you know, the framework or the pedagogy or the content that we have, while it is continuously evolving, but at the same time, it is not left at the disposal of an individual choice. So there is a certain in, you know, framework content, which we have, which is standardized, but at the same time it’s more like Wikipedia, right?
That there is a certain you know, code that we have in place already, but anyone can suggest improvements to it. And these improvements will be evaluated, vetted by a team or it could be experimented with. And if it seems like that it’s a positive improvement leading to more positive impact on the learning outcomes, then it in gets incorporated to be followed by every other instructor as aspect.
Or at the same time, you know, like, so the curriculum, the teaching framework, the methodology, all of that can evolve, you know, over time. But at the same time, any ind every individual have to follow the existing framework. It is not left at the choice or mercy of an individual because in that way it is very hard to ensure the quality of.
Ryan: Yeah, that makes total sense. Do you find that you ever have challenges in terms of bringing your teachers up to the same level or speed that you’re looking for them to be at? And if so, how do you actually guide teachers who are pretty headstrong people and definitely know how they approach things?
How do you actually guide them lead.
Abhimanyu: So of course one, one good thing is that with our platform, given the teacher to student ratio with which we are still able to achieve very high learning outcomes is pretty high. As I said that in our, on our platform, in the online classes modality, even one to 200 or one to 300 classroom size is something that we see where teacher are able to efficiently teach.
And with that while we might not need, you know, hundreds of thousands of teachers we probably need just few hundred. Even few hundred is sufficient. But even then, of course finding the highest quality of teachers, which are not only great at the knowledge, but they’re also great story tellers and they’re also ha they also have the right aptitude and attitude to.
Fundamentally, a teacher has to be a learner first. So teacher must have this humility to be always willing to learn new things. We first, of course, the first level of filtering is through the interviews that we do, and post that before we put a teacher to go and teach in our regular courses, we make sure that before that the teacher goes through multiple teaching rounds.
So like, you know, On informal groups, there could be, you know, we can just do an informal community class for outsource, you know, outside community or on extra topics, which are not part of the core curriculum in our classes, what happens is that, for example, very similar to Uber, after each session, The students in the class can rate the teacher on how, on different parameters, on the quality of class, on the pace of the class, on the storytelling.
And most importantly, a after a certain topics are being taught in a class, we will give bunch of assignments to the students to solve, which are based on the same topic. And one very important metric for us to measure the quality of the classroom session is that what percent of the learners, what ended that?
Were able to solve the problems which were dependent on the concept or the skill taught in that particular class. If majority of the people are able to solve those assignments, then there’s a clear signal that people were able to understand everything that was taught in the class. If not, then of course the class was not great.
So we keep these objective measures on all these parameters, and we only allow an instructor to graduate to. Of course based classes that are the classes based out on curriculum once they have already prevent to achieve strong metrics on these parameters, which is average class rating the problem solving percentage on the assignments.
This is the topic taught by them. Now, along with that of course one thing that we emphasize, as you mentioned, that what if someone has had a strong indigenous emphasize, I’m gonna do things my way. What we feel is that generally we generally never face that problem because of course, one is hiring, tries to evaluate for these you know, behavioral quality as well, that whether the person is irrational or not.
And at the same time, of course, to any smart individual, you cannot just push things on them. So if someone has a meaningful, valuable input, we are always welcoming of. But instead of doing it in an ad hoc business, we just request them to follow up process that if they think that the curriculum could actually be better, then structure it as a, you know, for example, as a pull request to the curriculum or the, you know, to the content team which will be reviewed.
Maybe it could be tried in few classes and we would try to prove the hypothesis that this is the better way to. By improving objective metrics. So we couldn’t leave it to the opinion that this is a better way to teach, but if we think there’s a certain better way to teach, it must be proven by high class ratings and high problem solving percentage after the class.
Now, if that is reflected consistently, it’ll, their suggestions will always be incorporated so that others can. Switch to that better way of teaching it if it is proven objectively to be a better way of teaching. So fundamentally what we have seen is that you know, like most smart people are very comfortable with this setup, that while I follow a structure, but there is always an opportunity to be able to contribute, to make it better.
Ryan: That’s amazing. Yeah. Thank you. I was really contemplating The teachers in your organization equate to in, in other organizations? Like, when I think about developers in our organization, or I think about , product people like that. They tend to be the the kind of like mind share or the talent aspect of things.
But really we have an entire employee base that ranges a wide type of uh, employee group and finding balance within. Supporting all the different employee types can sometimes be challenging. Do you find that you put special emphasis on the teachers that are a part of your leadership or as a part of your leadership, or is it the full picture that you have to think of in terms of running the whole organization?
Abhimanyu: No. So teachers, of course teachers are part of leadership group. For example, the person who heads the entire instructor teams is part of the, you know, kind of the c level, one of the, one of the chief yes. You know, academic officer kind of position, which is definitely part of leadership.
At the same time, we also try and make sure that everyone in the instructor or. Is not in a silo where they just need to take a class and get outta it. They are responsible for overall learning outcome, the overall module level learning outcome of the ba, of the set of people they’re teaching, and also their actual eventual career outcomes as well with like even in our setup, all the people who are teaching, they’re not just teaching, but they’re also doubling up as a practitioner building.
We also encourage them, and rather there’s a, you know, standardized process in place to make sure that the instructor teams of the academic team is frequently catching up with leaders in the tech industry, making sure that they’re constantly iterating on the. Curriculum that we have to make sure that it is always up to date with what is absolutely needed.
Industry. One of the massive thing that got broken with our traditional higher education system is that the curriculum that is often followed in the university is absolutely out of sync. With what the industry demands today. And of course, technology is such a field where, you know, what the industry demands can change at such a high pace.
Probably every six months, every one year there might made new things you know, that, that are being massively used in technology. For example, we talk about G P T three, we talk about, you know, artificial intelligence, machine learning. There is web three coming up and all of those. So like, you know, the technology definitely evolves at such a fast.
So it’s extremely important that our academic team is always up to date with that, and the curriculum is being rated at a pace where it never goes outta thing with what the industry really needs. So of course, our instructors are entirely, you know, they’re very deeply integrated with the business and they’re responsible for, you know, the core business metric along, along with teaching.
Ryan: Yeah, and I can see the need. You were bringing up continuous education earlier. I can see the need even for the teachers to keep up with continuous education, but also the employee base too. People on the administration side or people on the financial side, things like that. Being able to stay up in terms of this concept of continually educating yourself in the newest standards of the industry.
Absolutely. Well, thank you. This was a really amazing talk. I really appreciate some of your insights. You have a different perspective than I’ve run across in a lot of the leaders, and I know that actually leading educators is a whole thing unto itself and it sounds like you’re doing an amazing job with it.
I appreciate your insight.
Abhimanyu: Thank you so much. And it was, and thank you so much for asking such insightful questions. Great.
Ryan: We’ll be right back in just a second with Abba Man’s top five tips.
Ryan: abba Man’s leadership style is at its core, a disrupting force. It breaks out of antiquated practices surrounding technology as a whole and forms a new motif that teaches required innovation.
This brings to mind the idea that schooling in many cases does not equal training, especially in the technology sector. Many four year students enter a vastly different landscape when they first start their education. With scaler, Abba Manu has created a learning platform that remains in touch with the constant change taking place in tech.
This is a space to teach new technologists to not only understand the value of deliverables, but also be well-rounded in their pursuit of success.
Hello everyone, and welcome back to this week’s episode of the Full Stack Leader. Again, we’re here with Abba Manu Saxena, and we’re ready to hear his top five leadership tips. All right. Why don’t you share with us tip number one. Absolutely.
Never Compromise On The Quality Of People That You Hire
Abhimanyu: So my first tip would be always hire a plus. Try to hire people who are better than you at what they do, and never compromise on quality of people when
Ryan: you are.
Yeah, that’s a great tip. I think even conceptualizing what a plus is also an important part of that too, so you know what you’re looking for. All right. How about tip number two?
Do Not Set Ambiguous Goals
Abhimanyu: What do you have? Perfect. So, I’m assuming here that you have figured out how to hire really great people so you have you know, so for stars on your team, the next most important thing is, Making sure that as a leader you are setting very non ambiguous goal to them and making sure that they are very precisely and clearly articulated to them.
So that would be my tip number two, that have a strong people and set very ambitious and very non ambiguous goal for them.
Ryan: What’s the difference between setting an unambiguous goal and assigning tasks? Right?
Abhimanyu: So that goes into not micro. You, if you have smart people, you want to tell them what you want them to achieve, not how that would be achieved.
If you are having to tell people, which is the, you know, setting the task that go do this versus go achieve this, there’s a huge difference between the two. If you are having to spell out to people, particularly people who are considered to be leader in your team, if you are having to spell out to them what to do, in a way, I would see that as an indicator that you have not hired the right people.
So probably you have already faltered on the tip number.
Ryan: That’s great insight. I like that. Okay. How about tip number three? What do you have,
Do Not Micromanage
Abhimanyu: which goes back to what I was just saying, that assuming you have hired really smart people and you have set ambitious and non ambiguous goal for goals for them, do not micromanage them.
That is one big mistake that I see sometimes leaders doing that, trying to micromanage people who. Run with independence much better. If you have hard smart people, if you have told them what you want them to do, just leave them free. Be there to help them out, but do not try to micromanage them or tell them you know, what tasks they need to do.
Ryan: Do you have any good thoughts or insights on how to tell if you might be micromanaging someone? Is there anything that you could be doing that is causing that? Any thoughts on that? .
Abhimanyu: As a manager, this might be, you know, a little non-intuitive, but if you are having to catch up with your people working with you more than a couple of times in a week, that probably is a smell that you are having to micromanage them or you are micromanaging them even if it’s not needed.
Generally with the high performance people, once you have clearly told them what they need to deliver, you do not need. Continuously follow up on them. Generally, my framework is if I am having to catch up with someone more than once in a week, I then I will try to reflect that. Am I micro really micromanaging them or are there someone where I am having to micromanage them?
But generally having to do too frequent catch up, two frequent you know, updates, et cetera, is generally a signal that you’re micromanaging. .
Ryan: Yeah that’s really good perspective. All right. How about tip number four?
Prioritizing Your People And Culture Over Profits
Abhimanyu: Tip number four again, assuming your first three are checked, then make sure that you are prioritizing your people and culture over profits.
Because if you have a strong culture, if you have focused really well on your people, if you have created an environment for them to. Then your product is bound to be so much better than the competitor. And if you have a strong culture, if you have a strong product, then the profits are bound to come.
Unfortunately, sometimes people reverse order that. They will prioritize profits so much more and then they will think about product and then they will see how my people practices are, and then the thing works out. But if you just reverse the order, prioritize people over product, over profits, then in my opinion, things just work really great.
Ryan: Yeah, and I think that’s an interesting topic because sometimes people mix up what that means as well. When you say prioritize people, can you say a little bit more in depth what you specifically mean there?
Abhimanyu: Again, like I will go in order again. You assuming you have a team of really capable people, they’re really smart people.
They have very clear goals to them, and they are given all the freedom to execute Now post. Making sure that you are providing all the resources and environment where they can just function with a lot of positivity you know. , like, there is , there is a concept of martial hierarchy of needs, right?
That there’s a psychological safety, there’s a good support system. There is a sense of mission if you focus on making sure that all of those are in. So fundamentally you know, if you have a workplace which is toxic, where the, you know, people do not cooperate with each other or people do not have, you know, the right support system, or people do not feel secure or safe in the work environment, it is impossible to hope that such a workplace is able to deliver high quality products.
And if the company, or if the organization is not creating high quality products or services, then it is impossible for that business to thrive or create meaningful. So basically what I mean by prioritizing people is making sure that you are creating a great place to work. Fundamentally, you are fun taking care of all the psychological and material needs of your employees very well, which gives them a space to function with their highest efficiency.
Ryan: Yeah. The thing that immediately comes to mind when you’re talking about that is the concept of a frictionless experience for the employee so that they are able to do their job in, in kind of the smoothest possible way. And that comes in, you know, culture that comes in actual work functions and the ability to have the right resources.
So, you know, like that’s a really great concept. I haven’t heard it framed like that before, but I like, . All right. And finally, tip number five, what do you have?
Integrity And Ethics Are Important
Abhimanyu: Super. So I think with the first four tips, so hopefully, you know, there’s already a very great organization with a lot of positivity, with a lot of profits, but what could RO go wrong even after that?
And there I, we, I feel is that integrity and ethics in the business comes really high if you want to play a really long-term. And the framework that I use there is that whatever you or your organization do, or whatever you or anyone in your organization say, it must pass the litmus test that you are absolutely okay, even if it gets published in the most popular news publication out there.
And if there’s anything that you feel that you would not be comfortable with being published in the world’s most popular news publication, then you should not do. Make sure that your integrity of the business, integrity of the leadership and the ethics are always kept at a very high developer standards.
Ryan: Yeah, I think that’s a great tip, and I think it’s sometimes challenging as organizations get bigger and you have more and more players involved as well. How do you lead an organ, like a sizable organization that has to keep that in mind and guide everybody who’s in a potential leadership position to keep that in mind?
What’s your perspective on that?
Abhimanyu: , there are two fundamentals to that. One is, of course, making sure that your core values are emphasized and reemphasize and repeated as many times as possible. Make sure that first, everyone is aware of that. And second, very important thing is ensuring zero tolerance policy on deviation on your core principles.
Like in the data, you know, as you mentioned that if it is a large organization which have existed for a very long time, there might be an instance or two where the highest standards of the core values are not met. But if you tolerate it once, it is very easy for everyone else to feel that.
It’s not really important. You can, you know, find, in certain cases, you can move around that having absolute zero tolerance policy. Towards deviation from the core values is also a necessary part that no matter who it is, for example, even if it is you know, the highest performance team member or the most critical team member, but if there’s a deviation from the core values, it must not be tolerated.
So I think repetition, re izing. And zero tolerance to degradation from the core values is what ensures that even as this organization grows, these core values are kept intact.
Ryan: Well that’s a great final tip to end on. I appreciate it. Your insights are amazing and I learned a lot actually listening to this one.
So thank you for all the feedback and I look forward to sharing this podcast to other people
Abhimanyu: far. Thank you so much for. Hosting us for this post podcast, Ryan appreciate being able to communicate with the audience of your podcast.
Ryan: With each leadership tip building on the next Abba Manu gives us a great perspective on the team building process, warning against the pitfalls of micromanaging and hiding in the backseat when they’re given ambiguous tasks, he reminds us that as leaders, it’s in our best interest to seek out passionate and driven technologists that will come forward.
We must prioritize the success and innovation of our people first, especially our new. And he reminds us as tech leaders to set goals for our teams on what to achieve, and then give thoughtful guidance to help new team members find their way into pockets of early success.