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Building a people-first organization is more important than the product

Written by Sudhir Agarwal Published on     4 mins read

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Being a leader is more than simply telling someone what to do, says Sudhir Agarwal, founder and CEO of Everise.

Sudhir Agarwal is the founder and CEO of Everise, an enterprise services company. Photo courtesy of Everise.

Having helped enterprises navigate the customer experience industry over the past decade, I saw firsthand how the industry was asset-dependent with large offices and data centers. To me, it was inflexible, and I wanted to make a change.

In 2015, the idea for Everise was brewing in me, and I decided that it was time to experiment with something different, where the customer experience is digitally led. Everise was formed as an outsourcing firm that specializes in transforming healthcare and technology-driven experiences.

However, with an entirely new model and company, building the product was only one part of my focus. The larger part was building the team well.

Having worked for companies that lacked the ingredient of being “people-first,” I was determined to make that a core value at Everise. I wanted to build a company that wasn’t full of bureaucracy, and one that gave employees a genuine feeling that they could approach leadership whenever they felt like they had to.

People are the roots of an organization

There is a saying: “a company’s greatest asset is its employees.” While the idea has been increasingly popularized in a post-pandemic world, the onus is on the leader to demonstrate their commitment to being people-centric first.

This is accomplished not simply by repeating catchphrases or slogans, but by running talent programs to encourage employee success.

Sudhir Agarwal wanted to build an organization that is “people-centric.” Photo courtesy of Everise.
Sudhir Agarwal wanted to build an organization that is “people-centric.” Photo courtesy of Everise.

To me, it’s about understanding the needs of my employees and creating employee programs that promote growth and well-being, both at work and at home. However, creating programs such as these could be challenging at times, so I had to break down the reasons why some employee programs work, and why some don’t.

Very often, education is about showing off, or “signaling,” more than learning useful job skills.

Employees today are often promoted based on metrics like continuous KPIs and evaluation scores, and this leads to an overemphasis on the numbers rather than a pursuit of personal growth and development.

Incorrect incentives produce defective results, such as learning the wrong things or quickly forgetting what we’ve learned.

Rather than offering training on a strict schedule, I find that applying personalized training in combination with active peer learning works very well. Adapting lessons based on employees’ performance and learning styles, and providing ongoing support through micro-courses is a winning method. Although this is a challenge at times, it isn’t as complicated as it appears as long as time is intelligently invested in our employees.

As a leader, I believe in getting people to reach their maximum potential. Being a leader is so much more than simply telling someone what to do. Rather, I’ve learned that the best way to do that is to help them recognize and capitalize on their talents.

Leadership in a challenging time

The pandemic has shifted the way we work, and in the past year and a half, my team has battled many crises. However, this has also given me many opportunities to learn and improve as a leader. The pandemic has necessitated a change in how we operate and what we study. These changes are minor, but have better prepared me to lead, whether from my home in 2020 or in person as we move toward a hybrid office environment in 2021.

I’ve had to navigate my feelings and detach myself from situations so I can think clearly, communicate clearly, and not risk triggering my emotions.

With remote work, we can’t simply take our work habits from the office to our homes. Meetings, presentations, and brainstorming sessions cannot be crammed into Zoom calls. As our circumstances have changed, I am managing my time and planning my days around how I work, based on the projects I’m working on and the people I’m working with.

Throughout my various leadership roles, I’ve developed three important values that I keep close to my heart. These became essential when Everise was launched, as they became the three pillars that I instilled in the team:

  1. Be people-first — I like to look at our organization as an inverted pyramid, where our people are at the top and the executive leaders are at the bottom. Without our amazing team of people, there would be no business.
  2. Celebrate diversity — Diversity has many great benefits, but the most beneficial is having a diverse team that provides broader perspectives, which lead to innovation and creativity. It allows various perspectives, opinions, and experiences to be shared, which in turn helps create innovation and growth.
  3. Incubate innovation — One must first create the right environment in order to inspire innovation. Sparking ideas means creating a culture where people can speak freely and openly. But it’s important to note that the qualities to possess as a leader are communication skills, passion, and being able to have fun from time to time. It’s not all work and no play.

Sudhir Agarwal brings more than two decades of corporate leadership and management experience to his role as founder and CEO of Everise. With a proven record of helping enterprises achieve long-term growth and years of overseeing corporate mergers and acquisitions, migrations, business development, outsourcing, and vendor and client management, he has spearheaded multiple expansions for multiple companies in the customer experience industry.

WRITTEN BY

Sudhir Agarwal

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