Slow and steady, or are you just lazy?

Have you met Sloth? 


At the corner desk, far from peering eyes, Sloth casually lounges about. Their face keeps changing and so do their names, but their irksome traits rarely do. Sloth, given the day and the time, can either choose to go missing in action, or be struck by tragedy or instigate a distraction so overwhelming that no one remembers to check on them… At the end of the day, if there’s anything that can help them get away with doing the bare minimum to keep themselves afloat at their job, they will turn to it. 

Employees plagued by Sloth have an unending list of excuses to allow them to get away without getting much done. At times, even the things they are supposed to. Not only that, they have some rather conniving ways of delegating their tasks to their unsuspecting colleagues, adding to their stress. 


Are they lazy? Or is work to blame?


While there are employees who excel in the art of being lazy, there are some who might be struggling at work. 

  • Did you know, for instance, bad briefs can lead to an employee appear like they are not doing their best? When an employee is confused about what to get done and when it gets very difficult for them to actually get the task done. 
  • In fact, performance stress can also make an employee hesitate to do their best. Take for example the under-confident young man who shies away from all presentations, despite having put in long hours to have gotten it done. 
  • Too much work can also make some want to run for their lives. Especially if it has become a dreary part of life. So if you aren’t around, how are you ever expected to get anything done? 


Experience no bar 


Motivating someone to be productive at work can be some serious work. But it gets even more serious when its a manager who needs to be motivated. In fact, things can get much worse if Sloth has chosen to accompany someone who is capable of calling the shots. Veiled by an aura of responsibility and accountability, lazy managers usually are the ones with the unhappiest teams. Sure he takes them to team lunches and remembers birthdays, but that doesn’t stop him from walking away from all that is on his plate… we mean, desk. Reports go missing, feedback never arrives and confusion reigns supreme.

At the end of the day, almost every one of us has a horror story to share about that lazy boss who never did much, but took credit for everything their team did without batting an eyelid. Relatable much? 


Happy to help 


Though identifying Sloth can be pretty easy, most of the time, that does you no good. Usually discreet and often careful, these employees and managers don’t really leave you much space to penalise them. At the end of the day, they don’t break rules or stir up trouble. All they do is get creative about doing less than their peers and juniors while keeping their jobs intact. Annoying, yes, but nothing a little motivation can’t fix! So at Dockabl we thought long and hard to come up with a few things that can actually make a difference to your workplace. 

  • Easy of use 

Be it a long-term project, or a short-term one, setting it up and keeping track of it on Dockabl is an absolute breeze. Its weekly prioritisation of work and goals not just help you stay on track, it also allows you to manage your time better. 

  • Transparency is key 

Thanks to the Review module, able to keep track of your task force ensures that you know what they are up to and how they are performing. Coupled with the Feedback module, addressing someone’s pain points and helping them through them become a breeze. 

  • Rewards for the win 

We know the importance of recognition and we make sure that no good job, no matter how insignificant you think it is, goes unrewarded. And that’s not it, if you have done a job well, we make sure that you have badges to flaunt and rewards to wait for. 


Sloth, unlike most work sins can be rather benign if you know how to deal with them. At the end of the day, all you need to do is ensure that your workforce stays motivated. 

Envy’s a Little Imp. Be Careful Before You Fall Victim

There’s a little green guy who lives in all our hearts. Usually asleep, he rarely interferes with life, not allowing us to realise how ugly he can truly be. But it’s only when it raises its ugly head that you see that no one is free from his clutches or the wicked whispers he fills your mind with… And if you ask me, I’ll be yet another person to shudder and tell you that identifying this little green monster is not as easy as you think it is. 

It all started when I joined a new job a few years ago. No longer a fresher, self-doubt and low self-esteem were rapidly becoming strangers to me. My newfound confidence was not just because of the promotions. I was being recognised at work and being appreciated too. I thought nothing could go wrong. 

I was very, very wrong. 

My new job, though one of my dreams, proved to be nothing like my old one. For starters, I was a bit too late to the party and the boss had a designated favourite already. Over the days that followed, I did perform well. But it wasn’t really the same without the attention that I was used to. And before I knew it, I was noticing changes that made me feel like a stranger – even in my own body. 


Too Busy For You 


It all started with me coming up with excuses, and some very silly ones, to avoid helping my abovementioned colleague with anything. It could be something as insignificant like setting up the office printer or something as grave as presenting a pitch together – but whatever the case was, I was always busy. 

Silence To The Rescue 


As someone who is not an introvert, making friends in office has never been challenging for me. Neither has striking up conversations to liven up a room. But with my colleague around, I would ensure there was pin-drop silence. After all, what better way to show your displeasure. Eh? 

No Room for Compliments 


With everyone telling my colleague how good he was at his job, I figured that there was no need for me to do the same. So every time I had to congratulate him, I would just nod and walk away. 

Comparison Conflicts 


So what was so special about my colleague that he was considered to be better than me? I was so sure that there was nothing he could do that I couldn’t do better. So I strived to prove my worth, often losing sight of my goals in favour of a satiated ego… 

I wish I could tell you all about my moment of truth born of self-reflection that made me steps towards becoming a better person because that, quite frankly, would have been a more inspiring story. But unfortunately, my moment of truth arrived only when my boss decided to have a little chat with him. You see, my behaviour with my over-achieving colleague was so starkly different from my behaviour with others, it was pretty noticeable! 

It was then that I realised how wrong I had been. While snappy retorts have a charm of their own, when used mindlessly, they just come across as bitter, mean and self-centred. Not the best qualities to parade about in the office, I assure you. 

Accepting that someone like me could be envious wasn’t easy at all. All my life I had heard about how toxic an emotion it was, but there I was, succumbing to it, without knowing much about what to do to make it better. 

But I knew I had to try. 

I started with talking to myself and accepting the insecurities that made me lash out against my colleague. Then came the part where I told myself about the insecurities that come with a new job – and even though some bits might come across as threatening, it will all get better with time. At the end of the day, there still was so much I didn’t know about my colleague, but all I had chosen was hostility because I doubted if the management was truly being fair to all employees. 

Years later, when I started using Dockabl I realised that there is a rather simple solution for the likes of me, struggling to come to terms with feeling envious at work: Transparency. 

With Dockabl, not only are you allowed to effortlessly allowed to set up and keep track of your tasks, but you can also get to know how the rest of your team is progressing with their work, as well as how soon they are meeting deadlines. While that might come across as boring to most, it definitely is quite an effective tool to answer questions that arise from envy within the workplace. 

And in case your jealousy is stemming from feeling under-appreciated, Dockabl can help with that as well. With its unique rewarding system, you stand to earn points with every little milestone you achieve and redeeming those points can get you something that you’re guaranteed to love. 

Sounds better than giving in to jealousy. Does it not? 

Did you know that there’s more to being a good boss than great jokes?

10 years ago I was just another wide-eyed fresher, in awe of a whole new world and of course, super excited about all that lay in store for me. But to be honest, that wasn’t all that I felt. Along with the excitement, I was engulfed with confusion. You see, I knew nothing about having a job and being good at it. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be good at it at all… 

Over the years, not only did I learn what it is like to have a job, I learned quite a bit about my industry and of course learned that – universities might teach you enough to land you a job of your dreams, but they don’t teach you some rather important nuances about life at work. For example, the importance of being appreciated. 

When I think about the days of being a fresher, I remember that I used to be worried all the time. Why would I not be? I was finally getting a taste of the real world and I wasn’t sure if I was doing anything right at all! 

But before I could give in to anxiety, I experienced my first ever feedback meeting with my boss. Though I had heard all about the joys of corporate life and was prepared to be ignored, things did not quite go that way. Instead, my boss decided to sit me down and give me some feedback about my work. Obviously, it wasn’t the most important feedback, but in ways, it was the most valuable one. You see, that brief meeting of 10 minutes not only helped me understand that I did indeed know how to do my job, it also helped me take the first steps towards becoming confident about what I do. 

Sadly, not all stories go like mine. Over the years, I have seen others like me, fall prey to being under-appreciated at work and losing not just motivation, but also confidence entirely. Though it might not seem very important, feeling appreciated at work is rather important when it comes to productivity. 

Working in an office usually means being a part of a team. While the joys of being a part of a team are endless, one of the pitfalls is questioning how much you and your work truly matter in the grand scheme of things. And I always make sure to let my juniors know how important each one of them really is. And it doesn’t take much! 

In fact, some of the best practices that I have learned during the course of my career have been the simplest: 

A compliment a day can keep the blues at bay 


See that fresher who spent her whole evening working on the most boring white papers? A simple “good job” could actually make her day. Or what about your junior who aced the presentation? Just because everyone loved it doesn’t mean that they don’t care about what you think. Especially if it’s all good! 


Our Team

Let them know that they’re the best at what they do 


Every time you delegate a job to someone, it automatically means that you trust their abilities more than their peers. But that doesn’t mean that they will know. So take the time to let them know what about their work you like the best and you’ll see how they shine. 

Don’t forget the TLC


Long nights, crunch times and days of not getting back home on time can be a part of “life at work”. Ease it up a bit for your team by not leaving them to get through the worst alone. And if it is an especially hard night, bring in the pizza. Treats are a great way of showing them you care! 

Thank you for thanking them 


No job is too small to be ignored. So why should you not appreciate those who are getting them done? While thanking those who are working on larger projects come naturally, never forget those who make the process work by doing their own special bits! 

But just being nice is not enough either. Good feedback is never about appreciating an employee. It is always about helping them gain confidence, getting to love their roles and responsibilities and therefore be accountable about their work. And Dockabl helps you achieve exactly that. 

By setting up and delegating tasks easily, you can not only track what your employees are doing, but also improve the productivity of the team on the whole. By being able to track progress, update objectives and also communicate with your team members seamlessly, both planning and execution become easier than you thought it was. With each feedback module being linked to a project or a skill set, employees get insights and feedback all the time, keeping performance-related doubts they have at bay. 

Easy to use and customize, with Dockabl, you can help your employees be happier, more productive and of course responsible for their work. At the end of the day, their performance depends on how you make them feel!

Have you met Madame Procrastination?

Procrastination is the act of postponing tasks armed with the knowledge that you can “always get it done later”. And when it comes to your workplace, trust us when we say that there’s always more than enough room to procrastinate.

I was rather young, in my early twenties perhaps, when I first encountered Madame Procrastination. All decked up in glittery daydreams and distractions; she was quite certainly one of the most attractive things at work. Oh, the prospects of whiling your time away in between the office walls, preserving your best for the last are rather hard to avoid. So naturally, her followers were plenty and they were happy too! 

Take for example, your super-smart colleague who wastes almost all of their time only to crunch like it’s the end of the world right before a deadline! You know, the guy who is never at the team meetings? What about the other one who is always coming up with excuses for “doing it later”? And let’s not forget the ones who actually tell you that they work better if they waste time. 

Though it might seem mildly (and at times majorly) infuriating to see your colleague waste their time while you slog behind screens, you can rarely shut them up about why we must all Vote for Procrastination. After all, if you are well-versed in the art of delay, you feel that you are equipped to take better, more efficient and creative decisions that help you thrive in your dreary 9-5 job. In fact, believe it or not, hundreds of such individuals exist and firmly believe that the very act of voluntarily delaying their work enables them to tackle challenging deadlines, prioritise work and evade things that are just not important enough. 

While it might seem like a smart solution for individuals to flourish at work by doing the least they can possibly do to survive, what they don’t see is the dark side of procrastination that could lead to utter chaos. Many a times, what starts off as planned procrastination can quickly hurtle down the path of laziness, missed deadlines and a hassled team trying to do all that was left to be done at the last minute. 

If you actually get down to thinking about it, you’ll realise that procrastination never helped anyone the way motivational posts on the internet claimed they could. While losing precious hours is the most obvious drawback of procrastination, missed opportunities and deadlines, a damaged reputation and low-self esteem also make this workplace sin so utterly deadly.

But despite being plagued by procrastination, there is no reason for us to give in and accept it as the order of the day. And at Dockabl, we spent a lot of hours to finally figure out how to fight the evil charms of procrastination. 

Break down work: 


Setting up multiple, small tasks might seem futile, but we’ve realised that breaking up a large project into smaller tasks and deadlines keep procrastination at bay. Not only do employees feel less intimidated with smaller deadlines to meet, work pressure is evenly distributed allowing every person involved to realise what an important role they each play. 


Track progress: 


While tracking adults might come across as insulting to some, for a company, it is quite an invaluable action. Not only do they get to know who’s working earnestly and who are lazing their time away, but it also helps get a clear vision about goals, ensures that no single member of the team is overworked and even helps establish good practices that keep procrastination at bay.


Transparency and Accountability: 


If your employees believe that the work they do is not important enough, chances are, they will avoid it the best they can. By creating transparent processes that allow employees to manage their work and time better, daily reports become less boring than you expect them to. When everyone joins in to put their best selves forward, chances are, procrastinators will up their game as well. 


Rewards for the win


Every action has a reaction. And we believe that your work should too. With Dockabl, not only is recognizing hard-working employees a breeze, appreciating them is easier than you think it is. At the end of the day, little rewards can inspire you to DO. 

Mile-wide-inch-deep: Why HR Tech ends up as, “much ado about nothing”

Let me begin by saying that, HR is working hard.

Working hard to pivot. Working hard to become digital. Working hard to keep pace with the Millennials and Gen-Z. Yet, all that hard work, ends up as, “much ado about nothing”. Allow me to explain.

To be fair, in the last 10-15 years or so, HR in India has invested resources in technology. However, the approach HR and service providers have traditionally taken is:

  1. Do-a-bit-of-everything: Typical HR-Tech solutions try to address everything from recruitment, performance management, compensation to training with one “end-to-end solution”.
  1. One-size-fits-all-employees: The only way a solution can address such varied functions en-masse, is treating all employees just the same; i.e. assuming that all employees want the same things, work in the same way, are motivated similarly – and therefore must be managed the same way.

This has led to the generation of mile-wide-inch-deep HR-Tech solutions, offered by biggest players in the market. And for sure, these have made the task of “management” of employees convenient. However, the fact that we have forgotten the core purpose of HR-Tech (an “experience enabler”) and traded it for convenience – is the root of HR-Tech – with all the hype around it – becoming a case of much-ado-about-nothing.

In his white-paper (a highly recommended read), Josh Bersin, argues that while the use of technology systems by employees has increased in the US – the output has only marginally improved. And this is while employees are working longer hours, taking fewer vacations and being stressed – if the burgeoning corporate spent on well-being programs (USD 40 Billion per year) is anything to go by. The story back home is no different, given Indian employees switch more jobs than any other country, and nearly 50% of employees admit to experiencing stress at workplace.

I said it in my previous blog, and I will say it many times over. The idea of “managing employees” simply doesn’t work. Employees expect a certain experience from their workplace. And if they don’t get it, they have the choice to move. A choice, that they are increasingly exercising without any qualms. Gone are the days when employees aspired for a long-service award. We live in the age of portfolio careers.

If HR’s core objective is to enable employees’ experience, such that they work to their best potential; and if the core objective of HR-technology is to enable that goal – then clearly things have failed. Infact, I will go a step further to say that, even as HR has realized the need to change its approach, technology is coming in its way. Clearly, the investment, efforts and brouhaha around HR-Tech, in its current avataar, are simply much-ado-about-nothing.

“Okay we get it – but what is the solution?”  You might ask.

To start with, the solution is not, to shoot the messenger. Technology is only a tool. The success or failure of it, depends on how it is used. As I see it, we need to go back to the drawing board, and flip the two aspects of the approach, I mentioned in the beginning.

  1. One-size-fits-all Each-employee-to-his-own

Improving technology, begins with changing the underlying assumptions. In our case, it is the underlying assumptions about what employees want.

Raghav may be willing to work for a lower pay, provided he can have flexi-time to take care of his kid. Harini might want a higher take-home component to be able to pay for her mortgage. Further, each of these employees may have different needs at different life stages. Further , Harini learns better by watching e-learning videos. Raghav learns better by talking to peers.

If we want HR-Tech that will enable Raghav, Harini and many others like them – we need to begin with acknowledging that they don’t want the same things.

  1. Do-a-bit-of-everything Do-few-things-well

As a natural outcome of acknowledging that each employee wants a different experience, we will have to dig deeper into each HR process and deliver it to the employees individually, in a manner that suits them. This requires a shift from mile-wide-inch-deep solutions to feet-wide-mile-deep solutions, where specialists dig deep into each HR sub-function, brought together by platforms that enable interoperability.

I wish I could say that Dockabl is a pioneer in this kind of tech approach. But the truth is, this kind of approach has been staring right at our face every morning – in form of a Google screen. Google in itself does not solve any of our problems. But it brings together all the solutions out there. Or, take Facebook, which does not create any of the Farmville or Candy Crush Saga we love, but simply hosts them.

So, we are not pioneers. It’s just, that we are the first to recognize the potential of something that was out there for everyone to see (but got missed in plain sight) – and bring it to HR. But I am happy today, as an HR person more than anything else, that players such as Workday, SAP, Oracle are warming up to it – maybe slowly, sometime shyly, perhaps reluctantly – but surely; happy that they are moving to “open platforms” that will allow specialists like Dockabl to provide feet-wide-mile-deep solutions.

Finally, and at the cost of repeating myself, I will say something – that we keep reminding ourselves at Dockabl every day. A reminder, of the fundamental assumption which is at the heart of our product design. In the words of Shakespeare in his play called (well!)  “Much Ado About Nothing”..

A line we remember about every employee we design Dockabl for…

“Let me be that I am and seek not to alter me.”

Continuous Performance Essentials For Startups

A new shift has been underway that most startups are recognizing. Competing in today’s digital business environment demands a new approach to performance management.

Performance management has long been overdue for a revolution, and digital is the way forward. Its future is now rooted in data, in being flexible, continuous, and development focused.

Technology-enabled, continuous performance systems are driving today’s successful HR transformations.

As annual reviews fall out of favor, their replacements are more agile performance review strategies. This allows for frequent communication about performance between supervisors and employees.

And let’s be real, annual reviews have needed an overhaul for a while now. It is difficult to collate and keep track of different feedback. These reviews are not usually reflective of a holistic evaluation of the year. It ends up being bits and pieces of different elements.

How can employees thrive when there is no real-time management and feedback? How do you give them a running start towards professional development, while still addressing key issues at hand?


Develop a roadmap for development


The first step in developing a continuous performance management system is to start with a baseline. Having a strategy based on objectives and key results (OKR) is beneficial because it gives both employee and employer a level playing field.

Expectations are set and communicated and there is little confusion or misunderstanding. OKR allows employers to put in place coordination in a startup. It also ensures accurate communication and establishes indicators to measure success.

Establishing a culture of goal setting aligns the entire team to work towards the key driver – “growth”.

A 360-degree performance review that integrates OKR into it gives employees a new way to understand their place in organizations. This is especially salient in a start-up context. Roles may be more fluid and there is rapid growth, so employees need to be able to adapt quickly to new settings. The 360-degree model gives them more understanding of how their work is being viewed.


What is the role of real-time feedback?


Running a startup can be tough – trust me, I know. Tensions run high, management can sometimes be difficult. Especially when you’re promoting more junior members to senior positions.

The transition can be tough, both for employees and employers as these new roles come in. This is why real-time feedback is so important in implementing an OKR strategy. Its main goal is to help a team focus their efforts and move in the same direction to succeed.

Combined with instant feedback, this strategy helps improve efficiency in job roles. This also builds a more focused and engaged workforce. Increase employee engagement and retention by creating a culture of appreciation. I’ve seen firsthand how transformational this can be for startups, and we built Dockabl with this in mind. For example –

  • Dockabl allows easy setup and delegation of goals for seamless week-on-week execution while keeping an eye on your long and short term strategy. Because when people are open to feedback, communication flows improve.
  • Dockabl’s review module keeps you connected to the process in real-time. Whether it is the status or communication with other stakeholders. It also allows mid-review changes in the simplest way.

Today’s technology wires us for instant feedback. Millennials always want to match their cadence by setting aggressive, short-term goals. This is why the feedback module works great for collecting and soliciting feedback anytime, anywhere. You don’t have to wait to launch and receive feedback. This works great during project catch-ups and presentations.

The role of peer to peer recognition is also important to recognize here. We know that employees feel much better when they get recognized by their peers. But how do you do that in a meaningful and tangible way?

Dockabl allows calling out value badges with a simple #hashtag along with the points, images and more while recognizing peers. You can also customize the experience to match your organization’s style.


Measurable progress


One of the larger issues with the current performance management is that there are no real ways to measure goals and objectives. Sitting down every once in a while isn’t that helpful, whether it’s a large team or small. Goal progress is important because it gives employees a signpost for how they can progress and develop. It helps you and your team keep the momentum and intensity high. Dockabl allows you to update progress on objectives & key result areas via the on-going check-in feature.

Why is this important? Because performance management can no longer stick to its one-size-fits-all roots. Customizing a review process for employees ensures that it is in line with company culture, and it is you. Plus Dockabl’s review wizard helps recreate a variety of your best review practices online. With our Reviews module, translate any philosophy, which means you can meld best practices and your own unique culture to build a process that is reflective of these two worlds.

Dockabl allows feedback to be provided in a free-flowing or via pre-defined questionnaires. Translate complex frameworks into comprehensive forms accessible to all. You can create a performance management system that is positive, collaborative, and accessible from anywhere.


True transparency


Another major flaw of performance management is the secrecy that goes around it. Reviews are shrouded in secrecy. No one knows how the other is doing, and it can often lead to a stressful work environment. By bringing in transparency, you can show that the system is fair, and so that everyone feels like an equal.

Every OKR at any level in the startup must be public. It is necessary to help you know what matters and what everyone else is working on.

Dockabl helps manage people & resources in real-time by keeping the lines of communication always open. This way you build an environment where you foster discussions.

You can create a performance management system that works for your people – not against them.


We’ve created a simple system that allows co-workers to receive and provide timely help by sharing development insights. By linking it to a project, skillset or behaviour, feedback can have a real tangible impact on professional development and start meaningful conversations between employee and employer. Learn more here.

Effective Tips On Leveraging Cross Functional Collaboration To Grow Your Startup

Some startups believe that business is operating in silos. Their marketing departments are constantly entering new dimensions, while sales try to expand the existing accounts. The customer service departments are scattered to different ventures and have a hard time offering customized experiences to clients.

All these groups may serve different functions, but the ultimate goal needs to be consistent and focused on the growth of the startup. You can achieve this by implementing cross-functional synergies.

In this five-minute read, we offer all the tips you need to put in place a strategy and speed up your newly established business.


What does cross-functional collaboration entail?


By cross-functional teams, we refer to groups of staff members within an organization with different expertise working towards common goals and objectives. Workers from all levels in the business can collaborate to achieve results that speed up business growth. Such a team could put in place crucial improvements within the business. Thus, it is an effective tool for implementing a culture of continuous growth and improvement.

Studies state that businesses with strong governance support either through a higher-level cross-collaboration or a high-level executive champion achieved a 76 percent success rate. This shows how much you need to keep your staff working together. But we have more reasons why you should have the strategy in place already.


Benefits of cross-functional collaboration


The entire process of nurturing a cross-functional team may seem daunting, but trust us, it is a worthy decision.

One of the crucial benefits is that it encourages a collaborative culture as the business grows. Different areas of expertise and backgrounds create a team with a collective knowledge base, and they also work towards shared goals. So if you have not harnessed this form of energy in your new business, then you are missing out.

The culture also encourages experimentation and continuing education, which are also crucial drivers of business growth. When the IT and sales department tackle a project together, no doubt a lot of learning will take place. And what if the sales agent wanted to learn how things worked in the back-end? What if that lady in IT has some cool sales ideas that she picked up in her evening classes?

Worker satisfaction and autonomy are based on allowing your staff to grow and learn, and we recommend cross-functional teams for this.

This business growth strategy also sparks innovation. With departments working together, you will soon have your best marketers also thinking like IT specialists, while the coding expert will be creating incredible marketing flyers. You will also strengthen staff alignment to the vision and mission of the company. Understandably, you want to make the overall vision happen. Luckily, this will get closer to your face if you have different departments and skillsets working for a similar goal.


Tips on building successful cross-functional teams


Collaboration across departments is crucial to business performance and innovation. So it is in your best interest to have in place a united approach to business growth. We recommend the following strategies:


  1. Encourage random interactions

A spontaneous chat in the break room could bring about an innovation breakthrough. Businesses with effective strategies in place design the operation schedule and workday to allow for these random interactions.


  1. Promote diversity

Grabbing an individual from every department to create a team may be easy. But to maximize the team’s effectiveness, your group must cut across different areas beyond their working sections. Factors to consider when developing your team include experience, ability, seniority, skills, tenure, gender, and location.


  1. Work with influencers

Most organizations have employees who are born leaders regardless of their position in the company. Such people are adored and respected and tend to work well with their colleagues. It is easier for such an individual to influence other team members to take part in the activities. These are the perfect influencers to help enhance your efforts by getting others engaged.


  1. Involve experts in the subject matter

You can also grow your business through cross-departmental collaboration by leveraging on people within the organization knowledgeable on particular products, processes, or disciplines. These important team members could share their knowledge and skills with the rest of the staff. This helps educate employees with less experience, while the experts simultaneously end up with a new point of view.


  1. Assess the true impact

You must enable your teams to measure the impact they are having as this creates momentum while ensuring the sustainability of the respective teams. Of course, your staff want to see how much difference their efforts have created. So showing them the actual results could urge them to maintain the continuous cross-developmental engagement.


  1. Align Incentives

Without recognizing and rewarding performing employees in all departments, all the strategies we have highlighted above can be undermined. Financial incentives based on the goals of a particular department have poor results and would lead to paycheck conflicts. So to achieve an effective collaboration system, your goals and incentives must acknowledge and reward performing individuals across all departments.


User-friendly tools such as Dockabl can help review performance, and manage feedback and recognition to all your teams. Get docked and make it simple to appreciate the efforts of the team members who deserve it.

The current startup environment needs innovation, and this can be easily achieved if a diverse group of employees with different interests, skills, and expertise works together. Furthermore, dialogue between staff with varying industry backgrounds has become a fundamental part of boosting creativity and sparking innovation.

This communication can be achieved faster in startups through cross-functional synergies. It may not be easy, but once in place, the strategy could facilitate innovation and collaborative culture. Both of these are crucial tools for the improvement of your bottom line and facilitate business growth.


Why Ongoing feedback Is The Way Forward For Your Startup

The term ‘performance management’ has seen many evolutions over the years in the corporate world, but what does it actually mean? And how applicable is it as a one-size-fits-all model, especially in a new world filled with start-ups and non-traditional work environments?

These are two complex questions, so let’s take them one at a time.

The role of performance management


Feedback is the lifeblood of performance. It sounds straightforward. You tell employees how they can improve based on what you (and others) have observed, and voila. Change is there.

Not exactly.

That’s the simple scenario but rarely is it the case. The meaning of performance management itself is based on several components:

  • Behaviour
  • Outcomes
  • Skill-sets

These can be complicated individually, and together, even more. You could be seeing certain behaviour that are keeping employees behind, like procrastination. Or there might be projects where a team member wasn’t performing well. They might be missing certain skill sets that are keeping them from progressing. A simple change could help evolve in their position and equip them with knowledge on how to improve and progress within the team.

However, taking all of these disparate pieces and trying to cobble them together is difficult. Which is why performance management has seen a lot of shifts. How do you address all of these things effectively, and with impact? Ideally, you would be able to talk to colleagues right then and there, as soon as you spot whatever it is that needs fixing…but that doesn’t happen. By the time feedback is delivered, that moment is long gone so it takes more time to see a change.

In an earlier post, We wrote about the diminishing role of management and there’s a particular phrase that bears repeating:

We have all heard the cliche, “don’t measure a fish by its ability to climb a tree”. Yet, we implement this cliche with religious zeal through performance management systems, every year, around the world.

Rather than making feedback, and thereby broader performance management more individualized, it becomes standardized. This version of performance management doesn’t end up working for employees. But recognizing their individual strengths and weaknesses does. It’s about showing employees, in real time, about what’s going well and what isn’t. For feedback to be effective, it needs to be timely and tailored.

Examining startups in this context


Taking on the second question, performance management takes on more importance in the context of startups, for a variety of reasons.

Startups function differently from conventional corporations as they are made up of smaller teams of talented (and often young) professionals. Within these teams, management experience itself can be varied in these settings, which makes employee feedback and morale that much more critical.

Sometimes younger team members might be put in a management setting they are unfamiliar with (and therefore struggle with delivering employee feedback) or might be managing employees with more experience. Or there might be more experienced senior managers who struggle with the start-up setting and delivering feedback in a more meaningful way since they are more used to different performance management methods.

In either scenario, I think the role of ongoing feedback takes on more importance because it is experience-agnostic. Rather than adhering to older, stolid ways of feedback, there needs to be a shift in thinking.

There is more focus on multiple milestones rather than big accomplishments. By rewarding their employees for making incremental progress, they can nudge them towards the overall goal and encourage them to ‘level up’ at every step of the way. This form of structuring and delivering feedback is beneficial, both for employees and management teams. 

By utilizing this interactive (and rather fair) form of appraisal (constant feedback), managers can benefit from a less time consuming and more cost-effective way to manage employees. It becomes a collaborative process between employee and employer, and it sets up expectations well. Either employer/manager or both employee and employer can begin setting up objectives and goals for the employee, which can, in turn, help him/her perform better. This is due to the fact that it lets employees know the goals they need to reach as well as the quality and quantity needed to achieve them.

It is also worth noting that, if both employee and employer decide on objectives together, the probability of meeting those goals can be much higher.

So what difference does ongoing feedback make?


Simple, because feedback involves two parties: employee and employer. Rather than siloing feedback, this allows smaller teams to grow together. Remember that earlier phrase about not teaching fish to climb trees? It applies here. This form of appraisal opens up the process into a dialogue and a real conversation. Instead of expecting employees to adhere to the same standards, treating them as individuals opens up a new realm of professional development that has true impact. 

While it might seem daunting to start a system of ongoing feedback, I can tell you firsthand, the individual employee approach works. I’ve seen it time and time again in different circumstances, and for start-ups, in particular, this form of performance management is far more effective and meaningful – both for employees and employers.


Is your startup struggling with delivering feedback that provides real value for employees? Our Feedback module can help. We’ve created a simple system that allows co-workers to receive and provide timely help by sharing development insights. By linking it directly to a project, skillset or behaviour, feedback can have a real tangible impact on professional development. Learn more here.



Fill it, shut it, forget it: Why the very idea of ‘Management’ is all wrong

“Human Resource Management”

“Talent Management”

“Learning Management”

“Performance Management”

Meet the corner-stone of how people are dealt with in organizations, i.e. management. Even the top business schools around the world are dedicated to this one cause. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I went to one of them. But here’s what I want to say today, without qualms, and from the bottom of my heart:

If we care for how businesses can create value using their human capital, we should scrap every trace of this thing called “management” from organizations, and drown it in the deepest ocean known to man.

Now if that seems a little extreme, bear with me for a while. I hope you will soon see the point.

Take for instance performance management. Every working professional has suffered it. What is the yardstick “successful” performance management system? That it is “standard”. We have all heard the cliché, “don’t measure a fish by its ability to climb a tree”. Yet, we implement this cliché with religious zeal through performance management systems, every year, around the world.

You see, management is nothing but a “set of transactions”. We need to pay employees, so let’s define a philosophy, process and policy, i.e. set of transactions – whether or not they suit the context or employee need. Similarly, we need to hire people, so let’s have a fixed selection process irrespective of the fact that different candidates may need to be assessed differently.

Problem is, our idea of “management” assumes that “one size fits all”.

But if we look around, the employees have changed. People might choose to work with start-ups at 1/4th the salary. A decade or so ago, people focused on career, money and a stable job. Today they are seeking learning and a meaningful experience. Job is just a by-product. There is no way we can create experiences that make sense to each individual with the current idea of management – which prioritizes efficiency and standardization above personalized experiences.

I was in a conversation with a senior leader in one of blue-chip companies. We were talking about the kind of people who are joining start-ups like ours (@Dockabl). He said,

“Sanjeev, I want talent like you have, but we don’t know how to attract them”.

This is someone from a blue-chip company telling the founder of a start-up. No, I don’t feel smug. I feel sad.

Sad because the answer is not all that difficult. And there are companies who are already practicing it. In Asian Paints, when they find an employee not doing well – they don’t simply discard him/her in the bell curve. They ask 3 fundamental questions:

·      Have we put him in the right place?

·      Have we enabled him?

·      Have we created the right experience for him?

The company practices “putting the fish back into the water”, not judging it for climbing a tree.

Another example is that of Sapient. That is one company I have almost never heard any employee crib about their HR. I happened to meet someone from their HR team at a conference and asked her what they were doing differently. The answer was simple. “We are focusing on individual aspirations”, she said.

Now we might ask, how do we enable individual aspirations, without a standardized management system, while dealing with large numbers?

Fair question.

Let me give the example of a Google screen. How does it look? Is it loaded with features? Or, is it plain and simple? It is the latter. Yet, Google offers a world of tools to you. But it does so, without over-whelming you – and it gives you, what you need, by understanding you. So, your Google screen over time, will work differently for you, than it will, for me.

In my interactions with business and HR leaders over years, my sense is that many do realize that the traditional management methods have failed. However, they are still stuck with the inertia of using tools and systems, designed for the erstwhile management style. While the philosophy has changed, the systems have not.

I was speaking on a panel, at a conference, recently. I asked (rather poked) the audience:

Don’t you think the technology we use for people, within organizations, are like glorified excel sheets?

There were about 150 HR professionals in that auditorium and everyone got laughing, nodding their heads vigorously. We know the problem. We also know the solution. In an age where user-experience is the king, organizations cannot afford to turn a blind eye to it, when it comes to the tools used for their own employees.

There used to be this Hero Honda ad when I was young.

Fill it. Shut it. Forget it.

For far too long, we have dealt with employees like that; i.e. creating a management system once, and forgetting about it, even after the context and employee expectations have changed.

Employees are taking cognizance of the changes in the world. And they are taking charge of the situation. It’s high time, organizations wake up, and do the same.

Millennials will not play ‘Emperor’s clothes’ with archaic talent management systems

It is both appalling and intriguing. On one hand we are talking about the fourth industrial revolution where man and machine will work side by side. Yet, we have managed to stay in the Flintstone age when it comes to talent management systems, used by organizations. Worse, we are resisting doing something about it.

Sometime in February 2017, I was talking to our friend (now also investor and client), Aditya Berlia. I was moving out of my last entrepreneurial venture, looking to solve a problem in my core domain. I still remember what he said.

If you want to solve any problem Samarth, solve the problem of these horrifyingly expensive, inflexible, bulky talent management systems with such poor user experience.

That statement pretty much started Dockabl.

The problem exists at multiple levels.

Firstly, it is the question of, who do these archaic talent management tools serve – the ‘talent’ or the ‘management’? Most employees will recall (painfully) the experience of filling year-end appraisals on these difficult-to-use, boring tools. The experience is like typing an SMS on those single-line display push-phones of early 2000s. I am not even talking about the difficulty, a field staff faces while accessing these systems remotely. Even, HR folks themselves have a night-marish experience, often resorting to manual excel-based follow-ups, to complete the process.

Secondly, the problem is at the level of the very talent philosophy these tools support. We are still appraising employees once a year – despite all the talk about continuous dialogues. The entire process of performance rating is a black box for most parts. Even recognition waits for the occasional townhall and most people are not sure of the criteria applied to select those who are awarded. There is no transparency or consistency in the process.

Few key questions here are:

  • Is this the kind of talent philosophy organizations believe in?
  • If not, why is there a gap between the philosophy we propagate, and the one we practice?
  • Whether a tool does or doesn’t enable the talent philosophy; should this not be a key decision-making criterion for CHROs to sign-off on tools?

In many of our discussion, we still find CHROs stuck in the past of end-to-end type of tools – which may provide convenience to the decision-maker and some cost savings, but seriously compromise on the impact they create on employees. HR is finding it difficult to shake-off its identity of a ‘cost saver’ and think like a ‘value-creator’. As a member of the HR fraternity, this worries me!

Thirdly, the generation of millennials is not one that conforms. They are not those who will do something, just because they are told – unless they see sense in it. They need to know how they are performing, here and now. They are not okay with waiting for a full year to hear a year-end prophesy about their future in the organization. They are not afraid to ask questions and express their disagreement.

We are watching this story unfold in every organization. Take two of our clients. One of them is among India’s largest e-commerce platform. They are an organization who are as millennial as it gets. The other client is a Big 4 audit firm at the cutting edge of talent practices. Yet, both found themselves struggling with tools that are status quo in the market, which neither support their talent philosophy nor are well accepted by employees.

I really like this story of the Emperor’s clothes. How all of the King’s subject saw everything, but said nothing. For far too long, we have been like those subjects. We have struggled with these tools and never challenged the status quo. But the millennials are like that child at the end of story, who gave the Emperor a reality check.

Times have changed. The technology has changed. The users have changed.

If organizations fail to change their act, they will be much like the Emperor, parading in the past, to be called out in the open, by their very own employees.