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Sri learned to delegate faster and sooner

Srikrishnan Ganesan

Tell us about yourself

I started my career as a product manager, so I wasn't managing teams but I had to influence and work closely with them. This was my first 4 years. And then I went to a startup, joined as head of product and pretty much built the team over there.

And that's probably my first experience of leading people. The founders were in Canada and I was working with the team in India. So that team looked at me a lot to help them in different situations. I remember when we had our first performance appraisal. And everyone was asked who they were reporting to, and they told my name even if they were not! I actually learnt to not pick up everything on my own, and delegate when I can, because I was stretching myself too thin.

When did you first lead a team? What #1 advice would you give to your younger self?

I mean, in terms of managing a team, maybe delegate faster and sooner! Allow people opportunities to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. I wasn't doing that very well in my early days, and that's something I think I would definitely change.

The #1 thing you hate about being a manager (sometimes!)

I think sometimes I feel I'm not able to do enough justice in terms of time spent with people coaching them like 1 on 1. Or just learning more about them as people because of my style of working, which has been a lot more reactive.

And that's one thing I hate about how I do my managing and trying to get better at it, but nowhere close to being very good. I also hate checking the work they have done, and pointing out issues is another thing I sometimes don't like. Ideally, I don't want to do that. I want everyone to sort of be really good at what they do.

When you have time, it feels good that you're able to it and review and give great feedback. But when you're doing it with a deadline, it feels like you're not able to do justice also. And, like, it's just occupy all of your time.

Tell us about the time when you had let go / fire someone from your team. What did you learn from it?

I had to do a round of layoffs at one of my early startups where I was a manager. We had to let go of some people to reduce headcount. One thing I learnt is that no amount of story telling will be taken positively. You don't have to spin up narratives around it. Just do your best tell people the truth about the condition. And then go beyond your duty to help them. Luckily I had a friend who had reached out about openings from a while ago. And so the affected people were able to find a good place!

We were in Bombay, and were paying a huge rent. Maybe we could have found a cheaper office at that time, I think sometimes! But it is what it is..

Your #1 most painful memory of somebody leaving your team? How did you deal with that?

I remember one situation. There was a person on our team who had found a different opportunity, and wanted to leave. We had thought she was doing a great job, and we were actually setting her up for bigger things. So her leaving was surprising. On her last day we all went out for pizza. And I was able to finally talk to her about her opportunity inside the company and its future and where it's headed.

And somehow eventually she got convinced to stay back on the last day. Yes, on the last day! Sometimes this just can't be done, because everyone who wants that role can't get it and the company has to choose the best for itself. At Freshworks also, there can be a lot of people vying for the same positions. So if it's like an internal movement versus they get an opportunity elsewhere, sometimes the opportunity elsewhere, is maybe more suited for them. So maybe sometimes that causes people to leave!

But we were also able to stop people from leaving in many cases. I think the story of momentum works well, right. Where a company is doing for well, is that everyone is growing and everyone's responsibilities are growing on a monthly basis. And when we help people see that that you're part of this high momentum thing; then they understand that all the positives they have seen on this journey is because of that momentum. And if they don't get it elsewhere, then they may be worse off, even though it may look like a better position.

What is #1 thing you have seen other managers do, but have never found the time or courage to implement it yourself?


What is your own career north star?


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