A mistake that I cannot forgive
A team member leaving and finding a role someplace else is part and parcel of running a company – not just in India but globally. According to a 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of baby boomers, the average number of job changes is 12. The number of job changes goes up as the survey gets into millennials joining the workforce, i.e., the younger you are, the more job changes you make. In a rapidly evolving business world consistently disrupted by technology, job changes are bound to happen. We, as founders or workers, must be flexible and accommodating for people changing jobs.
I look at my team members as having lent me time from their lives; therefore, they should utilize it to learn or sharpen their skill, becoming valuable assets for Artha or a new employer – if they must leave Artha. Consequently, I thrust a lot of responsibility on my team as soon as possible, and if they fail (as they sometimes do), utilize that opportunity to train them. It is an approach that brings a lot of heartburn from my father when he sees well-trained people leave – but it gets me personal satisfaction to witness their journey.
I guess that is also why I love working with early-stage startups. Witnessing their transformation and then watching them soar is a feeling as satisfying as a parent watching their child stand up on their own for the first time (physically or in life). However, there are two things with which you must not get creative.
First is your integrity, and second are your ethics.
These are immortal and nonnegotiable characteristics regardless of you classifying yourself as a Baby Boomer or as Generation Alpha. When you start to tinker with the threads of trust to further your career, you cast aspersions on the millions of hopefuls in a similar position at different companies throughout the length and breadth of India. Therefore, if one knowingly drives a spear into their current employer hoping to win favor with a new one – they must not get forgiven – at least not easily.
Remember: What they will do to a founder today, they will do to another one tomorrow.
This episode played out at Artha in the past 2 weeks. An employee working in my chambers and given a role to get groomed for bigger things at Artha took advantage of the access he had, intending to drive away hard-earned business that Artha won due to its consistently high body of work. What did he gain out of it?
A few lakhs more than what he got paid for at Artha.
He selfishly forgot that while people worried about their jobs or took salary cuts during the lockdown, he (like every single employee at Artha) got his entire salary, every month – without a day’s delay. Artha gave him a bonus even when we did not know if it could make the next payroll. We were close to the brink, but we did not break our promises.
However, when I discovered his betrayal, I did not want to sit and curse my luck. I tried to set an example for other team members, the existing ones, or those joining us. Spitting on the trust that I placed in them would have profound implications – professional and personal.
Therefore I hired the best legal professionals that I knew. A team that places as much value to trust and loyalty as I do, and I have gone full throttle in putting a stop to the evil designs of, an analyst that worked in my office (and not Artha Venture Fund as he claims).
He utilized his access to give out deal-specific information to a competitor fund who acted on that information to backdoor their way into a deal that my team and I had worked for months. When he joined the new fund, he may have hoped to work together as co-investors.
But giving out specific terms that we negotiated with the founder to his current employer did not leave me much choice but to take him to task after his stunt. His action directly affects 10 salaries and indirectly another 10 – many places where this salary is the sole source of income. If someone messes with their families – they are messing with the entire Artha family.
He should have taken the skills he learnt from his stint with Artha – but he wanted to take the information.
Well, the lawyers put his face in the papers on Sunday to inform all of you to beware.
What he has done to my company today – he could very well repeat with yours tomorrow.