Urban Ladder co-founders Rajiv Srivatsa and Ashish Goel have been playing sounding boards to the employees at the online furniture seller since its inception, but with the workforce growing rapidly, they have put in place a dedicated programme to harness inhouse talent and groom potential future leaders.
The Bengaluru-based online furniture seller has scaled up five times since it was founded in 2012 and its leaders want to ensure that teams grow and employees take on larger and more fulfilling roles as the company grows.
“With over 60% of our workforce (650 employees) coming in over the last one year, we realised there is need to put in place a learning and development programme that is able to uniformly address all developmental needs of teams,” Srivatsa said.
This led the company to roll out the ‘EnabUL programme’, part of which the ‘Young Manager’s Programme’ focuses on helping first-time managers with people management, goal setting and time management skills, among others.
Things were much easier in the first three years, Srivatsa said, since the team was much smaller and mentoring individuals personally was much easier.
With the company scaling up fast, especially in the past one year, it felt the need for an institutional mechanism for grooming future leaders.
“We ensure we spend time coaching and mentoring, and work towards keeping our one-on-one connect intact with the team,” Srivatsa said. “We make ourselves available as sounding boards, problem solvers, coaches and mentors whenever someone needs us,” he said. New employees bring in a lot of energy and drive, and also an innovative approach to problem-solving, Srivatsa said. “Many of them have demonstrated the drive to handle critical problems within months of joining us, and we have rewarded them with step-up opportunities,” he said.
The company has raised $77 million since its launch, with investments from Sequoia Capital, Steadview Capital, SAIF Partners, Kalaari Capital and others. Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, has also made a personal investment in Urban Ladder.
Women leaders in the organisation actively mentor female team members guiding them with lessons from their own personal experiences. The company seeks to make sure that women managers, particularly at the mid-level, are provided mentoring both in terms of managing their career aspirations and helping them navigate through various work-life challenges. Women comprise 38% of the company’s workforce.
Leadership expert Nina Chatrath, founder of Enhance Consulting, said that companies need managers who can provide both quantitative and qualitative feedback to employees under their charge.
Astartup may not have the bandwidth to provide consistent development-focused feedback that can help groom leaders. “Plus, though the startup faces many real and challenging situations, would it be in a position to expose its emerging leaders to handling varied complex work areas?” Chatrath said.
She said this is because what is working well in a startup with certain team members will not be changed unnecessarily as startups tend to be very people dependent, in contrast to traditional companies where processes are established.
Via : Economics Times