Atma Godara on Building Global Teams That Work

This article is a lightly-edited summary of the key takeaways from our speakers’ appearance on our podcast, “The Shape of Work.” If you haven’t listened to our show yet, be sure to check it out here. These speakers have an incredible stable of startup experiences to draw from, the kind of stories that are unbelievably helpful for HR/people managers to hear.

Atma Godara started his career in Samsung and later shifted to the Public Sector Unit(PSU) job at BHEL. Being scared of the monotony in life, he decided to transition his role from engineering to HR and worked with organizations such as Aon, Schneider Electric, and Reliance Industries. He has also worked with startups like GreyOrange, OYO to lead Digital Transformation and Change Management. He now oversees the APAC region in creating respectful and safe environments for the production of Netflix originals. 


One format doesn’t fit all

The challenging part of working across different geographies is different cultures. While working at GreyOrange, Atma worked with people from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America. His role was the implementation of core HR along with talent and performance.

People from different countries have different temperaments and influences.  It becomes a challenge when you try to use the same communication format across all the geographies.

Atma supports his statement with an example-

“If I’m talking to someone from the Japan team, and then in the next video call, if I’m interacting with someone from Vietnam or North American team, communicating things in the same way to everyone always becomes trickier. “

He gives a very specific example this time-

“When I was in Oyo, I was implementing a talent performance technology platform across different countries. One of our team members from the Middle East team was quick in providing the information to me because he had already implemented the platform before. Since the team in the Philippines and Vietnam were new to the entire HR technology, I had to reduce my pace by 10 times.”

If I go at the same pace across geographies, it will be said that the platform was successfully implemented in the Middle East, but in Vietnam, Thailand, or the Philippines.

Therefore, it is the HR Leader’s role to explain the importance of going at different paces in different countries to the concerned.  If this is not ensured, digital transformation initiatives can turn out to be a failure.

Project managers working across geographies have the onus to understand the nuances of geographies- people with different cultures, exposure in terms of technology, HR practices, and policies. If you don’t have exposure to these things, you don’t tune in accordingly.

HR Technology implementation is just like any Product launch- maybe a success, maybe a failure

The first thing while making a successful digital transformation or HR technology implementation is to understand whether people are accepting it or not. Such initiatives don’t work when created without researching what the audience wants. It should be ensured that it will be beneficial to the potential users.  

“In all the startups across India, at least what I’ve seen is that everybody wants to have a full-fledged performance management system in place where they try to put every employee’s QRA and KPIs at the beginning of the quarter. Then they evaluate the performances using the KPIs at the end of the quarter. This is done every quarter. People working in a startup 10-12 hours a day have work pressure because of the deadlines. If you’re asking these employees every quarter to be involved in the performance reviews and asking them to put their data points in the system, this is bound to fail”

Communication for the win

According to Atma, the most important thing in an organization is communication. The feature that sets apart some of the most successful organizations in the world is their communication skills. It is pertinent for managers or leaders to correct and give regular feedback to their team, both positive and constructive.

Organizations should conduct more informal sessions rather than just focusing on the structured feedback comprising a particular date and time

Your business is successful when you are in touch with your team to know them and provide constant feedback. Such practices help employees build trust in you.

Leverage your network if you’re a young manager

For some people, management comes naturally. They have the ability to communicate and empathize with their team members. Whereas, some people have to learn it through external sources. Most successful entrepreneurs and founders have a strong network of experienced and talented people around them. They have a network of founders,  mentors, and investors, who guide them.

Similarly, for these young managers, the best approach in this scenario would be forming and reaching out to this network. If even they can’t help, they will definitely have sources that can. So utilizing the network is very important. The next factor revolves around the manager’s appetite for learning. He/she has to decide whether they are really interested and ready to transition into the offered area. If they have the budget, they can also choose to coach, though tapping on their network would prove to be a better choice. People who don’t wish to be a people manager, even after all the guidance they receive from their network, can choose to explore other possible options for themselves.

Follow Atma on LinkedIn

Priya Bhatt

I cover Employee stories at Springworks.

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