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.
In this episode, we welcome Nitin Agrawal, Associate Director at Housing.com to talk about the rise in demand for tech roles and the difference between tech hiring before VS after the pandemic.
GUEST AT A GLANCE:
Name of the guest: Nitin Agarwal
What he does: Associate Director at Housing.com
Find him on LinkedIn.
Get Smart: “Communication plays a big role in making a synergy within the teams- sometimes helping organizations in restructuring, re-enabling the teams, finding the areas where the leakage is going on.”
In this episode, you will get valuable insights into:
- Skills to look for while hiring people.
- The workplace culture at Housing.com.
- Good communication in an engineering team.
- Some other roles Nitin plays while leading other people?
- Significance of clear goal-setting.
- Tech tools used in Housing.com.
- The hiring process in the company.
- The difference in incentives after the onset of a pandemic.
Skills to look for while hiring people:
Nitin’s company recently ramped up its teams and increased its team strength by 30%. Apart from finding how skilled the candidate is, the major thing they look for is whether the person is culturally fit or not. A passion to learn new things and add more value to the system is required. They look for minimal technical skills.
The workplace culture at Housing.com:
Engagement is a top priority for Housing.com. People need to engage with each other. They should be interested in what their peers talk about. It is not only the manager’s responsibility to listen to them. This sense of ownership is very significant. Moreover, the employees should know the impact that they are making through their work. They should know the importance each task holds. These are the two values that the company tends to create and maintain within its engineering team. Nitin adds that these values are not limited to Housing.com. They should be inculcated in every company and team.
Nitin explains how people having the right sense of ownership will ask questions and try to understand their work’s value. They would have a long-term approach towards it and see how it will or will not benefit the company. Nitin has three people who have this sense of ownership and are ready to contribute.
Good communication in an engineering team:
The pandemic has made people rely on tools. Earlier, the absence of tools led to more informal communication and unawareness. They have a common channel where any employee can come and drop their queries. It will allow other people to be ready with the solution as well. When there are multiple departments, the roles of leaders come into the picture.
What are some of the other roles you play while leading other people?
Nitin feels that leaders now need to be all-rounders. They need to have technical knowledge, a good core understanding of the industry, and be partially hands-on. A leader’s role demands good communication to make it a more democratic process. Communication plays a big role in creating synergy within the teams. The biggest role of a leader is to groom the next leader.
Significance of clear goal-setting:
The company tried to make more objective goals for everyone. They should have a very clear vision of the task they are working on. They have invested a lot in goal setting. Another part Nitin talks about is goal setting on the group level.
“Let’s say as a group you have to do this much- not in terms of the amount of work, more in terms of targets. So there are some business targets and technical targets, we set them and say that if you achieve this, the whole group will get certain points.”
Nitin’s view is that teams have to go through the target rather than just completing a few tasks. They have to look towards the way they are heading. It results in organizational growth and cooperation.
Tech tools used in Housing.com:
Housing.com possesses an in-house performance management tool. To focus on community collaborations, they use JIRA and Confluence. For communication, Nitin feels that Slack has been the best possible tool to use. They use other tools like Google and 10x for video calls and tracking purposes, respectively. They are looking to align things with these software such that everyone has access to the common updates and views.
The hiring process in the company:
Initially, their company started the whole process of mass hiring. They started 1-on-1 calls with recruiters and clearly gave them all the details regarding the hiring process. After two weeks, things got into the rhythm as the understanding of the recruiters got better. Everyone had a clear goal of the number of people to be hired without compromising the quality. They made sure to keep the business team updated.
The company’s initial funnel level before setting up the expectations was 70%- 80%. Once a level of expectations was created, the funnel reduced to 30%. The first round would be to analyze the basic skills of the candidate following which their critical thinking was measured. They gradually reduced their funnel and selection rounds, making the process more objective.
The difference in incentives after the onset of a pandemic:
The greatest difference that Nitin saw in hiring was seeing the salary levels fit. The candidates have an opportunity to gain good value for their job.
He talks about the difference in salaries for graduates from top-tier colleges and other colleges. Many companies are not increasing their salary levels. This trend needs to be changed. He sends a clear-cut message to them, saying that not increasing the numbers will never solve the problem. They have to retain the top talent by changing their attitudes.
Geographical boundaries have broken down because of the pandemic. People have learned that working from home is possible if everyone is committed. Job opportunities have increased and are not dependent on the location of the candidates. It has also contributed to higher salaries levels.