Nidhi Sharma on Becoming an Effective Manager in a Virtual Work Environment

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.

Being in the industry for more than a decade, Nidhi has been part of a whole gamut of HR functions such as Business Partnering, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Employee Engagement and Development. Prior to Affinity Global, she has worked with top brands such as PwC, Accelya Group, Bennett Coleman & Co, ACG Worldwide and TCS.

Abhash Kumar, Springworks’ Head of Marketing hosted her on “The Shape of Work” podcast. With a background that extensive, it’s no surprise our conversation covers a lot of ground. 

Read along to get some interesting perspectives and insights from this conversation.

Embracing Age diversity in the workplace

A lot of talk goes around different age groups of employees behaving in different manners. An individual’s motivations might change slightly throughout their age in an organisation. But if you, as an organization, have policies and processes in place, irrespective of your employees’ age, they feel more welcome and involved.

For example, some companies prefer professionals with a great deal of experience, while others prefer to recruit younger workers that they can develop. But, for a business to be successful, it needs to embrace age diversity in the workplace.

Productivity in both older and younger employees is higher in companies that hire both. Moreover, age diversity within work teams is positively aligned with performance when teams are involved in complex decision-making tasks.

Many people, even in senior positions, might be very less experienced. They earn this position through the potential they have. This creates a lot of inclusivity at the workplace as people of different age groups start connecting to each other.

Struggles of a People Manager

Managing people is not just a struggle for young people managers without any prior training. It’s a struggle with experienced managers as well, especially when plenty of newcomers keep joining in. However, these young managers are willing to learn in order to prove themselves and be better. People managers need to understand that people come from different backgrounds. The more personalized the environment, the more they get committed. They feel understood and respected in the company.

Nidhi specifically mentions that the employees, themselves, should be able to communicate their problems and requirements. They will have to take the initiative to speak to the manager when they find something wrong. Employees often crib about not being understood and being overloaded with work. However, they do not feel the need to discuss these problems in their workspace. If they want to stay in one job comfortably, they need to communicate their problems to their manager.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in a remote work environment?

The biggest change, as Nidhi stated, is virtual onboarding. It is not having a useful impact when it comes to building a connection with the new joiners.

As much as we have tried different ways to talk and engage with the new joiners through video chats, it doesn’t give as similar experience as having a face-to-face interaction. So I think that’s a very big struggle right now. Every HR person is trying to see what would be the best way to make onboarding impactful for the new joiners. But there is much more to do with the human connection that is not happening. Thus, the  engagement factor, which probably could have been a 90-90+ is falling short to 60-65.

Performance appraisals are objective

According to Nidhi, holding performance appraisals annually or bi-annually is not very fruitful. Both managers and employees tend to forget important feedback points after six months.  So Companies are attempting different mechanisms to solve this issue. For example,  documenting progress in work. However, Nidhi is unsure of the help documentation can provide as she jumps to her next factor, objectivity. She explains that performance appraisals generally turn subjective.

“We do a lot of unconscious bias training with all managers. But it is human, it’s there, it will still stick, it will not go away. And that is one reason for which I think the way of feedback is given has to be completely changed. Millennials now want feedback in terms of instant likes, or hearts. So if that is what motivates them, then let’s adopt that.” 

Nidhi strongly believes that rewards/recognition should be given to teams and not individuals. Each job is done within a team and every team member deserves the credit. However, an individual should be given recognition as a performance appraisal. Being recognized among the team can possibly bring more happiness among a particular employee rather than giving them a bonus no one knows about.

Follow Nidhi Sharma on LinkedIn

Priya Bhatt

I cover Employee stories at Springworks.

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