Why we prioritize our team's happiness over everything else.
When we started TGH Tech in 2020, there was a lot of uncertainty in our minds, which was compounded by a pandemic ravaging the world. We were extremely young and ambitious and didn’t want to settle for running a normal software development company. The IT services industry had a universally accepted playbook that gave you enough instructions to build the company to a certain scale, following which you’re very likely to hit the proverbial glass ceiling. No, we wanted to be different. We wanted to be daring. To be all that, the most important dimension was having an awesome team, who could be more ambitious than we were. And we didn’t want to go the conventional route in building that team either.
Through the learnings I got from being part of/leading other teams before, as well as from watching leaders at action in YE Stack, I was pretty sure that individuals are most productive when they’re happy. They should be happy when they’re performing their responsibilities and while interacting with the rest of their team. No matter what direction we took, I was never going to compromise on my team’s happiness. Agreed - the company’s growth (from a financial perspective) was slow due to this, as I often had to let go of short-term success for long-term growth. But I always did this without a hint of doubt in my mind because I knew it would pay off in the long run. And we’re just starting to reap the rewards now.
Next, I’ll list down the reasons why we want our people to remain happy:
As mentioned earlier, they’ll definitely be more productive. Who wouldn’t be, if they aren’t dreading going to work every day?
They’ll be with us for a long time.
More profits (yeah!). A happier team is more likely to deliver ahead of schedule and with a lot more quality.
The work culture will be great. The team itself will hold it together, and each new addition to the team will feel at home right away.
The team will stick together during tough times. Every company will go through such phases, and it’s always good to have people to fall back on.
It’s fun! Who doesn’t want to be around a happy bunch?
Of course, there are a few things that need to be kept in our minds so that all of this won’t blow up in our faces. People often mistake happiness with staying inside their comfort zones. Getting out of those zones is always hard work and the team should be made aware of it. It’s indeed a fine line. Also, prioritizing happiness shouldn’t affect the intent to build high-performing teams. Meritocracy has to be practiced too. After all, the team isn’t going to be like a family. We find people who call their team families quite cringey. More on that later.
I’ll also mention a few things we pay attention to, to keep our happiness index always high:
Transparency throughout: It’s always easier if people are given visibility. They wouldn’t feel left out, and also feel encouraged to contribute.
Freedom to make mistakes: we always ask our team to not shy away from mistakes; they should see them as learning opportunities. Once they embrace it properly, they’ll definitely be more confident as well as relaxed.
They’re encouraged to take up more responsibility. Every month or so, we ask each team member what else they want to try out. We then take the necessary steps to provide them with the chance.
The environment is designed to provide the team with enough psychological safety to voice their concerns openly, take risks, and disagree.
I firmly believe that we’ve done very well in terms of building our team so far. After all, every day at the office is fun. But there’s indeed a long way to go. Particularly when the team gets much bigger and we’ll be compelled to hire primarily based on skill instead of their attitude and ambitions. For now, the future does look bright.