Biplab Poddar, CEO @ Oxedent

Biplab Poddar is the founder and CEO of Oxedent, a performance marketing agency based in Kolkata helping businesses get the most out of their online advertising effort with human intelligence & AI.

Here are his key experiences in the industry as the young founder of a new-age company in terms of managing his employees’ performance.


What, in your opinion, performance management actually is?

For me, Performance management is simply a way to gather as well as calibrate feedback to and fro employees that help you to set and track your company goals.

This is however, one of the dreaded nightmares for employees and managers! You won’t ever like somebody to grade you, right?

Startups bring rapid growth and along with it welcome frequent metrics changes. They are brainstormed with new responsibilities every day which results in a new set of goals. Hence, it gets really difficult to manage their performance and track their work-ons giving each of them individualised attention.

It is a real challenge for startups to manage employee performance. Almost all the employees are multi-hat so it becomes difficult to set particular measures to gauge their performance.

You need to understand the real intent behind performance management. Many of the managers have the perception that performance management is a necessary evil. Many consider this as a means of salary increments and bonus structures through ratings. but you need to understand that performance management is much more than mere ratings. It is a continuous process that includes plannings, goal setting, progress monitoring, employee development and so on.

Employees should be actively involved in the evaluation process and performance management structure. it is more of a shared responsibility between the employee and his/her direct supervisor or manager.

For startups, a JD can be the start point for goal setting but these JDs are highly fluid. Mainly for startups, the employees need to be committed to gain results for your company objectives and not be solely blind sighted by tasks assigned to them.

A 1-to-1 discussion with your employees is what is needed for a startup for performance management through a robust 360 degree feedback system.

Positive feedback is equally important. Don’t only pick out flaws of your employees, at times you should encourage them too, right? This would enhance their motivation and bring in their right behaviors.

Frequent feedback should be given to the employees to help them make course corrections and meet your expected goals.

In the course of employee performance management, documented feedback should be incorporated into the system. Verbal feedback can slip out of your as well as their minds too. All your employees are dynamos buzzing their minds on work or elsewhere, so your feedback might fly out of their minds. Documentation might help solve this issue.

Even the next-gen perf system cannot replace a poor management system and this is the reason why startups and even corporates fail to retain people as the boss himself doesn’t know how to help his employees set goals or manage priorities.

Creating smart performance goals is the only way out for a solid performance management system.

How does Employee Performance Management actually help companies like yours?

Effective performance management is very much essential to companies like us in startup cultures. A well planned framework is crucial along with a system to implement for helping startups thrive in today’s dynamic business environment. Companies should conduct practices to enable higher performance levels, growth and employee engagement.

Both formal and informal processes are used to align our employees, resources and systems in order to meet our strategic objectives. Performance management plays the role of a performance data analysis of your employees as a dashboard making you aware of potential problems and warning the supervising managers to make necessary adjustments to keep the business works going on track. Employee Performance management helps to track employee performance on a regular basis as well as work on the evaluation.

Effective performance management is very much essential to companies like us in startup cultures. A well planned framework is crucial along with a system to implement for helping startups thrive in today’s dynamic business environment. Companies should conduct practices to enable higher performance levels, growth and employee engagement.

Both formal and informal processes are used to align our employees, resources and systems in order to meet our strategic objectives. Performance management plays the role of a performance data analysis of your employees as a dashboard making you aware of potential problems and warning the supervising managers to make necessary adjustments to keep the business works going on track. Employee Performance management helps to track employee performance on a regular basis as well as work on the evaluation.

What were the limitations you faced when you first started off your company, in managing employee’s performance and how did you overcome them? Any key gaps in the current industry practices in managing employee performance that you would like to share.

During my startup days, it was definitely a pain for me in terms of performance management. Things were really messy, unorganized and what not! It’s really difficult to get employees who say “I love my job!” like seriously from their hearts. This is exceptional and remarkable and you feel so lucky to have such employees in your team and fortunately, I got such a team, not all but yes most! In the initial days we were only a team of three and we won through rocks and rolls and achieved the milestones where we are today with our team going gradually and more enthusiasts joining in!

Trust and cooperation is absolutely essential for any company.

When we work with people with whom we trust, you don’t need to double check your employees’ work or they don’t need your approval as you both have trust and you let people do their work, you trust them for you have each other’s back and each other’s interesting minds.

But trust and cooperation are all feelings- you can’t simply tell someone to trust you or cooperate with you.

When you don’t feel safe amongst the people with whom you work, your colleagues or in your workspace, then things like mistrust, cynicism, paranoia, and self-interest. If you feel unsafe amidst the people you work with, if our leaders don’t make us feel safe, we have no choice than to spend our own time and energy to protect ourselves from each other. We then don’t tend to feel each other. We naturally work together to face the danger and cease opportunities. If you fear of losing your job, you are not working in a safe organization.

How many employees are there in your organization & how are you currently managing your employee’s performance with any tools?

Presently, we are a team of 9 enthusiasts in our organization. I believe that it’s not the people. It the environment people are fine. That’s what leadership is for me. And we allow people to try and fail and take their Responsibility by themselves; not forcing workloads on anyone. We create an environment where employees can track their performance all by themselves and self-evaluate. Also, we conduct the feedbacks in a two way concept to make things transparent and unbiased. Both the employees on execution level and managerial posts should be given their formal and informal feedbacks so that they can act upon those areas constructively.

We also maintain data backed performance escalation reports for our employees to make them concrete and transparent in front of the executors and to help them know and understand their lags in terms of performance. For improvement plans, we don’t load them with just the complaints, instead we make them understand the step by step action plan for improvement and also provide them scope for their improvement in definite timelines in order to make things organized and some serious stuff! Otherwise we don’t trust them; they might be busy biting on crackles and cozying them up with snack boxes, nah just kidding!

What makes a really effective Performance Management programme? Any best practices that you would like to share.

Simon Sinek says, “You can’t lead a company. You can run a company. You can only lead people!”

Leadership is like parenting.

When leaders commit the safety of our people, your people will give you their blood sweat and tears and make their own sacrifices to ensure that you are kept safe and ensure to keep our visions advanced.

And for that, you need to sacrifice a bit for the wellbeing of others. Try not to be the authority, be the leader!

Leadership is one of the sole things behind an effective performance programme.

For performance marketing efficiency, I have a couple of things that we can do for our employees:

Moral support is an important for the employees. Encouraging your workers to do some good work and improve their work quality and be the leader themselves. One should build an environment where employees would love to come to office and work by themselves. You don’t have to force them to invest their time for your business jobs.

Another important thing you can introduce is questionnaires for self-evaluation of employees. Ask them what are the things they want to keep doing? If there’s anything they want to discontinue? And what new things they are interested to begin doing?

The employee morale shouldn’t drop – they should not feel that they are treated unfairly in comparison to others in terms of evaluation that is why; a proper data backed evaluation report should be presented in front of them to make them understand their lagging areas and areas of improvement.

Emphasize on human values rather than human performance, honesty and sacrifice can make your company reach new heights, if not numbers. Focus on your people; don’t only focus on your numbers. Maybe, before pointing out his flaws and all, you can offer him a bite of a sandwich and then give him/her feedback regarding the changes that he/she needs to do! Sit with him/her and make your employee understand the poor areas that he/she needs to work on. That’s kindness and this can take you to great heights in being a leader and maintaining a cordial relationship with your employees.

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