3rd time lucky?

Why would an entrepreneur who failed twice start again? If you are an entrepreneur, you know the answer! There are no failures for an entrepreneur, only learning.

“I was trying to do what everyone else is doing, there was no differentiation,” says Gagan.

Gagan Arora, Founder and CEO at Vertex Group, started his career as a telephone sales executive in the operations department of a BPO. In 2015, he took a leap of faith to start a BPO of his own. His first venture failed. He started one more. It didn’t succeed either.

Fast Forward. Vertex today has more than 4000 employees in over 7 countries. It is a “one-stop-shop” for businesses and offers services ranging from brand launch, staffing, call centre, outbound sales, automation and smart IVRs.

“If you have a business model, people leadership is the single biggest factor to your success,” says Gagan.

Big words?

Think again. Which other BPM/technology services company has post-COVID attrition rates in the single digit? Despite hiring 1500 new employees in the last three months, Vertex Group has been able to keep attrition remarkably low in the single digit.

Gagan talks passionately about some of his lessons as a people manager:

People work for reputation more than rewards and punishment:

“Reputation drives people more than rewards and punishment,” says Gagan as he implements this insight into recognition and reinforcement programs at Vertex.

A people manager is like a good chef:

“Over a period of time, you know who among your clients like which dish and in what way,” says Gagan referring to the colleagues of the people manager. ““You are not a people manager if you do not know the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for your people.”” But doesn’t this take a lot of time? Not according to Gagan. This is a continuous process, formal and informal. Even a three-minute interaction is good enough to know if your colleague is happy with the dish you have cooked for them.

Tips for people managers:

Gagan has three simple tips to share – listen (communicate), act, and recognise and reinforce. Some managers may have doubts if people will be “spoiled” by too much recognition. According to Gagan, there is no such thing as too much recognition, if what is required to be achieved for the next career goal is known. “Recognise every small achievement and right behaviours, reward for achievement of pre-set goals,” says Gagan.

Before you try to manage others, manage yourself:

Ten years ago, Gagan was clinically obese weighing over 100 kg. Today, he is one of the fittest people spending an hour exercising each day. His secret? A little pocket-book! Gagan meticulously notes down everything he did during the day and his key learning from each interaction. And attempts to do slightly better the next day. “The competition for you as a leader is never someone else, it is you! A Great People Manager is not an award or a destination, it is a beautiful journey.”

We, at Great Manager Institute®, are proud to recognise Gagan Arora as one of the Top 100 Great People Managers.

Gagan gives credit to one of his first managers who inspired him to strive to be a good people manager. Would you like to share your stories of managers who could connect, develop, and inspire you?

About the Author:

Prasenjit Bhattacharya is the Co-Founder and CEO of Great Manager Institute®, and Founder Director of Great Place to Work® India. Views are personal.