News

The 13 questions Google asks about its managers when it gathers employee feedback

If you internalize any management advice, may it be this: Ask for and give regular feedback.

Countless studies have proven that frequent, specific feedback (be it critique or constructive praise) increases employee satisfaction, engagement, and performance, while fostering a culture of psychological safety organization-wide.

However, more often than not, workplace feedback only comes from the top-down. This can breed resentment and frustration among underlings, while handicapping leaders from learning invaluable development lessons themselves.

To ensure managers are learning from their teams, Google asks employees to fill out a 13-question manager feedback survey (on a Google form, naturally) on a semi-annual basis. The responses are recorded confidentially, and managers receive a report of anonymized, aggregated feedback, plus verbatim answers to two open-ended questions at the end of the form.

“The feedback a manager gets through this survey is purely developmental,” Google says. “It isn’t directly considered in performance or compensation reviews, in the hope that Googlers will be honest and constructive with their feedback.”

The first 11 questions ask employees to rate whether they agree or disagree with statements about their manager using a five-point Likert scale (from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”). Google says that each statement is based on one of the eight behaviors of successful managers at their company:

  1. My manager gives me actionable feedback that helps me improve my performance.
  2. My manager does not “micromanage” (i.e., get involved in details that should be handled at other levels).
  3. My manager shows consideration for me as a person.
  4. The actions of my manager show that he/she values the perspective I bring to the team, even if it is different from his/her own.
  5. My manager keeps the team focused on our priority results/deliverables.
  6. My manager regularly shares relevant information from his/her manager and senior leaders.
  7. My manager has had a meaningful discussion with me about career development in the past six months.
  8. My manager communicates clear goals for our team.
  9. My manager has the technical expertise (e.g., coding in Tech, selling in Global Business, accounting in Finance) required to effectively manage me.
  10. I would recommend my manager to other Googlers.
  11. I am satisfied with my manager’s overall performance as a manager.

The final two questions are open-ended:

  1. What would you recommend your manager keep doing?
  2. What would you have your manager change?

Google recently made the feedback survey public. It shared the complete form, along a number of other tools used to train and support managers, on its re:Work blog.

No comments
Jeremy WebbThe 13 questions Google asks about its managers when it gathers employee feedback
read more

Google is sharing its management tools with the world

Google logo on building.

Speaking at his alma mater in January, Sundar Pichai, Google’s low-profile CEO, revealed his key to effective management: “Let others succeed.”

Enacting Pichai’s advice is easier said than done. But Google is sharing some tools that might help. Its Re:Work blog is offering a series of instructive documents used by managers at Google. They cover everything from feedback and career development to setting agendas for one-on-ones, and codify the insights Google gleaned from spending years analyzing reviews and other observable data at the company to determine essential leadership traits.

Here’s an overview of what’s available. Each section header below has the link to the corresponding documentation from Google.

Manager feedback survey

Googlers evaluate their managers on a semi-annual basis with a 13-question survey. The first 11 measure whether employees agree or disagree with statements like “My manager shows consideration for me as a person.” The final two questions (“What would you recommend your manager keep doing?” and “What would you have your manager change?”) are open-ended.

At Google, these survey responses are reported confidentially, and managers receive a report of anonymized, aggregated feedback, plus verbatim answers to the two open-ended questions. “The feedback a manager gets through this survey is purely developmental,” Google says. “It isn’t directly considered in performance or compensation reviews, in the hope that Googlers will be honest and constructive with their feedback.”

Career conversations worksheet

Google’s management analysis reveals that above all, employees value knowing that their manager is invested in their personal success and career development. To help managers effectively discuss development with their direct reports, Google uses the GROW model—which organizes the conversation into four recommended sections:

  • Goal: What do you want? Establish what the team member really wants to achieve with their career.
  • Reality: What’s happening now? Establish the team member’s understanding of their current role and skills.
  • Options: What could you do? Generate multiple options for closing the gap from goal to reality.
  • Will: What will you do? Identify achievable steps to move from reality to goal.

“One Simple Thing” worksheet

To encourage personal well-being and work-life balance, Google uses the popular goal-setting practice “One Simple Thing.” The goal should be specific enough to measure its impact on one’s well-being. “Managers can encourage team members to explain how pursuing this one thing won’t negatively affect their work,” Google explains. “That goal then becomes part of a team member’s set of goals that managers should hold them accountable for, along with whatever work-related goals they already have.”

Some examples of “One Simple Thing” goals include “I will take a one hour break three times a week to work out,” and “I will not read emails on the weekends.”

1:1 Meeting agenda template

At Google, the highest-rated managers hold frequent one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. However, as most leaders know, individual check-ins can often feel rushed and disorganized. To squeeze the most out of each one-on-one (which Google managers are advised to hold every week or two) Googlers set up a shared meeting agenda ahead of time—which both the manager and the report should contribute to.

Some agenda items Google suggests include:

  • Check-in and catch-up questions: “What can I help you with?” and “What have you been up to?”
  • Roadblocks or issues
  • Goal updates
  • Administrative topics (e.g., upcoming vacations, expense reports)
  • Next steps to confirm actions and agreements
  • Career development and coaching

New manager training course materials

As Google explains, “These course materials were originally designed for Google managers to help them transition from individual contributor roles to manager roles.” As anyone who has done this can attest, conducting the transition gracefully requires a bit of perspective shifting, and more than a little awareness building.

The course materials include a facilitator guide (to help whoever is training the new managers), a new manager student workbook (including interactive exercises), and the presentation slides that Google trainers use internally.

No comments
Jeremy WebbGoogle is sharing its management tools with the world
read more

Facing a difficult or awkward conversation at work? You are so not alone

A businessman waits to cross a street in Tokyo April 4, 2011. Japanese big manufacturers expect conditions to worsen significantly in the next three months, responses to a Bank of Japan survey collected after the March 11 earthquake showed on Monday. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao (JAPAN - Tags: EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS POLITICS) - RTR2KSS2

The internet loves the age-old tradition of advice-giving, from columns like Dear Prudence and Dear Polly to forums like Reddit where people are on standby to throw in their two-cents on a given topic. Now take one of the most fraught places in which we can exist—the workplace—and you have a fertile area for wisdom.

That’s the opportunity Alison Green saw when she started Ask a Manager in 2007, beginning with missteps she was seeing in the nonprofit where she worked. These days, Green is a management consultant and an author, and takes to her website to tackle roughly 40 questions a week on work-related topics.

In parsing the dozens of questions she receives each week, Green looks for problems that are “useful, entertaining, and interesting,” she says. Naturally, many verge into the territory of the very weird—from dealing with an employee casting curses on co-workers, to a boss forcing employees to sign up as liver donors—but there also are commonplace questions, for instance about dealing with colleagues who don’t quite understand boundaries.

Most of the issues people ask about are really variations on broader themes. One that frequently pops up: how to have a difficult conversation. “People know, ok, I have to have this kind of awkward conversation, but they don’t know how to do it,” Green says.I really try to lean heavily on saying: Here’s how you say it. Here’s how it sounds like, here are the words you can use that hopefully won’t make this blow up in your face.”

This area has proved so topical that Green has an upcoming book about language to use in about 200 awkward workplace scenarios. It’s titled Ask a Manager: How to Navigate Clueless Colleagues, Lunch-Stealing Bosses, and the Rest of Your Life at Work. Given that she’s fielded thousands of questions on workplace dilemmas, I wanted to ask Green about what managers and employees often get wrong, and how they’ve left her feeling about the state of the workplace. This interview has been edited for clarity and concision.

Quartz: A lot of the workplace questions you’re handling touch on psychology, ethics, relationships, even politics. What does that say about what it’s like to be a manager?

Alison Green: A lot of the things that are most challenging to navigate at work are interpersonal issues. That stuff is hard. People are weird—and we bring our own weirdnesses to the table. I think if somehow you took the interpersonal out of it, this stuff would be kind of close to formulaic. There are a lot of ethics involved. Your boss is asking you to something that’s perfectly legal but you feel icky about, how do you navigate that? Then you throw in that it’s your livelihood. If you say no, do you still have a job at the end of the day? This stuff is really tricky. I think that’s what makes it so interesting.

QZ: Do you shoot from the hip when you answer these questions, or do you have any books or leaders you consult or whose management philosophies you follow?

 “Advice-giving is a weird art.” For legal stuff I’m always looking up the law, because that’s pretty black and white. Beyond that, I’ve done a lot of work on management coaching and consulting. So I draw on that. But a lot of the questions I get are not things where there are sources you can consult. It really is about drawing on experience working with people. Some of it is what’s worked for me, and what I’ve seen work and not work for other people.

Advice giving is a weird art. When I started, I used to caveat everything. I’m going to give you the answer that’s most commonly true, but you have to also factor in what you know about your boss and your coworkers and the place [where] you’re working.

QZ: There are all these unspoken social norms that reflect the culture of an office. It takes a long time for employees to figure out what those are. Learning what’s considered right or wrong in any given office is really challenging for people.

And some people are better at it than others. Some people are helped by their family background, and other people are disadvantaged by their background. If you grew up in a family where most people didn’t hold professional jobs, you don’t pick it up by osmosis, the way someone else might. It can be really tough to learn—which is a gap I hope my site is helpful in filling in.

QZ: What do managers get wrong most frequently?

The thing I see probably most commonly is that they’re not sufficiently direct and straightforward. Sometimes there things they’re frustrated by or that they’re concerned about that an employee is doing or not doing. Instead of just sitting down and having a matter-of-fact conversation with the person, they let it fester and they stew. And the problem continues because the person doesn’t know they’re doing anything wrong, and the manager gets more and more frustrated. By the time they finally have to address it, it’s become a much bigger problem … and the conversation has a much different tenor than it would have than if they’d handled it earlier on when it was a much smaller problem.

 “Work is just a microcosm of how humanity messes things up in general.” I get so many letters from managers who write in about something their staff is doing that annoys them, and the first question I always ask is: “Have you talked to them about it?” At last half the time, probably more, the answer is “No, I don’t know how to say it.” I understand not knowing how to say it, those conversations are hard, but it’s part of the job, you’ve got to do it.

On the other side of the spectrum is managers who treat their staff like they’re robots, who don’t account for human emotions and the humanity of people working for them. Or they think that their only job is to get the work done, without thinking about the fact that, long-term, if you want that work done well, you need good people to be willing to work for you and to stay working for you. They don’t create an environment that good people want to stay in.

Can you turn a bad manager into a good manager?

AG: Maybe. Sometimes. The person has to be open to getting pretty critical feedback, which is hard for most people to do. It seems to be particularly tricky for bad managers to do it. If you have someone who is open to hearing that they’re wrong, and who genuinely wants to get better and is willing to work at it, I think it can be done.

Most people get promoted into management jobs because they were good at doing something else, and then they don’t necessarily get a lot of training on how to manage well, and it’s a completely different set of skills.

Seeing all these questions come in, how does it make you feel about the state of the modern workplace?

AG: It reinforces for me that we are just all very human. You look at your personal life and you see friends and family members mishandling their relationships or not navigating a situation well. We do it ourselves, we’re all human, we make mistakes constantly. And that doesn’t change when we go to work.

I think people sometimes expect their managers in particular to be perfect, but managers are human. Work is just a microcosm of how humanity messes things up in general.

No comments
Jeremy WebbFacing a difficult or awkward conversation at work? You are so not alone
read more

Mark Zuckerberg’s own paternity-leave plans are a step toward a more fair workplace

As he did after the birth of his first child in 2015, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is taking two months’ paternity leave from the company when his second daughter arrives. This time, Zuckerberg will break up the leave, spending one month at home with his children and wife Priscilla Chan right after the baby’s birth and taking the rest of the leave in December.

Zuckerberg is using only half of the four months of paid parental leave that Facebook allots male and female employees. It’s still far more time than the typical father takes off work for the birth of a child in the US, where only 15% of companies in a national survey last year offered paid paternity leave.

The lack of paid leave for men hurts parents who want to share the experience of caring for their babies, and contributes to the persistent lag in women’s wages and workforce participation. Fully paid paternity leave is key to breaking a vicious cycle in which employers pay women less and bypass them for promotions in anticipation that they’ll take time off to raise children, making the lower-earning female partner the natural choice to take unpaid or partially paid leave that’s ostensibly offered to both parents.

As Quartz’s Gwynn Guilford pointed out in a 2014 analysis of parental leave policies in Sweden and Japan, the more parental leave men take, the sooner women go back to work. A 2010 study in Sweden found that a woman’s future earnings rose 7% for every month her partner took under the country’s paid parental leave system, which incentivizes both parents to take time off. Sweden has one of the world’s highest rates of working women, and a nearly non-existent wage gap.

But it’s not enough for companies to offer paternity leave. Men have to actually take it, and this is where Zuckerberg’s decision to make his family plans public is significant. In a 2014 survey by the Working Mother Research Institute, men reported a significant gap between the availability of family-friendly, flexible working policies and the degree to which they were encouraged to take them. Those who did feel supported by their employers reported more satisfaction with the company, their careers, and their home lives.

“At Facebook, we offer four months of maternity and paternity leave because studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, it’s good for the entire family,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “And I’m pretty sure the office will still be standing when I get back.”

Meanwhile, there’s no better way to encourage employee behavior than to lead by example.

 


Read next: A year after the UK created near-equal parental leave, women still do almost all the parenting

No comments
Jeremy WebbMark Zuckerberg’s own paternity-leave plans are a step toward a more fair workplace
read more

10 Growth Hacks For Your Ecommerce Website

Are you the proud owner of an ecommerce website? Are you seeking ways to boost traffic, grow sales, and move to the top of your niche?

With ecommerce growing 23% year over year, this is a great place to be if you’re looking to scale a business.

Here’s the problem: with so much competition, regardless of industry, it can be difficult to experience the growth you’ve come to expect.

If you’re ready to break down the wall, here are 10 growth hacks for your ecommerce website:

1. Change Up Your Design

It may not be something you think about often, but the design of your store can be the difference between success and failure.

Once you pick the perfect theme or hire a designer to start from scratch, you’ll feel better about the potential for future growth.

2. Use Word of Mouth Marketing within Your Store

Did you know that more than 80% of Americans seek recommendations before making a purchase? 

You can use this to your advantage by making it easy for customers to share reviews. User generated content, regardless of the form, can push others into making a purchase. The key here is to provide high quality products, as this will give customers a reason to say something positive.

3. Harness the Power of the Search Engines

If you believe the myth that SEO is dead, you’re missing out on a big opportunity.

You need to harness the power of the search engines – especially Google – as this gives you the opportunity to drive free, targeted traffic in large numbers.

4. Share Your Knowledge

Are you an expert in your space? If so, share your knowledge with the rest of the world via guest posting.

Maybe you sell exercise equipment via your online store. Guest post on health related blogs as a means of building your authority, boosting your brand, and generating backlinks.

Although it’s a good idea to focus your efforts on growing your own blog, don’t overlook the power of guest blogging.

5. Get Social

With 70% of Americans using social media, you’ll want to become as active as possible on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn (among others).

This is a great way to share information about your brand, connect with current customers, and attract new buyers.

6. Go Offline

Most people think that growth hacking is all about using technology. This isn’t always the case.

Give some thought to sending out a handwritten thank you card to every person who buys from your store. Yes, it will cost you time and money, but it’s a great way to provide a top of the line customer experience.

If handwritten notes aren’t your thing, there are other ways to personally connect with your customer base, all without having to do any work on your own.

7. A/B Test

It may be something you’ve thought about in the past, but for one reason or the next you continue to put this on the backburner.

A simple A/B test can go a long way in accelerating growth. Don’t ignore this growth hack any longer.

8. Fix Your Shopping Cart Abandonment Problem

With the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate sitting at approximately 70%, fixing this one problem could be the only thing you need to grow your ecommerce website revenue.

Enough said.

9. Email Marketing

There are many ways to approach this, all of which could have a positive impact on your online store.

For example, experiment with sending a follow up email two to three weeks after a person places an order. Ask them about their first purchase, invite them to make another, and maybe even include a coupon code.

Email marketing opens up a world of opportunity.

10. Offer a Discount (and Make it Known)

Some offers are too good to refuse. If you have one of these to throw around, don’t hide it at the bottom of your ecommerce website.

For instance, maybe you’re offering 15% off of every order and free shipping. This could be just what you need to push more people to make a purchase.

The key here is to offer something of value, and to make it known to everyone who visits your website. Make it big and make it bold!

What do you think about these 10 growth hacks? Could one or more of these help your ecommerce website reach new heights?

No comments
Jeremy Webb10 Growth Hacks For Your Ecommerce Website
read more

Secret chips in replacement parts can completely hijack your phone’s security

Enlarge (credit: Omer Shwartz et al.)

People with cracked touch screens or similar smartphone maladies have a new headache to consider: the possibility the replacement parts installed by repair shops contain secret hardware that completely hijacks the security of the device.

The concern arises from research that shows how replacement screens—one put into a Huawei Nexus 6P and the other into an LG G Pad 7.0—can be used to surreptitiously log keyboard input and patterns, install malicious apps, and take pictures and e-mail them to the attacker. The booby-trapped screens also exploited operating system vulnerabilities that bypassed key security protections built into the phones. The malicious parts cost less than $10 and could easily be mass-produced. Most chilling of all, to most people, the booby-trapped parts could be indistinguishable from legitimate ones, a trait that could leave many service technicians unaware of the maliciousness. There would be no sign of tampering unless someone with a background in hardware disassembled the repaired phone and inspected it.

The research, in a paper presented this week at the 2017 Usenix Workshop on Offensive Technologies, highlights an often overlooked disparity in smartphone security. The software drivers included in both the iOS and Android operating systems are closely guarded by the device manufacturers, and therefore exist within a “trust boundary.” The factory-installed hardware that communicates with the drivers is similarly assumed to be trustworthy, as long as the manufacturer safeguards its supply chain. The security model breaks down as soon as a phone is serviced in a third-party repair shop, where there’s no reliable way to certify replacement parts haven’t been modified.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

No comments
Jeremy WebbSecret chips in replacement parts can completely hijack your phone’s security
read more

A timeline of Vishal Sikka at Infosys: From high-profile outsider to dejected leader

India-Infosys-Vishal Sikka-Infosys-Narayana Murthy

Vishal Sikka, the first non-founder managing director & CEO of the Indian software major Infosys has resigned.

Three years after he took charge at the $10 billion IT behemoth, Sikka has finally quit following several months of discord with the company’s founders, including NR Narayana Murthy.

“Over the last many months and quarters, we have all been besieged by false, baseless, malicious, and increasingly personal attacks,” Sikka said in his resignation letter. “Allegations that have been repeatedly proven false and baseless by multiple, independent investigations. But despite this, the attacks continue, and worse still, amplified by the very people from whom we all expected the most steadfast support in this great transformation.”

Here is a timeline of Sikka’s troubled tenure at Infosys.

June 2014: Infosys announces the appointment of Vishal Sikka as its first non-founding CEO & managing director since the company’s inception over three decades ago. “Vishal brings valuable experience as a leader of a large, global corporation. His illustrious track record and value system make him an ideal choice to lead Infosys,” Infosys chairman NR Narayana Murthy says. Between 2013 and 2014, the firm had seen at least 13 top-level exits.

Aug. 2014: A week into his new job, Sikka promotes over 5,000 employees, in an attempt to retain staff at the Bengaluru-based company.

Oct. 2014: Murthy resigns as Infosys chairman. “We will focus heavily on growth, and for that we need the benefit of our cash reserves,” Sikka says in an interview (paywall) to Financial Times. “My plan will not be to what happened with earlier generations of low-grade software, of just always cutting costs, which is just a downward spiral. This is about renewing ourselves into a next generation services company.”

Dec. 2014: Sikka gifts iPhone 6s to 3,000 top performers. “Everyone around you looks up to you and it is this approach to work that will help us evolve into the next-generation IT services company that we aspire to be—with you at the heart and centre of it,” he tells employees in an email.

Feb. 2015: Infosys’s financials begin to improve. The company beats market estimates for the October-December quarter, declaring a 13% year-on-year growth in net profit and 26.7% rise in operating margins. It also announces a 7-9% growth forecast for sales for the year ending March 2015. The company acquires Israel-based software services company Panaya for $200 million. “The acquisition…will help amplify the potential of our people, freeing us from the drudgery of many repetitive tasks, so we may focus more on the important, strategic challenges faced by our clients,” Sikka says.

April 2015: The company announces the acquisition of e-commerce services provider Skava for $120 million. “The acquisition of Skava is part of Infosys’s strategy to help clients bring new digital experiences to their customers through IP-led technology offerings, new automation tools and unparalleled skill and expertise in these new emerging areas,” Infosys says in a statement. Sikka announces his “vision 2020,” targets $20 billion revenue for Infosys by the year 2020.

June 2015: On June 01, the company decides to allow all employees to wear denims and casual clothes to work throughout the week. While this may be normal for several technology companies in the US and elsewhere, it is a first for the more traditional Indian IT services sector. R Seshasayee, vice-chairman at truck & bus maker Ashok Leyland, appointed new non-executive chairman.

Oct. 2015: Rajiv Bansal, CFO, resigns. “I lived my dream at Infosys,” Bansal says in a letter. “There are very exciting opportunities in the world. I want to do something more exciting, more challenging, something where I can add more value. Looking forward to the next stage of my life.” He joins cab aggregator Ola as CFO in December.

Feb. 2016: The Infosys board raises Sikka’s compensation by 55% to $11 million. A few months later, only around 23.57% of promoter votes are cast in favour of a resolution reappointing Sikka as CEO. He was appointed CEO in 2014 for a five-year term. “I am not disappointed. I don’t care. I have 100% backing of the board and support from the shareholders,” Sikka says. “I still respect the founders. Why they did this, you should ask them.”

May 2016: Proxy advisory firms and analysts question the Rs23.02 crore severance pay, salary, and other benefits paid to Bansal.

Sept. 2016: Infosys stops paying the balance of Rs17.38 crore Bansal was to receive, as some of the company’s founders express their displeasure.

Nov. 2016: In a newspaper interview, Sikka says his job has affected his physical well-being. “My health has suffered for sure. It is a very complex transformation we are doing (at Infosys), far more complex than people understand,” Sikka says.

Dec. 2016: The founders, including Murthy, SD Shibulal, and Kris Gopalakrishnan meet V Seshasayee and Vishal Sikka, expressing their unhappiness with Seshasayee, citing corporate governance issues.

Feb. 2017: In a scathing interview Murthy questions the corporate governance practice at Infosys. “We have seen a concerning drop in governance standards at Infosys. Let me illustrate this with just one example. Providing huge severance pay (with 100% variable) to some departing employees while giving only 80% variable for employees in the company is one such example. Such payments raise doubts whether the company is using such payments as hush money to hide something,” he says.

Soon after, Seshasayee says says there is no conflict of interest between the founders and the board. Sikka says the talk about corporate governance was “distracting” and that he has good relations with the founders, including Murthy.

Shortly, an anonymous letter is sent to the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the US Securities and Exchange Commission alleging that the Panaya acquisition was overvalued. It is possible that some Infosys executives had benefited from the deal, the letter claims. Reports also emerge that former CFO Bansal wasn’t in favour of the deal.

June 2017: Infosys scraps Sikka’s target of $20 billion revenue by 2020. Reports emerge that the founders were planning to sell their stakes. “We would like clarify the reports in the media speculating on the plans of stake sale by the promoters. This speculation has already been categorically denied by the promoters,” an Infosys spokesperson says in a statement.

Meanwhile, two independent firms appointed by Infosys clear the company of all charges of financial impropriety in the Panaya and Skava deal. “We found no evidence whatsoever to support any of the new allegations in the complaints regarding wrongdoing by the company or its directors and employees, and those allegations were rebutted by substantial and credible evidence,” Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, a US-based law firm, says.

July 2017: Ritika Suri, an executive vice-president at Infosys, who was in charge of large deals and led the Panaya acquisition, resigns.

Aug. 2017: Infosys declines a request from Murthy to make public the report of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.

No comments
Jeremy WebbA timeline of Vishal Sikka at Infosys: From high-profile outsider to dejected leader
read more

A timeline of Vishal Sikka at Infosys: From high-profile outsider to dejected leader

India-Infosys-Vishal Sikka-Infosys-Narayana Murthy

Vishal Sikka, the first non-founder managing director & CEO of the Indian software major Infosys has resigned.

Three years after he took charge at the $10 billion IT behemoth, Sikka has finally quit following several months of discord with the company’s founders, including NR Narayana Murthy.

“Over the last many months and quarters, we have all been besieged by false, baseless, malicious, and increasingly personal attacks,” Sikka said in his resignation letter. “Allegations that have been repeatedly proven false and baseless by multiple, independent investigations. But despite this, the attacks continue, and worse still, amplified by the very people from whom we all expected the most steadfast support in this great transformation.”

Here is a timeline of Sikka’s troubled tenure at Infosys.

June 2014: Infosys announces the appointment of Vishal Sikka as its first non-founding CEO & managing director since the company’s inception over three decades ago. “Vishal brings valuable experience as a leader of a large, global corporation. His illustrious track record and value system make him an ideal choice to lead Infosys,” Infosys chairman NR Narayana Murthy says. Between 2013 and 2014, the firm had seen at least 13 top-level exits.

Aug. 2014: A week into his new job, Sikka promotes over 5,000 employees, in an attempt to retain staff at the Bengaluru-based company.

Oct. 2014: Murthy resigns as Infosys chairman. “We will focus heavily on growth, and for that we need the benefit of our cash reserves,” Sikka says in an interview (paywall) to Financial Times. “My plan will not be to what happened with earlier generations of low-grade software, of just always cutting costs, which is just a downward spiral. This is about renewing ourselves into a next generation services company.”

Dec. 2014: Sikka gifts iPhone 6s to 3,000 top performers. “Everyone around you looks up to you and it is this approach to work that will help us evolve into the next-generation IT services company that we aspire to be—with you at the heart and centre of it,” he tells employees in an email.

Feb. 2015: Infosys’s financials begin to improve. The company beats market estimates for the October-December quarter, declaring a 13% year-on-year growth in net profit and 26.7% rise in operating margins. It also announces a 7-9% growth forecast for sales for the year ending March 2015. The company acquires Israel-based software services company Panaya for $200 million. “The acquisition…will help amplify the potential of our people, freeing us from the drudgery of many repetitive tasks, so we may focus more on the important, strategic challenges faced by our clients,” Sikka says.

April 2015: The company announces the acquisition of e-commerce services provider Skava for $120 million. “The acquisition of Skava is part of Infosys’s strategy to help clients bring new digital experiences to their customers through IP-led technology offerings, new automation tools and unparalleled skill and expertise in these new emerging areas,” Infosys says in a statement. Sikka announces his “vision 2020,” targets $20 billion revenue for Infosys by the year 2020.

June 2015: On June 01, the company decides to allow all employees to wear denims and casual clothes to work throughout the week. While this may be normal for several technology companies in the US and elsewhere, it is a first for the more traditional Indian IT services sector. R Seshasayee, vice-chairman at truck & bus maker Ashok Leyland, appointed new non-executive chairman.

Oct. 2015: Rajiv Bansal, CFO, resigns. “I lived my dream at Infosys,” Bansal says in a letter. “There are very exciting opportunities in the world. I want to do something more exciting, more challenging, something where I can add more value. Looking forward to the next stage of my life.” He joins cab aggregator Ola as CFO in December.

Feb. 2016: The Infosys board raises Sikka’s compensation by 55% to $11 million. A few months later, only around 23.57% of promoter votes are cast in favour of a resolution reappointing Sikka as CEO. He was appointed CEO in 2014 for a five-year term. “I am not disappointed. I don’t care. I have 100% backing of the board and support from the shareholders,” Sikka says. “I still respect the founders. Why they did this, you should ask them.”

May 2016: Proxy advisory firms and analysts question the Rs23.02 crore severance pay, salary, and other benefits paid to Bansal.

Sept. 2016: Infosys stops paying the balance of Rs17.38 crore Bansal was to receive, as some of the company’s founders express their displeasure.

Nov. 2016: In a newspaper interview, Sikka says his job has affected his physical well-being. “My health has suffered for sure. It is a very complex transformation we are doing (at Infosys), far more complex than people understand,” Sikka says.

Dec. 2016: The founders, including Murthy, SD Shibulal, and Kris Gopalakrishnan meet V Seshasayee and Vishal Sikka, expressing their unhappiness with Seshasayee, citing corporate governance issues.

Feb. 2017: In a scathing interview Murthy questions the corporate governance practice at Infosys. “We have seen a concerning drop in governance standards at Infosys. Let me illustrate this with just one example. Providing huge severance pay (with 100% variable) to some departing employees while giving only 80% variable for employees in the company is one such example. Such payments raise doubts whether the company is using such payments as hush money to hide something,” he says.

Soon after, Seshasayee says says there is no conflict of interest between the founders and the board. Sikka says the talk about corporate governance was “distracting” and that he has good relations with the founders, including Murthy.

Shortly, an anonymous letter is sent to the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the US Securities and Exchange Commission alleging that the Panaya acquisition was overvalued. It is possible that some Infosys executives had benefited from the deal, the letter claims. Reports also emerge that former CFO Bansal wasn’t in favour of the deal.

June 2017: Infosys scraps Sikka’s target of $20 billion revenue by 2020. Reports emerge that the founders were planning to sell their stakes. “We would like clarify the reports in the media speculating on the plans of stake sale by the promoters. This speculation has already been categorically denied by the promoters,” an Infosys spokesperson says in a statement.

Meanwhile, two independent firms appointed by Infosys clear the company of all charges of financial impropriety in the Panaya and Skava deal. “We found no evidence whatsoever to support any of the new allegations in the complaints regarding wrongdoing by the company or its directors and employees, and those allegations were rebutted by substantial and credible evidence,” Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, a US-based law firm, says.

July 2017: Ritika Suri, an executive vice-president at Infosys, who was in charge of large deals and led the Panaya acquisition, resigns.

Aug. 2017: Infosys declines a request from Murthy to make public the report of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.

No comments
Jeremy WebbA timeline of Vishal Sikka at Infosys: From high-profile outsider to dejected leader
read more

Vishal Sikka quits as Infosys CEO after months of battling with the old guard

Vishal Sikka

Infosys is losing the captain of its mothership.

Vishal Sikka, the first non-founder managing director & CEO of the Indian software major, resigned today (Aug. 18), some three years after his appointment.

Sikka will continue as executive vice-chairman and hold office until a replacement is found. Till then, UB Pravin Rao, the current chief operating officer, will be interim CEO and managing director.

Following the announcement Sikka’s resignation, Infosys’s stock price plunged about 7% since the start of trade on the BSE.

In his resignation letter, Sikka cited “distractions…the constant drumbeat of the same issues over and over again, while ignoring and undermining the good work that has been done,” saying that it “(takes) the excitement and passion out of this amazing journey.”

His departure comes weeks after the firm’s founding members voiced concerns over the running of Infosys.

While the name of Sikka, a former executive board member at the German multinational software corporation SAP, was announced with much fanfare in 2014, his tenure at Infosys has been far from smooth. His relationship with the company’s founders has been particularly uneasy.

For instance, in February this year, company founder NR Narayana Murthy had raised questions about poor corporate governance standards at the Bengaluru-based firm. Among other things, Murthy had voiced concerns about Sikka’s excessive salary package.

Recently, a former chief financial officer had suggested that Murthy return as “chairman emeritus, where he has no operational responsibility.” The tech giant’s current co-chairman, Ravi Venkatesan, too, had suggested the same.

For a company that has seen a slew of executive departures, Sikka’s presence was reassuring. Within the first week of his tenure, he rolled out 5,000 promotions and engaged with employees through initiatives such as “Murmuration”—crowd-sourcing ideas from employees—and made the office cool by relaxing dress codes and allowing the use of social media at work.

Since he took the reins in June 2014, Infosys’s profits and revenues had been climbing up. Under Sikka’s guidance, the company has tapped into new-age services like automation and focused on operational efficiency.

No comments
Jeremy WebbVishal Sikka quits as Infosys CEO after months of battling with the old guard
read more

Americans would be shocked by common resumé practices in Germany

German and American resumes can be very different

German companies are famous for their precision and attention to detail. That thoroughness applies to what they look for on a resumé, too.

German job seekers typically include their photograph and date of birth on resumes, and some will also add their marital status, and number and ages of their children. Not that long ago, employers also expected to see the names and occupations of parents, particularly from young candidates. More like an academic curriculum vitae than a US resumé, these documents extend for several pages.

Katrin Voelkner taught a course in German for business students at Northwestern University, and had her American students prepare a resumé to German specifications as part of her class. “They were incredulous,” she says. “They couldn’t figure it out.”

Germany and the US are both big, powerful nations with sophisticated economies, but as their resumé practices show, they have very different approaches to money and work. Germans are notoriously debt adverse— they eschew credit cards, and have very low rates of homeownership— and are fiercely protective of their digital privacy. Office culture can be formal, and often bound by protocol and hierarchies.

The exhaustively detailed resumé is partly a function of German’s strict labor laws, which makes it hard to fire workers, says Voelkner, who now teaches Americans in Berlin. That makes hiring the right workers critical, and puts a premium on knowing as much as possible about a candidate before making an offer. There’s also another, less benign reason for wanting photos, she notes: “You can discriminate more easily, too.”

German resumes aren’t just longer and more detailed. They’re also written differently. Americans resumés are flush with verbs—applicants tout their skills at leading, managing, creating—and Germans stress their nouns, with lots of names and titles, in capital letters, Voelkner says. While Americans stress how they performed, Germans emphasize the organizations, responsibilities, and knowledge the job seeker has accumulated.

The companies you’ve worked for, and the positions you’ve held, are testimony to your abilities, says Sebastian Choquette, a Canadian-American who has worked in Germany for 15 years. “It’s a culture that places a lot of emphasis on skill, on education, and experience,” says Choquette, who is an executive at Salomon, a ski-equipment company in Munich. “In Germany, the knowing is more important than the doing.”

At Germany’s big, international companies, expectations are changing, and a one-page, US-style resumés are becoming more common. Smaller companies, though, will still want a photo and online resumé writing guides recommend it.

German and US resumé practices differ in at least one other respect, as well: So much care goes into their preparation and packaging that hiring managers traditionally return them to the applicant if they don’t get the job.

Read this next: Your social media profile photo makes you human. Why is it creepy on resumés?

No comments
Jeremy WebbAmericans would be shocked by common resumé practices in Germany
read more