Retaining the personal touch with mentoring

On 3rd November 1999, Poornam was officially born. We had 7 directors. By June 2000 the director count was unofficially reduced to 3. That left me and Sangeetha working together day and night for over a year. The best thing was we never had any real work. We were just looking for new work. But we were always busy. And by god’s grace, we were always happy. We have been blessed with the best parents who supported us. So here we were, a happy family…. “The Poornam  Family

 

 In April 2001,Kishore decided to join in again and this time as a full time director. Little did we know that it was actually God’s blessing in disguise. We shifted to a new office. We were now a bigger small software company with 4 directors. Smitha (my sister-in-law) was the first to join Poornam. Actually, we kind of dragged her into it. Thanks to her we got our first computer table because she was finding it tough to move the mouse on a regular table.

Kishore shifted from Trichur to Cochin and was staying with us. So we all came together and worked.We’d go out for lunch to ICH and dinner to some place in the city. On the way back we’d buy some mangoes and kishore had a special way of cutting it which he claims to have learnt from his uncle. We’d have the mangoes and then we’ll go back to work till late in the night. We were still like the family we used to be, with the difference that now we were bigger.

May 2004. Poornam is about 100 people now. We have our own in-house canteen. And Kishore does not cut any more mangoes. That apart, we are still the same family… “The Poornam  Family

To give a better idea about the Family members, I’ll just paste a mail from a kid I got after an interview. I had in my mind rejected him because of his looks. But this mail changed it all and I am glad that we took the decision.

Subject: I’m in.

From: Sojish K <sojishk@yahoo.com>
To: amar@poornam.com
Date: Wed Mar 20 12:17:06 2002

Hi Amar,
   First of all, i want to convey my decision.And the decision is ,I WANT to have an association with your company for a long time. I know that you are sceptical about me jumping out when a company like wipro calls. I can assure u from my heart that ,I will do my best for a company like Poornam for a long time rather than doing something for a company for whom i am just one among a lot.
   I had decided yesterday ,the moment i stepped out of your company itself, that Poornam is my future, and I took this 24hrs ,just to convince my near and dear ,that I’m taking the right decision.Since you said that in Poornam, all are like a family,i sincerely hope that you understand the necessity of conveying and convincing all those ,who look upon us , of a decision that I take.
   The reason why took this decision is that I am a person who performs better when i feel comfortable with an environment and when i feel at home.Since your company is one that fits my style and dreams of a job, i decided i want to be in.

I want to be working in a place where the work i do ,get its recognition fast and since Poornam has a small family of employees i know that i’ll get a true response to the work i do.

I like to program on Linux and when a company is offering me the exact job that i’ll love to do ,then I dont find any reason to jump off from there bcoz another company is willing to take and train me in some other field, which i may not like.

The only thing which you can say to convince me against it is my chance of getting into a company is stable , but i personaly look forward to grow with a company than to work for a company.

And if its an offer of more salary in terms of money I feel that your salary scale is at par with any other company.

I hope sincerly that i get a chance to prove my points and to have a long term assocition with your team .

yours truthfully
sojish

=====
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
//  Behind every great fortune ,there is a great gamble.  //
//—– homepage: http://www.geocities.com/sojishk/ ——//
//——————————————————–//
//             I like the dreams of future .              //
//           Better than the history of past.             //
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

This is the kind of material every good Poornamite is made of.
Many leave Poornam because we do not have the brand image or size of some of the other software companies. I don’t blame them. It is all about finding the right place where one is happy. I know for sure there are not many Blessens, Lakshmis, Sojishs , Lijoes or Tobbys in this world.The ones with Passion. The ones who like to enjoy and grow everyday. The ones who have high ethics and integrity.
These kids are the ones who drive Poornam. And the single most important factor that keeps us together here is that sense of belonging to “The Poornam Family“. We never want this to die. With every passing day, we get more professional with our work and our life in general. But that does not stop us from retaining that personal touch always.
  

Back in March 2004 Sojish, Susy and Saritha came with the idea of implementing mentoring program which we had all talked about many times earlier in the office. The target was to retain the family environment which may get lost as we grow.
Let me just quote Susy from our inhouse mentoring site –
” Few bonds in life are more influential than those between a mentor and a mentee. Mentors are people who will provide others with support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and constructive example.
 
 The information shared between a mentor and a mentee will be strictly confidential and the mentor shall always be acting with the best interests of the mentee at all times.”

In my opinion a mentoring program can be implemented anywhere. However, there are certain rules that we must follow.

First, let’s  define a mentor

mentor
     n : a wise and trusted guide and advisor [syn: wise man]
     v : serve as a teacher or trusted counselor; “The famous
         professor mentored him during his years in graduate
         school”; “She is a fine lecturer but she doesn’t like
         mentoring”

“A mentor is there to help, guide, encourage, counsel, protect, advise, motivate, teach, but NEVER solve, do for, judge or boss around his/her mentee. A mentor must set an example for his/her mentee. Be careful and make sure your actions reflect the advice you’re giving to your mentee.”

When setting up a mentoring program the first question would be on the Mission and Objectives of Program.
For Poornam we said –

  • Keep everybody motivated and happy.
  • Bring in a desire to constantly improve.
  • Help the new kids become part of the Poornam family with ease.

Then came in the obvious question of what are the benefits of mentoring. This is where google really helps.

  • Mentoring helps develop future leaders.
  • Mentoring allows creative ideas to flourish.
  • Mentoring brings in increased personal satisfaction in mentors.
  • Mentoring requires mentees to be responsible for their own development.
  • Mentoring provides timely information for a mentee.
  • Mentoring can help with diversity efforts.
  • Mentoring is time-efficient.
  • Mentoring programs will help attract and retain SuperStars.
  • Mentoring provides targeted, individualized training and coaching.

All we needed to do was the implementation. Our strategy was to have mentoring groups of 3-5 people.
We also decided to have theme based mentoring. What we’ll do here is have a theme every month, e.g., ethics, stress management and so on. With such themes covered we all become more balanced in life.

We then call for those seniors who would like to be mentors. Short listed the group and made the entire plan of action. Interestingly the one of the mentor meeting did take place in ICH. So I guess things have not changed a lot over time.

Many a times we all loose focus and think mentoring is more of a psychologists work. Many others think that mentoring is about doing group activities together. Mentoring is a system where a mentor sets the path for the mentees to follow in the process the mentor also improves himself. However, this involves doing activities together and listening to the mentee.

Personally, I see mentoring as a system where when the younger generation takes over our place in the future, they know what is right and what is wrong. So they can make better decisions about their lives.

To summarize –

  • Define the need for mentoring.
  • Establish measurable goals and objectives for the program so that they may be monitored and evaluated.
  • Create a strategy for the program implementation.
  • Recruit the mentors.
  • Train the mentors.
  • Start the program.

For us it is all about being happy always.It all about being part of “The Poornam Family” .

LEAVE A COMMENT