What Makes Us Hire Or Let Go Of People

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What Makes Us Hire Or Let Go Of People

Category Working With Indiahikes About Indiahikes

By Swathi Chatrapathy


Many trekkers write to us asking whether they can work with Indiahikes. They are enamoured by the trekking world and believe that they can make a difference in it by being a part of Indiahikes. And I’ll be frank, trekkers make the best possible team members at Indiahikes. In fact, many of us at Indiahikes, were once trekkers with Indiahikes. 

However, not many who apply are suited for working with us. 

Before I tell you why, I want to share some figures with you. 

In the past one year, we have interviewed 229 prospective team members for our office roles. Out of these, we have been able to appoint only 14 of them. Of this, we had to let go of two of them within 3 months. The other 12 are now integral members of Indiahikes. 

Amongst Trek Leaders, we interviewed 403 possible team members, out of which we could select only 28. 

These 229+403 applicants are those who were invited for interviews. Unfortunately, many of them didn’t even make it to the interview stage. 

And I want to tell you, most of our applicants are highly skilled, well-qualified and come in with good work experience. 

Naturally, anyone would want to know, why is it so difficult for anyone to get selected at Indiahikes? Why are so many candidates not taken? Why are some asked to leave? 

And my answer often surprises people. 

I tell them “They don’t make a good culture fit.”

If team members do not fit in at Indiahikes in terms of our culture (values and behaviour), we have seen that it is very difficult to work with them in the long run. They do us more harm than good. And often, we have let go of extremely skilled people based on this aspect alone. 

We  resonate strongly with the thoughts of Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, which is renowned worldwide for its culture. “Our number one priority is company culture. Our whole belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand will just happen naturally on its own.”

So I’m writing to you today, to see if you know anyone who might fit our culture at Indiahikes. Not only will you be helping us out, but you would have helped someone find the most gratifying and meaningful work.  

What is this Indiahikes culture I’m talking about?

To give you an idea, last week, all of us from the Indiahikes office went to a secluded beach in the north of Kerala for our annual meeting. We pitched our tents on the shores and over two days, we discussed our cultures, values and goals for 2020. We sat under the shades of palm trees, took in the sun and the sand. 

We ate what we could scavenge from a nearby dhaba, we drank water from a pipe flowing nearby. 

We do this as a tradition every year, where we consciously take this time off to reflect on the year that was and the year that is to come. If you look at it, this is our culture. This way of meeting annually doesn’t have any promise of luxury or comfort of any kind. Yet, we love this.  

This time, one of our major topics of discussion was our culture. We were discussing how seriously we must take our culture. As an exercise we listed 43 cultures that we observe at Indiahikes. Some of these are observed very strongly, some of them were strong only in our office, others were weak — and had to be made stronger we felt. 

But they were a big part of what set us apart. They were cultures that give us direction and a moral frame.

I’m sharing some of them with you. 

| Humility – You’ll be surprised to know that one of our biggest recruitment decisions is based on this simple behaviour — on whether the applicant is humble. We have seen that if anyone is humble, they are willing to learn, they accept feedback, they gain others’ trust and respect, they work hard, they automatically take the organisation forward. We think being humble comes over any skill or experience that you have.

| We are highly transparent in our personal and professional interactions – I’ve noticed that this is something that catches a lot of people off guard. It’s not unusual to see our founder sharing our financial insights with the newest joinee, or to see an employee pouring his heart out to his colleague. This transparency helped Indiahikes grow in leaps and bounds at its inception, and even today you’ll notice it in our every transaction. 

| We are always on learning mode whether reading, watching a video, travelling or walking down the hall. The learning mode never switches off – This is a culture that has changed many of our perspectives — to learn from everything we see, hear and do. And it’s practiced across the organisation. You’ll see it in our lunch time discussions (we all sit together for lunch on the floor), in the reflection sessions our Trek Leaders conduct for trekkers, in the way we implement suggestions from feedback. It helps us to define the future of trekking. 

| We are environmentally conscious and focused on minimizing our environmental impact – Most trekkers know of our Green Trails work in the mountains. But this is not something limited to the mountains. Ask any Trek Leader and he/she will tell you about their personal journey in sustainability. Even where I work in our Bengaluru office, we are very strict with ourselves about being highly sustainable. Our families are now part of it as well. In our own way, big or small, we are reducing our carbon footprint.

| We are outdoor lovers – We have noticed that those who are not outdoorsy don’t fit in at Indiahikes. They find it hard to understand the work we do or why we do it, they feel like they don’t belong here. On the other hand, it’s one of the most gratifying work for outdoor lovers knowing that they are working towards exposing more people to the outdoors and helping their mind, body and spirit.

| We believe in fitness as a way of life – At Indiahikes, everyone is fit. Not just our Trek Leaders and Mountain Guides (their fitness level is something else). But everyone else, whether our Finance Manager or Content Team members, has a fitness routine. Our mantra is simple. A good life is a fit life. Besides, if we want to take off on a Himalayan trek tomorrow, we must have the fitness for it.

| We have simple lifestyles – Nobody at Indiahikes is flamboyant. We appreciate simplicity as a way of living. This applies to our daily lives, our work life, our travels. We believe in minimalism, which comes naturally with trekking. Most of us live close by to our work, our lifestyle is simple. 

These are just some of our cultures. If I list them all, this will run to a very long email. 🙂 

But you’ll notice that these are all very personal values, not values that can be altogether manufactured in a person. And I’ll be frank, people don’t readily come with them. 

I know that it would be absurd to expect everyone to come in with all these values. So what we look for when we take anyone is an inkling of these personal values. We look for it in their body language, in their thoughts and actions. If that’s there, we know that with the right mentorship and guidance, they’ll grow to be an integral part of Indiahikes and help take trekking forward. 

On the other hand, when we see that even after our rigorous induction, mentorship and guidance, when people don’t conform to this culture, they do more harm than good for the organisation (even if they’re star performers). Eventually, they stop growing personally and professionally. The relationship almost becomes toxic. Which is why we let go of them. 

As you can see, we are a value and culture-driven organisation.  

With that in mind, if you know anyone who might make the right fit, share this page with them – https://indiahikes.com/careers/

It lists out all our openings. 

If you know anyone who might suit us, shoot this mail out to them. Or share this page with them. We’ll take it forward with them. Do appraise them about a very interesting recruitment process. 🙂

I’m also sharing some videos here, where some of us working at Indiahikes share our thoughts about the culture here.

I’ll leave you with that today. Hoping you can help us grow.

Swathi Chatrapathy

Chief Editor

About the author

Swathi Chatrapathy heads the digital content team at Indiahikes. She is also the face behind India's popular trekking video channel, Trek With Swathi. Unknown to many, Swathi also writes a weekly column at Indiahikes which has more than 100,000 followers.

A TEDx speaker and a frequent guest at other events, Swathi is a much sought after resource for her expertise in digital content.

Before joining Indiahikes, Swathi worked as a reporter and sub-editor at a daily newspaper. She holds a Masters's in Digital Journalism and continues to contribute to publications. Trekking, to her, is a sport that liberates the mind more than anything else. Through trekking, Swathi hopes to bring about a profound impact on a person's mind, body and spirit.