Mr. Sherry Mathew, Director of Rightsketch HR Consultancy shares how startups can hire the right people

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Mr. Sherry Mathew is an HR professional turned management consultant.  He has worked in the industry for over 23 years in various sectors like pharmaceutical, engineering, and chemicals, which are into manufacturing and sales. His last assignment was with a US multinational company named Diversey Inc. He was the talent strategy head for the company’s Asia, Africa, Middle East, and Turkey regions. He was also the HR director for South Asia in the same organization. He left the corporate world in 2013 for self-employment.

After gaining industry experience and domain expertise in human resources management with companies like Diversey Inc, Ipca Laboratories Ltd, and Bayer India Ltd, he realized that there were immense opportunities to work with the growing start-up and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in India. Human resources management is a skill and these organizations would need the appropriate strategic and advisory support to manage their people. This was the thought behind starting his own consulting service, i.e., Rightsketch.

Human resources management is a skill and these organizations would need the appropriate strategic and advisory support to manage their people. This was the thought behind starting his own consulting service, i.e., Rightsketch.

Sherry has an MBA in HR from NMIMS and two Bachelor’s Degrees (Commerce and Law) from Mumbai University. He is also certified in 7 talent optimization tools of international repute and a certified coach on Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centred Coaching.

Team Sociobits connected with Mr. Sherry Mathew to know more about the journey of Rightsketch and what are the things that startups need to invest in when hiring and developing people.

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Team Sociobits: Could you tell us about the initial days of Rightsketch?

Mr. Sherry Mathew: Having worked with and mentored by leaders of international repute, I gained expertise in organizational capability building, leadership development, customizing, and implementing effective talent management strategies and these were the areas that I wanted to focus on in my consulting work. I started with Industrial relations and then moved into human resources management as the function evolved in the late 90s.

My initial days in establishing Rightsketch were not smooth as I thought they would be when I left my corporate job. The idea of strategic HR for startups and SMEs, I felt was a little too early and my idea did not meet their expectation. When I started talking to promotors and business heads of my target audience about scientific hiring, talent management, leadership development, employee motivation, and engagement I realized that they were still struggling with basic problems like hiring and retention, productivity improvement, and cost management. Talent management or leadership development was not a priority though the concern was there in the board room. Their major need was to source and recruit to scale up and recruitment was not one of the services Rightsketch offered. This was a big reality check for me.

Initially, it was a little difficult to get clients. I signed up with my first client in the first quarter of 2014 i.e. 10 months after starting my venture. There were quite a few failures before I could capture the real need of the startups.

The conversation would move quickly from value to cost. Initially, it was a little difficult to get clients. I signed up with my first client in the first quarter of 2014 i.e. 10 months after starting my venture. There were quite a few failures before I could capture the real need of the startups. These failures and the focused market research helped us tweak the solution we started offering to meet the expectation of our target audience.

Team Sociobits: Can you elaborate on what Rightsketch offers to its clients?

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Founder: We offer our client; assessment tools, leadership training, and management consulting services. Science-based psychometric assessments and cognitive ability tests are now widely used at all levels for hiring (sales and non-sales personnel), employees development, and succession management. This helps our client use tools that would help them in data-driven decision-making. It helped the leaders and the hiring team better predict the success of a candidate in the role.   

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In the training and development space, we offer our clients customized leadership training, executive coaching, human resources management skills training, consulting skills workshop, selling skills training, certification on assessment tools, coaching and mentoring workshops, etc.  

To brief about the work, we do under our management consulting services, the scope covers employee and organizational capability building; vision, mission, and strategy; organizational structure; HR process improvement; employee engagement; workforce planning; high potential identification, talent review, and performance management.  Our engagement with clients is focused on providing complete solutions i.e. from strategy development to support in the execution of the strategy. Our clients also retain us for advisory services, building their own HR team capability, and making talent decisions. 

The intense work we do for our client’s needs is well researched science-based and reliable and valid tools. Rightsketch has acquired the license of two renowned global organizations and partners with them for India and parts of the Middle East. We offer these tools to our clients at a price level that suits the SME’s budget.

Rightsketch has acquired the license of two renowned global organizations and partners with them for India and parts of the Middle East. We offer these tools to our clients at a price level that suits the SME’s budget.

Team Sociobits: So, after tweaking your offerings, how was your journey?

Founder: When I look back, my journey has been pretty good! even though Rightsketch started in 2013 and it took some time to get our first client, post that we had some good runs till we were hit by COVID. We have contributed to the business growth of over 50 clients in the past 8-9 years. Our clients are companies across various sectors including manufacturing, education, logistics, information technology, and services, with employees ranging from 10 – 11,000. We have been able to customize solutions based on the company’s life cycle stage, as well as the size of the organization.

Team Sociobits: When you work with startups, what do you think startup founders should focus on when they go through the whole process of team management?

Founder: From my experience, I have understood a few things. Firstly, while hiring, it is very important for start-ups to look at employees who have the passion (motivated + vitality) to work in an unstructured or non-process-oriented environment. We have seen start-ups fail in hiring when they try to hire individuals just for skills, not evaluating their motivations, culture and values fit. For example, candidates who are motivated or perform in a structured work environment may find the transition to the start-up environment challenging. A wrong hire can cost the company 1.5-2 times the CTC of the hired candidate. 

Secondly, the founders should not oversell or undersell their organization. Hence it is important to spend time defining the employee value proposition. Similarly, the vision and mission should be written and communicated to all stakeholders. I have heard many founders say the vision is in their minds but have not written it down. Writing the vision brings more clarity and helps to align stakeholders. 

Thirdly, most promoters look for employees in leadership roles with strength in entrepreneurial and innovation competencies. One needs to understand leaders with such qualities may struggle with process orientations. It is important to have a balance in the leadership team. Diversity is not only about gender it is also about a mix of abilities that are required for consistent or sustainable growth and performance. It is also very important to look at whether the employee hired is agile, flexible, and can work in a constantly evolving business environment.    

It is important to have a balance in the leadership team. Diversity is not only about gender it is also about a mix of abilities that are required for consistent or sustainable growth and performance.

Every start-up is unique because the promotors and their idea/aspirations are different. I had a promoter ask me to implement practices that were there in a well-established company that has been in business for over 40 years. Simply copying the best practice of one organization without adaptation can become a staller and sometimes disastrous.

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Team Sociobits: What is the biggest challenge that startups face when it comes to talent management?

Founder: I can talk about challenges that are related to helping individuals succeed in their organization. We do refer to the “right person in the right job”. This can happen when you know what you want the employee to deliver and what will make the individual succeed. The success of a candidate is a function of competencies, experience, motivation, and organizational objectives.

In the startup ecosystem, there is a belief that every individual is driven by power, money, or position which may not be true. What we see in the current times is that the workforce is more driven by what task they want to perform and how they would like to perform the task. It is critical to understand an individual motivation from these angles too.

Employee wellness is another critical element, especially in the post-COVID era. Physical, financial, and emotional wellness needs to be monitored. HR should be empowered to manage employee wellness which also includes protection from harassment. Startups may invest in engaging one senior professional to advise and mentor their in-house operations team for effective talent management.

Team Sociobits: As an advisor, could you point out some advice for startups in short?

Founder: My advice to a startup is that they should make the right investment in hiring and selection. Developing an employee value proposition, ensuring a good candidate experience, adequate employer branding, and an efficient selection process will help in attracting and retaining top talent.

My advice to a startup is that they should make the right investment in hiring and selection. Developing an employee value proposition, ensuring a good candidate experience, adequate employer branding and an efficient selection process will help in attracting and retaining top talent.

Another key aspect to take note of is stakeholders’ communication. Promoters have a very clear idea of what is their vision and how they would like to create value for their customers and investors. A shared vision is powerful as it provides the necessary energy to deliver results. So, when this is not communicated to them, they don’t feel engaged with the organization.

Team Sociobits: What does Right Sketch offer to startups?

Founder: We offer a complete solution in talent management. We adapt and customised our offerings to meet the needs and aspirations of the client. We commit to delivering a return on the investment made. Our solutions and services are directed to improve the quality of hire, sales effectiveness, team productivity, leadership development, succession management, and organizational design and development.

We work closely with promoters in developing workforce strategy, hiring and managing a multi-generational workforce, designing an organization’s structure, competency mapping, leadership selection, team building, strategy executions, implementing a performance management system, and human resources policy, and facilitating business review against objectives.

Last but not least we coach and mentor senior management teams for leadership effectiveness. We are in a cricket-loving country and hence I will use that to convey my message. For a batsman to play the right shots he/she has to keep an eye on the ball the moment the eye is taken off the chance is high of getting hurt. Similarly, startups have to keep their eye on their employees taking their attention away even for a short while can be detrimental to the business. 

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