Mr Deshmukh encourages Zendesk employees to be “humblident”. PHOTO: TED CHEN
Every business is built on relationships, asserts Mr Abhi Deshmukh of Zendesk Singapore.
The managing director offers a practical maxim: “To have strong relationships, you must be trustworthy, responsive and kind.”
Zendesk is listed in Singapore Best Workplaces 2018, a list curated annually by the Great Place to Work Institute Singapore.
Founded in 2007 in Denmark, Zendesk builds software products for customer service operations. The Singapore office specialises in development of its Chat product.
Some may think Zendesk’s success comes from policies and practices, but Mr Deshmukh shrugs off such ideas.
“It’s not about these things,” he says. “Our approach to a great workplace starts with hiring and retaining the best people.”
Mr Deshmukh sums up the qualities of Zendesk employees in three points: they practise empathy, focus on relationships and are “humblident”.
“We made up this word from ‘humble’ and ‘confident’. Our employees use it to highlight what they have done well, while being honest about the messy process involved in achieving it.”
Referring to his earlier maxim, Mr Deshmukh says that strong relationships do not mean telling your boss they look nice when in fact the shoes and outfit clash.
“We are open to feedback when it is given. Our goal is to do good work, but we also have to work to make each other better.”
In order to do this, Zendesk has placed a significant focus on transparent communication and consistency.
This is seen in its flat corporate structure, which enables employees to provide feedback as often as every week.
While many companies talk about embracing diversity, Mr Deshmukh believes that it is equally important to promote inclusiveness — an open celebration of differences.
“You can offer all sorts of fun perks, but people come to work because they appreciate each other’s similarities and differences.”
He concludes by paraphrasing a colleague’s recent observation: “Our workplace culture is one where you’re not just invited to the party, but also to dance with us.”