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action mastery

Meeting notes and why it is important.

by Rajesh Soundararajan https://in.linkedin.com/in/rajeshsound

Meetings are a reality – physical or virtual. We may hide but cannot run from it. If that is the truth, how can we make these meetings productive? I believe it has to do a lot with meeting notes, and follow-ups in clear action items. So here goes!

Question: What are key things to keep in mind for taking meeting notes and circulating them to all attendees for action and next steps?

Here are some key things to keep in mind for taking meeting notes and circulating them to all attendees for action and next steps:

  1. Start by clearly stating the purpose and agenda of the meeting, as well as the names and roles of all attendees. This will help everyone understand the context and focus of the meeting and ensure that all participants are on the same page.
  2. Take detailed and accurate notes of the discussion and decisions made during the meeting. This may include key points, action items, and deadlines. Make sure to include the names of the individuals responsible for each action item and any relevant references or attachments.
  3. Use a clear and concise writing style to organize and present the information in the notes. Avoid jargon or abbreviations that may not be understood by all attendees, and use bullet points or numbered lists to highlight key points and action items.
  4. Review and proofread the notes carefully before sending them to all attendees. This will help ensure that the information is accurate and easy to understand.
  5. Use a professional and standardized format for the notes, such as a table or template. This will help to ensure consistency and make it easier for attendees to quickly find and access the information they need.
  6. Follow up with attendees after the meeting to ensure that they have received the notes and understand their action items. This will help to clarify any questions or concerns and ensure that everyone is on track to meet their deadlines.

Overall, the key is to be organized, detailed, and professional in your approach to taking and circulating meeting notes. By doing so, you can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and able to take the necessary action to move forward.

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HR Leadership Lesson

Navigating the Challenge of Attracting Top Talent to Non-Profit Startups

More often than not, the very purpose and foundation of starting a non-profit are driven by a strong association with a more significant cause or purpose, usually greater than their own.

Visionary founders in non-profits are often inspirational leaders themselves with an eye on the future and feet firmly on the ground. They usually build an organization based on deep values that resonate with the cause.

Serendipity- AI art by @lexica.art

They depend on volunteers inspired by their vision and magnetism in the early stages and join the cause. Many volunteers may even be professionals with solid credentials and often play the role of scaffolding as the institution is being built. Ultimately, scaffolding is scaffolding; soon, the volunteers serve their time and often move on.

The 5 qualities that you should look for towards finding the right talent

  1. That they have bought into your vision and ideology. This forms the core and is non-negotiable.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to execute at the grassroots AND translate your vision to reality.
  3. Possess foresight on the future AND imagination to innovate continuously.
  4. Ability to work in the VUCA [volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world] that is becoming
  5. To be a continuous learning organism WITH honesty to accept failures and work on what is right.

Attracting such talent is often a difficult task for the founders. But then, who said visionary non-profit founders take the easy path, ever?

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change CV differentiate enthusiasm future General goals great HR laugh

5 reasons why good Generalists are like potatoes

A man in pin-striped business suit looks happy looking at a bowl of potato fries, a bowl of potato wedges and bowl of potato chips

I was never a fan of potatoes growing up. I thought they were boring, mushy, and bland. But in the last 20 years and having moved 16 cities, I realize they are the perfect food! They are the ultimate all-rounder: mashed, fried, baked or boiled. Top it off; they go with everything, including cheese, egg, or meat – not to mention veggies too! As a bonus point: they are inexpensive and available across the globe!

I never liked potatoes as a kid because they looked too bland and mushy. But in the last 20 years, I have realized that they are the perfect food.

Rajesh Soundararajan

Potatoes do not discriminate against any other ingredient or cuisine. They can be enjoyed in any shape and size chips to fries to wedges, without discrimination! Also, Potatoes are versatile and are a must-have in different cuisines.

Much like the Generalists who can just work in any organization and culture. They have the unique ability to adapt themselves according to the needs of a team or an organization without discriminating against anyone. Like potatoes, they imbibe its values or culture of their workplace.

Generalists are like potatoes. Like potatoes, they do not have a distinctive snob factor. They usually do not cost much to hire while delivering immense value to organizations when hired well!

Like potatoes that are easy to prepare, Generalists can quickly be onboarded across industries because they possess skills which are applicable across domains

Generalists are the ultimate all-rounder, like potatoes.

Potatoes are versatile and adaptable and can be cooked in various ways. You can have your mashed spuds straight up or make them into chips, wedges or even potato gratin. These versatile tubers can be used as the main course or as the side dish—they are equally good either way!

A good Generalist is similar —they are the ultimate all-rounder who can take on any role you give them, no matter how big or small. A true Generalist will always be your second-in-command (after all, they are exceptionally good at taking orders). They are also more than capable of stepping up to lead projects if they need to do so—and sometimes even when they do not need to do so because they want some more responsibility!

Generalists are wildly versatile – mashed, fried, baked or boiled. Oops.

Have you ever noticed that potatoes are versatile? They can be mashed, fried, baked or boiled. You can use them as a side dish or main course. You can even make potato salad out of them (and who does not love potato salad?).

Just like good Generalists! Good Generalists are versatile, and they can be used in many ways. They can be used as a team lead, a project manager in the main course, or as that go-to resourceful guy.

Top it off; they go with everything, including cheese, egg, meat, or veggies. A good Generalist can be put in any department – project, product, sales, operations, or finance. They can be worked with in many ways, go with many departments and are not too pricey and accessible.

They can be your side dish or even your main course.

Like potatoes, a good generalist can be your “side dish, or even your main course” (sic). The potato and the generalist are both versatile. They can work on projects requiring technical skills but not too much specialization—tasks called “the 80%”. If you are looking for someone to take care of the back-end development of your website or app, great! Oh wait, did you say your Operations team have quit en masse? Look for a few generalists. That is yet another area where they will shine, not outside their boss. And after all this, they will probably still have time left to help with other things like graphic design or marketing (if you need it).

The bottom line is that if you need something done quickly and well—and do not mind having them around after they are done—good generalists will always be there for you.

They are also not expensive and accessible across the globe.

Yes, they are not expensive, like some Yartsa Gunbu, Spanish peas, Wasabi roots or pink lettuce. Potatoes are accessible across the globe and inexpensive. Well, there may be some La Bonnotte Potatoes, but they are more exceptions than the rule. They can be grown in most countries, which means they are available all year round, unlike other foods with strict growing seasons. Potatoes contain a valuable source of carbohydrates, vitamin C, potassium, and fibre, making them ideal for people on a budget or with dietary restrictions. Even more importantly—they can be stored for months!

Well, the generalist is produced in most countries, universally available, and significantly less constant skilling and grooming. Generalists are a valuable resource for contextualization, standardization, and cross-functional and cross-industry innovation…Even more importantly, they have a long shelf life unlike some of the tech industry, where the skills courses/certifications they attempt to gain are already ancient by the time they finish a course!

A Generalist is like a potato – good in everything but rarely gets credit for all the goodness.

Yes, a lot of things, well, from being a Patient Care Assistant or a Police Officer or a President, but they rarely get credit for all the goodness that comes from being a Jack of all trades. A Generalist can be hired for any project or team because they are usually capable in many areas. It is high time we see their versatility and pay attention as they should. From fries to wedges to chips – they are everywhere

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and found it helpful in shaping and shifting your career. If you are a Generalist like me, do not worry. We have lots of time ahead of us to prove that we are good and the best at what we do!

Follow me on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/rajeshsound/

A man in pin-striped business suit looks happy looking at a bowl of potato fries, a bowl of potato wedges and bowl of potato chips
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Leadership Lesson

How to ace B2B Sales – Avoid this one mistake.

Understand the difference between the decision maker, influence, and gatekeeper.

Introduction

B2B sales calls come in all shapes and sizes. You might be reaching a single buyer or trying to get through to several people in an organization. Regardless of whom you are talking to, your pitch must be tailored to them and their role on the team. In this article, I will review the players you’ll likely encounter during your B2B sales calls: decision makers, gatekeepers, and influencers. I will also advise on how best to approach these different roles so you can most effectively sell your product or service!

All B2B sales calls have at least one decision maker and at least one gatekeeper.

In B2B sales, it is essential to understand the difference between the decision maker, influencer and gatekeeper.

All B2B sales calls have at least one decision-maker. The decision maker is the person who makes the final call about whether their company can use your product or service.

All B2B sales call also have at least one gatekeeper. A gatekeeper controls access from others in your organization to a person/department/group in another organization that has not yet bought from you (but may do so). Gatekeepers are often internal—for example, a marketing manager might be your gatekeeper if they control communications between you and their clients or prospects on behalf of their company. Porters can also be external—for example; an account executive might function as a gatekeeper because they know all of his client’s information, including what other vendors they use, how much they spend per year and where they spend it – information that could help him convince them that using your services would save them money!

The decision maker pulls the trigger on all sales decisions.

The decision-makers role is central to the sales process. They have the authority to make a purchase decision and have a budget to spend on your product or service. Their job is often high-level, so they do not need a lot of day-to-day operational details. They mainly care about whether you can solve their problem and how much it will cost them.

They often work alone in an office without any other people around them. They might not even speak with anyone else about what you are selling except for their assistant or secretary (a gatekeeper).

Suppose your company does business B2B (business-to-business). In that case, chances are you will need to contact a decision-maker at one point or another during your sales cycle.

Gatekeepers guard access to the decision-maker. They can be buyers, but they may not be.

Gatekeepers are not always buyers. They may be peers or usually a subordinate. They control access to the decision maker, who is typically an executive or decision maker with authority to buy whatever you sell.

Gatekeepers can be hard to identify because they do not always want their identity known—they may not want their boss to know they are stopping them. They prefer that you contact them directly rather than going through their superior. Gatekeepers also like saying “no” to people without anyone knowing about it (or having any record). This means that gatekeepers are often extremely careful about whom they allow into their inner circle, so if you do not fit into their social circle out of the gate (i.e., when trying to get in touch with them), then your chances of getting through are slim-to-none unless you’re very lucky or persistent enough

Influencers are the people who influence the decision-maker to buy a particular product or service.

Influencers are the people who influence the decision-maker to buy a particular product or service. They can be buyers or not, and they are the people you need to understand and influence to get your product or service sold. They can be anyone close to the decision maker whose opinion affects their decisions.

The influence may not be the person you usually talk to. They can be anyone close to the decision maker whose opinion affects their decisions. Influencers can include colleagues, friends, or family members. You need to identify these people when working with B2B salespeople because they are often highly influential in buying decisions for their company.

Conclusion

The buying team comprises three roles: decision-maker, gatekeeper, and influencer. The decision maker pulls the trigger on all sales decisions and usually takes responsibility for budgeting and authorizing purchases. The gatekeeper guards access to the decision-maker by filtering out unnecessary sales calls from people who do not fit into their organization’s culture or business model. Influencers can be anyone on your list which has some influence over the potential buyer’s decisions about what type of company they work for or what products they should buy from you (or not!).

#closing #comfort #negotiation #negotiation #negotiationstrategy #nonverbal #nonverbalcommunication #sales #salesnegotiation #salesnegotiationstrategy#salesstrategy #silence #trialclose

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Leadership Lesson

What if you were your team’s biggest problem?

A fascinating coffee shop conversation:

An expressive canvas painting of a conversation between two male colleagues at a coffee shop

What if you were your team’s biggest problem? How will you even know? Let alone fix it.

My friend and I were talking about what it means to lead a team. He runs a hands-on small business, and I do CxO on Tap consulting, usually working with CEOs and Founders on boring stuff like “business transformations”.

My friend talked about his challenges with his team and how he could improve the performance of his employees and his business. His team was talented and hard-working, but they weren’t meeting their company’s goals or delivering the high-quality work he expected.

We talked about all sorts of things he could do differently. He could change their workflow and different tasks, give them new tools, fire some, hire more people with expertise in specific areas, delegate more responsibilities to them and so on…

Then at one point, I heard myself blurting loudly – “Hey, What if YOU are your team’s biggest problem right now? Then how would you fix yourself?”

My friend was shocked at my brutality. I was stunned myself that I said that.

He immediately replied, “nothing”. Then there was radio silence on both sides for 2-3 minutes. Both of us said nothing—dead silence.

Then he got up and shook hands, left the meeting as suddenly as possible. He said, “Thank you so much… that last question …wow! … it was a killer. I don’t know why I didn’t ask myself all along…. I will call you back as soon as I crack this… thanks a bunch”, and he just left.

What would you do? Did it ever happen to you? What if you were your team’s biggest problem? How will you even know?

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Leadership Lesson

10 laws to becoming a Productivity Pro.

After reading hundreds of books and thousands of articles – here are the 10 laws to becoming a Pro at Productivity

1)   Take A Break – Pomodoro

If you work non-stop beyond the 25th / 30th minute, your performance starts to dip drastically. And it a slide downhill on productivity. So, this is what you should do – Work in 25-minute intervals. Take a break for 5 minutes and do something fun – call a friend, talk to a child, speak to a parent or roommate, enjoy some music – something that is the reward for the 25 minutes of hard Work. Now go back to the next 25 minutes slot and finish the task. Keep repeating, and you will be amazed by this magic! Your efficiency is near 100% consistently. Most people work longer and longer without a break, and they do not realize that their productivity dips rapidly to even 20%. Hence, they now take much 5x longer and make much more mistakes. The frustration and exhaustion only compound. All this without their knowledge. So, the trick is simple – keep a timer/ work for 25 min/ take a break for 5 minutes/repeat.

Take A Break - Pomodoro - 10 laws to becoming a Productivity Pro.

2)   80-20 Pareto Principle

This Pareto principle says that 80% of results get done with 20% effort. So, it would help if you had figured out that 20% is the driving agent of your 80%, and you can ignore the rest. Practising Pareto consciously allows you to focus only on the critical 80% in a short time.

80-20 Pareto Principle - 10 laws to becoming a Productivity Pro.

3)   Newtons First Law – Start Somewhere – Keep Moving

Newton’s first law of motion says that an object is at rest or in uniform motion until an external force act upon it. So why not kick off something into kinetic action and START doing it? The momentum will take off. For example, if you want to start running for 45 minutes each day at 7:00 am, all you need to do is have the discipline of wearing your running shoes at 7:00 am. Automatically your momentum takes the song for the next 45 minutes. On the contrary, not wearing the shoe will build inertia and send you might not even step out for the entire day.

Newton's First Law - Start Somewhere, Start Moving - 10 laws to becoming a Productivity Pro.

4)   Sleep Well

Oh, well, you may belong to the 5 am club. Or maybe you belong to the Night Owls club. Or you may pride yourself on sleeping 3 hours a day for months. And still, you are busy. Well, one of the reasons why those = who do 18-hour workdays are not productive is that they do not sleep well. Sleeping well, say 6-8 hours is what the body needs to function optimally and be productive. Mounting evidence suggests that a good night’s sleep seriously boosts productivity. Sleep deprivation leads to “significantly lower productivity, performance, and safety outcomes”. Well, this one should be easy to sleep well, well enough to recharge and nourish your mind and body.

Sleep Well - 10 laws to becoming a Productivity Pro.

5)   Buridan’s Ass -You Can’t Do Two Things at The Same Time

Buridan’s ass refers to a hypothetical situation wherein an ass (donkey) equally hungry and thirsty is placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a pail of water. Since the paradox assumes the donkey will always go to whichever is closer, it dies of both hunger and thirst since it cannot make any rational decision between the hay and water. We often do nothing because we cannot choose what to do first. We want to do both simultaneously and cannot decide what should be. Start –pick any choice and keep moving. You will have finished the task.

Bourdain's Ass - You can't do two things at the same time. 10 laws to becoming a Productivity Pro.

6)   Do Important / Not Urgent Things First – The Q2 Quadrant

We do a lot of things every day. Do the laundry, cook, clean, email, and make phone calls. Each day you check everything off your To Do. That is efficient. Great. But to be ‘effective’, you need to do essential things. You may not do as many things, but you do one thing that makes a substantial difference. The Q2 quadrant is about doing things that are Important but not Urgent. This is where you should spend most of your time—planning, prevention, capability improvement, relationship building, recognizing new opportunities, etc. Spending time on these important things should lead to an unclouded vision, balanced life, discipline, control, and fewer and fewer crises.

Do Important things First - 10 laws to becoming a Productivity Pro.

7)   Work Expands to Fill Time

Work expands to fill them if you want to get things done in a sustainable fashion here\. Parkinson’s law says Work expands to fill the time we allocate to it, so if you get something attractive giving us less time, allocate less time to it. Try to time-box it into smaller and smaller time capsules instead of giving yourself a liberal ‘evening’ or ‘post launch’ to do your task – slot yourself 230-255p or 415-440p. You will see the Work magically take a short time and contracts into that time.

Work Expands to Fill Time - 10 laws to becoming a Productivity Pro.

8)   Tame Your Mind Towards Infinite Leverage

We live in an age of infinite leverage. Your actions can be multiplied 1000-fold by writing helpful content, podcast, investing capital, having people work for you, or writing code. The impact of good decision-making on what can give the best multiplier effect now is that you can influence thousands or millions of people – through your decisions, your code, and your start-up. So, clear your mind to better judge the ‘infinite leverage’ you do with your mind. You will also be happy and calm with better decisions, peak performance, and outcomes. You must learn to tame your mind just like you train your body.

Tame your Mind Towards Infinite Leverage - 10 laws to becoming a Productivity Pro.

9)   Visioning with Absolute Goal Clarity

Why do you see your car everywhere after you buy it? Science has an answer for this, and it involves the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. There has not been an increase in similar cars around you — you rarely noticed it before.

Your subconscious can be quite powerful and yet be selective in what it gives attention to or ignores without you realizing it. The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, more commonly referred to as frequency illusion, triggers your brain into a goal-seeking function. Where subconsciously, it will nudge and strive towards your goals. Now imagine visioning your definitive version of what you want multiple times; you will subconsciously start achieving the same.

Practice Visioning w/ Absolute Clarity - 10 laws to becoming a Productivity Pro.

10)       The Magic Formula

Yes, the 10th is just consistency and following the above – take a break, follow 80-20, start and keep moving, sleep well, do not get stuck like a Bourdain’s ass, do important things first, time-box your Work, tame your mind for infinite leverage, follow visioning with absolute goal clarity, repeat.

Magic Formula - 10 laws to becoming a Productivity Pro.
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Leadership Lesson

Role, Respect, and Resources – the three Rs to building a successful team.

RRR

Introduction

A successful team is not just about brilliant people and good ideas. There’s no point in hoping to be successful with a bunch of individuals who don’t have clarity on what they should do, don’t have the independence to do what they should be doing, or don’t have the resources to do the things they should be doing.

Many teams can function better if these three key factors are fixed – role clarity, respect for their independence, individuality, innovation, and resources to succeed.

Role clarity

Role clarity is the first step in building a successful team. Role clarity is about knowing what to do and what is expected.

Clarifying roles involves defining responsibilities, accountability, and authority. It’s important to remember that role clarity has three main aspects: who does what, who owns what, and how decisions are made.

Each member of the team not only needs to understand not only their role but also how it fits with the other people on the team or project.

Ask yourself:

  • What is the role of each person on your team? Who’s going to do what, and why?
  • Have you ensured that everyone has clear expectations about what they need to accomplish and how they’ll do it?
  • Are there any gaps or overlaps between roles that need to be addressed?

Respect for their independence, individuality, and innovation

Each individual on the team is different, with their strengths, weaknesses, and personal interests. They would do things differently to reach almost similar outcomes. To build a team that works together, you need to respect the differences in your team members and give them independence. 

Respect also means being flexible and adaptable, seeing things from another person’s perspective. A successful leader will empower their team member to do their job by listening to their ideas and suggestions, letting them be themselves, and supporting them when they fail and succeed—wilful stepping back under watchful expertise. 

Ask yourself:

  • How do you respect your team as professionals and individuals and give them the independence to do what they need to do?
  • How are you respecting them for their intelligence and their abilities to complete the task without your micromanaging?

Resources – both tools and skilling being made available to succeed.

Resources are the tools that they need to do their job. These resources include:

  1. The technology—computers, phones, software, etc.— and tools help them do their work more efficiently or effectively.
  2. Training programs teach new skills to be more productive at work (and stay relevant in this fast-moving industry).
  3. Coaching from managers who provide feedback on how to improve performance and achieve goals faster.

Ask yourself:

  • What resources would they need to build efficiency and effect in what they do?
  • What can you provide each team member to provide with the skills and resources required to do their job and do it well?

The three Rs to building a successful team role clarity, respect their independence and resources to succeed

In conclusion, we can see that the three Rs to building a successful team are role, respect and resources. This is not just a catchy phrase but a solid framework for how you should think about your team members as individuals.

By understanding their strengths and weaknesses (role), respecting their independence and creativity (respect), and giving them the tools to succeed (resources), you can create an environment where everyone feels like an equal member of the group.

#team #teambuilding #teamwork #teamleader #teamplayer #teamplayer #teamplayer #role #respect #resources #respect #role #teambuilding #respect #teamplayer #teamleader

team building, team success, team meeting, cooperation, conflict resolution, building a successful team, leadership skills

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Leadership Lesson

Imagination – Why will dreamers rule the world?

Imagination is underrated

An imaginative mind is an active mind.

An active mind is multi-dimensional

A multi-dimensional mind explores all possibilities.

More possibilities mean more creativity.

More creativity is more innovation.

More innovation makes the world a better place.

An imaginative mind is key to making the world a better place.

In a world full of uncertainty, imagination plays a more pivotal role than ever before. Imagination allows us to innovate and change the world for the better.

Rajesh Soundararajan

Imagination is underrated

We should use imagination more often and in more ways than we do today. But then, isn’t it weird to try to just imagine something out of thin air? At least, that’s what I thought for most of my life until I learned about the ‘power of imagination and how it works.

Instead of asking “Why?” all the time, why not we start asking “Why Not?”; instead of “What?” what if we used “What if”? Could these open ourselves up to new possibilities?

Imagine this: You are standing on the edge of a cliff, looking down at your own body lying motionless on the 100ft below you on the ground. How would you feel? Would you be scared or excited? Would you want to jump or stay put? What are you feeling now? What are the thoughts running at that point?

Imagining things from various uncomfortable perspectives and possibilities helps us understand ourselves better. And we gain new insight into our own lives by getting outside ourselves for a moment—the above was just one bizarre (imaginative) example!

Instead of asking “Why?” all the time, why not we start asking “Why Not?”; instead of “What?” what if we used “What if”? Could these open ourselves up to new possibilities?

An imaginative mind is an active mind.

An imaginative mind is a mind that can think of many things at once. Imagination is the ability to create new ideas, experiences, and situations in our thoughts. Imagination helps us to solve problems and make decisions. It’s also vital to foster creativity!

The more we use our imagination, the better it works! We have seen this happen before: When someone tells us a story about something they did with their friends or family, do we imagine what it would be like if it happened to us? This is because our imaginations are highly active all the time!

An active mind is multi-dimensional

All minds are active minds. An active mind is multi-dimensional. An active mind is multi-dimensional. It can work on many ideas at a time; it can hold multiple ideas in its grasp and turn them over like so many stones, seeing what lies beneath the surface of each one. Is it a surprise then that an active mind is so powerful:

The active mind can consider the different facets of an issue without feeling overwhelmed or having to choose between them. Instead, it can look at them all at once and see how they relate to each other individually and as part of a larger whole.

This is why a multi-dimensional mind is invaluable—it can take the most complex problems and simplify them to become manageable.

A mind is like a garden full of flowers of different hues and colors, with different blooms and fruition cycles. Still,  they co-exist. And like in a garden, where each plant needs specific attention, one’s multi-dimensional mind needs specific nurturing to each of the dimensions.

All minds are active minds. An active mind is multi-dimensional.

Rajesh Soundararajan

A multi-dimensional mind explores all possibilities.

All of us have a little voice in our heads. It’s the one that asks “what if?” and “why not?”. We call it our imagination. It keeps us asking questions, exploring options, and thinking outside the box. It’s also the thing that makes us human.

Yes, sometimes our imagination can feel like it’s getting a little too loud in our heads—we get overwhelmed by all the ideas we’re trying to juggle at once. We start feeling like we’re just spinning wheels on everything because we don’t know where to start. What if we practice quietening the mind to co-exist with those multiple ideas like a garden full of beautiful flowers?

The test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

More possibilities mean more creativity.

The more possibilities there are, the more creativity we have. Resources are finite, but our mind is infinite. We can create something out of nothing while using our imagination to help others and ourselves.

Innovation and creativity are at their highest when we have an open mind to the many possibilities to arrive at a solution. As our society becomes more dependent on technology, we will need more people who can think outside the box, look at more possibilities and draw patterns. This is precisely what humans do with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – exploring increased possibilities to find hidden intelligence.

So, what do human-made machines do, can’t humans do better?

More creativity is more innovation.

In a way that creativity and innovation are two sides of the same coin; it is like art and science.

The creative mind is more open to new ways of thinking and perceiving; it sees things in new ways, bringing about innovation. Innovation is an integral part of human progress because it enables us to create tools, products, systems, and ideas that help us live better lives.

Innovation comes from a combination of imagination and knowledge—it’s not enough to know how something works if we don’t also have some insight into how it could be used differently or improved. This is where imagination steps in: if we can imagine a better way for something to work, we might be able to make it happen!

More innovation makes the world a better place.

The world is a complex place. There are infinite problems that need to be solved, and we need creative solutions to solve them. So the more imaginative and innovative people there are, the better our chance of making things better for everyone.

Innovative people come up with new ideas, which lead to new ways to solve problems – be it products and services; these things create jobs, create a better standard of living, feed the poor, cure the diseased, and a lot more.

But innovation doesn’t just stop there! It also means being able to help out those in need by finding better ways of doing things so they don’t have as much pain or suffering anymore. This is good for saving the planet since we use fewer resources and are more efficient.

An imaginative mind is key to making the world a better place.

An imaginative mind is key to making the world a better place. A good imagination is critical and can help us achieve our dreams and goals. We must imagine ourselves achieving them before they become a reality, so we must know how to use our imagination properly.

We need more people with imaginative minds to make the world a better place.

Rajesh Soundararajan

Maybe the United Nations should hire fiction writers?

You can find more articles from this author at https://in.linkedin.com/in/rajeshsound

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Leadership Lesson

Fix Employee Attrition: It’s Not as Difficult as You Think

Fix Employee Attrition: It's Not as Difficult as You Think

Employee retention is the most important topic for managers and management in 2022.

INTRODUCTION

Post-COVID, companies are reporting extreme rates of attrition. According to one of the most extensive surveys of the global workforce, one in five workers plans to quit their jobs in 2022. Of course, some of those happen because of demand and supply and the force multiplier of salaries. But 90% of the other attritions are fixable and can be fixed with a focus on a few areas.

Each company has a different way of retaining employees. For example, some companies pay well but don’t give freedom and flexibility; some give freedom but don’t pay well; some respect their employees but don’t provide training or tools needed for success; some provide training and tools but do not give freedom/flexibility, etc.

In short, there are many moving parts because of which an employee can feel demotivated. Here are the ten areas that can address 90% of the scenarios.

  1. Have role clarity for each member of your team
  2. Respect the individual irrespective of their job/ level
  3. Skill each team member for role and success
  4. Shift to remote working/ flexible work arrangements
  5. Provide requisite tools to succeed
  6. Build a culture of trust and positivity
  7. Give employees adequate freedom
  8. Have formal reviews monthly/ quarterly
  9. Help them build their career plan
  10. Build positivity and abundance

EACH MEMBER OF YOUR TEAM

Role clarity is the foundation of a successful team. It helps each member understand their role in the group, what they are responsible for, and what their teammates are doing. When they have role clarity, there are clear expectations about how to do their job and where they fit into the bigger picture. This reduces stress, leads to better communication, and helps avoid misunderstandings or confusion among team members.

It also means providing clear guidance on who’s responsible for what tasks so there aren’t any surprises when an employee has a question about their responsibilities at work—or if they need help with anything.

RESPECT THE INDIVIDUAL IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR JOB/ LEVEL

Everyone is a human being. Each human being expects respect. Each of those in your company – the ones with less education or experience than others, those on a different pay scale, those who do their jobs differently than others—are all human beings with feelings and emotions like you and me!

For us as leaders to create an environment where employees want to stay, we must stop seeing people solely as job titles or salary levels. Instead, we look at each employee as an individual with their unique background and personality traits that make up who they are as an employee (and as a person).

It will become easier for us to keep them engaged and retain them long-term as necessary. The key here is respecting employees irrespective of their role/job title within the organization; showing them that they matter regardless of whether they’re “at the top” or “at the bottom” should be something we emphasize continually for this approach to work properly.

SKILL EACH TEAM MEMBER FOR BOTH ROLE AND SUCCESS

To stay competitive, you need to focus on building the skills of each of your team members. Skills are the foundation of a career; without them, an employee cannot succeed at their job – here or anywhere. And unable to do their job well leads to stress and frustration.

Skills can be broken down into two categories: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills can be taught in a workshop or through on-the-job training. These include technical training such as computer operation or job functions like managing a restaurant or performing surgery.

On the other hand, soft skills are those learned through coaching and often require practice to become effective in the workplace. Examples include communication skills (both written and verbal), teamwork, problem-solving ability, and adaptability.

SHIFT TO REMOTE WORKING/ FLEXIBLE WORK ARRANGEMENTS

Research shows that remote workers can be two to four times more effective than office-based employees. Employees are more productive. Employees are happier. According to a recent study at Winona State University[1], “employees who work remotely report having significantly higher job satisfaction and engagement than in-office employees.”

Employees are more engaged with their work tasks and company overall (because of increased happiness). They also report feeling less stress about juggling their responsibilities as parents/family members/spouses when they can take care of these things at home. Employees have better work-life balance

PROVIDE REQUISITE ‘TOOLS’ TO SUCCEED

Tools are vital to helping your employees succeed in their roles, careers, and lives. These can include:

  • Providing training on how to do their jobs well
  • Giving feedback, so they know what they’re doing right or wrong
  • Mentoring or coaching that helps them meet their goal

BUILD A CULTURE OF TRUST AND POSITIVITY

Trust is the foundation of every relationship. If people don’t trust each other, they can’t work together effectively. If you want employees to communicate openly and honestly, everyone needs to feel that their voices are heard.

The best way to foster trust is through effective management. That means making time for coaching sessions, offering constructive criticism without being critical, and not holding employees back from reaching their goals because they’re “not ready.”

Focus on positivity rather than negativity; focus on solutions rather than problems; celebrate successes instead of dwelling on failures.

GIVE EMPLOYEES ADEQUATE FREEDOM

When you give employees the freedom to make their own decisions, they’ll feel more ownership over their work. They’ll also appreciate that you trust them with the ability to accomplish tasks without oversight.

Giving your workers opportunities for growth is one of the most important things you can do as a leader (and it’s especially effective when it involves letting them fail). For example, you might try giving employees projects requiring them to take on new roles or responsibilities or simply giving them autonomy in performing their jobs. This gives people ownership over what they’re doing, improving how well they do it—thus reducing attrition rates!

HAVE FORMAL REVIEWS MONTHLY/ QUARTERLY

It would help if you had formal reviews with your employees at least once a month. Good managers will do this, but many don’t. You can also use quarterly reviews to check in on progress or give feedback on how things are going.

The purpose of the review is not just to grade them but to share information and express appreciation for what they’re doing well while offering suggestions for improvement. This also helps you understand their strengths, weaknesses, and goals as individuals so that you can help them grow as employees and leaders within your organization (more about this later).

Reviews should be done by managers both individually and collectively: one-on-one with each employee; in team meetings with everyone present; or even during board meetings if there’s enough time allocated for such discussions

HELP THEM BUILD THEIR CAREER PLAN

  • Help them build a career plan. Help your employees understand what they need to do to develop their careers and how you can support them. Ask them to define their brand, and identify the skills they need to build and areas where they want to grow professionally.
  • Could you explain what you expect from them? Make sure that your employees have a clear understanding of what is expected of them at work, how they will be evaluated on their performance, and how this tie into the larger goals of the organization.

BUILD POSITIVITY AND ABUNDANCE

Positivity, abundance, and gratitude are the unspoken foundations of a workplace environment that will keep employees feeling valued and stimulated. To ensure your team stays happy, fostering a positive mindset in all aspects of your business is essential. While there will always be adverse events in the current dynamic world,  there is still room for hope and positivity within your organization. People want to feel appreciated and supported by their coworkers and their jobs to be fun!

Celebrate accomplishments often—and make sure everyone knows about them! Even though employee attrition may seem inevitable at times because of external factors like increased pay,  there are things you can do as a manager to reduce these problems before they get out of hand.

CONCLUSION

It is essential to understand that these steps are not an end, but a means to develop an organizational culture where employees will feel empowered and want to stay with your company. The key takeaway is that employee attrition can be avoided if organizations recognize their role in creating a positive work environment for their employees.


[1] https://openriver.winona.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1069&context=leadershipeducationcapstones

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Leadership Lesson

Want to become better at your job? Follow these 3 things. [A beginner’s guide]

I addressed a group of young people in their early twenties and in their first jobs, on building their careers.

During the conversations, when asked about how they were contributing to the company’s success, most said they were not aware of the management team’s plans, and that I should ask their super bosses.

The same week, I met a few more mid-level managers who had decent experience and were reasonably good in their functions and jobs. I curiously asked them again how they were contributing to the company’s success. Again, the answer was almost similar to what the rookies in the first jobs said.

In both cases, this is what I shared with them, and I thought it would be worthwhile to share in this post –

All businesses need three things.

  1. Revenue maximization
  2. Profit maximization
  3. Operational excellence

Everything and anything that you do as a business or in your job will fall under one of these things. All functions – sales, marketing, finance, technology, operations, customer support, or human resources – focus on one more of the above three. That is the purpose of their existence.

So, if you are the CEO, a rookie, or a mid-level manager, when you wake up every morning, you can ask yourself these questions (or similar) and work towards them during the day.

The questions you may ask each morning?

  1. What are my revenue sources?
  2. How can I increase my sales?
  3. How can I add more customers/ partners ?
  4. How can I go into new markets?
  5. How can I increase my profits?
  6. How can I reduce the costs of my operations?
  7. How can I do more with less?
  8. How can I build efficiency when to all the things that I do?
  9. How can I build effectiveness into all the things that I do? Can I do something better or find a new way to begin things that can help me become faster, cheaper, or better.

Revenue maximization

  • How can I get closer to my customer/ partner?
  • How can I address my partners/ customer’s unsolved problem?
  • How can I get more share out of the customer’s wallet?
  • How can I increase the sales?
  • How can I get into new markets?
  • How can I get new customers’ questions?

Profit maximization

  • What can I do to cut costs?
  • What can I do to increase profits?
  • What can I do to play better with the pricing?
  • How much should I increase the product’s price to bring in 25% more in absolute profits?
  • How much will a decrease of 5% in the selling price affect my profits in absolute terms?

Operational excellence

  • How can I build efficiency and effectiveness in the system?
  • How can I hire better people?
  • How can I write a more efficient code?
  • What technology or framework should I deploy to give better response time to my users?
  • How can I motivate people so that they deliver their best every day?
  • What can I do play build a culture of continuous improvement in the organization?
  • What can I do to improvise on a current way of doing things so that I can increase more sales or get into new markets?
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Leadership Lesson

FAQs: First 30 Days

FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series
FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series

Frequently Asked Questions from Readers

If you have any questions please feel free to write to me at peoplefriday@futureshift.com.sg. You can also subscribe to http://peoplefriday.xyz/the-first-30-days/ or bookmark http://peoplefriday.xyz .

  1. Hiring people is essential, yet I have heard it is an easy way for a manager to get into trouble. Is this true?

You are correct. As a manager, it is your responsibility to hire the best-qualified candidate based on a total assessment of each applicant’s qualifications within the framework of your organisation’s diversity programs. To get the best and make sure you do it right. Speak to your HR partner on hiring external candidates, as well as policies and practices to guide you through the entire process.

  • Besides the recommended meetings with my predecessor, manager, and employees, are there others I should schedule meetings?

Yes. Successful managers rely on a network of colleagues outside their immediate organization who can provide the much-needed information and share best practices on how to get work done and solve everyday problems. To learn more, read Business Networks in your organizations.

  • How should I handle employee requests, such as letters of reference and employment verification?

Employment and income verification requests should be referred to the Human Resource Function

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Leadership Lesson

Bonus: Chapter 9 – Traps – First 30 Days

FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series
FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series

Traps – First 30 days

  1. Do not assume that you know what motivates your employees.
  2. As you are undoubtedly aware, the workload is the biggest issue in your organisations, based on our employee surveys. The following is easy to say, but hard to do: Be a role model for your employees’ work/life balance.
  3. Do not try to solve difficult personnel issues by yourself. Draw on the expertise of the HR staff and your manager for advice and counsel.
  4. Do not ignore your “best” employees while dealing with those who need more attention. All employees need to know that you appreciate their contributions, even your top-flight performers.
  5. They also can help by mentoring those who need help.

Tools

As part of our best practices review, we have provided a few links for New Leader Assimilation. More links and updated content is available online. You can subscribe at http://peoplefriday.xyz/the-first-30-days/  We have a resource section on that URL. These and many such links to new will be updated continuously.

“Management isn’t what it used to be. Chaos has replaced order, mobility has replaced security, and cynicism has replaced trust. Men and women entering business or government today need to be savvy in ways quite different than their predecessors.”

Rajesh Soundararajan
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Leadership Lesson

Bonus: Chapter 9 – Six Things to Remember While Receiving Feedback

FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series
FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series

Six Things to Remember While Receiving Feedback

As any leader would say – receiving feedback is far more comfortable than writing feedback (the right way). Receiving feedback is much simpler, though it requires discipline. Once mastered, you will be amazed at your ability to convert any interaction into an opportunity.

So, What Is the Secret of Receiving Feedback?

Receiving feedback is an easy process that can be cultivated with intention and discipline. It is crucial for building one’s own career. The secret of receiving feedback is less to do with the content than about the method you receive one.

The six points below can help in all scenarios. The right recipient of feedback will get to know more about how others perceive him/ her and take appropriate steps to correct or build that perception.

1. Be Open-Minded

Listen to all content in the feedback; suspend judgment about its value. This adage is perhaps the toughest to follow. As humans, we come with our own biases and egos, which affects how we are open-minded. The more you are aware of this trait, the easier it is to fix. When the mind is closed and judgmental, any feedback that goes against your natural inclination tends to trigger emotions and expressions that can be detrimental to benefit from such feedback.

2. Treat feedback as an Opportunity

Feedback – good or bad is an opportunity. This is your opportunity to understand your reviewer’s thinking process. You will miss that opportunity to improve if you interrupt. When the reviewer gives their feedback, be an active listener and try to understand more about the context and what they are saying.

3. Clothe with Receptiveness

Adopt an attitude of 100% receptiveness. Don’t begin to defend or even justify your action. If there is one way to kill your chances of making your point heard – it is defending or justifying. When you are receptive to the other person’s point of view, the same will be reciprocated when it is your turn to put your point across.

4. Ask for Clarification. Always

Clarifications are to improve your understanding, and not to defend or negate the feedback. Clarifications make for active listening. You can and should politely ask for more information if you’d like to understand the context. A clarification is to help your own understanding of the feedback and not to put up your case.

5. Do not Debate

Whether or how you use the feedback is for you to decide, later. Do not debate. Any argument will only worsen your chances of getting your point across. The idea is not to take positions. You can listen in and note down the point. To act or when to act on such feedback is for you to listen later.

6. Finally, Let silence do the Heavy Lifting

Silence is a potent tool. Every good negotiator would vouch that that people tend to underestimate the power of silence. “Saying nothing is way more powerful than spoken words.” Silence during feedback defines alpha roles and builds the readiness to assimilate, process, and draw on an action plan in the receiver’s mind. You must recognize the five signs that indicate silence is needed

  • Interrupting by talking over someone else
  • Formulating your response while someone is talking
  • Using a break in the conversation to create a distraction to change topics
  • Talking in circles
  • Monopolising airtime
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Leadership Lesson

Bonus: Chapter 9 – Six Things to Remember While Writing Feedback

Bonus: Chapter 9 – Six Things to Remember While Writing Feedback

FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series
FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series

If you are a manager or a team leader — you are solely responsible for the feedback you are giving your team, both on content and method. So, what is the secret of giving/ writing feedback?

Feedback giving/ writing is both an art and a science. It is an extremely critical component of team building and as much as it is for developing one’s own career. I have condensed the feedback process into six points that can work in any situation. Good feedback will help your team be high on energy and ideas, become extraordinary in execution, and develop a great attitude.

The secret sauce, ironically, is not about the receiver of the feedback. It is about asking yourself (feedback giver) these six vital questions.

1. Am I being specific?

It is incredibly critical to be as specific as you can be. It is easy to get carried away with analogies and incidents related to the point being discussed. Such meandering, however well-intentioned it may be, often leads to dilution of the message. It may even lead to a defensive mindset being triggered for the receiver. State facts and give examples in support of the feedback being given—nothing more, nothing less.

2. Am I showing the way to grow and develop this person?

Your job as a reviewer is to develop and grow people. Pointing to shortcomings does not help in any case. It would work counterproductive as the receiver pulls up the defenses and closes their mind to any suggestions.

3. Can this person do something about this?

Think before if this person can do something about this or help change this behavior? If the answer is not that specific feedback is best left unsaid. Yes, think about it. What is the purpose of feedback on which the person cannot act?

4. Will this add value to this person?

Focus your feedback on its value for the receiver. If your feedback does not add value to the receiver in the current state, resist even saying it. Often, it is for us to offer some advice because it is dear to us and (however well-intentioned) do not think of the value it would add to the other person.

5. Does this represent facts?

Write feedback promptly when the incident is fresh in your mind. Do not let other unrelated incidents influence your feedback. Good managers maintain a small notepad, to jot down incidents when they occur. This small notepad is worth terabytes of data that may be residing in our memory. Maintaining and referring that small notepad, will always bring us back to the facts at hand.

6. Finally, let silence do the heavy lifting.

Silence is a potent tool. Any good negotiator would tell you that people tend to underestimate the power of silence regarding sales and social dynamics in general. “Saying nothing is way more powerful than spoken words” they would vouch. Silence during feedback defines alpha roles and builds the readiness to assimilate, process, and draw on an action plan in the receiver’s mind. You must recognize the five signs that indicate silence is needed

  • Interrupting by talking over someone else
  • Formulating your response while someone is talking
  • Using a break in the conversation to create a distraction to change topics
  • Talking in circles
  • Monopolising airtime

With these six simple steps, you will see yourself a lot more effective and sought after by your team, and people try it out!

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Leadership Lesson

Bonus: Chapter 8 – Meet Key Customers and Partners

FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series
FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series

Bonus: Chapter 8 – Meet Key Customers and Partners

What should be covered in my meeting with my key customers and partners?

If you have a client-facing role or a partner-facing role, the first 30 days offer you an excellent opportunity to have an outside-in view of your own organization and your priorities.

Your organization depends on the revenue coming in from your customers and partners. It is, hence, crucial that you address this audience comprehensively and clearly before you take any significant decisions.

I would suggest that you spend your days on the road and planes for the first 30-90 days. You should make it a point to meet all your top customers and partners and some of your second-level clients and partners.

The earlier you do this; you can understand the reality from the field. It is also crucial that you are well-versed with your teams, your people, and your business unit’s priorities before meeting your customers and partners.

When you meet these as external entities, your clients and partners would expect you to come prepared and even may raise issues a few pending issues for resolution. You should not find yourself to be sounding helpless or clueless.

As a manager, you are expected to address the issue comprehensively with alacrity. Too many statements like “I will get back to you after checking”, would not auger well for the first impression.

1 – Prework Before the Meeting – Status of Work/Projects:

In your new role, you are already seen as a capable replacement of your predecessor. There will always be, as in all relationships, open issues that your customers and partners would raise in your very first meeting.

You should also not be surprised if your predecessor had not met the customer or the partner for a long time. Your predecessor may also have consciously taken a step back from meeting your customers and partners in the last few months.

Hence, your customers and partners would have a few pending issues ready for you in the first meeting. To help create the right first impression, you must have a complete understanding of the history of engagement with the client or partner, from your sales or account teams. You must take stock of the current projects, pending orders, and future projects in the pipeline. You would need to quickly understand the critical milestones and the essential items to focus on.

2 – Review Your Mission and Aims.

This would be one of your first conversation starters with your customers and partners. Towards, this end, it is a good idea to have your account manager or relationship manager in the meeting and allow them to drive the conversation. Here are a few things you may address in your first meeting.

  • Your background and understanding of their business and how you are willing to take the relationship to the next level
  • Being new, it allows you to ‘listen’ to their issues with a fresh perspective, and you may encourage them to open up
  • Reiterate the key objectives of the relationship and your assurance to maintain any previous commitments, if any.
  • Reiterate your organisation’s mission and aims.

3 – Clarify Expectations.

Setting and meeting expectations are essential for the relationship between an organization and its customer. Having clear expectations from your customer or partner helps you start your path to have a better plan of action with your team subsequently. 

Establish some basic ground rules for how you will work together. Discuss topics, including the most effective way to communicate with each other.

4 – Show Your Openness to Be Available at Any Time and Schedule Any Checkpoint Meetings.

Regular checkpoint meetings, help clear the air and continue to refine expectations. If you want your customer to have direct access to you for escalations, you can share your contact. While the half-yearly or annual one on ones or an excellent way to go about it, you may want to choose the frequency of meetings

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Leadership Lesson

Confidence vs Knowledge Debate – and the Winner is…

Source: http://krishiyengar.in/and-the-winner-is-the-confidence-vs-knowledge-debate/

The Confidence vs Knowledge has been there since eternity – And here I am reproducing the writings of an 11-year-old on the subject.

My take – The last line sums up a lot of scenarios where a confident speaker may pass off as being knowledgeable – but that again is a representation of the audience’s ignorance – not the speaker’s knowledge.


Confidence stems from knowledge.

Confidence vs. Reality

If you know about something about a subject well, you would be confident – say for a test. There are some cases of #underconfidence, meaning you understand the material but feel that you don’t, but that differs from person to person.

The corollary that knowledge comes from confidence is not necessarily true. Confidence may be overconfidence at times. That is, you feel that you know the subject when you don’t.

On the other hand, knowledge is more critical since a lack of confidence doesn’t matter if you have subject expertise. Sure, you might forget what you’re supposed to remember. Yet, I don’t think that would happen much if you have a thorough grasp of the subject.

Let’s take the example of a pop quiz. You could be confident you know the material, but in reality, you don’t. So you end up getting, say, an 8/15. Alternatively, if you know the subject extremely well and are still unsure, you will still score, say a 14 /15.

What’s more, as you start answering the questions right, your confidence builds up. Needless to say, knowledge builds confidence and not the other way round.

Yes, without knowledge and with confidence, you might wing your answers and sound knowledgeable, but it can only take you that far – and only where your audience is ignorant as well.

Krish’s Verdict: Knowledge trumps Confidence

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Leadership Lesson

Chapter 7 – Meet Your HR Partner

FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series
FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series

Chapter 7 – Meet Your HR Partner

What should I go over with my HR partner?

Your HR partner is a member of your team and is available to work with you throughout your career as a manager. Find out who these Topics you may want to review could include:

  • earlier personnel issues you should be aware of
  • any unit HR history that could be helpful to you
  • HR processes and tracking
  • earlier Employee Survey results
  • current HR plans in place
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Leadership Lesson

Chapter 6 – Meet Your Employees

FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series
FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series

Chapter 6 – Meet Your Employees /Reportees/ Associates

1.1       What should be covered in my meeting with my employees?

The Group Meeting:

As soon as possible, plan to meet with your unit as a group to get acquainted. It is crucial in setting the tone of your relationship. Some points to cover in the group meeting:

  • Discuss your first order of business and ask for their help.
  • Tell them that you will meet with them individually.

Individual Meetings:

Individual meetings provide an excellent opportunity to prove that you are interested in each employee as a unique person. These individual meetings may be done after the group meeting. If the team is large, you might want to pick your team’s critical members and start having one-to-one meetings. If you have a small group, make it a point to meet all the members individually.

  • Focus your attention on understanding their key roles, responsibilities and assignments
  • Enquire about their business and career aims, specific areas of interest,
  • Be curious about any critical issues they may be handling.
  • Look for any issues or problems on which you can take prompt action.
  • Remember to listen, suspending your judgement

This can start your reputation as a responsive leader.

1 – Review the Department’s Mission and Aims.

Akin to your manager’s meeting, you would review with your department’s aims and the KPIs. This would be a formal way in which you be communicating your objective and outcomes with the team

  • Give all your employees a copy of your KPI to stress the unit’s aim and to enable them to align their KPI commitments.
  • Stress the organisation’s area of focus.
  • Ensure that every employee is aware of the organisation and unit financial commitments.

2 – Review the Employee’s KPIs.

As we saw in the earlier chapter, KPIs are central to your success. Similarly, you may want to ensure that your employees have absolute clarity on expected outcomes and what they need to do.

Their KPIs must be aligned with yours.

  • In the first meeting, discuss KPIs, in general, to understand each employee’s assignment and help set up a rapport.
  • In a later meeting, ensure that each employee’s KPIs is aligned with the unit’s aims.
  • Establish boundaries of authority for responsibilities, assignments, and tasks.
  • Discuss any personnel issue.

3 – Review the Employee’s IDP.

This is one of the most crucial steps that a new manager must focus on in the transition. Akin to you having the individual development plans that help you chart your career, every employee in your team too aspires and has personal development goals.

Your predecessor may or may not have focused on them. You will do an excellent service to yourself if you help your team in their development plan.

Ensure that each employee has a current Individual Development Plan.

  • IDP is critical to both the company’s and individual’s success.
  • Individually discuss their short- and long-term career goals with your employee and ensure that their IDP is aligned with their goals.
  • Discuss the employee’s assignment and the skills needed to do that job.
  • Ask the employee to design a plan to develop those skills and close any gaps identified by a skill assessment.
  • Show your support. Inspire a shared vision, encourage individuals to set high, yet attainable goals.
  • Have clarity on how their development plans to align with business and individual objectives.
  • Enable them to achieve their goals by providing meaningful work and development opportunity and always ‘walk the talk,’ modelling how to ensure a continuous learning environment.

4 – Clarify Expectations.

Establish ground rules for how you will work together. Chart out on:

  • the most effective way to communicate with each other
  • how to manage work/life balance issues
  • preferences for handling recognition and reward
  • feedback requirements
  • individual motivations

5 – Schedule Regular Employee/Manager Meetings

As you would with your manager, you would need to schedule a regular one and one or checkpoint meetings with your direct reports. Such regular meetings help you see if your team is aligned and do a course correction when all other checks and balances in the system fail. Usually, these meetings with clear the blind spots.

  • Schedule regular employee/manager meetings over three months.
  • Decide on the mutually agreeable frequency and content
  • Including time for KPI and IDP updates and Fit for You discussions.
  • Be conscious of the frequency and duration of these meetings. While meetings are essential, they must not become a mundane routine with no value add. If you see less value, decrease the frequency. If you see more blind spots in each meeting, increase the frequency.
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Leadership Lesson

Chapter 5 – Meet Your New Manager

FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series
FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series

Chapter 5 – Meet Your New Manager

What should be covered in my meeting with my new manager?

Your new role’s success will depend significantly on the relationship you establish with your manager. Both of you need to begin by establishing a shared understanding of expectations and goals.

1- Review Your Mission and Aims.

Review the organization’s mission and aims and how your objectives fit within the context of your manager’s overall objectives.

  • Ask for a copy of your Manager’s KPI to help you understand these priorities, measurements, reporting requirements, etc.
  • Understand the department’s focus area and how it aligns with the organisation goals.
  • Understand the department’s financial situation and your fiscal responsibilities.
  • Ask about any critical situations or current concerns.
  • Establish authority boundaries for your responsibilities, assignments, and tasks. In which cases would your manager prefer to be consulted.
  • Discuss the HR Processes and how they are managed and tracked:
    • resources and headcount
    • executive resources
    • ranking and rating
    • hiring
    • contracting
  • recognition and rewards
  • Discuss any personnel issues you are aware of.

2 – Clarify Expectations.

Setting and meeting expectations is an essential step in a relationship between a manager and an employee. Having clear expectations from your manager helps you start your path to have a better plan of action with your team subsequently. 

Establish some basic ground rules for how you will work together. You must discuss the following topics:

  • the most effective way to communicate with each other,
  • preferences for handling recognition and reward,
  • how you each can give the additional feedback
  • the frequency or cadence of your regular meetings

3 – Review and Agree on Your KPIs.

KPIs are the bedrock of any organization. They give you absolute clarity on the expected outcomes and what you need to do to achieve those outcomes. Review your KPIs to ensure they are aligned with your manager’s.

It is crucial that you also understand the 2nd-line manager. Usually, the HR policy that describes that role. I would suggest that you also read up and discuss with your manager to have a mutual understanding of your 2nd-line manager’s role.

  • Agree on the priorities.
  • Determine the local orientation programs available to you as a new manager.
  • Close-out your evaluation with your previous manager. This evaluation will be used to calculate your variable pay or salary increments.

4 – Review and Agree on Your IDP.

Most organizations have individual development plans (IDPs) to chart goals and work towards every employee’s personal development. That includes yourself as a new manager. You might need to fortify your skills in certain areas and learn specific competencies.

You must add them to your individual development plan and work to watch the same. Your meeting with your new manager can open the areas where you can build your development plan. Based on those discussions, you can update your Individual Development Plan (IDP).

Besides, consider other technical or functional education you need in your new assignment.

5 – Schedule A Series of Checkpoint Meetings.

I am personally a big supporter of regular scheduling one-on-one or checkpoint meetings. These meetings help clear the air, continue two refined expectations, and have direct access to your manager to align on your job.

Monthly one-on-ones are an excellent way to go about it, though you can choose some more frequent meetings as well. More important in this aspect, is scheduling a series of sessions upfront so that both of you are prepared for that conversation.

  • Agree on how often you should meet and use that time to your mutual benefit.
  • Schedule these meetings for the next few months. Be sure to include meetings for the department’s HR
  • assignments and KPI reviews.
  • Tell them about yourself, including something personal. In most cultures, this tends to build trust and confidence.
  • Discuss your goals and values.
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Leadership Lesson

Chapter 4 – Meet Your Predecessor (Part 2)

FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series
FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series

Chapter 4 – Meet Your Predecessor (Part 2)

What should be covered in my meeting with my predecessor?

5 – Communication Procedures:

Every business unit and the team will have its unique communication procedures and methods. It is good to understand what was working in the past and the department/organisation’s culture. These wouldn’t be written in stone, and you need to follow them.  It will be a good idea to understand these new answers from your predecessor. Determine how your predecessor communicated with

  • on-site and remote employees
  • contract personnel
  • key customers
  • suppliers
  • other key contacts

6 – Key Contacts:

While this might seem too trivial and straightforward, most new managers struggle of not having the list of critical contacts when they start on the job. They start reaching out only long after they settle in. They then seek the information in bits and pieces, which delays their decision-making abilities.

As a manager, it is vital that you control things and reach out the right people and have the contact details at the tip of your fingers. New managers often miss the step and then spend the rest of the next few months, trying to get hold of the contacts and reach out multiple times to the predecessor for specific contact details. That does not show professionality in your approach. The predecessor would have moved on to the new role and might be caught up in their new role and forget the earlier contacts making it difficult for you to do your job.

Here is what you need to compile as a list of critical contacts. These may include:

  • project contacts
  • internal/external vendors, key customers
  • your HR advisor, or Human Resource operations manager
  • Local security,
  • Legal, (HR and Business)

7 – Folder/ Folio and Mail Procedures:

Familiarise yourself with your predecessor’s routines and procedures so you can maintain continuity and have minimum disruption.

  • Ask your predecessor to forward ‘notes’ folder/ folios.
  • Determine what mail requires immediate action.
  • Sort and sift through any operational folder/ folios and organise them to suit your needs.

This is an effective way to learn about the background of your area.

8 – How to Collaborate with Your New Manager:

Your predecessor has a good understanding of the styles and methods of working of your new manager. Each manager has their quirks, and it is vital to be aware of some of these key aspects before you meet the person. Here are the few things you can ask about:

  • working style
  • level of detail and information preferred, “hot buttons,” and any outstanding commitments
  • communication preferences
  • pre-set meetings
  • anything that may help you quickly build the relationship

Note: Check the status of each employee’s KPI ratings in your group. As a thumb rule, you should not conduct a KPI rating session until you have been a manager for at least three months. Ratings that are past due, now due, or will become due in the next three months should be conducted by your predecessor. Verify this plan with your predecessor and your new manager.

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Leadership Lesson

Chapter 4 – Meet Your Predecessor (Part 1)

FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series
FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series

Chapter 4 – Meet Your Predecessor (Part 1)

What should be covered in my meeting with my predecessor?

The very first step is to meet with your predecessor. For every manager, this step is critical to providing continuity in how employees are managed.

Below is a checklist you can use to ensure you cover the critical aspects of your new role. If you do not have a predecessor, cover these topics with your manager.

1 – Status of Work/Projects:

When you take on a new role, your idea is to hit the ground running. This means you need to quickly take stock of the current projects and work on the pipeline to understand the critical milestones and essential items to focus on. This should be one of your first conversation starters with your predecessor.

  • Assigned roles and responsibilities
  • Key objectives
  • Previous commitments
  • Critical personnel issues
  • High-priority business issues
  • Action items in the first 30 days

2 – Personnel Folder/ Folios:

Good managers typically keep a ” folio ” for each employee. It carries information that varies, depending on your organization’s requirements and a manager’s discretion. Review all such information to determine what should be kept.

You may not find all this information in a structured fashion in some cases and new start-ups. There may not be an existing process that will give you all this. However, it would be a good idea and precedent for you to set by initiating some of these good processes into the new business unit or organization.

This folio would, at the minimum address:

  1. a current profile dockets
  2. current and two previous KPIs and Individual Development Plans (IDP)
  3. payroll, vacation, and attendance records (depending on the organisation and country requirements).

It may also contain:

  • Documentation related to the condition of employment
  • Performance improvement programs (PIP) if any
  • Medical condition alerts [note: medical information is confidential]
  • Performance appraisal
  • Recognition and award information
  • Letters/notes from customers, colleagues, or other managers

3 – Other Planning Documentation Should Include Current Year:

Apart from the above documents mentioned earlier, there may be other planning documentation in physical or digital format. Do not underestimate the ‘plans in mind’ or ‘between the ears’ of your predecessor. You would need to get a dump off the thought process, the written and unwritten plans.

  • salary plans
  • award plans
  • promotion plans
  • certification plans (if applicable)
  • vacation plans
  • Compensation Administration Manual (if required at your location)
  • remote or temporary assignments

4 – Staffing and Hiring:

A clear understanding of staffing and hiring is key to building your star team. The current team may be understaffed, overstaffed, or right staff. Since your success is primarily dependent on your team, this becomes a crucial conversation.

  • Review any open positions in your department
  • Discuss internal candidates under consideration and any transfers who are joining your department
  • Discuss external candidates under consideration and any new hires who are entering the department
  • Understand who your predecessor has been working with on external hiring
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Leadership Lesson

Chapter 3- Schedule Key Meetings

FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series
FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series

Chapter 3- Schedule Key Meetings

The first thing you need to do is schedule meetings with the four stakeholders to make your job successful.

  1. Your predecessor
  2. Your new manager
  3. Your employees
  4. Your HR partner

Think of these initial meetings as fact-finding sessions. In each case, explain that your intention is to learn and understand. Be prepared to ask questions — and to listen. While you are waiting for these meetings, determine.

Get acquainted with the HR partner for your new team. They will be a valuable resource for you throughout your career. They have seen many a manager like you come and go into the group and seen team members join and move out. They may have been involved in staffing the team, including possibly the discussions where you were shortlisted for your new role. A good relationship with your HR partner would help go a long way in understanding many hidden dynamics that may not be visible first.

Similarly, you may want to talk to other reportees of your new manager. While you need not take their inputs at face value, it will give you a good background and contextual understanding of your new manager.

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Leadership Lesson

Chapter 2 – 6 Key Questions to Ask

FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series
FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series

Chapter 2 – 6 Key Questions to Ask

When you start a new role as a manager, these are the six questions that you must be answering yourself addressing in your first 30 days. These six questions relay the foundation to your subsequent interactions. This will mean you will have meetings with your predecessor, new manager, employees, and with your human resources function. Here is what will get you started.

  1. How do I schedule my meetings?
  2. What should be covered in my meeting with my predecessor?
  3. What should I discuss in my meeting with my new manager?
  4. What are the key things to ask in my meeting with my employees?
  5. What should I go over with my HR partner?
  6. What tips will make me successful; what traps do I need to be aware of?
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Leadership Lesson

Becoming a New Manager [First 30 Days]

FIRST 30 DAYS  Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series
FIRST 30 DAYS Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series

Chapter 1 – Becoming a New Manager

Congratulations on becoming a new manager!

The first 30 days of taking on a new role as a manager will be the most defining thirty days for that job and lay the foundation for your success on that job and possibly the next.

This Fight or Flight – 10X Leader Series is designed to help you get started quickly in your new role and become successful. This book is intended to help a new manager. And then some of you may want to use this as a guide every time you move into a new role as a manager into a new team, department, or new organization.

This book outlines the necessary steps to help you during your first thirty days as a new manager. Working on those steps, you will gain insights that will help you pursue your department’s mission and business objectives. You will build a productive working relationship with your employees.

The bonus resources section at the end allows you access to online resources that are specifically available for readers of this book. This section consists of up-to-date resources across the internet. It will make you familiar with the many management tools available for you.

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Leadership Lesson

First 30 Days – Foreword

FIRST 30 DAYS 
Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series

I am happy to share with you one of my books absolutely FREE. The idea is to help nurture young leaders to be successful today and with practice make successful transitions a habit. Hence this!

The idea for this book started decades ago. Yes, literally decades ago.

Over a career spanning 25 years, from my first job to the last, I have meticulously been observing and taking notes on the job’s challenges in the first month. Over the decades, I have coached and mentored hundreds of people, including first-time managers or managers in a new role. Over time, I saw myself sharing tips and suggestions that will make them successful.

The names of organizations changed; the job roles varied; the backgrounds of candidates were diverse. Yet, over time, I realized that the steps required to succeed were straightforward. There were very few things that differentiated a successful manager from the rest.

The trick was all about scheduling the right meetings in the first thirty days. Meeting the right employees in the first thirty days and doing a few things well was the key. The primer sets the ground. Yes, as simple as that.

The central essence of this book is the simplicity of what one needs to do. Everything that needs to be done is just a few specific things and, wow! You will be sailing your way to success.

Towards the latter part of the book, I have added some cool bonus chapters on receiving and giving feedback, traps, and tools that will help you chart your individual path.

Those tools can also be used as a workbook which we are working on for the next version. We have also created a universal resource weblink – http://peoplefriday.xyz/the-first-30-days, where we will share new approaches with some incredible online resources. As the reader of this book, the secret is available to you first-hand.

I encourage you to bookmark the above URL and visit the website regularly. Do sign up for the resources, newsletters, and updated content. They will help you in your ongoing journey towards success.

I love feedback. I appreciate if you can share a line or two on what you think and include it in the upcoming versions. The URL link above also allows you to write to me directly.

I am looking forward to being engaged with you! Please do give your feedback for the second edition.

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customer General productive revenue

You should fire your Product Manager if…

Are your customers jettisoning you by the hordes? Or are they leaving you in a trickle? Is your product revenue becoming a sinking ship or a leaky bucket?

Customers will soon turn too busy for your product only when your product manager becomes too busy for the customer.”

A product manager is responsible not just for building a product that works, but more importantly, one that sells and sticks.

1. Building the nuts and bolts of a product that works is probably the easier part (oops! engineers, no offence). That is engineering.

2. To make sure a product indeed meets the needs and aspirations of customers is challenging.

3. Creating an ecosystem of product+experience (support and service) is where the magic is created. That is where the rubber hits the road.

And this activity cannot be 100% outsourced to Marketing, Sales, Support or Service functions.

When customers decide to swear by your product, it is crucial to understand the why

When those customers decided that your product is not worth their wallet, it is vital to understand the why.

When those key prospects are still undecided, to test your product, it is still essential to understand their why too.

Listening to customers and users is a vital part of product management. Much to the chagrin of many organisations, l product managers tend to be internally focused on product engineering only. Product engineering is a ‘part role’ of a product manager.  What is core is to listen, to meet and to interact with the product’s long time users, customers and, (more importantly), the ones that dumped the product after the first few uses.

This is what good product managers do. Understanding the customer, listening to them, and bringing in the right features functionalities in the product they are building is the key. And these cannot be done by being internally focused.

Meeting customers is a part of the day job of a product manager. It is just as important or more than looking at the spreadsheets for sales and profitability or those slides for marketing or the PRD for engineering. I would add first-hand interaction and information collection with the customer gives life and purpose to the product.

And product manager who becomes too busy for a customer will soon see customers who become too busy for the product. #LawOfKarma or #CommonSense

Thoughts? What is your experience?

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Leadership Lesson

It’s time to share happiness: welcome the new!

It is that time of the year when we at PeopleFriday are thankful for the beautiful way 2020 has turned out, for, so much learning has happened for people in general, despite all the drama. 

We look forward to 2021 as great year ahead, with all the hope, enthusiasm and gusto. Life is good! And we keep becoming a better version of ourselves each day. 

Wish you and your family a Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year 2021.

To many more hours and years of learning and becoming a better version of yourself.
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Leadership Lesson

Here’s your gift for the Holiday Season!

FIRST 30 DAYS: Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series; available on Kindle Unlimited (India)

The first 30 days of taking on a new role as a manager will be the most defining thirty days for that job and lay the foundation for your success on that job and possibly the next.

This Fight or Flight – 10X Leader Series is designed to help you get started quickly in your new role and become successful. This book is intended to help a new manager. And then some of you may want to use this as a guide every time you move into a new role as a manager into a new team, department or new organisation.

The bonus resources section at the end allows you access to online resources that are specifically available for readers of this book. This section consists of up-to-date resources across the internet. It will make you familiar with the many management tools available for you.

Happy Holidays!

Here’s the  Amazon Link for free download under kindle –https://www.amazon.in/dp/B08R7CDRRC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_ait6FbZAFBS12

Categories
Leadership Lesson

“Why do you want to do what you want to do?

“Why do you want to do what you want to do?

In my interactions with clients, they come with an absolutely ‘clear ask’ on the requirement and want us to fulfil that ‘immediately’.

It is most comfortable for me to give them what they asked. However, I almost always pose this question.

“Why do you want to do what you want to do? Not that we cannot do that x thing that you ask for, but would love to understand the why of it is the right thing to do.”

7 in 10 times, during the process of discussion, their ‘clear ask’ has now changed a few times, and the new request is more practical and commonsensical. Sometimes that ‘urgent need’ itself is nullified, and I have possibly lost that ‘immediate business’ of what they were initially planning to give us.

I do this because I put myself into the shoes of my customer’s business. And gives me a vicarious experience of ‘being a core part of their business’ during those conversations.

That is the value I seem to bring to the table. It has often, at times, saved millions.
But more importantly, asking the right questions, seemed to be the right thing to do.

Categories
Leadership Lesson

Why Making Mistakes is Important in Life

I have written about Of learning, failure and my perspective. I had also spoken about it on Prodcast on Leadership Lessons – Learning to Fail and Preparing for a Fail .

There was so much interest that I have tried summarising the same with 9 reasons on why making mistakes is okay, and 6 ways on how to recover from a mistake.

  1. Mistakes are an unavoidable part of life and are vital to a person’s growth.
  2. Everyone makes mistakes.
  3. Mistakes make up most part of our lives. And it is because of the mistakes one learns. A child makes mistakes a thousand times and falls as many times before her first step.

Reasons why making mistakes is okay

  1. Mistakes give you valuable life lessons.
  2. They say mistakes are life’s way of teaching you. Behind each mistake is an important lesson to be learned.
  3. You are only human, and humans are not made to be perfect. It is what makes each of us unique.
  4. Mistakes help you grow. The first time that you will smell success is after the last time you learnt from your earlier mistake. Mistakes they say is a steppingstone to success.
  5. Mistakes push you to do better, be better. They help you become a better version of yourself.
  6. Mistakes help you know yourself more. It allows you to figure out who you are as a person.
  7. Mistakes do not define you. In fact, errors do not stand for anybody.
  8. You will never find anyone who has never made a mistake in their life. If someone said they did, that not telling the truth.
  9. When you make a mistake, you know one more way in which it should not be done

How to recover from a mistake

  1. Accept it – Accepting that you have made a mistake is the first step towards correcting it. What you do not accept, you cannot correct. Accept that mistake. Learn from it.
  2. Know what you did wrong. Understanding your mistake helps you make amends and rectify the situation.
  3. Remember the lesson
  4. Mistakes are normal. Fret not! Everybody makes mistakes.
  5. Accepting the mistake is the first step towards correcting them in the future.
  6. Do not be afraid of making mistakes. It should not prevent you from taking risks or doing anything worthwhile.

“Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow.” – Mary Tylor Moore

Here is a Spotify Prodcast on the subject

Spotify Prodcast on Failures

83 -second Video on Making Mistakes

Categories
Leadership Lesson

Timeless Time Management Hacks

Time Management has become more crucial than ever before. With Work from Home options, employees and managers alike are more stressed and more time strapped than ever before. How can you master this – here are the Time management hacks.

Categories
Leadership Lesson

Writing meaningful performance appraisals

Writing performance feedback is one of the most demanding tasks for many, but then with these simple tips, you can make it enjoyable for yourself and the employee.

Writing meaningful and effective performance appraisals
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Leadership Lesson

What does ’being fair’ really mean?

What does being ’fair’ really mean?

How can you ever be fair to both sides? It will always be an eternal argument.

Here I’ll share two life stories, 25 years apart and how fairness can be achieved.

When we were young, my sibling and I used to fight for the larger piece of the cake. We accused the other of not being fair and taking the bigger slice for themselves. This happened each time.

Most parents would know that a straightforward rule fixes this forever. One child gets to cut the cake, and the other child gets to choose the piece. As you would guess, the cake gets cut with laser precision each time, and the problem solved forever.

One child gets to cut the cake, and the other child gets to choose the piece.

Twenty-five years later, in one of the large American tech organisations that I worked with, our contract negotiations (C&N) team drew up a services agreement for our client. Once, one of our large Japanese customers – was handed over a voluminous 30-page services contract to sign.

The client requested for an editable word document and returned it for signing in 48 hours. My C&N team was shocked and angry at the ‘massively edited’, ‘totally one-sided’ version of the contract. In a subsequent meeting, their CFO said they just did ’find and replace’ of the and interchanged the two organisations names. They wished to highlight how one-sided company’s contracts were. They asked us to re-draft an agreement that was ’fair to both’.

My company learnt a lesson, but for me, it was a complete revelation on what can be fair in business and still a guiding principle as an entrepreneur.

Being ’fair and honest’ to both sides is not a difficult thing to do if the ’intent’ is to be fair and have win-win thinking. The problem arises only, and only when that ’thought of fairness’ is corrupted. Even a trace of corruption, the big idea of being fair goes out of the window.

What are your experiences?

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Leadership Lesson

Leadership Lesson on Apple Prodcasts

Now on Apple Prodcasts. Please subscribe and share your feedback


https://podcasts.apple.com/in/podcast/leadership-lessons/id1520396721

Leadership Lessons
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Leadership Lesson

A new baby – Prodcast Channel on Anchor

I seem to be loving this medium and talking to you on leadership lessons from life. What is your feedback on this? I would like to hear from you.

Please hear, subscribe and give me your feedback.

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Leadership Lesson

Of learning, failure and my perspective.

I was recently engaged in a heated debate on ‘learning’ and ‘failure’, and how failing in public is the mark of weakness in professional and social situations. For one’s own good, it was argued that it is best avoided to even talk about failures in public. A logical extension is that one avoids asking questions in order not to demonstrate ignorance. Since they do not ask questions. My argument was. Hence they learn lesser – and so the case goes.

Personally, I learn all the time from all types of people. I can not comment for others, but the more I learn, the more I know that I do not know much. I am never too old to learn or too young to ask questions.

Yes, we live in a society where asking questions means either ignorance or arrogance—but seldom associated with learning as a process.

We live in culture where failure is mocked upon. Failure is discouraged and hence people stop trying. One may not hold ‘failure as a badge of honour’ as the Silicon Valley adage goes, but not failing and hence not learning and that is a bigger dishonour.

As a life -long learner, who tries, who fails regularly and learn from those failures, I have no shame in saying if I am learning, I must be doing good. I make mistakes all the time, and I accept the mistakes and learn and try and become better.

I own my mistakes, and no one is responsible for my failures. No one else. Yes, it may be fashionable for larger than life leaders for whom projecting infallibility is a virtue. They do not accept a mistake and claim that never made a mistake, and they are the best and even blame everyone else but themselves for all the failures. Good for them. Their life choices. That is not me.

And I am happy I am not them. I fail, and therefore, I learn. And that makes me me.

Categories
differentiate

Mind Mapping for Excellence in Children

We are happy to do a session for children this time and how children can use Mindmaps towards excellence.

This program is curated by a Buzan Mind Map Certified® trainer, to help your child finish double work in half the time and help them have more fun. Mind mapping is an internationally proven is a secret method to help children with

– Remember better
– Produce brilliant ideas
– Dramatically save time
– Prioritize work
– Get better grades
– Organize day-day life
– Have fun

Mindmaps helps the brain to work at full capacity by using both sides of the brain simultaneously – the left side for the words and logic and right side for the imagination and creativity.

It is proven to help in thought organization, memory, cre8ivity, comprehension, concentration, communication, organization, problem-solving, project management, decision making.

Date, Time – (two sessions of 9o min each)
Session 1 – Tuesday April 28, 2020 11:00am
Session 2: Wednesday, April 29, 2020 11:00am
Register Link: https://bit.ly/MM4CRegister

Trainer : Rajesh Soundararajan
Rajesh is a certified Buzan Mind Map Trainer who was trained by Tony Buzan himself, the inventor of Mind Maps. Rajesh is also a member of the High IQ Mensa club with a recorded IQ of 156. He is a Mentor of Change under the NITI Aayog Atal Innovation Mission.

A CEO, dad, engineer, entrepreneur, farmer, ivy league MBA, road tripper, shutterbug – he invests much of his spare time on children, environment, and social issues.

Categories
Leadership Lesson

How can you have fun running, on that corporate treadmill?

*Watch this 40 second and your life will never be the same again. *

I always quote in my talks on how most people have a corporate career that seems like running in a treadmill. You start running, and you cannot stop. You keep running, often faster, sometimes slowing down, yet you realize that you remain in the same place after all the running.

For an entrepreneur, life is, however, a different experience. It is like running outdoors in the open. You can choose any path, unchallenged and uncharted trails. You can go the beaten path, yet no two runs are the same. You observe new things and get distracted, slow down smell the flower. However, then, it is not routine, and it is not for everyone. The journey can be bumpy, traffic or an oncoming truck might kill you, much as you may enjoy. The best part is when you run, you move forward, move around, and have fun.

But then, how do you work in the comforts of the corporate life and yet not fall into the routine?

However, then how do you work in the comforts of the corporate life and yet not fall into the routine? For that, you need to be creative, crazy. You need to love what you do or learn to do the routine the way you like to do. How do you do that they ask? I usually struggle to give a straight answer. However, then I stumbled on this video, and this guy summarises how you can and must have fun when things are boring.

Watch this 40 second and your life will never be the same again.

Categories
action Boss CEO Leadership Lesson manage mastery organization people Uncategorised

The Upside of Situational Leadership That Everyone Is Talking About

Leadership differs from management in a very fundamental way. Management doesn’t have to involve inspiring or motivating others. Situational leadership is a specific style of leadership, where your leadership style is dependent on the situation. You could be leading b either delegating, supporting, coaching o directing depending on the team and complexity of the task.  Which essentially makes you practice one or more of the 4 popular leadership styles. The image here is self-explanatory.

Situational Leadership
Situational Leadership

What You Can Do About Situational Leadership Starting in the Next 11 Minutes

Leadership programs are appropriate for supervisors, managers, entrepreneurs and company executives. A leadership development program can help the company leaders in receiving new capabilities. This is a good 10-minute video on Hershey Blanchard situational leadership that you must watch

Now that you’ve understood, it’s vital that you take one of the critical projects that you are heading and see what amongst these leadership team would require at this point in the current situation.

The Number One Question You Must Ask for Situational Leadership

Leadership is more than only a word, it’s the action of leading. It can also cause a company’s demise. Situational leadership or the one size doesn’t fit all method is all about adapting your style to the particular circumstance.

“Knowing all that I know about this team and this project, what is the leadership that is required to help the project move to the next level, project right now?

Leaders help ordinary folks achieve extraordinary outcomes. They should be sent to various countries and allowed to learn that way. Superior leaders identify great talent, give them direction, then escape the manner.

The Hidden Truth About Situational Leadership

Leaders will need to function as a catalyst for change. Thus, a situational leader should have the needed aptitude in order to adjust their actions in order that they may fit with the present situation as a way to assist and meet the requirements of the faculty. Today, the leader with one principal leadership style can’t survive.

Categories
CEO change differentiate future Leadership Lesson manage organization people risk-taking

3 Steps towards Building an Amoeba Organization*

Is your organization structured like an Amoeba?

Successful businesses can continually alter its organizational structure to meet the changing demands of the environment in which they are operating. Each of that change helps them propel forward to achieving the goals the organization has set for itself. And finally, it is not bound the rigid boundaries that are prevalent in the industry or in other industries. Let us take each of these with an example

Business is no Biology, Why then are we talking of Amoeba, here?

An amoeba (/əˈmiːbə/) is a type of organism which

  • can alter its shape, primarily by extending and retracting pseudopods.
  • propels forward (and feeds) by using and extending a pseudopod and let’s go its rear portion
  • do not form a single taxonomic group and are found among the protozoa, fungi, algae, and animals.

A successful business means these 3 things

1. Altering the structure:

Altering the structure of an organization is usually a daunting task. It requires a leader to think out of the box and often begets undesirable resistance from HR and other units that look for status quo for ease of administration. Even in the many cases where an organization undergoes reengineering and restructuring, it often is a laborious exercise and involves months of planning and years of execution. It is anything but simple. But then creative leaders know can get this done.

In one exceptionally large organization that I was working, it was boom time and the business team was quite successful in meeting and exceeding targets. We had an extremely capable sales team and marketing team. The technical team was terrific. The Unit was on a super-fast growth. Yet, burnouts and the low compensation started to take its toll. The Business Unit leader was fully aware of the consequence and had many meetings with HR in vain. So, in this case, he hired a ‘marketing manager’ and the job role was clearly defined as an ‘excitement specialist.’ The measurement was about creating excitement in the team and help the unit be a fun place. The new-hire, an ex-advertising professional from a reputed Advertising Agency exactly knew what to do to build that excitement in the team. She was successful and the need for that position had been done away within 12-18 months when intended results of retentions and motivation were achieved.

There were other times, what was needed was ‘just a process to be set in place,’ or entire unit was to be focussed on ‘competitive win back.’ The organization structure changed countless times, where the required people were brought in or moved out and/or roles changed dynamically. Such changes could not have been reflected under the rigid structure, but with a creative leader, we were able to achieve none the less. The organization not only survived one of the worst dot com busts but propelled forward to be a leader in the industry as competition floundered. And that brings us to the second point.

2. Propel Forward:

To propel forward is a simple term but then defining the forward is the key. The forward could mean winning competition even at a short-term loss or it might earn profit maximization. It might mean the need for PR or need for better sales closers. There can be a couple of areas where one needs to move forward, and it only means adequate resources are deployed in those areas for that duration to make them successful. Any less, the effort would go waste. Any more, we might not be doing it efficiently. Propel forward for an organisation unit may be different from the standard industry practices.

The key to propelling forward is to let go of the past that is holding us back. We could have had an organization that was great and successful in the past but continuing the same activity and being tied to the past will slow the unit down. The key to propelling forward is to let go of the tenets that gave success in the past and unbound and unleash itself.

3. Unbound and hence Unleashed:

The core tenet is being unbound and unchained by the dogmas that exist in the organization and unit. Any change like this is seen as maverick and would lead to eyebrows being raised and questions being asked. The only way to address such criticism is to continue to deliver on outcomes. The team would need to be fully aware that they are being taken into full confidence and it needs to work on ‘a mission mode.’ Goals are pursued as a mission, and the team sees itself as a task force and a crack team. Call it permanent beta, disruptive innovators – any name that you wish. The idea is to take the team along and make sure they are unbound and unleashed all the time to deliver their best.

Go ahead try it! Build your own Amoeba Organization*.

If you like such articles – You can follow some great resources on

 This above article first appeared in the Times of India on April 03, 2019

Rajesh Soundararajan is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Futureshift Consulting, a boutique consulting outfit that helps organizations chart their business, marketing and technology strategies that generate demand, drive predictable revenue and achieve impactful outcomes.

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*I am not talking here about Amoeba Management, which is a system designed by Kazuo Inamori, the creator and current honorary chairman of Kyocera. Amoeba Management is different from building an Amoeba Organization that I am talking of and is primarily composed of personnel in a company, with a clearly defined purpose of making a profit for itself.

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Six Things to Remember While Writing Feedback

Over the two decades in the many leadership roles, giving/writing feedback was one of the most arduous of all jobs — across dozens of roles, organizations, countries, and cultures. If you are a manager or a team leader — you are solely responsible for the feedback you are giving your team, both on content and method.

So, what is the secret of giving/ writing feedback?
Feedback giving/ writing is both an art and a science. It is an extremely critical component of team building and as much as it is for developing one’s own career. I have condensed the feedback process into six points that can work in any situation. Good feedback will help your team be high on energy and ideas, become awesome in execution and develop a great attitude.

The secret sauce, ironically, is not about the receiver of the feedback. It is about asking yourself (feedback giver) these six vital questions.

  1. Am I being specific?
    It is extremely critical to be as specific as you can be. It is easy to get carried away with analogies and incidents related to the point being discussed. Such meandering, however well-intentioned it may be, often leads to dilution of the message. It may even lead to a defensive mindset being triggered for the receiver. State facts and give examples in support of the feedback being given. Nothing more, nothing less.
  2. Am I showing the way to grow and develop this person?
    Your job as a reviewer is to develop and grow people. Pointing to shortcomings does not help in any case. In fact, it would work counter-productive as the receiver pulls up the defences and closes their mind to any suggestions.
  3. Can this person really do something about this?
    Think before if this person can do something about this or if you can help to change this behaviour? If the answer is no, that specific feedback is best left unsaid. Yes, think about it. What is the purpose of feedback on which the person cannot act?
  4. Will this add value to this person?
    Focus your feedback on its value for the receiver. If your feedback will not add value to the receiver in the current state, resist from even saying it. Often, it is for us to offer some advice because it is dear to us and (however well-intentioned) do not think of the value it would add to the other person.
  5. Does this represent facts?
    Write feedback promptly when the incident is fresh in your mind. Do not let other unrelated incidents influence your feedback. Good managers maintain a small notepad, to jot down incidents when they occur. This small notepad is worth terabytes of data that may be residing in our memory. Maintaining and referring that small notepad, will always bring us back to the facts at hand.
  6. Finally, let silence do the heavy lifting.
    Silence is an extremely powerful tool. Any good negotiator would tell you that people tend to underestimate the power of silence when it comes to sales and social dynamics in general. “Saying nothing is way more powerful than spoken words” they would vouch. Silence during feedback not only defines alpha roles but also build the readiness to assimilate, process and draw on an action plan in the receiver’s mind. You must recognise the five signs that indicate silence is needed
  • Interrupting by talking over someone else
  • Formulating your response while someone is talking
  • Using a break in the conversation to create a distraction to change topics
  • Talking in circles
  • Monopolizing airtime

With these six simple steps, you will see your self a lot more effective and sought after by your team and people Try it out!

This article first appeared on the Times of India Blogs on March 22, 2019.

_____

Rajesh Soundararajan is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Futureshift Consulting, a boutique consulting outfit that helps organizations chart their business, marketing and technology strategies that generate demand, drive predictable revenue and achieve impactful outcomes.

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6 things that I learnt from a devastating accident

I share my experiences from a devastating accident in which I almost lost three fingers, and what I have learned from this miracle ordeal.

Three years ago, it was late Sunday evening in January when I met with a freak yet devastating accident. As I was working on a 12,000 RPM rotary metal cutting tool, a momentary lapse of attention and I severed my three fingers on the right hand.

This jolted my family and threw life out of gear. With three small beautiful children and a family that is dependent, an entrepreneurial journey, and a whole life ahead, a useless right hand, was the last thing one would want on.

By the time I was wheeled into A&E, the situation was grave, and more than one hospital in the area refused admission as they did not have the doctor on call over that weekend. It was a weekend night, and Bangalore roads were choked with heavy traffic.

The Two-Wheeler Ride To Eternity:

And clutching the tree dismembered fingers of my right hand tightly with the left. I rode pillion on a two-wheeler, and my wife was the ‘ambulance’ driver. The blood loss was significant as The body gushed out blood to the fingers. Sitting in the pillion, the one thing on my mind was to keep myself awake, come what may, and not become unconscious and fall off. I hugged my feet to the sides of the scooter, much like how you would on a horse and kept talking to my wife, lest i fall asleep. The notorious city’s traffic was not helping and a good 30-40 minutes later, and what seemed like an eternity, we reach a hospital that would admit us.

What happened during that ride was nothing short of awakening and rebirth.

What happened during that ride was nothing short of awakening and rebirth. My mind was filled with an intricate mix of self-doubt and self-acceptance on what-if and how I will live with just a thumb and a little finger for the rest of my life. A billion thoughts crisscrossed my mind. Would this be the end of me? Will I be accepted in this world? How will I have an opportunity to pursue my hobbies and passions for which I came back to India? How will I do as an entrepreneur? Would this end my professional life forever?

The Surgery And The Recovery

It was an intense 4-5-hour surgery under general anesthesia, and I remained drugged for hours afterward. I still remember the light banter in the Operation Theatre with the surgeon. He informed me that he would need me to sign the consent form, as he said, “….we can save one finger, be ready to lose two of them, but we will try to save the second one”. This was before the General Anaesthesia, and I replied, “Doc, without those three fingers, I cannot sign. How about you fix them, and then I can have the form signed in no time.” After a good guffaw, they got the consent form signed by my wife, who was there through out the phase not sleeping a wink.

Cut forward to 6 weeks later – As we went for the removal of cast and stitches, my doctor was awed and euphoric – for this recovery was beyond all his expectations. He mentioned I was ‘one big lucky man‘; While I was relieved, I knew deep within that the hundreds of prayers and positive energy from many well-wishers and the doctor’s dedication would not go waste.

And all that was backed by a rock-solid backbone by wife and children, strong support of family, prayers, blessings, and encouragement from many friends. Over the next few months – life had ‘raced back to normalcy – in 6-8 weeks, much earlier than the expected 6-12 months.

I was welcomed from the hospital with a cake, and the little ones were more excited to see me, than to have a piece of that cake.

I was welcomed from the hospital with a cake, and the little ones were more excited to see me, than to have a piece of that cake.
I was welcomed from the hospital with a cake, and the little ones were more excited to see me, than to have a piece of that cake.

I have learned a lot in those few months and unlearned many more. It indeed was a rebirth. With many cobwebs in mind removed, the mind knows what is essential in life. In retrospect, this was the best exerience in my life, yet. Couldn’t have been luckier to have this experience.

Here’s a summary of the six most important lessons that I’ve learned:

1.  Love And Respect:

Throughout the adventurous journey, I realized the importance of having the love and respect of family, whom you could always depend on. My parents-in-law were all the time and my parents flew in from Dubai immediately after hearing this. With that confidence of the support of my family and friends, I would sail through this life. I was also fortunate to have support in the form of many hundreds of telephone calls and WhatsApp inquiries from all corners of the world. Many of them dropped by for a visit. Words of encouragement, flower bouquets, courier packages with holy water, ashes, and prasadams (similar to holy water, in the form of solid or liquid) from holy places were pouring in.

2.  Acceptance:

Within minutes of the accident, and immediately after the shock, I had mentally prepared to accept whatever was on the cards and whatever googly life threw at me. If it means living with just my thumb and the little finger for the rest of my life. I was ready for a life the way it was dished out to me.

3.  Gratitude:

Gratitude was the most important of all the learnings. Through the process of a long recovery, I was filled with immense gratitude for all the amazing things that life had to offer. I was grateful for all that so many people have done for me. Through the countless solitary moments, I thanked thousands of people, yes, thousands of people. I could vividly remember the faces of the many persons I had encountered since childhood. And, I believe that act alone was the single most significant contributor to my miracle recovery, a record of sorts.

Let alone not losing any of the fingers as the doctor had said, the recovery was much lesser than six-twelve months; I was ready and kicking and six weeks. In fact, just a day after the bandages removed and even without physiotherapy I went ahead and did what I love to do – an 800 km Road trip, more than half-which I was at the wheel.

I could vividly remember the faces of the many persons that I had encountered in life since childhood.

4.  Law Of Attraction:

If there is one important thing other than gratitude, mentioned Earlier it is the law of attraction. Much I was accepting each day for what it was; I was not willing to let go of the optimist in me and the fighter in me. Each day, I would visualise miraculous healing and see the senior surgeon tell us that he was amazed at the speed of recovery.

5.  Amazing Adaptability Of Human Body:

Through my journey, I was able to be aware of and observe remarkable aspects of the internal workings of the human body. The experience of ‘electric shocks’ from nerve endings as they try to heal, regrow and reconnect to the nervous system, the incredible way my left hand took over seamlessly, much like a doubles partner, to compensate for my every weakness. The reflexes had dramatically improved. Never in my entire life would I have experienced such a level of alertness and strong reflexes .

6.  Mindfulness, Dramatic Increase In IQ Tests

Here, I’m going to speak about something incredible that happened and is beyond imagination. This was more of an unintended consequence, serendipity if you may, for what you are about to hear is not something even I foresaw in my wildest dreams.

I am a regular player of online brain games like Lumosity. After that break of about 6 to 8 weeks, scores consistently surged way higher than any previous of the high scores. Not believing this magical twist, I took 20 -30 different brain tests. The scores were consistently 30-70% higher than my earlier high scores. On further research, I learned that sudden use of the left hand for the considerable amount of time helped activate the other half of the brain.

Today, I am so grateful to the people around me, my life, and the universe. When I play badminton, play with children, pick up those weights in the gym, or make that 10,000 km road trip – and all of them are still a bit of effort, nonetheless – not a day passes without feeling how blessed life has been.

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Ask Me Anything: 10 Answers Before You Turn Entrepreneur

  • Where Will Entrepreneur Be 1 Year From Now?
  • The 10 Most Understated Facts About Entrepreneurship
  • Entrepreneurship Explained in Fewer than 140 Characters
  • 10 Undeniable Reasons 2019 is the Year of Entrepreneurship

In my article in 2016, I had written “Turn Entrepreneur in 2016 (8 Reasons)”. 2 years later, I revisit those reasons and see if it is still valid and see what has changed?

1.   Entrepreneurs Are The New Black – $100bn In VC Investments

Despite all the uncertainties in the global markets, entrepreneurship continues to be much sought after even in 2019. And it is not without a reason.   Globally, the U.S Venture Capitalist Investments are on the steady rise from 2009(US$ 20+ billion) to over $100 billion by the end- 2018.  Investments into India alone have tripled from just over US$ $4b in 2015 has grown to a massive 12.65 billion in 2018, a record of sorts.

However, on further analysis, you will note that late stage start-ups with a proven record of success took the lion’s share of funding raised, even as the industry welcomed new ‘unicorns. What this means is that if you get to have success at every stage of your start-up, money is not a big issue for scaling.

https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Screen-Shot-2018-10-09-at-9.52.23-AM.png
Source: https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Screen-Shot-2018-10-09-at-9.52.23-AM.png?resize=768,694

2. The Age Of Garage Entrepreneur Is Dead

Entrepreneurs are no longer just folks starting out of a garage.  You will find that the new age entrepreneurs are well educated, are either freshers or those with experience of working in the industry, have a few skill, capabilities, and competencies up their sleeve. And they are aware of that too. You will find that they come with a passion of Garage Entrepreneurs and have ring-fenced that passion with a lot more practicality in combining strengths. They will usually partner with like-minded co-founders who fill the gap their own skill gaps required for business. This age of entrepreneurs has their feet firmly on the ground in understanding the real problem that they are trying to solve. Yet are dreamers with their own idols like Elon Musk or Sachin Bansal or a Jack Ma.

3. Lifelong Employment Is A Myth Busted, Forever.

I said this in 2016, and this holds truer in 2019 than before. The age of lifelong employment is dead – and buried. With the security of lifelong employment and associated pensions gone, more people are looking to get into the driver’s seat and take control of their destiny. They may not be quitting their day-jobs to start off but are cranking their start-ups with the luxury of income from the day jobs funding their passion in part or in full. If you are contemplating, don’t spend the rest of your life contemplating, no do you need to take that leap by quitting the day job when you will face revenue pressures to even sustain yourself. You can well do both, by spending a few more hours on weekdays and dedicate weekends to get the start-up off ground. Once you are confident of taking of jettisoning the mother-ship you can.

I said this in 2016, and this holds truer in 2019 than before. The age of lifelong employment is dead – and buried. With the security of lifelong employment and associated pensions gone, more people are looking to get into the driver’s seat and take control of their destiny. They may not be quitting their day-jobs yet, but are cranking their start-ups with the comfort of regular income from the day job, that funds their passion in part or in full. If you are contemplating, don’t spend the rest of your life contemplating. Nor should you that day job, when you now that will face income pressures to sustain yourself.

A blended approach could be that you can do both, by spending a few more hours on weekdays and dedicate weekends to get the start-up off ground. Once you are confident of taking off, jettison that mother-ship and raise your sails to the headwind.

4. Unemployment And Underemployment Continue To Be Triggers For New Ideas Take Shape

Student unemployment combined with gross unemployment and underemployment seems to be the first ‘triggers,’ though not necessarily the reason for success of many entrepreneurs. The education industry is churning out graduates and postgraduates at alarming rates and the number of big corporations that can absorb such talent is far too less. Education has become expensive, with student loans mounting, yet with no assurance of campus placement, entrepreneurship seems to be the only recourse if you have that fire in the belly.

Since supply far outstrips demand, it is logical that more students are seeking out entrepreneurial experiences with self-funding from friends and family to start with – many with aspirations to build the next Facebook, Uber, or Tesla. The others go through basic education simply to better equip themselves or in anticipation of one day taking that big leap from a cushy corporate job on to an entrepreneurial journey.

5. Disruptive Innovation Seldom Happens In Large Companies.

A lot more disruption and innovation happen today than ever before. And yet, most such disruptions have started with the new entrepreneurs and not the big corporates.

The very fact that the big companies went on to acquire the smaller players at high valuations goes on to prove the value created by new entrepreneurs. When was the last time a Google disrupted the industry? YouTube was an acquisition. Facebook acquired WhatsApp, Instagram, and Oculus. Microsoft did that with Skype and LinkedIn.

The pace of disruptive innovation has been accelerating since 2005. The new biggies are barely teenagers, the 100-year legends are far and few. New disruptors are disrupting previous disruptors.

6. Failure Is The New Badge Of Honour

The Silicon Valley’s adage on entrepreneurial spirit, ‘Failure is a Badge of Honour,’ is no more restricted to the Valley. In the past, Asian economies like India, China and Indonesia that constitute over half of the world’s population rewarded formal employment and had a social stigma attached to failure.

This new decade had changed all that. Today, you have the wealth created by entrepreneurs from India and China. It is more like this generation of Asians are getting back vigorously and challenging the tenets.

Even as the likes of Jack Ma (Alibaba), Sachin Bansal, Binny Bansal (Flipkart), Aggarwal (Ola) have either diluted their stake to move into philanthropy or the next big thing, there is a new generation like Rashmi Daga (Fresh Menu), Ritesh Agarwal (Oyo), Nandan Reddy and Rahul Jasimini (Swiggy), Deepinder Goyal (Zomato) that have filled in those spaces with fairly big shoes. The spirit of failure does not seem to perturb them, and they are reinventing, realigning from their mistakes along the way.

7. Freemiums Break The Jinx Of Entry Barriers

Starting a business is hard and one needs to be systematic and efficient. Hiring external resources cost money. On the other hand, buying software which you may not use or may find limited use at exorbitant prices is a big deterrent to productivity. A lot has changed in the last few years. I have compiled some of the world’s best software and tools that makes it easier for any entrepreneur–  Analytics (Google Analytics) , Collaboration (Slack, Trello) , Communication (Skype) Design Tools (Canva) , Document Storage (Dropbox/ One Drive/ Google Drive) , Email Marketing (MailChimp) , Invoices And Billing (Zoho), Social Media Schedulers (Buffer, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck), Spreadsheets (Google Sheets), Survey Tool (Survey Monkey) , Word Processing (Grammarly, Google Docs).

Thus, all components of your business that requires software tools are available for free to start off and then ‘pay as you grow.’ This is a great boost for entrepreneurs and start-ups who can use world-class tools with zero spending.

8. New Marketing Models Shackle Traditional Stongholds

Acquiring new customers and ‘spreading the message’ is no more limited to expensive newspaper advertisements and television spots. The online marketing channels are all about creating inbound leads and low-cost outbound reach, to targeted audience at extremely optimised and affordable costs. Imagine reaching out to your new prospects at budgets as low as low as $10 (Marketing on Google Facebook, Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn) for advertising each day.

The new marketing models with digital marketing and content creation techniques using some of the tools mentioned above, have spawned the imagination and amplified the marketing capability of every entrepreneur.

You can now, target, reach out and engage your audience for the right demographics and geo-focus. This translates for you into a theoretically unlimited market size with hyper-local targeting. Since markets have democratised and entry barriers for distribution busted, you have infinite opportunities as a new player that offer value to your audience.

9. You Don’t Even Need That Permission To Start

This is the best part. The world has changed and has changed forever in the last decade. Governments across the world are waking up to the new reality of changing demographics and have opened ‘Start Up’ and Incubation Centres in every part of the world to encourage and give a boost to the new entrepreneurs. The painfully expensive permissions from the Government and regulators are long outdated for most new set-ups.

Social structures have changed, sources of funding have changed and most of them are an advantage for the new entrepreneur

10. There Is No Better Time To Start

The Internet has flattened the world for 2 decades now. That the advances in mobile telecommunication, increased bandwidths and broadband penetration have led to a convergence of idea centres a decade ago. Together, they have unleashed a potential that is available today for you- in all its magnificence – for you to start. If you must start, there is no better time to start than now. A journey of a thousand miles – starts with the first step, they say.

The question today then is not: “Can we build this?” but rather, “Should we build this?”

 _______

You might also like

#Hiring: The Fallacy of Job Descriptions…

Why Do Entrepreneurs Fail? (8 Reasons)

The #1 Reason on Why Products Fail

*****

Please do share your thoughts and feedback and I will be glad to learn from you.

**The author is an entrepreneur with two decades of senior leadership experience in India and Asia-Pacific and now runs Futureshift, a boutique consulting outfit that helps businesses chart their digital marketing strategy with the @ZMOTly framework to achieve impactful outcomes. He is available at rajesh@futureshift.com.sg **

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The most popular word in PeopleFriday is…

The most popular word in PeopleFriday is…
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A big hug and thank you 2018

As we move in to 2019, here’s a big big thank you from us at peoplefriday. Your patronage and feedback helps us do better each day with more enthusiasm. Happy new year.

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#Leadership lessons. Never out of vogue.

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Digital Marketing in 2018. Be prepared.

Digital Marketing in 2018. Be prepared with good infographic from @MDGAvertising

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Your Feedback Counts

Your feedback counts. Please help us serve you better.

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Aspire to be a CEO: Avoid travelling with your bosses!

This rule is some what counter-intuitive.
Most aspirants to the top jobs, usually jump at the opportunity to travel with the superiors. They think that travelling with bosses gives them that extra time to shine. Don’t do it. Good senior executives judge on results, not on clever conversations.

Good top managers are also busy and unless you are working ion their projects, in less than ten minutes they get back to what they are working on.
You must spend your travel time working . Airplane time is work time, so you may want to fly by yourself and gain those extra few hours.
If you travel with a top executive and end up working on the flight, they would think you are doing it to impress them. Worse still, they want to read a book, relax, take a nap or may be watch a movie and they will be unsettled by your industriousness. Even if you have to fly the same plane, sit in a different section.
Hotel time is also work time. If you travel with superiors they may be obligated to ask you for dinner. If they don’t you will feel hurt. Either ways your valuable time is wasted.

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#Hiring: The Fallacy of Job Descriptions…

...and how ex-Air Traffic Controller became the best Sales Person in Tech major.

#HR #Talent #Human Resources #Hiring #Job Descriptions #Bias #Resume #sales #India

This is not a story of rags to riches. This is not even a story about the candidate. This is the story of how strong our biases are in the hiring process and how limiting our job descriptions are in selecting a great candidate.

A job description, as defined by Wikipedia, is a document that describes the general tasks, functions, and responsibilities of a position. It specifies the qualifications, experience, or skills needed by the person in the job.

Almost all HR and hiring managers swear by Job Descriptions. But have we ever realized that Job Descriptions could also limit our searches, resulting in potential false negatives?

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5 simple lessons – Build a culture, the Starbucks way

I have always been fascinated by Starbucks. Who is not? I am a coffee addict, and what better place to have those gazillion start-up meetings and those brain storming sessions other than Starbucks. The Wi-Fi is incidental, and so are the Espresso-double shots. What fascinated me is the experience in a Starbucks that is consistent – it does not matter whether I am in San Francisco or Singapore, Bangkok or Bali, Hanoi or Hyderabad, it is the amazingly same experience with the Baristas.

Being an entrepreneur myself and also having managed global organizations in the past, I have always been curious and passionate about building cultures. I believe that building a strong positive culture is one of the sustainable ways to makes an organisation successful – short-medium and long term. I also believe that culture plays, a bigger role on impact than building a skill-set.

A strong ‘culture’ in an organization might take a long time for it to show, as it needs to be ingrained into the DNA of the organisation. Unlike a skill, that can be incorporated by training its workforce at any point, culture requires continuous focus from the moment of an employee joins the organisation. The employee is exposed to a ‘ways of the world here’, and pretty much adopts that particular way as their own.

It is in this context, that I wish to use the Starbucks example. What makes Starbucks do something that is so insanely simple and yet, delightfully magical? It is not their covfefe for sure!

Every employee that joins Starbucks, is given a small 4″X5″ ‘the green apron book’ on the first day with the company. In a simple lucid way this booklet explains the culture of Starbucks. Since this culture is immediately manifested across the organisation, it is easy for the new employee to adapt and adopt these practices.

‘Culture drinks strategy for coffee’ Drucker would have said, had he seen Starbucks.

At Starbucks, every employee follows this green apron book, which has five values. These values can pretty much be applicable to any organisation. However Starbucks, has made it ingrained into their culture and not surprisingly it isas successful as what we see today.

1. Be welcoming:

Being welcoming helps people share their concerns openly without inhibitions. It helps customers return to the store repeatedly. It helps build a sense of belonging between people and share their thoughts openly. Such a simple phrase, when inculcated in a culture can put 1000 strategies to shame.

2. Be Genuine:

Being genuine is a simple way to ensure that everything, everyone does an organisation has a sense of connection to the other person. It helps establish trust between its employees and between its employees and customers. Being genuine means being responsive to the needs of others. We can call it by any other name, but these two words ‘be genuine’ puts it succinctly.

3. Be knowledgeable:

Love what you do, share it with others. Loving what you do is being knowledgeable on your job. When your knowledge is shared between yourselves and the community, the overall level of engagement increases.

4. Be considerate:

This is the way Starbucks ensures that everyone within the organisation and its customers have a sense of being cared for. This philosophy that drives Starbucks and I would think this is something every other organisation can adopt.

5. Be Involved:

When you’re involved with what you do, your productivity increases. You effectiveness improves. Imagine spreading it like in eponymic across your division, your company, and the community and you have a surefire answer to success.

 What makes Starbucks do something that is so insanely simple and yet, delightfully magical? It is not their covfefe for sure!

And these are not just posters on the wall, or some card at deep within the drawer.

Each one has a specific action items for each of these that can translate into everyday activities and they are described in the subsequent pages. It is easy to brush off saying they are just a company that sells coffee. Imagine yourself of a company that sells something as commonplace coffee and some becoming a global name for the coffee experience. And to add to that its beverages are not cheap. To attract that sort of a premium over something that could be domestically available, I believe requires definitely a good strategy, but more importantly a wonderful culture as described above. Wait is time for each of us to take a cue from here and see how it can help us.

_____

Please do share your thoughts and feedback and I will be glad to learn from you.

The author is an entrepreneur with two decades of senior leadership experience in India and Asia-Pacific and now runs Futureshift, a boutique consulting outfit that helps businesses chart their digital marketing strategy with the @ZMOTly framework to achieve impactful outcomes. He is available at rajesh@futureshift.com.sg

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Be the Influence Ninja – Tips and Traps [Part 2]

In my earlier post, “Part 1: What Influencer are you? [6 types]” [Link], I shared with you the 6 types of Influence – Coercive, Reward, Position, Expert, Personal and Information.

We also saw how leadership is all about influencing people. We also shared on how different people can be influenced and are willing to be influenced.

In this part I share some frequently-asked-questions (FAQs), and thoughts post focuses on 6 sources of influence commonly used in the workplace. It is for you to use the right one that is appropriate for the occasion.

 Influence: FAQs

  • Is it true that lower-level employees respond to influence sources such as coercive and reward while higher level employees respond more to other sources?
To assume that certain forms of influence work better with different levels of employees is a mistake. Research does suggest that more technically or functionally competent individuals respond to expert and information influence. Also, newer or less capable employees tend to respond to positional, reward, and coercive influence. However, these are stereotypes and not true in all situations. So, keep an open mind and use all sources of influence available to you.
  • It seems that by focusing on influence I’m manipulating people. Isn’t that unethical?
Managers accomplish work through others. Your role includes influencing them. Using influence would only be manipulation if you used that influence for unethical or unprincipled motives.
  • Are there other sources of influence that I should consider when dealing with peers or superiors?
When dealing with colleagues or superiors, ask yourself, "How can I best work with this person?" and " What types of influence will they respond to most quickly?"
  • What is the difference between “socialized influence” that I have heard about and the discussion of influence covered here?
Socialized influence is a "motive" (motives energize our personal actions), and this article is about our sources of influence or our basis of social influence.
  • Aren’t there other sources of influence, such as the power I get from knowing or associating with important people?
You might think that's another source of influence, but the association is just a connection to another person who has one of the six sources identified in the research. Associating with others can be a way of increasing your influence.

 How can I increase my influence?

TIPS

Managers can increase their influence. Generally, influence that is used, grows. For example, the more you use recognition and rewards to influence behaviour, the more that your reward power is perceived and understood by others. Some specific and perhaps obvious ways to increase your influence are listed here.

  • Coercive influence can be increased by making others aware of times you have used this influence in the past.
  • Reward influence is enhanced when rewards and recognition are publicly given.
  • Position influence can be emphasized my noting the differences in roles between yourself and others.
  • Expert influence is built with your skills and knowledge of your craft.
  • Information influence is increased with careful sharing, and sometimes by letting others know you have information, but are unable to discuss it. That can also build personal influence as it is a demonstration of your integrity.
  • Personal influence is about building personal relationships.

Finding common ground is a place to start. Demonstrating that you genuinely care about people is important. Making time for people is probably the key here.

TRAPS

Managers have a limited amount of influence. Because it is valuable, leaders should guard against the erosion of their influence. Below are common ways managers can lose influence.

  • Coercive influence can be lost if you threaten sanctions or discipline, but rarely deliver. People can perceive that you either do not really have the influence or you are unwilling to use it.
  • Reward influence is most commonly lost by dispensing rewards evenly, regardless of performance or contribution.
  • Position influence erodes if you fail to perform the functions that others perceive as the responsibilities of that position. This erosion often is related to loss of influence in other areas. For example, employees expect that managers will differentiate performance and reward accordingly.
  • Failing to make that differentiation decreases reward influence and position influence.
  • Expert and Information influence erode when you give expertise or information to people whose goals are not consistent with the organizational goals, or when you give them to everyone.
  • Personal influence is the most difficult to build and easiest to lose. It is lost because of lack of attention to relationship or failure of character such as dishonesty or lack of trustworthiness.

*****

Please do share your thoughts and feedback and I will be glad to learn from you.

**The author is an entrepreneur with two decades of senior leadership experience in India and Asia-Pacific and now runs Futureshift, a boutique consulting outfit that helps businesses chart their digital marketing strategy with the @ZMOTly framework to achieve impactful outcomes. He is available at rajesh@futureshift.com.sg **

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Part 1: What Influencer are you? [6 types]

If you have been a leader in whatever capacity, you must learn to use one thing – Influence. While, Influence can have different connotations for different people, Influence is determined by only one thing – the ability to achieve desired outcomes.

Leadership is all about influencing people. Understanding why and how different people can be influenced and are willing to be influenced, can and will make you an effective leader. This article focuses on six sources of influence commonly used in the workplace. It is for you to use the right one that is appropriate for the situation.

Leadership is all about influencing people. Understanding why and how different people can be influenced and are willing to be influenced, can and will make you an effective leader.

Note: None of the types of influence listed below is good or bad in isolation. The use of influence is situational and person dependent and hence it depends on what works best with minimal conflict.

There are broadly 6 types of influence –

  1. Coercive influence is based upon the leader’s capability to punish.
  2. Reward influence is based on the leader’s ability to dispense rewards.
  3. Position influence is based upon the tendency of people to respond to individuals in higher positions.
  4. Expert influence is based upon your skill or expertise which others may hold in high regard. Information influence is based upon the information or knowledge you have that’s not available to others.
  5. Personal influence is based upon your individual personality and charisma, and the relationships you create.
  6. Information influence is based on your fact that you hold information or knowledge that others do not have access to. This is a bit different from Expert influence where the influence is because you have deep knowledge on the subject.

Some of your influence comes from the organization that you work for and your position/ title (Example – “Manager”, “Vice President”). But much of your influence comes from you personally or your ability to work within the organization. The ability to influence is important to managers. It directly affects whether they can get things done. That’s what managers get paid for!

This addresses three sets of questions:

  1. What is the ability to influence about, and what are its sources?
  2. How can I use my influence effectively?
  3. How can I maintain and, if needed, increase my own influence?

Influence: Basics

As you explore each source of influence, think of your management situation. Ask yourself:

  • “How does this type of influence apply to me?”
  • “Do my employees respond to this type of influence?
  • “Do I use this influence too much… too little?”
  • “Do I need more?”

Understanding sources of influence is only half of what you need. Using it effectively is the other half.

Coercive influence

Coercive influence is based upon the leader’s capability to punish. “Punishment” can be everything from verbal reprimands, to assigning undesirable work tasks, or even termination. Managers can use this source of influence by being quick to dispense punishment, or simply reminding others that punishment can be dispensed.

Example:

A manager joked with employees by pretending to “fire” them when he wasn’t pleased. “You’re late with that proposal. Looks like I’ll have to fire you again. That’s twice this week.” The manager was inadvertently reminding employees of the coercive influence he held.

Use this source of influence when:

  • other sources of influence are not working
  • you are dealing with unsatisfactory performance or behaviour

Don’t use this source of influence when:

  • other, less negative, influences will work

Reward influence

Reward influence is based on the leader’s ability to dispense rewards. We tend to think of rewards as money. “Rewards” are also praise, recognition, good job assignments, access to information — anything that’s perceived as positive or desirable.

Example:

The popular book, The One-Minute Manager, suggested that managers should “look for people doing something right” and give them praise and recognition and rewards.

Use this source of influence:

  • anytime!

Don’t use this source of influence when:

  • you might be sending conflicting messages with unsatisfactory performers

Position influence

Position influence is using people’s tendency to a respond to individuals in higher positions. Jobs higher in the organizational hierarchy typically carry more influence than those lower in the hierarchy. Sometimes it’s simply the perception of being high in the hierarchy that creates the impression of influence.

Example:

Your employee needs a shipment sent out quickly and comes to you because Distribution department will only expedite shipments with a manager’s signature.

Use this source of influence when:

  • you’re new to a department and other sources of influence levels are low
  • you need to get things done with other parts of the organization

Don’t use this source of influence when:

  • more personal influence sources will work as effectively

Expert influence

Expert influence is based upon your skill or expertise which others may hold in high regard. You’re a manager, but you also have functional or technical expertise. People may respond to you from a skill perspective more favorably than from other influence bases. This is especially true with some professional groups.

Example:

A colleague of mine is an expert at IPD and project management. He frames discussions in project management terms and often talks about his experiences.

Use this source of influence when:

  • when dealing with specialty subjects where your credibility is high
  • dealing with other experts

Don’t use this source of influence when:

  • your expertness could be perceived as bragging or ego
  • your audience does not value the expertise

Personal influence

Personal influence is based on your individual personality, charisma, and the relationships you create. People tend to want to do things for individuals they like and respect — even managers! The common characteristics of honesty, kindness, and interest in people can be powerful.

Example:

A co-worker mentioned that he was doing a piece of work we both hated. When I asked why, he responded, “How could I say no to Peter? He’s such a great guy.”

Use this source of influence when:

  • all the time

Don’t use this source of influence when:

  • employees invite you home to meet their mothers

Information influence

Information influence is the fact that you have information or knowledge not available to others. Because of your position or relationships, you may have information others don’t have. Information can be influential power. It may give you inside knowledge of events or insights that increase other sources of power.

Example:

Managers often receive pre-announcement packages that give them information ahead of others. They can use this to anticipate reactions and plans.

Use this source of influence when:

  • you are new and other sources of influence sources are low
  • sharing the information could improve work tasks or relationships

Don’t use this source of influence when:

  • the information could hurt people
  • you’ve promised to hold the information as confidential

As you review the sources of influence, you probably recognize some as sources you are using now. Other sources, perhaps not. Every manager’s job is different. You need to assess your situation and decide how you will use your influence. You have probably seen that some of the sources of influence come mainly from the organization, and others come from within yourself. Don’t think that you can change only the latter. Remember: the ability to influence another person is power.

In my next post, I will share with you a few FAQs on Influence, How you can increase your influence with a few tips and traps.

*****

Author’s note – I would not recommend one type of influence over the other, though I have given examples of each. It would be a great idea for you to relate to one or two people / situations in your personal experience who use that particular influence types and feel free to comment and share your thoughts below. This will help the community too and I will be glad to learn from you.

In Part 2 of this, I will talk about a few FAQ, on how to improve your influence and tips and traps. [Link here]

Please do share your thoughts and feedback.

_____

**The author is an entrepreneur with two decades of senior leadership experience in India and Asia-Pacific and now runs Futureshift, a boutique consulting outfit that helps businesses chart their digital marketing strategy with the @ZMOTly framework to achieve impactful outcomes. He is available at rajesh@futureshift.com.sg **

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6 Questions to Build a High Performance Team

Over the last twenty years, I spent a major part of my career in leadership roles. This had given me an opportunity to work with people in the dozens of roles, that panned across many organizations, countries.

It was also a wonderful opportunity to manage scores of teams and learn from many managers. I was also fortunate to learn many things from my managers and can proudly say that there not a single boss that I did not learn something from or admire for.

I usually, applied those learnings to managing my team. It was also an honour that most teams that I managed were also appreciated by other business units and peers in leadership. The usual feedback was that my team was high on – energy, ideas, awesome execution and good attitude. My teams and its members would receive the most awards in corporate events.

What made these teams A-teams?

We all, in the company had the same hiring process. We all had similar bunch of resumes that HR used to dish-out, based on which we made our selections. In fact, hiring the right person for the right job, was the easier part. Giving the right job for the right person is a lot more involving and effective. I learnt this, from some great leaders, who have imbibed in me the need to pay attention to each member of the team – continuously. It is anything but micro-management. I had learnt very early from some of the great managers, that focus on people is the simplest and most effective way to becoming successful.

Hiring the right person for the right job, was the easier part. Giving the right job for the right person is a bit trickier, and a lot more involving.

It all boiled down to six questions, that I would ask myself each time.

Do they know what is expected out of them at work?

This by far is the reason, that affects an employee’s productivity the most. Often, an employee may end up with a vague idea on what is expected out of them. After each 1-0-1 meeting I would ensure that we were on the same page on what was expected of them and, what was not. I would usually request them to summarize the understanding in writing on an email, whiteboard or scribble on a piece of paper. And yes, always – it would be rule of three. Never would it exceed three points. That helped both of us to remember the points and action items for the next meeting.

Do they have the materials and equipment required to do their work, right?

Once the team and its members had good clarity on what is expected, I would ensure that they had the right tools. There is little, that a woodcutter can do without his axe, however well-defined his goal is. I would give them all the necessary tools to make them effective. It could have been a faster IBM ThinkPad ®, it could be an extra resource to pre-qualify leads so that they focus on closing the deal, or, at other times by giving that approval to travel under budget constraints.

Do they do what they do best, every day?

Allowing an employee to work on their interest and passion is the easiest way to make them productive. There are times where I moved a team member from a ‘behind the desk number crunching” role to a customer facing role. and vice-versa. I have juggled the team structure and reallocated roles to accommodate the job for which that person was the best. I did spend a good amount of time understanding each employee’s strength and passion. My question would usually be “what do you usually love doing”, or “what is the best part of your job” or “what are your most memorable moments this quarter/ year“.

In the last 7 days, have I recognised or praised them for their good work?

Irrespective of their seniority, it is a good idea to find that one good reason or act that deserves appreciation each week. While one could definitely focus on areas on improvement, it works like a charm if it is balanced with that one genuine appreciation of good work. It might be a simple friendly statement during the discussion like “I liked the way you presented your case to X“, or “I love the way you have control on this Y account”.

Do I show them that I care about them as a person?

Showing people that you care is a strength. I was posted away from my hometown and my first boss, very early in career, enquired about my parents and how they would manage alone. He would regularly enquire if I had called them and spoken to them and not just be focussed on work. Sometimes he would ask the if we had our lunch, before starting the afternoon meeting and order for some food. I learnt to practice genuine care from him. I practiced it myself, throughout my career. I did not trust my memory, so I bought had a small notepad where I jotted down small details like their anniversary date, their favourite music and their children names. Occasionally I would ask about their family, about them. If they had gone on a vacation to Disneyland we would talk a bit about what rides kids enjoyed. I realise that it is never out-of-fashion to show concern and appreciation for the person, their family. And yes, show of concern does not mean being intrusive, or faking it.

Finally, I would encourage their development and pursuit of their goals.

Everyone, I believe, wants to learn and develop themselves. One of my very first companies that I worked for had a plan in place for Individual Development and that had a huge impact on me. For the rest of my work-life, I religiously practiced and inculcated Individual Development – whether the company had followed that policy or not. I share two examples here – in one technical person that wanted to learn and enhance his career by using Digital Marketing; and in another and a star Salesperson wanted to write a technical book. In case of former, the person ended up doing one of the best webinars and podcasts and, that drove sales and satisfaction levels of customers. In the other case, the sales person writing a technical book, built his credibility and insights and ended up reducing his sales cycle and conversion rates dramatically.

As I look back, these six questions that I ask myself, has been crystallised by observing different managers that coached me, and I had and put them into practice myself. If not for them, I would not have seen half the success that I have seen, but for these. Thank you!

*****

Please do share your thoughts and feedback and I will be glad to learn from you.

_____

**The author is an entrepreneur with two decades of senior leadership experience in India and Asia-Pacific and now runs Futureshift, a boutique consulting outfit that helps businesses chart their digital marketing strategy with the @ZMOTly framework to achieve impactful outcomes. He is available at rajesh@futureshift.com.sg **

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Leadership Lesson Uncategorised

Landing a dream job; not any job: Tackling the ‘personal’ questions

Interview – Personal Questions – A boon or a bane
__________________________________

What did they ask?

Pat comes the reply – “personal questions.” … It was too cool. They did not ask about the subjects. I slogged on the course revisions four times in vain. Then all they had to ask was to talk about myself. In ten minutes, they let me go. They must have been very happy.

When the interview results were out, our friend has not even made it to the second round.

After calling the interviewer fools, our friend revised financial management twice over and attended an interview with a bank.

Did he make it? Nay.

The story continues 6 times and out friend has revised his syllabus a dozen times over.
__________________________________

What is happening here is exactly what goes through most of the interviews and campus placements.
The trick and the simple solution lie in knowing about themselves.

In today’s world having skills (read courses) is given. It is necessary any way. If you have a degree/ diploma, you have secured it because you have studied the course and you have the necessary skills. It is necessary criteria for but not qualifying criteria.

What am I saying here?
Personal questions” are in fact the toughest of question. It requires a lot more than just saying what schools have you studied in or if you go to Sunday Mass regularly. It is more than your grand mother having two puppies or your brother being divorced. When companies ask for personal questions, they are looking for critical talents. Critical talents. Full Stop.

The inner capabilities, the strengths, the attitude – how you have worked in the past with colleagues or how passionate are you about what you say. Do you have the humility? Are you able to have a structured thought process? What triggers you? Can you cope up with failures? Will you fire up to meet the demands? Do you fear success? This and a lot more.

The interviewers look for your understanding of yourself. Your strength and your areas of improvement. That translates into what job you are applying for and why you are doing so. Companies look for if they can provide the rapid growth you aim for or a friendly culture you may prefer. They look for qualities and talents that make you unique, special and wanted.

Wow! You may say that lot.

So where can get all this on the web or can I read a book by rote?
Unfortunately, my friend, there is just NO source. It is about you. And only one person in the world knows you the best. YOU and it is between the two ears.

So what do I do?
You may want to spend some where between 20-80 hours preparing on

  • Who am I?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What is weakness?
  • What triggers me/ ticks me?
  • What sort of a culture in organization suits me?
  • What is the type of job I can do well and passionately?
  • Where are the areas I can add value and demonstrate my strengths?
  • If I am applying for XYZ, will I really fit in their job culture?

Quite a bit of introspection even before I prepare for the specific interview.

Tips:
Write this down on a clean book.
Think if it is your true character sketch.
If you were a movie director, have you communicated through the script on how you are a hero?



Now the Hero of the script has a mission to do. He knows the strengths, weakness, what excites and his weakness.

Based on this, you decide how you will steer the interview. Being honest, taking on questions you can, owning ignorance if you truly are clueless. Giving alternatives, meandering with a positive attitude and solution approach. Confident yet with humility, Assertive yet respecting the audience.
Playing to your strengths.

Victory is yours my friend and you will be there with the offer letter soon.

All the best!

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People Friday – The new address for Aspire2Be

Hi, it’s an important day for us. Finally after many years on the web as aspire2be, we have moved to a domain peoplefriday.xyz
Almost all of us have aspirations. Aspirations make us, us. And we are all people. People First.
Aspirations energise people, and we aim to achieving those aspirations. It does not matter when we begin, we want to get ‘there’ fast. So much like Fridays. As soon as the week begins, we look forward to a Friday.
Aspirations are for most part like Fridays.  We love them, we slog to get there and there we are at it again – for our next Friday.
People’s aspirations and thus PeopleFriday. Oh Boy! it is a Friday, today.
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Aspire to be a CEO: Four Essentials for Happiness


Sorce: By: Brian Tracy/ email 03/09/09

You may have a thousand different goals over the course of your lifetime, but they all will fall into one of four basic categories. Everything you do is an attempt to enhance the quality of your life in one or more of these areas.

  1. The Key to Happiness

The first category is your desire for happy relationships. You want to love and be loved by others. You want to have a happy, harmonious home life. You want to get along well with the people around you, and you want to earn the respect of the people you respect. Your involvement in social and community affairs results from your desire to have happy interactions with others and to make a contribution to the society you live in.

  1. Enjoy Your Work

The second category is your desire for interesting and challenging work. You want to make a good living, of course, but more than that, you want to really enjoy your occupation or profession. The very best times of your life are when you are completely absorbed in your work.

  1. Become Financially Independent

The third category is your desire for financial independence. You want to be free from worries about money. You want to have enough money in the bank so that you can make decisions without counting your pennies. You want to achieve a certain financial state so that you can retire in comfort and never have to be concerned about whether or not you have enough money to support your lifestyle. Financial independence frees you from poverty and a need to depend upon others for your livelihood. If you save and invest regularly throughout your working life, you will eventually reach the point where you will never have to work again.

  1. Enjoy Excellent Health

The fourth and final category is your desire for good health, to be free of pain and illness and to have a continuous flow of energy and feelings of well-being. In fact, your health is so central to your life that you take it for granted until something happens to disrupt it.

“Relax and allow affirmations to go through your subconscious mind!”

According to whole brain research, you can learn subjects quite rapidly as a result of deep relaxation and music used in a systemized, organized process. Because of this, it is also possible for you to learn new belief systems using the same techniques.

The process of taped affirmations combines positive affirmations with both music and relaxation. This makes it possible for your mind to accept the affirmations at an accelerated rate, resulting in your desired behavioral change.

Peace of Mind is the Key

Peace of mind is essential for every one of these. The greater your peace of mind, the more relaxed and positive you are, the less stress you suffer, the better is your overall health.

The more peace of mind you have, the better are your relationships, the more optimistic, friendly and confident you are with everyone in your life. When you feel good about yourself on the inside, you do your work better and take more pride in it. You are a better boss and coworker. And the greater your overall peace of mind, the more likely you are to earn a good living, save regularly for the future and ultimately achieve financial independence.

Control Your Attention

Life is very much a study of attention. Whatever you dwell upon and think about grows and expands in your life. The more you pay attention to your relationships, the quality and quantity of your work, your finances and your health, the better they will become and the happier you will be.

Action Exercises

Here are three things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.

  1. First, take time on a regular basis to think about what would make you really happy in each of the four areas.
  2. Second, set specific, measurable goals for improvement in your relationships, your health, your work and your finances and write them down.
  3. Third, resolve to do something every day to increase the quality of some area of your life – and then keep your resolution.
  4. “Recapture the Health, Vitality and Physique of your Youth!”
  5. Discover how to lose a pound a day – and keep it off.

Studies show that health and weight loss are areas of our life we say we need the most improvement in. If what you’re doing on our own isn’t getting the results you’re looking for, I will help you get there.

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Aspire to be a CEO: Learn the Four Rules of Time

Four Rules of Time
There are four rules of time.
1.     The first is that time is perishable.
This means that it cannot be saved. In fact, time can only be spent. Because time is perishable, the only thing you can do with it is to spend it differently, to reallocate your time away from activities of low value and toward activities of higher value. But once it is gone, it is gone forever.
2.     Time Is Indispensable
The second rule of time is that time is indispensable. All work requires time. No matter what it is you want to do in life, even looking out a window or sleeping in for a few extra minutes, it requires a certain amount of time. And according to the 10/90 Rule, the 10% of time that you take to plan your activities carefully in advance will save you 90% of the effort involved in achieving your goals later. The very act of thinking through and planning your work in advance will dramatically reduce the amount of time that it takes you to do the actual job.
3.     The Currency of the Future
The third rule of time is that time is irreplaceable. Nothing else will do, especially in relationships. Time is the only currency that means anything in your relationships with the members of your family, your friends, colleagues, customers and co-workers. Truly effective people give a lot of thought to creating blocks of time that they can then spend, without interruption, with the important people in their lives.
4.     The Key to Goal-Achievement
The fourth rule is that time is essential for accomplishment.
Every goal you want to achieve, everything you want to accomplish, requires time. In fact, one of the smartest things you ever do, when you set a goal, is to sit down and allocate the exact amount of time that you are going to have to invest to achieve that goal. The failure to do this almost always leaves the goal unaccomplished.

Action Exercises
Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action:
First, decide today to redirect and reallocate your time away from low-value tasks and toward high-value activities.
Second, make a plan to spend more time face-to-face with the most important people in your life. The more you think about the use of your time, the better you will become.
By: Brian Tracy
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Personal Development for the 21st Century: Forgiveness is The Act of Unchaining Yourself

Over the last couple of months, I have struggled with this.  Carrying years of negative energy, anger at people who I once trusted, and who let me down- all that affected me all these years.  It has started again now- and I am trying my level best to move on.  



This was a wake up Video! 



A must watch.

Personal Development for the 21st Century: Forgiveness is The Act of Unchaining Yourself: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes Most of us carry around anger…

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Aspire to be a CEO? Be your company’s ambassador, wave its flag. #LeadershipLessons101

Let me twist this the other way round –
How would you feel if the President of your company is cynical about your organization, its products, its people and its processes? Would you work for that President?
If you want to head this company some day,  would it not be fair that you commit yourself totally to its people, products and services. You must understand the company’s mission and its values. You must live the company culture. You must do this as your second nature. You must at all times be worthy of being a representative of the company that you work for.

  • Use its products. If possible promote them tirelessly to all, especially family and friends.
  • Buy your company’s stock, if available (and affordable).
  • Talk about the great people you work with. Be proud about them as your colleagues and friends.

We have all seen this enough times

    • customers do not buy from salesmen who do not believe in their product.
    • candidates do not join companies where HR does not believe in their own company’s values
    • employees do not want to work for managers who do not believe in the company
    • prospective employers shun candidates who talk ill of their previous organizations

If you do not believe in your company’s products, values, services or vision – DO NOT work for that company. There is no point in having you go through the dissonance each day, personally and with people around you. If you do not believe in smoking or explosives or that addictive video game, don’t work for such companies.
Cynicism about ones own company, its people and products is hallmark of a loser, not its future President.
PS: I am not suggesting that you must blindly advocate the wrong, if the company does one. If something is amiss, critique it constructively, offer to help and share with your superiors on the disconnect and how you plan to fix them. Do all it takes to fix it.  Or, may be there is a reason for the way things are that you may not know. By all means avoid the gossips and cynicism.

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Seven Personality Traits of Top Salespeople

Steve W. Martin
Steve W. Martin teaches sales strategy at the USC Marshall School of Business. His latest book on sales linguistics is Heavy Hitter Sales Psychology: How to Penetrate the C-level Executive Suite and Convince Company Leaders to Buy.
If you ask an extremely successful salesperson, “What makes you different from the average sales rep?” you will most likely get a less-than-accurate answer, if any answer at all. Frankly, the person may not even know the real answer because most successful salespeople are simply doing what comes naturally.
Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of interviewing thousands of top business-to-business salespeople who sell for some of the world’s leading companies. I’ve also administered personality tests to 1,000 of them. My goal was to measure their five main personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and negative emotionality) to better understand the characteristics that separate them their peers.
The personality tests were given to high technology and business services salespeople as part of sales strategy workshops I was conducting. In addition, tests were administered at Presidents Club meetings (the incentive trip that top salespeople are awarded by their company for their outstanding performance). The responses were then categorized by percentage of annual quota attainment and classified into top performers, average performers, and below average performers categories.
The test results from top performers were then compared against average and below average performers. The findings indicate that key personality traits directly influence top performers’ selling style and ultimately their success. Below, you will find the main key personality attributes of top salespeople and the impact of the trait on their selling style.

  1. Modesty. Contrary to conventional stereotypes that successful salespeople are pushy and egotistical, 91 per cent of top salespeople had medium to high scores of modesty and humility. Furthermore, the results suggest that ostentatious salespeople who are full of bravado alienate far more customers than they win over.
    • Selling Style Impact: Team Orientation. As opposed to establishing themselves as the focal point of the purchase decision, top salespeople position the team (presales technical engineers, consulting, and management) that will help them win the account as the centrepiece.
  2. Conscientiousness. Eighty-five per cent of top salespeople had high levels of conscientiousness, whereby they could be described as having a strong sense of duty and being responsible and reliable. These salespeople take their jobs very seriously and feel deeply responsible for the results.
    • Selling Style Impact: Account Control. The worst position for salespeople to be in is to have relinquished account control and to be operating at the direction of the customer, or worse yet, a competitor. Conversely, top salespeople take command of the sales cycle process in order to control their own destiny.
  3. Achievement Orientation. Eighty-four per cent of the top performers tested scored very high in achievement orientation. They are fixated on achieving goals and continuously measure their performance in comparison to their goals.
    • Selling Style Impact: Political Orientation. During sales cycles, top sales, performers seek to understand the politics of customer decision-making. Their goal orientation instinctively drives them to meet with key decision-makers. Therefore, they strategize about the people they are selling to and how the products they’re selling fit into the organization instead of focusing on the functionality of the products themselves.
  4. Curiosity. Curiosity can be described as a person’s hunger for knowledge and information. Eighty-two per cent of top salespeople scored extremely high curiosity levels. Top salespeople are naturally more curious than their lesser performing counterparts.
    • Selling Style Impact: Inquisitiveness. A high level of inquisitiveness correlates to an active presence during sales calls. An active presence drives the salesperson to ask customers difficult and uncomfortable questions in order to close gaps in information. Top salespeople want to know if they can win the business, and they want to know the truth as soon as possible.
  5. Lack of Gregariousness. One of the most surprising differences between top salespeople and those ranking in the bottom one-third of performance is their level of gregariousness (preference for being with people and friendliness). Overall, top performers averaged 30 per cent lower gregariousness than below average performers.
    • Selling Style Impact: Dominance. Dominance is the ability to gain the willing obedience of customers such that the salesperson’s recommendations and advice are followed. The results indicate that overly friendly salespeople are too close to their customers and have difficulty establishing dominance.
  6. Lack of Discouragement. Less than 10 per cent of top salespeople were classified as having high levels of discouragement and being frequently overwhelmed with sadness. Conversely, 90 per cent were categorized as experiencing infrequent or only occasional sadness.
    • Selling Style Impact: Competitiveness. In casual surveys I have conducted throughout the years, I have found that a very high percentage of top performers played organized sports in high school. There seems to be a correlation between sports and sales success as top performers are able to handle emotional disappointments, bounce back from losses, and mentally prepare themselves for the next opportunity to compete.
  7. Lack of Self-Consciousness. Self-consciousness is the measurement of how easily someone is embarrassed. The by-product of a high level of self-consciousness is bashfulness and inhibition. Less than five per cent of top performers had high levels of self-consciousness.
    • Selling Style Impact: Aggressiveness. Top salespeople are comfortable fighting for their cause and are not afraid of rankling customers in the process. They are action-oriented and unafraid to call high in their accounts or courageously cold call new prospects.

Not all salespeople are successful. Given the same sales tools, level of education, and propensity to work, why do some salespeople succeed where others fail? Is one better suited to sell the product because of his or her background? Is one more charming or just luckier? The evidence suggests that the personalities of these truly great salespeople play a critical role in determining their success.

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Tips for those with a Sales Career: Creative Selling

In this post, I want to share with you a few key characteristics of successful sales people and how they differ from the normal sales people.
You would probably agree the majority view that successful sales people meet their quotas, are happy with their profession and are enthusiastic about their customer satisfaction. On the contrary, those struggling to meet quotas (quarter on quarter), that are stressed and worried each day and have a habit of constant complaints about their customers are possibly unsuccessful sales persons.
Having seen thousands of sales people and managed and coached hundreds of them, I thought it would worthwhile to share my experience in a simplistic six-point format. I share these based on my observations on what happens when the sales person meets their customer – where the rubber hits the road.
A successful seller has a distinct approach to selling. He/ She

  1. concentrates on buyer’s need and solving their pain
  2. is focused on customer satisfaction; The  purchase order for them, is means to an end.
  3. always, converts features into benefit statements for the prospect
  4. is an active listener; asks questions to clarify his own understanding
  5. cooperates with the prospect in making the buying decision
  6. congratulates prospect on making the right choice

A normal salesperson is very unlike the above and usually demonstrates the following traits –

  1. is focused on the product
  2. is only interested in getting the order
  3. can rattle out product features tirelessly
  4. talks endlessly, never missing a beat
  5. pushes for the sale, oblivious of what is running in his prospect’s mind
  6. thanks prospect for the order

These fundamental differences almost always do sift between the rice and husk.
Happy Selling!

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Motivational video

Aspire to be- the BEST!

Nothing comes easily – especially success.

I found this video – very simple and supremely inspiring.

What makes the difference between the person who is first and who comes behind!

Watch this everyday!

Go through this every single day- and motivate yourself to put in that effort- to bring the passion to the fore- that will propel you to bigger things in life!  

All the best. Happy Viewing.

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Aspire to be a CEO: Learn differentiated decision making.

One of those big myths about business decision making is about the inherent admiration of a aggressive, super-sure, quick decision maker. This strategy may be great in certain situations – not so good in others.

Some decisions in haste can be reversed, altered or has little impact. These haste decisions are necessary if there is a fire in a factory. Decisions made for the sake of speed is a little different from decisions that require swiftness. Understanding the difference is critical.
There are two kinds of decisions – revocable and irrevocable.
Revocable decisions are changeable decisions that can be made relatively fast and if it is wrong or needs to be altered, can be changed again relatively fast wit comparatively minimal impact. Examples would be – Office layouts, Advertising schedules, Not making a decision, Pricing, Phone service provider, Choosing an insurance company, even hiring a contract staff or a tier 2 reseller.
Irrevocable decisions such as brand name, acquisitions, executive hires, buildings, IT architecture are usually not easily irrevocable. Exercise caution while taking irrevocable decisions. Even if you need to take these decisions under time pressure, then you need to read fast, assimilate information fast, analyse fast, think fast and then decide. The decision may seem fast – but as a manager – you know you have done your due diligence.
Sounds easy! The essence of understanding the difference is the situations under which you operate in a particular mode that will make you successful.
Tim to decide! Merry Christmas!

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Aspire to be a CEO: Get closer to your customer. Be a salesman.

Is it a coincidence that majority of corporate Presidents started as a salesman or were sales people at some point in their career?
Selling is a super critical function. Selling possibly is the only function that gets up close and personal to your customer. A sales person starts to  understanding customer’s likes, dislikes and idiosyncrasies. They get to know the precise reason why a product or company clicks or why it ticks.
And as the salesperson grows in the organization to increased responsibilities, they start shaping products, teams and organization structures to address their customer’s need. They have first hand experience and the conviction required to fix things that generates revenue for the company. Over time and not surprisingly, the successful salesman becomes an star within the company. He is well recognized, for the sales man knows their customers the best.
When management wants to hire for a position on the management team,

  1. who do you think would be on their A-list – A star salesman.
  2. Secondly, since organization exist because of their customers, management would prefer some one who has been with the customers for senior positions.
  3. Thirdly, in all probability the current CEO and the executive team were salespersons themselves in the career. It is only natural for biases towards star salespersons.

Whatever be the case if you are a salesman you are in good hands. You have the inherent advantage to get to the top. If not, get a role in sales to fill up that gaping hole in your otherwise impeccable record.

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Aspire to be a CEO: Add fuel to the fire!

Making an impact is a good thing. To leave a mark is a good thing.
However in this destructive goal pursuit of ‘leaving a mark’ and ‘making an impact’ managers often reverse their predecessors decision and change things just to ‘leave a mark’ and ‘make an impact’.
Successful CEOs from Jack Welch to Lou Gerstener, did change a zillion things. They did make an impact. But they did retain one characteristic – they encouraged good things.
If you find good things – however dull, old or tried – just add fuel to it. catalyse more of it. Not every success is about solving a problem, or doing a turnaround. The sole financial objective of a company is to give significant returns to its shareholders.
You do this by finding and filling your customers needs. If you customers love it – do not change it. Do not change the labels, the ingredients, the name, price, advertising or anything else.
IBM understood the power of its eight bar logo and its brand name. Coke understood the power of its ingredients. The Disney company understands the value of Mickey Mouse. P&G is never tired of telling people that Ivory soap is “99 and 44/100 per cent pure”. And they did it for fifty, seventy, hundred years.
Don’t change the formula for success – Add fuel to the fire!
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Aspire to be a CEO: Don’t build empires and fiefdoms.

Another big myth from practicing managers is that they think that the biggest budget and the most people reporting to them is a guarantee to get them to the top. This probably was true in the days of kings not in today’s flat world.  Today, it is all (only) about doing more with less.
Do more – Grow revenue, profits, marketshare – with less people, money and resources.
A few cardinal rules

  • never complain that you are expected to do more than what your budget enables
  • do not be that manager who is constantly hiring people
  • never use lack of resource as an excuse

Forget the empire. Power and promotions go to people who can do more with less. Efficient producers not resource hungry administrators.

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Aspire to be a CEO: Only bet on yourself!

When my nephew was seven years old, his favourite cricket team Deccan Chargers was clearly winning, with 12 runs needed off 36 balls and two wickets to spare. Convinced of the victory, he offered to bet his grandfather on the outcome of the game. His grandfather laughed and agreed. The stakes were $4.64, all they money that the seven year old had. In the next five minutes the bowler took two straight wickets and the boy lost.
The kid hated to lose and as he was giving away his life’s earnings his grandfather said, “Only bet on yourself. Don’t bet on events and people you can’t control to influence. Don’t bet on what you don’t know or understand.”
These golden words hold immense wisdom in business. History is galore with examples from sub-prime crisis to Wall Street crash to the dot-com burst. These events had downed hundreds of companies and rendered millions unemployed. They had one common characteristic. The executives of the failed firms had an appetite for risks. More importantly they were betting on risks beyond their control; on things they did not understand and on things that they did not believe in.
Was it then a surprise disaster was in the making.
The golden rule of any successful manager or entrepreneur – he would should bet only and only if he can influence and has control. Risk taking is not a great idea if you do not control the risk factors.
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Aspire to be a CEO: Have Fun, Laugh!

Business is tough and may is not joy ride. That should not stop you from emanating joy and having fun along the way.
As a manager, you are expected to to keep the team focussed towards the goal. You are supposed to to lead them through the journey. You can make the journey hard, grumpy and tiring. Or you have a choice to make the joy, fun and lively.
It is a common knowledge that people who enjoy their work can be more creative, more enthusiastic and more productive. Conversely, an environment that is constantly serious and matter-of-fact is stressful and inefficient.
The manager who is able to maintain a sense of humour, lightens the mental load will always have a motivated happy team. A motivated less stressed team is a more productive team. They achieve things faster, better and bigger.
Sense of humour is mark of intelligence and quality sought out for corporate presidents. If you see it as a rare quality – all the more reason you have a better change of being one if you possess one.
Make  fun@work a reality.
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Aspire to be a CEO: Don’t hide the Elephant.

Big problems will always surface. Even if they are hidden unintentionally, the fall out is disastrous when they surface. The ‘hiders’ are always face a more serious censure than the ‘discoverers’. The discoverers are being safe. the ‘hiders’ were trying to cover up. the fall-out is not always nice.
When you know of a big problem or a goof up, let the bosses know immediately. The delay is only going to worsen things. At least, if you shout early, you can get help.
Turn the problem into opportunity. Give them a potential estimate of loss. Give possible scenarios. Give solutions to come out of the situation. Ask for help, resources, management support. At least they can strengthen your hands. It is also important that you position yourself of independent reporter in control. Describe the problem as if you were not previously involved.
Watergate to Vietnam, bankruptcies to Iraq, all elephants that ere hidden and mismanaged.They grew bigger and bigger and beyond control., When they could no more be hidden, the hiders lost everything.
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#LeadershipLesson: Follow the footsteps of your Boss!

‘Boss Bitching’ is a fad. An entertaining one, at that; though not the right one to take you to the top.
All of us have heard people who can just complain and complain about their bosses – just give them an opportunity and they can rattle the worst things about their twenty-seven bosses through career. They  share horrifying stories about their tyrannical and incompetent bosses, that have reached the top while leaving these people in the lurch. Such sad stories are for losers.
Winners do not have tyrannical bosses. They have fantastic bosses and amazing supervisors.
Just as most people can vividly remember their memorable teachers and their teachings from kindergarten to Graduate school, the same applies to business. Winners do remember learning from their bosses.
They know, that most people do not have a choice on hiring their bosses. But they do have a choice of learning the good qualities from them. They know, that nobody is perfect, and every body is good at something. Winners learn, study, emulate the good things from their boss – whoever they are.
Great teachings from superiors are subtle, yet significant—they praise properly, they are fair goal setters, they are honest, they  let people grow. There may have their idiosyncrasies and whims – but great bosses are usually hard working, smart and open minded.
Seek those people early in you career. Seek people with those qualities. Work for them. Watch them closely. see how they handle problems and handle criticism. Note how they manage people and get things done.
Walk their way!,
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Aspire to be a CEO: Push ideas not paper.

As modern corporations grow to become global businesses, there is an increasing need for ‘replicable models’ and ‘standardized processes’. This need slowly takes the form of “Bureaucratic Creep”.
While, practically every organization and every job description demands the need for qualities like entrepreneurship, innovative and risk taking – that precise quality that is being killed every day in most organizations. Pangs of growth, they would say!
Corporations are afraid of internal entrepreneurs. They cannot handle personalities that build businesses. Most managers cannot deal with informal, anti-policy, anti-procedure style ,idea people and business builders. They want monthly reports, detailed expense accounts, personal reviews on paper, quarterly reports, year-end reports, stock reports, one hundred page business plans and many more. Do not get paper-strapped. Papers are means to an end.
Do not get paper trapped. Do not accept those handcuffs. The zillion reports, if they do not help in decision making – do not prepare them. If some report has to be done and you know no one  looks at it, avoid it at all costs. If it is unavoidable, delegate it to the junior-most level staff. Just do not do anything  that does not improve your company’s performance.
PS: At the same time please do document the statutory things that are important for your company existence.

“Bureaucratic Creep” is a term you will hear used a lot around leadership and management conferences.  It refers to the inexorable progress of developing bureaucracy to deal with the issues that arise when a company grows past a certain point.  Bureaucratic creep is really just a function of laziness, taking the easiest path to a desired end.  Rather than deal with individuals, we find it easier and more efficient (at least in the short term) to set up policies and “class actions,” which say, “anyone who falls into . . . category will be dealt with by  . . .  means”  In small companies, we see much less of this “efficient” behaviour.

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Aspire to be a CEO: Don’t Panic or Lose your Temper

Temper tantrums, sulking, finger-pointing are all signs of panic. More corporate heads have rolled because of the above than any other single display of emotion.

When managers panic, they lose their temper and behave in what would go down in history as the ‘best regrettable moment’. Good CEOs do not panic. nor lose their temper. They are confident and in-control in adverse situations. That earns them the respect.
If a colleague makes an unkind comment to you, do not respond. It is OK to smile.Your supporters will be as offended as you. Your detractors will sense your control. Anybody e;lose will see you above the fray. Do not get angry. Even when anger is justified, observers are put off by the angry person.
This can be a cultivated habit and its importance cannot be underemphasized.Calm down. Tell yourself to say calm. If you have ten seconds to make a decision, think for nine.
Let me illustrate with a story, I heard not so long ago.
In the course of making fine wine, one of the crucial periods is the crush. The crush is those few weeks when grape is selected for harvest, tested for quality, chosen or rejected and crushed to release the juice that will eventually become wine. Mistakes or misjudgements during the crus can adversely impact the entire vintage resulting in damaged reputation and reduced prices and profits.
Some years ago, in the mist of a crush at a famous winery, the president received a frantic call from his managers. The winemaker has resigned. The president immediately knew three damage potential but he stayed calm and thought for a few moments and then asked, “what would you do if the winemaker died instead of resigned?”. The managers said they would make so-and-so the winemaker. “So be it”, said the president and the new winemaker carried the winery tradition for fifteen more years.
Go ahead! Start taking control of your temper before it controls you..

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Aspire to be a CEO: Avoid Office Politics

Another common myth is that people think that the road to the top is by being either ‘at the feet’ or ‘at the throat’. They make politicking a virtue and an obvious way of life. Such people survive in poor organizations.
Rampant office politics is sign of a weak leader. It stems from incompetence, inefficiency and is fuelled by reward system/ performance metrics that are unclear and unfair. Instead of fighting competition, acquiring new customers and help in improving efficiency these managers fight each other and curry favour. You may even have heard statements like “there are customers , competitors and enemies”, the last one being an internal entity.
Don’t waste your time. Avoid politics at all costs. As a professional, spend your time creating and accomplishing. Your actions are your politics. Be irreproachable in your actions and results. Contribution counts in any good company. And if you are not in such a company change the company!
Be the last to know. Don’t get sucked in. Don’t let people tell you something if they say it is ‘confidential’. Don’t ask, don’t answer, don’t agree. Don’t say anything bad about any one. Don’t gossip. Say I don’t know.
Just work!

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Aspire to be a CEO? Overpay your people

Contrarian? Not really!
If a person needs to be paid $5,000 a month, he will know. You pay him $4750, he will know and he will feel cheated. He will not go that extra mile or work that extra hour. Some how, he will find a way to punish you – mentally, physically or financially – for paying him unfairly. It is a matter of time till he just jumps sides at the first available option – you lose all your efforts of training them. Worse still, he will go to a competitor.
If some one needs to be paid $5,000 pay him $5,750. You will get much more
 than what it costs you. This person will now stretch and justify the confidence.
Myopic Managers seldom understand this trick. They are cutting costs and feel proud of having shaved that  few hundred dollars. Little do they realise that a motivated and charged up employee contributes 25%-100% more than a normal employee. In fact, the ration may go up in multiples, compared to a morose employee who comes to work each day feeling cheated and spends his mental energies looking for better opportunities.
People are an investment, not costs. I would have a fewer people who work at 120% efficiency than a bunch of blokes working at 70% efficiency.
The old adage – “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys” – still holds true. In fact if a manager prides about paying the lowest salaries, they better be sacked. After all they are doing disservice to the company and killing the innovation and larger game plan by saving a few bucks.
PS:

  1. A higher pay, does well to a man’s ego and confidence. Anything that does that is a sure shot way to get phenomenally better result.
  2. Better still, they become unemployable as most players in the market cannot afford to pay her that.
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Aspire to be a CEO: Be an icon*!

 Anyone can be someone under the sun
To be a face in the crowd, one must be an icon *

Becoming an icon demands more
more than just flowing with the current

 an icon acts with responsibility and integrity
an icon believes in his cause
an icon can differentiate between unreal and real
an icon cares for people
an icon defies the herd
an icon detests mediocrity
an icon does not need to do popularity gimmicks
an icon exposes the fallacies
an icon has passion for his crusade
an icon helps people around him grow
an icon practices innovation as if it were a religion
an icon questions falsehood
an icon stands up what is right
an icon thinks only win-win
an icon unravels the truth

Not every one is an icon; each one  can aspire to be one.

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Aspire to be a CEO: Learn to juggle the three balls.

 
Learn this fundamental equation about life. Your life can be broadly classified into three areas Family

  1. Career
  2. Money

   
The beautiful interplay of these three facets is unceasing and perpetual. Needless to say, different aspects require different focus at different times. You may, for example, start early in life with a focus on a career where you learn new skills and become a subject matter expert. Over time you may shift your focus towards building financial security. At this point, you may want to monetize your skill sets and negotiate for better money.

Or there may also be the situation that you had just got married or had a baby and prefer to dedicate the next few years primarily to family while continuing to juggle with money and career to make you the most fantastic husband or father. This is not to say that one is not more important than the other. It is more of to help you prioritize these balls while juggling.
Remember, while juggling these balls, there can be additional complexities. These three balls change their form. At different points, different rubber balls may turn into glass balls. Your cleverness is to recognize the glass balls and drop the rubber balls if you need to. A classic example would be a situation where marriage is on the rocks because of your hectic travel (career focus), and you are on the brink of separation. Or you are fast depleting your financial reserves while you continue to stick to a career with a firm that gave you fancy titles but just has been paying you 50% of what the market can pay you for a similar job.
While they may broadly be connected and seem interchangeable – they are not. E.g., a promising career broadly would mean good money – not necessarily. Good money would mean good family life – but not necessarily – you may be chasing money while all that your daughter wants is to spend that one hour with you in the evening.
How do you action this?
Plan: Sit down and think hard. What is the most crucial thing in your life now? What is the goal (measurable timeline) on that front to say that you have achieved that? What is the second priority, and what is the third? At which point would you want to reprioritize one for the other – money for career or family and vice-versa? You must have a comprehensive plan.
Over time, monitor if you are on the right path. If at any time you feel disgruntled – revisit the priorities – are you focusing on the right areas?– Are you achieving results on the order of priority? If not, reprioritize.
– If you are already doing the right thing, be happy – you are on the right path.
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Aspire to be a CEO? For your life’s sake, Have a Goal

FREE Download of an exclusive Goal Sheet template – Goal Sheet_aspire2be.pdf;
In football or hockey you need goals to win. A goal is a result of successful effort – No Goals, No Glory.
Let us look at another example – Even before a pilot takes off from an airport, he needs to know his destination. Without the destination there is no flight path. And without a flight path there is no take-off. You may be the best of the pilots – you still need to know where you are going.
That said, the single most important action in your entire life, is the setting of goals.

The term No Goals, No Glory. Works just as much in your business as your life.
· How will you set directions for your team if you cannot tell them what to chase – sales target, cost savings, zero-defect. Whatever it may be.
· Ho will you set direction for yourself if you do not know where to go – career progress, family needs, money?
Once you have the goals – written down – personal or professional – direct your focus, energies and resources towards achieving them. You would ideally have two sets of goals – one for your business and one for your life.
You can start with a long term goal (vision) and deep dive into fifteen-ten-five-one year time tables. One way of planning it out could be as follows:

  1. Your Dream List – 15, 10, 5 year goals
  2. Your Vision and SWOT
  3. Your Year Plan of Action
  4. Your monthly Plan of Action
  5. Your Monthly self assessment

If you don’t have goals – you have no reason to get them in the first place.
My favorite way of putting it – “If you do not know where you are going, you will never get lost”.
 

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How do you manufacture the 25th hour each day

One wise man said 10 years ago:

“They only manufacture watches. Wish they could manufactured time”

Circa 2010, the wise man rephrased his earlier statement:

“They still cannot manufacture time, but each individual can”

And here is how the wise man realised how one can manufacture the 25th hour.
Just do one thing – Do the Important Things.
A time-tested tactic if used well would get you that extra hour or may be a couple of hours every day. Slot every activity you do into one of the four quadrants in the picture. Do Quadrant 1, 2, 3, 4 activities in the same priority order. In fact avoid 3 and 4 if you can. Quadrant 2

1. Urgent and Important: E.g. Deadlines. Your Boss needs it NOW, to make a presentation to his boss in 2 hours. Unfortunate to be in this state but some has to live with it.
2. Not Urgent and Important: E.g. spending time with family, Business Planning, Strategising to pre-empt competitors launch plan 6 months down the line. Do this and this by far is the biggest time saver as you would realise. You may just ignore 3 and 4 and nothing will happen to your life.
3. Urgent and Not Important: E.g. Interruptions and phone calls. They need to be attended to but the reason for interruption may not be all that important. In fact it might be an absolute time waster. Avoid if you can.
4. Not Urgent and Not Important: E.g. mindless switching of channels. Sleeping more than 8 hours a day. The zillion timewasters that if you reflect on, you will know.
Now go ahead and listen to the Wise Man’s trick – do the important stuff first.
PS: The wise man is none other than the author.
 

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The Art of Talking: Be an Active Listener

Over the weekend, my wife asked me a sudden and seemingly simple question. “How does one talk to people and make a good conversation?”
My answer was spontaneous almost as if it was a programmed – “Simple, Just be an active Listener?”
She repeated her question again, this time with a slightly stern voice – “I asked on how one does talk to people, not how one listens?”

This conversation is indeed critical and I wanted to share this particular topic on this blog.
The art of a good conversation centers squarely on one’s ability to ask questions and to listen attentively to the answers. While it might be true that you talk about your views, insights, ideas, and opinions the real art of talking is in listening.
Perfecting the art of listening is by asking relevant, well-worded questions that guides the conversation and gives other people an opportunity to express themselves. They reveal their emotions, illustrate their views and share their opinions. Each of these is super important if you want to build on the conversation.
There are simple four steps that anybody can follow. Practice diligently and you will be the most admired conversationalist in a few weeks.

  1. Ask Open Ended Questions: Ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Open-ended questions encourage the speaker to expand on his thoughts and comments. E.g.: “How are you feeling today?”, “What do you think of …..” And one question will lead to another. You can ask open-ended questions almost endlessly, drawing out of the other person everything that he or she has to say on a particular subject.
  2. Listen Actively: In order to be an excellent conversationalist, you must resist the urge to control the discussion. The very best conversationalists, as any salesman would tell you are low-key, easy-going, cheerful, and genuinely interested in the other person. They seem to be quite content to listen when other people are talking and they make their own contributions to the dialogue rather short and to the point.
  3. Share Airtime: In fact, in a good conversation ideas and thoughts both-ways smoothly like a flow of water. Whether it is one-one, one-many, the conversation should shift back and forth, with each person getting an opportunity to talk. Conversation in this sense is like a ball that is tossed from person to person, with no one holding on to it for very long. If you feel that you have been talking for too long, you should stop and ask a question of someone in the group. You will be tossing the conversational ball and giving that individual an opportunity to converse.
  4. Learn to Listen Well: Listening is the most important of all skills for successful conversation. Many people are very poor listeners. Since everyone enjoys talking, it takes a real effort to practice the fundamentals of excellent listening and to make them a habit.
  5. Practice, Practice, Practice.

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Aspire to be a CEO? Practice Multitasking

Moving up the ladder requires you to do many tasks at the same time. They may be managing multiple projects, juggling things to do, manage people and expectations to just name a few. This also requires the coordination of efforts of several people, each of whom is responsible for a part of the job, with every part of the job being necessary for successful completion. Your ability to handle these multitask jobs is a critical skill for success.
Multitasking is a must have and no more a ‘nice to have’ quality: It is not surprising that the study by Stanford University of the qualities that companies look for in promoting people into the position of chief executive officer concluded that the ability multitask and put together a team to accomplish a task was the single most important identifiable quality of an executive who was destined for the fast track in his/her career.
Is this an inherited talent or a learnable skill? I have heard often times by people that they just cannot do multiple things at the same time? It is not their DNA. They can read the newspaper and have their morning coffee. They can watch television and brush their teeth. Project management is a learnable skill, like riding a bicycle. Similarly, any project can be divided into a series of steps, each of which you can master, one at a time. You begin by defining the end-game. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? What is the face of success?  Start by defining the end.

  1. Where to Start? Start where it matters – at the beginning. What you are going to have to do? Determine the specific outcome and timeline. Make sure that it is realistic and achievable.
  2. Build the troops: Bring together the people who are required to make this project a success. Sometimes you need to assemble a team before you can even decide upon the ideal result and the schedule. People are everything, take ample time and think carefully about the people and what they are going to do.
  3. Create a shared vision: A shared vision is an ideal future picture of success that everyone believes in. How do you do that? You sit down with the people in the team nod work with them to answer the question, “What are we trying to accomplish?” You encourage everyone to contribute, visualize, and to imagine the ideal outcome or desired result of the project. Once this vision is clear and shared by everyone, you move on to the development of “shared plans” to achieve the vision.
  4. Set Schedules and Deadlines: Once you have a shared vision and plans, and everyone knows exactly what is to be done and what the ideal results will look like, the next step is for you to set a deadline for project completion based on the consensus of your team.
  5. Follow through: Follow through to completion

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Realize your dream – in three steps

There are three steps to realize your dreams. They are inter-related and interdependent. This awareness helps you to program your mind and take charge. Only when you learn to take charge of your new and positive self, can you control your future.

  1. My Ideal: The first part of creating your dream is to create a “My Ideal“. My Ideal state determines the direction of your dream. It guides and evolves your character and personality. It is a combination of all of the qualities of other people that you most admire. My Ideal is a description of the person you would very much like to be if you could embody the qualities that you most aspire to.
  2. Go on the Path of Excellence: You have seen and read about the qualities of courage, confidence, compassion, love, fortitude, perseverance, patience, forgiveness and integrity. You might not always be the very best that you know, but you are constantly striving to be a better person. In fact, everything that you do on a day-to-day basis is affected by your comparing your activities with the ideal qualities and you’re striving to behave consistently with them.
  3. Have super-Clarity: Successful leaders have super-clear ideals for themselves. On the contrary unsuccessful people have fuzzy ideals. Successful leaders are super-clear about being excellent in every part of their work and their personal lives. One of the primary characteristics of successful men and women in every walk of life is that they have super-clearly defined ideals and they are very aware of whether or not their current behaviors are consistent with their idealized behaviors.

Go ahead, set challenging goals. Your future is unlimited. Start now!!.

Go-dos!
First, dream big dreams. Set big, exciting, challenging goals and ideals for yourself in every part of your life. Allow yourself to imagine a wonderful life ahead.
Second, think about how you would act if you were an outstanding person in every way. Then, practice being this person, as though you were acting a role in a play. You’ll immediately notice a difference in your behavior.

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Aspire to be a CEO? Keep Physically Fit.

Your brain will make you money, but it is your body that carries your brain. The better shape your physical health is better is your mental health – the greater is your capacity to be productive and efficient.
And there is another good reason. Ninety-five percent of people trying to climb the corporate ladder are unfit or out of shape. You will be able to start earlier, take fewer breaks and end your day still energetic and with an enthusiastic spirit.
You will even sleep better. You will energy to spend time with family and even play with your kids. You will be energetic and will be noticed as an energetic leader. Your spirits will be up and there are lesser chances of you getting depressed.
You will have more  energy and motivation to meet friends, build network, play your favorite sport, socialize, see your kid’s theatre, volunteer and a lot more.
It is your choice. How you keep fit is up to you.
Food for thought: If Anil Ambani, net worth $13.7bn can run 18kms a day, so can you!
The younger Ambani is a fitness freak and his passion for running is well documented. He’s a regular on the marathon circuit and his running mates include a canteen boy who works at the State Bank of India in Nariman Point. He’s also seen at Mumbai’s Mahalakshmi Race Course with his children where they enjoy horse rides. Anil Ambani is up every day by 4:00 a.m. and reads every scrap of information published while he was sleeping before he hits the road. (Source: http://business.in.com/article/india-rich-list-09/lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous/7352/1)
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#LeadershipLesson Aspiring to be a CEO? Are you a CEO? Always take vacations.

Remember those braggers, who claim that they have never taken a vacation in years. He or she must be a fool or a very poor manager. You should be able to set people, systems and processes in such a way that they can function without you. How else will you be able to go out to meet customers?
  1. If your department can work when you travel for customer meetings, so can they when you take vacations.
  2. If your department cannot move an inch without you, then it is a shame on your management style – you have not built an organization that is self sustaining – start building it.

In any case, there are many reasons why you must take vacations.

  • If you travel and meet more people, the more you learn. The more you learn the wiser you become. It is not with a reason the great philosophers and kings in those days travelled around the world or went on voyages.
  • When you are away from the rut of routine, new ideas crop up. You can broaden your horizons and out-of-the-box thinking may emerge. Simpler solutions to solve complex issues!
  • It will be the time to pursue your other interests – writing a book, photography, snorkeling or climbing the Kota Kinabalu.
  • It is a time to think and plan. Even a planned vacation forces you to work hard before you leave and finish stuff that otherwise would have taken weeks.
  • When you come back, you are energized and raring to go to take your team and the organization to the next level – the right thing to do.

Always plan your vacation in advance. Pick your dates, let your bosses know. Never cancel, Never leave a phone number. It might be hard first – but try it. Soon it will become a norm.

Experiment and go to different places.

But always go. Get out of the rut. Smell fresh air. Get fresh ideas. Find new ways of doing things.

Vacations!

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PASSing the E-mail test

The US economy loses over $900 billion annually in lost productivity and up to 28 percent of workers’ time due to information overload because of email. The impact is severe – not enough strategic thinking time, lack of work/life balance, and workflow breakdowns.
With billions worth of lost productivity each year, many companies are questioning the value of e-mail and how to bring it back into balance. It would appear on the surface that e-mail is a big problem. However, is e-mail really the problem, or is it the approach to e-mail that’s flawed?
It is easy to see that the real issue is the behaviors employees have adopted and developed around approaching their inboxes, such as:

  • compulsively checking e-mail
  • loosely constructing e-mails
  • holding 1000s of e-mail messages in the inbox

To get e-mail under control, we must first re-examine these approaches, recognize that they may not be working, and replace them with behaviors to manage e-mail more effectively, not just as individuals but as teams and organizations.
I suggest you apply the popular McGhee E-Mail PASS Model the next time you write an important e-mail. It is seen that users spend 32% lesser time, 81% and fewer messages in their inbox when they use this model.
Ask yourself  these four questions while composing e-mails that are lengthy and take more than two minutes to write.

  1. P – What’s the Purpose of your communication and does it relate to a Meaningful Objective? (If it doesn’t relate back to your Meaningful Objectives consider renegotiating or disengaging.)
  2. A – What Action is involved and does it have a due date? (Be clear about what you want the recipient to do: take physical action, respond only, read only, or simply review as an FYI. When using time lines be discerning and make sure they mean something and hold people accountable to your timeliness.)
  3. S – What Supporting documentation do you need to include? (Identifying the supporting information that the recipient needs in order to complete the requested action successfully. This will reduce the likelihood of your message coming back to you with questions.)
  4. S – Have you effectively summarized your communication in the Subject Line? (Follow three elements to a good Subject Line: clarify the meaningful objectives or projects that the e-mail message relates to, clearly indicate the action requested, and identify a due date, if there is one.)

So the next time you write an email, let people talk about your ability to PASS the test.

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Aspire to be a CEO? Do something Hard and Lonely



 Contrary to popular notion of doing something in group, Do something Hard, Do something Lonely.
Practice something very individualistic and something that that most others will be unwilling to do. This will help you feel tough, help you concentrate, boost your ego and make you feel special. It will mentally prepare you for the business battles. Remember, it does get lonelier at the Top.
Something that is hard and lonely is studying for a graduate in film making, especially in winter, when everyone else is snoozing under their sheets. Or running slow over long distances at 4:00am in the morning (versus jogging with a million others at the fitness club in the evening).
Learn carpentry, write a book, read Tolstoy, but do it yourself. Do it alone and solo.
All the great and successful athletes and artists that you admire did have endless hours of toil when the world was sleeping. So do corporate Presidents.
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Management by Moving Away

Over the weekend my wife posed me an interesting question – “How can we tell leaders to be less intimidating, even when their influence on subordinates is unintentional?”  I quipped – “Is it me, you are talking about?”, since both of us work in the same firm and I happen to be its CEO.
On a serious note , I said, “A good question, and my first answer – Just get away from there”. This is sometimes the best thing a superior can do, by physically not being there and stifle the thinking and suggestions in a group of otherwise similar-status peers. I am sure there are many examples each of us can come back with.
What is really happening here?
In many a situation the leader unintentionally imposes his ideas on others, thus hindering free thinking. This may not be the ‘Directive Leadership’ that Social psychologist Clark McCauley describes in his research on factors influencing Groupthink. In fact, in many Asian cultures the hierarchical structure is so deeply ingrained that even the mere presence of the superior, prevents free thinking and free exchange of ideas. It may be out of respect or out of fear  – whatever the cause the effect is the same – ‘Death of Free Thinking’
To prevent such situations, I have seen many leaders consciously avoid being present in a group workshop or a brain storming session. They visit only towards the end to listen to the summary. Is that a good idea?
May be, partly. While that solves this problem, it creates another beast.Over time, the superior becomes ignorant and aloof from the ground realities. The leader loses the precious knowledge on how the team thinks and works.
What then is the right answer? I do not have clear answers, except to say you may want to do either of it in moderation.
Story of Cuban Missile Crisis:
In October of 1962 when President John F. Kennedy’s advisers were debating about what to do about the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the Soviet Union was taking steps to place missiles topped with nuclear weapons just 90 miles from Florida.  Kennedy had gathered experts with diverse opinions and knowledge and encouraged them to express their opinion.
As Irving Janis mentions in his article Groupthink, at one point, Kennedy divided the larger group into multiple sub-groups and asked each to develop solutions — in order to avoid excessive and premature consensus. Kennedy also reduced the potentially stifling effects of his status as president by being deliberately absent from these subgroup meetings, 
Although historians and psychologists continue to debate how important such measures to avoid groupthink were for producing the decisions that ultimately defused the crisis, I think that the more general lesson holds: sometimes the best way for a leader to reduce undue influence is to leave the room or avoid going to meetings where his or her presence will hinder frank discussion and deep examination of facts.
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Formal Employment is a Myth


Over the last few weeks, I have been inundated with phone calls and emails from friends and colleagues, most of whom have lost their jobs because of
‘the economy.Barring a few exceptions, I believe that most Of them were worthy performers with commendable capabilities. Each of them had some worthy skills and unique talents. It was poignant, however, when I saw them live a sense of amputated existence – in their minds and spirits.

This note I dedicate to them and many others like them.

A formal employment give, or at least is supposed to give, three things:

  1. Job security
  2. A sense of identity with a name card with a title and a company name
  3. Monthly cash flow to sustain living expenses and to create assets.

1. Job security: The closure of Lehman and lay-offs by GM, Microsoft, and IBM only question the same hypothesis of Job Security in salaried jobs today.

2. Identity: a name card and title give us a sense of social status. Why would you not achieve the same if you start your own company and become the CEO or consultant? You have just given yourself a title and a job scope, which you have always wanted.

The other aspect of identity is the “company brand” or “revenues” of the company. Think about it – these top Wall Street banks just crumbled. General Motors and Chryslers reported pathetic performance; they could not get a single act right. You sure are better than those CEOs. At least you did *not* depreciate public money. In your evaluation, your worth needs to be better than what you think by being an appendage to someone else’s.

3. Monthly cash flow is the most rational reasoning and has a practical impact. We all need money to run our homes, eat food, pay rent and pay for children’s education. If we were to calculate these with a level of practicality – go back and check our current bank reserves and re-prioritize. I would reckon that most people in middle and senior management should be well off. In most cases, we can live well, without a job for 5-20 years, with a reasonably good lifestyle. Does that give you some confidence? I suggest you do this exercise and think about it. We are more prosperous than we believe, and we are far more capable than we think we are.

Disclaimer:

The above view assumes that the ones who are laid off or made redundant are good performers and have enough capability in their respective fields. It is presupposed that they have an intellect and potential which helped them in delivering success in their earlier jobs.

Needless to say, if I were the those good-for-nothing or someone who just counted the monthly pay checks into the bank without any performance or capability, then they were plain lucky to have been employed in the first place.

***

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Aspire to be a CEO? Never ever write a nasty email.