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Category Archives: Leadership

Software or Tool selection strategy that you should be using in your organization


Software

Recently I was called upon to help one of our local business to fix their existing ERP System, which they had outsourced couple of years ago. After some initial investigation, I quickly realized that this was not the right tool for their business. They were using an all purpose ERP system, which was made for bigger organizations, and they were trying to use it for a very specific purpose. Due to the complexity of the entire software suite, no one really knew how to use this tool completely, and they always ended up hiring some help to fix even a minor issue. Thus, through this blog, I am trying to provide you with some pointers that can help you select the right tool/software for your organization.

Finalize your requirements: Let’s assume that you own a Gas Station and a Convenience Store, and now you are thinking about streamlining your inventory through an automated system. Since you are a small and locally owned business, and you don’t have much knowledge of IT, you decide to hire a third party to help you with your IT needs. Stop right there. Before you even hire someone for helping you with your software needs, you need to have some rough idea of your technical and non-technical requirements. Maybe it is difficult for you to come up with your technical requirements, like – How many servers will we need? What kind of back-up system will we need? etc.; but you should at least jot down your functional requirements, like – What are we trying to achieve? How this new system will help you with your day-to-day business? Etc. Once you have the list of these requirements handy, you can then use this list as your checklist while selecting any software/tool for your needs.

Don’t go overboard: Even though there are many latest and greatest tools available out there, you shouldn’t be choosing your ‘tool of need’ just on the basis of how new and powerful it is. Sometimes most powerful tools might not suffice your actual needs, while some not-so-latest tool will do. Obviously, this is a very difficult decision to make, and hence, you should be evaluating your options based on selected attributes along with their respective weightage. This approach will take out all the human emotions from the tool selection process, and it will help you get the right tool for your specific needs. You should use license cost, training cost, user friendliness, and tool’s features as your attributes; while giving the higher weightage (a high number) to the most relevant attributes during tool selection process. Once that is done, you can then make your final selection based on the final score calculated for the tool(s).

Start small: Most of the executives and small business owners that I have met, try to implement everything at once. After all, they are buying a software/tool to help them out in making their current process efficient. Unfortunately, not everything works right out of the box. Thus, as a business owner, you need to go back to your requirements and identify your top 20% of requirements that you absolutely want to have, and then start it from there. Make sure that the consultant or the company that you have hired shows you incremental deliverables of the product that you are buying. With a pilot run, you will have the opportunity to provide your feedback in real time, and you won’t waste lot of your money before you realize that this software doesn’t meet your requirements. If the pilot run is successful, you can purchase the license or acquire the tool.

I hope, my blog can help you select the right tool/software for your business. If you have any other recommendations, then please feel free to share it here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 

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How to be a rock star at your workplace?


SuccessHave you ever felt unable to get your point across at your workplace? Or have you ever wondered why people don’t take you seriously at work? Not everyone feels that way, but if you do, then please read on. Recently, one of my friend talked to me about her insecurities at work, and how she can’t seem to perform well at her work due to her insecurities. So, I thought of writing this blog which can help many people like her to become a rock star at their workplace.

Give credit to yourself: If you don’t credit yourself for your work, then why do you think others will. I understand, many folks are honestly intimidated by large crowds and their superiors. But there is nothing wrong with giving yourself some credit on the work that you have already done. By publicizing your work to your superiors and decision makers, you are not doing anything wrong, you are just providing them with some facts about your work. If you develop a habit of advertising the work that you (or your team) does, then when impacts to potential strategies are being discussed, I am sure that your name will pop-up as the subject matter expert (SME).

Be positive: By being positive, I am not telling you to agree with all the decisions that are being made at your work place, but I am rather recommending you to change your perspective towards how you see things. If you want to be seen as a collaborative problem solver, and not as someone who has to be “convinced” all the time, then please try using phrases like – “Sure that sounds interesting. Let me do some research and get back to you” instead of using phrases like – “No, we can’t do that”. In this way, you are aligning yourself with the crowd instead of setting yourself up as a roadblock, all without being a yes-man.

Build trust: This is easier said than done. Building trust is a long process. You can’t force someone to trust you. You need to demonstrate your integrity to your coworkers to build the trust relationship between you and them. Thus, you should always try to be transparent with your coworkers. Try not to participate in any gossip or spread rumors about decisions that are not done deals; likewise do not divulge confidential information. How many times have you heard rumors about a strategic decision being made that in the end was not true? If you want to earn people’s trust then then you need to pay attention and use some discretion. Just treat others, the way you would like to be treated. Period.

I hope, my blog can help you become the next rock star at your workplace. If you have any other recommendations for my readers, then please feel free to share it here through your comments. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2016 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Motivation mistakes that many managers make


Motivation MistakesThere are many motivation techniques that a manager can use to motivate his/her employees. Unfortunately, managers are so busy in managing tasks than managing people that they would rather concentrate on making their employees happy than dealing with real issues and guiding them to success. Thus, in this blog I will talk about some of the common mistakes that managers make while motivating their employees.

Give them more money: Most managers and leaders think that if we pay enough money, we can find people who will do almost any job. And hence, most managers believe that when they give bonuses to reward their employee’s past performance, they will usually become very happy, unless they were expecting a larger bonus. Money is definitely a motivating factors for some, however, this happiness is short-lived. Within few months, your employees will have difficulty in recalling that bonus and it might not have the same impact that it did within the first few weeks of receiving it.

Ignore conflicts: Most of the managers are concerned about being liked by their employees. Though it is a good thing to be liked by your workforce, it is not always going to be possible. People have differences, and hence, you will also have conflicts with your employees at some point in time. Unfortunately, many managers try to ignore these kind of conflicts at any cost, because they don’t want to ruin their relationships with their employees. Some managers would rather “let something go” or “sweep under the rug” than make an issue out of it. This practice is not going to lead you anywhere. If you keep on avoiding conflicts for long time, your employees will think that you don’t have any power, and they can do whatever they feel like, and it will eventually poison your relationship with your employees anyways.

Keep them happy: I have seen many managers, who will often go to great lengths to keep their employees happy. As a manager, you should always be invested in your employees, its your job. But that doesn’t mean that you have to go through great pain just to make your employees happy. I have seen many managers, who offer game rooms for their employees, or an early day off on every second Friday, or company paid lunches every other week. The theory behind all of these actions is – if you keep your employees happy, it will translate into increased motivation and productivity. Unfortunately, this is not very effective in practice. If you provide frequent benefits like these, your employees might get used to it, and this practice will become the accepted culture within your team, where some of your employees will continuously abuse these benefits.

Some are not motivated: Most managers believe that their poor performers are just lazy, and not motivated enough to do the job. This is a very common misconception that most managers have. As a human being, we are all motivated to do something, but our reasons for motivation can differ. Walking through the offices, the manager may see someone playing computer games or sending personal e-mail, this could be seen as the individual is not motivated because he’s not attending to the job tasks. But that may not be entirely correct. At that moment, the “aimless” employee is motivated, perhaps even highly motivated. But that motivation is not work directed, nor is it productive for the company.

No motivation for smartest: Some managers believe that their top performers don’t need to be motivated; since they are very quick to learn new things, and adapt to new technologies, they don’t require any other motivation. Unfortunately, these managers are completely wrong. Intelligence and self-motivation do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. You might have a smart employee who hasn’t been able to find out just what motivates her personally, and hence, she might get bored or frustrated easily. As a result she might lose her interest in her work, which will reduce her productivity eventually.

I hope, my blog can help you find out some of the ineffective motivational techniques that you might be using, unknowingly. Let me know, if you can think of any other motivational techniques, which are hurting your employees rather than helping them. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2015 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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What should you communicate about promotion to your employees?


PromotionTo most employees, promotions are often mysterious. They often feel that some people rise quickly based on who they know rather than what they know. Unfortunately, this might be true for some organization, this assumption is not accurate for all situations. Actually, most managers don’t provide their employees with enough information about their promotion, and hence, their employees always feel that their promotion is purely based on luck (or lottery). Thus, as a manager, we need to help clear up their confusion by providing clear answers to their questions. In this blog, I will provide you with some tips through which you can prepare yourself to answer their questions.

Get your basics clear: Before you talk with your employees about their promotion, you should do your research. For example: Look at your organizational guidelines for promotions. Identify how people are chosen for promotion within your organization. Does your organization use their values as a primary screening tool for advancement, or does job-specific competency supersede all other considerations? Are your policies administered uniformly, or are they bent on a regular basis? Does who you know matter more than what you know? Once you have a clear picture of your organization’s practices, then only you can talk to your employees regarding their promotion opportunities.

Help them learn: No matter which position or field your employee works in, he/she needs technical competencies in both hard and soft skill area. Some employees might already have few of these skill-sets that you might be looking for in the next position, while some employees might lack these skills. As a manager, you need to make your employees understand that they need to take charge of their own skill development for their promotion. And if they need any kind of a support for that, then you are available to help them. You can display your support by informing them about various skill development programs that your company already offers, or by providing him/her with the opportunity to learn on the job through a mentor.

Provide regular feedback: Most projects and tasks at work are not just about getting the job done, they are about how you go about getting that job done, too. Your employees can be very intelligent, but if they can’t work well in a team or if they always carry a negative attitude towards their job, then this is going to hinder their promotion chances, isn’t it? Unfortunately, some employees don’t even realize that their behavior is hurting them, and that’s where you come in. As a manager, you need to ensure that all of your employees are given regular feedback, not just once a year at review time. Whenever you have promotion communication with your employees, make sure that you talk about how their attitudes are perceived throughout the organization. If your employees need some help in changing their behavior then try to help them by providing avenues through which they can match their behaviors with the organization’s values, so that they can get that promotion quickly.

Once you are clear about your company policies, and once you become transparent to your employees about their strengths and weaknesses, and try to help them increase their skills to get that next promotion, then only your promotion communication with your employees will become natural and more easier.

Would you discuss anything else with your employees during these promotion talks? If so, please share it with me through your comments here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2015 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to eliminate your organization’s blind spots?


ActionPlanLike Kodak, Xerox and Black Berry, we can all become blind sided by our own success. And as I have mentioned in my last blog, there are many organizational strengths that can turn into blind spots, if we don’t give them close attention. Thus, in this blog, I am going to provide you with some pointers through which you can keep reinventing your organization, and don’t become the victim of your own success.

Think outside the box: Even though your business is doing excellent, you should always keep looking for improvement opportunities around you, and keep yourself open to change. Make sure to frequently ask these questions to yourself: What business are we in? How do we create value? Who are our new competitors? Where is our market heading? What new behaviors our customers are displaying? Etc. If you have the budget for it, make sure to hire third party contractors every other year to provide their overall opinion on the company’s products, services and overall health. This practice will not only give you an outsider’s unbiased opinion, but it might also give you some improvement opportunities existing within the organization at this time. If you don’t have that much extra cash to spend on, you should at least have the meeting within your senior leadership, twice (or thrice) a year, and ask these specific questions. You will be surprised on what you find out.

Encourage disruptive behavior: In order to continually improve your existing and established processes, you need to create a disruptive culture within your organization, which can help you motivate your employees and encourage them to think outside the box. Obviously, this cultural change is not an overnight process, neither there is a magic wand that can make this happen faster. Some of the subtle ways through which you can implement this cultural change are.. (1) Go undercover. Keep aside one day in a quarter, where you cancel all of your meetings for a day, and let your employees give you the work orders for a day. This approach will not only help you to improve your repo with your employees, but it will also help you identify all of the inefficiencies in your existing processes. (2) Encourage your employees to research about new innovations, and provide them incentives to think outside the box. Give them some training time to learn new things on their own. If possible, try to provide tuition reimbursements. You will be surprised with all the innovative techniques that they bring back with them.

Talk to your existing customers: Most companies are so focused in expanding their business and going after new customers that they sometimes forget to value their existing customers. Surprisingly, some of the best ideas come from your own customers rather than your employees. And hence, it is very important to listen to your existing customers than completely focusing your attention on growing your business by acquiring new customers. Obviously, your customers are not always going to tell you what are the risks that your business is going to face in the future, but you can at least estimate those risks based on your customer’s feedback. Take T-Mobile for example, when they started to listen to their customers, they changed the entire mobile industry through their “uncarrier” movement. On the contrary, look at Black Berry; if they would have listened to their customers and recognized the need for touch-phone touch with the third party app development support, then they wouldn’t be in this difficult financial situation today.

Obviously, no one can eliminate all blind spots that your organization will face, but you can take proactive steps to lessen risks associated with it. I hope, my blog can help you in minimizing these risk factors. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which we can eliminate our organizational blind spots further. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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Which organization’s strengths are destined to turn into organization’s blind spots?


Business IssuesI have seen many companies, whose employees are so happy with their current processes and practices that they fail to see any major market changes. Look at Kodak for example; even after being the market leader for imaging solutions, it missed the opportunity to be a part of the digital revolution in image processing. Obviously, no company wants to lag behind, but sometimes we become victim of our own success. Following are some of our organizational strengths that can turn into blind spots very easily.

Business focus: When your company grows in size, you become the victim of your own success. Instead of thinking about the basic fundamentals of the company, which made you successful, you are mostly occupied in projects, delivery dates and customers. While it is not a bad thing to narrow down your focus on the priorities at hand, this narrowed focus may kill your company’s business over time. By focusing your attention repeatedly on certain (or should I say, same) things, you can seduce yourself into believing that these are the only things that matter. This approach can prevent your leadership from noticing new options or opportunities. For example: Sony Diskman, once the largest sold music listening device, was ill prepared for the digital music revolution, and hence, the completely new way of listening to music, iPod, dominated the market.

Efficient processes: Whenever we start something new, we always look for the best alternative available out there. But once we have identified those particular alternatives, we are more likely to stick with it. Thus, it is natural for an employee to stick with an already established process. After all, it frees up their time for doing other tasks. But then, we are ought to develop an organization-wide practice where our employees follow the same processes, not because they are efficient but because they are well known and comfortable to follow. If we get too much used to our existing processes, and stop reexamining the new options, we are ought to blind ourselves with the resistance to change attitude, later on.

Successful relationships: In order to succeed in any organization, your employees must build strong relationships with other employees, customers, suppliers, lenders, investors, etc. But when the business paradigm changes, companies often find that their relationships have turned into shackles by limiting their flexibility. The need to maintain existing relationships with past customers can, sometimes, hinder companies in developing new products or focusing on new markets. This phenomenon doesn’t just affect customer-facing employees, sometimes, managers (or leaders) can also find themselves constrained by their existing relationships with their employees or their leadership.

These are some of the blind spots that your organization will face, no matter how big or small it is. Do you know of any other organizational strength that can turn into your blind spot very easily? If so, please share your ideas with me through your comments. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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How to increase your employee’s trust in you through your actions?


ManagerBuilding a trust relationship with your employees is a tricky business in itself. Even though you can’t control your employee’s perception of you, you can affect their idea of you by your actions. And hence, in this blog, I will continue my conversation from my last blog about how to build a successful trust relationship with your employees through your consistent actions.

Listen to your employees: No relationship can be build successfully, if you are unwilling to listen. Same logic applies here. As a manager, you should seek to understand your employees, and try to show empathy towards their viewpoints. If you don’t agree with the opinion of your employee, then don’t try to shoot their idea immediately. Let them tell the thought process behind their idea, and you might be surprised with what they can come up with. Let’s say, you still don’t like their idea after hearing the entire story. In that case, you should try to explain your viewpoints to them and explain your thought process to them rather than rejecting their idea directly. With this approach, they will feel more connected with you and they will at least try to understand your perspective rather than just thinking that “my manager doesn’t like my ideas, so he always says NO”. If you can at least get your employees involved in the decision making process and seek their ideas before making the decision, you can build a better trust relationship with them.

Keep your commitments: Let’s say, you have a manager who tells you something (ABC) and does completely different thing (XYZ). Will you be able to trust his/her words again? Same goes for your employees. If you don’t keep your commitments often, then they will have a really hard time trusting you. Thus, in order to improve your trust relationship with your employees, you have to make sure that you do what you say you are going to do. By seeing your consistent behavior, they will develop an idea on what they can expect from you, and hence, they will try to trust your words on the basis of your past actions. Take this for an example, if the final decision about a problem is outside of your direct control, then it is better that you tell your employees that you will “look into it” instead of telling them that you can “fix it”. In this way, they will know what they can expect from you, which is a key component in building any kind of trust relationship.

Admit your mistakes: We are all humans, and hence, we are all prone to make mistakes. But if you make a mistake and don’t admit your mistakes, then it will send a wrong message to your entire team. They will consider this as the new precedence, and they won’t admit their mistakes either, when they make them. If you do something wrong, then it is very important to apologize and admit your mistakes. This behavior will bring you and your team members close together. When you accept your mistake, try to explain your intentions going forward and live up to the new expectations that you have established. Everyone makes mistakes, the difference is what you do when you have made one. If possible, try to share what you have learned as a result of your mistake so your employees don’t make the same mistake again. By sharing your experience, you will not only be improving your relationship with your employees, but you will also be teaching them a lesson that you have learned.

With these pointers, I am ending my two part series blog about – ‘manager-employee trust relationship’. If you have any other ideas through which we can increase our trust relationship with our employees, then please share your ideas with me through your comments here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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