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Make your part-time MBA work for you


Have you currently graduated from a part-time MBA program? Do you find it difficult to capitalize on your MBA? Well……you are not alone. Recently, one of my colleague, who has finished her part-time MBA, asked me similar questions. Though she has finished her part-time MBA, she was not recognizing any benefits from it. While I don’t have magical solution to make your MBA work, I have few suggestions which can help you.

Communicate with your manager:

GenerationXIf you are like me, and if you are also working on your MBA while working full-time, then you should communicate your intentions to your manager before you even think of starting the program.

Some of you might be hesitant to share this knowledge with your manager, since you might be afraid to see the reaction from your manager. While some managers will see this communication as an effort from your side to change your existing job, 90% of the manager see this as a potential growth opportunity for their employees.

What can happen here? Either your manager will be impressed by your initiative of pursuing further education to help towards your job, or he will just neglect your entire conversation. Well……you don’t have anything to loose here. But if you don’t have this conversation with your Boss, then you have everything to lose.

I remembered, when I had this conversation with my boss…..he was not only impressed by my decision to improve my knowledge, but he also took the initiative to find out more information regarding the tuition reimbursement program in my company. As a result, I ended up paying only 30% of my total tuition cost for the entire program.

Implement your learning at work: 

Most of the people who pursue their part-time MBA want to get a head in their existing job, so that they can get promoted to the next level. Though the idea behind this thought process is very nice, they lose their focus in middle of the program.

I have seen numerous MBA students, who get busy in their day-to-day coursework that they forget to implement their learning at their workplace. Thus, at the end of their MBA program, they have this knowledge which they can’t apply to their existing job, and hence think of changing their job instead of growing within the same company.

By implementing your learning at your current workplace, you will not only practice your knowledge and get better at it, you will also increase your visibility within your peers. Imagine, if you are working in software company as a software developer and going for your MBA in finance. Though these two subjects are completely different, you can still use your finance knowledge to assess the business impact of your new project. Wouldn’t you look more prepared when you are presenting your next development idea to your VP, and providing him with all the stats on how this project will help the organization to succeed?

Thus, you should always try to find opportunities where you can practice your MBA learning at your work place.

I hope these examples were helpful to uncover the full potential of your part-time MBA program. In the meanwhile, if you have any other ideas through which you can make your part-time MBA work for you, then please feel free to share those here.

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
 

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Practical tips on how to become successful in life (Part 2)


Success

In my last blog, I have discussed about how you can come up with the practical definition of your successful life, and how you can break it down in achievable goals. In this blog, I will provide you with some pointers through which you can achieve those goals to become successful in life.

Ask for advice: My Dad always told me…….”If you want to become successful in life, then you need to take help from 2 different kind of people. ONE: Those who are successful according to you. SECOND: Those who followed the same path as you might want to pursue, but who are not as successful as others”. This approach will not only help you visualize your successful life, but also give you an idea on how your future would look like, if you couldn’t achieve all of your goals. One might ask…….where would I find those kind of people? The answer to that question is very simple. Internet. I would personally prefer to ask someone who I know, but you can’t always have people around you, who share similar career goals as you, and who are successful in that. Thus, you can become a member of few online forums, which are related to your interests, and then cultivate your relationships with those members. Once those relationships are established, you can then ask them for their advice. Chances are….they might be able to even help you with your goals.

Give your best to everything you do: I know, this seems to be very obvious, but hardly anyone follows this rule. For example: Let’s say……..you are stuck in a job that won’t lead you towards your ideal success, and you want to get out of that job as soon as possible. At that time, most of the people (8 out of 10) would focus their energy in looking for a better job, and won’t provide their complete attention to their existing job. While this approach might be able to get you a new job that you love, but in the process of finding this job, you might ruin your existing relationships with your current coworkers, and maybe establish a stereotype of being a slacker. Thus, I would recommend all of you to give your best to everything you do. You never know…..maybe your existing Manager might recommend you for the ideal job that you have always dreamed of.

I hope these tips will help to achieve your ideal life. Do you have any other ideas through which you can have a successful and filling life?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
 

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Practical tips on how to become successful in life (Part 1)


SuccessFew days back, I was advising one of my friend on how to expand his start-up. During that conversation, I realized that some of my advices are very common for everyone to follow. Whether you are a fresh graduate or an experienced professional or a proud new business owner, you should always follow some simple tips to become successful in life. With this blog post, I am going to share those tips with you.

Define success: Every person will have their own dreams, and hence their own definition of success. An engineer wouldn’t consider an artist a successful person, and vice versa. Thus, before you start hunting for an ideal successful life, you might want to self-analyze yourself and define your specific success criteria. And while you are in that process, make sure that you consider your happiness as a part of this process. After all, no one wants to be successful and not happy. Right? Let’s say………your definition of success is to make couple of million dollars in few years. To achieve that………you might need to work 7 days a week with existing salary that you earn. In this case, you might want to think if you are willing to sacrifice that time away from your family or not, and then adjust your definition of success accordingly.

Establish achievable goals: Once you have done the hard part of defining your success criteria, now it’s time to establish some goals. Make sure that those goals are achievable, otherwise you will be discouraged when you realize that you can never achieve your goals. Let’s say……..your success criteria is to become a highly paid artist. In that case, you want to establish few goals like…….I will draw at least 2-3 paintings a month, or I will display my art in 5-6 art exhibition a year. Ideally, these goals should be smaller milestones towards your successful life. So, make sure to keep a checkpoint on these goals. I would advise you to revisit these goals every 3 months.

In my next blog post, I will provide you with few ideas through which you can achieve your goals to become successful. Until then, if you have any other ideas or comments about becoming successful in life, then please feel free to share it here on my blog.

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
 

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How to clearly define the scope of your project?


ProjectScopeHave you ever wondered about …… What exactly does the ‘scope of a project’ mean? …..I have…. I kept on hearing this term from the time when I started my career. Though I have learned its meaning over the years; people around me still describe the term vaguely. Thus, I am  going to provide you with some simple tips, which can help you to clearly define the scope for your project.

The deliverables: Let’s say, you are one of those project managers whose projects are very complex, and you don’t know where exactly to start for defining the scope of your project. If you are not sure about how to move forward with this process then you should at least try to define the deliverables of the project. Don’t stress yourself too much. Ask your customers to provide you with tangible (I mean tangible) deliverables that they would like to see at the end of the project. Once, you figure out the final deliverables of the project, you can then go ahead and try to define the interim project deliverables. These defined deliverables will tremendously help you to better understand the project.

Project boundaries: Once you got some handle on how the project should look like through its deliverables, you should now define how it shouldn’t be looking. For example: Chris is going to look for a software third-party provider within the US. In this case, third-party software providers from China are out of scope. If Chris was considering the needs of the entire global company, this would not have been a good boundary statement since he could not have stated a good out-of-scope statement.

Project Features: Once you have described the deliverables and the boundaries, you have completed high-level scope. Now, it’s time to describe the physical characteristics of the deliverables, called features. If you were building a software framework, for instance, most of the functionalities would count as features. These might include the number of GUIs (graphical user interface), number of APIs (application interface), etc. So, follow the top-down approach and start defining project’s features from its well defined deliverables.

Project Functions: Once you finished describing project’s features, now you need to describe how people interact with a deliverable and how a deliverable interacts with other deliverables. For example, if you need to change invoicing and billing transactions, most of the requirements could end up being process oriented. This would include how billing transactions move from orders to invoicing to accounts receivable. Basically you are defining the information flow in this phase. Thus, make sure to involve all the stakeholders, who will be affected by this information.

I hope these simple tips will help you to better define the scope of your project. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can make this process simpler. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
 

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How to fire someone without getting sued?


Have you ever fired someone? Were you ever in the situation where your employee’s growth was stagnant, and there were no other options other than firing that employee? Well……trust me, this situation arises more often than you would think. So, what would you do in this situation? Let’s say, you went ahead and got rid of the poor performing employee without any prep work. In that case, you might end up like my friend Naveen (changing the name for protecting privacy). Naveen fired his poor performer few months back, and now he is getting sued for ‘retaliation’. Obviously, this kind of examples should not become a roadblock in your job while performing your duties. Thus, I am providing you few tips through which you can fire someone without having the major risk of getting sued.

Give one more chance: Imagine….if you were the employee, who is on the line and about to get fired. Obviously, you don’t want to be in the situation where you think that you are a peek performer and your manager hands you a memo saying… “You are fired”. Thus, I always recommend managers to treat their employees as they would like to be treated. Hence, make sure to give your employee the last fair chance to improve his performance. Don’t just have verbal talks with him, make sure to document this and forward it to HR to put on his file. This will provide your employees with one last chance of improving their performance, while it will provide you with a supporting document, if you ever get prosecuted.

Work by the book: Before you take any drastic steps like this, make sure to read all the HR specific and company specific guidelines. If I were you, I would talk to my HR business partner or company’s attorney before even thinking about this. And before even talking to your HR personnel, I would recommend you to prepare a file which should contain all the documentations showing that you have had communications with your employees regarding this problem (i.e. e-mails, memo, etc.). When you have this discussion with your HR personnel, don’t forget to talk about all the minute details of your employees like his race, gender, recent leaves, etc. I have seen various situations, where employees have sued their employer for firing decision on the basis of their race or gender, and the firing decision didn’t have anything to do with that. Thus, it is better to disclose all the facts with your company’s attorney beforehand.

Have a crime buddy: By ‘crime buddy’ I meant to say, someone who knows the same information as you. In most of the situations, I would recommend you to include your immediate manager or the HR business partner. This practice will make sure that someone will back you up, if there are any legal proceedings in the future. Most of the managers know this fact, but don’t know how to implement this. Here is one tip….have a lunch with your immediate manager, discuss about this issue during the lunch, and then forward all the current documentation to him/her. This will ensure that you are not the only person accountable for this decision.

I hope these tips will help you in the unfortunate situation of firing someone. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can save yourself after firing someone for their poor performance. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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Manager’s Guide: How can I make it easier for a new hire to transition in my group? (Part 3)


SelfAssessmentOnce you are done training your new hire on the workings of your team and the organization (see my previous blogs), you can then go ahead and talk to her about her development within your organization. This will not only help you to develop some strong relationship with your employees but also motivate her by demonstrating that the company is willing to invest in her future. In this blog, I will provide you with some practical tips through which you can motivate your new hire.

Motivation: It is very essential for you as a manager to discuss what are meaningful motivators for your employees. Make sure that your new hire knows about your existing employee’s values and energizing criteria. You should also explain her the potential financial incentives (i.e., cash sharing, bonuses). Describe the potential opportunities for advancement with the team, department or company, and how she can advance herself to achieve those motivators. Don’t just train her theoretically on how we will measure her accomplishments, but provide some specific examples of her probable accomplishments. For example: You will work on this software development project, and your achievements will be measured against the total time and budget required to finish this project. This will give her a clear picture of how your team recognizes accomplishments. She can then work towards achieving those goals, and making your team successful in the process of doing that.

Learning & Development: No one wants stagnant employees, who can’t grow with the organization. Thus, every new hire should be explained their growth options by their managers. As a manager, you should always inform your employees about the path to succeed. You should not only explain them what is expected from them to advance their career in your organization, but you should also talk about opportunities to participate in associations, professional organizations or networking groups through which they can succeed. You can go one step further by finding out how your employee likes to learn (seeing, listening, doing), and then exploring what skills and abilities your employees seek to develop in order to perform the job more effectively. You can also take this opportunity to discuss how your employees can prepare for future responsibilities, and what type of developmental opportunities are available.

I hope these tips will help you to become a better manager by providing a clear direction for your newly hired employee. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can help your employees to easily transition to your company. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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How can you deal with your micromanaging boss without quitting your job?


ManagementStyleDon’t get me wrong. Micromanagement is also a style of management, and sometimes it is needed to manage some employees, but it doesn’t work in 80% of the professional environment these days. What will you do, if your Manager is a Micro-manager? How will you handle that situation?

I got the idea of writing this blog from a conversation that I overheard in the café. The conversation goes something like this…………..

  • Mr. X: What happened to you? You don’t look so good.
  • Mr. Y: Don’t ask? Tough times at work.
  • Mr. X: Tough times? I heard you even got promoted few months back. What happened all of a sudden?
  • Mr. Y: That’s the problem. My new manager is a Micromanager. He keeps tabs on me. I can’t even go to the men’s room without informing him. I feel I am in some kind of a prison. Do you know any other jobs that I can apply for?
  • Mr. X: I am sorry to hear about your situation. You know what? There is this Project Manager Job that recently opened up in my firm, and I think you would be a better fit for it. Let me pull some strings and I will get back to you.

Let’s assume that Mr. Y was right, and his manager was at fault here. What would have he done? In this blog, I will provide few pointers to effectively deal with your Micromanager.

Talk to him about it: I am a huge believer of second chances. And that is the reason why, I would recommend you to directly talk with your manager about this (preferably in your one-on-one session). Some managers are micro-managers by nature, and if you don’t point out that this style of management annoys you, then he will never know about it, and might not change his style of management. At least by having this conversation, you are giving him a chance to change.

Decide a fixed time for rounds: Most of the micromanagers like to make 5-6 rounds a day to check up on their employees. Obviously, you might not be able to change their behavior overnight, but you can definitely work with them to agree upon some fixed timings for their rounds. In this way, they don’t feel like they are losing their control over you, and at the same time you get some fixed time of their visits, so that you can prepare yourselves.

Establish your SMART goals: There are very few managers, who are micromanagers by nature. Most of the other managers use the micro-managing approach because they want to continuously monitor your performance. What if…… you take a proactive action about it, and work with your manager to establish your SMART goals? In this way, your manager will have an established method through which he can measure your performance. Thus, he won’t need to visit your cubical 24×7.

I hope these tips will help you to better manage your micro-managing Boss. Feel free to comment on my blog, if you have any other ideas to deal with your micro-managing Boss. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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