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Tag Archives: Cultural Change

Why should you NOT let your employees work from home?


Work from home

Marissa Mayer might be under scrutiny by many of her employees due to her recent decision of ending ‘work from home’ culture in Yahoo, Inc. Though I am not aware of those extreme circumstances under which she needed to take this drastic step, I can say this for sure….’work for home’ culture is not for every organization. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for workplace mobility, when required. But some of the organizations are just not made to support ‘work from home’ culture. Thus, in this blog I will  provide you few reasons for NOT having ‘work from home’ policy in your organization.

Depends on your business needs: Not every organization can afford to have the popular culture of telecommuting. Sometimes the business need, itself, won’t allow you to implement this culture in your company. Let’s say, you own an Apple Store. Are you going to be able to make your “Genius” employees work from home? Though these technicians can resolve people’s technical issues over the network, it is a strategic disadvantage for them to do so. Apple Store is widely known for its best customer support. And hence, the business need requires their employees to have some face time with their customers and develop that strong customer relationship to promote their brand.

It’s not for every company: Some people just can’t communicate well over the messenger, email or phone. There can be various reasons for this situation including lack of training, stagnant workforce, availability of appropriate tools, etc. Nonetheless, if your current workforce and your current company culture can’t support the initiative of working from home, then it might not be for your company. If some of your employees are not self-starters, and if they need someone to hold them accountable, and can’t be motivated themselves at home, then they need to work in the office. OR If you have some of those employees in your team for whom ‘work from home’ is the other name for a ‘vacation’, then this is definitely not for your company.

You lose the human touch: While communicating over a phone or a video conference provides your team the flexibility to join the meeting from anywhere, it comes with the dual edge sword. With the virtual nature of the communication for a ‘work from home’ team, it becomes challenging to schedule a meeting, since your team member have to wait for other people to come back to their IM client so that they can communicate. Also, written communication over e-mail or the verbal communication over the phone can create many inter-personal conflicts due to misunderstanding, which taking long time to resolve them. With written communication being so inefficient and passive, it might not be a good idea to go with the ‘work from home’ culture, if your employees are not ready for it yet.

Can create security concerns: I know, we have the latest technology today with the VPN connection and the secured channel communication. But as the technology advances and becomes complex, it becomes very difficult to address these security concerns remotely. No matter how strong is your office network, if your employees are working from home, your company can be exposed to various security loopholes. If you don’t have adequate IT support to address these security concerns for the people who work at home, then you might want to wait before implementing a ‘work from home’ policy in your company. Internet security is not the only problem. When your employees work from home they are exposed to various other security issues like their laptop getting stolen, having their password getting hacked due to lose WiFi network key, etc. Obviously, these issues will be less frequent if all of your employees work in the office, instead of their less secured home environment.

So, what do you think about my argument? Do you know any other situations in which you should not allow your employees to work from home?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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Why should you listen to your employees while taking tough decisions?


It is never easy to deliver the bad news to your employees, but bad things can happen to any companies. Sometimes, few external factors like economy or exchange rate can affect your company’s bottom line. And at that time, company’s very survival might be at stake. And hence, you might be put in to the situation, where you have to take those tough decisions as a company’s executive. The primary challenge during these situations is – Communication. If handled incorrectly, you might risk of losing your employee’s trust and tumbling their morale. In this blog, I would like to share one of the success story, where listening to employee’s input while taking these tough decisions have helped the company.

While taking tough decisions such as layoffs, restructuring, outsourcing, etc.; you should involve your stakeholders in the planning and implementation stages. You might not be able to involve all of your employees while taking these tough decisions, but you should at least engage your senior management and department heads in the consultation process. Depending on the situation, you might want to keep employees/employee representatives apprised of the situation to avoid any surprises. On various occasions, this strategy might prove to be helpful.

Take this company for an example (company X), where I recently consulted them for downsizing. Company X had really bad financials. It was clear that they had to cut down two of their product lines, which were not performing at all. And hence, they had to layoff few of their employees due to tumbling financial situation of the company. So, instead of announcing few layoffs, the CEO announced voluntary retirement program and some pay cuts. Surprisingly, I was able to collaborate with majority of their employees and get them to agree upon a pay cut and retraining program. As a result, we didn’t need to layoff anyone. Though this was a success story, it might not work for everyone. But one thing is clear. If you are willing to share information with your employees, they will not only value your decision but they might also come up with a plan to handle the situation better.

I hope, this example can inspire you to consider your employee’s input while taking these critical decisions. Have you ever encountered similar situation like this? Are you aware of any workplace/organization that considers their employee’s input before taking tough decisions?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to sell your online MBA degree to future employers?


OnlineMBAHave you finished your MBA through an online program? Are you unable to experience any benefits from your degree? Well…..you are not alone. More than 50% of the employers still prefer an MBA candidate with the traditional classroom experience as compared to an online MBA student. Despite of this stereo types of an online MBA candidate, you can still succeed with your degree. You just need to know, how to sell it. With this blog, I am going to provide you with some pointers through which you can get the same benefit out of your online MBA program as compared to any other in-class MBA program.

Capitalize on cultural awareness:

If you are doing an online MBA from a Tier 1 or Tier 2 level school, then chances are…….you must be working in a diverse team with people from different countries. You should use this experience as your strength during your job search. Mention those specific projects on your resume to portray your knowledge of cross cultural understanding. With most of the major companies going global, this experience will definitely work in your advantage, if presented correctly.

I would also recommend you to provide some specific examples on your resume on how you had solved some of the cross cultural conflicts. These kinds of smaller examples can help you bring up this topic during your in-person interviews. And you can then elaborate on that in further details. It goes without saying…..try to connect your experience with the company’s current needs of working with cross cultural teams.

Be the leader of your virtual teams:

If you think of it, all the project teams in an online MBA program are nothing but a virtual team. In your program, you must have worked with different people from different time zones to finish certain projects. And hence, you should also capitalize on your experience in working with remote/virtual teams. Don’t just say…..”I have worked in a virtual team”. Try to be more specific on your resume. Provide examples on how you resolved issues due to time and language barriers during your project. It wouldn’t hurt, if you can talk about those experiences in your in-person interviews, and maybe summarize with lessons learned during your experience.

In today’s world, lot of companies operate in different locations. Thus, most of their meetings, projects and day-to-day activities are virtual. Thus, if you can prove that you have not only worked in that environment, but you have also learned how to improve those communications in that environment; then you would definitely standout from the crowd.

I hope these tips will help to sell your online MBA degree to your future employer. Do you have any other ideas through which you can show the importance of your online MBA degree to your future employer?

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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Manager’s Guide: How can I make it easier for a new hire to transition in my group? (Part 2)


classic-booksIn my last blog post, I have discussed few ways through which you can make your new hire understand your company’s goals and objectives. In this blog, I will provide you some tips on how you can make your new hire acquainted to your team culture and communication channels.

Talk about the rules: After you have explained your strategic objectives and work culture, now it’s time for you to explain her about your expectations. Some of the managers leave it unsaid. But I prefer to talk to all of my employees about the performance expectations. In this way, they can specifically know what they have signed up for, and you can avoid having performance improvement talks later. You can start this conversation by establishing clear goals and priorities for her; and then you can progress towards expected employee’s behavior, your feedback process, and how her work will be evaluated. Don’t forget to outline the path through which you will help her to be successful.

The Team: Providing an understanding of the team’s roles and responsibilities is very key to the new hire’s success. This will make sure that she doesn’t step on someone’s foot, and she can know who is ultimately responsible and who has the decision making authority. During this discussion, you should explain her how your team supports company’s goals and objectives. This will give her the overall picture of your team, and where it fits in to the organization. And yeah! Don’t forget to discuss the procedures & norms under which your team operates. For example: Our team follows an agile development process, where each engineer is paired with one another team member for the development of a particular feature. Last but not the least, identify the people who can help her during her first few months in the company, and how they prefer to communicate.

Communication: Being a software development manager for years, I have seen various managers failed to provide this information to their employees. As a result, you have a new geeky employee who got herself acquainted to only e-mails, and you have to wait for her e-mail response for feedback. Thus, I would advise you to have these conversations beforehand. Convey to your new employee how you would prefer to be communicated, and what should be the frequency of those communications. For example: I expect an e-mail response within 1-2 hours. In case of a blocking issue, I want you to call me up instead of waiting for me to reply to your e-mail. And yeah! Explain how your employees prefer to communicate with themselves.

I hope these tips will help you to become a better manager by providing a clear direction for your newly hired employee. In the next blog post, I will be discussing about how to familiarize your new hire with the growth opportunities within your organization.

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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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Why can’t your business have any ethical standards?


Have you ever thought why big company’s CEO can cash in on millions of dollars in bonuses and still remain untouchable by Federal Government? Have you ever thought why media always talks about ethical issues, and nothing ever happens to those people? Recently, I was watching a documentary on how big companies are moving their IPs (intellectual properties) to Ireland, and paying only 15% taxes there instead of paying 35% tax in United States. Then I asked myself a question….. Is this legal? ……The answer came out to be…. “YES”. They are not doing anything wrong legally. So, government in United States can’t do anything about this. This raised an another question in my mind….. Is it ethical? ….. And surprisingly the answer came out to be as “YES”. And here is why……

Basics of business: Have you ever saw the definition of business? If you have then you know what I am talking about. In defining a business, ethics don’t play in to the picture at all. Sole purpose of a business is to increase the value for its stakeholders. Thus, can you blame those businesses, who are taking advantage of the lower tax policies in Ireland to increase their net income? It might be morally wrong for those businesses to show all of their profit in Ireland, while they get their 50-70% profit from United States, but you can’t do anything about that. As more and more countries loosen their tax policies to attract foreign businesses, there would always be some companies who want to move there to increase their net profit by paying lower taxes there.

Definition of ethics: In my opinion, definition of ethics is very subjective. I don’t think that you can have a clear defined ethical standards globally. Whenever you try to define ethics, it doesn’t remain ethics anymore. It becomes a law or a rule. For example: If you think that it’s not an ethical practice for people to do insider trading on the basis of the insider information, and if you want to change that then you might want to change the law which punishes those people. Unless you put that law in practice, you will always find immoral people, who will be using their insider knowledge to make huge bucks for themselves. At the end, ethics shrink down to morals and personal belief of that particular individual, who is running that business. Because there is nothing clearly defined in the books, which will prevent this person from taking unethical decisions.

Subjective nature: As I mentioned earlier, ethics basically shrinks down to morals and beliefs of the person who is handling that business. Thus, ethics tend to be very subjective in nature. And there are various other factors that affects the core definition of ethics. For example: It would be considered unethical for an employer to hire a kid, who is only 15 years old. But in some countries, some government encourages companies to hire younger people, so that they can support their family, while getting the invaluable professional training for their future. Thus, you can’t exactly define what is ethical and what is not, when your business is global and you yourself can’t define what is considered ethical.

Though I have my tight morals, beliefs, and ethical standards; I don’t think that a business, as an entity, can have any kind of ethical standards. Of course, business can have rules and policies under which it can operate, but there can’t be any ethical standards that it can abide to. I hope you liked my argument in this blog. Please feel free to discuss your view points on the same. I am always curious to hear different perspective from different people. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Manager’s Guide: How can I make it easier for a new hire to transition in my group? (Part 1)


I have written numerous blogs about how to familiarize yourself with your new job, but I have never focused on writing the other side of the story. In this blog series, I will provide some guidelines which can help you to conduct useful conversations with your new employees during the onboarding process. I hope that you can create a positive onboarding experience for your employees through these tips.

Talk about strategic objectives: Obviously, you need to have several conversations between you and the new employee over first 6-7 months, but make sure to make the strategic objectives as your primary conversation topic. This will not only make her understand the relationship between her tasks and the objectives of your company, but it will help you to make her understand the overall picture. You can start this discussion by talking about the company’s vision and strategy; and then you can progress towards explaining her the company’s goals, priorities and business initiatives. During this discussion, you should always ensure that you try to connect company’s goals and your team’s goals with her day-to-day activities. This practice will help you in making her an autonomous resource of your team, who can connect the dots by herself.

Talk about the culture: I have seen various managers, who fails to explain the existing culture of their company to a new hire. They think that the new hire will catch up on the company’s culture with time. While this perception has some credibility, I would advise not to do that. If you would have explained the company’s culture to the new hire during the onboarding process, then it will make her transition easier and smooth, while you can benefit from her understanding of the existing culture. You can initiate this conversation by describing her the culture of the company including company’s norms, beliefs, values, traditions, symbols, etc. For example: our working hours are 8-5pm, and all the employees are supposed to be present on the company premises between our core hours – 9am to 4pm.

I hope these tips will help you to become a better manager by providing a clear direction for your newly hired employee. In the next blog post, I will be discussing about how to familiarize your new hire with the rules of your team.

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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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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New hire’s guide to learn the culture of the company


My team is currently growing. We are hiring few new people at this time. And as we hire new people, I need to make sure that they get appropriate tools and training to come up to speed. Thus, I was creating an on-boarding plan for these new hires. My initial plan only contained specifics of what processes, technologies and tools that they need to learn. I didn’t have any idea about how to train them on our existing culture. And I thought of this blog. Following are few pointers, which might help you in learning the existing culture of your new company.

Policies: The organizational policies and procedures influence the projects that a company undertakes. The organizational procedures will determine how to implement new strategies and if the work environment will be formal or informal. For example: some organizations may allow employees to work anytime from 7.00am to 7.00pm, while other organizations may be very strict about their working hours. To get yourself acquainted with these policies, you should read all the possible policy documents at your disposal. HR department would be your best bet to find more information. Detailed oriented observation of your co-workers can also help you in learning unwritten policies.

Values: The values, beliefs and expectations of an organization have a major impact on the organizational culture. The organization’s strategic decision making choices, preferences, and approach will vary based on its values and beliefs. The criteria for the election of a project are determined by the organizational culture. For example: a competitive, ambitious and assertive organization will select projects with high risks, while a highly rigid and authoritarian origination might not take projects with high risks. Most of these values are derived from your company’s culture or your team’s culture. Your best bet would be observing your manager’s behavior and socialize with your colleague to get more information. Going out on lunch with your coworker can give you many valuable insights.

Management style: The management style of the organization is another factor that affects the organizational culture. Some managers follow a coaching style, while other managers follow a controlling style. After observing the management style of your organization, you can determine if your feedbacks will be valued or not? If the management is going to implement new strategies based on your feedback or not? As a new employee, I would recommend you to adapt to the management style of an organization. And once you properly understand your Manager’s management style, try to provide your feedback in the manner that he/she will understand.

I hope these tips will help you to learn the culture of your new company as soon as possible. Please feel free to comment on my blog, if you have any other suggestions regarding this subject. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2011 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to manage cultural change within your organization?


ManagerIn my last blog, I talked about few high-level tips to successfully change your organizational culture. As I help my client to divide this high-level vision of cultural change into smaller parts, I will simultaneously blog about my current experience. My client is a manufacturing company, who manufactures the same equipment from last several years. In order to change the organization’s culture, existing employees need to unlearn the old values, assumptions, and behaviors before they can learn new ways of operations. I have provided following recommendations to manage this cultural change:

Provide training: Change in organizational culture will depend on individual’s behavior changes. Thus, we need to provide extensive training to our employees to make them understand what is expected of them, and how to actually do that using new methodologies, and how they will be rewarded for their new behaviors. For example: provide training of differences in national cultures, provide training of new acquired standards such as ‘six sigma’, etc.

Change organizational structure: If your existing structure doesn’t support your desired organizational culture then you need to change the physical structure of the organization to align it with the desired organizational culture. For example: flatten your organizational structure for quick responsiveness, add few verticals to incorporate new acquired divisions, etc.

Change reward system: Changing reward and recognition is the key aspect of the cultural change. By changing reward system, we can encourage desired behaviors in the organization to achieve the desired organizational culture. For example: provide extra bonuses for peak performer, provide salary raises based on the performance, etc.

Change your documents: In order to change organizational culture, we need to make sure that we document our new mission, vision, values, and processes. This will serve as a new guidelines for existing employees, while it can be also used as a reference for any new hires in the organization. For example: remove your posters of existing vision and replace it with the new vision, update your internal website with this information, change process documents with new guidelines, etc.

I hope, these tips will help you to successfully manage your organizational culture change. Please feel free to comment on my blog, if you have any other suggestions regarding organizational cultural change. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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3 simple tips to successfully change your organizational culture


ReinventRecently, I was helping one of my client to develop a new line of product in their product portfolio. With the help of their existing equipments and resources, they could have come out with this new product very easily. In order to create this new product, they required a major shift in their existing culture. Maybe that was the major reason why this initiative hadn’t worked for them.

Organizational culture is formed over years through historical events, employee’s shared values, employee’s shared beliefs, organization’s leadership, etc. Normally, organizational culture grows over time, and most of the times people are comfortable with the existing culture. Thus, we can’t expect an immediate change in the organizational culture. But we can progressively change organizational culture through following steps:

Understand your existing culture: Before any organization can change its culture, it must first understand the existing culture. There are various ways to perform cultural analysis of your organization. Few methods that I use for cultural analysis are: Schein’s rubric and Hofstede’s cultural dimensions. Schein’s rubric can be used for understanding the organizational culture of a smaller company, while Hofstede’s cultural dimensions can be used for understanding the culture of International organizations.

Develop cultural vision: After you are done with understanding your existing organizational culture, you need to develop a cultural vision for your organization. This is a crucial step, as you will be defining the strategic direction for your culture, and making sure that these cultural changes support your overall organizational goals. Envisioning culture artifacts, values and beliefs will help tremendously during this phase. For example: our new culture will have open door policy, tightened ethical standards, etc.

Change organization’s behavior: In this stage, we need to change organization’s behavior to create the desired organizational culture. We might not be able to change behavior of each and every individual, but we can make changes in the organizational structure and leadership to propagate these changes to an individual level. During this phase, we need to get full support from executives, and provide appropriate training to the employees to make this work. Communication is the key element for changing people’s behavior. Thus, we need to provide various channels of feedback and performance metrics, through which we can measure success of these changes. For example: employees feedback sessions, employee satisfaction survey, rate of increase/decrease of productivity, etc.

I hope, these tips will help you to successfully change your organizational culture over time. Please feel free to comment on my blog, if you have any other suggestions regarding organizational cultural change. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2011 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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