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How to deal with the frustration of your employees?


EmployeeFrustrationWe are all humans, and we all have moments of disappointment when things don’t go our way. And I am sure, as a manager, you must have encountered these situations often, when your employees are feeling down for not accomplishing something that they have set their target on. Although most employees can easily navigate through these small bumps, sometimes you need to jump in when you see these opportunities. Having a quick one-on-one chat with your employees during these tough times would soften the blow, and lead them to a quicker recovery. So, what should you talk about during these times? Following are some of my advice…..

Appreciate their work: When you sit down with your employee to analyze the issue, you must not forget to appreciate their hard work first. Tell your employees that their work is highly valuable and their efforts are highly appreciated. This kind of conversation starter will put your employees at ease before discussing their issues. If I were their manager, I would say something like this – “These kind of issues keep on happening, and despite our best efforts, sometimes things don’t work out our way. But look at what you have accomplished, you tried something new, and got new experience, that’s what is important. After all, you can’t be perfect at everything, right?” This approach will not only let your employees know that you care, but it will also ease their mood before before having the actual conversation.

Walk through the issue: Once you have soothed the attitude of your employee, you can then get back to the business. Now, try to talk to your employee about the issue at hand and walk through it with them. By walking through the entire scenario again, you will get some good insight on the issue, and might be able to provide your valuable feedback to your employee. If he/she was expecting one outcome while other team members were expecting something else, then try to find out where did this disconnect come from? Were there some missing communications or interactions? Don’t interrupt your employee in between or recommend any solutions, just yet. Try to listen to his/her side of the story and take your notes on what might have gone wrong, that’s all.

Help them learn: Once you have completely listened to your employee and her side of the story, now it’s your time to help her think through the ‘do-over’.  Even though you are trying to help her, restrict yourself from coming up with any solution, just yet. Let her come up with her own solution to this problem. Ask her – “How can you handle it differently the next time?” Of course, the setback may have occurred even though she did everything right. So, try to ask her – “What were the factors outside of her control?” Try to help her gain a new perspective on these uncontrollable factors, so that she can handle them well in the future.

If you follow this three-part conversation while dealing with your employee’s frustrations, then you will encourage your employees to take better steps next time, rather than acting on their natural desire to avoid such situations in the future.

Was this blog helpful? Do you have any other ideas that you can share with me here?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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5 ways to become the best manager for your employees


BestManagerIn my last blog post, I have talked about few earlier signs of your management failures. And hence, in this blog post, I will provide you with a formula to handle each issue separately, and how you can turn around these situations in your favor.

Learn from the exit interview: As I have mentioned in my last blog, if you are having a higher turnover rate in your team as compared to your organization/department, then you might want to analyze your leadership style. Try to get as much information as you can through the exit interview. If these exit interviews are taken by the HR Department, then work with your HR personnel to include your questions in the mix. Try to include questions, which can give you some inside scoop on your leadership style. For example: Few problematic communication practices, managerial feedback, etc. Depending on their inputs you should try to change your leadership style.

Learn from your 360 review: Often 360 degree multi-rater assessments or employee’s feedback surveys will provide you with the valuable input about your management style in general.  So, make sure that you take those survey results seriously, and take out some time to act on the improvement opportunities mentioned in the survey. Look for things like, your engagement rating with your employees, your general relationships with others, etc. At worst, it will provide you few pointers on where you are going wrong, and how to improve your management style.

Communicate effectively: As I have mentioned in my last blog, if you are having multiple employee’s disputes as compared to other teams, then you might not be a good manager. In order to improve your situation, you might want to increase your communication with your team members. Make sure that you clearly communicate your decisions to your team. Often times miscommunication can generate a sense of inequity or unfairness about these decisions, leading to disputes that tend to end up in the lap of Human Resources departments because they relate to the application of written company policies or procedures. Thus, you should try to communicate with each team member at least once a day. Make it a practice. Also, you should schedule at least one-on-one during a month, where you just talk about your employee’s personal growth and any concerns that he/she might have. This approach will help you to communicate with your team effectively.

Frequent performance reviews: Good manager will always schedule frequent one-on-one with their employees. As a manager, you should always provide your feedback to your employees on an ongoing basis, throughout the year or throughout the period for which the review is being conducted. So, when it’s the time of doing the performance review, its mere a documentation of what you have been talking about during the entire year. If you follow this approach, then you can at least reduce the amount of conflicts between you and your employees during the performance review period.

Lead by example: Let’s assume that you might be one of those bad managers and you might have developed a bad reputation for territoriality, or being “difficult to work with”. Even then, it is never too late to change. Though it might take some time to change other’s perception of you, you can do that. Just try to hold yourself to higher standards. When someone is completely bypassing you in the decision making process, try to talk with that person and identify their issues. It might take some communication and extra efforts in resolving these issues, but you can lead by example. You can show your team members and others in the organization on how you follow your company’s processes, and why your inputs are valuable in the decision making process. If you keep on following this practice, I am sure that you can regain their trust, and improve the work throughput.

I hope, my blog has helped you in seeing some of the general shortcomings of a manager, and helped you become the best manager for your employees. Please share your comments here, if you agree/disagree with my point of view.

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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How to create a cheaper but effective training program for your employees?


Training EmployeesIn my experience, I have seen many organizations wasting their money on conference registration fees and traveling expenses for training their employees. Don’t get me wrong. I highly value training, and I, myself, invest lot of my employee’s time and my team’s budget in training them with new skillsets. But sometimes, conference registration fees can be very expensive, traveling out of town can be extremely costly, and customer service can suffer from several people being out of office at the same time. Skills development doesn’t have to cost you that much. To get the most out of every dollar spent on the training, you should try to capitalize on the in-house talent that you already have within your organization. Thus, in this blog post I will provide you with some tricks and tips through which you can take the maximum advantage of your in-house talent pool for training other employees.

Build a database: If your organization doesn’t already have the database of available for the in-house talent, then you might want to create one. This database will serve as the foundation for any in-house training in the future. Now, you must be thinking that you need to make few phone calls to few IT experts to create this database, right? Wrong. This database doesn’t need to be a tech savvy one. You can just create this list in Excel or Google Docs. It shouldn’t be that difficult. Just tell your employees to note down their existing trainings on a shared spreadsheet somewhere. Ask your employees to give a five line summary of the training that they might have taken in the past, or have been scheduled to take it in the future. Let them be involved in creating this database, so that they are more likely to take the advantage of this database, when they need any kind of a training for themselves.

Advertise internally: Once you have the training database built, you can then advertise this database internally within your organization. Maybe send out a mass e-mail to every person in the organization, encouraging them to look for any new training under this database. Also, train all the managers on how to use the information from this database, and encourage them to publicize the benefits of this database during their individual team meetings. Encourage your managers to look for the new training needs under this database, before they send out their employees for any third-party training. And let there be a central place on the web (Google Docs or SharePoint), where employees can share their opinions about this new program for any improvements.

Let the game begin: Once you have the database ready, you can now let the game begin. For example: Let’s say, Bob took the training on VMware in the past, and now Steve needs the same training for some reason, Steve’s manager can connect Steve with Bob to take this training internally. Obviously, this will require some logistics planning. You might need to make sure that Bob is free to provide the VMware training to Steve, when Steve needs that training. Obviously, this might be a chaotic environment at first. But you can avoid this situation by going through the most popular training taken by people, and then prioritize them, and schedule regular training classes for those popular classes. You don’t need to have a tech savvy system for this. You can just put the schedule of these trainings on a bulletin board, and whoever is interested in that training can take that training during the allocated time. In order to be most effective, don’t choose the same instructor to deliver the same class again. Provide the chance to other employees, who have learned the material in-house, and let them give the next training. In this way, you can not only create a butterfly effect in your organization, but you can also point out the advantage of these training to other employees.

Use of technology: Obviously, not all the trainings will be available all the time. There will be situations where the instructor might be busy or the person who wants to take the training might be occupied. After all, all of these are your employees, and they have day-to-day tasks as well. In order to resolve this issue, you can use the help of technology. If you are not a tech savvy company, don’t worry about it. You can use many open source software available out there to develop videos and presentations for the materials that you want to share. Don’t go overboard with the technology here. Content is what matters here. Though your employees can make the presentation lively with few graphics and videos, don’t go overboard. Let them share their content, and provide a platform to share that content. You can use SharePoint, Google Docs, or a shared network drive to share this content cheaply and effectively. And if possible, provide the link to the training material in the training database itself, so that any user can find out the course that he/she wants to take and then directly click on the link to access the training material.

I hope, my approach here will help you in building your own, cheap and effective, employee’s training program. Please share your comments here, if you agree/disagree with my point of view.

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2014 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How should you provide personalized feedback to your employees?


Customized feedback

Everyone needs feedback in order to do their job effectively. What kind of feedback, and how often, that varies from person to person. Some managers think, if they keep on piling more feedback on their employees, then they would be successful at some point in time. But that is the wrong assumption. By following that approach, you might be unknowingly suffocating your folks, or giving them the impression that you are micro managing them.

As a manager, we need to tune in to the unique frequencies of each of the employee. Be observant, listen and remain alert for opportunities to give feedback, when they want/need it. One size doesn’t fit all. Base the frequency of your feedback on their tasks and responsibilities, their efficiency, their curiosity, and their working style.

Obviously, nothing will work out well in the first try. So, make sure to refine your approach regularly. Ask them for their feedback on your new process, and how it is working out for them. Make sure to ask very specific questions such as ….. Do you like to meet every week for our one-on-one session? Do we need to make this meeting shorter or longer? What kind of things would you like to discuss during this session? etc.

You should also make a note that every employee is different on how he/she consumes information. Thus, it would be a good idea to ask them about their preferred way of communication. Obviously, if your work is not getting done, then you can go to them directly to find your answers, after all you are their Boss. But if the work is getting done according your expectations, then you might want to give them some leeway on how you can provide them feedback. Some of the preferred methods would be …. e-mail, face-to-face conversation, a memo, or a telephone call.

No matter what kind of feedback mechanism you use, always make sure to note down your positive/negative feedback in a separate diary (or in OneNote/EverNote for you tech geeks out there). This approach will ensure that you can judge everyone fairly during your year-end review, and you don’t need to depend on only 2-3 month’s performance of your employees.

Do you have any other ideas through which you can provide personalized feedback to your employees?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2013 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to provide coaching to your front line managers?


Coaching your line managersIf you are a Director or a Sr. Manager, who is involved in managing the front line managers, then this blog is for you. I agree that senior management’s role is very crucial and busy, and maybe that’s the reason why you can’t allocate enough time to coach your front line managers. But avoiding coaching/mentoring your front line mangers will create disastrous situations in the future. Your front line managers require more coaching than any other employees in the organization, since they define the culture of your company. In this blog, I will provide you with few pointers to coach your frontline managers effectively.

  1. Provide them training: If you are super busy with your day-to-day activities, and if you are unable to provide coaching to your managers, then please take the benefit of some external trainings. Most of the bigger companies (employees 1000+) have these kind training classes established in-house for their front line managers. So, make sure that your managers go through these training opportunities. While internal training is crucial for every company, not every company can afford to have internal training programs. In this case, you can partner up with few consulting companies to provide similar training opportunities to your front line managers. While selecting those external training programs, make sure that those programs match your company’s culture and working style.
  2. Help them build a network: In a senior management role, you should always encourage your front line managers to network with the key people from your company. By doing this, their area of influence will increase and they will become more independent to do their work. Thus, you should always help them to broaden their exposure within the company by visiting different areas of the company with them, or by introducing them to the new people within your organization. Your work doesn’t get done after an introduction, you need to help them to find opportunities to represent their part of the organization to others. In this way, they can be encouraged to discuss strategic issues and share the information with other management personnel.
  3. Reinforce your culture: Line managers are the one, who will define the culture of your organization. After all, they work at the root level. And hence, it becomes very important to ensure that they are embedded in your organizational culture. In order to reinforce your values, you need to teach them to respect and promote diversity in all areas and jobs in the company (if your company is diverse). You might want to have the discussion during your one-on-one session on how their behavior makes a difference in the organization. Sometimes, it is very important for you to provide them with ongoing information about the people, culture, and history of the organization. Reinforcing these values frequently through your one-on-one sessions or your interactions with them will ensure their growth with the company.
  4. Encourage them: I know, this sounds very simple, but this is very crucial part of the coaching. You need to help your line managers to learn how to deal with and manage ambiguity. Being in the senior leadership role, we always expect our line managers to get everything right. But that may not be the case always. And hence, you need to embrace their failure and provide them encouragement during those situations. I am not telling you to agree with their failures all the time, but have the behavior where they can come to you if they failed. You should also encourage them in their efforts to sponsor and develop potential leaders in the organization. After all, it will help your organization to become better. And yeah! When appropriate, offer feedback, support, and “push back”.

I hope, these tips will help you to better coach your front line managers in your team. So, what would you do to coach your front line managers in your team?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to provide coaching to an experienced employee in your team?


Coaching Experienced EmployeesMost of the managers think that their experienced employees, who are in their team from a long time, doesn’t require any coaching. If you are one of those managers, then let me stop you right there. You are completely wrong. In fact….your experienced employee will require more coaching than your new employee, since he is the one who will be defining the normal of your team, and maybe, become a mentor to your new employee. Right? Obviously, you will require a different coaching style to coach your experienced employee as compared to your new employee (as I have indicated in my last blog). Thus, in this blog I will provide you with few pointers to coach your experienced employees.

Before I provide you with any strategies to coach your experienced employee (Mr. Y), let’s define what we expect from our experienced employees………We expect our experienced personnel to work on special projects and expand their circle of influence outside of your team, so that they can resolve few mission critical issues without your intervention. We also expect them to take ownership of few projects, and solve mission critical issues on their own. Some of the other expectations would be……training a new hire, defining new processes to improve efficiency, etc. Am I right?

Since we depend on our experienced employees to get the job done and improve the productivity of our team, their coaching style needs to be very personalized and effective. Following are few strategies that I use with my experienced employees…….

  1. Provide exposure: Since you already depend on Mr. Y; wouldn’t it be nice, if he can communicate directly with the cross functional team members, so that you can get the expected results? In order for Mr. Y to communicate with appropriate members from other teams, you need to provide him with various opportunities to work on cross-functional team. You can also provide company-wide exposure by introducing him to persons and areas beyond his current expertise. Sharing your larger network with him would be even better.
  2. Provide time: Let’s say, you give Mr. Y with the responsibility to lead a project from development to implementation, or provide him with the opportunity to coach others. In both of these cases, you need to be slightly patient to see the outcomes from those efforts. Since, these responsibilities are very new for him, he will take some time to learn and adjust to these responsibilities. Hence, don’t be frustrated, if you don’t see quick results. Provide him with some time to adjust to these new responsibilities, while closely monitoring his progress and providing needed help along the way.
  3. Teach them to delegate: Since Mr. Y is an experienced employee, you might be using him for very special projects, and hence, his knowledge might be very specialized and rare. In order to coach him effectively, you need to teach him how he can delegate his tasks and transfer his knowledge. You need to encourage him to “let go” his activities and expertise to give others the opportunity to be an “expert”.
  4. Provide training: You should involve your experienced employee in the selection, development and planning efforts, so that he can learn your style of decision making, and hopefully, use that knowledge to make future decisions on his own. His involvement in decision making will not only help you to get better informed with the day-to-day issues on the line, but it will also give him the opportunity to learn how mission critical decisions are taken. If your employee is inexperienced in coaching others, co-coach your new employees with him. This will give him the confidence in coaching others, while improving your trust relationship with him.

I hope, these tips will help you to better coach your experienced employee in your team. Stay tuned for my next blog, where I will provide you with some pointers on how to coach your managers. In the meanwhile, if you have any other ideas through which you can provide effective coaching to your experienced employees, then please feel free to share it here.

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2013 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to provide coaching to a rookie in your team?


Coaching a Rookie in your teamOne of the most important duties of a Manager/Leader is to coach their employees to get the desired business results. Like….one management style doesn’t work for everyone, one coaching style doesn’t function for everyone. Depending on your employee’s experience and historical background, you have to customize your coaching style to get the best out of themselves. Right? In this blog post, I will provide you with few pointers through which you can effectively coach your new hire.

Before I provide you with any strategies to coach your new employee, let’s find out few challenges that they would face as a new hire………As a new hire, your employee (Mrs. X) would require clear direction on what she is supposed to do, right? She will also need some clearly defined work assignments, where she can get herself acquainted to your company and its processes, am I not right? Obviously, she is new to the company, so she will also need your help to expand her circle of influence to get the work done.

Since, we are clear on what challenges she would face as a new employee in your team, now we can go ahead and define some coaching strategies. Following are few strategies that I use with my new hire…….

  1. Frequent feedback: As a new employee, she would not know if she is doing the assigned task appropriately and up to your expectations. And hence, providing frequent reviews and feedback is a must.
  2. Set clear expectations: In order to make sure that she can be productive quickly, you need to provide clear and detailed instructions for every basic tasks that you assign to her. It would be better for you, if you can provide her with smaller projects with clearly defined start and end times. This will make sure that you educate herself with your team’s processes while meeting your productivity targets at the same time.
  3. Ask questions:  In order to make sure that you are strengthening your relationships with your new employee and she is getting all the information that she needs, you need to regularly ask her questions. Questions like……. “How are you doing?”, “Do you have time for lunch?”, and “How do you like our team?” will help you to strengthen your relationship with her and to build your initial trust. On the other hand, questions like…….”Are you getting the information you need?”, “Are you meeting the right people?”, and “Let me know, if you need anything” will help her to make sure that she gets the work done.
  4. Assign a coach: Obviously, you would be introducing her to your team and encouraging her to increase her circle of influence within and outside of your team. But sometimes that is not enough. You need to explicitly assign a member of your team, who is willing to coach her. This strategy will not only help her to get herself acquainted with your team’s processes, but it will also give your experienced employee an opportunity to showcase his talents to you. With an explicit coach assigned to her, she can now learn your processes, languages, and acronyms used in your area without your explicit time given to her.

I hope, these tips will help you to better coach your new hire in the team. So, what would you do differently to coach your new employee? Do you have any other ideas to effectively coach your rookie?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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