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How to write effective e-mails to get quicker response


Have you ever been in an e-mail chain where more than 10 people were addressed in the e-mail, but no one knew who is going to respond? If you are a manager or in a similar position, then you must be getting these kind of e-mails at least once in a day. Isn’t it? Actually, this situation is very common than you might think. On an average, 70% of the e-mails in the work place are targeted to the wide audience to get some people’s input, while notifying others at the same time. And that’s where the problem occurs. Since there are multiple users involved in ‘cc’ of the e-mail, all of them think that someone will respond, and at the end, no one ends up responding. In order to avoid those situations, and get quicker response to your emails, I am providing you with few tips on writing effective e-mails.

Use appropriate subject line: You must have been through the situation, where one e-mail might have been forwarded and replied so many times that its subject line doesn’t have any value anymore. Isn’t it? Let’s say, you get an e-mail from one of your employees (Mrs. X) regarding the issue that she found during her testing. The subject line of that e-mail might be “Issue found during testing XYZ product”. After few to-and-from communication with engineers about this issue, you forward this issue to the product manager for prioritizing the resolution of this issue. In this situation, product manager might take few hours or an entire day, before he can respond to this e-mail. Reason being…..from the subject line, this e-mail didn’t seem important to him. And hence, whenever you are forwarding an e-mail to someone, please change the subject line to target your responder. If you would have changed the subject line to “Prioritizing issue resolution for XYZ product”, then you might have got a quicker and descriptive response.

Highlight names: Let’s consider the same example given above. Let’s say, you want to forward this e-mail to the product manager and the engineering manager for their specific responses, and you also want to include 4-5 engineers in ‘cc’ of that e-mail to keep them informed about the resolution. And your e-mail description might say something like “how do we prioritize the resolution for this issue?”. Since, this e-mail is directed to so many people at the same time, you might not get any clear response, since people will wait for others to respond. Let’s say, you would have wrote this instead……”@Steve: How should we prioritize this issue? @David: Is it possible to fix this issue in our next release of the product?”. I am sure, your response would have been more clearer, since you have targeted your questions to each individual included in the e-mail. Thus, I would always recommend you to target your responders by their name, if you are expecting them to provide their input.

I hope, these tips will help you to draft an effective e-mail, so that you can get your responses quickly and easily. Do you have any similar ideas through which you can improve your e-mail communication?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 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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New manager’s guide for the inventory check


Have you ever taken over a completely new team? Have you ever had a hard time in finding out what your team has to offer? Well…. in this blog I am going to talk about how to assess your team’s inventory as a new Manager.

Human capital: Most of the new managers always start their inventory count by assessing their tangible items first. For example: computers, machine parts, etc. I would definitely recommend against it. As a new manager and a new member of the team, one should  familiarize himself with all the team members in the group. You should identify their job description, skill sets, work history, recent projects, and major accomplishments. Find out under what circumstances your team will be given access to any additional human resources, such as outside contractors or assistance from other teams. Find out under what circumstances human resources will be drawn away from your group or reassigned to other teams.

Raw materials and office supply: Once you are done with all the human resource information, you should start assessing all the tangible items available to you. For example: computers, furniture, special equipment, office supplies, work space, hardware, software, etc. You should also identify finished products on hand, and try to get estimated values of those products (if possible). While you are going through the process, it would be nice if you can identify future inventory requirements for your current projects. This will not only help you in better forecasting your inventory needs, but it will also give you an idea of how efficiently your raw materials are used.

Shared inventory: Most of the managers fail to count their shared inventory during this process. I would recommend not to do that. Try to determine if there are any other managers who have ownership over any parts of your team’s current projects. If there are, then you can introduce yourself to these managers so that you can begin to develop good working relationships with them. Ask these other managers to explain how your roles intersect and overlap; ask them to describe what they expect you to do (and not do).

Future supply: Once you are done assessing existing supply, you need to identify any new initiatives that your team has planned for the future. What does your team plan to focus on? When do they plan to begin these new initiatives, and when do they hope to finish them? What business need are they trying to serve? Etc. This will not only help you to better predict your future inventory needs, but it will also help you to determine a roadmap for your team.

How would you access your inventory, if you took over a completely new team?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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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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How to catch fake resume/profile during your hiring process?


CatchFakeResumeRecently, I am in the process of hiring someone in my team. As I move along with that process, I keep on encountering various fake resume. Times are tough, maybe that’s why genuine people are becoming desperate to compete with these fake profiles, and they are also including false information on their resume. While I might not have a complete solution to avoid these fake people, I have few tips through which you can prescreen these candidates before taking their interview, and save your precious time.

Avoid the perfect match: Have you ever seen a resume which exactly replicates  your job requirements as it is posted on the job portal? I have seen many resumes, which contains exactly same wordings as  they appear in the job requirements, and that too in the same order. This should give you a strong signal that this person has directly copy pasted the job description in his job profile. So, don’t even bother interviewing these kind of people.

Avoid out of context keywords: If you get a resume that has all the keywords that you are looking for, but if they are out of context, then chances are….. it has some falsified information. For example: Java, C#, Windows 7, Linux, etc. Someone who has the knowledge of these keywords would easily classify these keywords properly, and they won’t seem out of context. In our example, they would say…… they know programming languages like Java and C#, while they have administrative knowledge of OS like Linux and Windows 7.

Avoid resume without contact information: If you received a good resume which doesn’t have any other contact information other than just an e-mail ID, chances are….this might be a resume of a fake person or a person with fake information. I would not even consider a resume that doesn’t have a contact phone number and a proper residential information.

Google their names: This practice has helped me a lot. Before I decide to give a call to someone, I always go online and Google their name. In today’s day and age, you can find out lot of information about your job applicant by just googling their name. One time, I was going to call someone for an in-person interview and I happened to google his name, and I found out that he was convicted for two different theft charges from his past two jobs. Thus, I highly recommend you to check their online footprints before you call them for an interview.

Call them before an official interview: Technology has made everything possible in past few years. If you work for a company, which has their own video conferencing tools then please make use of those tools before you invite someone for an in-person interview. If you are working on a budget, then use free conferencing tools like Skype or Meebo for a prescreening interview. You should always prescreen out-of-town people using these tools, so that you can save some valuable hiring money, which you might otherwise spend on scheduling their travel arrangements.

I hope these tips will help you to catch any fake resume during your hiring process, and hence avoiding any hiring mistakes. If you have any other ideas through which you can improve your hiring process then please feel free to share it with me through your comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Few tips to keep your Resume current while working


I have seen many people in my career, who only updates their resume when they are in the process of finding a new job. I would definitely recommend against this practice. With the current market place, one should keep his/her resume updated at all times. If an unfortunate thing happen to you, then you will be ready with your latest resume in no time. In order to keep your resume up-to-date, following are few things that I would recommend you to do………

Keep your recommendations updated: Do not just wait for someone to write you a recommendation. If someone (for example a friend, colleague, professor, customer, or client) praises you for your recent work or assignment, you might ask this person: “Would you write me a short note restating that so I can include it in my resume or LinkedIn Profile?” The chances are….. they will be happy to do so and they might even like your initiative to keep your profile updated. If they reply that they’d like to write you a note but are very busy right now, you can offer to do a draft of the note, which they can edit, put on their stationery, and sign. In this way, you are not becoming a burden on them and still getting your things done.

Update your resume as you go: In addition to asking for recommendations, you can also add to the items in your Resume by creating them. Let’s say, you are in the same job from last 2-3 years, but your responsibilities keep on changing. In this case, you want to make sure that you keep a note of all of your job responsibilities somewhere. I would recommend you to keep your resume located somewhere on the cloud using something like ‘Windows Live’ or ‘Google Docs’. In this way, when your job responsibilities changes or you take on more tasks, you can go ahead and update your resume right away.

Create work artifacts as you go: I would recommend you to keep a personal folder in which you can keep all of your documents or artifacts. By artifacts, I mean…..something that you created during your coursework at school or during your employment at your current company. Few examples would be….. Scanned copy of your performance review, project plan that you might have created, any framework diagram, or any documented e-mail showing your accomplishments. These documents will prove very handy during your job interview. Imagine if you were interviewing a candidate for one open position in your team, and he comes to an interview well prepared with all of his achievements documented. I am sure, you are more likely to hire that person as compared to any other person without documented proof of success.

I hope these tips will help you to keep your portfolio up-to-date with the current artifacts. If you have any other ideas through which you can keep your portfolio current, then please feel free to share it on my blog through your comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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What should you not have in your online Resume?


ResumeIn my last blog post, I have provided you with some tips to create your online portfolio, but I forgot to discuss what you shouldn’t put in your online portfolio. While you want to maximize the reach of your online portfolio by putting as much information as you can to find new opportunities, there are few things that you should not put there. Following are my recommendations…….

Don’t include personal information: This goes without saying….. Never put your personal information on your website (or Blog). For example: Your age, birth date, etc. Actually, I would also recommend you to remove your birthdate from your social profile as well. There are various online data mining sites, which can collect your information from different public websites and gather all information at one place. Thus, putting key personal information out from your portfolio is a wise decision.

Don’t put private information: Let’s say, you have a PDF format of your performance reviews from your past employers, and you did a really good job there, and now you want to show that to the world. Please do yourself a favor, and DON’T DO THAT. Of course, you can carry your past performance reviews with you during your interview to strengthen your case, but it’s a really bad idea to put it for everyone to see. I would also not put any personal conversation that you had done with your Manager over the internet. Let’s say, you have many documented e-mails to prove that you did a really good job at your work, please keep a hard copy of those documents and show it during your personal interview, but don’t make it publically available.

Don’t put your company related work: Most of you must be working at some company, and most of your work must be related to the company that you worked for. You might want to include these artifacts in your online portfolio to strengthen your future employment chances, but please don’t do that right away. Please ask your employer/management, if it is ok to upload these documents online or not. Sometimes, you might be unknowingly violating any copyrights by making those documents public. So, make sure to ask your HR Department, before you make any document public. Let’s say, if all of your work is related to your company, and still you want to show that to the world, you can do that too. Edit that work, and make it as generalized as possible, and then run by HR to see if you can upload that to your website now. Once you get your employer’s approval, there is no harm in putting those artifacts on your portfolio.

Don’t put confusing documents: If you have any project documentation that you have worked on, and you want to include that in your online portfolio, then don’t do it right away. Any portfolio item that needs context and explanation to be understood is not likely to be a very powerful document in a Web-based portfolio. You can insert little text boxes that attempt to explain the relevance of the documents, and you can even try using voice-overs to explain how the documents demonstrate your important points, but it’s not the same as being there yourself and responding to questions that the viewer might have. Thus, leave out those specific documents that must be explained to communicate the message effectively.

I hope these tips will help you to create a better online presence for yourself, while controlling what goes online and what doesn’t. If you have any other ideas through which a person can control his/her online image, then please feel free to share it on my blog through your comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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