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Tag Archives: Leadership of tomorrow

How to change your organization to innovate faster?


Picture of PhysicsFirst of all, I would like to thank you all for such an overwhelming response to my last blog. I haven’t yet responded to all of your emails and personal messages, but I will respond to them within next few days.

While going through your messages, I have also realized one thing, most of you are not happy with just innovating at a restricted budget, but you are looking to innovate at a faster pace than before. With the technology and the world moving faster each day, I can definitely understand your sentiment. Thus, in this blogpost, I will provide you with some strategies through which you can increase the speed of your innovation at your workplace.

Eliminate hierarchy: Large organizations often find it hard to respond to new market opportunities and change quickly due to the hierarchical burden that comes with these organizations. Thus, if it is possible, we should create smaller R&D teams in our organization which has its own budget and, who can work independently within this organization. If you don’t have that liberty to independently manage the R&D team, then you should at least keep it simple. Try to keep the product cycle small, and perform frequent inspection. Purpose of these inspections shouldn’t be profit based, just yet, but it should be a checking point to make sure that the research is headed in the right direction.

Change incentive system: From Microsoft to Google, we always hire R&D personnel from science-oriented background, and hence, their interests lie in technology, not in markets. These employees, being from technical background, are not trained to engage their customers in the decision making process. Thus, if we want to change this culture of “obsolete innovation”, then we have to start by changing the incentive system, itself. If we use stock options to align the work of our technical staff with the firm’s financial performance, then they will be able to understand the business environment in which your organization does business, and they are more likely to innovate things that help your business.

Create new roles: Changing the incentive system alone wouldn’t help you to change the culture of the entire organization. In order to kick start this organization-wide change, you need to create some new roles within the organization to focus explicitly on customer engagement. This can be done with either existing or new personnel who are placed in important positions within R&D where they can effect change. You can also build new, multi-skilled teams to help change existing practices within R&D. This might involve building teams with both marketing and technical skills to reduce traditional barriers between R&D, sales and customers. It may not even be necessary for all R&D personnel to change or take on a more customer-focused role. Just having one in five in an R&D team being more customer-focused might be enough.

I have seen this strategy work for many small businesses, and I am sure that it can work for you too, if implemented correctly. Please provide your feedback on this blogpost through your comments. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

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How to innovate with less resources?


Critical Thinking

Regardless of what kind of business you run, small or large, you always have to keep on innovating, otherwise your business will become irrelevant in no time. But when times are tough and when you don’t have much money to spend, how do you still keep your commitment to innovate more? Thus, through this blogpost, I am going to provide you with few suggestions using which you can innovate on a tight budget.

Involve customers throughout: Your customers are your best critique. Thus, you should involve them throughout the product life cycle. Rather than wasting your money on getting the second-hand market data or hiring focus groups, you must engage directly with your customers in their natural settings. Involve your existing customers with your R&D teams to unearth new or unmet needs. Interact with users in new market segments by actively involving customers in new product design processes, as well as tracking customers’ use of the product after purchase. The focus on customer needs will enable R&D to replace its costly and scattershot approach to product development with more efficient, user-focused investment.

Seek cheaper solutions: Too often, we reinvent the wheel and end up with too complex of a product for our customers. Customers, however, are more likely to be impressed by products that solve their problems than by mere technological prowess. When you have unlimited resources at your disposal, it is easier to go overboard with your R&D efforts. But when you have very limited funds, you should be guided first and foremost by your customer insight, and produce easy-to-use offerings that may lack bells and whistles but are good enough, especially if they come at a lower price. This approach will not only help you to bring your products faster into your markets, but it will also help you in getting the faster feedback for your products in real time.

Use of crowdsourcing: If you are on a tighter budget, you should definitely look for crowdsourcing your R&D efforts. Obviously, you can’t crowd source everything due to your intellectual property rights and other concerns, but you can crowd source plausible product ideas and gauge their initial public reactions. Ideas that garner sufficient support can be then packaged with supporting data and sent to the relevant managers, who in turn signal their view of its potential to executives responsible for taking such ideas forward. You can also use social media networks, where customers reveal and share their preferences to yield a wealth of market insights at lower costs.

I hope, my blog can help you innovate new things for your business within a restricted budget. If you know any other ways through which we can innovate with less resources, then please feel free to share it here through your comments. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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Motivation techniques that don’t cost you a fortune


LoyalEmployeesI have seen and managed many employees over the years. And through my experience, I have realized one thing; money is not even the primary factor of motivation for the people who work for you. For some employees, the new healthcare plan might be the perfect motivation boost, while for others the same exact plan might prove to be depressing. No one can find out the perfect formula for motivating everyone, but you can try to implement some practical solutions through which you can motivate majority of your team. Thus, in this blog I will talk about some practical ways to motivate your employees without breaking your bank.

Be positive: No one can make you motivated or demotivated about something. Only your own thoughts can make you happy or sad. In the same manner, no one can make your employees sad or demotivated; their own thoughts make them demotivated. So, when your employees come to you for finding the meaning of the new directive or the new process change, then it’s your duty to give a positive meaning to that new initiative. If you keep positive attitude towards your work, and if you keep yourself motivated at work, then you can create a butterfly effect of positive attitude around you. After all, people feel motivated only when they think motivated thoughts. Thoughts rule, circumstances do not. The closer your relationship to that truth, the better.

Tell the truth: Great leaders are always transparent with their team. They share a common habit of telling the truth to their team, faster than their other counterparts. Though, as managers, we won’t be able to tell every confidential matter to our team, we should at least try to be as transparent as we can. There are some managers who tell their team – “There’s nothing I can do” or “I am helpless and powerless”. It might be partially true in some situations, but you can always do something better. Even if you don’t have answers to your employee’s question, you can always ask someone and get the answer for them, and communicate those to your employees. If you remain transparent to your people and try to involve them in decision making, then you will never have to worry about motivating your team.

Care about the individual: Some managers are more of a project managers than a people manager. They think that there is nothing more important than meeting our team’s objectives. And when we meet our team’s goals, motivation comes inherently since the team recognizes that they have contributed towards this goal. Even though I agree that meeting team’s objectives are very critical for the business, making sure that your team recognizes their contribution in this big picture, is even more important. As a manager, you shouldn’t just concentrate on your business priorities, but you should also try to understand the mindset of each individual in your team. Try to stop by their desk everyday, and if that is not physically possible, then try to IM or Mail them every single day to find out if they need any help. After all, we are all humans, and no matter how far we have come, we still value personal interactions more than anything else.

I hope, my blog can help you motivate your employees. If you know any other ways through which we can motivate our employees without money, then please feel free to share it here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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Motivation mistakes that many managers make


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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What should you communicate about promotion to your employees?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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What would you ask your employees, if you were given a chance to be an Undercover Boss?


UndercoverBossRecently, when I was watching this show – Undercover Boss, I got to think,  what would I have done, if I had an opportunity to be an Undercover Boss  on the show. For those folks, who are not familiar with this show, please  look at this link here. In a nutshell, this show is about how company’s CEOs  and executives work undercover in their organization, and how they find  opportunities of improvements through their experiences while working as  a normal employee. If I were given an opportunity like this, then I would  focus my questions on the following areas…

The whole picture: When you are in the field or working as a line  employee, you want to find out two most important things about your  employees and work culture, if you want to improve any kind of efficiency  in your business. First, try to understand the depth of the knowledge  people have about your organization as a whole. Second, try understand  what kind of major misnomers are floating around the company regarding  company’s perception and internal processes. By asking questions related  to these area, you will get a rough idea on how educated is your workforce  regarding your company’s functions, and what are some of the wrong  assumptions that are made in their day-to-day work life.

The money flow: Not all employees need to understand all the details in  the 10K (annual report) of your company. I don’t expect an IT Engineer to  understand each and every financial detail about the company, but at the  same time they should have some rough idea on how the business  functions at its core. At least in the IT field, most people have never been  taught how their business works, and hence, they fail to see importance of  some critical decisions that we need to take to keep the business running.  Thus, it is very crucial to ask your employees about company’s financials,  and gauge their understanding on company’s core businesses, and how the  company makes money.

Value of their work: As an executive/CEO, you should always make sure  that your employees understand the value of their work. Then it maybe the  IT Engineer, Janitor, or the field engineer; they should understand that they  play a crucial part in your organization’s success. Thus, asking questions  like.. “How is this job related to company’s overall success?” or “How is  your job making a difference in this organization?” would be very helpful in  understanding employees behavior towards their job, and how they  perceive their work in the bigger picture.

What would you do here? I mean…. what would you ask, if you were given this opportunity? I would love to hear your perspective on this. So, keep on posting. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2015 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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5 practical ways to show your employees that you care


Recently, one of my friend arranged her 360-degree feedback. And to her surprise, some of the negative feedback that she got from her employees was that she doesn’t seem to care for her employees that much. Thus, she turned to me for some advice. And hence, through this blog post I am going to share some practical advice on how to show your employees that you care.

  1. Write a thank-you note to your hard working employee by saying how much you appreciate the time that they have put in the project. Trust me, in the world of electronic communication, sometimes a personalized sticky note on their desk can make a difference.
  2. Put together a slideshow of your staff’s accomplishments or your client’s feedback, and then keep it on display in a shared conf. room or during your team meeting. If you don’t have those high tech displays, then you can just print these slides on one page in a collage format, and distribute it over your regular team meetings.
  3. Depending on your schedule, make sure to check in on your employees everyday. If your schedule gets overbooked often, please reserve half an hour in your calendar beforehand, so that no one can double book that time. And you get at least 5 min to talk to each of your employees. Try to be personal with your employees during this time by asking about their day, their weekend, or any other issues. Once they know that you care, they will definitely respond the favor.
  4. Track the dollar value of your employee’s service and present them with a “mock” check at your annual recognition event. It might be a good idea to host the annual recognition event somewhere outside, where you can invite your employee’s friends/family, and recognize their achievements in front of them. This approach will not only display your employees that you care, but it can also help you to attract best talents. After all, great minds know other great minds.
  5. Recognize your hard working employees (who put in lot of overtime) with unexpected perks such as treats in the break room, extra paid time off, or a visit and a handshake from your VP or CEO. Though these kind of small appreciation techniques sound silly, they make a big difference. Just try to look at the expression on your employee’s face, when they meet the VP or CEO of your company. 

Do you have any other ideas through which you can show your employees that you care? Please do share your ideas through your comments. I would love to hear them.

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2013 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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