RSS

Tag Archives: Leadership

How to effectively provide negative feedback to your employees? Part 1


FeedbackFirst of all, I would like to thank my readers for really liking my last blog series about ‘honest feedbacks’. I really appreciate your feedback, so please keep it coming. Secondly, many of you have asked me how to provide honest, but negative feedback, to your employees, and hence, I am writing this two-part series blog for answering some of your questions.

Refrain from personal attacks: While giving feedback to others, try to direct your feedback towards their behavior rather than towards that particular person. A common mistake lot of managers make is to criticize the person rather than their negative behavior. If you tell your assistant that she is a poor excuse for a secretary, then it is a personal attack rather than a constructive criticism. These kind of feedback can only make your employees more defensive towards you and your feedback. So, try to identify the problematic behavior and focus on what can be done to correct it in the future, instead of launching personal attacks towards your employees. For example: This is what you tell your secretary when she makes an accounting mistake … “Jackie, an accounting mistake like this one can cost way more than our weekly office budget. From now on, please check with me before finalizing any orders costing more than $100”.

Be descriptive: While providing feedback to your employees, don’t be evaluative or judgmental, instead be descriptive. Descriptive feedback is tactfully honest and objective, whereas evaluative feedback seems to be more judgmental and accusatory to the feedback receiver. Here is an example of an evaluative feedback: “Where is your sales report? You know it is due on my desk no later than 9:00 each morning. You’re obviously not reliable anymore.” Here is an example of a descriptive feedback for the same situation: “When you don’t turn your sales reports in on time, I’m unable to complete the departmental report on time. This makes both of us look bad. You’ve been late twice this month. Is there something I can do to help you get those reports in on time?” Like in this example, descriptive words are more likely to result in cooperation.

Keep it short: If you are providing constructive criticism to your employee, don’t have a marathon about it. Try to include only as much information as the person can handle at one time. Suppose during a performance appraisal, you give an employee a list of 20 items that need improvement. Even though you might feel better after fully expressing your feelings, your employee will only remember 2-3 major bullet items from that meeting and forget everything else. How can anyone improve on 20 things at the same time? Think about it, can you do that? What would have happened if your manager gave you similar feedback? Wouldn’t you require more time to analyze this much information at once? Thus, you should restrict yourself while giving negative feedback to your employees. Give only two or three suggestions that your employee can reasonably handle at a time.

These are some ideas through which you can effectively provide negative feedback to your employees. If you have any other ideas through which we can make this process easier, then please share your ideas with me through your comments here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

Advertisements
 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Self-management for the self-employed


Those who are self-employed will understand that keeping on top of financial affairs is of the utmost importance. For those who are just starting out, this can seem a very daunting task, but there are ways of keeping the whole process manageable so that it does not completely take over. It is important that tasks like this are completed without the need to take time away from other essential aspects of running the business such as marketing and actually doing the work.

Getting – and staying – organized

It is very important when self-employed to keep proper accounts. Noting all incoming monies and expenditure is essential, otherwise it would be too easy to fall into the trap of having more going out than is coming in. If possible, a qualified accountant should manage this side of the business. While some small businesses may be concerned about the cost of hiring an accountant, most find that effective management of taxation can actually save them money in the long term.

The right accounting software should be used and all invoices and receipts input as soon as possible. This allows for checking of the system in real time and makes tax returns and other administrative functions far easier. It will also help to show when bills are due to be paid so that nobody ever needs to knock on the door to demand what is owed to them. One of the easiest ways to stay on top of this task is to dedicate a set amount of time each week to entering data. This should take no more than a couple of hours, but if it is left for any length of time it could begin to amount to several days’ worth of work.

Getting a helping hand

If the thought of dealing with taxation is too much to bear but being employed by another person is also too much, then there is middle ground that will suit. The use of an umbrella company is the ideal solution for those who want to work for themselves but at the same time need the security of knowing that they do not need to complete taxation paperwork themselves.

The freelancer or contractor registers with the umbrella company and becomes an “employee” of the company, which then deals with income tax and national insurance. The company will also deal with invoicing and collecting payments on the freelancer’s behalf. This means that the freelancer is able to spend that time dealing with building their business without the burden of too many administrative tasks. For that self-employed PAYE is still an option.

The important point is that freelancers are not put off going it alone by the thought of endless amounts of paperwork. Many people dream of becoming self-employed and, therefore, independent but, without the right approach to the administrative side of the business, the dream can unravel very quickly, so finding a solution that suits the needs of the business is essential.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 16, 2014 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Practical ways to make your Team Meeting more interactive.


Team MeetingWe have all been a part of some kind of a team meeting in our lives. Though these meetings often start as an interactive exercise between you and your team members, they tend to turn into some boring status meeting down the line. As a manager, I am also guilty of making my team meetings boring. For example: When I first took over a completely new team, few of my team meetings were very interactive, where I was trying to understand my team’s needs, and my team member’s working styles. I used to ask them bunch of questions and make sure that their inputs are heard. But after few months, I got used to my team and their working styles, and hence, my focus shifted on improving productivity and eliminating issues. Obviously, as a manager we should be focused on our priorities, but we should always consider the team meeting as the opportunity to make relationships between our team members, and refocusing them on our company’s vision.

Invite guest speakers: By this, I don’t mean to say that you should go ahead and start spending your company’s dollars on inviting motivational leaders to your team meetings. Though once in a while, it wouldn’t hurt to invite someone, you can’t sustain this expensive initiative for long. So, my suggestion is to invite the guest speakers from your own company. If you work in a medium size companies like mine, you won’t run out of options. And this initiative will not only help you in building good relationships within your company, but it will also educate you and your team about the roles and responsibilities of other teams within the organization.

Recognize others: This is not that obvious. I am sure, as a manager, you must be recognizing the work of your employees during the your team meeting, but you might not have given this opportunity to your employees so that they can recognize their peers. Though the concept of this idea is very simple, it will do wonders during your team meetings. This approach will open up the communication between your team members, and help you build the trust relationships within themselves.

Leave with a positive note: After 3-4 months of taking over a new team, my team meetings have also become boring and predictable. And due to the nature of work that we do (testing), we were in the forefront of all the bad news about our products. Due to this, most of my meetings were very negative, and we came out of the meeting as if everything is coming to an end. So, I have implemented a simple but efficient solution. At the end of every team meeting, I required all of my team members to come up with at least one positive thing about their work during this past week. It did sound cheeky at first, but after few weeks, all of our team members came out from the meeting with something positive about themselves, and their overall attitude had changed towards their work.

Give a pizza party: I am not expecting you to provide pizza during every team meeting, but it wouldn’t hurt to provide food during some of your team meetings. I try to do that twice a year, once in the summer and once in the winter. Shifting your team meetings to lunch time and ordering some food for your team will provide them some motivation, and eating together with the team members will provide them the opportunity to socialize within themselves. In order to not make this an awkward event, combine this activity with some other interactive activity like “5 things about you”, “Things you would like to do outside of work”, “Your major accomplishments in life”, etc.

I hope, these simple activities can help you make your team meetings alive again. Do you have any other suggestions?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

How to end corruption in India (Part 1)?


CorruptionWith Indian elections around the corner and lots of tweets going on about the corruption in India; I couldn’t stop but think, how can a new leader stop an age old tradition of bribing? Is it only the responsibility of the new leader to change the overall culture of India? What about the people of India? Do they not bare any accountability in prospering this corrupt government culture from ages? Obviously, people have the intrinsic responsibility to be the part of this cultural change, but the major changes can be implemented by the new leader in order to reduce corruption in India. Following is one of the ideas through which we can achieve this goal.

I still remember that day from 2003, when I had to go with my friend to check out the application process for the new passport application. During that time, there was no consistent information available for a simple task like a passport application. No one could predict what kind of documentation will be asked for at the application counter, or how long it will take to finish the entire process. During our first visit, we ended up inquiring about all of that information, and noted down all the necessary procedures to acquire the passport. Next day, we took all the desired documents, which we had noted down the other day, and started our journey again. But during our next visit, the same person told us that we need to notarize all of these documents, and get few other documents. Obviously, we were two naïve kids at that time, who hadn’t experienced life. On our third visit to the passport office, we had realized that this was more than just missing documents. What would have happened to that officer, if he would have just given us the list of required documents at once? Ah. We had then realized that this was the sign given to us by the government officer to give him some extra money under the table. Though we didn’t give any bribe, and visited the passport office at least 8-10 times before getting our passport; most of the people would have given some money, and would have got their work done in 1-2 visits.

When people give bribes to the government officers in India, they are looking for a convenient way to finish their work. Shouldn’t these kind of tasks be convenient to begin with?  Applying for a passport is not a complex task. I shouldn’t be giving some extra money to anyone for doing their regular job. Do you agree? If we were to have the consistent and transparent information available to us before making our trip to the passport office, we wouldn’t have to go through 8-10 different inconvenient trips to do a simple task. Unfortunately, that is how things work in India. For a country like that, where everyone is mostly busy and working 24×7, bribing an officer seems a convenient way to get your work done, instead of hunting for the right information to apply for your passport, ration card, etc.

One of the prevalent reasons behind the corruption in India is….restricted access to the information. When the same and consistent information is freely available to all the citizens of India, they can take their own decisions based on that information. Unfortunately, that is not the case in India. From applying for your birth certificate to applying for your death certificate, there is no centralized and consistent source of information where you can get all the information about all of these applications. Thus, you have to depend on the government officer’s best judgment on what kind of information you need, and how to apply, etc. There are many people in India, who would rather bribe the officer in order to get their work done, instead of visiting the office 4-5 times. Unfortunately, most of the government officers take advantage of this fact, and use the lack of transparent information to their advantage in order to get some extra cash under the table.

Thus, we need a centralized,  transparent and consistent source of information in the Indian government.  If we have that kind of a system in place, government officers are less likely to take benefits of our needs, and more likely to concentrate on their basic duties of helping people. And, maybe, then people of India can demand answers from the government officers based on the facts and consistent information, instead of basing their questions on their assumptions. Let’s make the system more transparent, so that we can hold our government accountable for their actions. If you had all the required documents for applying for your passport, then you should be able to get it within a certain time period. If you don’t get your passport application processed within the average processing time, then you should be able to question the officer and hold him accountable as per the transparent guidelines published by Indian government.

What do you think? Will transparency of information bring a new cultural shift in India? Will it be able to help us in reducing the amount of corruption in India?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

5 signs of being a bad manager


Bad ManagerMany managers fail to recognize their mistakes. Sometimes its not their fault at all. They just don’t see the early signs of their management failure, and hence, they can’t fix the underneath issue. After all, you can only fix something, if you know what is wrong. Thus, in order to help these managers in identifying the initial signs of failure, I am writing this blog. Through this blog, you should be able to see some initial signs of your leadership failures.

Higher turnover rate: Every organization experiences some kind of turnover in its positions, especially in the market-based economies like the Untied States. However, at least 40% of the turnover in the market place is due to the bad manager. If you are seeing more than an average turnover in your team, then its your time to analyze your leadership skills and management style. When inordinate amounts of turnover exist in your group, it may be that you might be alienating valuable staff members.

Hard time to fill positions:  When you loose people from your team, hiring from within the organization should be your first and most cost- effective option. When you are finding it more difficult to fill these positions within the organization, it may be that you might have developed a reputation as someone for whom it is difficult to work for.  Though it is not always the case, you might want to analyze the reasons behind not being able to fill these positions. It might be telling you something about your hiring practice or your reputation in the organization.

Increase in employee’s disputes: If you are a bad manager, then you must be seeing lot of disputes between you and your team. If Human Resources staff members are called upon frequently to mediate specific human relations issues, then it might be the time for you to do some self-analysis about your management style. This is a clear sign that you are not able to control your team members, and hence, you will not only loose some respect in their eyes, but you will also be seen as an ineffective manager in front of your superiors.

Performance reviews are challenged: For a good manager, a performance review is nothing but an opportunity to document something that happened during the year. Neither the employee nor you should be surprised by seeing any comments written in the review. But that doesn’t happen all the time. Few managers always have an issue during the performance review period, where their performance reviews are challenged by their employees. If you are one of those managers, where your performance assessments are often challenged by your employees, then it’s a sign that you are a bad manager.

Company’s policies are neglected: One of the signs to identify that you are a bad manager or not, is to observe your team. If you are frequently neglected in the decision making process, and if your employees are frequently neglecting the company’s policies and procedures, then it’s the time for you to analyze your management style. If you are deemed difficult to work with, then often your team members and other employees will follow the path of least resistance, and completely ignore you in the decision making process. This should be the clear indication that your management style needs some updating.

I hope, through my blog post you can get few hints about your current management style. Please share your comments here, if you agree/disagree with my point of view.

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 13, 2014 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Is my business idea practical? Will it work? – Find out your answers here.


BusinessExperimentIn my last blog, I discussed about how to kick-start your part-time business. Due to overwhelming response of my readers and their curious questions such as….”How would I know that my business will work?”, I thought of writing another blog. In this blog post, I will provide you with some ideas through which you can test your business model very easily and effortlessly.

You will find your prospective customers by getting out of your building, spreading the word, and through word of mouth. I would advise you to use the networking as your primary tool, instead of cold calling people. Try to explore your existing friend and family circle, and develop those new relationships. Try to contact and meet with your potential customers, experts, or people who can introduce you to potential customers or experts — through your family, friends and other contacts.

Start with your primary contacts. Talk with your family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, church or professional association members, and others in your personal network. You will be surprised on how much people are willing to help. Tell them about your new business idea. Ask them if they know anyone who might have a professional interest in your business. Get as many names and contact particulars as you can. Prepare a list of experts and expected customers, and then start asking them questions.

The most important thing you want to ask them is…..whether or not your business model is workable. Some of the important questions that you might want to ask them are…..

  1. Will your customers be confident about your capabilities do the job? I mean, do you possess the key resources and/or partners needed to deliver the promised value? Do your proposed key activities support the value provided?
  2. Do any of your prospective customers care about the value you can provide to their business/lives? Are they willing to pay for the product/service that you are offering? Is your asking price too much for the service/product that you are providing?
  3. Will you be able to bear all of the costs needed to implement your business model? What kind of other hidden costs will you encounter in the future (according to their experience)?
  4. Through which channels do your customers want to be contacted and served? Are you possessing appropriate customer relationships attributes required to sustain in that market? 

During these meetings, make sure to avoid selling your products/services. Your meetings should focus on validating your personal business model assumptions from the customer’s perspective. Also, when you ask someone for help, they are more likely to be responsive as compared to the experience when you try to sell them something.

Please make sure to record each answer for your future reference. Try to analyze these data before you make any changes in your business model. Don’t go overboard with the analysis. Just try to come on a conclusion, which can tell you if your service/product is different than others, and if customers are willing to pay for it.

I hope, this blog has provided you with some pointers through which you can test your business ideas. Do you have any ideas through which one can easily test his/her business model? If so, please share it with my readers through the comments below.

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 26, 2014 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

How to kick-start your part-time business without going broke?


PartTimeBusinessHave you ever thought of starting your own business? If so, were you successful in doing so? If not, what is holding you back? Have you ever thought about it? Though I might not be an expert on the subject, I have some experience in starting my own part-time gig, which I would like to share here with you. In this blog post, I will provide you with some advice on how to kick-start your part-time business that you have always thought about, but you didn’t know where to start.

Calculate before you jump-in: Let’s say, you are making $4000/month from your current full time job, and you are saving around $400/month or so. Now, let’s assume that you want to open up a new part-time business of photography, and you are unsure about it being successful or not. In this situation, instead of jumping into the business directly, and getting loans from other people to start your business, you can just calculate the worst case scenario. Assuming that your equipment, advertisements and operational costs being $4000, you can save this much money in 10 months. Let’s say, if you can make this much amount of money in 10 months through your photography contracts, it might not be a bad business after all. Other thing that you want to calculate before entering into the business is….how much will be your operating costs vs. how much money you are expecting to make. Though it might not give you a perfect answer, it will give you a definitive starting point of your finances.

Test your business model: Once you are convinced that you really want to start your part-time business, and once you have done all of the calculations, now it’s the time to test your business model. In order to test your business idea, you might want to meet with your prospective customers to test the assumptions of your business. For example: If you want to open up a new photography business, it would be a good idea to take 1-2 contracts for free. This will not only build up your portfolio, and provide you with some good references, but it will also test your business model. If customer feedback suggests any changes to your current strategy, then go back and modify the appropriate building blocks of your business. And repeat this process with other prospective customers, until you have some amount of confidence in implementing the same business model for money.

Jump in: Once you have tested your business model, now it’s the time to jump in and make some real money. In order to do this, you should capitalize your older customer base to expand your business. Word of mouth definitely helps you to get some business (at least in my experience). Obviously, having some external help from some advertising contractors wouldn’t hurt either. Once your business is up and running, you should continuously assess your business’ profit potential every month. You might have couple of months with some losses, but make sure that you can afford these losses through your current full-time job’s savings. If you are continuously losing money in your business, which can’t be recuperated through your primary job, then it might be the time to get out. On the contrary, if you are making enough profit from your business for more than 6 months, and if you can sustain yourself from that profit, then maybe it’s the time to convert your part time gig into a full blown business.

I hope, these tricks will help you kick-start your own part-time business within few months. Do you guys have any other ideas regarding this subject? If so, please share your ideas through comments below. My readers would be delighted to hear your take on this.

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 30, 2014 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: