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Tag Archives: Leadership

Why shouldn’t you fire stability seeking employees from your company?


Introvert BossRecently, one of my friend asked me for a suggestion on how to fire her one of the experienced employee (let’s call him Bob). Since the question was really interesting, I wanted to get more information about this issue. After some discussion with her, I figured out that her issue was completely different than how to fire someone. Actually, she was unable to use Bob’s strength to strengthen her team, and hence, she was considering Bob’s output negligent. Bob was with the company for several years, and she felt that his growth was getting stagnant because he is always looking for stability, and wouldn’t grab the next opportunity of growth. Thus, in this blog post I am going to provide you with some insight on how to use employees like Bob to strengthen your team, instead of firing them.

Improve loyalty of your team: In today’s world, where the world is changing every day, we should still value loyalty as an employer. Every company needs a loyal workforce, who are committed to their mission, their customers, and their work. And this is what you will get with your stability seeking employees. They are always loyal with the company, which they work for, since they connect their job stability with the company’s continuous performance. If used correctly, these employees can become the story tellers of your company and its culture to your new employees. Thus, as a manager you can use these employees to mentor your newer workforce to be loyal, and hence, reducing your turnover rate. And why not? Using these employees, you can build the strength of your group by deepening their knowledge of the company, its goals, history, and performance. This approach can create a butterfly effect, and maybe, you can create an entire workforce of loyal employees.

Develop stronger strategic vision: Security seeking employees want the organization to succeed in whatever it does. By doing this, they are increasing their job security. As a manager, you should be seeing this approach as their strengths, and involve these employees in strategic decision making. Because these employees value the organization, they are likely to provide you with some inputs, which has the organization’s interests at its heart. Since these employees are seeking stability with the company, they are most likely to be far-sighted, and they will try to see beyond the short-sighted turf battles. Use this to your advantage, and consistently ask them “What is the best thing to do for the company in the long run?”.

Improve your team’s efficiency: Stability seeking employees are probably not likely to reinvent many wheels. If they have worked for the company for some amount of time, then they might know how the process works, and how to follow it. This approach can make them highly effective workers, since they spend less time in questioning the current system, and spend more time in performing the task. Obviously, not all the time you want a “Yes man” in your team; but for some of the repetitive tasks, you might want to use these employees to quickly finish these tasks. Just make sure that you don’t keep on giving the same tasks to the same employee, because no one knows how to do it. In this way, you will be not only increasing the dependency on one employee, but you will stop that employee from growing. If used correctly, stability seeking employees can reduce any distractions, and improve your team’s efficiency.

Do you have any other ideas through which you can use the strengths of your stability seeking employees?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2013 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to effectively deal with your Perfectionist Boss?


PerfectionistsHave you ever worked under a Perfectionist Manager? By perfectionist, I mean to say … Type-A personality. I am sure, if you have ever worked for a perfectionist boss, then one thing is for sure…..you must have noticed that they hold everyone to the higher standards, and they never get satisfied, no matter how much hard work you put in. Though this perception of Type-A personality boss is true, there are some ways through which you can make them happy. And hence, like my last blog post, I am going to provide you with some pointers through which you can make it easier to work with your perfection obsessed boss.

Respect their decisions: Actually, Type-A personality bosses are often right when they say their ideas are better. They are usually experienced and very knowledgeable on the topic (that’s my general observation). But when people are not allowed to give feedback, to try things their way, or to make mistakes, they can’t develop their potential. Therefore, even though Type-A bosses are good trainers, they don’t allow their employees the freedom to develop to the point where they can take over for the boss. And hence, you should take their criticism well and expect to learn from them. Have an open mind, when you present your ideas to them. Expect multiple revisions to your proposals by your boss. In this way, you can benefit from your manager’s experience while doing things your way.

Uncover all the assumptions: Perfectionist managers don’t ask for feedback from others because they don’t feel they need it; they already know what’s best (according to their perception of themselves). They tend to express their opinions freely on how things should be done, and what others are doing wrong, even when their advice may not be wanted. Thus, you should always ask questions to see what information the boss has assumed that you already know, and then determine whether the boss already has a “correct” solution in mind. While finding more information, use these questions that will appeal to your boss’s self-confidence and provide you more information… “We need your help.” “You’ve had a lot of experience in this, what do you think?” Let them feel in control, but get all the information that you need.

Earn their respect: It is very difficult for a perfectionist manager to delegate responsibilities. They want employees to do the work in a way that they themselves would do that work. Thus, it is critical to earn their respect in order to get your work done right. To earn their respect for your work, you should always respect Type-A personality traits. Try to be at work on time each day (consistently). Finish your projects on time. If you can’t finish your work on time, then involve your manager in the decision making process from the time when you encounter a big issue. In this way, your manager can be informed about the complexities of the issues that you might be encountering, and maybe, lower his/her expectations. Another thing you might want to do is to make your work look neat, well supported, and accurate. Review each stage of an assigned project face to face with the boss, so that his/her confidence level in your work increases over time.

I hope, this blog helps you in dealing with your perfectionist boss. Have you ever worked for a Perfectionist Boss before? If so, how did you deal with that situation? What other ideas can you give to my readers?

I will be waiting for your interactive comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2013 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to effectively deal with your Introvert Boss?


Introvert BossHave you ever worked under an Introvert Manager? In my opinion, managers should always be people person with soft skills, but that is not always the real life scenario. You must have seen (or experienced) multiple situations, where an introvert person is in the management role because of his/her experience with the subject knowledge, connections with the management, or something else. No matter what is the exact reason behind this, you might come across these kind of situations more often than you might think. Thus, in this blog post, I am going to provide you with some pointers on how to deal with your introvert boss effectively and respectably.

Don’t increase their insecurities: Introvert managers spend too much of their time and energy in safety seeking to keep from looking like fools, being blamed for something, or even losing their jobs. Thus, you should try not to put them on the spot. Asking their opinion in meetings does not make it easier for them to participate; instead, it increases their anxiety. So, you should always try to ask them their opinion in one-on-one settings, where they feel more comfortable. Don’t ask vague questions during this one-on-one sessions. You should rather ask specific instructions about how, what, when, and where; so that you don’t have to bug him/her multiple times about the same information. If possible, do some homework before you ask these specific questions. Go through some scenarios, where you can address all policy impacts of his/her decisions in the same meeting. This will limit your visit to his/her office, and it will get you all the information that you might need.

Take decisions by yourself: Introvert managers always attempt to remain safe by avoiding to make decisions by themselves. Thus, I would recommend you to take new initiatives by yourselves. And if needed, take important decisions by yourself, after talking to other employees and stakeholders. During this process, you need to make sure that you keep your manager notified (or informed) about these initiatives, so that he/she doesn’t consider you as a threat to his/her power. It is comparatively easy for an introvert manager to provide his/her opinion on some decision, rather than taking that decision by themselves. It would also help, if you can show him/her your decision process, and how you came to a given decision from all the other alternatives. In this way, you can increase your manager’s comfort level by providing him with pros and cons of all the other alternatives.

Don’t expect any feedback: Introvert Managers feel more comfortable working with things than with people. For example, they might do well working at restocking items or finding glitches in a software program. They will enjoy inventory control, ordering supplies, and detailed work but be less successful in dealing with employees and employee problems. Thus, they seek/provide little feedback and disclose little information. In fact, introvert managers not only feel uncomfortable around people, but they actually fear them. So, don’t expect any praise, guidance, criticism, or help from your introvert boss. You might have to provide these for yourself or ask your colleagues to do so. Due to the sheer nature of your boss, you might want to set up a 360 degree survey for your job performance. In this way, you will be getting true and real feedback from all the people you work for, and may be, this can help you in getting that next promotion, which you might not get, if your performance is only judge by your introvert manager.

I hope, this blog helps you in dealing with your introvert boss. Have you (or do you) worked for an Introvert Boss before? If so, how did you deal with that situation? What other ideas can you give to my readers?

I will be waiting for your interactive comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to gauge your leadership perception through your team’s feedback?


FeedbackLeadership’s perception is the key in deciding how effective is your leadership. If your team has the wrong perception of your leadership style, and if they do not consider all of the external factors that shape your leadership style, then they might cause few negative consequences for the organization and yourself. Thus, it is very essential to look at your leadership style from your team member’s perspective. And hence, I will provide you with few methods through which you can measure your leadership perception in the eyes of your team.

360-degree review: In order to get an unbiased feedback from your team about your leadership style, you need to find appropriate methods for soliciting that feedback. And the best way to get that feedback is by initiating a 360-degree review of your leadership performance and ability. I would advise you to coordinate with your manager or Human Resource representative to ensure that the process is carried out professionally and in a manner suitable to your workplace. Be sure to solicit and include multiple peers from a variety of sources to get as many perspectives as possible. If you have a small HR department in your company, or if you don’t have enough resources to do a 360-review, then you might want to try creating a free survey on a website like SurveyMonkey with specific questions related to your leadership style.

One-on-one: Another method through which you can get an unbiased feedback from your team regarding your leadership style is through one-on-one meetings with your team members. I would advise you to coordinate a series of one-on-one candid discussions with the people you respect as leaders and your team. From the feedback of those leaders, who have a vested interest in developing you as a leader in your organization, you can get some advice or experience that may be valuable to help you grow as a leader. While the feedback from your team members will help you to understand what works and what doesn’t work in your existing leadership style, so that you can tweak your current style to become a better leader.

Customer feedback: Customers are the reason why we are here. And hence, it is very critical to obtain your customer’s feedback to get an outside perspective of how you lead your team. What does the customer feedback say about you as a leader? Are customers willing and eager to work with your team? Are the objectives clearly defined to achieve the desired end results? Does the customer see you as an advocate for your team and your organization? How do you perform in crisis management situations? If you don’t directly interact with the end consumer of your end product, then get the feedback from the team that you support.

Have you ever found the need to measure your leadership perception? If so, what other methods have you used to gauge your leadership perception in the eyes of your team?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Manager’s guide for a new manager: How to quickly learn the workings of your new team?


classic-booksOne of my friend headed the quality function at a medium-sized durable goods company. And once he got a job offer as a general manager in one of its largest plant, he jumped on the opportunity. After briefly examining the new plant, he declared it outdated and went on to rebuild it from ground up. But while doing this, he neglected the importance of understanding the current processes, and interpreted employee’s silence as agreement. No wonder, his idea was not accepted positively. And soon after the new plan was put in place, productivity plummeted and quality suffered.

In order for you to not repeat this mistake, you need to first try to learn the existing operations of the team, strengthen your relationships with the team members, and then try to make changes to the process. In this blog, I will provide you with few tips through which you can accelerate your learning process about the current processes/procedure of your team.

Ask your people: The simplest method to learn the workings of your new team is to ask your people. You would be surprised by knowing how much of the knowledge your new team has to share. Don’t be afraid of looking foolish, while asking very basic questions to your team. I would recommend you to ask these questions during your one-on-one session with your employees. In this way, you will still get the information that you need, without getting embarrassed in front of many people (if you ask any foolish questions).

Train yourself: Another method to quickly familiarize yourself with the existing processes of your new team is to treat yourself like a new employee. I would recommend you to have few days allocated solely to train yourself. During these days, you should work with your team as if you were a new employee joining the team, and tell them to run the show. By doing this, you will not only learn the existing processes of your team but you will also earn the trust of your team by showing them you care about them. Worst come worst, you will be in the position to define the training guide for the new employee joining your team.

Learn from documents: If I were you, I would invest some good amount of time going through all the documentation of the team before I ask someone. In this way, you can learn about the workings of your team without looking foolish in front of someone. This will also give you an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the document standards of your new team, so that you can follow these standards while changing the documentation, if you choose to change the existing process.

I hope, this blog helps you to accelerate your learning process while understanding the workings of your newly acquired team. If you were in the similar situation like my friend, what would you have done?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

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

 

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Why should you NOT let your employees work from home?


Work from home

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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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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