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Tag Archives: Management

Why do we refrain from taking or giving feedbacks to our peers?


FeedbackAs a manager (or a leader), we should continually be looking for feedback from our peers and employees, and try to improve ourselves. After all, management is more about listening than doing, isn’t it? Even though you would like to improve yourself from these feedbacks, they are hard to come by. So, before we find out a better way to get feedback from our peers, we need to find out basic reasons due to which people feel uncomfortable taking (or giving) their honest feedback.

It emphasizes inferiorities: Honest feedback can sometime make people feel psychologically attacked. Even the most experienced manager or employee can become defensive when feedback seems negative. Take this for an example…Recently, I had to deal with a situation where one of my employee was struggling with time management, so I recommended him to take some time management training. Even though he is a top performer in my team, he was offended by hearing that I was disappointed with his performance. Instead of seeing this feedback as the opportunity to learn something new, he saw it as a personal attack instead.

Don’t know what to ask: Some people misunderstand feedback as the sign of poor communication. To those kind of people, feedback indicates that the message was not communicated very well, and hence, there is a necessity for feedback to get on the same page again. Often people are either so confused that they don’t know what to ask or so confident of their understanding that they ignore the need for any kind of verification. Thus, people refrain to ask for any kind of feedback, after all, no one wants to admit that they didn’t understand anything properly.

It is time consuming: No matter what kind of feedback you are seeking, verbal or written, it is always going to be time consuming task. Then it maybe at the meeting or through an e-mail, you need to make sure that you ask the right question, and get the honest response. Unfortunately, most of the managers won’t take the time to make sure that everyone is on the same page by asking for their feedback; instead, they will prefer to redo their tasks that should have been accomplished correctly the first time. Maybe they are used to this practice of dictatorship, or maybe they are afraid to put in the required time to ask the right question.

People are afraid: If you work in a developed Nation like US, UK, or Canada, you don’t want to admit that you are afraid of your Boss/Manager. But inherently we all respect the authorities of our Boss, and we are kind of afraid of their authorities as well. Even though we are taught to speak up our mind, we sometimes refrain from providing true feedback to our managers by being afraid of the consequences that it might have in the future. Is that not true? There is nothing wrong with this behavior. From our childhood we are taught to respect authority, then it maybe the authority of our parents or our teachers.

Can you find any other reasons due to which people refrain from giving their honest feedback to others? If so, please share it here, I would love to hear your take on this. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

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How to deal with the frustration of your employees?


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

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

 

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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.

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

 

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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

 
 

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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

 
 

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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

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

 

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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

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

 

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