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How to design an internship program that works for you and not for the intern?


InternshipHave you ever been in a situation, where you have invested so much time and money in hiring the cream interns, but they never chose to work for you after graduation? This is not true in today’s economy, where students are thankful to have any job. But still……..I am sure, most of you must have seen a situation where your intern accepted a job offer somewhere else, and your time invested in him/her didn’t pay off for you. Through this blog post, I will provide you some high level ideas through which you can design your internship program to help YOU.

Summer Interns: Don’t get me wrong, but I am a huge fan of pay offs when it comes to business. I understand that you want to help your interns to grow his skillsets. But at the end of the day, you should also be benefited from this relationship. After all, you are investing your time and money to train this intern. Thus, to take the best work out of a summer intern, I would advise you to provide him with few smaller standalone projects. For example: projects related to testing, nice to have projects, bug fixes, etc. This practice will ensure that your work gets done, while giving you an idea of work ethics, self-sustainability, and leadership skills of your intern. I would also go further by saying…..you should hire only those students, who have only one semester to go. This will give you an opportunity to hire that candidate without disrupting your work flow too much.

Full time Interns: Most of the companies don’t offer this program. But I would highly recommend to include this program in your internship. This kind of internship means…..hiring someone part-time, probably 20 hours a week, while he goes to school. I would prefer to hire a local candidates over out-of-state candidates for this kind of internship. This will not only improve your relationships with local Universities and help you to get better full time candidates in the future, but this will also give you an opportunity to get out of paying unnecessary relocation costs. For this kind of internship, I would hire anyone from senior to about to graduate. Since, their working hours need to flexible due to their school schedule, I would assign them projects which require minimal supervision and are of lower priority.

CO-Ops: This kind of program is neither famous nor talked about. But this is my favorite internship program. CO-OP, formally known as cooperative education program, gives an opportunity to the employee to hire someone for an entire year to work for full time. In short, this is like hiring an inexperienced contractor for an entire year. I would mostly hire this kind of interns for a specific projects, which requires medium supervision, and which can be done within a year, OR some manual effort like testing, data entry, etc. I would recommend you to target those schools, where they offer online classes. Thus, if you really like this person during his contract period, you can then keep him as your full time resource, while he simultaneously finishes his school. Try to hire a Master level candidate who is about to finish his school in the next semester. In this way, you will get a resource who is mature but flexible.

I hope these tips will help you in making your internship program work for you instead of working just for your interns. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can improve your internship program, so that you have a reasonable pay-back on your investments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 

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New manager’s guide for the inventory check


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

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

 

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How to fire someone without getting sued?


Have you ever fired someone? Were you ever in the situation where your employee’s growth was stagnant, and there were no other options other than firing that employee? Well……trust me, this situation arises more often than you would think. So, what would you do in this situation? Let’s say, you went ahead and got rid of the poor performing employee without any prep work. In that case, you might end up like my friend Naveen (changing the name for protecting privacy). Naveen fired his poor performer few months back, and now he is getting sued for ‘retaliation’. Obviously, this kind of examples should not become a roadblock in your job while performing your duties. Thus, I am providing you few tips through which you can fire someone without having the major risk of getting sued.

Give one more chance: Imagine….if you were the employee, who is on the line and about to get fired. Obviously, you don’t want to be in the situation where you think that you are a peek performer and your manager hands you a memo saying… “You are fired”. Thus, I always recommend managers to treat their employees as they would like to be treated. Hence, make sure to give your employee the last fair chance to improve his performance. Don’t just have verbal talks with him, make sure to document this and forward it to HR to put on his file. This will provide your employees with one last chance of improving their performance, while it will provide you with a supporting document, if you ever get prosecuted.

Work by the book: Before you take any drastic steps like this, make sure to read all the HR specific and company specific guidelines. If I were you, I would talk to my HR business partner or company’s attorney before even thinking about this. And before even talking to your HR personnel, I would recommend you to prepare a file which should contain all the documentations showing that you have had communications with your employees regarding this problem (i.e. e-mails, memo, etc.). When you have this discussion with your HR personnel, don’t forget to talk about all the minute details of your employees like his race, gender, recent leaves, etc. I have seen various situations, where employees have sued their employer for firing decision on the basis of their race or gender, and the firing decision didn’t have anything to do with that. Thus, it is better to disclose all the facts with your company’s attorney beforehand.

Have a crime buddy: By ‘crime buddy’ I meant to say, someone who knows the same information as you. In most of the situations, I would recommend you to include your immediate manager or the HR business partner. This practice will make sure that someone will back you up, if there are any legal proceedings in the future. Most of the managers know this fact, but don’t know how to implement this. Here is one tip….have a lunch with your immediate manager, discuss about this issue during the lunch, and then forward all the current documentation to him/her. This will ensure that you are not the only person accountable for this decision.

I hope these tips will help you in the unfortunate situation of firing someone. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can save yourself after firing someone for their poor performance. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Manager’s Guide: How can I make it easier for a new hire to transition in my group? (Part 3)


SelfAssessmentOnce you are done training your new hire on the workings of your team and the organization (see my previous blogs), you can then go ahead and talk to her about her development within your organization. This will not only help you to develop some strong relationship with your employees but also motivate her by demonstrating that the company is willing to invest in her future. In this blog, I will provide you with some practical tips through which you can motivate your new hire.

Motivation: It is very essential for you as a manager to discuss what are meaningful motivators for your employees. Make sure that your new hire knows about your existing employee’s values and energizing criteria. You should also explain her the potential financial incentives (i.e., cash sharing, bonuses). Describe the potential opportunities for advancement with the team, department or company, and how she can advance herself to achieve those motivators. Don’t just train her theoretically on how we will measure her accomplishments, but provide some specific examples of her probable accomplishments. For example: You will work on this software development project, and your achievements will be measured against the total time and budget required to finish this project. This will give her a clear picture of how your team recognizes accomplishments. She can then work towards achieving those goals, and making your team successful in the process of doing that.

Learning & Development: No one wants stagnant employees, who can’t grow with the organization. Thus, every new hire should be explained their growth options by their managers. As a manager, you should always inform your employees about the path to succeed. You should not only explain them what is expected from them to advance their career in your organization, but you should also talk about opportunities to participate in associations, professional organizations or networking groups through which they can succeed. You can go one step further by finding out how your employee likes to learn (seeing, listening, doing), and then exploring what skills and abilities your employees seek to develop in order to perform the job more effectively. You can also take this opportunity to discuss how your employees can prepare for future responsibilities, and what type of developmental opportunities are available.

I hope these tips will help you to become a better manager by providing a clear direction for your newly hired employee. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can help your employees to easily transition to your company. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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Manager’s Guide: How can I make it easier for a new hire to transition in my group? (Part 2)


classic-booksIn my last blog post, I have discussed few ways through which you can make your new hire understand your company’s goals and objectives. In this blog, I will provide you some tips on how you can make your new hire acquainted to your team culture and communication channels.

Talk about the rules: After you have explained your strategic objectives and work culture, now it’s time for you to explain her about your expectations. Some of the managers leave it unsaid. But I prefer to talk to all of my employees about the performance expectations. In this way, they can specifically know what they have signed up for, and you can avoid having performance improvement talks later. You can start this conversation by establishing clear goals and priorities for her; and then you can progress towards expected employee’s behavior, your feedback process, and how her work will be evaluated. Don’t forget to outline the path through which you will help her to be successful.

The Team: Providing an understanding of the team’s roles and responsibilities is very key to the new hire’s success. This will make sure that she doesn’t step on someone’s foot, and she can know who is ultimately responsible and who has the decision making authority. During this discussion, you should explain her how your team supports company’s goals and objectives. This will give her the overall picture of your team, and where it fits in to the organization. And yeah! Don’t forget to discuss the procedures & norms under which your team operates. For example: Our team follows an agile development process, where each engineer is paired with one another team member for the development of a particular feature. Last but not the least, identify the people who can help her during her first few months in the company, and how they prefer to communicate.

Communication: Being a software development manager for years, I have seen various managers failed to provide this information to their employees. As a result, you have a new geeky employee who got herself acquainted to only e-mails, and you have to wait for her e-mail response for feedback. Thus, I would advise you to have these conversations beforehand. Convey to your new employee how you would prefer to be communicated, and what should be the frequency of those communications. For example: I expect an e-mail response within 1-2 hours. In case of a blocking issue, I want you to call me up instead of waiting for me to reply to your e-mail. And yeah! Explain how your employees prefer to communicate with themselves.

I hope these tips will help you to become a better manager by providing a clear direction for your newly hired employee. In the next blog post, I will be discussing about how to familiarize your new hire with the growth opportunities within your organization.

Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can help your employees to easily transition to your company. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to deal with a poor performer in your team?


Have you ever encountered a situation where you had to have a difficult conversation with your employees? Or have you ever put any employee on a Performance Improvement plan? It is very unfortunate that some of the Managers try to avoid those situations. Instead of having appropriate conversation with their employees, they try to avoid those situations. Well, I am not a master of these conversations by any means, but I have few tips through which you can handle this situation well.

Verbal discussion: Let say, you have a poor performer in your team. And despite of your numerous efforts to improve his performance, he didn’t improve. In this situation, I would advise you to have a personal discussion with him, if you haven’t done that already. This one-on-one discussion will give you an opportunity to explain your concern about his performance, while it will give him an opportunity to explain his side of the story. The purpose of this meeting should be to let him know about your concerns, so that he can correct those behaviors.

Document your concerns: After you had your verbal discussion, you should always make sure to document those communications via e-mails or memos. This will help you not only in any legal proceedings that might arise in the future but it will also help you to reiterate your point. Your e-mail should contain summary of your discussion reinforcing your message and the place where this discussion took place. It’s a good idea to let the employee know that they will be receiving a follow up email after the meeting. Explain that it is to ensure each party is on the same page regarding discussion points. This can circumvent the perception that you are using the email for “tracking” purposes only.

Follow-up discussion: You should never have a discussion with someone, and then not follow up with that. I would advise you to schedule a follow-up meeting regarding your verbal discussion as soon as you send the follow-up e-mail. Of course this meeting might not happen within 1-2 months, but it’s always a good practice to keep a checkpoint on these kind of discussions to make sure that you don’t forget it. And yeah! Make sure to have a specific agenda for this meeting. For example: specific projects that he might be working on, his performance improvement within last month, action plan to success, time frame for improvement, etc. Don’t forget to include all the consequences clearly and visibly in this meeting request. This will ensure that your employee is aware of all the consequences before you decide to take any action.

I hope these tips will help to become a better manager and effectively deal with your poor performers. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can effectively deal with your poor performing employee. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Survival guide for first time Managers – power of tools


ToolsIn my last blog, I have given you some general ideas on how to introduce yourself to your team during your first meeting, and how to use pictorial presentation in knowing your people better. In this blog, I will talk about few basic tools that you should acquire during your first few week as a Manager to make your task easier.

Get business cards: This is one of the important thing to do before you meet with anyone. In your first few weeks as a Manager, you will meet various people with whom you might be working in the future. Thus, it is very crucial for you to provide them with your contact information. If your business cards are not ready by the time you meet them, then take their e-mail ids instead. In this way, you can provide them with your contact information using an outlook contact card for temporary purposes. And provide them with actual business cards, once they become available.

Get equipped: First thing that you should do on your first day is to introduce yourself to the administrative assistant. Make sure to ask him/her about what equipments you might need for your job. For example: it might be crucial for your job to be accessible 24×7. In that case, you need to make sure that you order your Smart Phone or Blackberry. In the meanwhile, make sure to provide your personal cell phone number to your manager, so that he can reach you in case of emergency.

Get your notebook: During your first few weeks, you will get more information than you consume. You will get contact information of the people that you will be working with, you will get list of projects that your team is supposed to work on, and their current status. Thus, it would be a nice idea to make a note of all these things. I personally prefer a note taking software like OneNote, but if you don’t have access to a laptop then a normal notebook should work too.

I hope these tips will prove to be helpful in your first couple of weeks as a Manager. If you are aware of any other tools that might prove helpful for a newly hired manager, then please feel free to comment here. I am always looking for people’s feedback to improve my knowledge. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2011 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Survival guide for first time Managers – power of presentations


In my last blog, I have given you some general idea about how meeting with your employees and your Manager on one-on-one basis will help you to understand the priorities of that team, and building a trust relationship between you and them. In this blog, I will talk about few presentations that might help you during your first few days as a Manager.

Presentation about yourself: I would recommend every manager to prepare a small presentation about themselves before they meet their team for the first time. The presentation should contain few basic information such as – basics about yourself, your management style, and your background. Keep this presentation pictorial only, i.e. presentation with only pictures, so that you can speak to your presentation instead of involving people in reading your presentation. This presentation will serve dual purpose, it will give you the opportunity to connect with your people personally and set up your priorities straight.

Presentation about your people: After you have presented your presentation during your first meeting with your team, you should arrange a team meeting with your employees, where they are supposed to do the same. Tell your employees to create a presentation about themselves with few pictures, where they can express their background, education, interests, family, etc. These presentations will give you the opportunity to know something about your employees that you might not have known otherwise. Also, this presentations might help you to find their interests and motivation criterias.

I hope these tips will prove to be helpful in your first couple of weeks as a Manager. If you know any other ways to build know your employees and introduce yourself to your new team, then please feel free to comment here. I am always looking for people’s feedback to improve my knowledge. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Survival guide for first time Managers – power of One-on-One meetings


SurvivalBagRecently, one of my friend got promoted to a management position for the first time. And when I talked to him over the weekend, he asked my advice on providing him a game plan. Thus, I came up with the idea of this blog series, where I will provide few practical tips for first time managers. In this particular blog post, I will provide you with few tips through which you can clarify success criteria for your new manager’s position.

One-on-one with your Manager: I have seen various managers coming to their new position and hit the ground running. They meet their internal/external stakeholders and team members, but they forget to meet with their Manager in the process. One should always remember that your Manager is the one, who will judge your performance at the end of the fiscal year and he might have a better idea about the business than your other stake holders. Thus, I would recommend you to meet with your Manager one-on-one every week, until you get up to speed with what are his priorities and why did he hire you for this position. This meeting will also give you the opportunity to show your work to him during the first 90 days, so that you can get his trust.

One-on-one with your Employees: Another common mistake made by the first time manager is – they concentrate too much on team development but not on personal development aspect of the team. I have seen many managers holding a team building exercise in the first two week’s of their employment, but they forget to connect with each employees on one-on-one basis. No matter how big is your team, it would be best if you can get some time to meet with your team on one-on-one basis (at least for first few weeks). This will not only provide you the information about existing processes, priorities and projects; but also help you in knowing your people and building a trust relationship between you and them. Thus, make sure to meet with each individual in your team on one-on-one basis for at least first one month.

I hope these tips will prove to be helpful in your first couple of weeks as a Manager. If you know any other ways to build a trust relationship with your employees and your Manager within first few weeks, then please feel free to comment here. I am always looking for people’s feedback to improve my knowledge. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2011 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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