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Tag Archives: Organization’s Culture

Which organization’s strengths are destined to turn into organization’s blind spots?


Business IssuesI have seen many companies, whose employees are so happy with their current processes and practices that they fail to see any major market changes. Look at Kodak for example; even after being the market leader for imaging solutions, it missed the opportunity to be a part of the digital revolution in image processing. Obviously, no company wants to lag behind, but sometimes we become victim of our own success. Following are some of our organizational strengths that can turn into blind spots very easily.

Business focus: When your company grows in size, you become the victim of your own success. Instead of thinking about the basic fundamentals of the company, which made you successful, you are mostly occupied in projects, delivery dates and customers. While it is not a bad thing to narrow down your focus on the priorities at hand, this narrowed focus may kill your company’s business over time. By focusing your attention repeatedly on certain (or should I say, same) things, you can seduce yourself into believing that these are the only things that matter. This approach can prevent your leadership from noticing new options or opportunities. For example: Sony Diskman, once the largest sold music listening device, was ill prepared for the digital music revolution, and hence, the completely new way of listening to music, iPod, dominated the market.

Efficient processes: Whenever we start something new, we always look for the best alternative available out there. But once we have identified those particular alternatives, we are more likely to stick with it. Thus, it is natural for an employee to stick with an already established process. After all, it frees up their time for doing other tasks. But then, we are ought to develop an organization-wide practice where our employees follow the same processes, not because they are efficient but because they are well known and comfortable to follow. If we get too much used to our existing processes, and stop reexamining the new options, we are ought to blind ourselves with the resistance to change attitude, later on.

Successful relationships: In order to succeed in any organization, your employees must build strong relationships with other employees, customers, suppliers, lenders, investors, etc. But when the business paradigm changes, companies often find that their relationships have turned into shackles by limiting their flexibility. The need to maintain existing relationships with past customers can, sometimes, hinder companies in developing new products or focusing on new markets. This phenomenon doesn’t just affect customer-facing employees, sometimes, managers (or leaders) can also find themselves constrained by their existing relationships with their employees or their leadership.

These are some of the blind spots that your organization will face, no matter how big or small it is. Do you know of any other organizational strength that can turn into your blind spot very easily? If so, please share your ideas with me through your comments. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

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How to sell your online MBA degree to future employers?


OnlineMBAHave you finished your MBA through an online program? Are you unable to experience any benefits from your degree? Well…..you are not alone. More than 50% of the employers still prefer an MBA candidate with the traditional classroom experience as compared to an online MBA student. Despite of this stereo types of an online MBA candidate, you can still succeed with your degree. You just need to know, how to sell it. With this blog, I am going to provide you with some pointers through which you can get the same benefit out of your online MBA program as compared to any other in-class MBA program.

Capitalize on cultural awareness:

If you are doing an online MBA from a Tier 1 or Tier 2 level school, then chances are…….you must be working in a diverse team with people from different countries. You should use this experience as your strength during your job search. Mention those specific projects on your resume to portray your knowledge of cross cultural understanding. With most of the major companies going global, this experience will definitely work in your advantage, if presented correctly.

I would also recommend you to provide some specific examples on your resume on how you had solved some of the cross cultural conflicts. These kinds of smaller examples can help you bring up this topic during your in-person interviews. And you can then elaborate on that in further details. It goes without saying…..try to connect your experience with the company’s current needs of working with cross cultural teams.

Be the leader of your virtual teams:

If you think of it, all the project teams in an online MBA program are nothing but a virtual team. In your program, you must have worked with different people from different time zones to finish certain projects. And hence, you should also capitalize on your experience in working with remote/virtual teams. Don’t just say…..”I have worked in a virtual team”. Try to be more specific on your resume. Provide examples on how you resolved issues due to time and language barriers during your project. It wouldn’t hurt, if you can talk about those experiences in your in-person interviews, and maybe summarize with lessons learned during your experience.

In today’s world, lot of companies operate in different locations. Thus, most of their meetings, projects and day-to-day activities are virtual. Thus, if you can prove that you have not only worked in that environment, but you have also learned how to improve those communications in that environment; then you would definitely standout from the crowd.

I hope these tips will help to sell your online MBA degree to your future employer. Do you have any other ideas through which you can show the importance of your online MBA degree to your future employer?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 

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Reduce your employee turnover rate by hiring fresh graduates


In my last blog, I have discussed about how you can save some money and re-training costs by hiring a fresh graduate instead of an experienced professional. In this blog, I will provide you with few other reasons why you should prefer fresh graduates over an experienced person.

Flexibility: In my experience, I have found less experienced people more flexible as compared to very experienced professional. For example: I had this one intern, let’s call him Mr. X, who was very self-motivated to learn. Thus, Mr. X will come early every morning, and read all the required process documents and training documents before he started his work. He would still work his core hours with some of my other experienced team members, but he was always willing to put in some extra time to learn new things. His hunger for learning new things helped me a lot, as he would come on weekends sometime and finish some of the important tasks of my projects.

Happier workforce: I am not saying that fresh graduates are always happier at work. I am saying that……….. Since they don’t have any past experience to compare their existing job with, they wouldn’t complain as much as few experienced professionals would, who might have worked in different companies and have seen different company cultures and practices. For a fresh graduate, your culture and practices will become his primary bench mark, since he will grow with your company, and learn all the practices and procedures established by your company. Also, smaller incentives like free bagels, donuts or lunch will go a long way for him as compared to other people, who might have seen different (better) days.

More growth opportunities: Obviously, you can have various growth opportunities for your experienced professionals depending on your company’s policies. But trust me, you will have way more opportunities for your employee’s growth, if you hire a fresh graduate. For example: I work in a Software Industry. In my company, we have various job ranks for our engineers. Ranks go from 1 to 6 depending on their experience and capability. Let’s say, if I hire an experienced professional on “Engineer Level 5”. Unfortunately, after his promotion to the next level, “Engineer Level 6”, I might not have clear defined path for his growth. And that employee will feel stagnant in my company, and might try to leave for another job. Imagine, if I hire an “Engineer Level 1”, a fresh graduate, for the same position . I will have more opportunity to grow him within the company in a given hierarchical structure of the company. Thus, I would recommend you to hire a fresh graduate, if you already have few experienced people in your team to provide a direction.

I hope these tips will help understand the importance of hiring a fresh graduate in comparison of an experienced professional. Let me know, if you have any other reasons why you would prefer hiring a fresh graduate instead of an experienced professional. Please feel free to share your opinion here. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How can you deal with your micromanaging boss without quitting your job?


ManagementStyleDon’t get me wrong. Micromanagement is also a style of management, and sometimes it is needed to manage some employees, but it doesn’t work in 80% of the professional environment these days. What will you do, if your Manager is a Micro-manager? How will you handle that situation?

I got the idea of writing this blog from a conversation that I overheard in the café. The conversation goes something like this…………..

  • Mr. X: What happened to you? You don’t look so good.
  • Mr. Y: Don’t ask? Tough times at work.
  • Mr. X: Tough times? I heard you even got promoted few months back. What happened all of a sudden?
  • Mr. Y: That’s the problem. My new manager is a Micromanager. He keeps tabs on me. I can’t even go to the men’s room without informing him. I feel I am in some kind of a prison. Do you know any other jobs that I can apply for?
  • Mr. X: I am sorry to hear about your situation. You know what? There is this Project Manager Job that recently opened up in my firm, and I think you would be a better fit for it. Let me pull some strings and I will get back to you.

Let’s assume that Mr. Y was right, and his manager was at fault here. What would have he done? In this blog, I will provide few pointers to effectively deal with your Micromanager.

Talk to him about it: I am a huge believer of second chances. And that is the reason why, I would recommend you to directly talk with your manager about this (preferably in your one-on-one session). Some managers are micro-managers by nature, and if you don’t point out that this style of management annoys you, then he will never know about it, and might not change his style of management. At least by having this conversation, you are giving him a chance to change.

Decide a fixed time for rounds: Most of the micromanagers like to make 5-6 rounds a day to check up on their employees. Obviously, you might not be able to change their behavior overnight, but you can definitely work with them to agree upon some fixed timings for their rounds. In this way, they don’t feel like they are losing their control over you, and at the same time you get some fixed time of their visits, so that you can prepare yourselves.

Establish your SMART goals: There are very few managers, who are micromanagers by nature. Most of the other managers use the micro-managing approach because they want to continuously monitor your performance. What if…… you take a proactive action about it, and work with your manager to establish your SMART goals? In this way, your manager will have an established method through which he can measure your performance. Thus, he won’t need to visit your cubical 24×7.

I hope these tips will help you to better manage your micro-managing Boss. Feel free to comment on my blog, if you have any other ideas to deal with your micro-managing Boss. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on March 12, 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 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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Manager’s Guide: How can I make it easier for a new hire to transition in my group? (Part 1)


I have written numerous blogs about how to familiarize yourself with your new job, but I have never focused on writing the other side of the story. In this blog series, I will provide some guidelines which can help you to conduct useful conversations with your new employees during the onboarding process. I hope that you can create a positive onboarding experience for your employees through these tips.

Talk about strategic objectives: Obviously, you need to have several conversations between you and the new employee over first 6-7 months, but make sure to make the strategic objectives as your primary conversation topic. This will not only make her understand the relationship between her tasks and the objectives of your company, but it will help you to make her understand the overall picture. You can start this discussion by talking about the company’s vision and strategy; and then you can progress towards explaining her the company’s goals, priorities and business initiatives. During this discussion, you should always ensure that you try to connect company’s goals and your team’s goals with her day-to-day activities. This practice will help you in making her an autonomous resource of your team, who can connect the dots by herself.

Talk about the culture: I have seen various managers, who fails to explain the existing culture of their company to a new hire. They think that the new hire will catch up on the company’s culture with time. While this perception has some credibility, I would advise not to do that. If you would have explained the company’s culture to the new hire during the onboarding process, then it will make her transition easier and smooth, while you can benefit from her understanding of the existing culture. You can initiate this conversation by describing her the culture of the company including company’s norms, beliefs, values, traditions, symbols, etc. For example: our working hours are 8-5pm, and all the employees are supposed to be present on the company premises between our core hours – 9am to 4pm.

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 rules of your team.

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 February 21, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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New hire’s guide to learn the culture of the company


My team is currently growing. We are hiring few new people at this time. And as we hire new people, I need to make sure that they get appropriate tools and training to come up to speed. Thus, I was creating an on-boarding plan for these new hires. My initial plan only contained specifics of what processes, technologies and tools that they need to learn. I didn’t have any idea about how to train them on our existing culture. And I thought of this blog. Following are few pointers, which might help you in learning the existing culture of your new company.

Policies: The organizational policies and procedures influence the projects that a company undertakes. The organizational procedures will determine how to implement new strategies and if the work environment will be formal or informal. For example: some organizations may allow employees to work anytime from 7.00am to 7.00pm, while other organizations may be very strict about their working hours. To get yourself acquainted with these policies, you should read all the possible policy documents at your disposal. HR department would be your best bet to find more information. Detailed oriented observation of your co-workers can also help you in learning unwritten policies.

Values: The values, beliefs and expectations of an organization have a major impact on the organizational culture. The organization’s strategic decision making choices, preferences, and approach will vary based on its values and beliefs. The criteria for the election of a project are determined by the organizational culture. For example: a competitive, ambitious and assertive organization will select projects with high risks, while a highly rigid and authoritarian origination might not take projects with high risks. Most of these values are derived from your company’s culture or your team’s culture. Your best bet would be observing your manager’s behavior and socialize with your colleague to get more information. Going out on lunch with your coworker can give you many valuable insights.

Management style: The management style of the organization is another factor that affects the organizational culture. Some managers follow a coaching style, while other managers follow a controlling style. After observing the management style of your organization, you can determine if your feedbacks will be valued or not? If the management is going to implement new strategies based on your feedback or not? As a new employee, I would recommend you to adapt to the management style of an organization. And once you properly understand your Manager’s management style, try to provide your feedback in the manner that he/she will understand.

I hope these tips will help you to learn the culture of your new company as soon as possible. Please feel free to comment on my blog, if you have any other suggestions regarding this subject. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2011 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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