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How to quickly move up the corporate ladder? (Part 2)


Corporate LadderThis post on moving up the ladder is a continuation to my last post. So in this post I will provide you with few other ideas through which you can quickly move up the corporate ladder.

Keep learning: This sounds really simple, but it should be very important part of your life, if you want to continuously grow in your career. With organizations, technologies and laws changing every day, you need to keep yourself up-to-date with the current knowledge. I know, it becomes really tedious to handle work, family, and other things at the same time in your busy working life, but it is very important to grow with the world. Thus, you need to always find opportunities to learn new things, it can be learning new stuff to become a subject matter expert at your work, or to diversify your knowledge. If possible, try to get new certifications. If you already have few certification in one subject area, try to diversify (depending on your work needs). Most of the companies pay for tuition reimbursement, so make the best use out of it. Investing in yourself is never going to go to waste. At the least, your manager will get aware of your learning aptitude and your capabilities. I am sure, it will help you in one way or other.

Change your job: Unfortunately, sometimes you might be working in the wrong company. There might not be as many promotion opportunities as you would like. If your primary motivation to get that next promotion is the salary increment, then you might have to change your company, if your company doesn’t have those opportunities available. If you are not one of the person like me, who is looking for challenging opportunities with a minimal pay raise, then this might be your best bet. There is nothing wrong about it. Everyone have their own motivation criteria, so if moving up the ladder is one of your criteria, then go for it. If you can get an opportunity somewhere else that you deserve, then why not? If I were you, I would keep my LinkedIn up-to-date, have my updated resume on job portals, etc. You are not actively applying here, but you are also not invisible to the whole world. So, if people will like you then they will call you. And yeah! Since you are already satisfied with your current job, always apply for the job which you want to have, instead of a replacement job. In this way, if you don’t get any job, no issues. But if you do get one, then you will get the dream job that you have always wanted.

If you have additional suggestions on how you would quickly move up the corporate ladder, then please let me know.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  All your comments are very welcome and appreciated. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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How to quickly move up the corporate ladder? (Part 1)


PromotionI had a conversation a few days ago with somebody about how to get that next promotion. Her company had a huge hierarchical structure, and it seemed almost impossible for her to grab that next promotion. So, what does it take to get that next promotion or getting to the next level?  I am not an expert on the subject, but I have had some insight through my personal experience and few internal promotions, which I would like to share with you here.

Communicate: By communicate, I am not recommending you to butter-up your Boss. I am rather suggesting you to display your work to your team members and your Superior. I might be doing an excellent job of coding (programming), but if I am poor in communicating my achievements to my team, my work won’t get the credit it deserves. Communication is not that difficult as you see. Consider these simpler techniques……..schedule a bi-weekly meeting with your manager to discuss about your progress and what you can do to improve myself. This meeting will not only serve the purpose of your achievements advertisement, but it will also give you an opportunity to get some quality counselling session with your manager. If you don’t get anything out of it, you will at least be able to develop some personal relationships. If you find communicating with your manager is intimidating in-person, then you can also send an e-mail to your manager, and your team members about your bi-weekly accomplishments. You don’t want to spam them with e-mails every day, but you need to shoot them couple of e-mails by showing what you have finished in past 2 weeks, what you are going to do in next 2 weeks, and any concerns (if you have any). This practice will definitely help you a lot in keeping your team informed about your work, and letting them know about your potential.

Be helpful: We are all passionate about helping others. But most of the times our juniors are not the one who will have our promotion done, so many people don’t help their juniors that often. If you think that, then you are completely wrong. If you are helping your juniors then you need to make sure that your effort of leading (helping) your juniors is visible to your manager through your one-on-one meetings or bi-weekly e-mails. Don’t treat your juniors any differently, consider them same as you. You never know, someday someone can become your manager, and they might be the reason for your next promotion. The key here is…….always be positive, and demonstrate your helping nature to your everyone. Whenever you have a discussion with your team, try to add some value to the conversation, instead of being a silent listener all the time. Be friendly, it will take you a long way. You will not only earn respect from your team members, but you will also demonstrate your leadership qualities to your superiors as well.

See my next post for the rest of the advice….

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2013 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to gauge your leadership perception without asking your teammates?


FeedbackIn my last blog, I have mentioned few methods through which you can measure your leadership perception through your team’s feedback. What if you don’t want to ask your team directly? What if you don’t feel comfortable asking your team about your leadership style, and how they perceive it? Are there any other ways through which you can get the same information without confronting them? The answer is YES. Yeah! You can find out what others think about your leadership without directly asking them, but it is slightly tricky. And hence, I will provide you with few pointers in this blog through which you can look for those passive signs, which can help you to measure your leadership’s success without confronting your team directly.

Look for signs: You need to identify the intrinsic indicators that measure how others respond to your leadership style and approach. For example: How often do you get commitments and buy-ins of your ideas and work assignments from your teammates? What can these indicators tell you about your leadership? Do your employees seem truly interested or are they just going through the motions? Do people show up for your meetings? Do people complete their assigned tasks? Do people offer suggestions to improve the methods or processes in place? Are people willing to take on new challenges or do you need to coax them? Does their vision align with your vision?

Measure turnover rate: Another effective way to gauge your leadership perception is to look for ways to measure job satisfaction in your direct reports. If you have turnover, then you need to assess the turnover rate. You should look into the exit interview data very carefully. It can reveal the crucial data, which can help you to assess your leadership style. The exit interview can answer lot of important questions for you. For example: Do you develop talent by providing career growth opportunities for your team members? Do you direct your employees to training and development programs to harness their skills and competencies?

Look for understanding: Third and very effective method of measuring your leadership perception is – understanding between you and your team members. You need to continuously look out for signs of understanding from team members. Some of the questions that you might want to ask yourselves are……..Do your teammates agree to do one thing but deliver another? Do your employees look for or often need clarification from you? How much rework is required for most tasks? Do others see you as a clear and strong communicator?

I, personally, have only used these methods to gauge my leadership perception, but if you have used any other methods to find the same information, then I would love to hear them. So……..what other signs have you looked for while measuring your leadership style?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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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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Why part-time MBA is more worth than a full-time MBA?


Business Week Ranking

This is a long lasting debate. Some people prefer to do a full-time MBA as compared to a part-time MBA. Though you can’t say which one is better over another with utmost certainty, I would recommend part-time MBA for working professionals as compared to a full-time MBA. Obviously, there are various reasons why you want to do a part-time MBA, but some of the primary reasons are as follows:

Cost savings: Unless you got accepted to an Ivey League University for your full-time MBA, I would recommend you to do your part-time MBA from some local University. It will save you some tremendous amount of money. Let’s say, if you were to do your full-time MBA from some University. In that case, you had to quit your job for couple of years. Let’s say, you are earning $50,000/year right now. That means, you are losing $100,000 in two years of your education period, because you won’t be working full-time during that time. In addition to your loss of income, you have to pay for the tuition from your own pocket, which might be anywhere between $50,000 to $200,000. In short, you would be losing on an average around $150,000 ($100,000 + $50,000) during these 2 years of your full-time MBA. Let’s say, you somehow magically find a job in this economy with your full-time MBA, which pays you $15,000 more than your previous salary, then also you will take at least 10-15 years to cover that cost. Isn’t that right?

Minimal risk: Other than the huge cost savings, part-time MBA comes with other additional advantages. And one of the most important advantage is – minimal risk. If you are a working professional, then chances are …… your current employer might be covering partial or full cost for the entire program. Thus, you don’t have to come up with the tuition amount from your pocket. Let’s say, you started your program and in the middle of it, you somehow didn’t end up liking it. In that case, you can just quit, since you haven’t invested much of your personal money in this initiative. In addition to this, you don’t have to spend much time studying for GMAT or GRE, since most of the part-time programs (like Harvard Extension School) offer few classes as Grad Special, and if you perform well in those classes then you get to enter in to the program without giving your standardize tests. This will ensure that you like the program before you actually get admitted in to one, unlike the full-time MBA program.

Understand the other side: When I first thought of doing my MBA, I wanted to do it to understand what my Boss does. Being from a technical background, I always had a problem understanding the strategic decisions taken by my company. I was much more involved in the technology as compared to the business behind it. My part-time MBA provided me with the opportunity to understand the business perspective better. I am not saying that I couldn’t have learned the same thing through full-time MBA, but if I were in the full-time MBA program, then I wouldn’t have the opportunity to connect this learning to the current work environment. Most of the times, I would learn something from my MBA classes, and I was able to directly apply that learning at my work place. And that has helped me retain approximately 60% of my concepts, which I wouldn’t have otherwise remembered due to lack of practice. And maybe, this is the key reason why one should prefer part-time MBA over full-time program.

I hope these tips will help to choose between full-time and part-time MBA program. Do you have any other reasons due to which you would prefer a part-time MBA program over a full-time option?

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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Practical tips on how to become successful in life (Part 2)


Success

In my last blog, I have discussed about how you can come up with the practical definition of your successful life, and how you can break it down in achievable goals. In this blog, I will provide you with some pointers through which you can achieve those goals to become successful in life.

Ask for advice: My Dad always told me…….”If you want to become successful in life, then you need to take help from 2 different kind of people. ONE: Those who are successful according to you. SECOND: Those who followed the same path as you might want to pursue, but who are not as successful as others”. This approach will not only help you visualize your successful life, but also give you an idea on how your future would look like, if you couldn’t achieve all of your goals. One might ask…….where would I find those kind of people? The answer to that question is very simple. Internet. I would personally prefer to ask someone who I know, but you can’t always have people around you, who share similar career goals as you, and who are successful in that. Thus, you can become a member of few online forums, which are related to your interests, and then cultivate your relationships with those members. Once those relationships are established, you can then ask them for their advice. Chances are….they might be able to even help you with your goals.

Give your best to everything you do: I know, this seems to be very obvious, but hardly anyone follows this rule. For example: Let’s say……..you are stuck in a job that won’t lead you towards your ideal success, and you want to get out of that job as soon as possible. At that time, most of the people (8 out of 10) would focus their energy in looking for a better job, and won’t provide their complete attention to their existing job. While this approach might be able to get you a new job that you love, but in the process of finding this job, you might ruin your existing relationships with your current coworkers, and maybe establish a stereotype of being a slacker. Thus, I would recommend all of you to give your best to everything you do. You never know…..maybe your existing Manager might recommend you for the ideal job that you have always dreamed of.

I hope these tips will help to achieve your ideal life. Do you have any other ideas through which you can have a successful and filling life?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
 

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Practical tips on how to become successful in life (Part 1)


SuccessFew days back, I was advising one of my friend on how to expand his start-up. During that conversation, I realized that some of my advices are very common for everyone to follow. Whether you are a fresh graduate or an experienced professional or a proud new business owner, you should always follow some simple tips to become successful in life. With this blog post, I am going to share those tips with you.

Define success: Every person will have their own dreams, and hence their own definition of success. An engineer wouldn’t consider an artist a successful person, and vice versa. Thus, before you start hunting for an ideal successful life, you might want to self-analyze yourself and define your specific success criteria. And while you are in that process, make sure that you consider your happiness as a part of this process. After all, no one wants to be successful and not happy. Right? Let’s say………your definition of success is to make couple of million dollars in few years. To achieve that………you might need to work 7 days a week with existing salary that you earn. In this case, you might want to think if you are willing to sacrifice that time away from your family or not, and then adjust your definition of success accordingly.

Establish achievable goals: Once you have done the hard part of defining your success criteria, now it’s time to establish some goals. Make sure that those goals are achievable, otherwise you will be discouraged when you realize that you can never achieve your goals. Let’s say……..your success criteria is to become a highly paid artist. In that case, you want to establish few goals like…….I will draw at least 2-3 paintings a month, or I will display my art in 5-6 art exhibition a year. Ideally, these goals should be smaller milestones towards your successful life. So, make sure to keep a checkpoint on these goals. I would advise you to revisit these goals every 3 months.

In my next blog post, I will provide you with few ideas through which you can achieve your goals to become successful. Until then, if you have any other ideas or comments about becoming successful in life, then please feel free to share it here on my blog.

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
 

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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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Few tips to keep your Resume current while working


I have seen many people in my career, who only updates their resume when they are in the process of finding a new job. I would definitely recommend against this practice. With the current market place, one should keep his/her resume updated at all times. If an unfortunate thing happen to you, then you will be ready with your latest resume in no time. In order to keep your resume up-to-date, following are few things that I would recommend you to do………

Keep your recommendations updated: Do not just wait for someone to write you a recommendation. If someone (for example a friend, colleague, professor, customer, or client) praises you for your recent work or assignment, you might ask this person: “Would you write me a short note restating that so I can include it in my resume or LinkedIn Profile?” The chances are….. they will be happy to do so and they might even like your initiative to keep your profile updated. If they reply that they’d like to write you a note but are very busy right now, you can offer to do a draft of the note, which they can edit, put on their stationery, and sign. In this way, you are not becoming a burden on them and still getting your things done.

Update your resume as you go: In addition to asking for recommendations, you can also add to the items in your Resume by creating them. Let’s say, you are in the same job from last 2-3 years, but your responsibilities keep on changing. In this case, you want to make sure that you keep a note of all of your job responsibilities somewhere. I would recommend you to keep your resume located somewhere on the cloud using something like ‘Windows Live’ or ‘Google Docs’. In this way, when your job responsibilities changes or you take on more tasks, you can go ahead and update your resume right away.

Create work artifacts as you go: I would recommend you to keep a personal folder in which you can keep all of your documents or artifacts. By artifacts, I mean…..something that you created during your coursework at school or during your employment at your current company. Few examples would be….. Scanned copy of your performance review, project plan that you might have created, any framework diagram, or any documented e-mail showing your accomplishments. These documents will prove very handy during your job interview. Imagine if you were interviewing a candidate for one open position in your team, and he comes to an interview well prepared with all of his achievements documented. I am sure, you are more likely to hire that person as compared to any other person without documented proof of success.

I hope these tips will help you to keep your portfolio up-to-date with the current artifacts. If you have any other ideas through which you can keep your portfolio current, then please feel free to share it on my blog through your comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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