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Tag Archives: Self learning

How to clear your mind and think?


HumanPsychologyIn today’s day and age, when we are surrounded by so many things from mission critical problems to materialistic things, it is difficult to clear your mind. When your job is to put out fires everyday, it is very challenging to clear your mind. After all, how do you find time to think, when you are so occupied already? But at the same time, ignoring the need for thinking allows seemingly healthy, active businesses to fail because of the change they never saw coming, until it was too late. Thus, as a leader, we need to develop a habit of stepping away from our day-to-day activities, and clear our mind. Hence, I am writing this blog to provide you with some pointers through which you can manage to clear your mind, while managing your busy schedule at the same time.

Block your calendars: As a leader/manager, we are used to organize our day through Outlook or Gmail calendar. Then why don’t we use the same mechanism to remind ourselves about clearing our mind for a while? This is the least we can do for ourselves, right? So before another week goes by, clean your schedule for hour or so, and make sure that you keep this meeting with yourself. During these thirty minutes, think. Don’t write, read magazines, or clean your desk. Just think. It would be great if you could do it with your office door close and your computer shut down. Avoid normal distractions, which would otherwise lead you to a different path.

Change your environment: I am sometimes tired of sitting in my office, and I often look for a change to clear my mind. There is no easier way to do that than just taking a walk. A short walk of half an hour provides a great thinking environment for me, and I encourage you guys to try it as well. And yes, during your thinking time, try not to question your mind with a day-to-day problem, although this works well for that, too, but try to think about general stuff or changing environment. For example: What’s changing in my environment that I haven’t thought about? What new skills will my team need in the next year? What barriers exist to my team’s success this quarter? Etc.

Try new things: As a leader, we are often occupied with a routine, where all of our activities are predefined and we follow a same schedule. From playing golf to hanging out with our friends, we become used to a same routine. As a leader, we shouldn’t just challenge our work, but we should also challenge ourselves to get out of our comfort zone. Thus, we should try to go to a museum, an art gallery, or a library. Or just visit a mall without any intension of shopping or fly a kite. At the end of your excursion ask yourself, What did I see or experience today that taught me something about my work or my life? Don’t push for the answer, but don’t give up too quickly. There’s always something there; you just need to think till you find it.

I hope, my blog can help you not only clear your mind but develop a practice in your life to think outside the box. If you have any other recommendations, then please feel free to share it here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

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

 

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How can you land your dream job in this economic environment?


Times are tough, and it is becoming very difficult to find the right job. On top of this challenge, its becoming very hard for a candidate to differentiate himself/herself in comparison of thousands of out-of-job workers. In this market, the candidate needs to be very intelligent with his job search. And hence, I will provide you with few tips through which you can land your dream job easily.

Cleanup your web presence:  In today’s day and age, most of the employers will check your online profile before inviting you for an interview. And hence, it becomes very critical for you to cleanup your online presence. I would recommend you to Google yourself before applying for any position. If you find any unprofessional photos/comments of yourself, please try to remove it from your profile or change the privacy settings.

Do your homework: Technology had made it easier for your future employer to know everything about yourself before they even interview you. I think, we should use the same technology strength to prepare ourselves for the interview. If you are invited for an interview, you should research everything about the company, the job profile, and the culture. You can showcase this research through your carefully designed answers to their questions, which should connect your answers with the research you have done. On every occasion, you should share what you know about the company and why the company should hire you above others.

Use common sense:  Other than few expected behaviors like…..arriving 10-15 minutes early; not chewing gum; leaving all food and drink outside; cutting back on the cologne and perfume; and dressing professionally………you should always bring 3-4 extra copies of your resume. You should also carry 3-4 copies of your portfolio displaying basic design of your process flows (if you worked in manufacturing) or architecture of your software (if you worked in software development) or similar work samples related to your area of work. And yeah! Don’t forget to take notes.

Always follow-up: Even if you are not interested in the job after interviewing with them, you should still follow-up with them to maintain the relationships by kindly declining the job. I always followed up by showing my interest in the job at the end of the interview, and also by writing a thank you letter to reaffirming my interest in the position. In all of my follow up conversations, verbal or written, I have always ensured that I connect my experience with the company’s culture and the position description.

Though these are very simple pointers; if you play your cards right, you should be able to get your dream job through these pointers. What other tips do you have to differentiate yourself from other candidates? Would you recommend any other suggestions to get your dream job?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to write effective e-mails to get quicker response


Have you ever been in an e-mail chain where more than 10 people were addressed in the e-mail, but no one knew who is going to respond? If you are a manager or in a similar position, then you must be getting these kind of e-mails at least once in a day. Isn’t it? Actually, this situation is very common than you might think. On an average, 70% of the e-mails in the work place are targeted to the wide audience to get some people’s input, while notifying others at the same time. And that’s where the problem occurs. Since there are multiple users involved in ‘cc’ of the e-mail, all of them think that someone will respond, and at the end, no one ends up responding. In order to avoid those situations, and get quicker response to your emails, I am providing you with few tips on writing effective e-mails.

Use appropriate subject line: You must have been through the situation, where one e-mail might have been forwarded and replied so many times that its subject line doesn’t have any value anymore. Isn’t it? Let’s say, you get an e-mail from one of your employees (Mrs. X) regarding the issue that she found during her testing. The subject line of that e-mail might be “Issue found during testing XYZ product”. After few to-and-from communication with engineers about this issue, you forward this issue to the product manager for prioritizing the resolution of this issue. In this situation, product manager might take few hours or an entire day, before he can respond to this e-mail. Reason being…..from the subject line, this e-mail didn’t seem important to him. And hence, whenever you are forwarding an e-mail to someone, please change the subject line to target your responder. If you would have changed the subject line to “Prioritizing issue resolution for XYZ product”, then you might have got a quicker and descriptive response.

Highlight names: Let’s consider the same example given above. Let’s say, you want to forward this e-mail to the product manager and the engineering manager for their specific responses, and you also want to include 4-5 engineers in ‘cc’ of that e-mail to keep them informed about the resolution. And your e-mail description might say something like “how do we prioritize the resolution for this issue?”. Since, this e-mail is directed to so many people at the same time, you might not get any clear response, since people will wait for others to respond. Let’s say, you would have wrote this instead……”@Steve: How should we prioritize this issue? @David: Is it possible to fix this issue in our next release of the product?”. I am sure, your response would have been more clearer, since you have targeted your questions to each individual included in the e-mail. Thus, I would always recommend you to target your responders by their name, if you are expecting them to provide their input.

I hope, these tips will help you to draft an effective e-mail, so that you can get your responses quickly and easily. Do you have any similar ideas through which you can improve your e-mail communication?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Did you get promoted to a management position for the first time? Then stop doing what you know. Find out why.


After seven years in software development at a San Francisco based e-commerce company, my friend (let’s call him Mr. X) was promoted to his first manager’s position as an Engineering Manager. Up to that point, his track record had been stellar. His intelligence, focus, and determination had won him recognition and various promotions in his organization.

When his company assigned him to be the engineering manager for one of the company’s hottest new products, he ran into trouble early on. Mr. X’s past successes were due to his extraordinary technical leadership and programming capabilities. Accustomed to programming, he was a control freak and had the tendency to micromanage. His efforts to micromanage the engineering team alienated them. And within few months, Mr. X was back as being a technical leader (sr. programmer) and someone else was leading the team.

Mr. X failed as an engineering manager because he was unable to make the transition from being a strong individual programmer to an engineering manager. He failed to grasp that the strengths which had made him successful during his sr. programmer role could be liabilities in a role that required him to lead an engineering team by trusting their programming skills instead of doing it yourself.

What might Mr. X have done differently? He should have focused on mentally promoting himself into the new position, a fundamental challenge for new leaders. The one thing to remember is…………..you can’t become successful in your new job as a manager by continuing to do what you did in your previous position as an individual contributor.

Since you might have been promoted due to your skills and accomplishments, it is only human to think that your senior management wants you to do what you were good at. Maybe that’s the only reason why you might live in the denial, and believe that you are being productive and efficient, if you continue your old behavior. But instead of continuing your responsibilities as an individual contributor, you need to prepare yourself mentally to move into your new role by letting go of the past and embracing the imperatives of the new situation to give yourself a running start. This can be hard work, but it is essential that you do it.

I hope, this blog comes to you as a reminder to forget what you knew, and try adapting yourself to the new management role that you have inherited. What would you do in this situation, if you were to be promoted to your first ever management job?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

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

 

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