Thursday 19 March 2015

The perfect recipe for a mess…in People/Team management – Nipping it in the bud.

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Let us first understand the difference between the terms issue, problem and mess in detail. Though they all seem synonymous, there is a significant difference between them. They vary with the degree of intensity. It is essential to understand this difference clearly, so that we may address it accordingly. An issue in general is an isolated occurrence; though it is sure to cause some discomfort, it may have a solution, an alternative readily available. The impact is usually restricted to the person in question. This should be considered as a budding stage. Issues neglected continuously transforms into a problem sooner or later.

Problems on the other hand are more complex in nature and can be perceived as a situation a person that needs to be corrected in order to arrive at a desired outcome. In this phase the impact is felt on some or a greater part of the group. It may take a while to surface and does not get resolved automatically. Solution can only be arrived at with a forethought and discussion with the impacted group.

Multiple problems left unattended over a period of time result in a mess. This stage is very complex in nature and may seem to have little or no hope for a resolution in sight. At this level, any wrong step taken by any individual of the group only complicates and deteriorates the situation even further. Though it may seem perfectly normal on the surface, be assured that underneath is an active volcano roaring to erupt. All it needs now is a slight tap to the breaking point.

Now that we understand the perfect recipe for a mess, it seems only normal to act on the isolated issue - at the budding stage. But surprisingly, we tend to ignore it at this level. Also, shockingly we tend to live with the next phase too, till it comes to a grinding halt. Few reasons that this occurs may be:

·         We may be too lazy to address the issue at the budding stage.
·         We do not believe it may develop into a serious issue and have major effects.
·         Unclear communication (one that doesn't stress the seriousness enough) also is a major contributor.
·         Small tiffs between individuals/groups ignored at the nascent stage.
·         Fail to prioritize this issue as we may feel that there is far more important stuff.
·         Bias towards a particular individual/group is a very frequent and a strong reason too.
·         Hostility due to personal grudge between two individuals/groups is the strongest and the most deadly one. 

Whatever the case, issues and problems neglected are sure to come back more complicated than ever. In messier situations the person or the group may completely shut the communication channel with you (they may be listening to you but are not willing to understand or participate in the resolution process). 

Please understand for a great leader like you there is nothing more important than addressing the issue at its first stage “always”. This way you set precedence. Same goes with your manager too. If you notice anything not in accordance to the regular flow and is troubling you, it is recommended that you have a discussion immediately to seek clarification and resolve at the first instance. Do not wait for it to develop into a nasty surprise and surface when you are least prepared. Please refer my previous post: The art of identifying the problem cycle in its budding stage...” for an in depth understanding of how to identify and resolve a problem at its budding stage. 

Monday 16 March 2015

Positive communication and a powerful mind…wonderful tools in People/Team management – Master it.

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Communication here can be simply described as an exchange of information or ideas with a purpose. Unlike other species on the planet, human beings are blessed with the ability to communicate with each other effectively. We can express very clearly when we are happy; though we do it very assuredly when we are not. We frequently communicate with ourselves too. Few examples are: when thinking how we need to get a resolution for a particular situation or the thoughts that go through when we need to take a decision, or make a choice. While preparing for an interview, counsel, motivate people. In fact the quality of communication in this process has a direct impact on our decisions and choices we make, both for us as well as others. Hence it is very important, that we keep this entire process simple, fair and a positive one.  

I would like to share an interesting excerpt from an anonymous speaker, which I stumbled on:

 The quality of our communication with the world outside determines our success. The quality of our communication with ourselves determines our happiness. It is not enough to just improve the quality of our communication, with the world outside. It is more important that we improve the quality of our communication with ourselves. It is not what happens to you, it is how you interpret what happens to you that make the difference.

It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
-  J K Rowling

Communication - the human connection - is the key to personal and career success.
-  Paul J. Meyer

Once you improve the quality of communication devoid of any perception (for in depth understanding of how perception forms a barrier to positive communication, please refer to my earlier post: Breaking our perception barrier to work with people effectively”) it is important that we express the thoughts to get results. Some subtle ways of expressing positive communication are:

·         Creating a receptive atmosphere.
·         Crystal clear communication with no room for ambiguity.
·         Smiling generously.
·         Not missing out an opportunity to appreciate.
·         Using appropriate body language/posture/appearance.

Also remember, our mind is a vault that stores all of our abilities, memories, learning and almost everything else. In other words, it is kind of a giant super space that is available to us. This resource is readily available to us at any given time. It is helpful to gather all the great experiences that we encounter, as a direct result of our positive communication. It is important that we develop our mind as a repository of these positive thoughts for future situations and opportunities. Hence the famous quote:

When MIND is weak, situation is a PROBLEM, When MIND is balanced, situation is a CHALLENGE, when MIND is strong situation becomes an OPPORTUNITY.

A strong mind filled with positive thoughts, is therefore essential while approaching impending challenges, which is perceived as a problem by many. Also, it forms a powerful tool with an ability to detect hidden opportunities while advancing such challenges. 

Sunday 1 March 2015

The art of gaining control over others…in People/Team management – Practicing it to perfection.

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In an ever evolving complex world, challenges in life are getting more complicated day by day. Few of those challenges may be represented as getting a task done with a group of people. The tasks may vary; it could be working to exceed a set target or preparing the team for a competition ahead. It could be getting the team to work as one or even attempting to correct a behavior. Whatever, the impending task might be, achieving success, is difficult unless we have certain control over the people. Well there certainly are more than few ways and means, to gain control and accomplish. We can be task masters or try intimidation showing authority. We may emphasize the need and dictate terms to attain. This approach may even bring results every now and then. I am sure we have all come across similar situations and adopted these methods at some point or the other in the past. All these methods seem great till the time we are at the receiving end of it.

The charm of gaining control over others however, is the most effective when the other person willingly lets you to guide and gain control. Does it sound stupid? Or does it even seem possible? Why would anyone willingly let you control or guide them?

The answer to that is most likely the person in question believes your abilities to guide. The person entrusts you with the responsibility to do the best for him/her in that situation. Above everything else, the person simply trusts you.

Now this trust doesn’t happen just like that, you have worked so hard to establish it. In the past whatever you said or did was in the best interest and one which was inclined towards development of the person. You may also have helped the person through difficult situations. This strong bond is formed as this person for sure knows that you are a well wisher. Hence, it is even more important now that you ensure that bond remains strong always.  A famous quote that I wanted to share here:

“Trust is earned, respect is given, and loyalty is demonstrated. Betrayal of any one of those is to lose all three.”  - Ziad Abdelnour.

Few pointers that help you build such a strong bond are:
·         Taking genuine interest in the well-being of people.
·         Being a good listener and sensitive to their situations.
·         Offering help when they are in difficult situations.
·         Willing to work with them and support them through difficult times.

Well you now see having a way with people is not entirely that difficult, it just requires that we are interested in it. And it’s never too late to begin. We probably are on the path and already doing it, then let’s just practice it to perfection.