Tuesday 28 October 2014

Connect vs Communication in People/Team Management - One Step Higher on the Ladder.

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Well you may be good at many things but you are definitely best at one thing. If effective communication is that one thing you are the best at, then kudos half the job done! Now working towards developing connect with people will be one step higher on the ladder. We need to understand the difference between both in the first place. Let's say that you are planning a team meet /training session for a major update in the process and a couple of your team members are working late night shift. This update if not learnt or understood properly would impact team's performance/quality phenomenally. Hence it is important for you to address the entire team at one go so that they are on the same page. Now as a part of communicating to the team you send a mail out asking them to be present for that meeting in the day without fail. You for sure know that a mail is sufficient enough to ensure their presence. However, in the process to develop connect with your people; you call them (the graveyard shift guys) to inform them and discuss options; may be an evening meet is more convenient to them. Explaining them that you understand it would be disturbing their daily routine as they would have logged off early in the day and would need some rest. Here we need to understand the fact that for a person who has worked late night shift; being present even for a team picnic the following day would be difficult let alone attending a major process update team meeting that requires his/her full attention. This small effort from your end goes a long way in reinforcing the message to people that you are sensitive to situations/factors that affect them.
Being sensitive and responsive about factors/situations affecting people is a great way to build in connects.
The basic element required to establish connect with people, however remains 'trust'. You need to work hard to create the trust factor both ways; their trust in you as well as your trust in them. This comes with a lot of benefits such as:
• Effective communication to pass a message clearly without any confusion.
• To create a platform to ask a lot of questions in identifying the root cause of a problem (which otherwise can come across as interrogation/confrontation)
• Would create an open communication platform that provides solution for a lot of issues.
• Provide a feedback and knowing for sure that it would be worked upon always.
The most popular benefit probably is to see the ease that 'feedback providing' process transitions to; being certain that the mechanism works always to provide desired results. To summarize, this creates the model of an ideal work environment a key to build winning teams; one that we always desire ourselves to be associated with.

Saturday 18 October 2014

‘One day I want to become like you’…in People/Team Management – Create that Impression.

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Yes, one day I want to become like you; if you hear this often from your team members it is a sure shot indication that you are on the right track. They say this because they really appreciate your abilities and see you as their role model. They aspire and want to become a good leader like you in the near future. Remember you are the first impression to your team to form an idea or understanding of future leadership. Observing you they are eager to learn new abilities and add more skills required for this purpose. This way they contribute towards smooth functioning as they are inclined to learn from you and trust your guidance. Key things they learn are; the way you approach and plan challenging tasks, resolve issues and most importantly take decisions in situations. One thing that you must surely set an example is the quality and consistency in your decision making. This establishes your resolve that is unshaken even in adversities. However, the first point in decision making capabilities is to be able to take the decision itself and not being indecisive. The following can form the basic guidelines to the process of decision making:
·         The decisions that you make may have good or bad results – a leader should not be of two minds.
·         Knowledge of right and wrong; doing right in all situations – setting a right precedence by not choosing the easy way out.
·         Not letting your own perception influencing the decision and amend/vary rules for one individual/group – Not being biased.
·         When things go wrong accepting that it as your mistake and assuring that it will emerge as learning for future – Taking ownership.

Principles that you believe in or formed over extensive learning/experience form the basis for you to define right/wrong while working with people. People notice these strong principles guide your decisions through complex situations. They learn that you are not flexible with your principles; however tempting situations or easy way out options are available. Though you may be seen as a stubborn, ridiculous person for the person involved at that point of time, eventually they will surely understand and appreciate your resolve. Being consistent at these levels of decision making is definitely challenging but certainly rewarding. This attribute that you exhibit and teach your team goes a long way in shaping up their personality and facilitate transition them as well prepared leaders of tomorrow.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Essential changes recommended within work force in People/Team Management – Create a spirited work environment.

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People are different with regards to their nature, manner and individuality. The classification of their general behavior is hence different, and in sync with their personality. These patterns result in their habit/s. The habits/traits thus formed describe what kind of person he/she is. Is he/she is cheerful, or silent; is he/she confident or is self centered etc. They could be either positive or negative attributes formed aver a period of time. This is no different with members in a team. There can be a team of 10 with ten different personalities or small groups with similar behavior. Every individual’s nature whether positive or negative influences the team mindset in one way or the other. The negative habits/attributes in some cases can be detrimental to team’s performance and form a major obstacle in attaining simple team goals.

Forces opposite to each other fail to give a positive result. Hence wherever possible a leader should attempt to influence and change these varied adverse traits to form a host of positive attributes; which will facilitate smooth functioning of the team. Identify the following behaviors in team members and aim to convert to positive attributes:

·         Introvert/loner – Sociable   (change that introvert who hardly speaks to others in the team; to a person who gets along with others easily).
·         Gloomy – Cheerful   (transform the gloomy individual to one among the most cheerful lot in the team).
·         Silent - Noisy    (encourage/involve the silent person who sits in one corner away from the team to be an essential part of the noisy team).
·         Self centered – Generous   (educate/train the self centered person the benefits of sharing and being generous).
·         Apprehensive – Confident   (teach power of confidence to the doubtful person: what wonders can be achieved with confidence).
·         Pessimistic – Optimistic   (Introduce the optimistic way of seeing things to this guy; exploring possibilities and opening new doorways to opportunities).

A word of caution though, these are the habits that people have formed are over a period of time and they can’t change overnight. However, following are tips that may be helpful in achieving the change eventually:

·         Identifying their aspects of interest/s, initiating a team discussion on similar topics and involving/encouraging them to provide inputs.
·         Observing their strong areas, assigning them a team member/ small group to coach.
·         Involving /entrusting them with key team responsibilities and appreciating them at their success.
·         Putting constant efforts to involve them and showing them the benefits of working as a team.
·         Explaining how their small footsteps towards change will be helpful in their own personality development and further their prospects.

Similarly care must also be taken to appreciate individuals who already possess key positive traits such as being spirited, confident, bold etc. It is because of them that you are able to focus and spend time on the other group. Once the other group is coached and are on the same page, you now will have an entire team with positive skill sets, prepared and eager to take on the biggest of challenges. You have achieved a spirited work environment for one and all.

Monday 13 October 2014

When everyone else said why? I asked myself why not? in People/Team Management – Trying to be the solution.

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Our job working with people and being successful at it always; is sometimes challenged when we encounter that one individual who is perceived by others as impossible to work with. The other people who you work with have tried and given up on this individual as he/she may be terribly stubborn, could be egoistic and not a team player.  Thankfully difficult situations like these that seem unattainable are not very common. At least let’s hope it is very rare. There certainly are corrective measures of different degrees within a work place to address issues like these. The last option left might result in either transfer or resignation of the person. Everyone strongly suggests the final option for that individual. Before considering it, you are approached and asked to include him/her in your team as one final attempt, an opportunity to work with the individual and bring in some change. There is a reason I call it an opportunity is because that while it is undoubtedly a major challenge; should you achieve it, is nothing short of a miracle (both for you and that individual). When you achieve success at it your own abilities emerge as a bench mark. You raise the bar in working with people. It identifies you among the cluster, as thriving at working with people and turning them around.

If you are not sincere about the task at hand, my recommendations don’t even try it in the first place.  Remember that you have got nothing to lose yet attempt it as if your entire abilities were at stake. Before starting the actual process have a positive discussion with that person. Clearly explain the situation discussing the following:

·         Explain that based on past events and feedback from other managers it has led in identifying a certain behavioral pattern; of being a misfit to work in team environments.
·         As a result, there are more than few occasions that people have tried and given up.
·         At this point if the person gives up too it will be only a matter of time that he/she will give up on everything else to follow (could be in another job/s or anything else for that matter).
·         You are willing to work with the person as you believe otherwise; provided the individual helps you to help him/her.
·         Assure him/her that you are not of the kind to give up on people easily; working together, things can definitely change and result will be evident. They need to put in great effort though.
·         Get solutions from the person on how he/she furthers the process/learning based on past experiences.
·         Obtain commitment from the person for a workable plan.
·         Finally, provide support consistently; acknowledge/appreciate whenever/wherever they show improvement.

A mere attempt at such tasks needs great courage and determination. Be assured it is definitely not an easy task to achieve but certainly not an impossible one. Believe in yourself. Just imagine when you gain success at such tasks – it’s an experience that you will be happy about for a long time. Great leaders are not born; they emerge out of continuous practice while accepting new challenges. Getting the job done is one thing, getting it done when everything else is failed is entirely a different thing. 

Friday 10 October 2014

Bridge the Gap Between ‘Haves’ and ‘Have not’s in People/Team Management - Adding Value to Your Current Role.

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A huge difference between 'Haves' and 'Have not's in any team, community or society is not healthy and in fact a very dangerous situation. Immediate focus of a leader facing such situation/s should be to bridge this gap as quickly and as far as possible. Here we will discuss on the skill sets/abilities of people within a team as a distinguishing factor. In this context we refer to people with expertise on particular skill sets/ abilities as 'haves' and people who lack or not so good at them as 'have not's. The term 'have not' refers to people possessing normal skill sets barely sufficient to do a specific task. These two sets of people constitute a team and contribute towards an average of that team in terms of performance. The best way to increase an average for a set of numbers is to increase the score of a group of lower numbers rather than increasing the value of one high score. Similarly in order to increase the team's average the most effective way is to work on a group of low performers than concentrating on the highest performer. This way you build a better equipped and dependable team.
Training by far is an excellent ongoing exercise to address this issue. Sources and expertise should be sought within the team first. If a leader feels that inputs or a guest lecture from a person of different team or another leader would benefit his/her entire team; he/she is more than welcome to arrange one. Ask yourself this question: Will you not appreciate your manager putting similar efforts for your development and growth? Then how is it different with your team having these expectations from you. The only thing is they do not know it …yet. Once you provide these opportunities to your team you add tremendous value to your current role. The team will adore you for having you as their leader/mentor. The efforts that you put in for your team members will not go unnoticed and in fact will stand out as an example among other people that you work with.
Now comes the interesting bit, what if you work towards up skilling of your team members and as a result of it one individual in the team gets a career progression opportunity and leaves. Well great job done!! Now continue with the rest of them. Remember it is an investment in people and an ongoing process, it is worth every bit. I stumbled on a remarkable quote that I wanted to share:
"The CFO asked: What if we invest in our people and they leave? To which the CEO responded: What if we don't and they stay?"
Think about it. It has got a great underlying meaning in it.
One needs to understand that leaders who believe in consistently working for their people and make it a habit thus; thrive in their career.
Organizations that have a vision based on similar thoughts and have leaders like this to drive it flourish in the process.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Aim at job delight rather than aspiring job satisfaction…Challenge yourself in People/Team Management – Practice to perfection.

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Delight can be explained as a feeling that you have don’t have any more expectations. It is better understood as a highest level of satisfaction possible. A great leader aims at achieving delight at doing his/her job rather than aspiring job satisfaction. There are a more than few occasions in our regular works that we feel have achieved a great deal, a challenging goal attained or a huge task accomplished. The sense of satisfaction at that achievement is immense; we would be tempted to bask in its glory for some time. There is nothing wrong in enjoying the distinction well deserved as it will provide us with much needed job satisfaction. However one must move on eventually, to set a bigger goal than the earlier, aim to gain a better experience than the previous one. That’s how we transition from being manager of a process to become leader of a team that manages a process efficiently. And that’s how we experience delight at job.

Now let’s imagine that you have accomplished great feats so far with your previous work assignments, so much so that your name is a synonym for success. You are given a new role, a new challenge, a new team to work. In this team there is a person who is a process specialist, excellent at process knowledge and whose promotion is due for a while now. He/she while being indispensable to the team in terms of performance does not get along with the team. The person feels that he/she deserves the much awaited promotion and is being denied as there is no replacement for his/her expertise. He/she is extremely disappointed and thus a major obstacle. How would you deal with the situation? What would your next course of action be? In situations like this I would suggest that you primarily have a one to one meeting with him/her to discuss the following points:
·         First things first to compliment his/her expertise and experience.
·         Acknowledge the fact that on several occasions his/her experience has been a major contribution in the team’s achievements in the past.
·         Argue in agreement that the promotion was certainly delayed and explain that it is just a matter of time that it happens now.
·         All the more reason that he/she starts to get along with rest of the team to transfer knowledge for an effective succession plan.
·         Share with him/her that you always are sensitive towards the development/growth needs of deserving candidates.
·         And most importantly assuring the person that you are no less serious about their progression than they are; and considering your past experience you were always successful at it.

The above mentioned points sound as simple as natural, yet unfortunately we tend to ignore and choose to live with the situation, or seek other means to address the issue, in vain. We sometimes fail to understand a simple fact that people sincerely believe in a leader to help them through a situation or fulfill their dream/vision. And in return a great leader would take it up as a challenge, certainly leave no stone unturned in helping them achieve it. These kinds of successes that we tend to achieve; help a person’s dream come true will never fail to delight us at our work.


Wednesday 8 October 2014

Change… the only constant thing in a work environment in People/Team Management – Adapt and Improvise.

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Changes with respect to processes and people have become an inevitable and an integral part of a majority of work environments today. Some changes are made to obtain certain benefits, while some of them are made to evolve as a better and an effective work environment. Sometimes it happens to overcome competition and stay ahead in the game; some other times it becomes matter of sheer existence of the process. In any case it happens a lot, all around us. For a leader it comes with its own set of challenges with regards to changes impacting people (which is a majority of times) and their current style of functioning. Needless to mention announcing/managing change and its impact on people, as to how they see it and how well they transition is not as easy as it may seem. A few situations of changes to a work environment/s that triggers signs of resistance from people are:

·         Movement of people from /to a different team.
·         Bringing two or more different processes together to form a center of excellence of a big process.
·         Major process improvements/releases that need additional training/movement of people.
·         Changes to work patterns /shift timings as a result of all of the above.

And the list is exhaustive. The change, though in the longer run may be beneficial to both the work environment and people involved as well; is not a welcome with people initially. The reason behind may be that we tend to grow complacent so easily and so quickly to environments that we are not willing to see or explore new possibilities. We quickly forget that the situation that we are now so comfortable and happy with was a beginning of a change for us at some point of time in the past.

The success of the change and its benefits as an outcome is defined by the people. In most cases it solely depends on factors as how quickly the team adapts and adheres to the change. Hence to start off with a good leader would communicate the change to his/her team well in advance and does it positively. Efforts must be put to explain that the change is not only good for the future but also a necessity of the present. The benefits should be explained clearly with examples of how it could come around as an opportunity for one and all. The impacting person/s views need to be listened to and options provided wherever possible. Assurance of support wherever required throughout the entire transition would be a bonus. Thus a well communicated and executed change plan would not only ensure a smooth sail but also bring out desired results with very little or no hindrance. Leaders with these change management abilities will be identified as a preferred resource for similar tasks in the future.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Celebrating Failure More Important Than Celebrating Success in People/Team Management - Bounce Back Without Fail.

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In our day to day work as a team it is not uncommon that we come across failures sometimes, to achieve goals or targets set. Now as a leader, imagine that you and your team have a huge task ahead to complete, competing against another team. The success at this task is very crucial to you and your team. For you it may mean a promotion that you have been waiting since a long time, and for your team a huge incentive/bonus on achieving success at the said task. You have meticulously planned every bit of it and carefully executed with your team’s cooperation. You have left nothing to chance and your team has done everything in their capabilities to work towards success at it. Post completion of the task you are awaiting result for your work that you have just finished. You and your team are so confident that you will win and are already planning celebration of your success. Now let’s say that the results are announced and as a shock for you and the team, your team failed and the other team won the competition; thereby getting all the benefits. The team is devastated and you are in utter grief by the news of your failure. You are so sad to the point of mourning, that things have not worked out for you and it will be a while for that promotion to happen now. What would be your next course of action? How would you react to the present situation with your team? Times like this for both you and the team is testing and one like being on the edge of a cliff. One wrong move or one false step here could be fatal to the team’s morale and needless to mention your own hopes too. So what do you do? My recommendation, the first thing you do is to clear your mind and plan a celebration for you failure. Sounds crazy isn’t it, but do it for sure, do not falter. Please understand that this is one of such times that the people/team need their leader the most. In other words it is a defining time for you as a leader. Also, the leaders are needed for tough situations. Anybody can celebrate success effortlessly, but it takes a great deal for a person to compose himself/herself and celebrate failure. The reasons that you should celebrate your failure are the following:

·         To appreciate the team for the fact that they put up an excellent effort to win.
·         To avoid a fault finding exercise that people usually restore to when they encounter failure.
·         To motivate them that it is just a matter of time; there probably are better things in store for everyone.
·         Most importantly to learn what the other team has done differently to win.

In order to do this you should mentally prepare yourself that with the kind of abilities you possess, this is certainly not the end of the world. There are a host of opportunities to explore. You need to understand the fact that quitting on failure is quitting on yourself. You are capable of much more things than worrying about the past. So celebrate your failure and do it with the same grandeur that you would celebrate your success. This bounce back will show people what exactly you are made of; and a failure however bad will not intimidate you. These abilities certainly establish you as a great leader.