Thursday 26 February 2015

Lead yourself before leading others…in People/Team management – Self discipline a key contributor.

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‘Dare to dream and care to achieve’ this line is famous with achievers and successful people and I have come across it many a time in the past. Each time I heard it, I felt motivated and explored the need for a big vision to attain bigger things in life. However, after a few futile attempts at it eventually lost focus and forgot about my recent vision. I used to back up my failure giving reasons like: I lacked the resources, the vision I set up was very ambitious, unattainable and so on. One thing common in all the attempts was certain; a lack of interest to pursue any further. I am sure most of you would have encountered situations like this. Little do we realize that by working on small tasks (that are attainable with little extra effort) instead of aiming for huge visions (that require a lot of practice, discipline and many other factors to be in sync), things may be very different. In fact these little steps over a period of time will become contributing factors for bigger things in life.
It is very similar to the phrases we often come across: A great journey starts with a single step or tiny drops of river form huge rivers. Hence it is essential that we take things slowly and work on them till we attain it. Setting up tasks and pursuing it with discipline is the key here. The tasks that you choose need not be limited just related to your work place and could be very simple steps such as:

·         Being punctual always.
·         Greeting and communicating with a smile.
·         Making eye contact in a conversation.
·         Spending quality time with your people.
·         Commitment to learn/read/share.

The commitment that you make here is a huge step towards your development. You may choose any such tasks that you feel will benefit you. But remember, once you identify a task work on it with an unfailing persistent level of discipline till it becomes a habit.

It is essential that we possess these attributes of self discipline that help lead ourselves even before we begin to lead others. Also self discipline is a winning idea that needs to be introduced and encouraged with people you work with. Soon they will realize the importance and the contribution of self discipline in their own personality development. Some of its many benefits that it offers are as follows:

·         Provides a path for a practical solution to an identified issue.
·         Helps focusing on a task and putting that extra effort to attain results.
·         Enhances will power and urges to be strong at situations.
·         Forms guidelines to practice patience and self control.
·         Chalks out a planned way of dealing with things that matter most.

This process of identifying the problem areas and your great attitude of working on them progressively will not go unnoticed. Needless to mention, it has huge impact on people working around you, in terms of things, they can learn from you. Self discipline evolved as a strong ability will not only help you gain respect from others, but also pave way for the bigger opportunities that lay in front of you.

Thursday 5 February 2015

The art of identifying the problem cycle in its budding people/team management. – Practice it.

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While working with people, one thing for certain is that there will be problems cropping up every now and then, sooner or later; be it a new team or a seasoned one. There may be ways and means to deal with a problem and find a resolution at different stages. The challenge however is to identify in its nascent stage and take measures to avoid unnecessary escalation. It is a general practice with people to compare with their peers to ascertain their position in terms of performance, pay, way they are treated and other such things. When they begin this comparison, it very quickly develops into a strong feeling of dissatisfaction; should they discover any discrepancy. This is the very beginning of a problem. Let’s first understand the reasons that trigger a problem. Few of them are:

·         People feeling that they are not treated fairly either in terms of performance, pay or general treatment as compared to other members of the teams.
·         A feeling that a particular person is being targeted for some reason among the team.
·         General reasons of problems may even be gossip from various sources.

People are different and they react differently. Whatever the reasons might be once the idea is formed, it doesn't stop there. At this stage the person is ready to get it to your notice and hope to get a resolution. Few signs of this phase are:

·         A person who is usually talkative will choose to be silent, or vice versa.
·         Coming across with a lot of investigative questions to gather information.
·         Mingling with a new group and picking up their influence a lot.
·         Reluctant or hesitant body language.
·         Sudden rise in the number of questions on a specific topic.

These instances may initially seem simple or unimportant. However, we need to understand that this is the best instance to resolve a problem. Proactive approach in identifying and addressing the issue without any further delay will help a lot and nip the problem at the beginning stage. A casual chat with the concerned person, acknowledging when something has gone wrong and assurance of your support should do the trick.

If it is delayed or ignored; it quickly compounds into a strong feeling of grievance. Needless to mention, that they will collect strong evidence to defend their case. The person concerned now starts to vent out the feeling and attempts to express it evidently. This may vary depending on the nature of the problem and the level of frustration. This is the next level where people attempt to show clear signs of dissatisfaction. Few pointers to identify such behavior are:

·         Back answering at any and every occasion.
·         Constant disagreements and non cooperation.
·         Drop in performance and disinterest.
·         Deliberate falling behind to meet assigned targets.
·         Open defiance and insubordination.
·         Grouping up to revolt and voice their thoughts.

We need to realize that they indulge in such behavior to seek an opportunity to have a one to one meeting with you, to vent out their dissatisfaction and frustration. It is important that we understand that our aim is to resolve the issue; taking the matter personally at this juncture will only convert the already existing problem into a mess.

The people involved need a lot of reassurance even before they are willing to open up to you. Having a constructive one to one discussion is a sure shot way to begin. Always do your homework before going into such discussions. Not to confront or monopolize the discussion, but to have options open. Listening, understanding and empathizing are the only best methods in getting the other person work towards an effective resolution. My earlier posts, “You...the most important aspect of any conversation” and “You and I...Together we make a great team” explain further, tips for such difficult conversations. This way you ensure that the problem cycle ends with a solution and not with a disaster.