Monday, 30 June 2014

The strange problem of an efficient team member

My friend was in a fix. 

"I am facing a strange problem .  I have a person in my team who is very efficient.  If he is available in the shift , I do not have to worry at all . I know everything will be done perfectly and the delivery quality will be good with no complaints at all" . 

"Go ahead ", I said " I don't see any problem at all !"

"Well, the problem is that he takes advantage of his efficiency ". 

"What do you mean ?"

"For example, if the shift duty is from 7 am to 3 pm and he comes at 8 am , he does not stay back to make up for the lost time. If I ask him to do so, he says that he is more productive than the others in the team . Again there are times when he  flaunts himself and says that since he is more efficient, he should get some extra compensation for that"

"Hmm ... " 

"Though the rest of the team does not say anything, but I feel that hostility is building up and they feel that I am being partial to that person.  Since he is so good, I don't want to admonish him or be very severe with him ,since I know that I need him for the success of my operations ...  What should I do ? "

This is not a very uncommon situation at work.  Sometimes, managers are almost exploited and held at ransom.   

So what should he do ?  

My take on this ... 

  •  It is a very dangerous situation for an organization if we become people dependent. Our processes should be so strong that the delivery quality is predictable and standardized under any constraints. I know that putting a system in place is time consuming and many organizations do not want to invest in this, but ultimately, this becomes the main differentiator between successful and unsuccessful companies.  This is one of the main Mantra for growth and stability.

  • If the manager tolerates the behaviour described above, it means that s/he is compromising with the sense of equity and justice of his or her team. Two things become evident to the team. First,  the confidence and integrity of the manager becomes blurred and secondly the simmering feeling of  unfairness might eventually turn into an imbroglio.  No project can be successful if there is lack of tuning in the team members. So, the manager should first give the priority to the harmony in his team. 

  • The manager should not tolerate indiscipline but should also give reward for efficiency and productivity . This can be done in various ways like appreciation letters,  monetary rewards etc.  Again, the reward should not be too easy to achieve.  This way the excellent performer will be rewarded . This will also motivate others  in the team to perform better. 

  • Trainings should be an integral part of  work.   This will ensure that  the average performance of the team improves .  Trainings also boosts the morale of the people and they feel that the company cares for their growth.  Hands on trainings, mentoring, induction trainings should be planned carefully and implemented religiously. 

Personally, I always prefer to have a person in my team who is hardworking, sincere, takes initiative and ownership. If  I have to choose between a genius with an attitude problem and an average performer with  lots of initiative, enthusiasm and eagerness to learn, I will promptly choose the latter.  

Equity, fairness, integrity and strength of character are  values which should never be compromised with.

Not even for a few shifts of  perfectly smooth operations.

Friends, what are your views ?

Friday, 20 June 2014

The most important skill of a Business Manager

When approached correctly, persuasion is one of the most important skills in the armour of the business manager. 

Like power, persuasion can be an enormous force  for the business. 

The importance of mastering the art of persuasion is vital to the ability of a manger to efficiently address the challenges in the business. 

Effective persuasion is achieved when managers arrive at shared and mutually beneficial solutions. We should utilize negotiation skills so that we perform joint problem solving and joint opportunity finding.

Persuation and negotiation skills are honed through careful preparation, innovative framing of problems and arguments, and communicating this in a most vivid manner. By establishing the most correct emotional match with other parties, managers will generate a climate of greater openness and a willingness to move to positions not previously held.

Four crucial variables in the persuasion equation :

  •  Establish credibility An audience that is presented with a new or contrary position will initially respond by determining whether the perspectives and opinions of the persuader can be trusted Unfortunately, the majority of managers over-estimate their credibility because they fail to understand that credibility primarily derives from their perceived expertise and the relationships they are able to establish. Credibility is the basis for effective persuasion. If you lack sufficient credibility, then the steps that follow are futile. High credibility ratings are reserved for those who have proven over time that they can be trusted to listen, to act in the best interests of others and to share credit for good ideas. Their behaviour is characterized by integrity, consistency and the ability to resist extreme mood swings.

  • Framing for common ground Involve people and obtain their commitment for ideas or plans. It is best to begin by employing various types of dialogue to collect information, good listening, testing ideas with trusted co-workers and asking questions should precede the framing of a position.

  • Providing evidence When credibility is established and a common frame developed, the focus shifts to providing the most vivid evidence to back the persuader's position. The most effective persuaders are adept at backing up numeric data with metaphors, analogies, stories and examples that bring their ideas and views to life. They are word artists who can compose compelling word pictures .

  • Emotional Connection : Effective persuaders appreciate and use the immense power of language to their best advantage and to emotionally connect with their audience. On the surface, reason appears to be the primary force that drives business activities and persuasion. However, when exploring just beneath the surface we discover that emotion is a very prevalent and powerful determinant. Good persuaders know the importance of emotion. They respond to this insight by showing their own emotional commitment to the position they promote, and by being able to accurately sense how audiences have interpreted past events, are more likely to get proposals accepted. 
Cheers !

Monday, 9 June 2014

Intelligence of the Unconcious

I have always banked on my "gut feel",   that is my intuition. 

Somehow I could not find any reason why sometimes I  recruited not the best but maybe the third or fourth best.  Or sometimes why I  chose to select a particular organization to do business even though there were some lacunae. 

But I  knew that I was right and about 95% of the time, I was correct. 

Intuition is the ability to anticipate and predict. We can sense the "Vibes" of a person or have a "nose" for smelling trouble.  It is a knack , if I may say, to know whom to deal with , when and where. It is the ability  to decide without waiting for all the facts and figures because of an "inner voice" which insists that the decision is right. 

Recently I read an interesting article on Intuiting  which talked about scanning the resume with your hands It said that though the resume is there to guide us, but we can go beyond the written words with our intuition. It talked about scanning the resume with our palms !  The technique that the researcher talked about is to go slowly from line to like as if scanning with your palm , without thinking much about the words on the resume.  Putting fuzziness rather than focus , while reading between the lines !  I really want to try this out the next time I am recruiting .

In Hindu mythology, we have several tales which actually talks about intuiting, hunching and mental telepathy. We have saints who predicted the future, queens who could hunch the danger before the king went for the battle.

Even in recent times, I have read about a person who could just look at you and tell minute details about your past and also predict the future. Though there are many people who would snigger, my take on this is that just because we cannot prove something scientifically does not mean that it is not true.

As we grow older and get trapped by the very logical orientation of our modern education system, we tend to lose the spontaneity of making intuitive decision  for sheer lack of practice and application.   We are so used to using the left lobe of our brain for logical  and analytical thinking that we miss out on the power of the right lobe , which is for emotions, intuitiveness and feelings. Just think of the power if we could use both the lobes of the brain - logic and intuition  for decision making. 

Intuitive people are very good at  7 skills :

  • Pattern Perception : ability to fill in the information gaps amidst  a clutter of data. 
  • Recall : Fast processing of memory stored in the unconscious. 
  • Recognition : Ability to immediately identify a face, an object, an event a circumstance in its proper context.
  • Analysis : Analytical thinking and coming to the correct conclusion without much time to complete the logical analysis
  • Imagination : Able to think of many possibilities and different ways of doing things.
  • Connection Skill : Ability to put seemingly unrelated things together.
  • Psycho-Osmosis  : As Carl Jung calls "Collective Unconscious".  Ability to extract information from the memory bank of all human experiences. 

The research paper says that we can practice intuitiveness. The more we practice, the better it is.

Are you intuitive ? What is your take on this ?

I am curious to know..

Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Smart Squirrel

Once upon a time, in the deep woods of  Zilicon valley, there was a small kingdom , ruled  by a benevolent Lion King named Justix.  

Justix was fair and upright and ruled his kingdom with honour , compassion and trust.  He was large-hearted but he did not like inefficiency.  He judged his subjects by the quality of work they did and selected the best people in his ministry.  All the animals of the jungle loved and respected him and wanted to be in his good books so that they could prove themselves and rise in the hierarchy. 

One day, a fox named Deceptix came to stay there from another nearby kingdom. He was shrewd and crafty and was wily enough to understand that the real power lay with the ministers of Justix.  He wanted to be a part of the coterie by hook or by crook.  He took his CV to Justix and requested him to let him work on a crucial project which was very important for the welfare of the inhabitants of the jungle.  Justix looked at his cv and was really impressed with his credentials and experience.  He smiled and put his incharge of a part of the project and said that he wanted quick results. Deceptix nodded meekly and said that he will prove himself. 

Genuinix the deer was a part of the project and had worked very hard and sincerely for the kingdom since the last 5 years.  He now reported to Deceptix who quickly understood that the quality of work of Genuinix was really good. He quickly built rapport with him an got most of his work done by Genuinix but portrayed to Justix that it was he who had done everything.  Deceptix sweet -talked Genuinix and told him that his work is being appreciated and he will be rewarded very soon. Genuinix was straightforward and unassuming and took everything on face value. But days passed by and Deceptix was promoted , inching closer and closer towards the ministry position, but Geniuinix stayed where he was . He continued to work hard, but no one really noticed his contribution. All the accolades were taken by Deceptix. 

Finally, one day, Genuinix was so disheartened and demotivated that his performance started declining. Deceptix , in the meantime had got a coveted position and hardly cared about Genuinix. 

Justix was very impressed with Deceptix's work and one day called him and said " You have proved yourself . Here is another important project , which I think only you can handle . I want this project to be done in record time and with full quality" 

Now, Deceptix was in a fix.  He needed someone who would do all his work just like Genuinix and Deceptix would take all the credit. He ran a devious eye on his team and selected Smartix the Squirrel. Smartix was a quick witted, clever and bright worker.  He did his work diligently, took initiative and was always enthusiastic.  But he had seen the plight of his team leader Genuinix. 

"Smartix ! You are the best worker around and I know I can trust you with the most difficult work. I want you to deliver and you will get rewarded.. " Deceptix smiled warmly. 

"Yes, Sir, I will .... Thank you for the opportunity ..." 

A usual, Deceptix started giving all his work to Smartix, but he created a barrier between Justix and Smartix. Again , all the credit for the work went to him , with hardly any mention of Smartix.  

Deceptix was happy . 

His plan was working again. 

One day,  Justix wanted a detailed report with crucial data , with proper analysis. 
Justix quickly summoned Smartix and explained the requirement . 

" I need the report by 5 pm."

Smartix did not compile the report by 5.30 pm. 

Deceptix was worried. " I need to show this to Justix NOW ! Better do it fast", he shouted at Smartix.

By 6.30 pm , when the report was ready,  Deceptix almost snatched it from Smartix and ran inside Justix office. 

"But where is the data analysis that I had asked for ? " He roared . 

Deceptix looked at the report. 

The analysis was not there. He did not know what to do.  But suddenly there was a knock on the door and Smartix peeped in. 

"Sir, here is the data analysis , I could complete it just now ... I apologize...."

Justix  took the report and looked at Deceptix "Can you please explain this last point ? "

Deceptix did not have a clue. 

"Can I help sir ?" Smartix , the squirrel said. 

"Yes, please do so ... fast !" Justix roared again.

Smartix took the whiteboard and explained each and every point of the report. 

Justix was impressed.  

He said " From tomorrow , I want you to work in my personal cell for the data analysis work ...

And Smartix became one of the favourite workers of Justix. 

After a few months,  Justix came to know of the wiliness of Deceptix and he was sacked. 

Smartix was promoted to the rank of a minister and he chose Genuinix to work under him.

What do you think ?

 Do you think Smartix did the right thing ?

 Do you think Genuinix should have got a better deal since he was sincere,  honest and straightforward ?