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Archive for the ‘management’ Category

People, Performance and Perception

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on August 25, 2013

A commonly heard complaint: “My manager is a control-freak and practice micro-management. He asks for suggestions but provide them all himself. He doesn’t believe in imperfection and try to fit us into his unrealistic expectations.”

Perceiver believes that it is the reality but he might be just focusing on the aspects which reinforce his existing beliefs.  Your friends, co-workers or the society don’t know “a real you” but “they know you as they perceive you” as they always have perception about you.  But when most of the decision makers in an organization shares the same perception about someone than it doesn’t really matter what “reality is” as “perception becomes the reality”.Perception

It’s hard for an organization to get required contribution from an individual who is not able to accomplish his own goals within organization and in order to achieve your purpose you need to know that how people perceive you. Any undesired perception about you, your products or services will not go away if you deny its existence.

It‘s not possible for you to communicate with each perceiver to explain who you really are, in case you are not happy about it. But before you make any effort to change perception, you need to understand three critical factors which contribute to perception formation process. And they are:

  1. Your performance: How you perform in a given context contributes majorly towards perception about you. Initial performance is a foundation stone in this process and often takes a lot of effort to change, in case you want to change it later, for better.
  2. Your competitor’s performance: Comparison and competition are unavoidable and if you are afraid of them, then you really fear your own incompetence.  You need to know what your competitor’s are doing before they walk over you.
  3. Perceivers’ viewpoint:  You are dealing with humans and they are prone to mistakes and prejudices. It can go in your favor or against you. These people can be your customers, key influencers in your organization or anyone who is a stakeholder in your current or future endeavors.

You may want to manage one or more of these factors depending on your power of influence but at minimal you should always be in a position to improve your own performance.

If you don’t want to be defined by what you are not, if you want to feed your opportunities and starve your problems; you need to take charge to change perception about you and the time is now. But what if you have already tried your best and are fully convinced that perception about you is unchangeable? You are neither the first nor the last person to feel it, recharge your batteries and hit the trail again. New jobs are waiting to be done, new teams are waiting to be led and new ideas are waiting to be born…

Photo Credit: Unknown

Posted in change, leadership, management | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Getting it Right: 100KM, Team of 4 and 48 Hours

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on March 15, 2013

It’s about an endeavor undertaken by our team of four people to raise funds for charity and to walk 100KM within 48 hours to meet the challenge set by Oxfam Trailwalker.  This post highlights our journey, the outcome and re-emphasizes some well-known facts.

We started with goal setting; success was the obvious goal so success criteria were defined at the start in consultation with all stakeholders. Key Success Indicators (KSIs) were to raise funds to qualify for the event (i.e. 50K INR) and to complete 100KM walk within 48 hours with all four members. We did identify stretch goals at the initiation phase itself and those were to raise funds of 150K+ INR for charity and to complete 100KM walk within 40 hours with all four members.

Getting it RightPlanning for the event went through a progressive elaboration process. As a team, we had to cross nine check points to register the entry and exit of the full team. Being a team building exercise, it was required that the team of four, walk together, supporting each other, fastest member walking with the slowest member of the team and completing the event as a team. As activities (aka check points) were already identified and sequenced, we had estimated duration for each activity to develop time management schedule in accordance with our team goal.

Communication among team members was planned thoroughly. Similarly, we planned how to communicate with stakeholders (family members, well-wishers, friends who donated for the cause etc) before and during the event. We performed SWOT analysis for the risks and prepared risk response strategy accordingly. We planned and conducted procurement as per the team needs for the event.

Finally on the D-Day, we first timers were at the event venue with almost a month of preparation. We started almost 10 minutes late from the starting point for 100KM walk of energy, determination and courage. We arrived at finish point exactly 39 hours and 38 seconds after the event starting time. It might not be an exceptional achievement from an outsider’s point of view but as our team could achieve predefined KSIs; this endeavor was a success for us.

It was a fun-filled memorable walk where confrontation was used as a technique to overcome difference of opinions and group decision-making was practiced for team decisions.

Four takeaway from this endeavor which are also keys for a successful project management are:

  • Success criteria must be defined at the beginning in consultation with all stakeholders.
  • Communication breeds success. A well-planned communication strategy is vital for project’s success.
  • Change is inevitable. You need to foresee challenges, risks and always need to have a change management plan in place.
  • Working together works. Remember the best team doesn’t win as often as the team that gets along best.

Posted in engagement, leadership, management | 7 Comments »

Metrics for Compensation Allocation

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on February 24, 2013

Simon would like to allocate performance bonus to his workforce who got performance rating of 5/5 and 4/5. People who got 5/5 rating will get (X) % of their base salary as performance bonus where as 4/5 will get (X-1) %. He would like to define compensation metric for the same so that he can apply it, with his decided % amounts, on his entire workforce rather than allocating to each one of them. He would also like to share it with his peers or subordinates in case they would like to use same metrics with their own numbers.

Compensation Allocation Metrics for Managers

Neither the use of organization wide published metrics is new to compensation process nor is the desire of a manager to build his own metrics for distributing compensation. Only question is whether your current (or potential) adopted compensation solution supports it or not.

As a manager, you would always like to create metrics that you can use to allocate compensation to your team as it will facilitate a smooth process and help you in well-informed decision-making. From ages, managers are using off-line tools to flag and store decision attributes which helps them in making compensation as well as other decisions. What they actually need is a system which not only allows them to build their own metrics based on various person related attributes but also allows them to share it with their peers or subordinates. Manager owned metrics supplements the organization wide metrics (aka HR established Metrics) and not really replace them.

Some managers will be happy if system supports basic attributes like performance rating, work location, Job/Grade whereas others may need more specific attributes like years in Job/Grade, compa-ratio and grade ranges. It will be beneficial to have embedded support for all the possible decision attributes as well as custom attributes (an extension to store business specific values) so that managers can build robust metrics for compensation allocations with great ease. It will result in compensation allocation process to reach the next level.

Posted in analytics, Compensation, management | 1 Comment »

It’s not important now as “nothing is at stake”!!!

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on December 1, 2012

nothing at stakeAttitude of focusing only on things which can save you from the trouble-in-hand and ignoring the rest often results in a bucket full of important activities to be addressed later. When you ignore things till your job or image or commitment or ego is at stake, you often end up creating a mess.

When everything is important nothing really is important. Important, very important, really important, showstopper or using any other prefix in your communication indicates that it’s important but if almost all your communications have these prefixes then it’s time to retrospect as something is fundamentally wrong.

Just saying that “Planning is important and I invest a lot of time in planning” doesn’t work till you really practice it. Make sure that you are not using planning time as a resting time or for anything else. If you are putting less important things on watch list for review, do review it regularly to pick up an activity which has potential to be important.

Be it solving the business bottlenecks, succession planning, preparation for approaching compensation or promotion cycle or anything related to business; being proactive rather than reactive will save your business from risk.

Many things have changed with technological innovations but few things have not. Planning and periodic review of your plan is one such thing that was important, is important and will remain important. Being proactive and looking things ahead of the time is a must have leadership quality to master. Faking that you have this quality may work on few occasions but will surely put you and your business at risk one day.

Posted in leadership, management | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Management by “Fear”…

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on September 18, 2012

Managing workforce by playing with their fear factor is frequently used but rarely acknowledged management practice. Strong Belief in formal power, frequent use of forcing as a conflict resolution technique and use of penalty as a motivational factor give birth to a manipulative organization culture where practice of management by fear nurture and maintained.

Employee’s fear of failure, fear of not receiving reward or recognition, fear of losing job or similar; many managers identify it quickly and use it as a tool to rule over the people. Manager’s own insecurity and short sightedness fuels it further as they promote culture of uncertainty and ambiguity to make sure that fear-factor not only exist in the system but also prosper.

When you work in a team, it’s natural that you will discover fears or shortcomings of your teammates, how you utilize this information, depends on your value system. Either you can exploit it by maximizing their fear factor for your benefit or you can help them to conquer fear. Either you can empower your team so that they can fight back or you can assure that they gradually lose their self-esteem and become more vulnerable.

Management by fear is a perfect recipe for business failure and a proof of broken employee engagement. It’s a responsibility of every leader to ensure that an organization treats its people with dignity, trust and respect.

 

If you are a victim of such a culture and it’s going beyond your tolerance limit, you may need to take help from your HR department. You may also count on a feedback mechanism which can help you to get your voice heard and answered.

Posted in engagement, fear, management | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Brown nosers at work

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on August 10, 2012

King tales inspire so much to some people that they start behaving like a king and aspire to create their own kingdom at work. Behaving like kings, make them fall in the power trap. They enjoy formal power and want to hear only good things about them and their decisions. In order to safely survive and thrive in this culture, employees take help from a well-known and well-practiced technique called brown-nosing.

It would be incorrect to say that brown nosers are non-performers as you can spot some of the great performers too on this duty. Brown-nosing provides equal opportunity to everyone as its open for both performers and non-performers. Are you able to spot brown-nosing at you workplace? You can find people in below positions:

  • Prime movers, leaders who are knowingly promoting brown-nosing.
  • Experts, active participants and subject matter experts in this area. Role models for few others.
  • Victims, People who missed several boats at work because they did not opt for brown-nosing.
  • Change-agents, fighters who want to fix this culture and help people to get rid of this highly spreadable unhealthy syndrome.
  • Observers, who are observing this behavior without any participation.

You can best decide where you fit in. You may also want to change your position considering brown-nosing does work and helps people to get the desired outcome. But, in case you are trying to make your workplace free from brown nosers, you are really on a novel but a tough mission.

As this issue is related to human nature and does exist and practiced beyond the workplace, fix is not easy. You need to help your leaders, who are promoting this behavior, to get rid of this bad habit. At the same time, you need to empower your workforce so that they can choose not to be a brown-noser without any fear of penalty or failure.

Don’t turn a blind eye on this, who knows if you are going be the next victim of this disease.

Posted in learning, management | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

What does your attrition rate tell you?

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on July 18, 2012

Do you believe that you are doing great job just because your attrition rate is as per industry benchmark or lower than your competitors?

If you reward your entire workforce in almost same fashion, who do you think will stay with you between your performers and non-performers? If you don’t want your workplace to be a resting place for non-performers, you not only need to investigate reasons behind your employee’s decision to leave you but also to stay with you. You need to ensure that workforce holidaying at work is not the main reason for your lower attrition rate.

Knowing performer’s contribution to your attrition rate helps you to understand this number better and helps you to make required changes in your efforts towards addressing employee turnover. One-size-fits-all solution seldom works. You have to diagnose your people’s concerns in-depth before arriving on corrective actions. You need to verify early and verify often that your diagnosis is not only correct but also relevant.

It will be disastrous to depend only on the reasons recorded during exit feedback as truth may never prevail from there. It’s a mistake to expect correct feedback on your exit door at the time when “Do-not-burn-the-bridges” is the main mantra.

Neither the problem of employee turnover is new nor do the various claims to address it. Same age-old tactics to solve employee turnover problem will not give you new results. You should not dream to stop employee turnover altogether nevertheless you must try hard to save you performers. You need to understand why your performers are (or will be) leaving you. And try to address their concerns keeping in mind that:

  • No magic pill exists; you need to understand the problem before searching for a solution.
  • Conversation is the key; keep all forms of communication open.
  • Acting on employee’s feedback-data on time will save time and money for you.
  • Copying solutions blindly is a stale idea instead work on a solution tailored or designed for your need.
  • You must develop a culture of trust; nothing will ever work without it.

Posted in leadership, management | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Who is setting goals for you?

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on April 19, 2012

 

Your ability to accomplish or outperform predefined goals at workplace determines your success. Goals can be your performance appraisal goals or your divisional performance goals; it can be organization wide product delivery targets or sales target. Whether you are celebrating your success or striving to achieve one, it’s important to retrospect your goals-setting process  and your role in the process.

Three most commonly observed patterns at workplace are:

  1. You set goals for yourself as well as for others, either due to your authority, influence or charisma but you don’t believe in considering suggestions from others.
  2. You set goals for yourself as well as for your team and you are open for ideas; you not only involve others but also adopt meaningful suggestions from them.
  3. You barely get involved in goal-setting process. You are happy to take whatever comes to you.

Where do you fit in? If you find yourself aligned with the first or third pattern, it’s advisable to reconsider your strategy.

It’s very likely that you are pushing someone to adopt behavior as in pattern one because you don’t want to come out from third pattern. As a leader, you need to participate and voice your opinion in goal-setting process at your level, to make your organization a better place to work. Moreover, your willingness to listen to others without being cynical is also critical.

Keep in mind, all the three patterns mentioned above may bring you success, but if you are aspiring for success that lasts, you need to make serious endeavors to move towards the second pattern. Being a dictator or a silent observer on all the occasions doesn’t work but working together works most of the times.

Posted in leadership, management | 2 Comments »

The art of appreciation at workplace

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on March 11, 2012

Achievers believe in pushing the boundaries, setting the stretched goals and delivering the sustainable results. If you have these achievers in your team, they must be making you shine, but don’t forget to appreciate them in a meaningful way to keep their spirits alive.

You need to practice effective communication to convey the appreciation message without any ambiguity. Just saying that you appreciate their efforts is not enough till you show same by your actions too.

Appreciation can be anything which matches the degree of achievement, e.g. an award, a formal email, a certificate, a bonus, or a promotion. Don’t forget to taste your own pill before you give it to workforce. You can predict their reaction by placing yourself in their shoes and it will help you to choose the correct form of appreciation too.

Appreciation should be on time, every time. If you have a system, which forces achievers to pass through a queue before receiving any appreciation, you need to make sure that people don’t get stuck in that queue.

It’s human nature to expect an appreciation. And as a leader, it is your job to make sure that you know and practice the art of appreciation. An appreciation, which comes late or lacks in the value, is as good as no-appreciation.

 

Posted in engagement, leadership, management | Leave a Comment »

Are you well equipped to combat discrimination at workplace?

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on February 19, 2012

Many employers claim to be an equal opportunity employer and theoretically no one supports discrimination, but there are still lots of reported cases of discrimination. A press release from EEOC reports that private sector bias charges hit all-time high in fiscal year 2011.

Do you have a well established system to combat discrimination at workplace?

Agree that we have come a long way, but not far enough.

You need to respect, protect and accomplish the right of equality and non-discrimination at workplace. Some tips to combat discrimination are:

  • Publicize your commitment for non discrimination.
  • Adopt effective measures through training, promotion and regular adherence check.
  • Awareness raising measures should target all the employees without any exception.
  • Have a system in place which can alert you for potential discrimination cases in a timely manner. Mine the data to expose the hidden facts.
  • Keep an ear out for “noise”. Provide a platform to report the incident or for seeking help.

Fairness in treating people without prejudice is not optional, every discrimination incident may not result in a lawsuit but it surely results in a broken employee engagement.

Posted in engagement, management | Leave a Comment »

 
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