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Did you build a Personal Brand to advance your career goals ?

Posted by Ravi Banda on September 14, 2010

Going to school on a Sunday morning didn’t sound like a good plan but the seminar on “Personal Branding” as part of Leadership Development series at UC Berkeley was very intriguing so I finally decided to go. I wasn’t disappointed as the speaker William Arruda gave a bunch of good tips on building a personal brand and using it to achieve our career goals.

Recently, the topic of “personal branding” is inviting lot of debate as some are taking a fanatical approach to it and on the other side we have people completely discounting it as another fad. I believe that there is a middle ground that we need to work towards and when rightly used – our personal brand can help us grow in our career as well as open up new opportunities.

I wanted to share the tips (again credit to William) that I gained from this seminar.

Stand out

    Peer comparison is something that cannot be avoided in an organization and as we grow up further in our career the competition gets intense so it’s important to distinguish ourselves and show or bring that additional value to our organization. I can give few examples that I am following in my work activity – “proactive in communication rather than reactive”, “build networks outside the organization and leverage the network to get things done“, “speak up more”, “contribute to strategic goals rather than just being in an project execution role”. You need to take a close look at the things that you can do to provide additional value to the organization and then work on it.

    Be your own boss

    This is taking your career management into your own hands as Meg said in “Are you fully utilizing your potential?”

    Forget the ladder

    We see the career progression as a ladder where we move up one step at a time and at the moment of taking the next step we get into a frenzy of activity like activating our professional network, brushing up our resume / skills and pulling in recommendations etc. Once we move up to the next step – we kind of settle into ease till we start the process all over again.

    So, instead of treating the career progression as a ladder, let’s look it as a “ramp” – so that we are continuously engaged in activities that are geared towards our career progression. The projects we are involved in, the new connections we build – let’s look at them as helping us to move forward in our career and at the same time let’s not forget – we also have to “GIVE” back to our network and help our network achieve their own career goals as well.

    Build your brand

    This is a 3-step process – Extract, Express and Exude.

    1) Extract – this step involves looking at your career goals, values, passions and see if we can align them. We can use Strengths Finder test to know our strengths and then do a 360 Feedback to really know the kind of image we are projecting and whether they are matching with our strengths. If they don’t match – we need to work on addressing them.

    2) Express – Evaluate our communication skills and focus on the strengths as well as areas of improvement and communicate them to the people that we interact with. Key thing is that when we are expressing our strengths / values, they  should be CLEAR, CONSISTENT and CONSTANT

    3) Exude – this involves creating an environment which represents our brand and this can be your communication, actions, one’s appearance, online profiles, blogs, newsletters and even simple stationary items.

    I have definitely started to take the steps towards building my brand and use it for achieving my career goals and blogging is definitely one part of the plan 🙂

    I will appreciate if you have anything to share on how you are building your personal brand and how that’s contributing to your career !!

    Posted in Career Development, goals | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

    Feedback process and the timing

    Posted by Ravi Banda on September 2, 2010

    As part of our daily work life – there are many instances where we give compliments / coaching tips to our teams and similarly we receive the same. I see that the “timing” of the feedback plays a key role in the quality of the feedback and the impact it has on the recipient.

    In Physics – there is Inverse Square Law which says that the physical quantity or strength is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source. Similarly, I propose an Inverse Feedback Law which says that the quality of feedback is inversely proportional to the time delay in giving the feedback. In simpler words, the longer we delay in giving the feedback, the smaller the impact on the recipient. Yes – that’s the outcome of my engineering brain mixing up with my managerial role 🙂

    Looking at the role of a Manager, it’s important for him/her to continuously monitor the performance of their team members. For tasks done individually, it will be good for the Manager to quickly review it with the team member and compliment on the work done. If there is a scope for the task to have been done in a better way, the Manager should share it immediately with the team member. If the task has been done through collaboration, the Manager should collect feedback from the involved team members and share it with their team member. If there are tasks done by the Manager – they also should be open to get feedback from their team. Now you can see where this is heading – the feedback process should be a continuous activity – not something that’s done every 6 months or one year. The employee and manager shouldn’t have to go back into memory and think about all the work being done and similarly the 360 feedback reviewers don’t have to go through the same exercise.

    As long as the Employee’s work is being tracked through their Goals, we should be able to collect the feedback instantly – I call this “Real time feedback” and Justin also talks about this in his post on performance reviews. Going into the depths of the feedback process – some individuals are very diligent. They give feedback / collect feedback promptly but some people put it off due to work pressure / time constraints. I see that this is where the Goal Management system should step-in and help Employees / Managers to collect feedback. Let’s say that a Goal has been completed and the system should trigger off notifications to people asking for feedback and make it available for review. We also can show the Activities that the individual engaged or contributed to so that we can get a more qualitative feedback. This way – we are having the continuous feedback activity and by the performance review time – most of the grunt work is already done !!

    Welcome your comments.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    How do you deal with a star performer that is a loose cannon?

    Posted by Ravi Banda on August 28, 2010

    We all would have worked with or come across people in our organizations that are star performers – and these folks can be in a variety of roles, all contributing tremendously towards the achievement of critical organizational goals.

    We all appreciate their contributions and most of these star performers are great team players but in this post I want to talk about the star performers who leave a trail of damage behind them, usually this will be in the form of hurt feelings and humiliation in their fellow team members. In the extreme case, these “stars” can cause their teammates  to move to different teams or even leave the company.

    Even in an organization that puts strong focus on mutual respect and sharing between its workforce the situation can result in

    –          The star performer’s liability/damage being disregarded by the management as they don’t want to upset the star performer and this worsens the situation (or)

    –          Coaching is provided for the star performer to help them work better in a team environment

    What if the coaching doesn’t work and the star performer doesn’t change his ways?

    The star performer should be let go.  Simple – an organization’s values cannot be compromised for the sake of an individual how much ever good the person is.

    It will be good to hear your experiences on dealing with star performers that are not team players and if / how anything made them change their behavior?

    Posted in performance | 3 Comments »

    Bringing order to a chaotic work day

    Posted by Ravi Banda on March 9, 2010

    My usual day started with early morning meetings, catching up on email, looking up my memory for the to-do tasks and following up with my team by writing more emails, participating in meetings, and resulting in more emails.

    As you can imagine, it was pretty hectic, a reactive work style and of my own doing. However much I tried to come out of it, I sunk in further so decided to take help from the “Productivity” class – one of the cool benefits of working @ Oracle is the access to a wide-variety of development tools (ok – I had to put in my compliments for Oracle somewhere 🙂 )

    My style is now “task based” and its simple –

    • I am writing down all tasks – work and personal (using Outlook) with the goal of not relying on memory.
    • I have set myself a frequency on checking mail (every 1 hour)
    • I am now quickly processing the mail and dividing into 3 buckets
      – If it can be replied quickly in 1 min or less, do it immediately.
      – If it needs an action or following up with someone, create a Task for it and set a Start Date and Due Date. The tendency is to focus more on Due Date but at the same time “Start Date” is critical, as setting it correctly based on the work load for today / tomorrow and the current week, will determine how successfully I will get to it and complete it.
      – If it’s a FYI mail, move it into an archive folder and rely on “search” tools to find it later
    • All I am now focused is to get the Tasks done and yes – writing this blog post was a task for Today.

    I now have a “0” mail Inbox and a healthy list of 30 tasks that I need to do this week.

    The added benefit of having Tasks is that I can now lookup my Tasks for the last week and send my Goals mail (which is the work I did last week + work to do this week) to my team. For some of the larger tasks – I can also pull them easily into my performance review document

    My team is also following this approach, and as a result, we are all now competing with each other to show who is more productive. And, just the fact that, I have come out of a 2 year blog hibernation shows how happy I am with the new “me”.

    What about you ? Do you have any productivity tips to share ?

    Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

    Moneyball in Cricket

    Posted by Ravi Banda on June 12, 2008

    IPL - Winning team - Rajsthan Royals

    In Moneyball – the author looks at the Rajasthan Royals (an Indian Professional League cricket team) and how the coach and captain took a statistics heavy approach to running the team..

    Wait..you should be thinking, isn’t the Moneyball about the MLB’s Oakland team 8-/ .. yes, you are absolutely right. This is just a twist on the Moneyball theory applied to a completely different setting and a different game . 

    Let me take you straight to the stats. Eight teams competed in the IPL tournament and the owners of the team bidded for players from a pool and at the end – following are the teams and how much they have spent.  The team which paid the highest was Kolkata – $6,022,500  and the team which paid the least was Rajasthan (Jaipur) – $2,925,000

    Can you guess who the winner was?

    If you had guessed Jaipur (Rajasthan Royals), you are absolutely on spot. The Jaipur team had won (11 of the 14 matches including the Finals) and have been crowned champions. There might be arguments about how some teams had to deal with injuries, players pulling out etc. but lets focus on the main question.. how did a team which had put the least money went the farthest?

    Following is the quote from their captain:
    “The 38-year-old coach and captain revealed the secret behind Rajasthan Royal’s brilliant run in the tournament. Having just four days with the squad before the start of the IPL, Warne said he along with performance coach Jeremy Snape and director of coaching Darren Berry worked day and night to get an idea of what his players were capable of. When we reached here we wanted a background of all the players through the local coaches, which unfortunately we didn’t get. We played two practice games straightaway and watched every player in detail as to how they approached the game, their shot making, running between the wickets, fitness and other aspects,”

    In Jaipur’s case, the coach and captain had to deal with Talent on hand and identify the strengths and weaknesses and devise ways to put together a stronger team. The decision making for the captain was also easy as he knew well about their team members.

    Isn’t this the situation we constantly face? We always don’t have the option of getting new talent, but we have to work with existing talent and identify and develop the necessary skillset to meet our objectives.

    Posted in analytics, teams | Tagged: | 7 Comments »