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Archive for the ‘management’ Category

Customers and Employees: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on January 15, 2012

Do you treat your employees the way you treat your customers?

You may need some serious thinking before you answer this question.

Customers are your key to business survival. Initial few customers are very important and critical for your business to sustain. Over the period your customer base increases and when you have many customers, you start giving more attention to some over the others as they add more value to your business. To manage your customers properly, you divide them in groups based on the value they bring to your business. Some customers are always special to you and you will not hesitate to go an extra mile to keep them happy.

Similar to customers, employees are also a part of your business. If you replace the word “Customers” by “Employees” in the above paragraph, you will still find it relevant and true.

I agree – You cannot survive in any business unless you have happy customers, but without happy employees you cannot keep your customers happy. There are two schools of thought on who should come first. One school recommends putting employees first. The other school of thought, however, feels that customers should come first. Whichever school of thought you belong to, you need to come up with a winning strategy, which can help you to keep your customers happy and employees motivated.

Employees and customers both need your time, attention, and care. Keeping both of them happy is the only key to your success; after all they are the two sides of a coin called business. Do you agree?

Posted in management, Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

Is your compensation hierarchy flexible enough?

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on December 13, 2011


Deciding on who will get involved in the compensation allocation process varies from organization to organization and there is no fixed formula or hierarchy which suites all of them.

We usually have leads in organization structures to provide work direction to others. However, you may not want them to be included in compensation decisions. Hence, existing supervisory or position hierarchies may not work as your compensation allocation hierarchy for various reasons.

Who will get what in an employee stock options plan is decided by one set of people, usually middle or higher management, whereas how much performance bonus needs to be given to an employee is decided by a different set of people, usually immediate manager or lower management. Different types of the compensation decisions are taken by different people in management chain and it’s not your immediate manager who will always call the shots.

It’s likely that once you start allocating compensation to your people, you will figure out that you don’t have enough information to allocate compensation for some people and it would be better if a better suited manager decided their compensation allocation. You definitely cannot afford to create a new hierarchy from scratch in this scenario as the system is already live.

To summarize, a fully flexible compensation hierarchy is very much needed to meet your business requirements.

Does your compensation system provide this flexibility?

A checklist which can help you to perform a readiness check on the flexibility of your compensation system includes:

  •  Ability to support a compensation hierarchy similar to or different from your existing HR hierarchy.
  •  Ability to further customize the compensation hierarchy by including or excluding identified people or roles.
  •  Ability to realign people within the customized compensation hierarchy on a real-time basis with zero downtime.
  •  Ability to have different customized compensation hierarchies for different types of compensation.

Compensation is a fundamental reason people work and the above checklist will help you to put the right compensation distribution responsibility into the right hands, which will result in a robust compensation system.

Posted in Compensation, management | 2 Comments »

Is there a magic pill to fix behavioral issues at work?

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on October 21, 2011

Increasing sales numbers of best selling management books and the presence of visionary leadership still fail to influence some areas of behavior at the workplace.  You can decide whether you really want the status-quo or you want to be a change agent; to make some difference in behavioral issues. Some examples of those behavioral issues at workplace are:

  • You need to send multiple reminders to the people so that they can complete their performance appraisal on time.
  • You know the people who are eating others’ time by asking irrelevant or obvious questions in business meetings.
  • You witness unethical behavior at workplace but are silent about it.
  • You are a victim of a flood of forwarded work emails.
  • You have people who are always working, or at the workplace, but they are not really productive.
  • Your process inspectors are too rigid and a drain on productivity.

Of course, I don’t have a magic pill which will fix these issues, but I do have a very simple prescription that will help:

  • Practice effective communication. It will help you address most of the issues. Establish direct communication channels wherever appropriate.
  • Never reward, ignore, or otherwise encourage wrong behavior, as it will help it to grow.
  • Attack the problem behavior, not the people. Coach them to unlearn the wrong behavior and learn the correct behavior.
  • Establish a proper feedback collection mechanism. Don’t try to change the people, but the conditions, as it will persuade them to change their behavior.

It is likely that you might have similar prescription,  but at the same time, do you still have these issues?  Just having a right prescription is not enough until you put it into action. Have you implemented anything better to remedy the behavioral issues at your workplace? Please share if you would like others to try out the same.

Posted in communication, leadership, management | 3 Comments »

Be empathetic towards your experienced workforce

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on October 1, 2011

Do you believe that your experienced workforce is contributing to the best of their ability, with clarity of purpose, and no action is required from your side to get them better?

You might already have an answer in your mind as you read on. We put a lot of energy, time and resources in planning, how to bring new employees on board (and it is very much required), but when it comes to our experienced workforce (I mean home grown), things go much differently and are often not well-planned.

As your experienced workforce has grown in the organization and you (as a manager) might be comfortable with them, they should neither be soft targets for your tough decisions nor should enjoy any undue advantages.

Simple things which will always be relevant and significant for experienced workforce includes:

We vs. I check: If you want your experienced workforce to contribute to the team’s success, you need to look at their contribution with a fresh perspective. You should not use old parameters and results to evaluate their contribution. If you really want them to be your asset and not the liability, a periodic check is required to ensure that they still value “We more than “I”.

Unambiguous communication“Can you get it done, you know how I want things to be?” You might have heard or delivered this communication quite often but it does not have a clear message.  Just because you believe that experienced workforce understand you better, doesn’t mean that the clear communication is not required. It is required for everyone in the organization and experienced workforce is no exception.

Appraisal: Performance appraisals are as critical for your experienced workforce as for any other employee. You should continue to use it as a tool to provide constructive feedback as well as to set mutually agreed upon objectives.

Keep the fire alive: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Your experienced workforce needs to prove their worth as well and need to keep fire alive in their belly to perform better. It is likely that they might have developed a “comfort zone”, but you need to create a challenging environment which can help them to step out of their comfort zone and perform better.

Last but not the least, be empathetic towards your experienced workforce as you need to understand their changing perspective to keep them at their best.

Posted in development, leadership, management | 4 Comments »

Seven keys to a robust compensation system

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on September 12, 2011


The seven keys to a robust compensation system that will help you in attracting, retaining, and motivating the workforce are:

  1. You should have a fair compensation policy in place and it should be easily accessible to your workforce.
  2. Your compensation policy should be context sensitive. Market data should be used wherever appropriate to keep it fresh and competitive.
  3. Your compensation revision schedule (e.g. salary revision cycle) should be communicated to the workforce in a planned manner and in advance. Open communication will help your workforce to focus on their duties instead of wasting energy and time in waiting and guessing about it.
  4. Compensation should be linked to the performance. It will keep performers motivated and will help you to retain them.
  5. Policy execution should be monitored regularly to make sure policy has “Buy in” at all the levels and execution is not diverting from the planned objectives.
  6. Your compensation policy should be open for feedback. Proper and industry accepted channels should be established to achieve this.
  7. You should have a built-in audit capability to detect and correct any compensation discrimination. It will save your brand and increase employee engagement.

Posted in Compensation, engagement, management | 5 Comments »

The Power of Developing Teams

Posted by Mark Bennett on August 21, 2010

Ravi and I had just been discussing the question of values and culture, when I saw Kris Dunn’s post on Which Managers Are Responsible for the Reality of Your Culture? All it Takes is One Question…

What I liked most was that Kris captured not only how managers and their behaviors are the real indicators of values and culture, but that perhaps the single most desirable value sought by employees is “they’re looking for managers who seem to care about development of their teams.”

This is a really powerful statement. Developing teams is key in two ways. First, developing people helps them find the meaning in their work. Done right, it links their passion to achieving the purpose the organization has laid out. Second, you are developing all the members of the team, which helps them see how, as each member brings their increasing knowledge and experience to the team as they develop, they in turn increase the knowledge of every other member of the team as well as that of the whole organization. But there’s a lot to making this happen.

But I Do Develop People!

First, the notion of developing individuals is seen as a risky proposition. If you invest in the development of someone and they leave, you’ve lost your investment. If they go to a competitor, it stings twice as much. Of course, your best people will leave if you don’t invest in their development, so what do you do? One thing that can help make the development investment create a tighter bond between the individual and the organization is to focus on things the individual is passionate about. In other words, rather than simply roll out a plain vanilla development plan, or throw a generic catalog at them, or stick them in programs or assignments that are tilted solely to what the organization needs, spend time to find what really makes them tick and help them create a plan (and a backup plan) that meets both party’s needs.

I know + You Know = We Know More

Second, the actual team aspect of development is often overlooked and that’s really a shame. This isn’t about everybody on the team getting the same development; it’s about how unique individual development and team development are intertwined and can amplify each other as well as create more cohesive teams. Instead of everybody getting the exact same development and thus very likely seeing others’ development as potential competition, each person brings their unique development experience into a truly collaborative team environment. That is, each person shares and exchanges their knowledge and what they’ve learned. This has multiple benefits – each person feels and is seen as a source of valuable knowledge and teaching to the other team members and everybody in total learns more than if they had all gone through the exact same development. It give them a greater sense of identity. What’s more, in the very act of sharing knowledge with their teammates, each person learns more about their subject because of the questions they get as well as their desire to teach it well.

We really believe in the positive impact these values have on organizational performance and it’s great to see the survey data back it up. Thanks for sharing with us, Kris!

Photo by papalars

Posted in development, leadership, learning, management, passion, teams | 1 Comment »

You Might Learn Something from a Pirate

Posted by Alex Drexel on October 4, 2009

BlackbeardAn article by Caleb Crain in the September 7th New Yorker provides a fascinating look into the business of being a pirate in the 17th century.  They were in some respects, quite forward thinking for their time when it came to keeping the crew aligned and motivated.  Most of us wouldn’t associate pay equity, performance based compensation and incentives, healthcare, democratic/bottom-up approaches to decision making, and racial tolerance with pirates, but research suggests otherwise.  Most of those practices came from the necessity of circumstances, rather than the existence of any higher ideals.

Before anyone was accepted into the crew, they had to agree to articles that dictated how booty, power and responsibility were shared on the ship – it created an at-will association that provided order.  Crew members knew in advance of any activity exactly what share they would receive and any add-on incentives they would be awarded for specific accomplishments.  Furthermore, an attempt was made to balance the shares paid out to the internal worth of each job – this included pegging the share the Pirate CEO (lead captain) received relative to the average man on deck.

For example, before the buccaneers, led by Captain Morgan, attacked Panama in 1670, it was agreed that Morgan would get 1/100 of the loot, while the rest would be divided in shares among the men.  Captains under Morgan got 8 shares, while each man got a single share. Those with specific skills received additional amounts; each participating surgeon got 200 pesos and any carpenters got an additional 100.  And there was incentive pay; anyone who captured a Spanish flag received 50 pesos, and the act of throwing a grenade into a fort got you 5 extra shiny pesos.  The agreement provided insurance against disability where the loss of an eye would yield 100 pesos and 1500 would be received in the unfortunate event of losing both legs!

Risk taking behavior was further encouraged through a crude form of estate planning (called matelotage), where two pirates agreed to keep the loot of whoever died first and distribute a portion to the dead man’s friends and family.

The system of paying out shares made every crew member an owner-operator which provided some alignment around the primary goal.  The democratic nature of decision making helped create buy-in and a sense of fairness among those who voluntarily served on the ship.  All decisions were voted on, including determining who would fill the role of captain.  The captain would have the authority to make executive decisions only in the heat of battle, otherwise, the crew members would have their say.  The captain could be deposed at any time by a vote, and was more or less seen as like any other crew member – the captain slept on deck with the rest of the men.

So while no one would agree with their profession, you might start to wonder if your organization is run as well as a pirate ship.  Is it?

Posted in Compensation, engagement, goals, leadership, management, teams | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

Promotions and job fit

Posted by Meg Bear on August 31, 2009

200915795_801b42a1fcSo often I see managers and employees confusing promotion with recognition.  This is a real shame, as often this doesn’t work out well for anyone.

Job recognition should come from your performance review and ideally as part of regular and continuous feedback you get from your boss, your peers and others that you work with.

Too often life imitates art and managers wanting to keep someone happy,  will grant a promotion with little or no consideration to the job fit question.  Promotion involves taking on a bigger or new role and should only be done if that role is a good progression for the individual.

I’ve seen a lot of cases where this is not done well and everyone can be hurt as a result.

The most frequent promotion blunder, is putting someone in a management role when this is not a good fit for their skills.  This puts not only the individual in a tough spot, but it also impacts those unfortunate individuals who are now reporting to someone who does not understand what the job requires.  Moving into a manager role is not a path to individual recognition, but rather a complete shift in the job skills, values and priorities.

I’m growing into the belief that we need to find better and more effective ways to recognize people vs. putting so much pressure on the promotion process.

Promotion should not be the individual  goal, job fit should be the goal.

If we do a better job identifying the roles that fit us and how we can best contribute, then it is much more clear when a promotion would be needed.  A promotion is really only then needed when you outgrow your current job.  Nothing more.

If you are not getting the right kind of challenges in your role, you need a different one.  If you are succeeding at your current role and are not bored or feeling underutilized you should consider this a great job fit and celebrate your own professional nirvana.

I think the message I learned at my first yoga class fits here precisely, you are not here to compete with anyone, not even yourself.

The sooner we focus on getting our job fit right, the happier and more successful we will be.

So the next time you talk to your boss about your role, I suggest you focus the conversation on job fit.  If that takes you both to the topic of promotion then so be it, but if not, hopefully it will lead to more job satisfaction and success.

Posted in Career Development, management, performance, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Confessions of a performance review convert: no pain, no gain?…no longer!

Posted by Louise Barnfield on August 27, 2009


I’ve noticed that performance review meetings with my manager have evolved over the past couple of years, and my performance document looks very different too. It has become a living, breathing document over the course of the entire year, and, as a result it is more complete and more relevant, both as a history and as a roadmap.

In the past, I admit I was prone to similar mistakes that Meg called out in an earlier post on performance reviews. Thanks Meg, I learned a lot from that post!

Happily, over time, she and others have encouraged me to improve my own self-evaluation process, and this in turn has provided better input for my manager, enabling him to make more comprehensive and constructive comments himself. I spend more time on the process than I used to, because it matters to me more – and it matters to me more, because it’s very evident that it matters to our management team.

Meg has strongly encouraged us to have more frequent reviews with our manager, to summarize progress on our goals, and adjust as necessary. On second thoughts, for ‘strongly encouraged’ read ‘mercilessly nagged’!! 🙂

When I perceive the importance that’s placed on this process, then I’m willing to invest more in it myself.

This has meant, for this past year in particular, that I’ve updated my performance document at quarterly intervals, which made the final summary far more manageable and more meaningful, as I could see my own progress over the entire year. Since I didn’t have to conjure up 52 weeks’ worth of information when faced with the end-of-year deadline, it also meant I spent that time more productively reflecting on the year’s events and on where I want to go in the future.

In support of this frequent update process, a recent BusinessWeek article, The Trouble with Performance Reviews, states: “…reviews occur too infrequently to provide meaningful feedback.” Luckily for me, many of the negatives raised in the article no longer apply to my performance reviews: we do “make criteria more explicit and objective and have more people involved in the ratings process, so that one person’s perceptions and biases don’t matter so much”; we do “focus more on facts and evidence and less on benchmarking and unexamined conventional wisdom.”

The annual task that I used to dread is no longer drudgery, it’s my opportunity.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not a breeze. I spent a long time thinking and working on this year’s self-evaluation, but it was a more satisfying process because I was able to focus my attention differently, and now that I see the positive outcome I certainly don’t feel the pain as I used to. So: less pain, more gain – gotta love that!

For those of you who lack the benefit of your own Meg kicking you up the proverbial backside, I encourage you to do yourselves a favor: proactively keep frequent notes and write your own quarterly review – schedule it in your calendar and don’t (as I’ve been known to do) let it slide into obscurity in deference to seemingly(!) higher priorities.

However, for those subjected to the same regular nagging that I am, be grateful that your managers encourage you to review your goals and keep them current. My management team recognizes the benefit of ensuring that team members are continually aligned to valid smart organizational goals, for the good of me as an individual as well as for the good of the team and the business.

I’ve already updated my 2010 performance document twice in the past 2 months! Quite a change for the person who (like our Ken) was previously dragged, kicking and screaming, through the once dreaded annual process.

Which are you, a diehard or a convert?

Photo by Little Jeanne

Posted in goals, management, performance, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Our Role As Leaders During Times Of Change

Posted by Vivian Wong on August 18, 2009

I recently attended a webinar titled “Remarkable Leaders Create Team Alignment” from the The Kevin Eikenberry Group. The seminar content resonated with me really well.

ducks crossing after the storm

I especially liked what Kevin said about our role as leaders during times of change:

Leaders need to focus the team on something positive, uplifting and productive. We don’t deny feelings of past staff cut, it’s our job to have a dialogue with people so they know we do understand them, use them as a jumping off point to get to the goal, re-energize them to give them something to focus on.”

One attendee asked: “How do you keep people calm in the midst of economic crisis?”

Kevin’s response was spot on: “Keeping people focused on the goal is key. We need to re-focus people on the organizational goal to help the organization be more successful and thus improve their chance of keeping their jobs.  The ONLY thing in one’s personal control is to do a great job.

Don’t you find it much more energizing to focus on goals rather than the alligators at your feet?

Working with “what is IN our control” rather than getting paralyzed by “what is OUT of our control” just makes perfect sense to me.

How do you navigate and lead your teams through times of change?

Posted in communication, goals, leadership, management, Uncategorized | Tagged: | 2 Comments »