Thursday, 20 March 2014

9 Tips for Setting The Anchor Rightly To Ensure Safety In Troublous Times

A rising tide lifts all boats. But a falling tide does the maximum damage to those boats that are poorly anchored. If your boats are rightly anchored, it could keep you out of a lot of trouble. Setting that anchor correctly could be the only thing that keeps you and your boat from drifting onto the beach or up onto the rocks.

In business, a leader can do so with the right advice that he receives as counselling tips from  his experienced and seasoned mentors.

Every one of us gets quite a bit of advice in our lives. It is always free.Often, the best advice is unsolicited. It always leaves a mark. Deeply embedded in our memory, we remember it while casting about for answers and brainstorming solutions to vexing problems, challenges, or situations. Successful entrepreneurship is all about choosing which advice will work for us, help us flourish and to profit maximum from it. And no, when we say profit, we do not mean “making money “.

In high growth times, when things are going great, we can certainly afford to overlook  these valuable sharing but when the things are turning down  ,we tend to forget- ignore these small yet powerful wise advises  .This package of sage and priceless advice is apt for turbulence times.
  1. Help People Thrive By Creating Sustainable Performance: Creating the conditions for thriving requires constant engagement and concerted attention by the leader. If a leader gives his employees a chance to learn and grow, help them grow and remain energised at work, they will thrive and so will the organisation.
  2. Employ The Right Person - Hire Excellence: As a leader, one needs to find the right team, which can not only build a great product or strategy but also attract a great group of people who can actually realise the vision.
  3. Your Inner Voice Is Your Best Buddy: In adversity and in the most trying times, our values which shape the inner voice can guide us to the right decision. If all predictions, statistics’, data and analysis and also the larger company wisdom drive you in one direction, but your DEEP INNER CORE is not comfortable - DON'T DO IT! Likewise, if most people tell you it is a too risky a move or  it's not a good idea whether it is business or people, but you deeply feel it is the right thing to do - Listen to your inner voice. Trust your judgment. Follow your belief without fear.
  4. Always Chose To Take The Highway – The Main Road : When you have a highway to reach a destination, do not choose lanes and by lanes.
  5. Managing Risks Intelligently : Risk management is nothing but a disciplined approach in value creation and it is a rigour of improving the probability of survival and success, especially in uncertain and complex environment. As a leader, one has to take only one degree turns in war situations as one needs to minimize his or her exposure and risk. Large turns can happen during peace-time.
  6. Keeping Your Worst Critic Closest To You: As they say, your worst critic could well turn out to be your best friend. If you care to listen, you will at least be aware of the possibilities and implications, before you make up your mind.
  7. Create new game – new normal - next practise: Challenge the status quo and to not be daunted by a change in orbit. Identify new possibilities by focusing on the weak signals. Amplifying these signals and leveraging the opportunities that emerge from them offer businesses the ability to continuously reinvent themselves. This is what we call the Next Practice." The Next Practice is about "creating new rules and a new game".
  8. Always Question Everything And Fearlessly: The easy way in out in any situation is to accept things as they are. Questioning helps you invite change and open new possibilities. So question fearlessly, and you will end up finding answers you never thought of.
  9. Try New Ideas – Take Tough Decisions And Turn A Challenge In To Opportunity: Don't just shy away from trying newer ideas and taking tough decisions, because it is your ability to think differently – out of the box and to take tough decisions that often yield the best outcomes. The road less traveled could turn out to be fascinating and wondrous; just know the other side, so you are well prepared.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Creating Greater Visibility Through Workplace Transformation Initiative

                                                       BEFORE                              AFTER

Employees spend more than 90 % of their time with emails, meetings, phone calls; all are facilitated by the traditional workplace.It is the time we admit the fact that most of our workplaces still have ugly looks due to pathetic housekeeping standards. We tolerate an incredible amount of filth.Thye are cluttered with messy desks, unorganised records and lot of dirt. These all are good indicator of lack of our good and effective housekeeping sense. It gives a clear impression of an overload of work and lack of care taken by its employees. It is generally observed that we have abysmal standards of hygiene in workplace.

In this era of mounting complexity - with growing businesses and expanding customer base with ever increasing files, papers and physical records against squeezed office space, managing and keeping workplace utmost organised, clean and cluttered free calls for an enormously valuable skill. The organisation in such a fast phase competitive world, by chasing numbers -growing too swiftly, may end up losing sight of the customer.

How can we live in such filth. Why do we care most about our homes and not about the workplace where we actually pass more time compared to our home. Is it because that is someone else’s job.
It is high time for us to do something about it. Only we can save us from ourselves .It is about our attitudes and a rooted cultural behaviour.

In such a scenario, if we keep a close look at global best practices that could help improve the customer experience, it ultimately leads us to practice Five S, a Japanese concept – one of the basic tenets of lean manufacturing, used mainly on manufacturing shop floors around the world. Five S is a part of the kaizen family that talks about continuous innovation and improvement. It was originated in Japan as a work-environment enhancing measure, but gradually after experiencing immense benefits, a strong belief was developed that it as a visually-oriented exercise which is useful not just for improving the physical environment, but also for improving Total Quality Management (TQM) processes.

It is nothing but a quality initiative and workplace transformation exercise to keep the workplace in order and, when it is actually implemented across the organisation, it appears functional with many tangible benefits. The dominating principle of Five S is to create ownership for every object in the organisation, so that nothing is neglected.  More importantly the benefits are visible immediately and up front.

The five S's are: seiri (sorting out), seiton (systematic arrangement), seiso (spic-n-span),seiketsu (standardise) and shitsuke (self-discipline).   

Life at the workplace becomes simpler after Five S and that is proven fact.
  1. Clean, Hygienic and Transformed Workplace: Five S transforms workplace- an office that is clean, organised, tidy and neat makes the workplace more productive and work environment more conducive.
  2. Improved Record Retrieval Time: There is more science to file-keeping. Files are cross referenced in alphabetic order by date and by month –making retrieval far simpler. Thus it saves immense time which can be used in other productive activity, affecting the bottom line.
  3. Effective Employee Engagement: It is totally an employee driven initiative and It can be easily be followed by everybody from peon to president. The best thing about Five S is that it is extremely simple and yet powerful. It is a technique that involves small improvement suggestions on a regular basis rather than drastic changes very rarely.
  4. Building Culture of Change: As the improvements are made regularly and employees are awarded, a culture of change is built up within the company.
  5. Creation of Huge Free Space and Waste Management: Its implementation is nowhere easy .Each of the employee has to grudgingly give up their weekends to come in office and genuinely clean their workplace. One does not need to scrub office floors or wash used coffee mugs but one has to do everything else like empting out filing cabinets and drawers and retain only what is absolutely essential ,the organisation thus can free up huge amount of storage space.
  6. Immense Cost Saving: Five S contributes generously by making up huge savings as wastage costs are significantly reduced. Further there are usually no costs or minimal costs to actually make the improvements.
  7. Brand Improvement: Five S helps in enhancing enterprise image to customers, suppliers, employees, and management as the 5S condition of a work area is critical to the morale of employees and the basis of customers’ first impressions. The Five S practice not only helps to impress the customers but also to establish effective quality processes for good services and products.
In short,it is all about Implementation, Sustenance and Continuous Improvement.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Building Enduring Relationships & Bringing Transformation Through Reverse Mentoring

The other day my 8 years old daughter was teaching my father ‘How to effectively surf the newly purchased LED TV, record programmes and pictures, where to check the message s sent by the service provider so on and so forth.

What do we call such type of learning process? Why companies call the young and the inexperienced to coach older professionals? The answer is straight here.

As the world's demographic curve leans swiftly towards the next generation, organisations are faced with younger consumers and employees and with new technology and newer digital ways of doing business. The young and inexperienced can now teach the veterans a trick or two.

Now the center of gravity of experience and learning has moved down, to the select few who know more about new changing world and who can do a hawk-eyed scrutiny of competition the world over. The company identifies such candidates to coach and handhold their seniors in various domains. In one-to-one formal sessions, these selected juniors pass on their learning to the seniors

Keeping this concept in mind and to leverage and derive the maximum out of it, the companies have increasingly started adopting creative ways of coaching – mentoring such as Reverse Mentoring. It is an initiative in which older executives are paired with and mentored by younger employees. The mentoring sessions are formal: the one-on-one sessions that take place typically last for one to two hours. Learning continues informally too. It's very formal, face-to-face. Reverse mentoring can be structured or unstructured, formal or informal. Whatever the style, the learning is always two-way.

Reverse mentoring has become crucial given the rate at which things are changing around us as the skills seniors have grown up with are dramatically different from the skills and capabilities needed in the future.It is equally important for leaders to realize that they do not know everything .

One of the senior executive had rightly quoted while being mentored that “Leadership is not just about learning the ropes; it is also about acting as the customer while being mentored “. One has to go through the experience like a student. The mentoring is like going from PowerPoint presentation to reality.

Who Gets What !!!!!

  • The challenge of mentoring a leader exposes the mentor to venture into unexplored territory – something that he may not be doing in is daily routine work life.
  • The exercise helps the mentor to build strong confidence in self
  • A mentor gets valuable insights and access to treasure of experience for his/her own personal development
  • The mentee is the primary beneficiary of the relationship as he or she is learning new skills and knowledge from his or her mentor.
  • He gets to understand the real market dynamics, consumer preference of the youth segment and perspective of young employees  which is becoming increasingly relevant for better work culture and business too. 
  • Ensures Meaningful Engagement:Reverse mentoring helps rejuvenate and re-energies old employees and keep young employee meaningfully engaged. The exercise helps engage his/her team better by understanding their needs and desires. Juniors engages in such relationships strongly feel that they get the opportunity to work and observe senior leaders closely, and gain critical, first-hand experience on the way things are handled at senior levels. Seasoned managers and their companies gain by becoming more alive to the needs of younger customers and employees.
  • Building Strong Relationships: It helps improve relationships between the different generations in the workplace. It helps in building strong bonding between the leadership and the next generation.
  • Encouraging Constructive and Fresh Ideation : Beyond learning , it throws up young ideas,as some of the youngsters have creatively intelligent ideas to share. A reverse mentor could be a good sounding board for the mentee to test and develop ideas.
  • Both Can Profit From Association : It is a symbiotic relationship similar to a Small Blackbird Plover removing tiny morsels of food from African Crocodile’s Teeth .The former gets the teeth cleaned ‘free of cost ‘and the later gets the food – both the parties gain out of association. The school room logic surprisingly applies in the corporate world as the leadership will come to know what younger generation is thinking. And on the other hand, the youngsters also get an opportunity to know where the company is going in terms of direction. Thereby they start to take lot of ownership. Both will benefit as it connects senior leaders with younger high performers.
  • EGO Breaking Exercise: In older days, the senior management was considered to be the repository of knowledge. As the time moved, the executives began to realize that knowledge isn’t a one-way street. A trick to success in reverse mentoring is an ability to create and maintain an attitude of openness to the experience and dissolve the barriers of status, power and position. I will call it an ego breaking exercise.

During my stint as a leader for more than 10 years , I did learn lot of new things from my team members - young colleagues.What about you ? Do share you experiences as well. 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Leading From The Front : Qualities,Habits And Style Of Highly Successful Leaders

I read books, journals, publications, research papers. I read people, personalities their lives and faces too. I read and re-read them and derive the positive things. And the biggest take aways – learnings – are that 
  • Leaders have to be courageous as leadership is all about courage .There is no leadership without courage; courage to do what is right, to admit one's mistakes, to accept that peers can be smarter and better, and to take tough and unpleasant decisions.
  • The most successful leaders - most of them in the world have been utmost humble and down to earth. They are simple, easy to understand and approachable enough.
  • They value people and their emotions. They treat them kindly. They are empathetic and able to see things from other's perspective.
  • They understand that it is a small world and word travels quickly, people have long memories, good deeds will be rewarded and slights are never forgotten. So do not burn any bridge and do not try to make any enemies - you never know where people will show up again in your life.
  • They are sincere and honest in their dealings 
  • They are knowledge hungry ,understand business well
  • They are self-aware 
  • They are avid readers and they communicate well
  • They are good orators - most of them 
  • They throw positive energy 
  • They carry lot of wisdom 
  • They have good sense of humour 
  • They can visualize .They reduce complexity and make things simple.
  • They think differently – to innovate. They practise Quality.
  • They are themselves. They know that they know. They are brand within and in outside world
  • They motivate others to excel , build confidence in others and provoke positive change 
  • They encourage smart risk taking and credit others for their success 
  • They can draw strength from adversity 
  • An effective leader understands PR well and uses it too.Peter F Drucker,the well-known management guru, had once quoted that one of the top priorities of a business leader is to network, socialize ,and maintain great PR ( Public Relations ). It is all about great relationships that you maintain with your clients, suppliers, stakeholders, peers, employees and every other person you come in the contact with. 

I am eager to know what do you as a reader think about the leaders and their qualities,habits and style.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Stories That Coach : Explore and Re-Imagine To Revive - Widen Your World


Here is a story that coaches , to share with you all.

As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held only by a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they could not , they were stuck right where they were.  
Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging on to a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?  

Failure is part of learning; we should never give up the struggle in life.We must develop the wisdom to learn from failure as it throws greater opportunity to learn and unlearn something.

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all-marketing based on generalities.Having burned its fingers in China,even Amazon - the world's largest online retailer is carrying a torch for India.

Organisations follow such wisdom ,are extraordinarily rare .With strong conviction and able leadership,such organisations have been able to reinvent themselves .What they are doing is a benchmark for the rest of the world   as they practiced Quality.They are able to do what they do because the organisation they have developed is listening to customers - both internal and external effectively,enriching the life of others and optimizing the perfection model.

We have the potential to lead the world,but what is pulling us down is the mindset we carry.Remember - A quality mindset can bring required change .We as a person should think quality and believe in self.We should strongly feel quality is our own business.

Widen your world by enlarging your thinking !!!!! 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Teaming Up To Succeed - Tips For Developing Cohesive Teams

The other day I was watching ( and listening to ) one of the popular sports channels ,I heard the commentators explaining the success of these unlikeliest of heroes as, “Team players playing as a team.” Exceeding expectations as a team. United by tenacity. United by desire.

A sense of being a team and working as a team are powerful things, and time and again, in sports and in life, we see individuals united in collaborative efforts achieving goals far beyond what each could do on his or her own.
The following story will better explain my view on what best can be derived by teamwork.Here it goes.... 
A consultant was asked to give a talk at a sales conference. The CEO asked him to focus on the importance of cooperation and teamwork between the sales and marketing teams, since neither group had a particularly high regard for the other, and the lack of cohesion and goodwill was hampering effectiveness and morale. 
The marketing staff used to constantly moan about the sales people 'doing their own thing' and 'failing to follow central strategy'; and the sales people said that the marketing people were all ' idle theorists who waste their time at exhibitions and agency lunches' and have 'never done a decent day's work in their lives'.
Being a lover of rugby, the consultant decided to use the analogy of a rugby team's forwards and backs working together to achieve the best team performance:
"......So, just as in the game of rugby, the forwards, like the marketing department, do the initial work to create the platform and to make the opportunities, and then pass the ball out to the backs, the sales department, who then use their skills and energy to score the tries. The forwards and the backs, just like marketing and sales, are each good at what they do: and they work together so that the team wins..." said the consultant, finishing his talk.
The audience seemed to respond positively, and the conference broke for lunch. At the bar, the consultant asked one of the top sales-people what he'd thought of the analogy - had it given him food for thought ?
"Yes, I see what you mean," said the salesman, "It does make sense. The sales people - the backs, yes? - the backs need the marketing department - the forwards, yes? - to make the opportunities for us, so that we, the backs, can go and score the tries - to win the business. We work together as a team - each playing our own part - working as a team."
In any organization the craft of teamwork is an important characteristic that forges the road of success. When a group fails to successfully collaborate, they fail as a whole and nothing good comes out of it.Teamwork is the basic and crucial element for productivity at work.

Bringing together the knowledge ,interests and experiences of employees is a great way to strengthen internal communication.Initiatives to bring about effective team work are necessary at all times to ensure a smooth and happy work environment .Needless to say,such an environment is conducive to increased productivity.

Perhaps even more important to realize is that when a team is not effective, it runs the risk of causing more damage than good. In an organization this can mean the failure of projects, added expenses, lost time, and added stress to the team members.

Through effective teamwork, a team becomes a high performance team that is capable of accomplishing unimaginable things.

What are your opinion for teamwork and benefits of developing cohesive teams.

Sunday, 5 January 2014