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Thursday, 10 November 2011

Recruitment/Retention Challenges in Domestic BPO

Domestic BPOs in India operate under interesting circumstances. There are a wide variety of them offering services related to customer service (inbound and outbound voice processes), financial and banking related back office transactions. The domestic IT-BPO industry is expected to reach US$ 1.8 Billion by 2013 (Source: Gartner). There is a hugh focus by many large companies in providing BPO services to the domestic market. Terms such as “Rural BPO” have now become the buzzword in India today.
Domestic BPOWhile this growth is significant, it does bring about its own set of challenges. A key problem of a high growth industry is employee retention. One would assume that the talent retention problems afflicting BPO companies with domestic operations, would not be as severe as those with international operations. However, many companies in the domestic sector seem to have a far more severe problem with respect to this issue. Domestic call centers are the most affected with average tenures running at about 4 months in some companies. This obviously means that these companies will have challenges in providing the quality of service that their clients expect of them. In order to encourage talent retention, companies are trying a number of different techniques, many of which have already been used in international operations. The success rate, as reported by companies, has not been very encouraging. What then, is the root cause of such low retention?
In order to understand why domestic operations suffer from such situations, we need to understand the nature of the employees they hire. Lets take the example of a BPO company that provides call center services. The nature of work is related to standard customer service jobs including billing, address change, activation etc. Given below, is the profile of one of their employees, Gopal (name changed for obvious reasons).
Gopal’s Profile:

Gopal is 20 years old. He has studied till the 12th Standard, but never really took the 12th exam. His father was a mechanic at an automobile workshop and had an annual income of Rs. 200,000/- (Approx US$ 4500 per year). His father never finished high school. His mother is a home maker, but does odd jobs on and off, primarily as a domestic help. His mother studied till the 4th grade, after which she dropped out. Gopal has an older brother who does not hold a steady job. He is also a mechanic and has worked at various auto garages. He took up a job as a driver for a while, but went back to being a mechanic. Gopal’s younger sister, who is 19 years old, stopped going to school a few years ago. She works in a garment factory. His extended family consists of various cousins and uncles, all of whom are normally employed for about 8 to 10 months in a year. During this time, they tend to change 2 to 4 jobs. Most women either do not work, or hold jobs similar to that of Gopal’s mother. Gopal was smart and managed to learn English in an otherwise poor education system. While he would never qualify for a job in an international call center, his communication skills are sufficient for domestic centers. Gopal has held 3 jobs in the last 18 months, all of which were in domestic call centers. Each time he quit a company, he never informed his employers. Also, he quit on the day he received his salary. When asked a question as to why he quit, he could not pinpoint a specific reason, but cited many such as inconvenient work timings, stress at work, uncaring supervisor, better salary elsewhere etc.
There are many Gopals working in the BPO sector and they are the driving force behind the industry. But they also, unwittingly, place dampeners on their own growth and that of the industry through frequent job changes. What is it about the Gopals, that makes them behave the way they do? During the course of our assignments with clients in the Domestic BPO sector, we have had several realizations:
Reasons for Gopal’s Behaviour:
1. Emotional Maturity: Gopal’s background is such that he did not have the opportunity to emotionally develop himself to handle various situations. Both at school and at home, he probably never had the right role models, whose examples he could emulate. Therefore, his reactions to various situations he encounters, are not well thought through. For example, his inability to plan and prioritize would result in a perception that the work is very stressful. Also, poor social skills to manage various stakeholders at home and at work, would place addition pressure on him.
2. Peer group: Gopal’s peer group would probably have a similar profile to his own. Even as a group, their collective knowledge and maturity would still be limited, primarily due to lack of exposure earlier in life. They may not, for example, feel comfortable speaking their mind to the management. They will find it easier to stop coming to work. Its far easier for them to advice each other to quit companies rather than stay and resolve problems.
3. Job versus a career: This is, by far, one of the most important contributors to Gopal’s behavior. As of today, many domestic BPO companies are founded and run by professional managers whose background is quite different from that of Gopal. These managers are professional and understand the concept of building a career in a company over a longer period of time. However Gopal does not understand this concept. He has seen his brother, cousins and uncles view their own work as an independent series of “jobs”, rather than, as an integrated set using which one can build careers. To his father, who is a mechanic by profession, it did not really matter where he worked, because he will be doing the same type of work. There was no talk at home about career advancement, promotions etc. Given that this is the environment in which Gopal grew up, it is not surprising that he views his work as a “job” rather than as a “career” that can be assiduously built over time. Unfortunately, not all managers are able to recognize this because they have never been exposed to Gopal’s life. Therefore, they may continue trying retention techniques, that will not work on Gopal. What then, can be done, to retain Gopal in the company?
Solution 1: At OnTrac, we have helped domestic BPO companies address retention by creating a career simulation that new joiners will undergo as part of the onboarding process. This simulation lasts for a day, during which, participants need to make decisions for a hypothetical employe who faces a variety of realistic scenarios at the workplace. These could include an unsympathetic supervisor, high workload that lasts several days, frequent changing of shifts, working overtime, night shifts, temptations from friends to join other companies, calls from head hunters etc. Participants are divided into groups. Each group will need to make decisions based on the scenarios they receive. The decisions they make will determine the next scenario they receive. The decisions will also determine the career progress of the hypothetical employee. Finally, the instructor shows the right decisions that should have been made, to maximize career growth. The objective of this simulation, is to help participants:
a. Prepare for the situations they are likely to encounter in the workplace so that they can respond appropriately
b. Get them to understand the right decisions that they should take when they encounter these situations
c. Help them see the value of building a career and not look at their work as “just another job”
Further, we encourage our clients to conduct “mini” simulations every quarter to help employees remember the concepts of career building. This is to counter the recency effect, that afflicts most people, where they tend to remember events that took place in the recent past. Therefore, if employees have any reason to quit because of events in the recent past, it would be addressed by the simulation.
(The above is a generalization based on OnTrac’s consulting assignments with several clients in the domestic BPO sector. There are people with different profiles who exhibit other sets of behaviors)
Solution 2: Another solution, is for companies to de-skill tasks as much as possible. This provides two key benefits to companies. The first benefit deals with the expansion of the available workforce pool. Deskilling makes the work simpler and hence the number of people who can potentially do the job expands significantly. Therefore, the impact of attrition is reduced considerably. Also, the effect of wage inflation on the profitability can be brought under control. The second benefit is the potential to automate some of the operations post deskilling. When this occurs, it further reduces dependence upon high skilled workers, thereby reducing the impact of attrition. Deskilling, in general is somewhat harder to do because it involves re-engineering processes and will impact various stakeholders including customers. Also, it requires a higher degree of management. Therefore, it is an activity that needs to be well thought through.

Addition by Roshan Kumar

I recently meet leaders of 2 Domestic BPO, one into finance KPO and other was into Telecom BPO, both of them shared a common Problem of Loss in revenue due to non availability of Manpower.

Interestingly there were few clear facts also. Fact 1 Domestic BPO is based at Tier II, III city and was paying minimum wages of a semi skilled person, which is a good amount for a fresher in his home town wherein Finance KPO is based in metro city but was paying higher as they were looking for people with some accounting knowledge and skills.  Fact 2 India is a country of villages with only 25% urban population. Literacy ratio is increasing YoY, metros are getting huge influx of migrants and migrates crib about lack of opportunity in small cities.

Both the Problem statement and current situation of huge availability of young unemployed manpower raise a flag i.e Are we doing enough to ensure there is manpower OFF THE TAP? (my Ex Boss Rajiv Khanna CEO FLY Mobile taught me this word)

Biggest Bank SBI hire Probationary officers with condition to be posted at rural town for first 2 yrs however those new hire prefer taking 2 yrs unpaid leave to get posted at big city.  B Schools are not able to tell their students that a MBA from C,D grade  institute will have to do Direct Sales like insurance, D-MAT. Parents from villages don’t understand why their kid get first job of 7-8K pm even they took education loan of 3L.

Just on/off visit to education point/campus is just not enough today because a students who have born watching SRK achieving his each goal in real life will always run for the same and would not like to start from low and won’t mind struggling/doing hard work in big cities. however if we are able to educate the society, sarpanch, Institute owners, small such platforms, and other opinion leaders that BPO employs 2.2mm+ people so job offers, increment, promotions are likely hear more and a person is set to grow in rural BPO more than in metro cities as BPO want to operate in low cost of operation which is possible only if they move away from metro. 

We must keep in mind their is already stiff competition in market of talent acquisition and rural talent get other options of similar paying jobs so just squeezing every opportunity or throwing seeds every where is not enough,  BPOs need to create a structured program wherein a fresher feels a assurance of job after training from the organization on the same time BPO can ensure there is a funnel flowing talent inside as a ongoing process, such talent development factory should meet the demand of next 2-3 QTRs always.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

7 Tips on how you can achieve your goals?

1. Start Focusing on what you will do, instead of what you won't do. If you want to quit smoking then think how you will replace bad habits with good ones, instead of focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research shows trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in our mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken. if you are trying to gain control of your temper then you should make plan  to give  three deep breaths to calm down as a replacement for giving those breath to anger.
2. Always Be Specific. While setting goals be specific as far as possible. "Lose 4 Kg" is a measurable goal than "lose some weight," as it gives a clear idea of how success looks like. Knowing exactly goal keeps you driving till you get there.  Promise to “eat lesser" or "sleep longer" is not measurable. Always make it precise and clear. "I'll be in bed by 9.30pm on weekdays" it tells exactly clear what you want to do, and whether you did it or not.

3. Decide Time and Date for every goal. Due to busy schedule we miss on doing something even the small things like giving someone a call back or not attended guy or not attended a small function. Now the question you have to ask yourself is do you really don’t have time to hit gym today? Before achieving any goal we need to decide in advance where and when what action is to be taken to achieve the goal. Actually our brain gives us easy reminders if we inform our Brain what is our goal for each activity. 

4. Be optimist but realistic.  We should be positive thinker and optimistic while setting time lines for our goal however on the same time underestimate the difficult will later on haunt you badly when goal is not achieved. So Be very much Realistic.
 5. Be committed to face difficulties also. Being committed makes your mind working side by side and you start thinking what problem and solutions you will have while doing the task. Chances for success are more to those who are committed to face problem also.  If you have knowledge of your goals and difficulties but you have not made commitment to yourself to fight the odd, chances are you will lose the track sooner or later.
6. Don't leave it for fate. It’s important to have respect of limitation over your willpower sometime.  Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

7. Review and Calculate the % of Pendency. We need to monitor our progress — If you don't know how we have done till now then we can adjust our brain for next strategy. So we should check our goal on daily, weekly, frequency.
Authored by Roshan Kumar.    

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Don't wait for THINGS to happen, Make them Happen!

"I will give my life to play like you" said somebody from the audience while listening to a great musician."I have already given", said the musician.

Clarity of thought, sense of direction and ability to execute is the key necessary to achieve our aspiration. Lot of us aspire, however, when it come to perspiration, we fail to make the cut. If you want to be part of cream de la cream you need to have inspiration (10%) followed by perspiration (90%).

When we look at organization pyramid, 85-90% people are at staff level, 5-7% at middle management and 3-5% at top leadership. All of us know very few professionals become Leaders and rest follow them. Choice is nobody else, but our own - whether we want to be part of successful leaders group or want to be bracketed in the follower’s category. It take some EXTRA efforts to shift from Ordinary to EXTRA ORDINARY. It takes a while to be there. Trust me if you are honest to yourself and priorities are clear, you will certainly make it there. I have seen people start pretty well initially, however, they tend to loose the momentum afterward. Continuous rigor has to be there. As a professional, one should definitely have perspicacity and indefatigable approach towards the targeted goal. We must be able to visualize our successes in long term and create a documented plan with defined milestones to be successful.

Relentless Focus is inevitable. Never allow complacency to crop in, once it’s there you will certainly be deviated from your core objective. Everyone gets 24 hrs in a day; it’s up to us how we make a judicious use of our precious time. Time is very important; believe me every second counts in the long run. Life is like a 100 meters race and think of a sprinter’s pain if he looses the race by few micro seconds. Never loose the momentum, continuous effort has to be put in always. Look at Australian cricket team; they always maintain the top ranking in shorter and longer version of game. Their core strength is consistency and never say die attitude. They never allow opposition team to dominate them. They have their plans for individual players of the opposition team & they play mind game before the first ball is bowled.Create new work - In case you have spare time with you, do create a new work for you. Always engross yourself in some work or the other. Utilize time to work on self developmental needs. Don’t wait for your manager/supervisor to assign you with a new work. Be the first one to ask for the new work. You’ll certainly be acknowledged for your humility and honesty. Always leverage your execution ability and make it a hygiene.Sachin Tendulkar symbolizes high performance ; this is about performing in all kinds of testing environment, physically and mentally. He reinvents himself as per the need, while consistently being recognized as someone at the top of his craft. He epitomizes distinctive capability, and it is easy for us to aspire to be like him. High performance and adaptability is the key. I would recommend aspiring professionals to be sincere in approach in their professional career. It’s for their betterment only. “Too many people go through life waiting for things to happen instead of making them happen“.

Source: Raj @

When ever we come across such Kicking article, we also read one common question from different readers i.e " How do we ensure our daily routine schedule doesn't take us away from our Goal?".

I think we need to follow these steps to overcome this:

A. Draw SWOT for your career to create SMART Goals.
BInvolve a competent Mentor.
CReview your progress regularly with your mentor.

Addition by Roshan Kumar Rawat

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Twelve Attributes of a Truly Great Place to Work

More than 100 studies have now found that the most engaged employees — those who report they're fully invested in their jobs and committed to their employers — are significantly more productive, drive higher customer satisfaction and outperform those who are less engaged.
But only 20 per cent of employees around the world report that they're fully engaged at work.

It's a disconnect that serves no one well. So what's the solution? Where is the win-win for employers and employees?
The answer is that great employers must shift the focus from trying to get more out of people, to investing more in them by addressing their four core needs — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual — so they're freed, fueled and inspired to bring the best of themselves to work every day.

It's common sense. Fuel people on a diet that lacks essential nutrients and it's no surprise that they'll end up undernourished, disengaged and unable to perform at their best.
Our first need is enough money to live decently, but even at that, we cannot live by bread alone.
Think for a moment about what would make you feel most excited to get to work in the morning, and most loyal to your employer. The sort of company I have in mind would:
  1. Commit to paying every employee a living wage.  Many companies do not meet that standard for many of their jobs. It's nothing short of obscene to pay a CEO millions of dollars a year while paying any employee a sum for full time work that falls below the poverty line.
  2. Give all employees a stake in the company's success, in the form of profit sharing, or stock options, or bonuses tied to performance. If the company does well, all employees should share in the success, in meaningful ways.
  3. Design working environments that are safe, comfortable and appealing to work in. In offices, include a range of physical spaces that allow for privacy, collaboration, and simply hanging out.
  4. Provide healthy, high quality food, at the lowest possible prices, including in vending machines.
  5. Create places for employees to rest and renew during the course of the working day and encourage them to take intermittent breaks. Ideally, leaders would permit afternoon naps, which fuel higher productivity in the several hours that follow.
  6. Offer a well equipped gym and other facilities that encourage employees to move physically and stay fit. Provide incentives for employees to use the facilities, including during the work day as a source of renewal.
  7. Define clear and specific expectations for what success looks like in any given job. Then, treat employees as adults by giving them as much autonomy as possible to choose when they work, where they do their work, and how best to get it accomplished.
  8. Institute two-way performance reviews, so that employees not only receive regular feedback about how they're doing, in ways that support their growth, but are also given the opportunity to provide feedback to their supervisors, anonymously if they so choose, to avoid recrimination.
  9. Hold leaders and managers accountable for treating all employees with respect and care, all of the time, and encourage them to regularly recognize those they supervise for the positive contributions they make.
  10. Create policies that encourage employees to set aside time to focus without interruption on their most important priorities, including long-term projects and more strategic and creative thinking. Ideally, give them a designated amount of time to pursue projects they're especially passionate about and which have the potential to add value to the company.
  11. Provide employees with ongoing opportunities and incentives to learn, develop and grow, both in establishing new job-specific hard skills, as well as softer skills that serve them well as individuals, and as managers and leaders.
  12. Stand for something beyond simply increasing profits. Create products or provide services or serve causes that clearly add value in the world, making it possible for employees to derive a sense of meaning from their work, and to feel good about the companies for which they work.
In more than a decade of working with Fortune 500 companies, I've yet to come across a company that meets the full range of their people's needs in all the ways I've described above. The one that comes closest is Google. I'm convinced it's a key to their success.
How does your company measure up? What's the impact on your performance? Which needs would your company have to meet for you to be more fully engaged?
Source: Tony Schwartz @ HBR

Happy employees brings a Happy customers,add above cost while finalizing your product pricing and slowly it will increase your assets. Many organisations let HR create Processes to Bring speed & transparency but very less let HR create a environment which motivate employee to do more. In case you like this article then You should also read a book  by Vineet Nayar - CEO, HCL Technologies" Employee First Customer Second"

Addition by Roshan Kumar Rawat

Saturday, 8 October 2011

What is the Right Way to Fight?

 Differences of opinion at work are inevitable and often integral to innovation, problem-solving, and performance improvement. But knowing that most clashes have benefits does not make them any easier to manage. Disagreements with coworkers can be uncomfortable, and if handled poorly, result in unproductive and even harmful conflict. The good news is that, with a little planning, you can avoid a fight and find an answer that everyone agrees on.
Below are some guidelines to help you turn a negative situation into a positive one.

What the Experts Say
Because most people are uncomfortable discussing differences, it's rare that disagreements go smoothly. "Most conflicts are resolved through brute force or splitting the difference," says Jeff Weiss, a Founding Partner of Vantage Partners, LLC. Unfortunately, this approach often means both sides are unhappy with the outcome. Having a productive disagreement starts with your mindset. "Assume you have something to learn, assume there is a more creative solution than you've thought of," says Weiss. By entering the discussion with an open mind, regardless of your coworker's stance, you are likely to find common ground. Of course, doing this right takes time and attention. 
Being prepared for a dispute requires knowing your own position and trying to better understand your coworker's. Before approaching your colleague, White advises you "know what your underlying intentions are." Weiss identifies three types of differences between coworkers:
  1. Substantive, in which you disagree over the content or task at hand
  2. Relational, when the dissent is really about your relationship with your coworker
  3. Perceptual, when you and your coworker are seeing the problem differently
Understanding this can help you approach the conversation with clarity. First, acknowledge the type of disagreement you are having and check with your coworker that he sees it the same way.
Regardless of the nature of the quarrel, try to leave your emotions at the door. "Disagreements are best solved through objectivity rather than emotions," says Weiss.
Preparation also includes careful consideration of logistics. Schedule your meeting so you will have enough time to reach a conclusion. Be sure the conversation can happen face to face in a private setting. Don't try to solve differences using email, which does not do a good job of conveying tone or nuance.
Identify common ground
To start a difficult conversation the right way, it's important for you and your coworker to identify something you agree on. This may be a common goal or a set of operating rules that you consent to. Try saying something like: "We both want to develop a plan that will take our company to the next level," or "We said we would be thorough about this decision." Be sure that the common ground is something your colleague genuinely cares about, and not something you think he should. Before moving on, check for your coworker's agreement. You may also want to reassure him that you value your relationship. This will reassure him that your point of contention is not a personal one.
Hear your coworker out
Even if you think you already understand your coworker's perspective, you should hear what she has to say. Ask questions that help you fully understand her point of view and determine whether your disagreement is a function of differing interests or differing perceptions. According to Weiss, this requires that you "stop figuring out your next line" and actively listen. Don't just hearing her story but take it in as well. Remain open to persuasion since your coworker's explanation of her side may uncover an important piece of information that leads to a resolution. For example, if she says she is just trying to keep her boss happy, you can help her articulate how a resolution is aligned with her boss's concerns.
Once you've heard your coworker out, share your own story. This should not be done in a "point, counter-point" way, but should focus on helping your coworker see where you're coming from. If she challenges your interpretation, let her vent and express her frustration.
Propose a resolution 
When all of the data is on the table, offer a resolution. Don't propose what you walked in the door with, but use the information you gathered during your conversation to come up with a better solution. Say to your coworker, "You've said A, and I've said B, perhaps we can consider solution C." "Don't assume a combative stance," says White. If he isn't happy with the solution you've put out there, engage him in a problem-solving process to come up with a result you can both live with.
When it goes badly...
Even with a well thought-out approach, some disagreements turn ugly. "Most often these conversations turn into battles when it gets personal," says White. If your exchange becomes heated, bring the conversation back to your shared interests or goals. Re-focus the dialogue on the future. "You can't resolve a battle over a problem that has already happened, but you can set a course going forward," says White.
If your coworker is antagonistic or aggressive, it may be best to take a break from the conservation. You can either literally step out of the room or pause mentally pause to observe the course of the conversation. This "outsider" observation can help you gain perspective on what's really going on. You may also try changing the process: step up to the white board, take out a piece of paper to brainstorm, or even offer to continue the discussion over drinks or dinner. This can help to alter the dynamic that's developed between you. If all else fails, withdraw and find a third person to mediate.
Principles to Remember
  • Focus on shared goals and interests
  • Understand the nature of your disagreement before meeting with your coworker
  • Remain open to persuasion
  • Assume you fully understand your colleague's perspective
  • Try to solve a disagreement over email
  • Stop your coworker from venting his frustrations

Case Study: Reframing the disagreement as an agreement
Andrew Lund is a professor of film and media at Hunter College in New York. His department, like all departments at Hunter, is assessed by an external reviewer every eight years to help the university allocate resources. Last year, the department received a glowing evaluation. However, the reviewers said in their report that film and media's graduate program was taking valuable resources away from its undergraduate program.
Andrew and his colleagues knew that this would upset graduate program professors. Before long, they began to hear rumors that these colleagues were planning to repeal the report. Simon (not his real name), one of Andrew's coworkers, a leader in the film and media department, felt that the group should remain silent on the issue, neither endorsing nor distancing themselves from the report. According to Simon, they weren't responsible for what went into it especially since no one in film and media had expressed that opinion during the review process.
Andrew believed that remaining silent would only infuriate the graduate program professors. "The only thing it would do is create suspicion and competition between colleagues," he said. With a faculty meeting looming, he knew he had to resolve the conflict between him and Simon and align the department. After listening to Simon's view, he told him that they both wanted the same thing: funding for the department and a good working relationship with all their colleagues. He said he believed that their disagreement was procedural more than anything. Andrew explained that speaking up would show support for graduate program faculty and put film and media in a position to dictate further funding terms.
He proposed that they make a motion at the beginning of the faculty meeting to rescind the section of the report without taking accountability for it. After hearing Andrew out, Simon agreed to go on record that the review didn't reflect the department's views. "Not only did we solve the conflict, we won goodwill," Andrew said. "It was a triumphant moment for our faculty."

Source: Amy Gallo @ HBR

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Creating a Positive Professional Image.

As HBS professor Laura Morgan Roberts sees it, if you aren't managing your own professional image, others are.

"People are constantly observing your behavior and forming theories about your competence, character, and commitment, which are rapidly disseminated throughout your workplace," she says. "It is only wise to add your voice in framing others' theories about who you are and what you can accomplish." 

There are plenty of books telling you how to "dress for success" and control your body language. But keeping on top of your personal traits is only part of the story of managing your professional image, says Roberts.  You can put on a suit and cut your hair to improve your appearance, but how do you manage something like skin color?
She discusses her research in this interview.
Q: What is a professional image?
AYour professional image is the set of qualities and characteristics that represent perceptions of your competence and character as judged by your key constituents (i.e., clients, superiors, subordinates, colleagues).
Q: What is the difference between "desired professional image" and "perceived professional image?"
A: It is important to distinguish between the image you want others to have of you and the image that you think people currently have of you.
Most people want to be described as technically competent, socially skilled, of strong character and integrity, and committed to your work, your team, and your company. Research shows that the most favorably regarded traits are trustworthiness, caring, humility, and capability.
Ask yourself the question: What do I want my key constituents to say about me when I'm not in the room? This description is your desired professional image. Likewise, you might ask yourself the question: What am I concerned that my key constituents might say about me when I'm not in the room? The answer to this question represents your undesired professional image.
You can never know exactly what all of your key constituents think about you, or how they would describe you when you aren't in the room. You can, however, draw inferences about your current professional image based on your interactions with key constituents. People often give you direct feedback about your persona that tells you what they think about your level of competence, character, and commitment. Other times, you may receive indirect signals about your image, through job assignments or referrals and recommendations. Taken together, these direct and indirect signals shape your perceived professional image, your best guess of how you think your key constituents perceive you.
Q: How do stereotypes affect perceived professional image?
A: In the increasingly diverse, twenty-first century workplace, people face a number of complex challenges to creating a positive professional image. They often experience a significant incongruence between their desired professional image and their perceived professional image. In short, they are not perceived in the manner they desire; instead, their undesired professional image may be more closely aligned with how their key constituents actually perceive them.
What lies at the source of this incongruence? Three types of identity threats—predicaments, devaluation, and illegitimacy—compromise key constituents' perceptions of technical competence, social competence, character, and commitment. All professionals will experience a "predicament" or event that reflects poorly on their competence, character, or commitment at some point in time, due to mistakes they have made in the past that have become public knowledge, or competency gaps (e.g., shortcomings or limitations in skill set or style).
Members of negatively stereotyped identity groups may experience an additional form of identity threat known as "devaluation." Identity devaluation occurs when negative attributions about your social identity group(s) undermine key constituents' perceptions of your competence, character, or commitment. For example, African American men are stereotyped as being less intelligent and more likely to engage in criminal behavior than Caucasian men. Asian Americans are stereotyped as technically competent, but lacking in the social skills required to lead effectively. Working mothers are stereotyped as being less committed to their profession and less loyal to their employing organizations. All of these stereotypes pose obstacles for creating a positive professional image.
Even positive stereotypes can pose a challenge for creating a positive professional image if someone is perceived as being unable to live up to favorable expectations of their social identity group(s). For example, clients may question the qualifications of a freshly minted MBA who is representing a prominent strategic consulting firm. Similarly, female medical students and residents are often mistaken for nurses or orderlies and challenged by patients who do not believe they are legitimate physicians.
Q: What is impression management and what are its potential benefits?
A: Despite the added complexity of managing stereotypes while also demonstrating competence, character, and commitment, there is promising news for creating your professional image! Impression management strategies enable you to explain predicaments, counter devaluation, and demonstrate legitimacy. People manage impressions through their non-verbal behavior (appearance, demeanor), verbal cues (vocal pitch, tone, and rate of speech, grammar and diction, disclosures), and demonstrative acts (citizenship, job performance).
My research suggests that, in addition to using these traditional impression management strategies, people also use social identity-based impression management (SIM) to create a positive professional image. SIM refers to the process of strategically presenting yourself in a manner that communicates the meaning and significance you associate with your social identities. There are two overarching SIM strategies: positive distinctiveness and social recategorization.
Positive distinctiveness means using verbal and non-verbal cues to claim aspects of your identity that are personally and/or socially valued, in an attempt to create a new, more positive meaning for that identity. Positive distinctiveness usually involves attempts to educate others about the positive qualities of your identity group, advocate on behalf of members of your identity group, and incorporate your background and identity-related experiences into your workplace interactions and innovation.
Social recategorization means using verbal and non-verbal cues to suppress other aspects of your identity that are personally and/or socially devalued, in an attempt to distance yourself from negative stereotypes associated with that group. Social recategorization involves minimization and avoidance strategies, such as physically and mentally conforming to the dominant workplace culture while being careful not to draw attention to identity group differences and one's unique cultural background.

Rather than adopting one strategy wholesale, most people use a variety of strategies for managing impressions of their social identities. In some situations, they choose to draw attention to a social identity, if they think it will benefit them personally or professionally. Even members of devalued social identity groups, such as African American professionals, will draw attention to their race if it creates mutual understanding with colleagues, generates high-quality connections with clients, or enhances their experience of authenticity and fulfillment in their work. In other situations, these same individuals may choose to minimize their race in order to draw attention to an alternate identity, such as gender, profession, or religion, if they feel their race inhibits their ability to connect with colleagues or clients.

Successful impression management can generate a number of important personal and organizational benefits, including career advancement, client satisfaction, better work relationships (trust, intimacy, avoiding offense), group cohesiveness, a more pleasant organizational climate, and a more fulfilling work experience. However, when unsuccessfully employed, impression management attempts can lead to feelings of deception, delusion, preoccupation, distraction, futility, and manipulation.
Q: How do authenticity and credibility influence the positive outcomes of impression management attempts?
 In order to create a positive professional image, impression management must effectively accomplish two tasks: build credibility and maintain authenticity.
When you present yourself in a manner that is both true to self and valued and believed by others, impression management can yield a host of favorable outcomes for you, your team, and your organization. On the other hand, when you present yourself in an inauthentic and non-credible manner, you are likely to undermine your health, relationships, and performance.
Most often, people attempt to build credibility and maintain authenticity simultaneously, but they must negotiate the tension that can arise between the two. Your "true self," or authentic self-portrayal, will not always be consistent with your key constituents' expectations for professional competence and character. Building credibility can involve being who others want you to be, gaining social approval and professional benefits, and leveraging your strengths. If you suppress or contradict your personal values or identity characteristics for the sake of meeting societal expectations for professionalism, you might receive certain professional benefits, but you might compromise other psychological, relational, and organizational outcomes.
Q: What are the steps individuals should take to manage their professional image?
A: First, you must realize that if you aren't managing your own professional image, someone else is. People are constantly observing your behavior and forming theories about your competence, character, and commitment, which are rapidly disseminated throughout your workplace. It is only wise to add your voice in framing others' theories about who you are and what you can accomplish.
Be the author of your own identity. Take a strategic, proactive approach to managing your image:
Identify your ideal state.
  •     What are the core competencies and character traits you want people to associate with you?
  •     Which of your social identities do you want to emphasize and incorporate into your workplace interactions, and which would you rather minimize?
Assess your current image, culture, and audience.

  •     What are the expectations for professionalism?
  •     How do others currently perceive you?
Conduct a cost-benefit analysis for image change.

  •     Do you care about others' perceptions of you?
  •     Are you capable of changing your image?
  •     Are the benefits worth the costs? (Cognitive, psychological, emotional, physical effort)
Use strategic self-presentation to manage impressions and change your image.

  •     Employ appropriate traditional and social identity-based impression management strategies.
  •     Pay attention to the balancing act—build credibility while maintaining authenticity.
Manage the effort you invest in the process.

  •     Monitoring others' perceptions of you
  •     Monitoring your own behavior
  •     Strategic self-disclosure
  •     Preoccupation with proving worth and legitimacy

Source: Mallory Stark  @ HBR

Monday, 19 September 2011

Check your Organisation Design Before Starting Recruitment.

The concept of organizational design is as old as the organization itself, but surprisingly most of the people working in the organization and for the organization are not aware of the organizational design.
In simple words OD defines the philosophy of an organization. It not only deals with policy making, but includes all aspects of the organization. It is an organizational design that fosters or inhibits creativity and innovation in an organization.
A company with a good organizational design can easily achieve its target. All the processes and procedures of the company will be synchronized with the goal and objective of the company. The entire system from the top to bottom level will work towards the goal and will explore the available resources to achieve its goal.
A successful organizational design is a far cry without proper planning and management. Everyone involved in the company whether its the top management class or lowest working class all should be well-aware of the purpose of a company and anyone who is unaware of the organization’s goal will not play his or her part in the company’s progress with full enthusiasm and it could be detrimental in the long run.
In a good organization each and every person knows his duty and is responsible to play the part with full commitment. This is possible only when each individual is delegated the right job suiting his attitude and aptitude.  They are not given less or more than what they can do-optimal work distribution is the norm.
Good management is the most important aspect of organizational design. The success and efficiency of the management are largely decided by the team leader. It is the efficiency of the team leaders that lead the subordinates to give their best and play their part sincerely in achieving the target. A good TL always works in collaboration with other team member and brings unity among the team players. A good TL always motivates its subordinate to such an extent that they start putting the company’s interest over self- interest.
The success of a company is largely determined by its OD, OD decides whether the company will be able to chase its goal within limited time and resources or not. A company with good OD will design and plan a strategy that will help it achieve its goals without many difficulties. There are enough number of companies that are not exactly aware of the term OD, but their activities and procedures clearly indicate that they strive to become more productive and successful.

There are many ways in which companies can improve their organizational design, though none of the methods promise you overnight results but following a few points could help companies in achieving their organizational design. Consistent and sincere approach will surely bring significant changes in an organization.
The management functionalities should be managed by efficient people.  A person with team spirit and ability to unite people in the form of a team should be organizing people to meet the organization’s needs. Hire a person for the managerial post who has all the qualities of a good leaderA good team leader is well aware of its team member’s strength and weakness, and distributes the task depending on individual’s capabilities and helps them in playing their part successfully in the growth of an organization.
In an organization everyone should know his role and duty; this means everyone working in your establishment should know what they are working towards. It helps people in deciding their role and contribution in the company’s growth and success and motivates them to provide the best.
Communication is the key to success and so it’s true regarding OD as well. A good OD facilitates smooth communication among various departments. The flow of communication should be smooth and clear among seniors and subordinates.
Change is the nature of law and the same is true regarding organizations as well. To grow and learn an organization should develop a positive attitude towards change and should incorporate changes easily. Companies that are risk takers are considered to be the ones with the best organizational stability nowadays.
OD is not a Herculean task; just proper planning and management could make the task easier.

Source: VSR Rao @ citehr