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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

Friday, 16 September 2011

Check Emotional Intelligence while recruiting!

Making a hire can be a hit-or-miss affair. A promising candidate can turn out to be a disaster, leaving frustrated colleagues and tattered client relationships in his wake. Sooner than anyone planned, the new hire and the organization part ways, with recrimination and regret on both sides.
To increase their chances of making good hiring decisions, many companies subject candidates to an extended battery of interviews. But according to Adele B. Lynn, author of The EQ Interview: Finding Employees with High Emotional Intelligence (Amacom, 2008), conducting more interviews is not really the answer. What's needed are better interviews--interviews that take a measure of candidates' emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence--EQ, for short--"accounts for anywhere from 24% to 69% of performance success," says Lynn. Some positions require more emotional intelligence than others, but there are very few jobs in which a solid level of EQ does not confer advantage. For managers it is crucial, as it is for anyone who needs to be adept at the give-and-take of working as part of a creative, dynamic team.
"After all, what does it matter if a software engineer is ferociously hardworking if he alienates his peers?" says Lynn, also founder of the Adele Lynn Leadership Group (Belle Vernon, Pa.). "What's the benefit of deep marketing expertise if a manager can't recognize how her behavior demoralizes her direct reports and drives half of them to look for other jobs?"
There are multiple aspects to emotional intelligence, but homing in on these three in the interview process will go a long way toward identifying candidates with high EQ--and eliminating those likely to destroy more value than they create:
1.     Self-awareness and self-regulation. The candidate understands the needs and wishes that drive him and how they affect his behavior. He regulates his emotions so that any fear, anger, or anxiety he experiences doesn't spread to his colleagues or make him lose control.
2.     Reading others and recognizing the impact of his behavior on them. The candidate has well-developed emotional and social "radar" and can sense how his words and actions influence his colleagues.
3.     The ability to learn from mistakes. He can acknowledge his mistakes, reflect critically upon them, and learn from them.
What follows are guidelines for questions to ask and answers to listen for in interviews. The advice here is also pertinent to managers who need to interview colleagues outside their units to decide whether to appoint them to cross-functional teams.
1. Self-awareness and self-regulation
Anyone working in an organization needs to recognize his moods, his emotions, and the deeper emotional needs that drive him--and how they shape his behavior. Generally people are competent at labeling their moods ("I'm in a good/bad/restless/mellow mood") and emotions ("I'm happy/sad/angry/anxious"), but fewer can articulate the strong emotional desires that shape much of their behavior and identity, such as a longing for validation, a hunger for power and status, a strong need to be liked.
This is the case for Ian, a manager in a midsize specialty consumer products company. Ian places a high premium on always being right but is unaware of this need and how it makes him arrogant, defensive, and cautious in turn. When a project falters or a client is unhappy, Ian is unable to work with his direct reports, his boss, and his coworkers to reach a common understanding of the problem. Instead, he focuses on demonstrating his blamelessness for it--not very helpful when what's needed is a solution.
In addition to understanding her emotions, an emotionally intelligent person is able to regulate them and control her behavior. When anxious or fearful, she is self-aware enough to recognize that she tends to broadcast these emotions nonverbally, allowing her to put extra effort into projecting calm optimism. When angry, she has the self-control not to rage at her colleagues or direct reports.
To assess a candidate's self-awareness and ability to self-regulate, ask these questions, which, like the other questions in this article, are adapted from Lynn's book The EQ Interview:
·         Can you tell me about a time when your mood affected your performance, either negatively or positively?
·         Tell me about a conflict you had with a peer, direct report, or boss--how did it start and how did it get resolved?
·         A manager has to maintain a productive, positive tone even when she's anxious about a business threat. How have you been able to do this in previous positions?
2. Reading others and recognizing the impact of his behavior on them
Because so much of a manager's work is accomplished with and through others, the ability to read other people--to pick up their emotions and discern their opinions--can spell the difference between success and failure. Managers also need to recognize how their behavior influences that of others. High-EQ individuals are deft persuaders and motivators because they can read others' cues and adjust their own words and behaviors accordingly.
To assess a candidate's skill level in this aspect of emotional intelligence, ask questions such as:
·         Tell me about a time when you did or said something that had a negative impact on a customer, peer, or direct report. How did you know the impact was negative?
·         Have you ever been in a business situation where you thought you needed to adjust your behavior? How did you know and what did you do?
In one interview Lynn participated in, "the candidate gave a few examples of when he had a negative impact on someone, but in each case, he said someone called him aside and told him where he fell short--he didn't seem able to recognize these things on his own." In contrast, says Lynn, "another candidate for the same position pointed to very specific examples of when he was able to read another's body language and behavior that indicated that something was wrong." The second candidate landed the job. "No doubt that built-in radar system will help him read other people and situations, too," says Lynn.
Misreading a customer can be fatal to the relationship, Lynn points out. A financial services account manager directed a customer he took to be of modest means to a less expensive product than the one the man had been considering. Feeling insulted and humiliated, the client took his business elsewhere.
3. The ability to learn from mistakes
Missteps and outright failure offer opportunities for growth, and high-EQ individuals are able to learn from them. Here again, look for positive patterns in candidates' past experiences:
·         Have you ever been in a situation where you felt you needed to modify or change your behavior? How did you know? How have you been able to take lessons learned from that situation and apply them to another?
·         Tell me about a situation when you discovered that you were on the wrong course. How did you know? What did you do? What, if anything, did you learn from the experience?
Lynn was part of an interview team for an IT position. When the candidate was asked to describe her work on a project that faltered, she spoke of a systems overhaul that missed key deadlines and required several course corrections. Asked to analyze how she could have made it run more smoothly, the candidate answered that she should have documented expectations at the outset of the project and communicated more precisely and consistently with users. She also cited her tendency to be reserved and acknowledged that in the past she sometimes held back from asking necessary questions. This candidate concluded by saying that she had thought a lot about what went right and wrong in the project and how she could be more effective the next time she was called on to contribute to such a project.
Contrast the self-awareness and openness to learning in her answer with the defensiveness and rigidity in another candidate's response. When asked about conflicts she had experienced, she ticked off several diverse examples: a schedule delay, a customer dispute, a delayed product launch. Asked to reflect on how they started and what part she played in them, she portrayed herself as a victim of incompetent colleagues, unreasonable customers, and unlucky circumstances. Several times in her narration she said, "I knew I was right--the others just refused to see it."
Her ability to learn and progress was about zero--an ominous sign for her future performance.
Source: Christina Bielaszka-DuVernay @ 
“Highly competitive or hyper-competitive industries often face low turnout in interview resulting Pressure based hiring. In situations where Brand/Product are very aggressive "working experience of the product/Brand" supersede the individual experience, and individual with lower EQ level  are hired by considering individual's experience as deemed experience. Sooner or Later such individual falls incompetent category”                      
               Addition by Roshan Kumar Rawat

Monday, 12 September 2011

Tips on how to Develop a strong relationship with your Team !

Enchantment defines a relationship with employees that is deep, delightful, and long-lasting. If you can enchant your employees, they will work harder, longer, and smarter for you — and, ideally, you for them too. Here are the ten best ways to enchant your employees.
  1. Provide a MAP. In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates UsDaniel Pink explains the big three of what employees want from a boss: an opportunity to Master new skills while working Autonomously towards a high Purpose. There are lots of other things that might attract employees, but a MAP is what really enchants them.
  2. Empower them to do what's right. A logical offshoot of autonomous work is that you trust your employee enough to make the right decision for customers. When you show this level of trust and empower employees, they do the best work that they can.
  3. Judge your results and their intentions. Most managers are harsher judges of the results of their employees than they are of their own results: "You didn't meet quota, but I really tried to meet mine." This is the opposite of what an enchanting manager does. Be a tougher judge of your results than your employees.
  4. Address your shortcomings first. Now that you know what to judge, now you need to know what to fix. No employee is perfect, but neither are you. Before you pontificate about what your employees should fix, talk about how you could have done a better job yourself.
  5. Suck it up. Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs is an enchanting guy. Why is he enchanting? It's because he's willing to suck it up and do whatever it takes to get the job done. Nothing is too dirty for him. Employees need to know that you'll do the dirty, hard, and frustrating jobs too.
  6. Don't ask them to do what you wouldn't do. The flip side of the willingness to suck it up is that you never ask employees to do something that you wouldn't do. If you're not going to fly coach class from San Francisco to Mumbai, don't ask them to either. This is a great philosophy to apply to employees, customers, partners, and vendors.
  7. Celebrate success. On the other hand, when your organization succeeds, take some time out to celebrate. Macho and relentless toil in the face of success (or failure) is over-rated. And the best kind of success, and the best way to celebrate success, is as a group.
  8. Find a devil's advocate. A devil's advocate who argues against what management says is a good person. He or she will improve your product or service by pointing out weaknesses, foster internal communication because disenchanted employees have someone to talk to, and show that rocking the boat and divergent thinking is acceptable.
  9. Tell them you want them. According to Michael Lopp, author of Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager, the three most important words during the recruitment process is "We want you." This is true not only during the recruiting phase but everyday of your organization's existence. If you want to enchant your employees, ensure that they know they're wanted every day they come in and especially every night they go home.
  10. Don't rely on money. I'm not saying you shouldn't pay people fairly — even well — but money is usually the enemy of enchantment. It can pollute relationships because it muddies the motivation: Are people doing this because it's their job or because they truly believe in the product or service?
If you embrace these ten recommendations and truly aspire to enchant your employees, you'll be a much better boss, and the world will be a kinder, gentler, and happier place.

Source: Guy Kawasaki @ HBR

Sunday, 11 September 2011

How to Keep Your Cool !

This week's question for Ask the Coach:
It's hard for me to keep my temper, even more so now with the global economic meltdown! Do you have any suggestions on how I can stop from getting angry, especially in the workplace?
MG: Anger can distort our self-perceptions and do harm to the relationships with people important to us, both inside and outside of work. Handling our emotions is a tricky process if we don't have the proper self-management skills. I've asked Mark Maraia, a relationship development coach and trainer who works with people, specifically partners in large law firms, on just such issues as yours. Here's his response:
MM: I'm often asked, "How do I stop from getting angry?" And the answer I give is, "You don't. What you need to learn is a process for releasing the emotion."
Most people are trying to control or manage their anger. It never occurs to them that they can release it--completely! Stifling our feelings or our urges to act out in anger doesn't work. People can read us... sometimes better than we can ourselves. Stifling our feelings will work against us because when we deny or suppress anger, we end up projecting it. Either we turn it inward, which leads to depression or disease, or we turn it outward, which leads to many of the annoying habits Marshall discusses in his book, What Got You Here Won't Get You There.
My own path of self-discovery led me to a startling conclusion: We don't get angry at facts; we get angry at our interpretation of facts. This means, that we have a choice about how we respond to an event or person that triggers our anger. We're going to get angry - this is a perfectly natural emotion. The problem isn't our anger; it's our attempt to justify it rather than release it. Let's be clear: if you put energy into justifying your anger you CAN'T release it. However, most people find anger or intense rage unpleasant and are highly motivated to rid themselves of it.
When people are hijacked by their anger, I ask them: What process do you have (in the moment) for dealing with negative emotions like anger? Most people don't have an answer. Some have coping mechanisms, such as stifling or projecting; some use physical exercise, which is useful, but not so much in the moment.
I've learned a thought process for dealing with negative emotions that I have practiced for more than 20 years. Anyone can use this tool to deal with negative emotions "in the moment" and later if the negative feeling resurfaces. This is a process of rejecting the negative emotion and it actually interrupts this "doom loop." Rejecting negative emotions can be used in many situations, both personal and business, in the moment -- without anyone knowing you're doing it!
Here's how it works. The next time you are overcome with a negative emotion, ask yourself this question: "What am I feeling at this moment?" Get in touch with the feeling or emotion first. Once you've done that, make a silent declaration to yourself that you don't want it anymore! For instance, when someone dangerously cuts you off on the freeway, your thought might be: "I do not want this anger" (or "rage," if it's that bad).

Then, replace the feeling with a constructive thought. In this way you make a conscious choice to have a positive state of mind. Your thought might be: "I do not want this anger. I choose to be at peace instead."
This new skill will take practice. It will probably feel awkward at first. But with enough practice it will become a habit and you will find yourself working through negative emotions in minutes or hours rather than obsessing for days, weeks, or years!


Friday, 9 September 2011

3 Ways to Build a Stronger Public Profile.

If you want to be known well, you want to know these ground rules

In this super-connected era, when everything’s a few clicks away from a search engine, and information lives forever, you can’t afford to ignore your online presence. 

The good thing here is that it’s all in your hands. Consultants will offer to help you out, for fat fees. But really, all you need is a bit of common sense. (Hopefully, you’re not one of those people who give their assistants their email passwords because they can’t be bothered with learning how to use the Internet; if you are, you’re dead in the water already.) This is too important to delegate. You wouldn’t leave your advertising decisions to your secretary, so why would you let someone way down in the hierarchy control how you or your company is perceived online? 

Image: Malay Karmakar
Take the time to learn about how search engines, Web sites, communities, blogs, and social networks work. Most search engine optimisation companies and relentlessly self-promoting social media ‘experts’ peddle snake oil. Look at what your peers are doing now — don’t set your benchmark by what’s happening in India, look at the world — and evolve a set of best practices that you can live with. 

Fan pages on Facebook tend to be set up by small shops and individuals; a few big brands have put out such ham-handed efforts that it’s obvious some clueless flack is running things. So far, barring a few CEOs from companies carving out their destinies with Web- or tech-related products, very few top Indian executives have sullied their hands with Twitter. Anand Mahindra, who tweets as @anandmahindra, is a notable exception. 

First Lesson: Search for terms you’d like to be identified with. Follow the links your search engine throws up. Chances are, at least a few of them will be good blogs or forums focussed on those topics. Listen. See what they say. Follow links to articles and pages they recommend. When you feel ready, join in on the conversation yourself.

Second Lesson: Listen. Monitor online social forums and services as carefully as you scan the business press for mentions of your company. Consider appointing a Conversation Officer (see 7 Words We Learnt This Year, page 133).

Bonus Tip: When it comes to managing your company’s profile, step out of the executive floor. Most people at the top just don’t grok the online world, and probably rely on consultants and so-called experts to tell them what to do. Instead, talk to the young people in your company who grew up using the Web. Ask them how to do it. And then help them make it work.

2 Giving Back 2.0
Simply donating a few crores to charity isn’t going to get you noticed or talked about anymore. That’s now passé. Of course, giving is still important. It’s just that giving back to society has moved to the next level. Take a look at the number of people who are flocking to enlist as volunteers for Nandan Nilekani’s Unique Identity Programme. Or the sheer interest he generates every time he addresses a conference.

So what’s Nilekani’s secret sauce? He’s tapped into a very basic urge. His cross-over is seen as hugely inspirational. And it isn’t just successful people at the end of their corporate career who’ve begun to eye plum jobs in the government. It’s a theme that seems to resonate well even among middle-level managers. Everyone suddenly wants to make a difference. The fact that the Manmohan Singh government has gone on record that they’d like more folks from civil society to join the government has also spurred new hope.

So what should you be doing? For one, let’s recognise that it isn’t a simple transition. It took Nilekani years of effort to build a network at the highest levels of the government. He’s built up enormous credibility during his stint at Infosys. And he’s been articulating his larger vision for the country at various forums, including through his book. So it didn’t happen overnight.

Besides, there’s one other factor to consider: There aren’t enough government positions on offer in the first place. And given the number of high-profile people vying for a limited number of slots, there’s a high probability of being left out in the cold. Instead, look at the next best thing: Focus on an area where you think you can make a difference. 

Here, Azim Premji and Sunil Mittal are both good role models. They haven’t merely chosen primary education as their focus area. They’ve been actively involved in sharing their wisdom, resources and network for the cause. They’ve also done one more thing: Helped build a strong professional organisation to lead the foray. As both men have realised, lasting change doesn’t come easy. It requires huge doses of persistence and creativity to bring systemic changes in this country. 

Image: Malay Karmakar
3 Medium is the Message
There are several ways to communicate your ideas to a wider audience. But pause for a minute to reflect on the platforms that are likely to generate more buzz. Ten years ago, authoring a seminal article in Harvard Business Review with a renowned business school professor would have earned you enough prestige. It still might — but today, you can generate more buzz through 18 minutes of fame. You’ve guessed it: TED talks arrived in India a few months ago. And they seem to have caught the public imagination.

The line-up of speakers is exclusive, and attendance to the conference is tightly controlled. The trick, again, is about specialisation. Decide on a theme early on. Study it thoroughly. Develop a robust understanding. The most interesting themes lie at the intersection of two or three disciplines. It even makes sense to partner with an expert from a completely different genre. But in the end, very few TED talks have impact. So getting it right the first time requires enormous practice — and command over the subject. 

Beyond TED, there are other new channels too. Last week, Forbes India pioneered a new way to do interviews in the country: Twitter interviews. Bajaj Auto managing director, Rajiv Bajaj, the subject of our last cover story, answered questions on Twitter, the fast-growing social media platform. Now, consider the reach: Every month, 1.4 million users use Twitter from India alone. And compressing each tweet into just 140 characters can be difficult — but fun too, as Bajaj told us after his ‘twinterview.’
Source:  Peter Griffin @ Forbes India

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Seven Steps to Superstar Employees

Many employers sit their workers down once a year for a review. At that time, the employee finds out what they've been doing right or if there are areas in need of improvement. But what happens the other 364 days of the year?
Coaching is a different approach to developing employees' potential. With coaching, you provide your staff the opportunity to grow and achieve optimal performance through consistent feedback, counseling and mentoring. Rather than relying solely on a review schedule, you can support employees along the path to meeting their goals. Done in the right way, coaching is perceived as a roadmap for success and a benefit. Done incorrectly and employees may feel berated, unappreciated, even punished.
These seven steps, when followed, can help create a positive environment for providing feedback.

Step 1: Build a Relationship of Mutual Trust
The foundation of any coaching relationship is rooted in the manager's day-to-day relationship with the employee. Without some degree of trust, conducting an effective coaching meeting is impossible.

Step 2: Open the Meeting
In opening a coaching meeting, it's important for the manager to clarify, in a nonevaluative, nonaccusatory way, the specific reason the meeting was arranged. The key to this step is to restate -- in a friendly, nonjudgmental manner -- the meeting purpose that was first set when the appointment was scheduled.

Step 3: Get Agreement
Probably the most critical step in the coaching meeting process is getting the employee to agree verbally that a performance issue exists. Overlooking or avoiding the performance issue because you assume the employee understands its significance is a typical mistake of managers. To persuade an employee a performance issue exists, a manager must be able to define the nature of the issue and get the employee to recognize the consequences of not changing his or her behavior. To do this, you must specify the behavior and clarify the consequences.
The skill of specifying the behavior consists of three parts.
  1. Cite specific examples of the performance issue.
  2. Clarify your performance expectations in the situation.
  3. Asks the employee for agreement on the issue.
The skill of clarifying consequences has two parts. 
  1. Probe to get the employee to articulate his or her understanding of the consequences associated with the performance issue.
  2. Ask the employee for agreement on the issue.
Step 4: Explore Alternatives
Next, explore ways the issue can be improved or corrected by encouraging the employee to identify alternative solutions. Avoid jumping in with your own alternatives, unless the employee is unable to think of any. Push for specific alternatives and not generalizations. Your goal in this step is not to choose an alternative, which is the next step, but to maximize the number of choices for the employee to consider and to discuss their advantages and disadvantages.
 This requires the skill of reacting and expanding. You should acknowledge the employee's suggestion, discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the suggestion, ask for and offer additional suggestions, and ask the employee to explain how to resolve the issue under discussion.
Step 5: Get a Commitment to Act
The next step is to help the employee choose an alternative. Don't make the choice for the employee. To accomplish this step, the manager must be sure to get a verbal commitment from the employee regarding what action will be taken and when it will be taken. Be sure to support the employee's choice and offer praise.
Step 6: Handle Excuses
Employee excuses may occur at any point during the coaching meeting. To handle excuses, rephrase the point by taking a comment or statement that was perceived by the employee to be blaming or accusatory and recast it as an encouragement for the employee to examine his or her behavior. Respond empathically to show support for the employee's situation and communicate an understanding of both the content and feeling of the employee's comment.
Step 7: Provide Feedback
Effective coaches understand the value and importance of giving continual performance feedback to their people, both positive and corrective.
There are a few critical things to remember when giving feedback to others. Feedback should:
  • Be timely. It should occur as soon as practical after the interaction, completion of the deliverable, or observation is made.
  • Be specific. Statements like "You did a great job" or "You didn't take care of the clients' concerns very well" are too vague and don't give enough insight into the behavior you would like to see repeated or changed.
  • Focus on the "what," not the "why." Avoid making the feedback seem as if it is a judgment. Begin with "I have observed..." or "I have seen..." and then refer to the behavior. Focus on behavior and not the person. Describe what you heard and saw and how those behaviors impact the team, client, etc.
  • Use a sincere tone of voice. Avoid a tone that exhibits anger, frustration, disappointment or sarcasm.
Positive feedback strengthens performance. People will naturally go the extra mile when they feel recognized and appreciated. When corrective feedback is handled poorly, it will be a significant source of friction and conflict. When it is handled well, people will experience the positive effects and performance is strengthened.