Sunday, February 26, 2012

Career Tip # 2: Speak Softly and carry a big stick

This particular phrase is attributed to US President Theodore Roosevelt, as a basis for how he wanted to conduct world diplomacy. The idea is related to negotiating peacefully, simultaneously threatening with the big stick or the military.

 In my view this applies to our careers also. Over the past twenty five plus years of my professional career, I have been in many meetings and countless discussions. You always have at least one person who has strong views and a loud voice dominating the conversation and throttling the voice of those who can add real value. 

Frankly, I used to be one of those folks whose voices gets drowned in this cacophony. Any attempts to over come this disruption met with defeat. So I had to change my tactic. Instead of fighting, I kept quiet till the "decision" was nearly made and then asked one question which shook the team assumptions.  Very quickly, I  became the quiet guy who knew his stuff ! People stopped the conversation and asked me for my thoughts ! The big stick of knowledge and experience finally had a place 

Since then, I have grown both personally and professionally. I now lead the conversation and discussions. I am the facilitator and have no problems in guiding the thought process. I never forget those initial days and how I built my reputation, brick by brick !

Lot of the team members I coach, have similar problems. They have lot of great ideas but lack the presence to deliver it with conviction. So I help them not only to voice their opinions, but also help them build their reputation - slowly but surely !

So in this tip actually consists of two parts :
1. You do not have to talk loudly or have a presence to get your contributions accepted by your peers (Speak Softly)
2. Your knowledge of the subject will in the end triumph (Carry the big stick of deep knowledge)

Tip #2: Speak Softly and carry a Big Stick !

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tip # 1 : Do your best than trying to be the best

Today, the focus of all advice around career coaching is to become the Best at what you do. That seems to be the sole goal and anything stopping you from reaching has to be beaten down and overcome. Not so in my view point. Let me explain...

One of the Hindu scriptures "Bhagavad Gita" talks about the need for people to focus on the effort of doing the right thing. Leave the results of the effort to a superior power (Bhagavad Gita is a very large and powerful message, I have paraphrased to make it relevant to this discussion). This has been one of my guiding principles. Gave me the following advantages:

  • I was able to focus on the work to be done, rather than trying to think of the results - preventing short cuts or unnecessary work ("Busy Work") to achieve the results
  • This focus also allowed me to excel in what I did. All of us know (Will be elaborated in another tip), that the delta work between good and great is not significant. But the results are few times greater !
  • When we start thinking about results, we start building expectations. The stress of not meeting expectations or the worry on whether we will meet the expectations is what keeps the doctors busy !
  • Finally, when we start trying to become the best, we are dependent on others to judge whether we are the best or not. This leaves you open to manipulation and could leave you feeling cheated. The resulting health issues could very well pay for the doctors European vacation !.

So my first tip to start building a balanced career is to really focus on the work you do. Forget short term gains. Forget "strategic" manipulations. Excel in what you do. Enjoy what you do. The results will come. In some shape or size (Better family, Lesser tension Better health, Better relationships at work etc)

Career Tip # 1 :Do your best rather than trying to be the best ! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Super Nanny tips for managing your team

One of the shows I watch on TV is the Super Nanny and I cannot compliment it enough for the information and tips the shows provides. More importantly, it is a two in one – Tips for managing your children which can also be applied to managing your team – After all to maximize your team productivity and to minimize the Tylenol you take for your headaches, treating your team like you children does make logical sense !

So let us examine some of the key concepts of the show and see how it applies to your team

Need for clearly defined boundariesChildren need to have boundaries on what they can do and cannot do. So does your team. Setting clear expectations on what you expect from them gives them confidence to work on their own. Also, it minimizes the excessive hand holding required. They come to you only when they feel that the boundaries are being crossed. They are more productive and you can get the extra time to hit the gym to catch up on you body building (or what ever else drives you !)

Need for Consequences One of the staple acts in the show is the “Naughty Corner” where kids are forced to do timeout when they do something naughty. Very quickly the kids figure that there are consequences to their actions and they clean up their act.
Same goes with your team. I have see managers threaten the team, give them “drop dead dates”.  The dates slip and the team members go on the merry way. Gray hairs in the manager head increase (or the number of hair follicles decrease depending on the manager’s genetic proclivity).  Have consequences for missing clearly defined expectations, and see the difference. The team will be happy and you will  be so convinced that you will DVR the show !

Need for Consistency and follow through
Kids require consistency in the behavior of their parents says the Super Nanny. Once they know what to expect, they will be more happier to listen to you. Promising to buy them ice cream if they do their home work and then forgetting to do it is something which confuses the kids leading to lack of trust and the bad behavior which follows

Same goes with your team members. Consistent behavior proper follow through will create  a stable working environment for the team. Lack of surprise (highs and lows) will allow them to focus on the work rather than worry about how you are going to react. it all adds up to more productive team

Convinced? Ready to DVR the show. If you have already seen the show, let me have your thoughts. Otherwise, stop reading and pick up your DVR remote !