Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What You Can't See CAN Hurt You!


How about that surprise ‘Resignation Mail’ you received from one of your team members? The process violation that got escalated to top management because you had thought it wasn’t a big deal? That angry customer who forgot that you don’t handle technical support and yet sent you a mail since you Head the company?!?!? Remember that baseless rumor which started at the water-cooler has now reached dizzying heights and has badly affected Employee Relations?

These instances are just tip-of-the-iceberg. There could be tons of such situations that you didn’t see coming your way, because you couldn’t see them. It’s like driving fast on a foggy morning without realizing that the road curves ahead! It’s a horrible situation, right? That’s exactly what’s happening when you can’t see but CAN get hurt!

It’s time to set your eyes on the radar. You don’t necessarily have go breathing down one’s neck to find out what’s happening. You just need to make those daily/weekly/monthly meetings more interactive, communicative and productive. Start the trend by becoming accountable yourself and the rest of the staff will follow. The more you procrastinate, the tougher it becomes to resolve issues!

Everyone loves to be in ‘Control’. That urge can let you down terribly! Empower people in the organization to take decisions at various levels; it helps in quickly sorting minor issues that could possibly snowball into a bigger one. Making them accountable will ensure they think twice before they take any decision.

Day-to-day transactional activities end up consuming our energy and we get caught trying hard to resolve the wrong issue! The real issue is happening on the other end of the spectrum! Are you tuned in?

- The HR Store

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Are you hit by 'Hurricane Micro-Manager'?

Some years back, it felt like I had won the ‘I’m-Going–To-Be-Micro-Managed’ lottery. My manager had a field day making me realize that every thing that I ever did was wrong and the manager enjoyed every bit of crushing my confidence. Guess what! I was hired for possessing the ‘required’ skills by the very same manager!! At work, every email written (including font size and spacing!) had to be validated by the MM, simple one-line memos couldn’t be circulated without MM’s consent, got criticized on a daily basis for ideas that were sensible (just that it occured to me before the MM!) and in the end the MM had the last-laugh while killing my self-belief. It was time to bail-out!

It took me a while to realize the negative impact micro-management (MM) was having on my work. It killed my energy levels, enthusiasm was rock-bottom, productivity was below-par, non-existent motivation and most importantly it sucked out every ounce of confidence. Some of the words I got to hear quite often were, ‘Structure’, ‘Strategy’, ‘Attention-to-Detail’ – all in the name of severe micro-management. After a while of doubting my own potential, I decided to take the manager head-on and off course it had its consequences. We had our daily fights; I lost some and won some.

I’m quite sure there are more folks out there who are currently under-going or have undergone such managerial treatment. Here’s a possible 7-Step method to handle the Micro-Manager (MM):

#1: Keep the MM constantly informed about your course of action. They want to be in the ‘know’ 24/7. Even if you have an excellent plan, run-it through the MM, before you implement it!

#2: They have a ‘My Way OR High Way’ approach to work. Give them their space. Tell them their idea rocks & then suggest your plan. They need to feel they have the best solution.

#3: Match your ‘priority-list’ with that of the MM. There’s never a day that goes by without the MM commenting on your day-to-day priorities and how you always end-up getting them wrong! Once you understand that nitty-gritty’s the MM’s main concern, you get the rest of the day to address bigger issues.

#4: Don’t wait for the MM to ask or give information! Be pro-active (again 24/7!!) and ask for information like your life depends on it! They love to act like they are sharing top-secret information and you are the chosen one to receive it!

#5: Practice Yoga!! You’ll need tons of patience. Everyday is a new day, yesterday’s plans become history! The end result/goal is always ‘dynamic’ with MM’s. Make sure you maintain written documentation. Don’t make/take any verbal commitments. You’ll get hung, even before you realize!

#6: In a large gathering, don’t ever criticize or dole out feedback to the MM. They hate it! Even if their mistake is a glaring one! As a personality trait, they don’t like to be given feedback, remember they believe they are the best! Choose your words carefully! Again, it will come with practice and after a few sessions of playing ‘Hang-Man’.

#7: When you are convinced that your best efforts to work with the MM have failed, its time to move-on! Since they are bigger battles to be won - bigger than the MM’s ego!

All the best!

- The HR Store

Friday, February 13, 2009

From The Driver's Seat!

Noticed something while driving?

Picture this; you had to drive from Point A (Home/Office) to Point B (intended destination). We always find that the journey from home/office towards your intended destination, always seems to take more time than while returning along the same path. Right? At least, I feel that way when I go on vacation/work; the travel back home is a lot faster! The distance remains the same, but then what is exactly happening?

I suppose that the route that we are familiar with (in this case, it’s the route home) helps us estimate the time and effort required to get home. We know the direction, the travel conditions, et al. On the other hand, even after lots of preparation when we start out to a new destination, we are not sure on the time and effort required to get there, not sure of the surroundings leading to that place or not knowing the road-blocks. So we tend to be over-cautious and might even slow-down repeatedly to double-check on the direction. Right? It does happen!

Now, that was an analogy for what happens at work on a regular basis! Really! If you don’t know where you are headed at work, it’s as good as driving along an unknown direction. This could take-up loads of time, efforts and money. Ever wondered, why there is so much emphasis on planning? It’s because folks have driven down unknown roads before and don’t want the remaining of us to do the same.

Here's a potential scenario:

‘Employee Relations’ in your organization is at rock-bottom. The recent lay-off hasn’t helped either. There’s a lot of resentment with the company, productivity is very low and R&D is taking a hit too. Senior management has the belief that the company will bounce back and doesn’t want to let go of its top-performers. They turn to HR for help to sort this out. It’s not that HR can wave a magic-wand which can improve things. However, if you have been asked to do it, then maybe you are the best equipped in the organization to handle the situation. However, imagine you did nose-dive into the situation without any planning! You could end up losing the remaining folks quicker! It’s time to make some plans (quick!) and execute them too - like an all-hands meeting.

Action is needed. Agreed! Planning will only provide you the direction to expend your energy for right purposes, while taking action. It considerably reduces of your chances of hitting a road-block at 100mph!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What are Ideas worth?

Well, its worth at least a ‘Million’ bucks – no, hold on! It could be more than a million or even lesser…Let’s try another time…but WAIT!

Don’t you think all your attempts to find out the ‘Ideal’ price/worth would lead to the same end? Since, it’s hard to put a value for something that doesn’t exist!

GET REAL…your ideas are only as worthy as its EXECUTION! Your idea is only the start! It’s like leading for the first 50M in a 100M race and expecting to win the medal! Are you kidding? The winner is the one who makes it first across the line…if its not you, then it will be someone else!

'Ideas' give a great adrenaline rush - a feeling of euphoria. We often get caught up in lengthy discussions about the idea – we call it brain-storming! However, the idea is only worthy, if it makes its way out of that room and gets executed.

Get started!

- The HR Store

Friday, February 6, 2009

25 Years of Tech Blunder!

CNBC has listed 25 Tech Blunders that the customers could have lived without!


The Nokia N-Gage was my biggest disappointment! Which product had you placed the bet on?

- The HR Store

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Unfortunately....It's easier to be a Pessimist!

You had a fantastic idea to improve your Employee Relations in your company and it required your manager’s approval to implement. You knew the idea made sense logically, logistically, practically and economically. The idea was best explained in the form a PPT (PowerPoint – HR’s favorite tool!) which you did prepare well into the wee hours of the morning. After all, sleep wasn’t a priority over your idea! All set to give the presentation to your team and your reporting manager during the course of the day.

The presentation went well enough to have everyone’s attention. The team felt it was an idea that could change the HR Outlook (we still believe in ourselves!) within the company. This could bring more credibility to work that gets done on a day-to-day basis. You take in all the applause and then turn to your manager (who was sitting silently through all the excitement) waiting to see an approval nod. All you cared for then, was your manager’s consent and support to implement. He said NO! The idea was not possible to implement, it could have negative repercussions, the idea could back-fire, it’s NOT ‘tried & tested’ before! How could that ever happen if the idea was new?

This is a very common situation both in personal life and at work. You see being a pessimist is easier, because it gives people the chance to say the magical words - ‘I TOLD YOU SO!’

Pessimism is like a ‘virus’ that can spread easily. Over a course of time, it can consume even the most courageous ‘positive-thinkers’, make them weak and disillusioned. It’s dangerous to go down that path.

On the other hand, ‘Optimism’ is a lot tougher to understand. It’s a feeling, an emotion, a thought – which makes you believe that things can change! It tells you that YOU can make that change happen! It requires courage to take on ‘Pessimists’ and Only-The-Strong-Survive!Optimism can be additive and it’s definitely a good addiction!

So the next time, you hear someone say ‘I told you so’ – don’t bother! The very same people will be singing your praises when you make things happen! After all, you don’t lose much when you are a pessimist – you only lose hope, courage and belief in yourself!

- The HR Store

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Push Your Limits!

Very often we come across awkward situations at meetings - at moments which require a ‘volunteer’ to take up responsibility to complete a certain task. The meeting audience suddenly gets jittery, restless; avoiding eye-contact, ‘the shoe lace just needed to be tied’ and every other trick in the book to happily pass the chance to someone else. After all, it’s not a lottery that will get you a winner’s check!! Right? N0! You may be wrong. Actually, you’ve just blown a potential future check! Really!

Unfortunately, the ‘want’ far exceeds the ‘need/will’ to do a certain task. Not all tasks require you to do something drastic. They only ask for your perseverance to get it done!

We all have our reservations when it comes to taking-up/volunteering for a job, since it requires us to:
- Go beyond our line-of-duty
- Use personal time to complete the task (yes! It does happen)
- Coordinate with too many people to get the task done
- Loads of dependability and accountability
- and many more such reasons to avoid the task!

I suggest you do re-think that ‘avoid-at-all-cost’ strategy. In hard times like these, we need to put a little extra into everything we do. It’s time to ‘Push-The-Limits’! Organizations worldwide are looking for people who can double-up their workload, and yes! those people are getting rewarded too – they get to keep their jobs!

- The HR Store