Saturday, July 30, 2011

Personal Excellence

You must have read this story. But let me tell you it once again. A gentleman was once visiting a temple under construction. In the temple premises, he saw a sculptor making an idol of God.  Suddenly he saw, just a few meters away, another identical idol was lying. Surprised he asked the sculptor, do you need two statutes of the same idol.
“No” said the sculptor.  “We need only one, but the first one got damaged at the last stage.”

The gentleman examined the statue. No apparent damage was visible.  “Where the damage is?” Gentleman asked. “There is a scratch on the nose of the idol. But where are you going to keep the idol?”

The sculptor replied that it will be installed on a pillar 20 feet high. The gentleman asked, “When the idol will be 20 feet away from the eyes of the beholder, who is going to know that there is scratch on the nose anyways?”
The sculptor looked at the gentleman, smiled and said, "The God knows it and I know it ".
The desire to excel should be exclusive of the fact whether someone appreciates it or not. Excellence is a drive from Inside not Outside.

An excellent life does not result from chance, fate, or good luck, but from a succession of excellent days lived in pursuit of a worthy purpose.

I went around an asked several dozen of my friends what they thought of when they thought of excellence – and here are some of the things they mentioned…  Great works of art, incredible feats of engineering, astounding accomplishments in science – like landing a human being on the moon – and of course the amazing levels of excellence attained by world-class cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and others.

Which then lead me to ask them WHO they thought of when they thought of people that they felt embodied the true meaning of excellence…?

The question is how they made this all. The only answer is through their personal excellence.

What is actually Excellence means?
Anything which you call excellence is
  • Unusual / Unique
  • Valuable
  • Superior
  • Outstanding
  • The Best
  • Surpassing all others
AS I looked at the definition of excellence – and at my own experience with people questing for excellence – it occurred to me that there is not really one set “position” or a single point that could be called “Excellence” – it is actually on a continuum…
I encourage you to be valuable – to work to be unusual and unique and to strive to become “Outstanding” but I caution you – that to cross that line to move toward superior – or to commit yourself and your life to becoming “The Best in the World” – that is a goal that may actually cost you your life – and everything in it!  To be the best – truly best in the world – is amazing – it can be done – but what it may cost you I don’t want to even imagine. 

My suggestions is absolutely strive for excellence – settle for nothing less – but aim for “Balanced Excellence” – a life of tremendous value – to yourself, your family, your career and community – a life of well-rounded excellence.

The Formula for Excellence
          Decided what it is that you really want to achieve.
          Determine exactly what it will take to achieve it.
          Focus every bit of energy and effort to achieve it.

The foundation of this all is your core values.  The core of excellence – the thing that differentiates the regular man from the excellent man is – clear, specific and strong VALUES.  There are many, many things that you can value – family, god, career, success, charity, contribution, honor – but to achieve any level of success your life must be “Values-Based.”

So what I have found is that people who achieve on a massive scale…

A Personal Philosophy of Excellence
You must define – in your own words – what excellence means to you and how you will pursue it and measure it in your own life.

The foundation of excellence is built on Values, Integrity Discipline and Focus efforts.
  • You must clearly define what excellence is to you.
  • Your definition must be “values based.”
  • You must have a specific and detailed plan to achieve you goals.
  • You must be incredibly curious about what it will take to achieve your goals.
  • You must FOCUS intently on achieving your goals.
  • You must have the discipline to keep focused on your goals – regardless of setbacks and difficulties.
  • You must have the discipline to say “NO”
  • You must have the self-discipline to make excellence a habit.
  • You must have the discipline to pursue excellence – even when those around you may not want you to…
  • You can’t just talk about excellence – you must live it.
  • If you want to achieve more than others – you have to work harder and longer – there is no reward without effort.
  • The work of excellence is measured in years and decades – not days and weeks.
So? All the best for your journey towards your Personal Excellence.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Push and Pull Strategy

“I have already sent an email to him, if he is not responding what can I do?”
“I have already asked him to that, but he is seating on the paper.”
“I can not do it unless he doesn’t send me the details.”

All above statements are common in corporate culture. Email is the best excuse given by most of the people. “I have sent an email, but he is not responding”. Just stating this, we skip the responsibility. By stating this, people throw onus on another person. Now a day, people are so used to emails that they ignore personal interaction. They take lunch together, they gossip together, they have fun activities together, but when they have to interact on professional front, they go for email. On same subject, they have multiple mails. But when issue is not resolved nobody comes out from the cubicle or workstation and speaks with the person seating next to him. This is a “technologically blindness”.

But then where is the accountability? Surprisingly people survive in the organization. This doesn’t always work. Circumstances can be changed anytime and bosses are not always good to protect you.

Above behavior is purely an unprofessional. Lack of professionalism may result into end of your career.  There are different personalities in the organization and getting work done from them is a real skill. The best way is to teach the “Pull and Push strategy”. Pull and Push strategy is used in the process to make them more simple and effective.  On assembly line one table pushes the material to another table if jobs are done and another table pulls the job if they need more. If both tables don’t understand each others requirement, then the assembly line would stop. Both tables have to work in harmony and with collaboration. If push is more than pull, the pulling table will be under pressure to push it another next table and vice versa. It really works well (peer pressure!)     

If we use this principle in our day to day life, your team productivity and accountability will improve.

For example, if somebody sends mail and other person does not send the respond, he really pulls the response, by taking follow ups and putting peer pressure. If required escalating the matter to his senior.  In another case if another person can pull the response and even push the response. Sometimes it also forces harmony and collaboration. It works well.

You can take out your team from technological blindness, by training them on pull and push strategy. Following are some strategies to improve on this.
1)   Coach your team on accountability if you are the leader. Accountability is the attitude where employee gets the work done in any case. At the end of the day, results matters. He can achieve the results by any means.
2)   Build the right attitude by being more communicative. If your emails communication has more than 3 REs, it is the right time to come out the space and have a direct communication.
3)   You are in the organization for achieving your and organizational goals. In professional life, peer pressure works. It helps both parties. Always build peer pressure by taking follow ups, pressuring on timelines and if required putting the issue on the table of higher ups.
4)   Push people, push paper, push an idea, push your uncompleted task, push communication
5)   At other side pull people, pull paper, pull and idea, pull the task completed and pull communication.

The only challenge is how to be more pushy and puller.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Talent Management - Check and Balances

You don’t know how people will response to your leadership style. Your direct subordinates may be convenient and may response differently in different situations. You can not sweet always with the people, not only due to the bad interpersonal relations but merely due to the professional fact. When you are good, they will be good but when you are bad (in their perspective) with them for mistakes, they will go into the capsule.  The problem is with the attitude and they do not understand the reality of the market.
You can be friendly with employees, but you can not be the friend of them. At least, in professional life and especially when you are working in Human Resource.  Imagine the incident where you have to issue the termination letter to non performer who is your cafeteria friend. Professional relationships are always vulnerable.

Organizations are the matrices of different human groups and relationship. Like minded people come together and form groups in cafeteria or near water cooler. Most of the gossips are discussed within these groups.  There are troublemakers and opinion makers.  There are sincere employees and there are employees who abuse facilities given by the company. In the changing world talent management is the major agenda on the table on the HR.  There are fun activities, employee engagement initiatives. The issue is where is the check and balances on the behaviour of the talent? Off course, including performance issues also.

There should be always checks and balances in talent management processes. The main challenge is to inculcate the professionalism and the right attitude. We all are aware about “Douglas McGregor's XY Theory” of managing the people.

Theory X is the 'authoritarian management' style which believes that the average person dislikes work and will avoid it he/she can. Therefore most people must be forced with the threat of punishment to work towards organizational objectives. It also says that the average person prefers to be directed; to avoid responsibility; is relatively un-ambitious, and wants security above all else.

Theory Y is the 'participative management' style which believes that the person takes effort in work is as natural as work and play. People apply self-control and self-direction and can be aligned towards organizational objectives, without external control or the threat of punishment.
They are committed to objectives and their motivation is associated with their achievement. They usually accept and often seek responsibility if they are provided the opportunity to use a high degree of imagination, ingenuity and creativity in solving organizational problems.

Do you believe this theory? After working so many years in HR and in different organizations, I started to believe on the theory. But which is more effective? Most of the people believe either one theory. They will fully believe on wither X or Y.  

In most of the cases most people prefer ‘Y-theory’ management. These people are generally uncomfortable in ‘X-theory’ situations and are unlikely to be productive, especially long-term, and are likely to seek alternative situations.

What does this means? I believe on check and balances and combination of both. We should believe that we have different personalities and our personalities are the consequences of our upbringing, surrounding and influences of society, parent and people around us.  This influence force us in either theory X or theory Y.  Sometimes mix of the both. You can not fully rely on one aspect.  When your subordinate has the repeated issues with understanding, then you have to match your style. Not necessary all employees will behave in same manner. As discussed earlier, there are different personalities and hence not a single theory works.  

You can be best boss, but subordinate also needs to be best employee.  Yes, you should do every possible effort to develop him. But when it does not work, you have to be in different style.  

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Are you radical?

You must have heard the world “Radical groups”.  These groups are of the people who are extremist, fanatic, fundamentalist and actually people who are extreme on their thoughts. I am not fond of these groups and actually I hate them. But what I like the word “Radical”. This word can be associated with words like “beyond the norm”, “extreme”, “revolutionary” etc etc. Another association with this world is “through, drastic and it bring velocity and energy to the person. 

I always ask myself how I am radical in my work, job, career and overall my contribution in the organization. I would like to add career after the word Radical. Yes Radical career.  What does it means? It is putting action into your job and career…it is the profound, and glorious, and terrifying, and absurdly difficult but infinitely rewarding process of transforming your current self into your ultimate self. Think back to those times in your career when you’ve performed at your absolute best, when you blew past expectations. That’s when you were in Radical career. “Radical career” is taking action to become the most knowledgeable, functional expert, powerful, valuable, and fulfilled version of you. Just have a look on successful people. What they have in common. They are fundamentally expert and erudite.

Career has different perceptions now a days and this must be the topic which is largely discussed. Books, blogs, and webinars that seek to help us create amazing careers. I often surprise about the target audience is for this stuff. Millions of people slog away at jobs they hate. There are millions of jobs that most people would not find desirable or fulfilling. It is not practical to believe that everyone can have a great career. Many people will have careers that are a means to an end, like supporting their families or paying the EMIs of their home and cars.

The most important factor in radical career is passion about the job. I choose my career and I have the passion; like actors have the passion of acting and singer of singing.

“Vinod, the beauty of these people (actors, singers and artists) is that they develop their passion and they get the money from their passion.” Once my friend Prashant was telling me about Zakir Husain. Husain is Tabala maestro because he has the passion in Tabala.  

If you do not have the passion, you are bound to make mistakes. I have seen the casual approach of professional (?) about their profession. I sense the passion for professionals who are really made their career. They are the most popular people in any organization because they live according to what’s possible. They are not confined by what is. They are not afraid (or don’t let it stop them) of smashing the status quo or breaking the rules.

If there is one thing that is changing in the world of work, it is that people are not settling for a lousy experience any longer. They know that life is too short to waste away at a job that does not provide challenge and satisfaction (or not enough) (or not a lot) (or not what’s possible). People value opportunity and challenge over security.

Research says that people want to love what they do. They are willing to work hard and make sacrifices to reach this level. Many people hate their jobs and are frustrated. If you show them how, they will do it. Anyone can learn to create a radical career that is fulfilling and enlivening by having expert and knowledgeable in their subject matter and mainly passion in what they do.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Oh No…, How to say “No”….

There are two types of people in the world. People who always say “YES” and people who always say “NO”. Both of these categories don’t know when to say YES or when to say NO. Challenge is to say YES or NO to right people at right time. “Yes men” are always perceived good boys. If you say yes, then you are good, positive person with right attitude. But when you say No, you are rebellious, egoistic, and you have the attitude problem. Saying yes is always easy, but saying no is very hard. The worst situation is when you say YES, actually you mean NO. Fact of the life is that you have to say NO for something in your life, otherwise you give the opportunity to the people to take the control of your life.     

“No” is such a simple word, only two letters. Yet saying "No" out loud is harder for most people than saying, "I'll be glad to..." (eleven letters) or "When do you need me to..." (seventeen letters)
The authority figures in our lives, our parents, bosses do not expect us to say "No." Many of us grow up to be people pleasers. The word "No" drops out of our vocabulary, and we substitute lots of ways to be agreeable and keep the other person happy. Saying "No" to the authority figures is not expected. And underneath it all we believe that saying "No" can cost us a lot in our adult life.

This all has to be related to our mindset of assertiveness. The question is how you are assertive to say, “No”.

Typically due to our upbringing and influence of our values of pleasing everybody, our “No” is accompanied by weak excuses and rationalizations. If you lack confidence when you say "No" you may think that you need to support your "No" with lots of reasons to convince the other person that you mean it. You might even make up an excuse to support your "No." This can backfire if the lie is exposed and again, you will sound ineffective because you need to have an excuse to support your stand.

However the aggressive “No” is done with contempt. "Are you kidding? Me, get your mail while you're out of town? “
Sometimes the aggressive "No" includes an attack on the person making the request. "You must be crazy. I couldn't take on a project that unimportant."

We do not want to be both of above examples. Your “No” should be assertive and stand on firm and on valid reasons. An assertive “No” is simple and direct.  Like, "No, I won't be able to help with that." If you would like to offer an explanation, make it short and simple. "No, I won't be able to help with that. I've already made a commitment for Friday afternoon."

Simple rules to say “No”:

  • When someone makes a request, it is always OK to *ASK FOR TIME TO THINK IT OVER*. In thinking it over, remind yourself that the decision is entirely up to you.
  • Use your body language effective. Use your nonverbal assertiveness to underline the "No." Make sure that your voice is firm and direct. Look into the person's eyes as you say, "No." Shake your head "No," as you say, "No."
  • Remember that "No," is an honorable response. If you decide that "No“is the answer that you prefer to give, then it is authentic and honest for you to say, "No."
  • If you say, "Yes," when you want to say, "No," you will feel resentful throughout whatever you agreed to do. This costs you energy and discomfort and is not necessary if you just say, "No" when you need to.
  • If you are saying, "No," to someone whom you would help under different circumstances, use an empathic response to ease the rejection. For example, to your friend who borrows money from you, you might say, "No, Rajesh (NAME), I can't. I know you need money desperately, but I have already other expenses in this month and I won't be able to help you.
  • Start your sentence with the word, "No." It's easier to keep the commitment to say, "No," if it's the first word out of your mouth.
Practice it

You can practice saying, "No," in you day to day life so that it comes more naturally to you.

Say No
  • to telecaller who disturbs you for credit card, insurance and holiday package etc.
  • to the perfume demonstrator at the department store;
  • to your friend's pets when they jump on you;
  • to the secretary who answers the phone and asks if you mind if she puts you on hold.
  • to your friend who ask you to drink and you don’t want to do that.
  • And many more…
Make it a project to say, "No," to something every day.

And off course, don’t say “No” to everything if you do not have the reason to say so. J

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