Saturday, September 18, 2021

Your signature style

The leaders in all spheres have their own unique style. The style of influencing by overall behaviour while interacting with others. In the last blog we discussed gravitas. Gravitas play a significant role in influencing. However, an essential element of gravitas is the unique signature style you have. Every person has the opportunity to demonstrate the leadership behaviour, however if you synchronize this with your signature style, the impact is more.   

Image: Pixabay
While deciding the signature style think about following building blocks,

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • How do you create your impact?

Who are you?

While answering the first question, we need to introspect and decide what leadership style you can adapt depending upon your organization, culture, and circumstances. There is a lot of research and material available on leadership, but still, you can’t decide what works for you. Leadership is about experimentation, exponentiation and learning through the process. You may have your experiences where you have demonstrated those behaviours which had a long lasting impact. Learn from those and decide your signature style based on those experiences. 

Self-awareness is the bottom-line. Assess your leadership style and reflect on those elements of leadership. You may be an authoritative, democratic, coaching, or situational leader. Just think, is that style helping you to create the right impact? If not, start working on those behaviours. There is no right or wrong in leadership styles but it is always good to understand what works for you in a given circumstance.

What do you do?

Just imagine you are observed in a lab by senior leaders, team, peers etc in your organization. You are constantly watched, and your behaviour is recorded, what will you do? Perhaps you will become cautious, perhaps stressful, and maybe you will make some mistakes. This exactly happens in the real world, you are always watched and observed; opinions are made about you by the people. If you have a strong signature style, people will relate your behaviour with your style. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But this will help you how you are able to create an impact on others, positive, negative, or neutral?      

One of the elements of your style is understanding how you are likely to react to and deal with complexity and ambiguity, how you are confident while handling the crisis and difficult situation, identifying situations and contexts in which you are likely to be most successful and where your leadership skills are stretched

How do you create your impact?

One of the leaders to whom I worked always emphasized authenticity and he was absolutely right. Your every action and every word has an impact on others. People may not understand your intentions but if you have the authenticity people understand the intentions. Authenticity creates the impact. You can demonstrate that impact by your signature style. If you have leadership differentiators, acumen, ability to define the purpose for the larger group, ability to create the sense of purpose, the impact can be seen manifold.    

Developing your own signature style is an ongoing process, it starts with developing your emotional intelligence, specifically self-realization and social awareness. 

I found following quote very interesting to reflect upon,

“You had only one chance for a signature in life, but most people left no impression.” Quoted by Meg Wolitzer. 

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Gravitas


Whenever I have interacted with leaders who are leading an enterprise, function, or any impactfull social initiatives, one of the common things I observed is their confidence, courage and composure. They have a personality which influences the followers and team members not because of their disposition but because of their ability to create the invisible aura around them.


Gravitas is an important imperative of leadership and executive presence. Most of the leaders failed because of the absence of gravitas. In simple English it is a noun, meaning dignity, seriousness, or solemnity of manner, but it is about ‘how you act’.  It has become a skill which is rarely discussed. If you learn it, gravitas will enable you to command respect and your chances of promotion to leadership roles are higher. In a new way of working the gravitas seems to be formal and may be considered as old age skill, however it is not about the formality of being serious, dignified etc but it is about the authenticity, confidence, influence, and authority by informal ways.   


Simply, gravitas means communication with confidence, influence, and authority. It is one of the elements of executive presence which leaders have to demonstrate. The fact is that people having gravitas are taken seriously, their contributions are considered important, and they are trusted and respected.


People with gravitas lead better, present better, communicate better and network better. In a competitive environment, leaders who have gravitas build stronger relationships, win more business, get promoted more quickly and get better results.


Few aspects of gravitas are as under:


  • Confidence, pose and grace when you are under fire.  

  • Decisiveness and demonstrating assertive behaviour. Showing you are capable of fighting and defending yourself.

  • Integrity and courage to speak the truth,

  • Emotional Intelligence,

  • Reputation and your expertise 

  • Vision and ability to align the team to the larger purpose.    


Can you develop it? And how?


You can earn it.


  • As per the saying, “Knowledge is the king”. Learning to convert that knowledge in wisdom is the key step in developing your authenticity. People should feel comfortable to speak with you, come to you when they need suggestions, guidance or directions as a leader. In the modern organizations where authority works seldomly, you need to earn that respect by your knowledge and connections with the team.  

  • Decide how you want to be known in professional circles, society, community etc. if somebody asks about you, how will they describe you? 

  • Self -awareness is always critical in developing gravitas. Understand your strengths and blind spots and take feedback and be positive about it. 

  • Work on the impact and influencing skills.

  • Practice the elevator pitch.

  • Identify that ‘Uniqueness’ which suits you which can be your signature style.

  • Build rapport and trust by demonstrating curiosity about your colleagues’ lives outside of work or sharing something about your own. -Focus on building courage along with confidence.

  • Give respect and take respect.

  • Work on your overall presence.


Developing gravitas is difficult and it needs continuous efforts but you can get there if you have the right mindset and attitude.

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Conflict and Relationship

(Cartoon sketched by Atharva Vinod Bidwaik for the book "Vitality in Human Resource") 

In most of the relationships, either in personal or professional life, conflicts occur because of lack of proper understanding, communication, and respect. Somebody rightly said, “Without communication, there is no relationship. Without respect, there is no love. Without trust, there’s no reason to continue.”

Over time, behaviours are changed and that escalates conflicts which may damage the relationship. Those behaviours become the normal part of communication between partners, friends or among colleagues. Generally speaking, conflicts occur because of four behaviours in any relationship. Those are as under:

Behaviour 1:

Criticism:

Problem: Wise people said, “Don’t blame the person, blame the behaviour of the person.” We missed this. Blaming is pointing and if you blame somebody, it makes him/her defensive. While criticizing, the focus is on perceived personal shortcomings instead of changeable behaviours. For example: “You again made a mistake, you are dumb.”

Solution: “Communicate unto the other person that you would want him to communicate unto you if your positions were reversed.” quotes Aaron Goldman

The best solution is to deal with problems in a calm and gentle way. The focus should be on the problem, not the person. The person in question should also take it positively. Feedback is always a gift which helps the development, however when you take the feedback personally, conflicts occur. For example: “I am disappointed by your mistake, can you take corrective actions and ensure that such mistakes don’t happen.”

Behaviour 2:

Being Defensive:

Problem: When the feedback is given, the person takes it personally and becomes defensive. S/he doesn’t take ownership of his/her behaviour and starts blaming others and circumstances. There are a lot of excuses to justify the mistake. For Example: “This is not my fault. I sent the mail and I have not received any response from him.”

Solution: Own up to your behaviour without blaming others or circumstances. Feedback is like a gift. As said by Ken Blanchard “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” If you want to be the champion and take control of your life, always seek feedback and demonstrate the right behaviour. Say, “I have sent the mail, I have not received the response yet, I should have just picked up the phone and called him.”

Behaviour 3:

Showing disrespect:

Problem: People love themselves. They need to maintain their self-image. Showing anger, disgust, or hostility towards the next person, creates conflicts. Making them scared, threatening them about the negative consequences, being sarcastic and showing the power, hurt the people. Some people are experts at throwing tantrums. This is toxic in any relationship and also in organizational culture.    

Solution: Make people comfortable and help them to realise their behaviour. Explain to them two sides of the issue, negative and positive consequences. Appreciating the right time, showing respect and creating trust (ART) build a strong relationship.    

Behaviour 4:

Stopping to communicate or stonewalling:

Problem: The person withdraws emotionally, shutting down, or going silent during important discussions. S/he stops communicating and listening. Based on the situation, the person avoids having difficult conversations and goes in the capsule. However, because of this behaviour nobody is able to solve the problem or issues.   

Solution: Self reflection is the key. Understand your blind spots and try to improve on the same. The key is not being passive, aggressive or playing the card of victim but being assertive and understanding the actions and meaning of those actions. Be positive and try to speak about the problem and not the person.

The key in a healthy relationship is listening and understanding the next person. There is always a story behind any conflicts and relationship, it is upto you how you make that story interesting and with a happy ending. 

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Protective factors in life

Challenges and struggles are an integral part of human life. There are very few people who easily get what they wish for, however the majority of people have to stretch themselves and have to come out of their comfort zone. To live life and make it happy is an internal state of mind. There are millions of people who wake up early in the morning, go to their job, (now during a pandemic, log in on the computer while working from home), listen to their managers, get the job done. The reasons behind going to the job are different. Some People want to live a happy life by achieving more, some want to give the education to their kids, and some run for loans. Everybody chases their dreams. During this process, people get success and failure. People live with a big burden on their shoulders. Stress, work pressure bring disappointments and frustrations. Everybody becomes part of the rat race; they may not like to be the rat in the rat race, but they are unable to find another option. We are not rats; we are human beings. Unfortunately, very few people in the society have the right ecosystem to support them. The problem is that both success, and failures bring stress. The overall scenario is impacting mental health. Organizations are investing in their people to support them in their life, however is it enough?    

Image from internet
Finally, it is you, who has to take actions for your good life. How to do this? The best way is to find out those protective factors in our life. Protective factors are your defense system, in case your mental health is affected because of struggles and challenges in your personal and professional life. It helps you to bounce back in setbacks and to be resilient. We need to develop those protective factors in our life. Unfortunately, in the rat race, we forget to take those protective factors along with us. In fact, we totally ignore those factors. 

Those protective factors can be classified as under:

Social factors: Generally speaking, this is society around us. All of society may not be useful for you. Sometimes people don’t recognize your success because of their jealousy.  Jealous people don’t want to see you better than them. And hence it is very important to identify those relationships which would support you in case of setbacks and challenges. It includes relationships, family members, friends, teachers, coach, and mentors. However sometimes this also may not work. Hence many protective factors are out of the control. Your protective factor only works when there is the respect and unconditional intentions of the next person. Find out those close family members and friends to whom you can speak about your problem without any fear. Their ability to understand you will determine how effective they are. This also depends upon the level of support you are looking for. Parents, spouse, and children are natural protective factors and then comes your family and friends.

Coping skills: It is said that you are the first person to help you. This is your ability to manage uncomfortable emotions in a healthy way. Resilient is one of the skills which helps you to manage setbacks. Emotional Intelligence is the key part of coping skills. Ask the questions yourself, are you aware of your own emotions & feelings? Do you recognize the impact of the same on your behaviour?

Health: Physical health is very important. Proper exercise, healthy diet and enough physical activities including simple walk or cycling keep you fit. More you fit, the more your ability to manage stress, failure, and struggles. The benefits of physical activities are amazing. That’s why our ancestors told us, “Health is wealth.”

Purpose: It is the reason for being. If you have a strong purpose, your power increases, you become passionate and then struggles become tiny. This is a great protective factor in our life. Finding the meaning in life will help you fulfill the purpose and goals in life. We can’t live life as it comes. There should be the reasons you get up in the morning. If you have a purpose, it can guide life decisions, influence behaviour, shape goals, offer a sense of direction, and create meaning in life. The overall process makes you strong.

Thinking: Albert Einstein quoted, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking”. You become what you think. Healthy thinking is one of the protective factors in your life. We all are the victims of cognitive distortions. Every event in our life triggers irrational thoughts in our mind. Those thoughts influence our behaviour. Everybody experiences those thoughts but if it is more extreme then, it is harmful for us. Identify those irrational thoughts. Think how you can use your strengths and weaknesses rationally in life. Thinking clearly by understanding different biases, irrational thoughts will make a stronger self.

There is another protective factor like hobbies. Hobbies give you energy. Pursue your hobby and make life easier.

Check the level of those protective factors currently you have and make your plan to make it stronger. Remember the stronger your protective factors, stronger you are. Protective factors are your immune system which helps you to keep you healthy mentally. 

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

In search of gold, we are losing the diamond

After the pandemic, few skills are in full demand, especially IT skills in India. Digitalization was always one of the agenda in companies’ strategy documents, however it is accelerated because of the pandemic. It means that these skills became crucial in view of organizations fast tracking their digital agenda. 

Does this mean that the situation will remain the same after 3-5 years? Definitely not. Another issue is about the artificial scarcity created by the talent itself. Imagine, you have one offer in hand, and you have resigned from your current company. You are on a notice period. As you are not committed to the current organization now, you start further exploring opportunities in spite of having the offer in hand. You get another offer during the notice period. Now your current organization wishes to retain you and matches your salary with a second offer which is almost double of the current salary. As you have enough time in hand and you get another offer with a triple salary. Because of the notice period and your delayed joining, you start shopping. Ideally it is the only one talent, but because of the insane behaviour of the market and pressure from the business you get multiple offers. Ready-made skills are always attractive for certain periods. 

During the process other organizations could have seen other talent but the assumption is that having multiple offers means great talent. Instead of searching, the talent organizations are only focusing on particular people who are active on job portals and LinkedIn.  

Because of short term focus, organizations and candidates are missing the long-term actions. They want to save the present, but they lose the future. Organizations need to think of “the dual strategy” which means, you build a strategy not based on one outcome, but you also consider the future. For example, you don’t only focus on the short term (hiring the skills from the market) but also start to build up the current and future skills within an organization for the future. Of course, organizations should have done this at least a year back. 

While doing this, there should be some assumptions. Even in the past everybody knew that certain skills are in demand and will be in demand. This is the game of supply & demand but sometimes business leaders are so desperate for short term gain given the reason of cost competitiveness while missing the long-term actions. 

Two years back, the software engineer and IT skills were right sized and fired. The reason mentioned by those companies was performance but actually it was slimming the organizations. This resulted in the formation of unions in certain areas. There were complaints filed against those companies in the labour office and labour courts. Now same talent has become crucial for those organizations. All assumptions were fragile.

A well-known author, Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book, “Anti Fragile” writes, “there are three distinctions when describing systems, organizations etc, i.e.  Fragile, Robust and Anti-Fragile. Fragile systems and organizations are vulnerable to all kinds of unforeseen events or pushes, like the situation we are seeing now. Robust ones can withstand them. Anti-fragile ones even benefit from potentially unforeseen events. The key is to build your system, organization or company as much as possible in a robust or even anti-fragile way.”

I understand the panic situation of those organizations because of the business pressures but they had a great opportunity in the past to build the robust talent management systems in their organizations. They are looking for the gold but lost the diamonds which could have been perhaps more beneficial. 

The problem is not with that talent who is shopping the job from one company to another company, the problem is with the organizations who are allowing them to do this. unfortunately. Building a robust organization and system is still far away.  

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Achieve your big dreams by taking small actions

Few years back, the editor of one of the dailies called me and requested to write the weekly column for their supplement. The column was supposed to be published weekly for a year. When I visualize the year, I thought, how I would do that. Further I had to commit to writing and sending articles every week. Writing seldom is very easy without any commitment. There were challenges of taking time out for this task and then having consistency in writing. Readers also should feel engaged. For me it was a mammoth task. I requested some time to think. Finally, I decided to give it a try. I thought I would write one article a week and then decide depending upon the mood of my mind. 

I started writing and then it became fun. Initially I write one article once in a week but then in a flow, I used to write 3-4 articles in one sitting and used to mail regularly. The task which I thought was a mammoth task, became simple for me. Topics were challenging but interesting; readers appreciated it. I was able to engage them. Secondly, I started enjoying writing regularly. It formed a habit. The column was popular among youth and students. After that I am writing many columns for magazines and dailies. I created the habit of writing regularly. 

(Image: Internet)
Sometimes, we feel the task is very large, and we get scared. Take an example of driving to another city at night which is almost 250 km from your city. What do you look outside while driving? You can see only a few meters in the headlights of the car. So, in those headlights, you drive mile by mile and reach your destination. Life is like that. Most of the time, we don’t know how we will achieve our task, how we will reach the destination, but then there are some guiding principles to reach there. 

Find out your headlight: What is that guiding light which will help you to see a few meters away, you don’t need always to see beyond the vision. Starting the journey and taking small steps help you to reach your goals. 

Break the task in smaller tasks: This is not a new technique, but we don’t follow it. Most of the time, we are desperate to complete it in one stretch, which may result in failure.    

Author Dan Richards quotes about solving the problem “Break down the problem into smaller pieces and start dealing with them one at a time, piece by piece. The smaller the piece, the easier it will be to evaluate it individually and come up with the solution. You can also try solving one problem for one day.”    

It applies to your goals, tasks, dreams etc. Whatever you wish to achieve, break down that task into a smaller task or think about milestones. While writing a column, I started with one article, and I wrote many. 

We all have some dreams and wishes, unless we don’t convert them into goals that remain dreams and wishes. Don’t get scared by big tasks and goals. Find out the right headlights to reach those goals and break the goals into smaller achievable tasks. You will achieve what you wish.  

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga 

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Saturday, August 07, 2021

In the world of cowards, courage is precious

Demonstrating courage is not that easy. In the hierarchical society, you can’t ask questions. On the pretext of respect, you can’t challenge seniors, elders, teachers, and parents. If you do that, you are tagged rebellious. Managers don’t like challenges. Politicians and bureaucrats don’t like challenging questions. This is a sad reality of life. Courage and curiosity is killed during school days itself. That’s why the majority of the section don’t take a stand. They are always on the fence because being courageous and curious brings additional personal stress. In the society which follows majority decisions, the person who is courageous has to pay the huge cost of being courageous and curious. Great scientists and philosophers had to sacrifice for the benefits of society. From Galileo to Socrates, almost everyone had to pay the price for being curious and courageous. 

However, once people understand the intentions and benefits of being curious and curious, they follow you. I was curious but was not courageous because of the culture in which we grow. I realized that being courageous has more benefits than not being courageous. It is possible that you may be penalized for being courageous, but if you get the right ecosystem, i.e.  mature managers, understanding peers, great teachers, guiding parents and elders, you grow fast if you are curious and courageous. Courageous doesn't mean you are arrogant, but you speak your mind, take strong decisions, and finally take accountability of your life and decisions you take. Courage is a life skill. 

Kathleen K. Reardon writes in HBR (Jan 2007), “In business, courageous action is really a special kind of calculated risk taking. People who become good leaders have a greater than average willingness to make bold moves, but they strengthen their chances of success—and avoid career suicide—through careful deliberation and preparation.”

Of course, courage is not a heroic or brave act to show extraordinary capabilities or confronting the negativity with the egoistic reactions. It refers to the ability and willingness to confront fear, uncertainty, intimidation, or difficulty in life by having in-depth knowledge of one’s belief, liberation, and insight. Courage means asking logical reasons for doing something, assessing the beliefs, behaviours, practices, customs etc and challenging for a right cause. Courage is also speaking up and it is expected that respondents should respect the opinion and views of other people. 

I always encourage and ask my team to be courageous while performing their duties. 

Recently, my son, Atharva, who is in 12th, was given an assignment of English subject during mid-term. There were few topics, on which students had to write their opinion. This was an internal assignment. In view of the pandemic, we all know that their final exams are cancelled, and assessment is done on internal marks. Atharva choose one topic, “Student’s Life” 

He writes,

“Student’s life is considered as a person’s golden part of life. This phase forms the foundation and basis of a person's career and entire life. If a student has the ability and dedication, he or she will be able to become successful in the long-term career and life. This phase plays a major role in developing one’s thought process, ideology, and morality. 

Student’s life is not only about studies and examinations, but it is about acquiring real Knowledge. During this stage, a person is supposed to acquire knowledge to become more aware of the outer as well as inner worlds.

We all remember our school days because those days were the best and they gave us the best memories. We all remember all those happy days. But a student’s life is full of hardship and struggles. In India, education is now an industry. Each educational institution claims to be the best. I mean, take a look at my school; they claim to be the topmost school in the city, but they can’t even respond to emails or co-operate with students. Students’ lives have changed drastically over the last year thanks to the global pandemic. We were able to concentrate more on our studies but there was no human interaction, and the situation was a bit depressing. 

So, back to the student's life, a student's life is the best part of one’s life but being a student is being helpless. It is easy to be disappointed, but life is about preparing for disappointments.

In short, the life of a student is about discipline and hardship; hard woe punctuated by moments of fun and ecstasy.”       

Before submitting this, he showed this to me. We were aware that the comments about the school would not be taken positively, and it exactly happened. It was a hard and courageous decision during such a crucial period where the students’ marks are determined on internal assessment given by the school.  Speaking the mind about the student’s life, specifically comments on the school were taken otherwise by the teacher. The internal marks are compromised by speaking the truth.

But he is happy, I am happy. I am sure, allowing him to speak up his mind will help him in his future career. I am proud.     

If you want to make a difference in your life, always be curious and courageous. Don’t shy away from speaking up and asking questions. 

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Leadership Role Needs

Leadership is always a hot discussion topic in spite of having a lot of theories and material available on it. There are different views, different opinions, and different theories, still organizations are struggling having the right leadership in place.. Every research, every survey done internally and externally has some views on the leadership. On the other hand, if you search “thought leaders” on LinkedIn, you will get millions of profiles which list leadership and thought leaders as a strength of those individuals. This is a contradiction.

Leadership is a behaviour. Leadership has to be proved in the organization, then only it gets the recognition. However, one of the flaws one can say is that leadership is subjective, it totally depends upon the organizational context. That’s why employees and managers working in MNCs are not interested in working in Indian companies and vice versa. In both organizations leadership behaviour expectations are different. The great leader in one company may be a failure in another company. However, a true leader is someone who is flexible, resilient, adaptable and adjusts his/her wavelength with any type of culture and atmosphere.

I would like to make the leadership simple for you if you are managing a team directly or indirectly.

In any organization, there are three overlapping needs that have to be focused by the leader. Fulfilling these needs is the right recipe of leadership. 

Task Needs: These needs are mainly related to the results leader and his/her function needs to achieve. This is a typical management function where you are expected to set up targets, define workflow, define the task, planning, briefing, controlling, etc. but moreover aligning the team with a larger purpose.

Team Needs: to achieve the task, you have to build and maintain the team. You need to identify the right talent which is diverse in your team. Your team needs to be cohesive but still diverse and should be able to work together.

Individual Needs: Here you have to understand the individual needs, their aspirations, motivation. It is good to understand what are the driving forces that are motivating employees to come to the job every day, what are their development plans and how they can contribute to achieve the tasks.  

Leadership is not a rocket science, you have to prepare your right recipe which can be cooked whenever required, but sometimes you also need to change it as per the context and create new one. You have to add other dimensions in the recipe as and when required. Your leadership behaviours are spices that make the recipe best to consume. 

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Change Management – Futuristic View

During the pandemic, organizations started to realize the value of their People Capital. Employees supported full heartedly to continue the business, took risk of the infection, few employees were working from home, however majority of the workmen were serving the people, working in factories, delivering food and groceries to the society. People become innovative and creative in designing their business models, creating support systems, and also helping their organizations. Of course, there was another black side where employees were laid off, their salaries were cut, and benefits were withdrawn. Unfortunately, In India, we have a huge unemployment rate, people will forget their actions and they will still get employees in normal course.   

But it is clear that professional organizations have to take the people centric approach. The pandemic is also bringing a lot of change management initiatives, digitalisation projects etc, but employees are also expected to demonstrate new behaviours.

So, what should be the approach of leaders and HR professionals during and after the pandemic in change management?  

In any change, we have two aspects, emotional and rational.

Rational aspects are easy to manage, emotional aspects are difficult. Project failures are more when emotional aspects are not managed properly. Hence during any change initiative, one of the pillars in change management should be dedicated to the people. Generally, it is done, but most of the time, the importance is not given much. You will find 3 types of people anywhere, in society, community, or organizations.

Optimistic: in spite of having setbacks and their bad experience in earlier changes, these people are optimistic about the future. They give another chance and are instrumental in creating the positive atmosphere around them. Be with them and make them allies. They may be your opinion makers in the organization.

Pessimist: of course, these people are negative and always see the worst part of everything. They believe that the worst will happen from any change. These people are troublemakers.

Sitting on Fence: Majority people will sit on the fence without any positive or negative opinion. They watch, observe, and then decide what to do or to whom to support. If you ask them to do something during the process, they will do it depending upon their interest or they will do it half-heartedly.  Most of the time, these people will not communicate what they feel or how they see the change. Few people choose to sit on the fence because of insecurity or fear. You need to take these people along and ensure that they are communicated and heard properly. They need a strong story to change.

While working on different change projects or initiatives I have learnt a few things. During the change process, people have some expectations as under:

Alignment: Generally, most of the employees have a desire to understand the context for the work they do and understand how they make a difference. 

Involvement: Majority of employees who have a good attitude want to be part of the game and the bigger picture. They want to be involved where their work is affected, and they go beyond their routine tasks and responsibilities.

Attachment: Most of the employees have emotional attachment to the organisation and the work it does. They want to be consulted and respected. They want their emotional attachment to be recognised.

What is said is done: They expect to walk the talk. They expect that there is an alignment of what is said and what is done.

To fulfill those expectations, we need a powerful gear-set.

We need to change the gear at the appropriate time based on the culture and psyche of the organization. Psyche is a collective spirit of the organization. I have used the following gears while implanting any change in the organization.

Organizational gears 

Organization has to do some homework while designing the gear-set. The lever has three gears, i.e., awareness, purpose, and values.  

If you see the following gear diagram, first gear is always bigger as if awareness is created properly, shifting to the next gear is not that difficult.
Organizational gear-set
Once we do it, we need to communicate to employees what is expected from them during any change initiative or while implementing any project. We have to design those gears, assemble, and create another gear set. This gear set has to be handed over to employees through workshops and constant communication sessions.

Gear-set for employees:  
Gear-set for employees
These two gear-set are the part of the whole organizational change management project. Those go hand in hand. You have to handover those gears to the right people in the organization. Most of the strategies, projects failed because those gears are not designed properly, and the right people are not deployed for designing and changing those levers. The crucial thing is how you use the lever and shift the gears at the right time.

The problem is that the speed of the project is not dependent on the sequential shift of gears. You have to switch the gear back if required.

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Control or influence

Sometimes, some situations disturb us a lot. Those situations make us unhappy. Some situations have an impact on our life. Few years back, I had to face the labour unrest in one of the plants. There was a deadlock on the charter of demand and wage increase, which they were expecting. The organization was fair, and these all workmen were treated like family members. They were given all benefits from the day they joined. They were treated the same as white collar employees. However, they still approached the political party and formed the union. The political leader who was guiding them was expecting the favour from the company. It was not possible to entertain those union leaders. However, the management team was unhappy with the situation. Finally the organization decided not to budge on their demands which were unrealistic. This situation created unnecessary pressure on managers and their supervisors. They never experienced such a hostile situation in the past.

Once we realised that the hostile situation was because of certain reasons, I started to interact with workmen and supervisors informally. Further we established a cross functional team specially to manage this situation. It was necessary to build the trust and courage within the employees. Most of them were not interested in creating the issue to the organization and were expecting to resolve the issues asap.

When approaching a problem or any situation, it is important to break down the aspects of each situation so you can better understand how to approach the situation or event. Breaking it down can help you better understand your potential approach instead of engaging in unproductive issues and unnecessary disappointments.    

We started training and educating people on the following aspects.

  • Response of both parties to a situation
  • What aspects we both can control
  • And how can we engage, educate and empower them to deal with  

First part was more complex as we were dealing with human reactions.  We engaged everybody including internal union office bearers. During the situation we started discussing what is in control of local management and what is not, further we also discussed what is in control of workmen and union office bearers. This started breaking the ice. We also listed all the good points and benefits the organization was offering and how nicely workmen and union is cooperating. It took time, but workmen started reflecting. Finally, we agreed that we can control the situation and we don’t need to go for coercive actions. Workmen realised that the intentions of the management are good. This built the trust. 

We agreed the model with the union as per the following,

Situation >> Influence or Control >> Response >> Accept

During discussions, we always had an empathetic approach while dealing with the office bearers and workmen. We were aware that they were misled. Every point of the charter was discussed on this ground. During the process, we also discussed that if we don’t agree what will be the consequence on the organization and relationship. If they want to take it to the next level or escalate things like disciplinary actions, agitations, going for conciliation, going slow etc. what will be the long impact on both. Of course this was presented with facts, figures and examples. 

Within a month we signed the MOU and within 15 days all clauses from both sides were implemented.  After that we signed the CLA happily.         

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga 

Friday, July 09, 2021

Influencing without authority

(Source of image: https://arbre.je/2017/08/21/the-power-of-positive-influence/)

Being a team leader or manager doesn’t mean that you get the authority to do what you wish or what you think. After taking a role, within a few days, managers realise that nothing is in their control, especially when they are working with a networked and large organization. In a knowledge economy where your knowledge has value, you need to influence them with mindfulness. It is not an easy job nowadays. There are a lot of high-level individual contributor roles where you have to work cross functionally with different people where the team comes together for common purpose. In both cases, you have to influence others to get the job done. As organizations are becoming more matrix and web, there is no other option but to work in the ecosystem where you are successful only when you coordinate, collaborate, and consolidate.

You can make it by:

Coordinating: You have to invest your energy to coordinate with different stakeholders for informing, interacting, and educating them on your initiatives. Once you create a situation where coordination is smooth, it is easy for you to collaborate.

Collaborating: Once you are successful in coordinating, you can expect some reciprocation from others. In the collaborating stage, you set up a context, agenda, and expectations. In this stage, you need to create a common purpose. Your compelling story will create a more appealing purpose.

Consolidating: In consolidation, you work on common strength, complement each other’s strength, and support each other in case of development areas. Here you take actions of combining a number of things into a single more effective or coherent way.        

Once you consolidate your relationship with others your influencing journey starts. To become a truly effective influencer you must be able to choose the best ‘influencing mode’ for any situation and use that mode skillfully. You can choose your influencing mode based on your relationship and where you are, i.e., in coordination, collaboration or consolidation stage.

You can use your “influencing mode” in three ways,

Driver mode: If you set up your purpose and both are aligned, then you can use this mode. It’s about what you, the influencer, think and feel, and what you want. It’s about expressing that to another person in a way that shapes their subsequent behaviour.

When used well, people may refer to you as dynamic, someone who drives things forward. However, use your driving style properly. If you are too pushy in driving mode, people may not feel comfortable, and they may feel that you are trying too hard, and they may be defensive.   

Peacemaker mode: You can use this mode when you want to influence the person towards a common goal but in an amiable way. It’s about focusing on other people and what they need, want, or expect of you. Whilst you may not agree with them, you genuinely want to understand what they are thinking and feeling. However, be careful while using this. People may perceive you as a manipulator if you overuse this.  

Withdrawer mode: In this mode, you don’t think that interacting with another person is going to be productive for time being and hence you give the space to others. You withdraw from the conversations. However, if you decide to do it tactically and temporarily, your style may be considered constructive, but if you use this mode to abandon your influence purpose, it is unproductive. Use this wisely.    

You have to influence every day and every time when you are interacting with your team, with your manager or peers. However, when you don’t have direct control or authority you need to be more agile while dealing with different types of people. Emotional intelligence still remains an important skill while influencing when you don’t have any official position. Along with your skills, competences, and knowledge, you also need to think about your behavioural style while influencing others.    

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga 

Vitality in Human Resource is now available in paperback edition. Please click here to buy

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