Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Success’ Category

I’ve heard a lot of conversations about luck recently and have been reading a lot of comments about luck on professional networking forums. I thought I’ll share the Secret Formula to create your own Good Luck!! It works! So go out there and get lucky!!

Step 1 … Read More

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Integrity, ethics, transparency – some of the most used and abused words in the Corporate world. Every organization tries to fit these somewhere in their vision, mission, values but these are often the first to be sacrificed at the altar of ‘practicality’ and ‘business sense’… Read More

 

Read Full Post »

Feedback is a common topic of discussion with most top leaders. Most are happy to get some unbiased straight talk about themselves but there are also those who are reluctant to question their self-concept.  However, when provided real examples, many embark on a self-realization journey.  In the Indian context, in fact in a lot of other places too, honest improvement feedback is rarely forthcoming for people who’ve reached a significantly high position. Juniors don’t want to offend you and seniors, if any, don’t really supervise your activities that closely.

Enough and more has been written about how leaders can obtain feedback – 360 degree feedback mechanisms; identifying and creating relationships with juniors who can give feedback etc. etc. So we now have leaders who pride themselves on being “open” and believe their juniors can walk up to them and offer feedback, who have invested in taking online tests, who have implemented a 360 degree mechanism etc. But who are still not getting the quality of feedback they need for self-development. This raised an important question for me – Even for leaders receiving feedback, why were there such obvious blind spots?

Working with leaders is by no means an easy job. Recent research by See, Morrision, Rothman & Soll has shown that “powerful people are less likely to take advice from others, in large part because they have high confidence in their own judgment and don’t feel the need to incorporate outside views.”  They also observed that confidence was perceived by many as an important attribute of leadership. Thus they concluded that “many powerful people, over time, come to see taking advice as a sign of weakness, assuming that they should project total confidence in their views alone.”

This provides important pointers for us regarding how the feedback should be positioned, assessments undertaken, feedback shared and who should drive the process.  Here is what we have used to create fruitful and successful feedback mechanisms for Leaders and Organizations:

PRE-PREPARATION

  • Create acceptance for the feedback by aligning leaders’ expectations regarding the purpose of the feedback which should be purely developmental.
  • Keep developmental feedback separate from the appraisal process.  Especially for senior leaders keep the appraisal process focussed on targets and results and have a completely independent process for leadership development.
  • Identify the right people to drive the process. This should be someone whom the leader can respect, perceive as neutral and not having an organizational or personal agenda; and someone with the relevant expertise.

USING THE RIGHT TOOLS… IN THE MOST EFFECTIVE MANNER

Advanced organizations have it all – 360 degree, psychometric or behavioural assessments, Assessment Centres, Coaches on call. But do all these interventions talk to each other? Is anybody integrating the outputs from the external assessors and internal feedback mechanisms to paint a larger holistic picture for the leader?

Mostly feedback from the various interventions is shared completely independently. So on one hand, a psychometric assessment is providing the leader feedback about his/her personality of which he may only accept the part that is in congruence with his larger self image and beliefs. On the other there are 360 degree feedbacks. Studies have clearly shown that these surveys are often not taken seriously or that the intensity of feedback is much lower for senior members.  It also doesn’t help that organizations integrate this with the annual appraisal exercise or at least time it together. Then there are the standard assessment centres which most senior leaders ace, having experienced so many.

Breaking These Feedback Silos is the solution that has worked best in my experience. While independently these are not so effective, if you have an integrated team of experts that drive all of these and correlate them at every step, they can be brought together to create superior feedback the leaders can actually work with.

  • The psychometric tool generates the adjectives, the higher level personality assessment and anticipated areas of improvement
  • In parallel, the assessment centre gauges the demonstrated ability and behaviours in a controlled environment and responses to scenarios and situations.
  • At the same time, 360 feedback provides examples of demonstrated on job behaviours. This should not just be an online process which, as discovered by research, is not always taken seriously. It should be carried out in combination with introduction and sensitization by the expert team driving the process. In fact, where feedback is being sought from very senior people, one could use a neutral, external expert who can maintain a high level of confidentiality to collect feedback in person.
  • The expert team would then integrate outputs from all interventions to create a comprehensive and usable feedback.

The adjectives and characteristics identified being backed by real life examples will create the acceptance leading to higher self awareness which forms the base for any incremental transformation activity.

SHARING THE FEEDBACK

The manner of transmitting the feedback to the leader is an important determiner of whether it will be accepted and used. Unfortunately, leaders receive politically correct, very tactful and safely worded feedback both from internal people who don’t want to offend them and external consultants who don’t want to spoil the chances of getting future business. The ideal person to share this feedback should be one who:

  • Has been part of the complete assessment process, therefore having developed an understanding of the leaders’ strengths, blind spots, behavioural styles etc.
  • Can inspire respect from the leader
  • Is unbiased and whose only agenda is development for the leader
  • Is bold enough to show them the mirror in a manner that drives acceptance and inspires change

If this person also has the necessary expertise to take the relationship forward by being a coach in the leader’s developmental process, that would further strengthen the outcomes of the intervention

This approach will enable the organization to provide leaders tangible feedback they can work with, drive self awareness and inspire them on their improvement journey.

The author is a Transformation Expert, Executive Coach, Trainer, Change Management Consultant and also CEO of a small business group. To know more, contact the author at shweta@shwetahanda.com

This post has been published in The Financial Express as part of Shweta Handa-Gupta’s guest column

Copyright ©2011-12 Shweta Handa-Gupta. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

“I don’t believe in team motivation. I believe in getting a team prepared so it knows it will have the necessary confidence when it steps on a field and be prepared to play a good game.”

~Tom Landry (American player & coach, ranked as one of the greatest, most innovative coaches in National Football League)

How many of you have held your breath as you saw a trapeze artist let go and fly through the air only to be caught deftly by their partner? That split second when you thought they might miss… only to be followed by a sigh of relief as their brilliant teamwork shines through.  Have you had those moments in your work team too?  Those times when everything seemed to come together in a beautiful symphony to help deliver outstanding outcomes and you wished you could capture that synergy and make it work everytime. Teams don’t really happen naturally and you can’t force teamwork.

A team, according to me, is best defined as the coming together of a group of people with complementary skills to collaborate for achieving a common purpose.  It is the complementary skills, collaboration and common purpose that sets apart a “team” from other form of groups.  All teams typically go through Tuckman’s stages of group development – first they ‘form’, then ‘storm’, then ‘norm’ and finally begin to ‘perform’.  Attempts to make teams more effective have to focus on identifying the right people to ‘form’ the team, taking care of aspects that will hold the team together when they ‘storm’ and of course ensure the most effective ‘norms’ are put in place to allow them to start performing sooner and become more effective. Let us look at the factors that really differentiate high performing teams.

  • Complementary Skills – Teams need to be built with specific objectives in mind by identifying individuals with a diverse set of skills and abilities; as well as the aptitude to capitalize on these complementary strengths to achieve synergies while maintaining a healthy respect for different approaches and values. The right team mix is an important outcome of the ‘forming’ stage.
  • Collaboration– The level of collaboration has been identified by research as one of the key differentiators of high-performing teams. A number of factors need to be planned to foster collaboration
    • Strike the right balance between collaboration, interdependency and autonomy. Norms need to be set clearly defining the levels of interdependency and autonomy which will ensure that various parts of the symphony come together cooperatively to deliver the final results.
    •  Solid relationships should exist amidst the diversity. Actively create an environment based on mutual trust and respect since no team can perform in an atmosphere of animosity.
    • Involve everybody and encourage all to contribute. Respect for differences and the opportunity to disagree or be different without being punished is an essential part of encouraging people to participate
    • Create an effective conflict management process where differences are discussed openly and resolved.
  • Common Purpose – A team’s success is essentially dependent on a clear, relevant, inspiring, achievable common goal. The power of a team emerges from the members’ commitment and alignment to the goal. Not only does a clear goal focus energies, it also holds the team together during the ‘storming’ phase. Create a compelling vision of the future to provide a deeper sense of purpose to the team and always remember that high performing teams work with more ambitious goals than average teams.
  • Effective Processes and Planning – A successful business team always starts by outlining the necessary processes. The expression ‘complete work approaches’ takes on extra significance for high performing teams since defining the necessary processes, procedures and methods is important to their success. Have you ever heard of a good surgical team or an orchestra or even a sports team begin their attempt without identifying their approach, plan and processes?
  • Open and Continuous Communication – This factor can be ‘make or break’ for any team. The speed and quality of results delivered by the team are directly proportional to how fast; accurate, specific, timely and open communication is within the team. Communication also has a direct impact on the other factors mentioned above. Encourage team members to make time to share, discuss, express their opinions openly and grow together. High performing teams have little time to waste on confusion and misunderstanding and intentional efforts at straight talk should be encouraged.
  • Empowerment – Creating a team and not empowering them to make decisions is akin to putting a cake pan without batter in the oven and expecting a cake when the timer goes off.  The most talented individuals cannot produce results if they aren’t empowered to seek the ingredients, create the right mix and influence the results.  Set protocols, encourage independent thinking and create an environment that demands and appreciates informed decisiveness.
  • Defined Roles – While high performing teams typically need flexible role structures and multi-tasking, it is important for team members to understand their own as well as others roles in relation to the goal. Role clarity is essential to build synergies and understand interdependencies and is a natural extension of defining work approach and putting effective processes in place.
  • Infrastructure & Training – Most often overlooked aspects, both the right infrastructure and timely training are really hygiene factors. Ensuring the team has the infrastructure and resources required to complete their tasks and ensuring they get the correct information, knowledge and trainings required to excel their goals is essential for any leader who wants to create a truly cutting-edge team.

All of these will come together to create the right result-oriented high performance culture.  As a leader it is your responsibility to lay the right foundation by ensuring all of the above as well as to build trust, endorse inclusiveness, encourage initiative taking and create energy within the team.  Effective teams have a higher sense of ownership and it is important to develop individual leadership qualities and promote a shared leadership culture, a very delicate task.  Don’t forget ongoing evaluation and monitoring of progress and performance. Planned development will keep improving the team performance.

“I’ve always found that the speed of the boss is the speed of the team.”               ~Lee Iacocca

An adaptation of this post has been published in The Financial Express as part of Shweta Handa-Gupta’s guest column

Copyright ©2011-12 Shweta Handa-Gupta. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

New Year Resolutions!!! Just a cliché? Another ritual you go through knowing it won’t matter? Or something you do with full earnestness? (even if you aren’t always able to stick to them)

New Year is one of the few festivals that celebrates the passage of time, and makes us think of the year that presents itself before us. I like to use this opportunity to revisit my commitment to personal growth and set up a framework to ensure I utilize the New Year effectively to drive my goals.

I know people who say why wait for New Year to make resolutions, I can make them any time. Well, sure, you can. But do you? How often in the past year have you sat down to review your personal goals, track where you are and make an action plan? An advantage this occasion gives us is that it provides a predesigned time framework which we can fit our action plan and monthly review into. And we always get a reminder that it’s “that time” of the year again 🙂

As long as you are determined to make and achieve your resolutions, it doesn’t matter when you make them. The three simple steps below are designed to ensure you succeed:

  • Step One – Goal Setting:  Whether you will even get close to achieving your resolutions is often clear at this stage itself. Setting the goals right and setting the right goals is the first step towards achieving them.
    • Identify Areas of Focus for the year. Start by identifying your area of focus for improvement for this year. It could be health& fitness, career, relationships, home, charity etc. I know you want to focus on them all but prioritize, identify the top one or two and remember that you can choose again next year. Once the larger category is determined, setting goals will be easier.
    • Quality over Quantity. Make fewer and more clearly defined and important resolutions. Taking on too much will not allow you to focus your energy.
    • Make your Resolutions Personal.  Your goal should be about something you feel passionately for and not something someone else feels you should do.  Your commitment and efforts will only be for the goals you believe in.
    • Try to Sync your Resolutions with your larger Life Goals.  If your life goal is to achieve a defined level of success by a specific stage in your life, work backwards and identify what you need to do NOW, in this year. It could be ensuring you keep yourself updated in your area of expertise, investing in networking, getting additional qualification or any other. Amit’s life goal was to be making a difference in the lives of underprivileged people so one of Amit’s resolutions for the last year was to spend at least 5 weekends per quarter with an NGO which imparted vocational skills to people below the poverty line.  
    • Apply SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Time bound goals are not just for the workplace. Any goal should follow the SMART principle. So your resolution cannot be to just lose weight. It would have to be “I will lose 6 kgs this year at a pace of not less than half a kilo per month and not more than a kilo in any month” Quantifying goals helps in tracking achievement.
  • Step Two – Action Planning:Now that your goals are in place, it’s essential to put in place an action plan of how you’ll go about achieving them.
    • Break Down your Goals into a Series of small Steps/ Milestones. E.g. If your larger goal is to master a new area, have milestones attached to each step you have to take: such as “read the manual” as a first milestone, “view all webcasts” as a second milestone, maybe “attend training” as third, “start practising” could be fourth and so on till you get the certification or level of proficiency that you desire.
    • Attach action steps and a timeline to each milestone.  Having action steps and a deadline for each milestone is essential. To take the above example further, you might decide to curtail you TV viewing or facebook updating time to ensure you read and make notes from X number of pages each day to achieve the first milestone.
    •  Track Progress continuously and tweak your plan if required. The moment you let go of tracking is when you may start losing momentum
  • Step Three – Staying on TrackI know this is the tough one especially given our busy and sometimes unpredictable lives but, believe me, it can be done.
    • Write It Down. Writing down your goals and action plan and putting them up where you can see them ensures recall and helps firm resolve. This will help you draw up a definitive plan, track it effectively and give you the satisfaction of ticking off every step that you complete.
    • Share It. Building a support system has been identified as one of the key factors for people who managed to achieve their goals so tell your family and friends. Start a buddy system where you support your friends on their resolutions and they support you. It’s always hard to give up on something people know about and are encouraging you for.
    • Review & Revise. Set a timeframe for regular review and make sure you do it. Review progress, note what went right and what didn’t, find what you need to do differently, if at all and update the remaining plan.
    • Celebrate Small Wins. When you review, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for achievements. Celebrating small wins will keep you motivated for the long haul. (Just ensure your celebration is not detrimental to your goal like my friend who’d reward herself with a triple scoop, extra chocolate fudge sundae every time she lost half a kilo!!)
    • Focus on a Positive Vision of the Future. People who focus on the benefits of success have a significantly higher chance of fulfilling their goals than those who focus on the downside of failure. Our mind gets energized by a positive vision whereas it is very difficult to really put your heart into something where the only reason pushing you is the fear of how bad it could be if it didn’t work.

Maybe all of us won’t achieve 100% of our resolutions but even if you managed to do 70% that’s far better than giving up or doing nothing at all. There may be the occasional lapses but treat them as temporary setbacks and focus on getting back on track. Just one day has passed; the whole year beckons us, full of promise. I look forward to hearing about all your success stories of personal change and growth and pray this starts a cycle of rejuvenation for you every year.

For training programs or personal coaching on goal setting, driving change, increasing personal effectiveness contact the author at handashweta@gmail.com

An adaptation of this post has been published in The Financial Express as part of Shweta Handa-Gupta’s guest column

Copyright ©2012 Shweta Handa-Gupta. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

“Till you spread your wings, you will have no idea how far you can fly”

 Coaching and Mentoring are being increasingly recognized as important for the overall development of individuals. These terms are often used loosely and interchangeably but are very different from each other. While there are overlaps, each has its own value and it is important to understand which one we need before we embark on a mentoring or coaching relationship.

Mentoring is the download of knowledge, skills, information and perspective on a particular topic or area from a typically more senior/knowledgeable person to another and is useful in the following situations. If you are:

  • Seeking to learn from someone else’s existing knowledge or expertise
  • Seeking area/topic specific guidance
  • Seeking to learn and take guidance from someone successful.

A mentor can be anybody with expertise in an area, a willingness to share their knowledge and help you to achieve your own goals. Your mentor could be someone from your own function whom you would like to emulate and aspire towards or equally it could be a successful person from any other function or even industry who you can learn from and who would like to guide you. When Anil joined an IT services company as management trainee, his one aspiration was fast growth and his role model was a senior alumnus from his B school who had risen to the position of CEO at the age of 30. Anil requested and entered into a mentoring relationship with this senior to understand and emulate the work habits and career management skills that helped this person reach there. It is not necessary that Anil will also become a CEO by 30 but his career progression may be accelerated because he learnt the right things to do at the right time.

Finding the right mentor in your workplace can be an important boost to your career. For organizations, creating a culture that encourages mentoring provides not only more motivated and engaged employees but also an effective knowledge management tool.

Coaching, on the other hand, is a specialist activity and needs additional training and certification.  It is not so easy to define and is often confused with mentoring or counselling. Of all the definitions the one that has appealed to me the most and helped define me as a coach was the description of a coach as a “facilitator of individual performance or facilitator of individual excellence” The focus is on helping the individual increase self awareness and discover and tap their own potential. A basic premise that drives coaching is the belief that every person has immense potential within them and possesses the capability to find and create their own solutions.  It is the coach’s role to facilitate this journey. Coaching is rarely directive and doesn’t give you ready made formulae and solutions.

When identifying a coach, look for someone with the requisite training and more importantly use the first meeting to judge if the coach makes you feel comfortable. The best coaches in the world are people who manage to build that rapport with you and help you delve within yourself to learn in minutes things that would take hours to learn if someone would try to enforce them on you based on their own opinion. Sonali, a highly talented trainer found it very difficult for years to sell her services despite being a confident and articulate speaker with good networking skills. She then sought the help of a coach who simply by asking effective questions, summarizing, paraphrasing, reflecting and listening discovered, along with Sonali, that she had a deep-seated discomfort in asking people for things. She had always prided herself as someone who gives and doesn’t take. This along with a perception of salespersons as pushy and not entirely honest held her back from selling due to a fear she herself wasn’t aware of, that people might categorize her in the same bracket. The coach inspired her to think and change her perceptions. Sonali also realized that if she hadn’t discovered this fact about herself on her own, the chances that she would have believed any of these thoughts existed in her mind were very low.

Effective coaching would ideally leave you with a deeper insight into yourself and your blocks and the ability to identify your destination and create your own path. Coaching is right for anyone who wants to get somewhere and is willing to take some action, and make changes if required, to get where they want to go.

It helps both in relation to your work and life as it can help you identify personally relevant goals, choose the best action steps and stay on track. A coach provides with a safe and confidential place to offload and to get fresh perspectives and unbiased support. People who have used coaching services feel coaching helped them with:

  • Increasing self-confidence and self awareness
  • Redesigning their lives to become more self-reliant and take greater responsibility towards their goals and commitments
  • Increased productivity and personal effectiveness
  • Significantly better decision making due to a deeper understanding of their own world view and biases
  • Awareness of their own skills, talents and potential
  • Understanding their blind spots and reaching the root cause of their problems
  • Resolution of specific issues, dilemma for which coaching support was sought

Organizations which invested in employee coaching identified the following benefits in response to a survey:

  • Boost in employee involvement, motivation and productivity.
  • Improved interpersonal relations and teamwork
  • Performance improvement and self-development of employees and leaders
  • Effective tool for culture building
  • Strengthening of employees’ skills
  • Increased retention

Both mentoring and coaching provide organizations with powerful and cost-effective tools for increasing organizational productivity and performance and at the same time helping employees feel valued, encouraged and satisfied.

So next time you feel you can connect with a senior person and learn from him/her, don’t hesitate to establish a mentoring relationship. It can help you grow. Similarly, if something in your personal or professional life is leaving you dissatisfied and you feel something you want is not happening, reach out and find a personal coach who can help you. As was mentioned in an Ivy Business Journal “Coaching is the most potent tool for inducing lasting personal change.” Seeking external help is not common in our culture but the trends are fast changing.

To know more or for coaching or training solutions, contact the author at handashweta@gmail.com

    “He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened”                        ~Lao Tzu

An adaptation of this post has been published in The Financial Express as part of Shweta Handa-Gupta’s guest column

Copyright ©2011 Shweta Handa-Gupta. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear. ~Brian Tracy

Focus, Focus, Focus!! How often have you heard that said? Focus is the new mantra. But equally I hear people say ‘I can’t seem to focus!!’ The world seems to be competing with you for your attention all the time:). And this will just get more intense with the increasing proliferation of digital media.

Let’s get the basic tips out of the way first. You may have heard these before so here goes:

  • Plan your day in advance
  • Have clear results in mind
  • Prioritize ruthlessly
  • Track progress continuously
  • Break large activities into bite-size chunks so you can get moving on them faster
  • Learn to say no to people when you need to concentrate on something
  • Complete everything you start

Yes, these are very useful and form the basis of time and attention management but honestly, for this one, I believe there is no one size fits all. Each person has different responses to various external stimuli Eg. Some people concentrate better with music whereas others need silence to hear their own thoughts!! Some people work better with a plan while others spend so much time agonizing over the plan that they forget to get things done!!

I often get inspired byNewton’s first law of motion – “Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it”. Roughly translated that says an object in motion stays in motion. So the trick is to keep moving, fight inertia and concentrate on staying in motion and on track.

My first suggestion to you is to become aware of what takes you off-course most often – is it your phone? the ‘you’ve got mail’ pop-up? hunger pangs? coffee cravings? the cute girl/guy who sits on the other side? Or yourself? (Yes, sometimes we just distract ourselves because we don’t really want to do something) Once you have identified what distracts you, you are ready to roll

–  Make time for your distractions. I know popular advice is to stay away from your distractions but considering they are distracting you so often, be it your mail, phone, friend, coffee etc., it’s obviously something that takes up your mind space and something that you want to do. So schedule breaks in your work for these distractions and focus well the remaining time.

–  48 minutes of High-Focus in each hour. One trick that works really well forme is to break my hour into high focus periods followed by short breaks Eg. Focus exclusively on something for 48 minutes, spend 10 minutes relaxing, stretching or indulging your distractions and then use the remaining 2 minutes to get back on track and plan your next 48 minutes of high-focus activity.

This doesn’t mean you keep looking at the clock!! Use a timer and after some time your mind will get used to it. If you are so engrossed at the end of 48 minutes that you don’t want to stop, well then you are focussed anyway and maybe you don’t need this break :). The time span of high focus may be different for you and you need to experiment to find your perfect fit. The 10 minute break is meant to be an energizer so choose activities that perk you up and keep away from activities that pull you down. And remember, the key word here is ‘high’ focus not simply working at your usual pace and then getting up for a break every 48 minutes 🙂

–  Visualize you day. Don’t just plan the next day, try to visualize it. Try to live through it and identify your feelings as you imagine yourself completing each planned task. The points/ tasks where you feel negative emotions or lethargy are the red spots that need to be your high-focus points for the next day to stay on course.  Identify the triggers that caused these feelings during your visualization and try to get them out of the way in advance. Also, if there are activities you feel less positive about while visualizing simply because you don’t like doing them, simply plan to get them out of the way first or schedule them during a high energy time.

The best part about visualization is that it also gives you a picture of what it feels like when you have achieved the desired results and this can be the magnet for your sub-conscious mind to get things done.

–  Don’t forget to reward yourself when you’ve completed an important task in your day. These could be small rewards like taking out time for a chat with someone, playing a short game or simply a small piece of dark chocolate.

–  Meditation is not a complicated or time-consuming activity despite the many myths that abound. It can be done for a mere 5 minutes and still be immensely beneficial. It provides training in self-discipline to be able to focus on one activity and block out all thoughts from your mind.

So take out a few minutes, close your eyes and focus on nothing but your breath. Do not allow your mind any other thought for those few minutes. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it gets every time!!

At this point I rewarded myself for completing this blog by playing a short game(4 minutes) online so now I am back on track, ready to move on to the next activity on my agenda with renewed energy 🙂

If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent.

~Isaac Newton

Copyright ©2011-12 Shweta Handa-Gupta. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »