• Management Articles

    Everybody makes mistakes; that’s why they put erasers on pencils.

    A group of children were playing near two railway tracks, one still in use while the other disused. Only one child played on the disused track, the  rest on the operational track.

    The train is coming, and you are just beside the track interchange. You can make the train change its course to the disused track and save most of the kids. However, that would also mean the lone child playing by the disused track would be sacrificed. Or would you rather let the train go its way?

    Let’s take a pause to think what kind of decision we could make…………….

    DO TAKE YOUR TIME AND THEN DECIDE……..
    READ AHEAD……………… 


     

     


    Most people might choose to divert the course of the train, and sacrifice only one child. You might think the same way, I guess. Exactly, I thought the same way initially because to save most of the children at the expense of only one child was rational decision most people would make, morally and emotionally.

     But, have you ever thought that the child choosing to play on the disused track had in fact made the right decision to play at a safe place?

    Nevertheless, he had to be sacrificed because of his ignorant friends who DELIBERATELY chose to play where the danger was.

    This kind of dilemma happens around us everyday. In the office, community, in politics and especially in a democratic society, the minority is often sacrificed for the interest of the majority, no matter how foolish or ignorant the majority are, and how farsighted and knowledgeable the minority are. The child who chose not to play with the rest on the operational track was sidelined. And in the case he was sacrificed, no one would shed a tear for him.

    The great critic Leo Velski Julian who told the story said he would not try to change the course of the train because he believed that the kids playing on the operational track should have known very well that track was still in use, and that they should have run away if they heard the train’s sirens. If the train was diverted, that lone child would definitely die because he never thought the train could come over to that track! Moreover, that track was not in use probably because it was not safe. If the train was diverted to the track, we could put the lives of all passengers on board at stake! And in your attempt to save a few kids by sacrificing one child, you might end up sacrificing hundreds of people to save these few kids.

    While we are all aware that life is full of tough decisions that need to be   made, we may not realize that hasty decisions may not always be the right one.


    “Remember that what’s right isn’t always popular… and what’s popular isn’t always right.”

    Everybody makes mistakes; that’s why they put erasers on pencils. 

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  • Management Articles

    Get the Recognition You Deserve – Learning how to get praise

    Imagine this: You stay late at work, consistently win accounts that your co-workers only dream of, never miss deadlines, and never show up late – and to top it all off, you finish even your worst projects successfully and ahead of schedule.

    You’d think that by doing all of this, you would, at least once in a while, get thanks and recognition from management? Well… you wish. Unfortunately, your boss is busy dealing with a “problem” member of staff and, as a result, she forgets to show any gratitude to her stars. That includes you.

    Have you ever been in a situation like this? Working hard and being ignored by your boss can be rough. That’s why you sometimes have to take matters into your own hands.

    Boasting of your own accomplishments can feel awkward. But look at it this way: If your boss doesn’t notice your hard work, and you don’t point it out to him or her, then what happens when you ask for a raise? How will he or she know you’re ready for that promotion, or that you’re ideal for that huge-but-fascinating project?

    Things don’t have to be like that. We’ll show you how to get the recognition you deserve without looking like you’re seeking attention. Believe it or not, there is a way to do this.

    Step One: Decide What You Want

    There are many types of recognition, so decide what type you want.

    Companies often thank staff with awards, certificates, or bonuses. However, people often just want simple praise. We want to know that our work is meaningful and that we’ve made a difference. An “Employee of the Month” certificate, or a cold, hard check/cheque doesn’t always communicate this.

    So, what exactly are you looking for? It’s important to really define this, because everyone wants something different. Do you want a simple “thank you”? An award ceremony in your honor? A raise?

    Step Two: Define Why You Deserve Praise

    Don’t walk into your boss’s office with no advance preparation to say what a great job you’ve been doing. Why? Firstly, it would seem odd. Then, if you’re a bit nervous, you might forget something important that you’ve done. You might forget the help a co-worker gave you, and leaving that person out could speak poorly of your character. Be sure to make yourself look good, but also share credit where credit is due.

    Make a list of the accomplishments you’d like to discuss. Beside each one, list the value that accomplishment has brought to the company.

    Step Three: Praise Yourself

    This is where you’ve got to get creative. You know your boss and your business environment, so think of ways to let your boss know how hard you’ve been working.

    If you tell your boss directly, then do it carefully and tactfully – in a private area. You know that list of accomplishments you just created? Read that over a few times before your meeting. As you talk, emphasize how you had help and how your co-workers should be rewarded for their hard work as well.

    If this feels a little too much like bragging, then think of ways to let your boss know what you’re doing without being so obvious or bold. For example, send your boss an email every time you win a new account, or when you’re finally able to please your company’s worst customer. These little “progress reports” keep your actions in the open in a delicate, not-too-obvious way.

    You can also praise others in front of your boss. By bringing their hard work and accomplishments to your boss’s attention, she may also notice the great job that you’ve been doing. Keep it genuine and honest, however. If you appear insincere, then people may notice, and you may look bad. If you have something good to say, then say it, but don’t speak up if you don’t really mean it.

    A Few Tips

    • Look closely at your boss’s actions – he or she may be praising you, and you may not even realize it. For example, let’s say you spent hours writing the annual message to shareholders, and your boss only glanced at it quickly before passing it on to be copied. Before you get upset, consider that her actions may really say that she trusts you to do top-notch work, and she doesn’t have read every line to know you’ve done a great job. Yes, a “thank you” for a job well done is nice, but this kind of trust is also a compliment.
    • In your work environment, perhaps all the problem behaviors get noticed, and all the really great ones seem to be ignored. If so, then you may have to do something bold to get management’s attention. Tell your boss honestly how members of the team need some recognition. Keep the focus off yourself, and help your boss understand how everyone would be more motivated if they just got a little praise now and then.

    Key Points

    Although not everyone is comfortable talking about their accomplishments, you might harm yourself if you don’t speak up.

    If your boss doesn’t see the great work you’ve been doing, he or she might give that promotion or special project to someone else without knowing any better. It’s up to you to prove that you can handle the added responsibility – and to do that, your boss has to know what you’ve already done.

    Think of subtle ways to get your boss’s attention by talking privately, sending emails about small accomplishments, and praising your teammates when he or she is around to hear it. Even if you keep the focus off yourself, it may get him or her to notice what you’ve been doing as well.

    Apply This to Your Life:

    Ready to put this into action? Here are some easy ways to use this tool in your life right now:

    • Use our strategies to win the praise you deserve.
    • Begin by recognizing the accomplishments of others. If you notice co-workers doing something great, send them emails praising their efforts, and send copies to your boss. This can show your boss that you’re leading by example.
    • Don’t forget that your boss might need some praise and recognition too. Send him or her an email when she’s made a difference in your day, and consider copying that email to his or her boss.
    • If you’re a team leader, keep your eyes open for activities and co-workers that deserve praise. Whenever someone does something that’s earned a heartfelt “thanks,” send that person an email and copy it to your boss.

    These are just a few ways you can “raise the bar” in your workplace to get other people thinking about praise and recognition. When you recognize the efforts of your team, you should steadily earn your own praise as well.

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  • Management Articles

    Finding Your Allies – Building Strong and Supportive Relationships at Work

    “A problem shared is a problem halved”, as the old saying goes, and it’s true in business as well. When it comes to working your way through the challenges that you face every day, it’s a great help to be able to draw on a network of supportive individuals that you can work with to find a solution.

    Allies are the people who give you backing, assistance, advice, information, protection, and even friendship. They are your support base. With strong, mutually beneficial relationships with your allies, you can survive and thrive in the corporate arena, and you can get things done quicker, and more smoothly.

    Working together with allies simply helps you and them achieve more. (Here, we’re using the word “ally” in it’s positive sense – we’re not implying that you’re trying to circumvent proper channels, engage in politics or game-play, or create any kind of “us and them” culture. It is clearly wrong to behave in this way.)

    Anyone and everyone who can help you achieve your objectives is a potential ally. Some are natural: These are people who share a common interest with you. The colleague who’s been around for years and can offer an invaluable voice of experience, the team member who is always happy to be a sounding board for your ideas, or the vendor who is ready to accept seemingly-impossible deadlines; these people are your natural allies.

    But you can find allies in unexpected places too. Alex in finance, who pulls together an extra report on your projects finances; Claire, the secretary, who tells you when the boss is in a good mood; or Simon, your ex-department head who is always available for advice. They too are important allies.

    Allies can help you directly and indirectly. For instance, if you’re running behind schedule on a project, your subordinate can help you directly by working longer hours, while your boss can help you indirectly by delegating another part of your workload to someone else.

    Building Your Personal Support Base

    This is one of the reasons that it’s important to be open and supportive to others in the workplace, and why it’s worth making at least some of your time available to help others out when they need help. After all, if you’re a positive and supportive person, many other people will be equally supportive towards you.

    So who could your allies be? Just your team mates? Actually, your list of potential allies goes much further than this!

    The table below provides an example list of allies, with the support you might be able to receive from them, and the returns you might be expected to provide to them.

    Possible Allies – And What They May Want…

    Potential Ally

    What He/She
    Could Do for You

    What He/She Might Be Expecting in Return

    Team Members

    Assist you with regular tasks
    Be loyal
    Be a sounding board

    Assistance with regular tasks
    Loyalty
    Recognition
    Credit – given both publicly and privately

    Boss

    Protect you
    Champion you
    Help you in career advancement

    Loyalty
    Support
    Assistance with his/her tasks
    Commitment
    Willingness to go the extra mile
    Image building

    Senior Management Members

    Protect you
    Champion you
    Help you in career advancement

    Loyalty
    Support
    Commitment
    Willingness to go the extra mile
    Image building

    Support Staff

    Willing performance of day-to-day functions
    Cooperation

    Appreciation
    Attention
    Recognition

    Gateway People (Secretaries, Executive Assistants)

    Provide you with access to crucial information and people

    Appreciation
    Attention
    Recognition

    Family

    Provide moral support, appreciation, understanding

    Moral support
    Appreciation
    Understanding

    More Experienced Colleagues

    Provide expertise, perspective, contacts, knowledge

    Respect
    Recognition
    Attention

    Networking Allies

    Keep you abreast of the general buzz
    Provide you advance information and background knowledge
    Provide you contacts
    Alert you to emerging trends and patterns

    Advance information
    Background knowledge
    Contacts
    Alerts about emerging trends and patterns

    Interest Groups

    Build influence
    Mobilize support
    Provide you with data

    Assistance for their cause

    Community Members

    Build influence
    Mobilize support
    Provide you with data

    Assistance for their cause

    Press

    Build influence
    Mobilize support

    Information

    Government

    Build influence
    Mobilize support

    Assistance for their cause

    Clients

    Provide inputs for new product development initiatives
    Provide referrals
    Provide preferential status

    Preferential status
    Willingness to go extra mile
    Business leads
    Referrals

    Vendors

    Provide extra assistance
    Provide preferential status

    Preferential status
    Business leads
    Referrals

     

    Tip 1:
    Don’t be naïve in the way that you approach people – be aware of people’s interests and duties, and understand that these may conflict with yours. Also, recognize that they may not be able to help you, for a variety of possible reasons including a very heavy workload.

    And with all this talk of mutual help and information sharing, make absolutely sure that you keep confidential information confidential!

    Tip 2:
    Allies can’t help you if you’re not doing your job properly. Make sure you make time to look after your allies, but make sure too that you do your job to the best of your abilities.

    Nurture your allies, and you’ll find that you can be so much more effective at getting things done. What’s more, things will get so much easier and more pleasant at work!

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  • Management Articles

    Leading Change When Business Is Good

    By the time Sam Palmisano took over as CEO in 2002, IBM had been pulled back from the brink. His challenge: finding a mandate to continue the company’s transformation. His response: a bottom-up reinvention of IBM’s venerable values.

    An Interview with Samuel J. Palmisano by Paul Hemp and Thomas A. Stewart

    In July 2003, International Business Machines Corporation conducted a 72-hour experiment whose outcome was as uncertain as anything going on in its research labs. Six months into a top-to-bottom review of its management organization, IBM held a three-day discussion via the corporate intranet about the company’s values. The forum, dubbed ValuesJam, joined thousands of employees in a debate about the very nature of the computer giant and what it stood for.

    Over the three days, an estimated 50,000 of IBM’s employees—including CEO Sam Palmisano—checked out the discussion, posting nearly 10,000 comments about the proposed values. The jam had clearly struck a chord.

    But it was a disturbingly dissonant one. Some comments were merely cynical. One had the subject line: “The only value in IBM today is the stock price.” Another read, “Company values (ya right).” Others, though, addressed fundamental management issues. “I feel we talk a lot about trust and taking risks. But at the same time, we have endless audits, mistakes are punished and not seen as a welcome part of learning, and managers (and others) are consistently checked,” wrote one employee. “There appears to be a great reluctance among our junior executive community to challenge the views of our senior execs,” said another. “Many times I have heard expressions like, ‘Would you tell Sam that his strategy is wrong!!?’” Twenty-four hours into the exercise, at least one senior executive wanted to pull the plug.

    But Palmisano wouldn’t hear of it. And then the mood began to shift. After a day marked by critics letting off steam, the countercritics began to weigh in. While acknowledging the company’s shortcomings, they argued that much of IBM’s culture and values was worth preserving. “Shortly after joining IBM 18 years ago,” wrote one, “I was asked to serve on a jury. When I approached the bench and answered [the lawyers’] questions, I was surprised when the judge said, ‘You guys can pick whoever else you want, but I want this IBMer on that jury.’ I have never felt so much pride. His statement said it all: integrity, excellence, and quality.” Comments like these became more frequent, criticism became more constructive, and the ValuesJam conversation stabilized.

    The question of what was worth preserving and what needed to be changed was at the heart of ValuesJam. In 1914—when the company was making tabulating machines, scales for weighing meat, and cheese slicers—president Thomas Watson, Sr., decreed three corporate principles, called the Basic Beliefs: “respect for the individual,” “the best customer service,” and “the pursuit of excellence.” They would inform IBM’s culture, and help drive its success, for more than half a century.

    By 2002, when Palmisano took over as CEO, much had happened to Big Blue. In the early 1990s, the company had suffered the worst reversal in its history and then, under Lou Gerstner, had fought its way back, transformed from a mainframe maker into a robust provider of integrated hardware, networking, and software solutions. Palmisano felt that the Basic Beliefs could still serve the company—but now as the foundation for a new set of corporate values that could energize employees even more than its near-death experience had. Looking for a modern-day equivalent, Palmisano first queried 300 of his senior executives, then quickly opened up the discussion, through a survey of over a thousand employees, to get a sense of how people at all levels, functions, and locations would articulate IBM’s values and their aspirations for the company. Out of this research grew the propositions that were debated in ValuesJam.

    After—and even during—the jam, company analysts pored over the postings, mining the million-word text for key themes. Finally, a small team that included Palmisano came up with a revised set of corporate values. The CEO announced the new values to employees in an intranet broadcast in November 2003: “dedication to every client’s success,” “innovation that matters—for our company and for the world,” “trust and personal responsibility in all relationships.” Earthshaking? No, but imbued with legitimacy and packed with meaning and implications for IBM.

    To prove that the new values were more than window dressing, Palmisano immediately made some changes. He called on the director of a major business unit—e-business hosting services for the U.S. industrial sector—and charged her with identifying gaps between the values and company practices. He bluntly told his 15 direct reports that they had better follow suit. Another online jam was held in October 2004 (this one informally dubbed a “logjam”) in which employees were asked to identify organizational barriers to innovation and revenue growth.

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