Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Sound Advice to Ensure Your Career Growth

Careergrowth is what everyone is aspiring for and you may not be an exception. But do you have one of the key traits that can help you have the growth that you are aiming at? We are talking about what is known as "active listening." If you think that the process of active listening is to just pay attention to what the speakers and more particularly, your boss, peers, co-workers and subordinates are uttering, you are terribly wrong. In fact, the process of active listening mainly consists of being very alert while listening. This is much more than just paying attention to what others speak. The process actually involves showing verbal as well as non-verbal signs so the speakers know that you are not only paying attention but digesting and assimilating whatever they are uttering.

Researches have proved that on an average, a person can talk 225 words a minute. But all of us have capabilities of listening up to 500 words a minute. This means we allow 275 words from various other sources to fill our minds. This is what distraction is. If you want to actively listen, you must make purposeful efforts to avoid succumbing to such distractions.

Of course, there may be another reason that may be preventing you from listening actively to others and the reason is our "ego." Many of us want that we should be in the spotlight and hence, we try to speak more than we listen. In this process, we do not allow others to speak. But how can active listening help you? Let us have a look. 

1.When you are actively listening, you will be able to come out with apt responses to what others speak. Speakers and especially, your boss, may appreciate you for your feedback. In fact, your feedback will prove to the speakers that you are able to understand and assimilate what they speak. So, they may think that you are smart.

2. In addition to being considered a smart person, you may earn the reputation of being a charismatic person as well. As the saying goes, “The irony of being a good conversationalist is that talking isn’t the most important piece; listening is what makes you memorable.”

3. Sometimes, peers and subordinates may approach you with their issues. Though not all of them may want you to provide solutions, some of them may expect that you should be empathetic towards the issues they face. You can lend your empathetic ears only if you actively listen to them and understand their issues in the right perspective.

But how can you become an actively listener? Here are a few tips.

1. Once your boss, peers or subordinates finish talking, you can paraphrase whatever they have spoken and repeat it. Your summary need not be elaborate. It is enough if it is brief. Experts point out that when you attempt this, the creative part of your brain gets triggered and so, you may be able to come out with new ideas and suggestions. There is another advantage as well. Your boss and others will come to know that you have understood their points in the right manner.

2. Another approach is to ask relevant questions about the topics about which people speak. This will also show your enthusiasm and interest. It may help you in getting clarity about the topics as well. More particularly, your boss will appreciate that you have understood the importance of the tasks that are being assigned.

In this context, it is pertinent to imagine a particular scenario. Let us assume that your boss assigns a few tasks to you and while discussing about the tasks, he appears to lay emphasis on a couple of tasks by repeatedly mentioning about them. By asking your boss if you have to accord priority to those specific tasks, you can clearly show to your boss that your line of thinking is in tune with what he thinks. Apart from helping you in strengthening your relationship with him, this may pave way for a quicker career growth also. 

3. In addition to the above verbal responses, you should have natural eye contact when your boss or others speak. Other non-verbal responses are keeping an appropriate posture, nodding, smiling, etc. These responses should show to the speakers that you agree with the views or points put forth by them.

In a nutshell, active listening is certain to help you in your efforts to impress your boss and so, you can rest assured that it will accelerate your career growth.


Friday, March 17, 2017

How Resilience Plays a Key Role in One's Career Growth

"Don't react instantly because chances of your life getting ruined are high" is the sage advice of philosophers. How you react or respond to situations depends upon the emotional state you are in. This is all the more true in career-related situations. In other words, career growth or career development has an emotional side as well. 

You may have come across many career counsellors who may advise you that if you want to have the career growth you are aiming at, you must acquire new skills, volunteer to take up challenges in your workplace, refine your communication skills, have a good mentor to guide you, and so on. But only a few career experts recognize the fact that career development has an emotional side also. 

In fact, this emotional side is as important, if not more, as successfully climbing the career ladder because it may help you overcome the setbacks that unexpectedly confront you. Remember that your long-term success depends upon how you persevere even when you face such setbacks and obstacles. It is in this context you are advised to cultivate resilience so you will find it easy to surmount these road-blocks.

What is resilience?

Before knowing the value of resilience in helping you in your long-term growth, you must first know what the word means. It is nothing but the inner strength that is needed for responding suitably to stress-causing situations and obstacles. In other words, it is a healthy behavior and attitude that will help you in adapting even when tough circumstances and challenges stare in your face.

How resilience can help you in your career development

1. Resilience helps you persevere even when you face tough circumstances. Remember that everything may not happen according to your wish. You may be expecting a promotion but the management may promote another employee or may recruit a new employee for the post. You may certainly be upset over this but you must be resilient enough to accept the reality. 

Of course, you have the option of quitting the company and looking for a better opportunity elsewhere. But the job market is still tough because the global economy is yet to fully recover from the economic down-turn that struck it not long ago. You may face rejections and may have to pass through a prolonged period of uncertainty. But if you stick with your company with perseverance and prove your worth with increased vigor and enthusiasm, you will soon be recognized and rewarded.

2. Nowadays, employers expect that job aspirants should possess 'softskills.' Resilience is one of the main ingredients of these so-called soft skills. Employers firmly believe that resilient employees will be more flexible, optimistic, curious, and engaged. Not only that, these employees will have a macro-view of things and hence, they will bring about a positive change to the workplace environment. This will boost productivity and help in solving issues that may crop up at the workplace.

3. Resilience will help you remain confident even when you face tough situations. Only if you are confident, you can plan your work in an organized manner and work your plan with discipline. In short, you can show better performance if you are resilient. 

On the contrary, if you are not resilient despite being highly talented, you may start questioning or challenging the decisions of the management. You may purposely change the way you work and this may cause friction in the workplace. As they say, "talent and trouble always go hand in hand." In short, you will earn the reputation of being a maverick individual. Remember that not all managements will be flexible and be prepared to put up with the pain of handling such employees.

4. Resilience can empower you to overcome even challenging situations and adversities. Since you will have confidence and an optimistic outlook, you will be able to manage your team easily, can negotiate business deals skilfully, be ready to shoulder new risks and come out with solutions for the issues the company faces and so on. 

5. Very importantly, you will be able to handle criticism in the right manner. Instead of viewing criticisms with a negative perspective, you will view them as a constructive feedback. This will help you in improving yourself and advancing more quickly. Remember that when you go up the career ladder, you will be subject to increased scrutiny.

6. Resilience will help you put forth your efforts with a growth mindset. This means when obstacles or unexpected setbacks confront you, you may not consider them as 'dead ends' but as opportunities that indirectly suggest to you that you should learn and grow. Therefore, you must begin learning from the mistakes you commit and from those others commit also. 

Remember that a number of factors may work against you and many of them may not be under your control. So, you must stop worrying about the outcomes and work with confidence. Also remember that resilience is not a trait that is passed on genetically. You should strengthen your character in such a manner that you acquire this trait so you can smoothly handle any situation in your career path.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What Should Employers Do to Retain Competent Employees

In the present-day context, employee attrition has become a major problem. Companies are finding it difficult to retain their employees. Especially, when employees, who belong to the creamy layer and who have demonstrated and proved their competence, quit a company, it may be a huge set-back for the company. They may find it difficult to recruit a suitable replacement. 


Companies should realize that this problem can worsen because the number of employees who are hopping jobs is on the increase. This also means that companies should take suitable measures for retaining competent employees. One of the vital measures they must take is to help these employees in their career growth efforts. Let us see how they can do this.


1. Increased monetary benefits may not help always 


As an employer, you must understand that increased remuneration alone will not prevent employees from quitting. Nowadays, many employees want to learn and grow. A study reveals that 75% of those employees who are enthusiastic about their career growth look for learning opportunities. The only caveat is they want to learn at their own pace.


If you do not make such opportunities available to them, they may be reluctant to engage themselves fully in your company's affairs. If this disenchantment is allowed to grow, they may decide to quit your company soon. So, you should constantly keep reviewing the learning opportunities available in your company so these employees will understand that you value their aspirations and are ready to help them in achieving their goals. 


2. Creating a two-way path


Many organizations commit the mistake of discussing the career goals of their employees only when the annual ritual of reviewing their performance is conducted. In fact, many employers do not discuss the career goals of their employees at all but they just assess their performance during these annual sessions. In other words, employers are oblivious of the fact that circumstances keep changing constantly and not just once a year. This means the goals of the employees may also undergo changes often. That is the reason you, as an employer, should create a two-way path so you can have ongoing discussions with your employees. Such an ongoing arrangement for communication will help you keep track of their career goals and also in checking their progress.


You must also guide your employees suitably so their career goals are in complete synergy with the goals of the company. This means when an employee achieves his career goal, your company will benefit also. 


3. Be ready to invest in inclusive and holistic development


This means you must not only help in the professional development of your employees but in their personal development as well. For example, some of your employees may be interested in reading and updating their knowledge. You can create a budget for setting up a library so you can fulfill the desire of such employees. Similarly, there may be employees who may be interested in fitness and so, you can put in place a well-equipped gym for fulfilling their desire. This approach may also help in retaining employees.


4. Recognize and motivate


Never fail to acknowledge and recognize the unique achievements of your employees. Remember that no achievement is trivial. Recognition at the workplace will go a long way in motivating them. Apart from appreciating them verbally, you must make it a point to offer perks they are interested in.


When employees realize that you are interested in helping them grow intheir career, they may willingly stay with your company for a long, long time.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

How can you become an excellent achiever in your workplace?

If you want to be hailed as an excellent achiever in your workplace, you must always do more than what the company expects from you. This means your contribution to the growth of the organization should be much more valuable than the value of the remuneration you get. Apart from this, you must have excellent work ethics also. 


For example, an employee may be a genius and he may be highly confident also. Though it is great to be confident, it may turn out to be a bad habit if it turns into arrogance. Due to the over-blown view about himself, the employee may stop listening to his seniors, colleagues and even customers. He may not get the benefit of external perspectives because he has stopped listening. He may also forget the fact that customers expect that they should be listened to and that if ignored, they may switch to other providers. Simply put, his thinking pattern and actions may not align with those of his organization. 


Many people think that by listening to others, their decisions may be influenced. On the contrary, listening nurtures original thinking and creativity. 


To digress a little, not only individual employees but even organizations may develop arrogance due to which they may suffer from what is known as "competition myopia." This means they may closely be monitoring only the big players in their field and may be ignoring small players. In other words, they lose sight of the fact that small players can be "niche invaders." Ignoring the competition posed by these small players may be detrimental to the growth of these organizations. 


In short, work ethics consists not only of performing efficiently and being honest but listening to others including co-workers, seniors and customers, and working as a member of a cohesive team.


Managements of companies may use parameters like honesty, integrity, positive attitude, willingness to work, timeliness, punctuality, enthusiasm, etc. for measuring work ethics. They may also take into account the contribution of the employees in increasing the productivity of the company, the degree of importance the employees attach towards customer service, their ability to maintain good relationship with other staff, team participation, their willingness to learn and the respect they show to personal values and the values of the company. Employees should aim to continuously improve on all these parameters.


Here is some good news for you. It is now possible to become an excellentachiever in your workplace for which you must develop what is called the "excellence" habit. The following tips may help you develop this habit.


1.  The foremost step for developing the "excellence" habit is you should have a very strong desire for achieving success in your career. But how to develop such a strong desire? Experts suggest that you should constantly be thinking about your desire so it becomes strong. You should imagine as if you have already succeeded in developing a strong desire. Whenever negative thoughts occur in your mind, you must push them away and bring into focus the thought of your desire. Consistent practice alone will help you in making your desire strong.


2. Even while making efforts for developing a strong desire, be willing to tackle the workplace challenges you face head-on. Remember that your aim is to become a win-win individual and that is not possible if you shy away from challenges. 


3. For becoming an excellent achiever at your workplace, you must get into the action habit. Even if you are a genius, it may be of no use if you do not take the required action. In fact, a genius who does not get into the action habit is committing a sin. You should therefore work on a continuous basis for developing the "excellence" habit so you can become an excellent achiever very quickly. 


4. Once you turn your desire into a strong one, you must be ready to take the self-initiative. For example, when a task is entrusted to you, you should be clear about the task and also the output your management wants. Keep seeking clarifications till you understand these aspects perfectly.


5. Evaluate your work on a consistent basis. Never forget the fact that there is always scope for improvement. Only by constantly evaluating how you perform, you will shed your casualness towards your work and improve yourself. 


6. Strive to cultivate the emotional maturity that may help you foster good and healthy relationships with everyone in the organization including seniors, peers and other colleagues. Learn to take criticism in your stride. If you receive constructive criticism, use it for improving yourself. 


7. Another major ingredient that may help you become an excellent achiever is servitude. Don't consider your work as a burden. Consider it as an opportunity to serve others. This will help you make meaningful progress in your career. This attitude will help you perform better. By performing better, you will feel that you are secure in your job. 


Never forget the fact that the management has thousands of eyes and ears. They will soon know that you have capabilities to handle responsibilities. This will improve your chances of getting quicker promotions. In other words, by becoming an excellent achiever in yourworkplace, you can fast-track your growth in your career.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Job Hoppers Need Not Earn the Displeasure of Their Employers

That bosses and managers find the frequent job hopping attitude of their employees alarming is an under-statement. More particularly, managers of BPO and IT companies experience the issue of job-hopping of employees more often than those who are in other types of industries. Especially, conservative minded managers or bosses are not able to digest this phenomenon. "Rolling stones gather no moss" may be the quote these managers like the most.  


'Opportunity highways' that exist now were not available earlier. But now, for those employees with a reasonably good academic record and also an MBA in their arsenal, job hopping is the best strategy for moving up in their career. People no longer want to work in the same company till the end of their career. In fact, others start suspecting the capabilities of those who stay in the same company for many years. Another point is that the concept of company loyalty that was considered sacrosanct in the earlier times has lost its sheen now. 


But is it right to be a frequent job hopper? If you keep changing jobs once every two years, your prospective employer may be in a quandary as to whether to take your job application seriously or not. If you are in your 20's and if you change jobs, employers may not take it seriously. But if you are in your mid-30s and if you are a frequent job-hopper, they may view it through a different prism. 


Are you averse to sticking to the same company for many years?


There are people who firmly believe that sticking to the same company for many years may lead to missed opportunities and retarded careergrowth. If you belong to this category, there is some good news for you. You need not stick to the same company for ever and at the same time, can prove that you are not only committed to your desire of growing in your career but will remain dedicated to your current employer as well till you stick with the company. Let us see how.


1. If you want to prove that you are dedicated to your current organization, ensure to learn new things and implement them appropriately and effectively. This means you should make all possible efforts for boosting the value of the company. For example, you can acquire complementary skills and undertake cross-functional tasks. You can give innovative suggestions for improving the marketing strategies, increasing the sales and so on.


2. By accomplishing difficult feats, you can prove that you are an invaluable employee. So, even when you quit the company for joining another organization, your employer may understand that you do so not due to boredom but with an aim to have accelerated career growth. Your employer may willingly give a written testimonial also to the effect that you have made meaningful contribution for the growth of the company.


3. Never hesitate to take risks during the course of carrying out your official tasks. Remember that you cannot always take perfect steps. This means you may sometimes stumble but you must be ready to learn so you will not repeat the same mistakes. By taking risks during the course of doing your work, you are proving to the management that you are always ready to test theories. At the same time, you must take responsibility for the impact of the mis-steps you may take. In fact, managers will view this as a positive trait. 


A plethora of employment opportunities are available now. Therefore, job hopping has become the order of the day. But before you quit a company to join another, you must make sure that you have made all possible efforts to come out with a clean record. Your Resume should also speak volumes about your accomplishments in the company. If you stick to these points, you can not only be a job-hopper who succeeds in building a good career but can earn the goodwill of every employer for whom you work as well. 


Monday, February 20, 2017

How Humor Can Help You Lead Better

That laughter brings with it a number of benefits is an undeniable fact. Laughter can bestow business benefits also. That is the reason management experts emphatically say that there should be laughter in every workplace. Even the so-called serious institutions like the London Business School, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Wharton have done researches about the business benefits of laughter. The findings of their researches reveal that every time employees laugh, guffaw or chuckle, they get rid of the stress, boredom and the anxiety they face at their workplace. Not only that, their creativity and their willingness to collaborate with each other go up by several notches. Since the analytical precision of these employees improves also, we can see increased productivity at the workplace.


In a video featured on the website of his institution, Eric Tsytsylin, who did his MBA at Stanford, says that adults and especially, those who are working, are experiencing the onslaught of what is known as a "laughter drought." Research findings reveal that on an average, babies laugh 400 times daily but those above the age of 35 laugh only 15 times daily. Even the Gallup data gathered for the US show that working adults laugh much less on weekdays than they do on weekends. In short, work has become a sober and serious endeavor.


From this, it is quite clear that if organizations, managers and leaders ensure that their employees laugh more, they can get more out of them. But the main objection may be that how an individual enjoys humor is subjective. A situation that appears humorous to one person may be irritating to another person. But books such as "TheHumor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny" and "Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind" contest this notion. 


According to these books, there is a specific formula that can make all the people laugh. According to the authors of the book "The Humor Code," "humor rests on benign violation." This theory can be elaborated like this: Something can provoke people to laugh not only if it is "wrong, unsettling or threatening" but if it is "okay, acceptable or safe" as well. At the same time, the authors of this book acknowledge the facts that "it is easier to fail with humor than succeed" and that it is on contexts that the success of a joke depends. But if those who crack the jokes know their audience, they can use the formula of "benign violation" effectively. 


The book "Inside Jokes" seems to adopt an academic approach and since the analysis authors have done on different types of humor may be boring, let us not delve further into it.


Though, as the manager of your office, you may ensure that your speeches or presentations contain sufficient quantity of humor, you may hate to purposely go from one team member to another telling your jokes. But what type of humor can help you lead better? 


Experts say that self-deprecating jokes, light teasing, poking fun at outsiders, of course, privately, etc. may work. At the same time, these experts hasten to warn that you should use these ways with utmost care because you must not forget that passing discriminatory comments against others is an offense for which you can be punished.


Another research by Gang Zhang, who is doing his doctoral study at the London Business School reveals that though the motivation levels of employees may go up, thanks to the humor of their managers, they may not have as much respect for these managers as they have for others. Especially, those managers who deprecate themselves may not command much respect. 


Here are a few tips that may help you use humor to lead your staff better:


Be authentic and honest while telling your jokes.

You need not even crack jokes. Your staff will enjoy and appreciate you even if they think that you are clever. 

Sometimes, chuckling at yourself may also be sufficient to make your staff laugh. 

When everyone in your workplace is worried about something, try poking fun at the situation itself. If you make everyone laugh despite the situation, you can justifiably assume that you have succeeded in easing the stress. 

To be sure if a workman is really amused, look if there is crinkling around his eyes. If you are able to see it, you can certainly conclude that you have truly made him come out with what is called the "Duchenne" laughter. It was Duchenne, a French physician who first identified this laughter, that is the result of real amusement.


In short, every working adult should remember the words of Edward Hall, the famous anthropologist - "If you can learn the humor of a people and really control it, you know that you are also in control of nearly everything else."





Saturday, February 18, 2017

Is Your Company Grappling with the Idea of Introducing Performance Based Pay?

When scientists seem to be on a constant quest to mechanize and automate every step of the human life, there are many organizations that try to put in place remuneration programs based on the performance of employees. But unfortunately, several companies have failed in their efforts. At the same time, we cannot be oblivious of the fact that an invisible factor seems to be working for some companies that have succeeded in implementing such a program. So, the question is why some companies could succeed in implementing this program and why other companies have not met with success.


Researches done by experts have revealed that the success of a performance basedpay system depends upon a number of factors, the prominent among them is the commitment of employees to the organization. Secondly, what the organization expects from the employees and what the employees expect from the management may also play key a role in implementing this program successfully. Though a number of other factors may also influence the success of a performance based pay program, let us now look at some of these factors.


1. Employee Commitment


Surprisingly, researches reveal that performance based pay programs work well in organizations wherein the commitment of the employees towards their companies is low. On the other hand, in companies where the commitment level of the employees is high, the program does not seem to work. It has been observed that in companies with employees with low commitment levels, workers view a performance based pay structure as an excellent opportunity for getting additional income by performing better than how they normally perform.


On the other hand, the scenario is different in organizations where the commitment level of the employees is high. Employees of these companies generally work very hard and they ensure to meet deadlines also. So, performance based pay or incentive programs may be unnecessary expenses in these companies. In fact, employees of these companies may even view the introduction of such programs as an insult to their commitment.


2. Temporary programs may be successful


If organizations put in place a performance based incentive program purely on a temporary basis, they may achieve success. Researchers have found that employees are capable of adjusting to long-term, ongoing programs. Once they get the taste of the increased pay due to a performance based incentive program, they may feel that injustice is being meted out to them when the management withdraws the program. This may negatively impact their morale as well as their performance. Even Michael Beer and Mark Cannon, renowned business researchers, opine “A workforce that always expects additional pay for additional progress can become a liability.”


On the contrary, if employees are offered a performance based incentive occasionally, they may view it only as a bonus and not as a guaranteed payment.


There is another danger also in performance based pay programs. For example, if there are two equally efficient employees, one of them may hoard vital information and get a performance based incentive. Since the other employee does not have the vital information, he may not get the incentive. This may lead to a situation in which the management may be rewarding knowledge hoarding whereas any company may generally wish to encourage knowledge sharing among the employees.


3. What the employees expect from the organizations and what the management expects from the employees


There should be complete synergy between what the management expects from its employees and what employees are willing to offer. But such a synergy pivots on proper communication between the employees and the management. In other words, proper communication alone can help in achieving success in implementing a performance based pay program. Employees should have clear knowledge of the details like why the program is being implemented, how long it will stay, the ease or difficulty with which they can get the incentives and whether external factors may impact the evaluation process of the program. If employees do not have complete knowledge of these details, there may be all-round chaos in the organization and the program is bound to fail. Most importantly, the program the management introduces should be fair not only to the organization but to the employees as well. 


4. Costs of implementing the program vis a vis its benefits


Companies should neither over-estimate nor under-estimate the benefits they can derive by putting in place a performance based pay program. They must not forget that they will incur considerable expenses in implementing the program. This means the benefits they get should outweigh the costs of implementing it.


Conclusion


Implementation of a performance based pay program may not be as easy as companies think. It is better if organizations analyze all the factors thoroughly before deciding to put a program in place.