Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How to be better than an average company?

Though the market scenario has substantially changed in terms of expectations of global service buyers, most mid-size Indian companies do not seem to be restructuring their operations. Excluding batter work place and infrastructure, archaic management systems still exist wherein business owner / partners / families continue controlling the business. Power delegation is rarely provided to senior managers so the designation of the senior manager remains only on their business card and not in its true sense.

Benefits of above management model– 

  • Decent benefits package plus the non-usual favors / benefits
  • Talented pool of technical people gets attracted to higher salaries
  • Freedom and support without any specific direction
  • Casual outfit allowed at work place

Artifacts of above management model – 

  • All senior and middle level managers do only micromanaging
  • It is impossible to get anything done without technical manager telling how to do things.
  • Decision taking authority is only the business owner/s.
  • Non-technical people take technical decisions.
  • Project deadlines are either meaningless or too short which creates longer and stressful working hours for employees.
  • Terrible life/work balance - you have no option but to work for longer hours.
  • Increases risk of losing valued and result oriented employees.

Some recommendations for Senior Management:

Try creating culture of ownership:

·         Employees with ownership mindset can boost “customers first” attitude

Pay attention to proposal details:

·         Sometimes small things can make a major impact on customer value and profit.

Meticulously analyze grievances & compliments:

·    No need to make mistake and then learn. Learn more from affirmative experiences.

Usage of social media:

·        Employees should use social media for sending value added messages to customers

Personal touch to customer:

·   Customers should enjoy doing business with your company because of you.

Discuss business value with the client rather than technical details with commitments on deadline.

Provide adequate life/work balance to your employees.

Remove cosmetic levels of managers that are completely useless.

Get rid of the micro managers and replace micromanagement with mentoring.

Encourage thinkers - problem solvers and protect performers. They are the trues assets.

Bhartesh Sagar

February 11, 2014

Friday, February 7, 2014

Maturity Assessment of Leader

When organization starts moving towards its next level, it becomes mandatory for the business owner / key stake holders to introduce some changes. The change is likely to have both positive and negative impact on the whole organization so business owner should have very clear vision about the required changes before initiating changes. They should discuss with key employees or a core management team in detail describing the phases of change, expectations from the changes in terms of business benefit and also discuss what employees can expect out of it.

Objectives of the Changes at a project level, go-to-market strategy, and service delivery should be crystal clear Even the process level changes should be well planned in advance so as to ensure smooth introduction. They need to ensure that it does not hamper the moral of the performing employees and do not create an atmosphere of fear among the employees. Percentage of required changes will depend on the vision of the business owner and key stake holders.

Ownership for implementation is also very important and it should be managed by matured and experience person to ensure that the employees take on their changed job role without any fear. This is a tough job which can only be handled by efficient, matured and experience person. It is mandatory to drive the change manage process avoiding the loss of valued employees and minimize business disruption from the change.

Ownership of implementation given to an amateur is sure of negatively affecting the organization on every aspect.

Question here is how do we ensure that the person responsible for implementing change is knowledgeable, experienced and matured enough to manage and valued employees are retained? How can we ensure that he is the best fit? Most business owners do not take this seriously so they do not deep drive into the possible impact analysis. Sometime they simply appoint someone to just introduce and implement changes. If the person does not have domain knowledge, experience and maturity the outcome will damage the company is extremely bad manner.

Selecting leader for driving change management initiatives will need sharp appraisal before assigning. Their back ground, track record, domain knowledge, proof and reference checking is a must.

Check list for appraisal of Change Leader is suggested below:

Capability Area No. 1: Leadership capabilities:

  • Change management capability and past experience
  • Change initiatives capabilities
  • Vision clarity for the organizational Business rules, policies and procedures
  • Deployment effort planning
  • Communication effectiveness on the importance of changes
  • Specific skills in making change management a mandatory requirement

Proof / Example cases:
Capability Area No. 2: Application – (Tradition usage of processes and tools on projects and new change process initiatives.)

  • Parts of the organization (divisions, functions, units) applying change management
  • Availability of required tools to manage changes
  • Availability of time and resources to apply change management at project level
  • Percentage of projects won as a result of applied change management

Competencies Capability Area No. 3: (Competencies - Competency and skill-building for "leading change" throughout the division / organization, based on employees' relationship to change. Example from the competencies capability area)

  • Training and competencies for change leader
  • Training and competencies for executives and senior leaders
  • Training and competencies for middle level managers
  • Training and competencies for employees
  • Training and competencies for project team members
  • Continuous learning opportunities for all

Capability Area No. 4: Process Institutionalization – (Moving towards common and consistent application of an organizational standard approach to changed process. Models from the institutionalization capability area)

  • Acceptance of a standard approach
  • Providing standard tools
  • Establishment of criteria for applying change management
  • Structural elements (e.g. functional group, Community of Practice, networks, etc.)
  • Integration into standard project delivery process
  • Integration into standard go-to-market process
  • Embedding change process into ongoing systems
  • Integrating with "change-initiating" processes and systems (e.g. Six Sigma, Strategic Planning, BPM, etc.)

Capability Area No. 5: Socialization (Understanding, appreciation and acknowledgement of the necessity of changes on efforts in the organization. Specimens of socialization capability area)

  • Understanding of value
  • Buy-in and support for applying change management
  • Common and shared definition of change management
  • Reinforcement of change management
  • Cultural value related to managing the people side of changes

Not general leadership, but leadership support provided to the employees in specific project deals and specifically for applying own efforts in winning important projects for the organization can create employee confidence in the changes. It should reflect as an expected outcome and positive artifacts in terms of employee morale, attrition ratio and revenue gain (or loss).

Integrated changes in functional areas should be able to achieve the expected results without any negative cultural effect of turnover on other employees and should be realizing benefits in terms of revenue and profit.


February 7, 2014

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Creating “culture of ownership”

Scenario today is that almost all companies, while recruiting new employees, consider investing in a person for 1 quarter and expect payback from the 2nd quarter. In my opinion there is nothing wrong in keeping such expectations and 1 quarter is certainly a reasonable period for any new employee to understand company, job responsibilities, work culture and perceived value to the company clients along with their expected outcome.

Unfortunately the reality is very different displaying huge gap between the expectations and results. In record of my experience, expected results and actual results are never found in sync with each other so either you set the expectations at a right level or you work on how to create fear free “culture of ownership”.

End of the day result matter the most to every business owners and no company will invest in an employee who is not generating revenue or create value for their clients in some form or the other. We all know that in digital economy, tools & technics, buyer’s behavior, expectations and perceived values have become volatile. They keep changing very fast however most of the companies do not have mechanism to initiate conscious efforts in re-evaluating things that will keep their employees happy and satisfied. This situation has created high iteration situation. Employees have also developed an attitude of looking at their jobs as stepping stone for their next job. In crude language we can say that they have developed an attitude of “use & throw” even for their jobs.
This situation can never ever create “culture of ownership” for any company. Work culture that exists since long time is task driven and deliverable or meeting deadlines matter the most. 

Creating “culture of ownership” is something that everyone talks about but how to create will require vigorous brain storming session. Creation of “ownership culture” is a tough job since most of the tasks are inter-dependable in nature, which becomes easy for employees to start blame game. Escapism is seen increasing in companies and ownership feeling is completely missing.

This situation will have bad impact especially on newly recruited employees and what is seen is that, non-performers leave their jobs (may be asked to leave), few employees fall in “acceptable-average” category so if you decide to continue with them, you need to be ready for “more investment” into them in terms of their training - coaching, efficiency, perception clarity. Very few employees are identified scoring high on their commitments. They are the ones who have the capabilities to bring high value for the company clients. How to retain them is a question that will require matured thinking, experience and knowledge of their COO. In fact, you actually have to identify and introduce corrections for your existing work culture.

Over a period of time employees who have displayed consistency and positive results are the “true performers”. They are the one who bring maximum amount of value to the customers and retaining such employees is of prime importance for every company. Key stakeholders and senior management of the company should device sound strategy that can help retaining such employees from numerous perspectives. Think about the “total cost to the company”, for losing performing employees, it is very high considering hiring expanse, their productivity, impact of client experience and cost of training and coaching new employee replacing the performing employee.

Point here is what can be done about it? Company image is always a reflection of their company culture and building of company culture is closely integrated with real client focus. Real client focus is required to be reflecting in the customer experience, every time when they interact with the company. If you wish to initiate route level corrections, you will have to change your company Image and there is no short cut for it.

Try shaping up perception of “ownership”

For doing this, you need to first create a “fear free” work environment in the company and allow individual to decide his / her own job role. I am sure they know what they are good at and integrate it with their own job role. "Ownership" will automatically get integrated with their job role so their performance outcome will be true reflection of the efforts with their full potential. Encourage them to dream big and provide enables that will help them reach their dream destination.

New outlook for rewarding performers

First identify and then introduce some new ways of incentivizing the performer and recognition should be across the company. This is not a new theory since most of the companies do have “performance awards”, “pay for performance” or awards kind of tools used for recognition. You actually need to evaluate fresh and decide whether the perceived value of these incentivizing tools is still the same or reduced? This can help you identify some new ways and tools for incentive's for the performers.

Create new opportunities for identified performers

Recognition by awards or cash incentives does not work all the times and you need to create new opportunities for performers. May be some higher responsibility linked with abroad tour, paid holidays for them with their family, ownership for new business vertical.  It could be something different than the above mention.

“Long weekend” and “Happy hours”

Declare holiday for the day that fall between festival holiday and weekends so employees can have long weekend to go out with their families. (This is tried and tested technic in Europe and USA but in India, the perception needs shaping up) Long weekend holiday will always be the best stress buster for all. Once a quarter, organize “happy hours” randomly on some Friday and provide an opportunity to employees to socialize. 

Sitting against the monitor for almost 8+ hours a day is becoming stress builder for many employees so unexpected-unplanned-suddenly declared “happy hours” on some Friday will work as energy bite. They all can talk about life outside of routine task and delivery.

Think about it.

Matured thinking minds with conceptual perceptive clarity are the caretakers of the company

Bhartesh Sagar

February 4, 2014