Some useful videos from BNet on good management

 I got these in my regular newsletter from BNet (, they are short 2-3 minutes video (with advertisement at the beginning!) which talk about the topic. They are very good, lunch-time review material.

Six Skills Effective Managers Must Master

Give Your Employees Smart Goals
Explain to your employees in smart language what needs to get done — they’re not going to figure it out on their own.

The Art of the Apology
Admitting your mistakes is crucial to becoming a trustworthy manager. Here’s how to do it gracefully.

Establish More Authority
Express confidence and expertise by using more effective eye contact.

Bring Out the Best in Your Staff
Focusing on what employees do wrong gives the biggest bang for your buck, right? Wrong. The key to keeping your teams productive is easing up on their weaknesses and highlighting their strengths.

Give Productive Praise
Motivate staff and boost the bottom line by giving recognition where it’s due.

The Importance of Being Approachable
Do your employees think you’re standoffish? How can you tell? Here’s what to do.

Industry newbie as a manager – Disaster in making?

One of the comments on the post ‘How fast can a career move in India?‘ went like this:

You have not expanded on why getting into a management role early in one’s career will be a disaster.
One of the reasons I can think of is that a newbie (comparatively) has not seen and experienced the varied kinds of environments and situations, from which an experienced manager learns and becomes successful.
Also, when regularly compared with his/her more experienced and often successful peers a feeling of inadequacy , low confidence can creep in. This I believe is the nail in the coffin.

The question raised is very important: why do I think management cadre very early in the career is a disaster? I assumed this but didn’t really elaborate on this in the post; hence this post.

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Leveraging social networks for career growth

Recently I have been interested in tracking problems and solutions to social networking and its impacts. I wrote about some of the social networking lessons sometime back. However, a recent incident sparked the thought again that social networks are a powerful phenomenon for professional life and career moves, and it can be dangerous to ignore.

I casually asked a friend recently about his career progression in a newly-transitioned country and role, and we discussed his unhappiness over current state of affairs. I suggested that I could forward his resume to a friend of mine in a good company I know (he is a smart guy stuck in a career  ‘jam’). Recently he told me that it worked out well and he is poised to join this company. This started me thinking: if we didn’t have that casual conversation, he wouldn’t have done this career transition at this time even though he was fully capable. More importantly, if he had been proactive in asking me about suggestions about his career moves, probably this change would have happened way sooner. Still more important, he could have talked about this with the bigger group of friends he has here and this could have been still faster and probably he would have gotten more options. It is a shame he didn’t try to leverage his social network. Knowing him, I know he probably hasn’t bothered to even update his contact info in the networks he belongs to.

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How fast can a career move in India?

Interesting read, this article on rediff. Good examples of how busineess is reacting to the changing changing face of careerist youth in India. The article does note an important point:

Still, there are plenty of tensions between companies and young employees. Many Indian engineers are fascinated with cutting-edge technologies, yet much of the work for clients calls for tried-and-true techniques.

And while young people are eager to get promotions and overseas assignments, there are practical limits to how quickly they can advance. “They have to learn to adjust,” says T.V. Mohandas Pai, director of human resources at Infosys. “It’s almost like growing up.”

Given the fact that most of the IT industry in India is IT services, there isn’t enough for a really hungry professional. Also, growth means promotion for most Indian IT professionals, which can’t (and shouldn’t) happen too fast. Many companies succumb to this pressure from their employee base however and start promoting very young engineers into management roles, often with disasterous consequences for the individual. Product companies provide refreshingly new approach to career planning and management, but they are very few and not really sold well in job market (where brand name still sells).

Career Management in India – guest posts on CubeRules

Cube Rules is a blog where Scott Herrick discusses the perspective of the ‘cubicle warriors’, his blog is aptly named ‘Career Management for Cubicle Warriors‘. Recently, I got a chance to do couple of guest posts there around career management in India (Thanks Scott!). In an attempt to do justice to the topics I chose, I decided to dig deeper into Indian career management situation, why it is the way it is, and it was an interesting journey.

You can read those posts here:

Career Management in India – Part I

Career Management in India – Part II

Do let me know what you think about these perspectives and your own ideas  of how career management as an industry has evolved in India over the years.

Cross-Site communication – great strength for managers?

Here is an article that I had published a while back on the topic of communications (here is a slightly edited version of the same). I got reminded of this recently while talking to a manager who felt frustrated that he couldn’t get through his peer in a remote location and so couldn’t resolve his problem.

In a world which is becoming increasingly globalized and functions getting relocated to lowest-cost destination (see businessweek article and further comments on it by Scot on CubeRules), it is critical that he/she is very good at communicating well cross-site. In addition to the problems I mentioned in the article above, there are cultural and social aspects which impact how communication will happen, and a good manager understands these aspects and applies them well. For example, Asian cultures place a lot of emphasis on knowing people (‘relationships’) and many of the work get done through that channel. To be successful in communicating with such teams, it is essential to invest time in building that relationship, otherwise lots of frustration can set in.

As a manager, do you think your communication abilities impact your career significantly?

Discovering your life goal

This is a follow-up post to my previous post on mapping career path where I mentioned a way to map out your career growth path if you know your life goal, your value system, your strengths/weaknesses, your likes/dislikes, and your skills/competencies.

How does one discover/find/define the life goal?

This is an important question, because this determines the paths you take and choices you make in your life. There is a spiritual aspect to this question, which deals with your inner peace and bliss, and I don’t wish to go into that direction. I want to attempt and answer the question in the context of career choices.

Most of the time I have found that asking “Why” to your first thought about life goal helps getting to a better answer. Here is what such a dialog with yourself (or with your mentor/counselor) may look like (some of my interviews have gone like this too):

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Doing performance self-appraisal well

As I was completing the performance reviews for my team, I was reminded of the fact that so few people actually do a good job of appraising themselves. I have noticed this over the past 5-6 years that I am doing performance reviews and have gotten similar feedback from several other folks, and it hasn’t changed much even though now many organizations are moving to performance management software from paper/MS-Word based systems.

It is also surprising to see that most of the mistakes are common:

  • Rating themselves too high
  • Not providing enough concrete examples of why they feel they deserve such a high rating.
  • Not identifying areas of improvement or lessons learnt (which is the most important goal of self-assessment)
  • Not distinguishing between competency assessment and task assessment

Do you agree, or you have seen otherwise? If you do, why do you think this is the case? I am sure there are enough literature out there which talk about how to measure performance, of self or others, or do you think that is not the case?