Story-time: No Try No Foul


This is a real incident.

Houdini was a master magician as well as a fabulous locksmith.

He boasted that he could escape from any jail cell in the world in less than an hour, provided he could go into the cell dressed in his street clothes. A small town in the British Isles built a new jail they were extremely proud of. They issued Houdini a challenge.

“Come give us a try,?” they said.

Houdini loved the publicity and the money, so he accepted.

By the time he arrived, excitement was at a fever pitch. He rode triumphantly into town and walked into the cell. Confidence oozed from him as the door was closed. Houdini took off his coat and went to work.

Secreted in his belt was a flexible, tough and durable ten Inch piece of steel which he used to work on the lock. He got it out and started his magic.

At the end of 30 minutes his confident expression had disappeared. At the end of an hour he was drenched in perspiration. After two hours, Houdini literally collapsed against the door. The door just opened.

In aw and shock Houdini almost had tears in his eyes. ‘What just happened? it opened itself!’ he exclaimed.

You see it had never been locked – except in his own mind –which meant it was as firmly locked as if a thousand locksmiths had put their best locks on it. One little push and Houdini could have easily opened the door but thanks to his perception he never tried that.

Many times a little extra push is all you need to open your opportunity door. You don’t get opportunities, you need to make them.

Learning: There is no harm in trial, there is only learning.

Source: Based on excerpts from a newspaper article. Rewritten by Abhinandan Chatterjee.

I am doing a bit of research about goals. Please answer this poll, will be grateful.

Story Time: Why not should you judge?


A doctor entered the hospital in hurry after being called in for an urgent surgery. He answered the call ASAP, changed his clothes & went directly to the surgery block. He found the boy’s father pacing in the hall waiting for the doctor.

On seeing him, the dad yelled: “Why did you take all this time to come? Don’t you know that my son’s life is in danger? Don’t you have any sense of responsibility?”

The doctor smiled & said: “I am sorry, I wasn’t in the hospital & I came as fast as I could, after receiving the call…… And now, I wish you’d calm down so that I can do my work”

“Calm down?”!%$#@*&!

What if your son was in this room right now, would you calm down? If your own son dies now what will you do?” said the father angrily

The doctor smiled again & replied: “I will say most books of religion say “From dust we came & to dust we return, blessed be the name of God”. Doctors cannot prolong lives. Go & pray for your son, we will do our best , I can assure you that much”

“Giving advises when we’re not concerned is so easy” Murmured the father.

The surgery took some hours after which the doctor went out happy, “Thank goodness!, your son is saved!” And without waiting for the father’s reply he carried on his way running. “If you have any question, ask the nurse!!”

“Why is he so arrogant? He couldn’t wait some minutes so that I ask about my son’s state”

Commented the father when seeing the nurse minutes after the doctor left.

The nurse answered, tears coming down her face: “His son died yesterday in a road accident, he was at his funeral when we called him for your son’s surgery. And now that he saved your son’s life, he left running to finish his son’s funeral.”

Moral: Never judge anyone,because you never know how their life is & what they’re going through.

Judgement creates perception and it kills openness and acceptance. All of this leads to doubt and doubt creates deceit.

It starts a vicious cycle that works even while we sleep. A discerning smile and a patient ear is all it takes to counter this.

Be sure to know and to judge.

Source: Post on Facebook

Story Time: The Hare & The Tortoise – A new management approach


Part 1

Long time ago, there was a tortoise and a hare who had an argument about who the faster runner was. They finally decided to take on one another on a race.

As the race started, the hare sprinted ahead briskly for some time. Realizing that it will take some time for the tortoise to catch up with him, he decided to seek shelter from the sun under a tree before continuing the race. As he sat under the tree, he gradually fell asleep. The tortoise, crawling at a steady pace, eventually overtook him and won the race. The hare woke up and realized that his complacency cost him the trophy.

Moral: The determined, hardworking and steady paced people will eventually overtake the fast but complacent. We are all familiar with this story.

Part 2

The hare realized that he was over confident, complacent and took things too easily. He decided to have a re-match with the tortoise. The tortoise accepted his challenge.

This time, the hare ran with all his might and didn’t stop until he crossed the finish line.

Moral: Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and steady.

But the story doesn’t end here.

 Part 3

This time, it was the tortoise that did the soul searching and he realized that if the hare didn’t stop, there is no way he will beat him. He thought hard and decided on a different course and he challenged the hare to another re-match. The hare, of course, agreed.

With the lessons learnt from his previous failure in mind, the hare kept on running once the race started and didn’t stop until the route leads him to the bank of a river. He was taken by surprise and he did not know what to do, since he could not swim. There were no bridges in sight and no one to ask for directions. As he was cracking his head, thinking of ways to cross the river, the tortoise strolled slowly along, dived into the river, swam across it and ultimately, finished the race before the hare.

Moral: Know your strengths and take on your competitors in areas of your core competency.

The story still hasn’t ended.

Part 4

With the hare and the tortoise spending so much time together racing, they have become rather good friends, they have also developed mutual respect for one another as they realized that they are both different and they have different strengths. They decided to race again, but this time, as a team.

As the race started, the hare carried the tortoise and they sped to the river bank. There, they switched positions and the tortoise ferried the hare across the river. On the opposite bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they crossed the finishing line together. They completed the race in a record time that both of them can never achieve if they were to do it alone. They also felt a greater sense of satisfaction than they’d felt earlier.

Moral: It’s good to be individually brilliant and to have strong core competencies but unless you’re able to work in a team and harness each other’s core competencies, you’ll always perform below par because there will always be situations at which you’ll do poorly and someone else does well.

Note that neither the hare nor the tortoise gave up after failures. The hare decided to work harder and put in more effort after his failure. The tortoise changed his strategy because he was already working as hard as he could, but was not doing as well as he wished.

Imagine how long it will take the hare to learn how to swim! Or for the tortoise to learn to run fast. In this day and age when the environment changes at lightning speed, we have to learnt to work with people who have strengths in areas that we do not have.

It is the same in business, if we can collaborate with people who are experts in areas that we are not familiar with, we will realize that our market suddenly becomes bigger. Maybe that is what globalization is after all.

Source: Compiled from various sources. Author: Unknown.

End-note: Abhinandan Chatterjee

Dreams,Faith &; a Beer Belly!



Dreams

I believe some things are just not meant to be. Impossible means ‘I am possible’ I like the tagline, but it is just always a tagline. I am a conformist, I have been a conformist all my life.

I care about what is possible and I have a problem when people get too ambitious. It’s okay to get ambitious but some things are possible, some are not. That is a well established fact..Who doesn’t think so ?

But I dream, I dream about a BMW in the next 3 years and a big 4 bedroom house with 5-star like interiors, a study, play area and even parking ,and here is the biggest one ‘all in Gurgaon’ in the next 5 years. Dreaming has taught me to dream more and dream big – correction, day-dream more and day-dream big, Day-dream on!

To daydream is to think and to think is to learn. Now learning is not compulsory, neither is survival. W.Edwards Deming said that.

Today, lets learn to- day dream !

Since I was a kid, I have known what to do, when. Mostly I was told, with examples and valid references and an explanation that was designed to convince me  that it’s either this way or no way at all!

Whether to take commerce or Science, whether to wear full pant or half. Whether to eat now or later ( It is a standard ‘now’ for me to this always!)But I fixed the way it works. Or so I thought, while all I fixed, were just limitations for myself. Beliefs about how things can and can’t be done.

I even tried to fix the society, the systems and cultures – I never asked  questions before because I knew, ‘kool’ people don’t ask too many questions, Amitabh Bacchan didn’t, neither did superman – they always just have the answers.

Then I came to work and realized I need to be accountable – how would I look like if I ask for help, which big guy at work ever did that? …and I never escalated, even the things that I should have.

Then I got married, and I hated shopping, I told everyone so while I spent 3 hours picking the right suit to wear today. But don’t tell anyone that, because we Men, don’t like shopping!

I did these things because either someone told me to or it looked socially acceptable or at least logically possible! It’s funny how this is not just an issue with people.

Even large organizations do this. A leading camera film maker with over a century of business experience, almost ran out of business because they stuck on to the cash cow of film photography products in spite of having developed the digital tech. Clingy!

Such thought has a definition – RTP ( Rational thinking perspective) , now we all know rational is right. Don’t we?

Rational thinking perspectives are good because they educate us about our possibilities.

A man with a body on which nothing moves. Stuck to a bed for all his life. The only RTP I could think of is ‘Mercy Killing. Stephen Hawking.

Another man contracted polio as a child, and he used a wheelchair for a while. He devised his own exercises to strengthen his legs. The only RTP I could think would be to learn typing and shorthand. He went on to become one of the most successful Olympic athletes of all time, winning 10 gold medals. In the years 1900, 1904 and 1908. With about 1 % of the means and methods of today, none of the modern medicine and no google for instant advice or Facebook for popularity. Ray Ewry. How many did we as a country win in the last Olympics?

There is a another side of this coin,  it is called Generative thinking perspective (GTP), which is governed by intuition, faith and conviction. You do what you feel right.

Hey I have an idea, how about I leave everything and start a new website where all people can connect online, maybe we can call it FACEBOOK. Oops, that’s taken, by a Harvard student who dropped out to pursue a website and left what could have been an amazing job in the silicon valley which would have paid millions, in dollar. That’s Zuckerberg and think of the Steve Jobs if you will.

Another man who did not make so much money but taught me most about GTP was my father. I learnt this later, and I will get to it in a bit.

I am sure some of us could have answered these questions about rationale or gut, but when I was 16, I never could. It was so tough to get all this sorted because I had never seen anyone ask these questions before, there was no guidance available. To be logical or to  day-dream was as tough as answering shakespere’s ‘to be or not to be’?

Dream = 1,600,000,000 (160 Crores) ,references on Google. If so many people talk about this must me something good.

Faith

What do we learn out of day-dreaming. One dream that lasts long enough and is desired bad enough gives birth to faith.

Faith leads to only two things, We learn to Regret or we learn to Perform.

When I was 13, I lost my father to a heart attack, his 13th – 4 major and 9 minor. The last one was minor. Even on his last day he was in a client meeting after 1 very successful job, 5 failed businesses and 1 somewhat livable construction venture. Bed rest was the only rational thing but he pushed because he had immovable faith that he can.

That’s GTP.

So, when I went home, saw his dead body and had absolutely no clue of what to do. Maybe stupid, but I was still thinking about what to do? I had an idea, I wanted to get a live wire and give him an electric shock. In our movies they do it to anyone who is unconscious. Maybe that will work!

So I went and told my mother this, who smiled and continued crying. I never got to do that. But even today, every time I think of my father, I regret not doing that. What if he stood up?

‘What if’ is a big question. Is there anyone, anyone at all in this gathering who has not asked themselves a question starting with ‘what if’ ?

To do is better than to regret. Haven’t we all had those days when we thought, ‘I should have said something to that girl, I should have bought that thing, I should have learnt that art and last but not the least, I should have paid attention.’

Thousands of people with ideas as brilliant as nano, brail, chocolate and algebra.(Cut algebra out, wasn’t a brilliant idea) go to work, come back home and push it to tomorrow and years later they ask themselves ‘what if’.

It is really easy to confirm to things, we believe them to be true, mostly blindly.

While you read this in the last 7 minutes and 30 seconds based on the number of words, 810 people confirmed to death with all their ideas which will never be heard again. Ideas but not dreams!

All I wish is that, before I die, I could leave this world with one idea that continues to live even after I die.Dreaming is non conformity, some us do it because we are allowed to.Some of us do it because we have to. And even death cannot make a dream confirm to it.

This article was titled dreams, faith and a beer belly. We spoke about dreams and faith. Here is the Beer belly, and I believe, I look better with it than without it, I am comfortable with it. Because 1 more tablespoon of belief is the only thing missing from our lives.

P.S. I wrote this article primarily for the speech at a  TED Event. Though it was changed eventually these thoughts have had my minds occupied. What would you consider yourself; A conformist or a non-conformist?

You can even view the my TED talk at this link : http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxGurgaon-Abhinandan-Chatterj

Story Time: Logic of the chicken


This is allegedly a true story. Engineers at a major aerospace company were instructed to test the effects of bird-strikes (notably geese) on the windshields of airliners and military jets. To simulate the effect of a goose colliding with an aircraft travelling at high speed, the test engineers built a powerful gun, with which they fired dead chickens at the windshields. The simulations using the gun and the dead chickens worked extremely effectively, happily proving the suitability of the windshields, and several articles about the project appeared in the testing industry press.

It so happened that another test laboratory in a different part of the world was involved in assessing bird-strikes – in this case on the windshields and drivers’ cabs of new very high speed trains. The train test engineers had read about the pioneering test developed by the aerospace team, and so they approached them to ask for specifications of the gun and the testing methods. The aerospace engineers duly gave them details, and the train engineers set about building their own simulation.

The simulated bird-strike tests on the train windshields and cabs produced shocking results. The supposed state-of-the-art shatter-proof high speed train windshields offered little resistance to the high-speed chickens; in fact every single windshield that was submitted for testing was smashed to pieces, along with a number of train cabs and much of the test booth itself.

The horrified train engineers were concerned that the new high speed trains required a safety technology that was beyond their experience, so they contacted the aerospace team for advice and suggestions, sending them an extensive report of the tests and failures.

The brief reply came back from the aero-engineers: “You need to defrost the chickens….”

Source: Random

Be the feedback you give!


A few years ago, Chris Oster’s unit at General Motors got so fed up with traditional reviews that it abolished them. “There were so many problems – for managers and for people being appraised,” explains Oster, director of organizational development for the GM Powertrain Group. “We had ‘rater error.’ We had the ‘contrast effect.’ We had the ‘halo effect.’ But the biggest problem was that feedback wasn’t leading to changes in behavior.”

Darcy Hitchcock, president of AXIS Performance Advisors, helps companies create high-performance work systems, including feedback systems. She says that one of her most painful professional moments came from a performance review early in her career: Her boss rated her a four on a five-point scale. Though most people would consider that a decent score, Hitchcock agonized over why she didn’t get a five. She confronted her boss: What steps could she take to get a perfect score? He had no answer. Angry and confused, she left the office and spent the day in a nearby park. “In the space of a one-hour meeting,” she says, “my boss took a highly motivated employee and made her highly unmotivated.”

Many years ago, top executives at Glenroy Inc., a privately held manufacturer of packaging materials outside of Milwaukee, held an off-site at which they reviewed key company policies. A week later, Glenroy held a rally in the company parking lot at which employees built a bonfire and burned its policy manuals.

The company’s well-established approach to reviews literally went up in smoke. But unlike other policies, which Glenroy refined or reinvented, reviews were never reinstated. “When people find out that we don’t have formal reviews, it drives them crazy,” says Michael Dean, Glenroy’s executive vice president. “They don’t understand how we can run the business. Leaders here provide people with feedback. But the way for it to be effective is on a day-by-day, minute-by-minute basis – not twice a year.”

Feedback matters. The only way for people to get better at what they do is for the people they work for to provide candid, timely performance evaluations. “In today’s environment, you have to evaluate what’s changing and what’s staying the same, what’s working and what’s no longer working,” says Bruce Tulgan, author of FAST Feedback (1998, HRD Press) and founder of Rainmaker Thinking, a consulting firm based in New Haven, Connecticut. “Feedback plays that role.” Anne Saunier, a principal at Sibson & Co., a consulting firm based in Princeton, New Jersey, puts it this way: “If you have ideas and information that will help someone perform better, it’s hostile not to share them.”

So why are reviews still the most painful ritual in business? A 1997 survey by Aon Consulting and the Society for Human Resource Management reported that only 5% of HR professionals were “very satisfied” with their performance-management systems. In 1995, William M. Mercer Inc., based in New York City, polled executives about reviews. Only 7% said their systems were “excellent”; more than 70% had revamped them or were planning to.

Part of the problem with reviews is that human nature hasn’t changed – few of us enjoy hearing about our shortcomings, and few of our bosses and colleagues look forward to describing them. Part of the problem is that work itself has changed – it’s more team- oriented, less individualistic. The tougher it is to measure individual performance, the tougher it is to evaluate it.

But the biggest problem with reviews is how little they’ve changed. Too many leaders still treat feedback as a once-a-year event, rather than an ongoing discipline. “Doing annual appraisals is like dieting only on your birthday and wondering why you’re not losing weight,” cracks Saunier. Too many leaders confuse feedback with paperwork. “Filling out a form is inspection, not feedback,” says Kelly Allan, senior associate of Kelly Allan Associates Ltd., a consulting firm based in Columbus, Ohio whose clients have included Boeing, Paramount Pictures, and IBM. “History has taught us that relying on inspections is costly, improves nothing for very long, and makes the organization less competitive.”

We can’t teach you the one right way to provide – or receive – feedback. But our program does offer five action-oriented principles to improve your performance with performance reviews. Be sure to let us know how you think we performed. . .

1. Feedback Is Not About Forms

Mention the term “performance review,” and the first image that comes to mind is paper: checklists, ratings, all-too-familiar reports that invite all-too-predictable answers. That’s a problem. Anyone who equates delivering feedback with filling out forms has lost the battle for smart appraisal before it’s begun. “If you use forms as the basis for meetings about performance,” argues Allan, “you change only one thing – what might have been a natural, helpful conversation into an awkward, anxious inspection.”

Yes, there are reasons to document the appraisal process. But most of them involve administrative neatness or legal nervousness, not sound thinking about feedback. That’s why more and more companies that are serious about reviews use forms only to confirm that a review has taken place – not as a tool for the review itself.

Consider the example of Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, Colorado. For years, the hospital’s leaders have been importing new ideas about quality and service into their 286-bed facility. Early on, administrators and executives looked at ways to improve how the hospital evaluated its employees. They began by exploring how best to modify the hospital’s existing checklist-based reviews: Which ratings made the most sense? Which scoring systems worked best? But no amount of tinkering satisfied Parkview’s leaders.

Dorothy Gill, vice president of human resources, and a team of her colleagues explained their dilemma to the CEO: “He said, ‘If there isn’t a better way to do reviews, let’s just stop doing them.’ So we did. We had no idea what we were going to do instead.”

Gill and her colleagues eventually came up with an idea. It’s called APOP, for Annual Piece of Paper. The most valuable kinds of feedback, they concluded, are the daily interactions between leaders and their people – interactions that can’t be captured on paper. The hospital still requires that managers do annual reviews. But instead of being top-down appraisals, the reviews are bottom-up requests for assistance: What can the leader do to make the employee’s job easier? What gets in the way of accomplishing the job?

And the medium for those reviews is conversation, not written evaluation. There is a form – the APOP. But its only role is to confirm that the conversations took place. There are no scores, no written goals for the next year. It’s literally a piece of paper, signed by the employee and the director, that records the date, place, and agenda of the meeting. The APOP process “takes performance reviews and turns them upside down,” Gill says. “Directors don’t tell employees how they’re doing. They ask open-ended questions to see what will help employees do a better job.”

2. Feedback Delayed Is Feedback Denied

You know the old joke about airline food. First passenger: “This food is terrible!” Second passenger: “And the portions are so small!” Most of us feel the same way about performance reviews. The only thing worse than how unsatisfying they are is how seldom they take place.

Bruce Tulgan interviewed hundreds of managers and employees for his book, FAST Feedback (the acronym stands for “frequent, accurate, specific, timely”). One of the most common complaints, he says, is that reviews take place too long after the performance being critiqued has occurred. “We don’t work in a year-by-year, pay-your-dues, climb-the-ladder environment anymore,” he says. “The once- or twice-a-year evaluation is a creature from the workplace of the past. Today’s business leaders expect workers to be project-driven, results-oriented. That doesn’t fit with the old model of reviewing performance every 6 or 12 months.”

Why do smart companies and leaders stick with such an obsolete practice? Because, Tulgan argues, they have well-established systems for conducting annual or semiannual reviews. “There are no systems for day-to-day engagement with workers,” he says.

That’s where “FAST feedback” comes in. Tulgan offers lots of techniques for accelerating how people deliver and process feedback. Managers, he says, can build feedback into routine meetings and memos. They can learn to deliver feedback through email and voice mail. They can use short notes. Ideally, they should set aside a designated chunk of time each day, just for giving their people feedback. “If we really want a just-in-time workforce,” he argues, “we have to create just-in-time feedback.”

One caution: There’s a difference between timely feedback and rushed feedback. Rick Maurer, author of Feedback Toolkit (Productivity Press, 1994), argues that a few old-fashioned principles of human behavior still apply, even in fast-paced work environments. If you’re providing feedback around an emotionally charged event, wait a day or two (but never more than a week). “Sometimes you’re so emotional that it makes sense to wait,” he says. “Let your gut be your guide.” And if your feedback involves a big issue, something the person you’re working with really needs to take seriously, then find an appropriate time and place – even if it delays the session. “Schedule an appointment and have a meeting,” Maurer urges. “Don’t give important feedback in the hallway.”

3. Feedback Is Where You Find It

It’s a mistake to blame all the problems with performance reviews on the people who deliver them. Feedback is no different from any other business process – you get out of it only what you put into it. If you’re not getting enough useful feedback, don’t look at your boss; start by looking at yourself. “Ultimately,” says Sibson & Co.’s Saunier, “managers aren’t responsible for their people’s performance. People are responsible for their own performance. There’s feedback all around you – if you pay attention. If you’re not getting enough feedback, ask for it.”

Saunier offers an example from her own experience. She heard from a unit coach that a new employee, who’d been on the job three months and had been working with Saunier on a project, complained that he wasn’t receiving enough feedback. “I couldn’t believe it,” Saunier says. “We walked back together from the client’s office every day. And every day we discussed what we could do better. Just because I didn’t sit him down in my office doesn’t mean I wasn’t providing feedback. The next time we walked back from the client’s, I began our discussion by saying, ‘Now, here’s some feedback.'”

LeRoy Pingho, a vice president at Fannie Mae, the mortgage giant, never complains that he’s not getting enough feedback. Since the mid-1980s, he’s organized annual 360-degree reviews. This is not an official company program; it’s his personal program. He selects a cross-section of colleagues – a boss, a subordinate, a customer – and asks them each to assess his performance. “Some things are ‘flat spots’ for me,” he says. “I can struggle with them alone or get help.”

Last year, Pingho took his review process a step further. He wrote an assessment based on the feedback he received, and then distributed copies to 50 people: bosses, peers, direct reports, his wife. He sent everyone the same message: “You work with me, so you should know my strengths and weaknesses. Also, I’m going to ask four of you to help me work on the things I’m not good at.”

Pingho dubbed those four people his “spotters.” He chose two at his level, one above him, and one below him. He met with each of the spotters to review the “flat spots” he’d identified. Then he told them that he wanted to focus on getting better at two of those weaknesses. (He didn’t think he could tackle five at once.) One was active listening: “When I’m in meetings, I’m already through the presentation before the presenter has gotten to the first page.” The second was empowerment: “I want to use the input I get from people instead of disregarding it.”

He asked his spotters to alert him when they saw behavior that related to those improvement goals: “I said, ‘You don’t have to do this in a formal way. But if you see something, tell me.’ It’s like being on the high bar. Just knowing that there’s somebody to make sure you don’t fall helps you become more self-confident.”

At GM Powertrain Group, a new approach to feedback is helping salaried employees gain more self-confidence. The group, which designs and manufactures castings, engines, and transmissions, began redesigning its appraisal processes in July 1996. The new system, called Individual Growth Strategy, revolves around a few simple principles: People want to do their best. The people who improve are those who have the most control over their development. So it’s up to employees – not managers – to decide what kind of feedback is most useful and from whom it should come.

GM offers training in ideas, techniques, and tools for soliciting feedback. But it’s up to the people who want feedback to seek it out. “If I buy something, I’m more committed to using it than if someone gives it to me,” explains Chris Oster. “The same goes for feedback. If I solicit feedback, I’m more inclined to use it.”

4. Giving people a Raise isn’t the Same as Giving them Feedback

It’s hard to argue with the principle that the better you do, the more money you should get. But most performance gurus say that explicitly linking reviews and raises has unintended consequences.

“A raise is a transaction about how much money you or I can get,” explains Kelly Allan. “Feedback is a conversation about how much meaning you and I can create. Feedback is about success for your people and your customers. Pay is about marketplace economics and skills. Pay and feedback are not related.”

Allan practices what he preaches. At his company, discussions about money are tangible and statistical. People play a big role in setting their own pay. Associates research market rates for talent in their peer group, based on skills and experience. People who want a raise can present evidence that they’ve acquired a new skill or had an experience that the market would reward with a salary increase.

Conversations about performance, on the other hand, are informal and collegial. Associates meet weekly with a colleague to discuss their current project. The firm schedules formal sessions monthly, quarterly, or every six months (depending on the associate’s tenure) to discuss the past, present, and future of each person’s work. “We have conversations, not appraisals,” Allan says. “And these conversations never include discussions of pay. Period.”

Glenroy Inc., the Wisconsin manufacturer that burned its employee manuals, has experimented with a more radical approach to pay. Several weeks after the bonfire, it was time for annual performance appraisals and salary reviews. Management was clear: Reviews were on the ash heap of history. But Glenroy did need to figure out what kinds of raises its employees would get. The improved approach? Employees decided their own raises.

Glenroy divided its workforce into peer groups based on job classifications. It was up to those peer groups to set their raises. In most cases, executive vice president Michael Dean reports, the peer groups were tougher than management would have been; the company later had to adjust many of the raises upward. “We treat people like adults,” says Dean. “That’s the essence of leadership.”

5. Always Get Feedback on Your Feedback

One reason candid feedback is so important is that most people are great at self-delusion. It’s easy to think we’re better at writing software, creating marketing campaigns, or evaluating business plans than we really are. That same talent for self-delusion applies to the art of giving feedback. Bruce Tulgan puts it this way: “There’s such a disconnect between managers’ impressions of the feedback they give and their employees’ impressions of the feedback they get. Most managers need a reality check.”

Tulgan has devised a simple technique for creating such a check. He suggests that managers think about the three most recent times they offered feedback to one of their employees. Then, they should write down brief answers to questions about those sessions: What prompted you to give feedback on that matter at that time? Did you check your facts first? What was the substance of the feedback? Was there any concrete action as a result? Next the manager should ask the employee to write down brief answers to the same questions. The comparisons, Tulgan says, make for interesting reading.

“Think of the people who work for you as ‘customers’ for your feedback,” he argues. “Find out whether the feedback you’re providing is working for them. If it’s not, what’s the point?”

Source: This is an article from my collection of inspiring online articles. Author – Unknown.

How hard can life be?


True Story |

This is the story of a man who started out as a shopkeeper, had a small electronic store in the suburbs of a small suburban town.

He got married, had a kid and his needs multiplied. The shop couldn’t fulfill them anymore, so, he took up a job – as medical sales executive.

He worked his way up the ladder in his company, it took years, but just like most of us he was getting there too!

He bought a house and a car and put his sons into a good school.

Like most of us, he had dreams too. He wanted a happy family, status, luxury and he worked his way through the thick and thin of things to get it.

Like most of us, he was proud of the way things were going.

Since nothing lasts forever, that is when unlike most of us, he had a heart attack. His dream was now shuffling between life support, expensive pills and medical bills.

Deserted by his friends and relatives, he lost his house as he couldn’t pay the loan, sold his car because there was a need to get food for the wife and kids – burned all his life’s savings in an attempt to live!

Just when he was about done, modern medicine gave him a second chance. He was going to live a little longer than he expected.

That led to questions about sustaining his family, which he couldn’t do by being on the bed rest the doctor summoned him to. Perhaps death was easier but it wasn’t meant to be so.

He left the bed, stopped the rest and went back to work; nobody wanted to hire him as they feared he would die on them. He was either honest or foolish, but he never lied.

He did get a job at last and soon another seizure of the heart followed. This was a big one too and he was left hollowed.

They were practically on the streets and then the mother took it on her to work. His son was still in the ‘good-school’ where the fee wasn’t paid for 7 months now. They let him study out of love for a smart kid, some courtesy and a bit of pity. For us it is a small world, for them it was a big city.

The mother worked, taught tuitions to run the family.

After his medical vacation even the father stood up against the ruling of the world – to work. God knows what drove him through this, but he said, “We will celebrate your next birthday son, this time we are not doing it because the doctor wants us not to.”  It was just a lame excuse for the little kid that kept him content.

As his father started his own business, he was struggling with poor finances, health, security and his own dreams. Astonishingly, the dreams were not dead.

He worked hard for the next few years and bought back his car, paid his son’s school fee and had food on the table, regularly.

Meanwhile, he had 10 minor and one major heart attack before he passed away leaving a wife and two kids behind. He did not leave them much money but he worked till the last day of his life to achieve the RESULT he dreamt of.

He left his family with the courage to move on, the persistence to fight and the mindset to win.

Moral: Every goal needs the right mindset to ensure its achievement. It depends only on how badly you want something which decides how soon you could get it

My Testimonials


This is what some of the participants had to say after attending my workshops through I Train Consultants (I) Pvt.Ltd:

  • “Our discussion was very relevant and addressed our challenges well.  What we discussed very practical and real life. I will definitely implement what I have learnt today going forward.”
    • Mid-Management, McKinsey & Company, On Leading 
  •  “The workshop was far better than the one we had last year from IIM Kolkata Trainer. We would be requesting you for further workshops in the future and we would definitely recommend to our friends”
    • President, Book Supply Bureau, On Motivation
  • “This training should be a mandatory training for career levels. Abhinandan is just amazing.”
    • Senior Manager, Sapient Corporation, On Negotiation Skills
  • “Abhinandan helped us to pull our internal things, which we always missed out. The workshop was interesting and enriching.”
    • Middle Management, UCB, On Managing Ambiguity
  •  “Your program is absolutely perfect for our team. It’s good for gaining knowledge. We will definitely use it in our professional and personal life. Everything is perfect”
    • Sudhir Gensets, Mid-Senior Management, On Project Effectiveness
  • ” I have spent many years in the army and the a few here, but this is the best training program I have ever attended. Very Fruitful and practical”
    • Indus Towers, Middle Management, On Negotiation Skills


Preachers


I don’t have to learn to live,
But if I do,let it be worth;
I dont have to burn to give,
But if I do, let it be worth.

I know not what wisdom is
Then why should I pretend to be wise
Trends talk to me this way
I must, should I want to rise

It’s trough toil and labour, as they say
Fortunes are made night and day
What toil is it in deceit,
Still it seems to rule the street

And I think I have built a place
For me in this worldly world.
Just then I see that smarter con
I am just a peg in his worldly turf

How so? That I don’t know,
Will I ever make it large
Or just like life meant me to be,
Will I succumb to latharge?

It is my battle to choose and

which will be the  final stand?

I don’t know how will it end,

But I will make sure it is grand.

The Unlikely Teacher


We run after ivy leagues and IIM’s to seek knowledge. No harm in it but what about the knowledge available around us.

Learning in not limited to books, degrees and institutions, its limited only to our thirst and what it takes to quench it.

It is infact an enlightning experience, what little things can teach you. I have heard, felt and experienced this serendipity. Here is a story that compells me to look out, be open and learn every time I remember it.

Gautam buddha was sitting underneath a banayan tree, meditating.On the other side of the tree two local musicians met and were discussing their work.

One of them wanted to learn the ‘ektara’, to increase his expertise.
The other musician, to express his expertise, started talking about the ektara.
He said ” The ektara is a beautiful instrument. If you want to learn how to play it , you must first learn how to tune the string. Make it too loose and it will not sound desirable, make it too tight and it will break.”
He concluded by repeating “not too tight, not too loose”

Buddha left his meditation and jumped up to stand. It was almost like someone had told him something unbelieveable.

He had realized the secret to happiness or ‘moksha’.

Like the string for the ektara, too much or too little of anything is the reason for most sorrow.

Be it money, love, knowledge or even life. This philosophy gave birth to the idea of ‘madhyama marga‘ or the middle path.

How many such opportunities have we missed, is anybody’s guess.

I see people with books and e books alike, not appreciating the simple logic in things or using it to make life better.

Why use blunt force when you can use physics! and it is not necessarily in books.

While discussing negotiation skills with a group of professionals form a Telecom company. I learnt a new lesson.

It was the story of an ongoing negotiation between them and a network giant where both of them were fighting their corners ,die hard. Eventually, they stopped listening to each other, did not let the other person speak, and finally quit conversations.

Untill an year later, a change of management got them to dig up the initial proposals that were shared and to everybody’s astonishment, they proposed the same resolution. This infers that they kept arguing with each other while saying the same thing.

This tought me to ‘shut up and listen’ while negotiating. The knowledge from the books can be brought in only later. Basics are basically always around us.

This is an everyday thing but when is it that we stop applying logic and start using our biceps to think.

It is very interesting how things get done around us, how a rickshaw puller manages to paddle all day, how a chefs kitchen produces food in 20 minutes or less, how the courier guy always find the address.

Their techniques can teach us tonnes.

The only question you need to ask is ‘HOW’? go ask …

The Coaching Anchor


There have been numerous books written on coaching and they talk about models, techniques and even the dummy style route maps to being a successful coach.

Short term quick fixes work well, but I wonder if they drive commitment that can last over a week.

Think about it, what you would like to see in your coach.

Try to remember that one well wisher who you would believe instantly and discuss things willingly with. What was different in the relationship with that person?

The difference is the TRUST factor.

As a coach or a mentor, trust is the key to effective and lasting motivation that drives change.

What drives trust?

Trust

Trust is built upon three key elements on the long term perspective:

Honesty: The birth of positive and open culture where fairness is the most prized element is a must to generate trust. Do people feel appreciated or confronted? Do people think of you as assistance or as competition?

These questions must be answered to unsure comfort for everyone in the situation.

Benevolence: Are you a good human being? Do people around you believe a good human being? Trust is built on beliefs, the more positiveness we can pump in through being kind, the higher the amount on trust will be.

Capability: Are you an expert? Do people find your feedback credible and believable? Do you practice what you preach? These are some of the key things that you need to ensure.

As long as there is Honesty, Benevolence and Capability in the picture – Trust will drive coaching and feedback in the system.

Coach your way to success: Coach or Roach?


A manager’s world has today moved from ‘control and captivate’ to the ‘care and coach‘. In business circles, no longer does the old fashioned ‘boss’ command his way and the subordinate listens.

Hard work has seen a paradigm shift and effort is no longer just staying back at work.

These are the changes that have pushed managers today to transform into a ‘coach’, from being a ‘roach’.

Let’s define some basics:

A.

Category : Roach

Characteristics: Insolent, Authoritative, Fatherly, Fear power, Inconsiderate, HARI SADU (pun intended!)

Creation : Good at driving mass hysteria, create efforts, hard work and push people to look busy and stressed, Gossip topics

Example :Hitler, Gaddafi

B.

Category : Coach

Characteristics: Considerate, Empathetic, Honest, Kind, People Power, Friendly and Progressive

Creation : Good at driving commitment, Get people to go the extra mile, Drive motivation and passion

Example : Mahindra Singh Dhoni, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs

Based on these profiles, it is only a matter of choice depending on what you want to be – Coach or Roach?

In the multi-dimensional businesses of ‘now’, it will help to rather have a bunch of people committed to a tough cause versus having a tough cause and bunch of tough people to deal with.The decision is finally yours.

To get our basics right lets understand Mentoring, Coaching and Feedback:

Mentoring: Looks at providing guidance to all aspects of life where the mentor works on a superficial level.

Coaching: Is the long term support for technical, behavioral and skills-related learning and growth where the coach plays a more hands on role in developing the protégé.

Feedback: Is performance related as well as behavior related and is used for short term gains where corrective or progressive action is sought.

Action Items:

Lead your team as a coach instead of being a boss to gain commitment and effort.

On Motivation


So there I was , in my bedroom , at 3 in the morning all alone – At my lazy best ; when out of nowhere I saw a  wasp in the room , after being bothered for a few seconds , I got back to viewing TV until…

…that bloody wasp was just an inch from my face, and then I ran , I screamed , I picked up my newspaper and tried to hit it , I picked up my slippers and jumped to reach it around the roof, all in vain but I did not give up. I got a broom with a long stick and galloped at it for 30 minutes before I could make it rest in peace. Huh… Man was I tired!

This is how life moves – Go deeper and you will find the secret of all motivation in this incident.

Humans are emotional beings , they are motivated by either pleasure or pain. We get late and then we panic because now we can loose things. We sit and watch ‘Facebook’ until there are stomach cramps due to hunger. We wait and wait and wait before we go to the doctor. We act only when we see some pain or some pleasure attached to doing or not dong that action.

It’s either high pain or a high pleasure that makes us move; when moderate it pushes us to the zone of complacency, laziness and ignorance.

Allow me to draw a couple of similarities between the way this story has worked and the way motivation happens:

Exhibit A : Commonwealth 2010 – We were sitting on the idea for 10 years flat , now that it is matter of national pride everyone is pushed to work at the brink of the event.

Exhibit B: Similarly, when the wasp was in my room I dint care until it came close to my face and I felt threatened.

Both these situations are high pain situations where the fear of loss was the motivator. As we know that pain is not the only motivator, we have a stint with pleasure too , let me share what I feel about it .

Exhibit A: On a personal note, whenever I have been out on a date, the amount of effort I put in to make that date a success was correlated to how beautiful the woman was. More beauty means more effort.

Exhibit B: There is a friend of mine, Renuka; she works with a renowned credit card company. They have an interesting office and since she is into sales the pressure is always on. She is an average performer.

Here is how she works – She closes on an average 2 credit card applications every day. However when there  is a scheme running for a 1000 INR shopping voucher for every 5 Credit Card Applications closed , she manages 10 of them and grabs the vouchers – Only she and the devil knows where those come from.

These are classic examples of the high pleasure principle. How great pleasure pushes people to act. The question that arises now is ‘How can you use this Pain and Pleasure Principle to motivate yourself?”

Here is what I do, I Question the possibilities with ‘What if?” questions and drive the issue to high pain or high pleasure.

Example: I need to lose weight but lack the motivation; I am not that heavy yet 😉

Q: What if I don’t lose it? A: I will be very obese.

Q: What if I become very obese? A: I will be less active and more prone to serious health issues like heart and orthopedic.

Q: How will all this make me feel? A: Embarrassed, as I won’t look good. Unhappy as I might get cranky and insecure. Heavy at heart as I will not be the one I used to be.

Conclusion:

A: To keep feeling better and live a healthy life I will lose it!( High Pleasure Perspective)

B: To live a normal life and not be bedridden by the time I am 40, I will lose it! (High Pain Perspective)

This is what we call WIIFM (Whats in it for me?)

Motivation is nothing but the result of a strong WIIFM.

How strong is yours? Go Find.