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Help leaders maintain a work-life balance: Most CEOs and managers do not enjoy life because of the stress levels at the workplace. We help them manage work and life better. If they start enjoying work, their productivity increases. We make leaders not by overpowering managers but by empowering them. Team harmony is an important component of leadership management.
Lifestyle and health oriented product categories will dominate consumption, says a report
Statistics from the India Retail Report 2007 are enough to convince one of the landscapes of opportunities available in product design.
According to the report, the organized sector accounted for Rs.55,000 crore of business at current prices in the calendar year 2006. And this essentially involves the purchase of (designed) products across categories.
Says Praveen Dhabhai, Whole Time Director and Chief Executive Officer, Hailer India, “We have 13 design centers worldwide and 18 research
and development centers. That is enough to indicate the quantity of work that we do”.
According to the report ‘Changing Retail Landscape In India’ by Technopark, consumption will fundamentally shift towards lifestyle and health oriented categories. As of 2007, the market size of apparel was USD 26 billion, furniture and furnishings was USD 10.3 billion and medical care and health services was USD 34.2 billion. Statistics enough to inspire one to design and dream!
Says Sarita Nagpal, Deputy Director General, Confederation of Indian Industries (CII),
“Product design is certainly on an upward trajectory. Growing
companies like Bajaj, Tata etc are beginning to invest and will definitely contribute to growing product design requirements”. As the nation’s aspirations to have products like the Nano increase, our capacity to design
must match the tempo…
Managers and employees alike customarily have dreaded performance appraisals. But companies and organizations see them as useful tools. Many are making them less intimidating by soliciting employee input and having managers evaluate their people throughout the year.
“A good performance appraisal method will always have employee
input,” said Nancy Day, a professor and director of the business
administration division at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Bloch
School of Business.
Typically, both employee and manager fill out the appraisals separately, then confer, she said. Employees should receive feedback when they meet.
“It takes a lot of skill, and you have to honestly and sincerely want to develop your employees,” Day said. “It’s mostly about communicating, coaching and mentoring”. A good performance appraisal system should have a direct connection to the goals of the business, Day said.
“It should directly relate with what the organization wants to get done,” she said. Five years ago, the appraisal system for the Little Blue Valley Sewer District in Independence Mo., was revamped, said Charlotte Scranton, human resources manager. Management changed, and the new executive director’s style was “participative rather than autocratic,” she said.
The company hired Labour Management Advisory Group to train people in a quarterly appraisal system. The job description and performance appraisal forms go hand in hand, she said. For each position, “essential functions” receive evaluation space for “exceeds expectations,” “meets expectations” or “is a concern”. Every three months, employees and supervisors receive copies to fill out, then go over them. The discussion should include whether there are areas where employees need to improve or get more training, she said. “One
the other hand, employees may be able to show that they have saved the district money or were the fist to recognize a breakdown in equipment,”
Scranton said. “These are things the supervisor may not have been aware of or may have forgotten”. As the second quarter comes around, employees can say whether they are getting the tools they need, and managers can look at employees’ attempts to correct concerns. By the third quarter, “things should be OK,” she said, so that by the final review, employees are meeting expectations or exceeding them.
Scranton said she appreciated the new system.
Steve Cohen is a human resources consultant and partner in Labour Management Advisory Group, which has introduced this evaluation system to companies in several cities. Under his theory, performance appraisals always should be tied to job des—criptions and should be conducted at least three times a year. Cohen said there should be no room for surprises for employees. “Supervisors should bring up potential pro—blems as they observe them and ask the employee, ‘did you know you do that’”? Cohen said. “It’s best to raise issues when they are small”. Don’t assume that you know what your employees think of their own performances, Cohen said. “There is no peace, growth or development without dialogue or discussion,” he said.
Manager Howell Wright’s staff is responsible for developing and delivering course materials to the wing of the Internal Revenue Service that deals with small businesses and the self-employed. His staff used to work
Mo., office, but since the IRS restructured, he supervises 35 persons throughout the country. Under the federal plan, employees are evaluated once
a year, Wright said. Supervisor and employee also meet midyear and discuss how the employee is doing, reviewing the plans the two have established at
the beginning of the year. The documents they sign are fairly generic, Wright said. “I try to sit down with my folks and translate for them in terms of their jobs,” he said.
“My management style is more collaborative and participative. I like people to build their roles and understand that the roles they play are important”. Wright likes to hear every day either by telephone or in person
how his employees are doing. He asks them to submit self-evaluations.
“They know what their missions are,” he said, “so they come back and tell
me what they did and how”. Sometimes he asks for weekly updates.
“It’s time-consuming,” Wright said, “but the computer helps me go in
and see if everyone is on track. It’s what you have to do to make your goals”.
If there are surprises in an annual performance appraisal, “you’ve
messed up,” said Hal Wood, owner of Advisory Management Services.
“There are 260 das of work preceding it, so it should be almost anticlimactic”.
His management consultants teach managers to coach on an ongoing basis and to be in constant communication with their staffs.
“Both the good and the bad,” Wood said. His company is trying to get people away from evaluations that use point scales. “I cringe when I see people’s efforts converted to numbers in a rating system,” he said.
He said the manager and staff member should sit down with a current
job description and some paper. They should write what they see as the employee’s areas of strengths and weaknesses, and how they intend to fix
“What else can you rate”? Wood said. “You are either doing the job,
not doing it or doing it better than expected”. Wood also advocates that all employees have access to their files at any time, that managers and employees sign submissions to records and that employees be allowed to add documents to their files whenever they wish.
Don’t burn your bridges
Resigning doesn’t mean severing all ties with your employer. You may need him for future reference
It’s the day you have been waiting for—the day you quit the job you really hate. If you loathe your boss, or the work, you may be tempted to put into play that resignation fantasy you have been perfecting during your miserable hours on the job: giving your boss a Power Point pre—sentation detailing his incompetence, telling coworkers who’s been gossiping about them or emptying the stockroom of post-it notes and computer paper to take home. After all, you’re out of that place, right?
Wrong. According to Stephen Viscusi, host of the nationally syndicated On the job radio show and author of On the job: How to Make it in the Real World of Work, how you resign will invariably influence your career in future. Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Just get out with your hard-earned professionalism still intact. Here’s how:
It’s the oldest saying in the book: don’t burn your bridges. While trashing your boss
or co—workers may feel gratifying at the moment, once you speak the incriminating
words, you can never take them back—yet people will always remember them. Remember, not only do you need your former employer as a reference, but it is quite likely you will run into someone connected with your old job in the future—either a coworker, client or supervisor. On caveat: if you have a formal exit interview, you can share appropriate grievances with HR. “Make sure the interview is truly formal in nature,” Viscusi says. Venting your frustration in a quick conversation with someone before you head out the door is unwise.
Leaving a job can be an emotional experience for you and your boss. When you tell
your super—visor you’re quitting, you are essentially stating that you are firing him
as your boss. He may feel shocked, angry or defensive. He may have to answer to a superior about why you decided to leave. Don’t get into an emotional interchange with your boss. Although tensions may rise, keep yourself in check and remain professional. By quitting, you’ve already gotten your revenge. Your boss will have to find someone
to fill your position, train the new hire and wait for him to overcome any learning curve before being truly productive. You’ve already got the boss where it hurts.
Keep your resignation letter short and to the point and provide the effective date of
your re—signation. Don’t send it by email. Go to the appropriate staff member in person and hand him the letter while you state you are resigning. Be aware that once
you give your resignation, it’s possible you may be immediately asked to clean out
your desk before you’re escorted to the door. Be sure you have already collected the things you really need the week before you resign, such as email addresses, business cards of clients, coworkers or supervisors and any information you may need regarding projects you’ve worked on.
If your job was truly a horrifying experience, it can be hard to get over it. But bringing your old baggage to a new job is a surefire way to start building an unflattering reputation. Griping makes you look bad, not your employer. Besides, you’ve got
reason to celebrate. You’ve got a new job. Get through your resignation as
professionally as possible and move on to the greener pastures awaiting you.
Just as you have rules of etiquette at home there are rules for behaviour at the workplace
To work well with others in a congenial atmosphere, it is necessary to conduct
yourself according to established conventions. Since the basis of proper
etiquette is respect for others, it is important to gain the confidence, respect
and cooperation of your colleagues via correct office behaviour. Here are some
ground rules to help you along the way.
A sunny disposition: Be cheerful, cooperative and thoughtful. It is easy to spot someone who is cynical, thoughtless, rude and has a dark view of life. This kind
of person will tend to treat coworkers and juniors irresponsibly. Therefore, do
assess your personality and get help if you need it.
Be ethical: Without a code of ethics, life would take a nightmarish turn. You
must learn to respect peoples’ confidences and secrets. Office gossip is all
very well, but not at someone else’s expense. Organizations do maintain a
certain level of privacy and it is considered most unethical to discuss company
affairs with outsiders. The safe rule here would be never to gossip about
coworkers and never to discuss company business outside the office.
Security: It is most important to keep important files and documents and locked away. Do not leave revealing letters hanging around on your table. Notes,
notebooks etc, should be kept away especially when you are not in your
office-even if this is for a few minutes. Take care of how you dispose of material. Remember things can be taken out of the wastepaper basket and read.
Personally speaking: Annoying habits such as pencil tapping or rocking up
and down in your chair or even continuously wagging your foot are definite
no-nos. Smoking in a nonsmoking zone; interrupting someone before he or she
has completed his/her sentence; drumming your knuckles on the desk when
are bored with someone and staring at your feet when someone is talking to
you are some other things you should most definitely not do.
Clothes: Experts say you should dress for the job you want and not for the
one you have. Although offices vary in the kinds of dress codes they have,
it would do well to wear a conservative shirt and pair of trousers and a sober
tie (if office rules require). Try not to wear clothes that sag and wrinkle. The
rule of thumb would be to follow the example of others in your office.
Grooming: Clothes are only part of the picture you present. Good posture,
clean hair and nails and a respectable hairstyle are other factors you must
keep in mind. In short you should look dressed for office and not for a picnic!
Elevator courtesy: Most people are either in a hurry to get to or leave the office. Elevators therefore, are often crowded and common courtesy requires that you
wait for people to get out before you get into the elevator. If you are carrying
packages be careful that you don’t shove them into people. The golden rule
is-don’t push and shove!
Be a tidy housekeeper: Neatness or sloppiness is very visible in an office
situation. Since it is easy for someone to associate an office in disarray with carelessness at work—it is wise to keep your files and other material in a
neat and orderly fashion.
Power to the people
‘EMPLOYEE EMPOWERMENT’ HAS BEEN A POPULAR HR JARGON FOR LONG. HOWEVER, THE LATEST BUZZWORD IN CORPORATE PARLANCE IS ‘HR EMPOWER—MENT’, REPORTS
How does one define ‘powerful’ people is an organization? Insightful? Great leaders? Highly persuasive? Influential? Somewhat shrewd? Is the super talented marketing?
Manager who never misses his sales target considered powerful? Or the hardnosed brand manager who always gets what the wants? Or the savvy executive who lunches and parties frequently with the CEO? Simply possessing these traits are not enough. Powerful people weren’t born powerful. They are skilled individuals who go on to become powerful through their consistent use of time tested resources. But at some point in time, they were challenged, tested, confronted and most importantly empowered! And experts in the corporate world are suggesting just that in an endeavour to empower HR. Read on to find out more…
POWER CRISIS: Experts gathered at ‘Personal Swiss’, an HR exhibition
Switzerland claim that only a few HR executives are involved in core strategic planning activities. One of the reasons for this may be that HR, in many enterprises, is seen as a cost factor than a value factor, and HR targets are
often set with a focus on short-term cost reduction rather than long-term value generation, they emphasized. This is unfortunate as a great deal of challenges that lay ahead will affect the HR domain greatly, but are often overlooked by
key executives. “Many enterprises today have a Chief Information Officer to assist the CEO in developing and improving an efficient IT architecture, so why not create the position of a Chief HR Officer? Quite a few major international corporations already have done so, and we will hopefully see this in smaller companies as well in the near future. Many companies, especially in
Europe with its current lack of engineering specialists, are beginning to realize that an enduring and foresighted management of their HR capital may be just
as important for lasting business success as the development of cutting-edge products and new markets. Therefore, the role of the Chief HR officer has to be empowered,” says Dr. Lothar Schmidt Group, Managing Director, Dr. Schmidt
& Partner, a fully integrated HR services company that focuses on recruiting, HR advertising and employer branding which has offices in
The top management still ranks ROI (return on investment) as the most important factor of measurement of success in their companies whereas HR ranks human capital as the most important factor. If the company without shifting priorities also considers people too as a reflection of their success, the management will take more proactive steps towards empowering HR. “The management has to give HR the chance to prove that a well managed human capital is a key factor to success too and in return, HR can through regular conducted employee surveys suggest and implement improvements in communication, work environments, career planning, mobility etc. By making their actions visible, management can directly measure its impact on business results,” adds Rolf Rothlisberger, Partner, Versus Systems SA, a consulting company based in
Geneva. Deborah Sanders, Vice President, HR, Fujitsu Consulting, USA gives her perspective on HR empowerment, “HR today not only facilitates the growth of every associate but also plays a major part in strategizing and implementing major processes. Hence, HR should be given the power of veto when it feels the management decisions may not be conducive to employee welfare”.
In a study of about 50 CEOs, Hewitt Associates found that CEOs and other business leaders are most frustrated by HR’s lack of business competencies. Even after decades of hopeful rhetoric about HR becoming a ‘strategic partner’, the truth of the matter is that most of the HR professionals are not even close to exerting any influence on management decisions, says Ajay Soni, Practice Head, Talent and Organization Consulting, Hewitt Associates. He adds, “As far as the top management is concerned, it does not matter how many candidates HR interviews or how many training programmes HR conducts. What they are interested in and care about is whether their talent supply needs are met, and whether the organization has the right capability growth and high performance to realize its business strategy”. If Soni was ever given a chance to empower the function of HR, he says that his first step will be to empower it by restructuring and redesigning it around broader, more integrated core processes like talent supply, leadership and key talent capabilities, high performance, employee relationship and business structuring. He will also assign process owners who have end-to-end accountability and are empowered to take decisions with respect to the process. He adds that he will focus on upskilling his HR staff, especially around business competencies, and drive greater specialization in the team. It will take a while for Indian organizations to implement the philosophy of HR empowerment in their organizations. But experts claim that sooner or later, it’s bound to happen!
Alexander R. Petsch, CEO, Spring Messes Management, a company based in Germany that organizes HR exhibitions in different countries explains below why the concept of ‘HR empowerment’ will take time to be implemented
1.RETHINK: In order to empower HR for more important functions, besides administrative, the management has to revise their thinking. They have no practical experience in sales, production or distribution and they lack sound practical management experience. This is one reason why sometimes HR is not able to sell its services well within the company. Hence, the management often underestimates HR’s valuable knowledge.
2.REALSE: Most companies discuss the role of HR as a business partner but don’t know how to marry HR needs with that of the management’s. What are the tasks shouldered by a business-partner, which functions the company should leave to special ‘competence centres’, under what situation should a ‘shared service centre’, a team that offers a common service provision of
routine HR activities be used and how can HR bring value to the table, are a
few questions lurking on their minds.
3. REVISE: For HR to be taken seriously by the management, they have to deliver reliable figures. However, since the resource of human capital often
isn’t measured due to lack of adequate controlling instruments, HR struggles
to be accepted.
But Petsch also provides three ways through which the role of HR can be empowered:
1. PARTNER: A business partnership is only possible if HR is given the decision-making power and for that, it should be represented in the highest executive committees include the board of the directors.
2. POSITION: For the HR department to have more capacities for new strategies, administrative tasks should, if possible, be transferred to share service centers.
3.PRACTICE: Empowering HR also means strengthening their skills and expertise to face bigger challenges. New trainees need solid economic qualifications and should have very good social skills. Business knowledge
is a must, as well as basic knowledge of the respective operations. Unfortunately, university education does, up to this day, not meet these requirements. Hence a stronger orientation towards further education is
Blog, don’t go the whole hog
Think long and hard before you blog about work
There are various reasons fro blogging about your job. You may want to brag about your accomplish-ments, crib about your cheese-moving coworkers or sociopathic boss, reveal whom on the floor of the server closet or simply recount the day’s events as a way of distressing.
Whatever the reasons, if you blog, you take on all the liability and employment security risks that come with publishing to a potential leadership of a billion people – even though the actual size of your audience may be just a handful of people or no one.
Perilous path: How is blogging different from just putting up a personal website? “The difference is that the easy-to-use tools available for blogging take away the barriers to getting online,” says Rebecca Jeschke, a spokeswoman for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a civil liberties advo-cacy group.
The danger to blogging about your job comes when you allow no-brainer publishing technology – together with a mistaken sense of anonymity – to embolden you to record observations more approp-riate for a private, paper-based journal than a global electronic network.
“People need to think long and hard about whether they’re comfortable blogging about work in an unprotected way,” Jeschke says. One workplace blogger puts it even more plainly: “When you start a blog, you have to assume you’re going to be found out,” says the anonymous author of Waiter Rant, which chronicles the trails and tribulations of a restaurant server. Being fired for blogging really hap–pens – and when it does, it often gets lots of news coverage. Delta Air Lines, Google, Ladies Home Journal and Wells Fargo are among the employers that have reportedly terminated workers over their blogs.
Still, only 3% of companies surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management said they had sanctioned bloggers, and none had fired them, according to a CNET report. According to a recent Monster poll, when asked if they ever blog about work, 58% of respondents answered, “What are blogs”?
Work watch: As with many other forms of publishing, work-related blogging carries an array of legal perils, including libel and defamation; infringement of intellectual property rights such as trade-mark, patent and copyright; and breach of company confidentiality and other restrictions in a workers terms of employment.
Where should a winnable blogger begin? “If the company has a policy on blogging, that’s the first thing that workers should check,” says Stephen Liechtenstein, a law professor at Bentley College. Most workers shouldn’t blog under the illusion that free-speech rights will protect them from their employers.
Still, special forms of speech may be somewhat protected. “If you blog about unionizing, you may get more protection than you would otherwise,” Jeschke says. Whistle blowing, airing political opin–ions and reporting the goings-on in a federal workplace may also be protected, depending on state law, according to EFF.
EFF has published a safe-blogging guide that covers how to blog anonymously as well as the defenses you might mount against an employer who attempts to retaliate against you for blogging.
Identity check: Many bloggers seek to write anonymously by changing names and other identifying details. “Being anonymous is very important, because it allows me to say what I want to say,” says the Waiter Rant blogger, who has achieved some notoriety in the blogosphere.
But bloggers shouldn’t assume that their attempts at anonymity would be successful. One slip – or a betrayal by a former confidant – could land a blogger in big trouble with his employer or the law.
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