Category Archives: Leadership

A Dog in Sheesh Mahal

Don’t be too amused at the title just yet. Its a local idiom showing how a dog in a palace would behave. Out of place, bewildered, confused even bedazzled. Most of us started out careers at the entry level. We all have come from different backgrounds. Some have been exposed to corporate setups due to our parents or family and some of us have not. Some come from elite institutes while other from very humble beginnings. What all of us have in common is that we started somewhere and today we have achieved a certain status in our professional lives. Going back in the journey and recalling our first day at work …. Do that…please go back in time and remember. The nervous insides, tingling unexplained sensations, the fear of the unknown … Are you there yet? Good, or not too good 🙂 Now, do you remember the first senior who took you on and explained some of the basics to you. The first senior who corrected your mistake and told you ” Its ok. We all make mistakes…learn from this and you will be ok!” I feel certain that we can all name at least one senior in our professional lives who carved the path to our achievements , to our success. Being senior professional in our respective fields today … we owe it to those mentors, friends, guides to Pay it forward ! Acknowledge the fact that our knowledge and skill cannot be taken away from us, cannot be stolen. The purpose of our experience is to “share”, to give away to our new generation ( batch ) of budding professionals who stagger in to the hall ways of professional greatness .. unsure and unaware of the magnitude of potential they are carrying hidden away inside them. It is up to us to act as guides and in many cases as catalysts to build confidence and transform these freshers. I am a result of many great minds who have in their own unique ways contributed to my professional path. And today I would like to say “Thank you ” to all of them. I would request a moment from everyone reading this post to take a minute, remember those mentors and send them a thank you note, sms or email today…now . It may not seem much, but appreciation goes a long way. I am in the process of emailing mine 🙂

Handling Office Politics


Political Tug of war
Office politics is just like the lottery.  Dreaming about winning doesn’t get you anywhere – there’s no payoff if you don’t buy a ticket. But YOU have to play if you want to win. 

However, unlike the lottery, there are consequences if you decide not to play.

Game Plan

Not everything in life in black and white and unfortunately, office politics can’t be reduced to this level of simplicity either. 
Office politics is a complex stew of power, ambition, control and ego.  Winning, if there is such a thing, requires continuous attention to who’s important/not important at any given moment and strategically aligning with the right 
faction(s). Mistakes can be fatal to a career. 

It’s easy to see how many people decide it’s smarter to sit on the sidelines.  Swim with these sharks?  No thanks, it’s much safer not to get involved.  Or so you’d think … but you’d be wrong.

Opt out, and the best you can hope for is to be completely ignored.  This might be good for your psyche, but it’s tough on your career.  Promotions or good assignments won’t be coming your way, but a layoff might, if one’s in the offing.  All too often, quiet = expendable

If you choose not to play, be sure you don’t criticize those who do, or the game itself.  You’ll be labeled a loose cannon or a troublemaker.  You’ll also be a target for skilled political players who may decide to use you to further their own agendas.  It’s easy to identify the person who doesn’t want to join in as the malcontent who’s responsible for badmouthing unpopular decisions.

Well, says you, I’m not being negative, I’m just saying that things should be based on merit – the quality of your work, not who you kiss up to.  I agree – in principal:
It sounds great, but I’ve never seen a company where there wasn’t some element of politics at work.

This is Unfair

Right.  What’s your point?  The culture of each workplace evolves over time, largely in reaction to the example that’s set at the top.  Unless you’re the new CEO, your ability to unilaterally create change is very, very limited.  You can continue to resist, but it’s going to be a lot less painful if you adapt.

You’ll be most effective if you can deal with things the way they are, not the way you think they should be.  No one can take your principles away from you, but they can take away your position.  It’s really your choice, and I hope it never comes to that. The best strategy is to modify your view of office politics.  Rather than seeing it as a hotbed of useless gossip, intrigue, brown-nosing, or backstabbing, try to recast it in a positive light.  Think of the political game as a means for you to spread your own gospel through positive example.

One of the few absolute rules of office culture is that it’s not enough just to do a great job. You’ve also got to communicate your abilities and successes to the right people, and you’ve got to do it via the “right way”, which is going to be dictated by the company’s cultural norms.  Observation is the key.

Open Your Eyes and Ears; Keep Your Mouth Shut

A key mistake in office politics is accepting information without independent verification.  There are a couple of ways this happens.  One is that people look at an org chart and take it at face value.  In the work environment, there’s both a formal and informal hierarchy.  There are people on the chart with position and authority who are incapable of exercising it, and conversely, there are people that may not even appear on the chart who manage to run everything.  Your job is to figure out who’s who, and cultivate good relationships accordingly.  That won’t happen if you step away from your desk only to use the bathroom.

Listen
The second mistake people often make is to align themselves with one faction too early, or too closely.  When you start a new job, it’s tempting to latch onto a person or small group fast. Understandable – it gets you over being green and helps assimilate you to the new environment.  The danger is that you may inadvertently align with the wrong group, and you won’t know until it’s too late.  Better to be friendly towards everybody and get the full range of opinions.  If you don’t favor one faction over another, you’ll be able to array all of the different points of view and validate their legitimacy against your own observations. 

Spend less time talking, and more time listening.  This is a wonderful technique that has several distinct benefits.  First, you minimize the opportunity to say anything stupid or ill-advised that can come back and haunt you later. 
Second, people who like to talk think highly of people who listen. They project competence onto you because you let them do what they need to do.  They’ll speak well of you later, even though your view of these conversations is that they’re a good opportunity to plan what you’re going to do for lunch. 

The third benefit of doing more listening than talking is that your silence, especially your continued silence, is liable to make other people a bit uneasy.  People who are edgy tend to chatter more than they should. (Think how job candidates might babble to fill up a silence during an interview.) Sometimes, that chatter includes information that wasn’t intended to be revealed.  All the better for you.

Rules of the Game

There’s one rule in office politics that can trump all the other rules: never make your boss look bad.  Most bad bosses are capable of accomplishing this all on their own.  They don’t need your help and you don’t need to get dragged down with them.  Create a situation where your boss is seen in a negative light and you’ll be the one who pays the price in the short run. 

The other rules of office politics are less about the politics and more about you and your behavior. This list isn’t all-inclusive, and strict adherence doesn’t guarantee success.  But, it’s better than nothing:
1.     Figure out what you want and plot your strategy accordingly.
2.     Be a part of multiple networks, not just one.
3.     Communicate with your networks often, and in the ways that work best.
4.     Judge behavior in the organizational context, not against some idealized standard.
5.     Watch other people at work and identify successful behaviors that you can model
6.     Don’t pass along questionable judgments or spread rumors
7.     Look for win/win ways to resolve conflicts, but never leave them unresolved.

More

Despite all this, there really is one way out of the office politics maze.  Work for yourself and work alone.  You’ll still need to interact with clients and customers, but those politics are for another column entirely. 

Things never to say in a job interview

Off all the things one wishes they had not said in a job interview I would like to highlight the top five 🙂

So here are 5 of the biggest blunders…………..

1. “I hated my last boss.” It doesn’t matter how bad your last boss was — don’t cite it as a reason for leaving your job neither should you complain about your boss’s managerial skills. This kind of “trash” talking will make your potential new boss think your interpersonal skills are weak and you’re not a team player. Follow the advice your mom gave you: If you can’t say anything nice about someone, explain that your last role was not a good fit for you, or you are looking for new ways to grow.

2. “I don’t know anything about this company.” Do your research. Know something about the company you’re interviewing for, and be able to articulate how your skills will complement the business. If you’re a Web designer, for example, at the very least study the company’s Web site and explain what you like and what you would change, given the chance. A neutral example would be for instance reviewing the company’s website for the careers section or the Human Resource section. You can easily start an educated and informed discussion with the HR representative on how you feel the section could have been more informational or why you liked it etc.

3. “No questions, thanks.” When it’s your turn to ask questions about the company and the role, have something to talk about. If you don’t, it looks like your lack of inquisitiveness means you are not genuinely interested in a career, but just a paycheck. Did the interviewer already answer everything you wanted to know? At least rephrase something you already talked about in a new way.

4. “What sect do you belong to ?” Small talk can be great. You may use small talk to include something unrelated to the job directly but that shows competencies that are transferable to the job you are applying for thou. But know where the line is and don’t cross it — don’t ask or talk about stuff that’s inappropriately personal.

5. “And another thing…” Avoid rats and bitterness. It’s great to have strong opinions, but be careful that you don’t come across sounding like you are angry or so opinionated that you’ll be difficult to work with. No one wants to work with a serial complainer.


Wish you the best of luck for your interviews.

Why should anyone read my blog

So, why should anyone on the WWW read my blog?

They should not. I strongly take a stand on this. No one should be allowed to read my blog. I dont read what I have written, and no one else should be put thru this agony either 😉

Ok, I dont mean that 100% … people should have the free will to read what ever they wish to read. Well, its not my words that are going to make someone free, liberal or unrestricted…that has already been done by other far more competent and thought provoking than I am at the moment. I dont claim to be smart either. People should attest to that. My own words should not be my judge.

Read what you like, write what you like. Feel the freedom. My keyboard is creating alot of issues. Almost like the little red ant buggers 🙂

Shall put up pictures of our beautiful locations today. wait for them.

The Eight Elements Of TQM


Eight elements are key in ensuring the success of TQM in an organization.
Total Quality Management is a management approach that originated in the 1950’s and has steadily become more popular since the early 1980’s. Total Quality is a description of the culture, attitude and organization of a company that strives to provide customers with products and services that satisfy their needs. The culture requires quality in all aspects of the company’s operations, with processes being done right the first time and defects and waste eradicated from operations.

To be successful implementing TQM, an organization must concentrate on the eight key elements:

1-Ethics
2-Integrity
3-Trust
4-Training
5-Teamwork
6-Leadership
7-Recognition
8-Communication

This paper is meant to describe the eight elements comprising TQM.

Key Elements
TQM has been coined to describe a philosophy that makes quality the driving force behind leadership, design, planning, and improvement initiatives. For this, TQM requires the help of those eight key elements. These elements can be divided into four groups according to their function. The groups are:
I. Foundation – It includes: Ethics, Integrity and Trust.
II. Building Bricks – It includes: Training, Teamwork and Leadership.
III. Binding Mortar – It includes: Communication.
IV. Roof – It includes: Recognition.

I. Foundation
TQM is built on a foundation of ethics, integrity and trust. It fosters openness, fairness and sincerity and allows involvement by everyone. This is the key to unlocking the ultimate potential of TQM. These three elements move together, however, each element offers something different to the TQM concept.

1. Ethics – Ethics is the discipline concerned with good and bad in any situation. It is a two-faceted subject represented by organizational and individual ethics. Organizational ethics establish a business code of ethics that outlines guidelines that all employees are to adhere to in the performance of their work. Individual ethics include personal rights or wrongs.

2. Integrity – Integrity implies honesty, morals, values, fairness, and adherence to the facts and sincerity. The characteristic is what customers (internal or external) expect and deserve to receive. People see the opposite of integrity as duplicity. TQM will not work in an atmosphere of duplicity.

3. Trust – Trust is a by-product of integrity and ethical conduct. Without trust, the framework of TQM cannot be built. Trust fosters full participation of all members. It allows empowerment that encourages pride ownership and it encourages commitment. It allows decision making at appropriate levels in the organization, fosters individual risk-taking for continuous improvement and helps to ensure that measurements focus on improvement of process and are not used to contend people. Trust is essential to ensure customer satisfaction. So, trust builds the cooperative environment essential for TQM.

II. Bricks
Basing on the strong foundation of trust, ethics and integrity, bricks are placed to reach the roof of recognition. It includes:

4. Training – Training is very important for employees to be highly productive. Supervisors are solely responsible for implementing TQM within their departments, and teaching their employees the philosophies of TQM. Training that employees require are interpersonal skills, the ability to function within teams, problem solving, decision making, job management performance analysis and improvement, business economics and technical skills. During the creation and formation of TQM, employees are trained so that they can become effective employees for the company.

5. Teamwork – To become successful in business, teamwork is also a key element of TQM. With the use of teams, the business will receive quicker and better solutions to problems. Teams also provide more permanent improvements in processes and operations. In teams, people feel more comfortable bringing up problems that may occur, and can get help from other workers to find a solution and put into place. There are mainly three types of teams that TQM organizations adopt:

A. Quality Improvement Teams or Excellence Teams (QITS) – These are temporary teams with the purpose of dealing with specific problems that often re-occur. These teams are set up for period of three to twelve months.
B. Problem Solving Teams (PSTs) – These are temporary teams to solve certain problems and also to identify and overcome causes of problems. They generally last from one week to three months.
C. Natural Work Teams (NWTs) – These teams consist of small groups of skilled workers who share tasks and responsibilities. These teams use concepts such as employee involvement teams, self-managing teams and quality circles. These teams generally work for one to two hours a week.
6. Leadership – It is possibly the most important element in TQM. It appears everywhere in organization. Leadership in TQM requires the manager to provide an inspiring vision, make strategic directions that are understood by all and to instill values that guide subordinates. For TQM to be successful in the business, the supervisor must be committed in leading his employees. A supervisor must understand TQM, believe in it and then demonstrate their belief and commitment through their daily practices of TQM. The supervisor makes sure that strategies, philosophies, values and goals are transmitted down through out the organization to provide focus, clarity and direction. A key point is that TQM has to be introduced and led by top management. Commitment and personal involvement is required from top management in creating and deploying clear quality values and goals consistent with the objectives of the company and in creating and deploying well defined systems, methods and performance measures for achieving those goals.

III. Binding Mortar
7. Communication – It binds everything together. Starting from foundation to roof of the TQM house, everything is bound by strong mortar of communication. It acts as a vital link between all elements of TQM. Communication means a common understanding of ideas between the sender and the receiver. The success of TQM demands communication with and among all the organization members, suppliers and customers. Supervisors must keep open airways where employees can send and receive information about the TQM process. Communication coupled with the sharing of correct information is vital. For communication to be credible the message must be clear and receiver must interpret in the way the sender intended.

There are different ways of communication such as:
A. Downward communication – This is the dominant form of communication in an organization. Presentations and discussions basically do it. By this the supervisors are able to make the employees clear about TQM.
B. Upward communication – By this the lower level of employees are able to provide suggestions to upper management of the affects of TQM. As employees provide insight and constructive criticism, supervisors must listen effectively to correct the situation that comes about through the use of TQM. This forms a level of trust between supervisors and employees. This is also similar to empowering communication, where supervisors keep open ears and listen to others.
C. Sideways communication – This type of communication is important because it breaks down barriers between departments. It also allows dealing with customers and suppliers in a more professional manner.

IV. Roof
8. Recognition – Recognition is the last and final element in the entire system. It should be provided for both suggestions and achievements for teams as well as individuals. Employees strive to receive recognition for themselves and their teams. Detecting and recognizing contributors is the most important job of a supervisor. As people are recognized, there can be huge changes in self-esteem, productivity, quality and the amount of effort exhorted to the task at hand. Recognition comes in its best form when it is immediately following an action that an employee has performed. Recognition comes in different ways, places and time such as,

Ways – It can be by way of personal letter from top management. Also by award banquets, plaques, trophies etc. Places – Good performers can be recognized in front of departments, on performance boards and also in front of top management. Time – Recognition can given at any time like in staff meeting, annual award banquets, etc.
Conclusion
We can conclude that these eight elements are key in ensuring the success of TQM in an organization and that the supervisor is a huge part in developing these elements in the work place. Without these elements, the business entities cannot be successful TQM implementers. It is very clear from the above discussion that TQM without involving integrity, ethics and trust would be a great remiss, in fact it would be incomplete. Training is the key by which the organization creates a TQM environment. Leadership and teamwork go hand in hand. Lack of communication between departments, supervisors and employees create a burden on the whole TQM process. Last but not the least, recognition should be given to people who contributed to the overall completed task. Hence, lead by example, train employees to provide a quality product, create an environment where there is no fear to share knowledge, and give credit where credit is due is the motto of a successful TQM organization.

About The Author
Nayantara Padhi is an HR Executive in an Indian Steel Industry, and is pursuing a Ph.D. on “The Human Dimension Of TQM”. Mr. Padhi has published numerous articles in different national and international journals, and has completed a P.G. in Industrial Relations And Personnel Management.

Gender Stereotyping A Key Barrier

November 19 2009 – A study published in the December 2009 issue of the Psychology of Women Quarterly shows that management stereotypes are likely to evolve as more women assume leadership roles in the workforce.

Despite improvements in female participation at management levels, women still fill less than 2% of CEO leadership positions in the Fortune 500. It is not surprising to find, therefore, that leaders continue to be thought of as men with the management levels in most industries considered to be ‘male-typed’. But in a few industries women have moved into management positions. These industries have become more ‘gender-neutral’ and there are indications that stereotypes of leaders as men may be changing.

The study, The Evolving Manager Stereotype: The Effects of Industry Gender Typing on Performance Expectations for Leaders and Their Teams by Susan F. Cabrera, Stephen J. Sauer and Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt of the Universities of Cornell, Clarkson and Virginia respectively, investigates how male and female leaders and their teams are evaluated differently according to the gender-typing of the industry in which they work.

The researchers’ findings were that people have higher expectations for the performance of teams when the leader’s gender is consistent with the gender typing of the industry in which the team works. However, expectations for performance of leaders’ own performance were not impacted by their consistency with industry gender typing. According to Susan F. Cabrera:

“This research demonstrates the power of stereotypes concerning what kinds of people should lead organizations in what kinds of industries. In addition, it suggests that, as more women move into certain sectors of our economy, stereotypes may be evolving in ways that create a more level playing field for women who aspire to leadership positions.”

Gender Stereotyping
A survey published in 2007 found that gender stereotyping was a key barrier to the advancement of women in corporate leadership, leaving women leaders with limited and conflicting options.

The Double-Bind Dilemma for Women in Leadership: Damned if You Do, Doomed if You Don’t was the third in a series of reports examining the effects of gender stereotyping in the workplace by Catalyst, a non-profit organization working to advance opportunities for women and business. The study surveyed men and women business leaders in the US and Europe. Of 1231 participants, 296 were US senior managers and corporate leaders (168 women and 128 men) and 935 were European managers and senior managers (282 women and 653 men). The second part of the study provided qualitative analysis of in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 13 women leaders in a large US corporation.

The report argued that gender stereotyping results in organizations routinely underestimating and underutilizing women’s leadership talent. The 2006 Catalyst Census shows that while women make up over 50 per cent of management, professional and related occupations, only 15.6 per cent of Fortune 500 corporate officers and 14.6 per cent of Fortune 500 board directors were women.

Ilene H. Lang, Catalyst president said:

“When companies fail to acknowledge and address the impact of gender stereotypic bias, they lose out on top female talent. Ultimately, it’s not women’s leadership styles that need to change. Only when organizations take action to address the impact of gender stereotyping will they be able to capitalize on the `full deck’ of talent.”

The report highlighted numerous previous studies demonstrating similar leadership styles in men and women. However, earlier research by Catalyst found that women business leaders faced persistent gender stereotyping frequently confronting them with double-bind “no-win” dilemmas not experienced by men. The current study found that men are still perceived as “default leaders” while women are considered “atypical leaders” and as violating accepted norms, irrespective of their leadership style.

The survey identified three common dilemmas currently experienced by women business leaders, supported by comments from participants:

Extreme perceptions. Women business leaders are perceived as “never just right”. Those who act in a manner consistent with gender stereotypes are considered too soft, those who go against them are considered too tough.
“My observations show senior women to be at either end of the spectrum, drivers that do it themselves (even though they might have given it to someone). This type tends to give little recognition and is a perfectionist. The others are very effective delegators, giving lots of recognition and building loyal teams, but can be perceived as ‘not tough enough'” (US man, age 35-44, level not specified).

High competence threshold/lower rewards. Women leaders face higher standards than their male counterparts and receive less reward. Often they must work doubly hard to achieve the same level of recognition for the same level of work and “prove” they can lead.
“Men and women are seen differently, and the difference in my experience and observation is that we (women) need to show it more times before they believe it. With a woman, they will want to see the behaviour repeated more frequently before they will say that this is really part of the women (sic) and her capabilities” (European woman, high-potential manager).

Competent but disliked. Women exhibiting traditional leadership skills such as assertiveness tend to be seen as competent but not personable or well-liked. Those who adopt a more stereotypically feminine style are liked but not seen as having valued leadership skills.
“…it may just be that people are more sensitive to how women behave in that regard. There does seem to be a little more tolerance for harsh behavior from men rather than women. Women are quicker to get labeled, and with men, it’s easier to brush it off…” (High-potential woman, US-based manager).

“I have experienced in the past that women can be distrusted in leadership roles, especially when they use a dominant style of communication. On the contrary, if they use a collaborative style serving their organization and empowering people, they get more recognition and sincere appreciation from their male equals” (Spanish man, age 31-35, middle management).

The report suggested that organizations need to develop strategies to remove the pervasive and damaging impact of gender stereotyping from the work environment to take advantage of the expanding pool of female leadership talent.

Ilene H. Lang explained:

“While women may address double-bind dilemmas with individual strategies this is clearly about organizations shifting their norms and culture to meet marketplace demands.”

The report argues that education about how stereotyping works and holding individuals accountable can decrease the negative impact of gender bias. Actions that organizations can take include:

Providing all employees with tools and resources to increase awareness of women leaders’ skills and the effects of stereotypic perceptions.
Assessing the work environment to identify ways in which women are at risk of stereotypic bias.
Creating and implementing innovative work practices that target stereotypic bias; particularly effective when specific areas of risk, such as performance management procedures, are addressed.
The report suggested ways in which organizations can apply this knowledge:

Managerial training and diversity education – educating managers and employees about the origin and consequences of bias, inconsistencies between values and actual behavior, and causes and effects of gender inequality in the workplace.
Performance and evaluation management – employing objective and unambiguous evaluation criteria.

Source: http://www.hrmguide.com/diversity/gender-stereotyping.htm