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Business Operations Performance Challenges – Five Barriers to Operational Excellence

Business Operations Performance Challenges – Five Barriers to Operational Excellence

~A company can seize extra-ordinary opportunities only if it is very good at the ordinary operations. – Marcel Telles~

Top-line (Revenue) and bottom-line (Profit) growth are the two priorities that consistently show up in all reports on 2012 business trends. So, how do you ensure that your profits are growing while staying focused on achieving revenue growth? This is where excellence in Business Operations  becomes critical. Operational Excellence is a philosophy of leadership, teamwork and problem solving resulting in continuous improvement throughout the organization by focusing on the needs of the customer, empowering employees, and optimizing existing activities in the process (From Wiki). When people, processes and systems in a business are operating at 100% efficiency and productivity, excellence becomes a given and business goals and priorities no longer remain a wish-list.

In an ideal world, this should be an easy to achieve state – after all why would anyone not want their organization to succeed or why would systems and process not work at 100% efficiency?   I have written about how Business Operations can drive strategy to implementation in earlier posts. Today’s post is focused on the barriers within the organization that limit companies from achieving operational excellence:

Barrier # 1 – Organizational Silos (or Lack of Collaboration): Continuous improvement can only occur and be sustainable if there is a well-coordinated exercise that combines discrete steps into a combined effort. This is very difficult to do if each function in an organization acts independently and does not take into account how and where other functions can contribute to their improvement plans. Duplicate efforts, battles for credit and “left hand does not know what right hand is doing” scenarios become common-place leading to confusion and counterproductive results. If only everyone could sit together and collaborate to build and act on one plan that has a common goal and clear accountability for the steps necessary to achieve that, operational strategies would be so much easier to execute.

Barrier # 2 – Lack of Granular Information: As Sir Arthur C, Clarke said, it is vital to remember that information — in the sense of raw data — is not knowledge, that knowledge is not wisdom, and that wisdom is not foresight. But information is the first essential step to all of these. Financial systems crunch revenues and costs into categories that work well for financial reporting but are not granular enough for effective operations management. Not knowing what you don’t know is a big barrier to do any kind of realistic performance management. Multiple data sources and non-transparency in the sharing of information lead to conflicting information and thus to incorrect planning.  A year-long data and knowledge management strategy is a must for the successful creation of any plan that depends on trends and analysis.

“Few, if any, forces in human affairs are as powerful as shared vision. – Peter Senge”

Barrier #3 – Not enough Senior Management Commitment and Buy –In: This is one area that needs the full support of senior management in terms of consistency in direction setting and the will to enforce the much needed discipline. The functions are usually not well-aligned to the overall business goals – for example, sales runs after revenue growth and does not care about profitable growth, finance pushes for bottom-line  at the cost of top line improvement, delivery gives meeting milestones priority over costs. The message from the powers above on the business priorities needs to be loud and clear and consistent throughout the organization to create a culture where responsibility for performance is pervasive, accountable, and aligned.

Barrier #4 – Poor Planning for Success: Flawed processes for the basic building blocks of planning, budgeting and forecasting throws the entire year out of balance. Too often, these processes are executed in a top-down manner with no tying-in of the strategic goals to the execution steps. People lose focus and direction when they can’t envisage exactly how they are contributing to the high level goals. Whether it be an annual or a quarterly exercise, clear guidelines for planning and execution of the plans goes a long way to ensure that you retain sufficient control over where and how operations needs to focus on during the period to meet the business goals.

Barrier #5 – Outdated Systems and Technology: Legacy performance management systems and spreadsheet-based processes bog down managers in endless detail and eat up large amounts of their time trying to shuffle between systems and sheets and integrate the output of multiple systems. They spend 80% of time getting the systems to work for them and 20% of time on actually executing on the information (Pareto at work again). This is a huge pain point, and one that champions of business performance management (BPM) initiatives often target first. Getting your technology updated to best support your business objectives is a good investment and worth every penny in the long run – as it frees up your resources to spend more time on analysis and execution.

That said, these barriers are not ones that cannot be overcome with a little bit of focus and a lot of effort. With the right tools in place supported by smart people, realistic planning, and the desire to catalyze positive change across the organization, it is indeed possible to make significant improvements to accelerate the journey towards operational excellence.

I would love to hear back from you on your experiences with performance initiatives? What worked and what did not? What were the barriers that you faced in implementing operational strategies?

Moving towards Inclusiveness at Workspaces

Moving towards Inclusiveness at Workspaces

2nd of April is marked as World Autism Awareness week. In solidarity with the movement, this week, we want to speak about the value of workspaces practising the virtue of being inclusive. The only effective way to speak about this is by offering examples of workspaces which are making a difference through their inclusive approach. SAP Labs in India is one such place. Liffy Thomas wrote an article “A Red Carpet Welcome for the Autistic”, for The Hindu.

The article speaks about the processes companies follow in “integrating” those with autism into the workforce. While it is slightly challenging, it is by no means impossible. The process is simple enough to be followed by organizations who excuse themselves from having inclusive practices by giving the reason that they do not have the required capacity. Employment for persons with disability remains a crucial issue in India, and an area which needs our immediate attention – both at an individual level, and at a policy and governance level.

Below is the detailed article. The article was first posted here.

To integrate them into their workforces, an increasing number of companies are now following a series of processes

Around April 2, which is World Autism Awareness Day, employees of SAP Labs in India will gain fresh insights into the mind of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In fact, every year, around this time, the company relaunches this initiative.

This is absolutely necessary, for the company follows a policy of setting aside a small percentage of jobs for people with ASD.

Currently, across its India offices, SAP Labs employs 16 of them.

“This autism awareness week, we plan to hire more autistic adults. The process will run into weeks,” says Kiran Venkataramanappa, development manager and program me lead for Autism at Work at SAP Labs.

Work buddies

SAP Labs has placed them in jobs involving software testing, software development, quality assurance and documentation.

“We have a special on-boarding program me to help them settle down. Each of the autistic adults gets a ‘work buddy’,” says Venkataramanappa.

P. Rajasekharan, co-founder, V-Sesh, a company that provides employment for persons with disability, says the mainstream recruitment process should not be followed while hiring those with ASD into the workforce. Right at the outset, an effort has to be made to discover their hidden talent. There are multinational companies that collaborate with non-profit partners to tap hidden talent in autistic adults. Skills that can set the autistic above neurotypical employees are: attention to detail, logical skills and the ability to remember vast amounts of data.

Job coaches

“We work closely with companies to find ‘job coaches’. They have to be sourced from within. These job coaches have the task of helping those with ASD understand their work and get integrated into the workforce,” says Rajasekharan, adding that job coaches should be willing to commit themselves to this work for a period ranging from one week to one month.

To help these employee settle down in their roles, companies have to invest in visual aids. “Instead of saying it, the job coaches should help the autistic see it. This way, they will be able to retain information better. A work chart for such employees are a must,” he says. Akila Vaidyanathan, director, The Amaze Charitable Trust, an organisation that offers skill programmer for the autistic, says companies can help by offering flexible work hours, besides training and mentoring. JP Morgan, Lemon Tree Hotels, Barclays, Dell and ANZ Bank are among other big companies that keep their recruitment doors open for the autistic.

INTEGRATION MANUAL

* Offer flexible working hours and don’t set the rules in stone

* Initially, allow a parent to accompany the employee

* Assign a mentor to the employee

* Ensure these employees go on a team outing every month

* Train the managers to handle the tantrums these employees may throw

Change always begins at a micro-level. Is your organisation disability friendly, both in its recruitment process as well as its environment? We would love to feature your organization. Do write to us!

What Makes a Dream Team?

What Makes a Dream Team?

Dream teams are what come together to create magic. It always seems like a great team fits together like perfect pieces of jigsaw made to fit together. However, that is seldom the case. There is no magic unless you create it. Likewise, a dream team is the result of careful, effective and applied leadership and thought. To make a dream team takes a certain amount of acumen. But making what you call, ‘a dream team’, what do you look for? Here are the five most important (magic) ingredients, that come together to make the secret (not so secret anymore) magic sauce of a dream team! Read on to know.

What to look for, to make a ‘dream team’

Look for, Emotional Intelligence

One of the most important characteristics of a great team is for team members to have not just the needed technical skills, but more importantly to possess emotional intelligence. Being aware of what is happening around them, and having the capacity to respond accordingly is a very important quality to seek, while looking to build a team. Social sensitivity and awareness goes a longer way than technical skills. And we are not just saying that, research says so too.

“A study carried by Anita Woolley from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and her colleagues, measured group intelligence and how each individual influences it. Woolley placed 699 people in teams of two to five and got them to carry out a series of tasks, such as solving puzzles, brainstorming, typing and negotiating. The groups were then evaluated on their performance, and given a group intelligence score.As it turns out, neither the intelligence of the smartest member, nor the average intelligence of the group, influenced the overall group intelligence. Instead, social sensitivity—the ability to understand the feelings and thoughts of others—was the most important factor that influenced the overall group intelligence.” [source]

Look for, Diversity

Very often one tends to think that like-minded people coming together make for a great team. Frankly, it is diversity in thought and personality that make for a great team. Quirks are important and quirks of different people are important. It is this difference that outlines the overall personality of your team as a whole. A healthy diversity also means paying attention to being inclusive. It is the diversity of a team that makes way for great stimulating discussions, which are the genesis of amazing ideas. Besides, with a diverse team, things never get boring and you always have each other to learn from and grow with!

Look for, Proactive Communicators

Before you begin your hunt for proactive communicators, it is first essential to understand what proactive communication is. Communicating proactively means to think a step ahead. To anticipate and to act on it. A proactive communicator will go the extra mile, and very often it is not even out-of-the-way, but only a sensitive gesture. Emotional intelligence and proactive communication are in a way interdependent.

Examples of proactive communication?

  • “Team members provide information before being asked.
  • Provide support and assistance before being asked.
  • They take team initiative by providing guidance and making suggestions to other team members.
  • They provide updates, creating situational awareness for other team members. [source]

Look for, a Leader

At the center of a great team, is a good leader. But who is a good leader? Someone who can guide, motivate and just ‘be there’ for the team. A good leader is like-able, and at the same time formidable – a weird combination? But its true.  Like John C.Maxwell once very rightly said, “You know you are a good leader when your team does not hesitate to approach you, but never wants to let you down. If you are a leader, you should never forget that everyone needs encouragement. And everyone who receives it – young or old, successful or less-than-successful, unknown or famous – is changed by it.”

Most importantly, a leader recognizes the value of leadership skills in every member of the team. And that is what makes a great team.

Look for, Fun!

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, yes sir. A team that has fun together, stays together. When looking to create a dream team, never miss out on looking for fun. It is indeed one of the most important secret ingredients for an indivisible team. To have a team which knows how to have fun, and work hard makes the journey so much more enjoyable. You live your work – and that is a blessed feeling. To have a team which knows how to have fun, is one of the finest ways to be happy in the now!

Like everything else, building a team is a process which requires patience and skill. It does not happen over night, but when it does, it is indeed the stuff of dreams!

What is your notion of a “dream team”?

How to Implement Gender Equality in the Workplace

How to Implement Gender Equality in the Workplace

Important conversations such as gender equality at the workplace, need to take place more often and more consistently. In order to be able to really implement gender equality in the workplace, the dialogue, and urge to bring about change needs to be consistent, and frequent and not sporadic – limited to women’s day speeches.

In one of our previous posts, we spoke extensively about the glass ceiling, and how to shatter it. In a more recent post, we explored the importance of gender diversity at the workplace. Tackling the issue of gender discrimination at the workplace, is like addressing the elephant in the room. Uncomfortable questions need to be raised, and attempts must be made to address, and redress them. While men and women are ‘entitled’ to equal rights by law, this still remains a distant dream. A quick glance at only a few facts and statistics (source: medreps.com) will prove why:

  • Women often still earn less than men in the same role, despite a successful salary negotiation.

  • Before knowing anything about the candidate’s skills or experience, employers expect male candidates to perform better than women.

  • Women who describe themselves in feminine terms such as ‘warm’ or ‘supportive’ are less likely to be considered for a job in a male dominated field than if they were to use masculine terms such as ‘assertive.’

  • Men are more likely to apply for any role that takes their interest, even if they only meet 60% of the requirements.

  • Women are more selective and will only apply for jobs that they think suit their skills and personality and fit 100% of the requirements for

These facts and statistics on gender discrimination relating to recruitment and salary, pervade the day-to-day work cycle, and become an everyday reality of deeply rooted gender biases and discrimination at the workplace.  In order to implement gender equality as an everyday reality, we need to adopt focused methods to make our workplaces equitable and inclusive.

Where do we begin? Right here.

1. Gender Equality – Understanding the principle of equity over equality

In order to address gender discrimination, we first need to acknowledge the deep-rooted history of gender inequality and discrimination world over. In doing so, we realize that women have been deliberately subjected to a backward footing, as compared to men. Hence, more than equality, they need equity. But what is the difference between equality, and equity? Here is a common yet effective anecdote that brings out the difference beautifully –

Imagine that you are at a baseball game and have to look over a fence in order to see the game. There are also several others who are in the same situation as you are. The fence is quite high so everyone needs a stepping stool of some sort to see over the fence. In equality, everyone would get the same sized stepping stool. Thus, one can immediately see a glaring problem! Not everyone is the same height. This is where equity steps in. In being equitable, everyone would get different sized stepping stools so that they could all see over the fence. Everyone would get a chance to view the game.

Gender equity is a prerequisite for gender equality. Men and women did not start off on equal footing. Years of subjugation and discrimination demand that in the current day, women get that little “extra” push, and support in order to bring about equality. Without a focus on equity, the hope for equality is misplaced and cannot be achieved.

2. Gender Equality – Acknowledging and challenging your own bias

An article on one of our favorite sites – UndercoverRecruiter, says it best. The best way to bring about effective and impactful change is by working on change within us. This is often the most difficult thing to do – since it requires us to come to terms with our demons, accept them and then get rid of them. It is time to look within for traces of any bias as far as gender equality is concerned, before we point fingers and expect others around us to change. Looking within, and helping ourselves change is not a form of judgment or self-condemnation. As you will read below, we are only helping ourselves get rid of what we thought was “normal”.

In order to overcome gender inequality we must address our own bias. Gender related bias that hold women back can include outright discrimination to deep-rooted unconscious attitudes. The normalisation of everyday sexism has led to an invisible gender bias that we often don’t recognise. Human beings don’t know how to be wholly unbiased; from the classroom to the boardrooms – at an early age, we are conditioned to believe that girls are this way and boys are that way. It’s about challenging these ‘natural’ thoughts by examining, questioning and having open conversations.

Basic anthropology tells us that groups tend to recruit new members who are similar to themselves. So a predominantly male field will often choose a male candidate. This is an influential factor in why women are significantly underrepresented in traditionally male-dominated areas, and senior positions. Changing our bias in recruiting is integral, and admitting our own bias is an important step to a more open, diverse and fair workplace.

This is everyone’s issue – men and women, and extends to women’s own limiting self-beliefs.

Biases are also very apparent in the highly unfair recruitment processes where it may not be rare to choose candidates for roles based on gender and not skill and ability.

It’s a common perception that women are generally better suited to support type roles, whereas men will excel in leadership positions; however it is these kinds of stereotypes that form the basis of gender discrimination at work and action must take place to prevent it happening.

The hiring and allocation of work must to be conducted on the basis of an individual’s abilities and character, regardless of whether they are male or female and the preference of customers, clients or other employees is not a legitimate and protected reason to treat employees differently according to gender. – Undercover Recruiter.

3. Gender Equality – Being Fair and Transparent about Pay

That women at work are under paid and under represented is an uncomfortable truth we need to accept and address. The first step towards doing so is by being transparent about any gender pay gaps that exist and tackling them. Equal pay for equal work is a policy that must be a principle at your workplace, and not just a policy. This, as a principle underlines fairness and puts equality into practice.

” In 1976, the Equal Remuneration Act was passed with the aim of providing equal remuneration to men and women workers and to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender in all matters relating to employment and employment opportunities. This legislation not only provides women with a right to demand equal pay, but any inequality with respect to recruitment processes, job training and promotions.” – Wikipedia

We are still battling for these basic rights, even though the law mandates for men and women to be paid equally for equal work. What does that say? We have a long, long way to go before we can make gender equality a reality.

4. Gender Equality – Taking mentoring seriously

The very first thing we spoke about, in this post was on understanding the principle of equity with reference to implementing gender equality at the workplace. One of the ways you can ensure an ‘equitable’ growth for your female employees is by understanding that mentorship plays a huge role in boosting their progress, improving their skills, and helping them build strong profiles which will help them grow and sustain in the ever competitive, ever evolving world of work.

Focus on having mentorship programs for your employees, and specific ones for your female employees. Wondering how cost-effective it would be? You can implement this with zero cost, and reap tons of benefits. One does not need to have a formal structure for mentorship programs. Building this into the culture of your organization, where your employees are encouraged to reach out and help each other is the most sustainable and effective way of going about it.

This also includes training those in managerial positions about how to tackle issues related to gender equality at work.

5.  Gender Equality – Encouraging more women to take up Leadership roles

The most effective way to bring about change is by leading through example. By encouraging more women to take up leadership roles, you put them in a position where they are able to help and mentor other women (and men!) around them. Role modeling is a very effective method of demonstrating the change you wish to bring about. This is also a very strong antidote to the phenomenon of the glass ceiling. 

The glass ceiling in India is a reality today, because of a culmination of factors – socio-cultural, legal, personal, and organizational, and cannot be attributed to any single factor. Hema Krishnan, in her interview at IIM Bangalore on Glass Ceiling in India : A Reality for Women?,  speaks about how every woman is capable of accessing the top most rungs:

Theoretically, every woman is capable of reaching the top of her organization. What sets women such as Indra Nooyi and Chanda Kochchar apart from the rest of the similarly talented women are: a high level of sustained self-confidence and emotional quotient, persistence and patience, the right mentors at various stages of their career, an extremely supportive family and a little bit of luck or opportunity.

It is due to centuries of subjugation, discrimination and domination that the struggle to make one’s talent known and respected in the professional realm, is a big deal for women in India. It wouldn’t be untrue, neither would it be a fleeting statement if we said that it is not half as difficult for the men.

6. Gender Equality – ‘Creating’ opportunities (work from home, child-care, etc.)

In order to ensure that the world of work does not lose out on potentially great talent pool – it is necessary that a more inclusive environment which encourages gender diversity and equality is created.

One of the major barriers that prevent women from reaching to the top of their career is the lack of childcare support. Again this ranges from complete stigma to deep-seated traditions in the role of mothers. Employer’s play a vital role in supporting mothers; work together to agree on a fair and balanced workplace goal that will drive productivity, whilst allowing flexibility and remote working where possible.

Progression and promotions are considerably more difficult to achieve when you take time off, which has a disproportionate effect on women who continue to hold the lion’s share of childcare responsibility. To relieve working mothers of the domestic and childcare burden, parental leave for fathers should be promoted. Not only will this allow mothers to invest more time in their careers, but research has shown that fathers want to be more engaged and involved in child care duties. – Undercover Recruiter

Making space for work from home opportunities for women, creating launch pads for women who’ve been away from work for a while for various reasons, and not letting gender biases form a basis of recruitment (to begin with this!) are some ways you can actively contribute to implementing Gender Equality in the world of work.

Go out of your way to ensure you treat your employees equally, irrespective of their gender. Invest your trust in them, and reap a handsome Return On Investment. Recognize merit and celebrate it. Understand that, basically, it all boils down to you, to a great extent.

But why go that extra mile? Because like we said earlier, without equity, there can be no equality!

Five Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies for Managers

Five Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies for Managers

Learning how to effectively and efficiently resolve conflict is one of the most important skills for a leader, and a manager. The work place is representative of a stand alone universe in itself. In which case, it is only obvious that it will have people from diverse backgrounds, with diverse goals and objectives in their minds. While diversity is a bonus, it can also lead to making differences more obvious. Which in turn could lead to conflict. Conflict in work place is an unavoidable situation. Imagining the existence of a completely harmonious  work place is just an idyllic thought. While conflict is an unavoidable part of the day-to-day functioning at the workplace, there are tried and tested strategies to effectively diffuse conflict, and your role as the manager is crucial towards the methods adopted for resolution of the conflict. Have a look at some of the best and most effective Conflict Resolution Strategies.

Conflict Resolution Strategies #1 – Practice on Building Foresight

Prevention is better than cure. Most conflicts can be predicted, detected and prevented in an early stage. To avoid matters from escalating, watch out for situations which feel like they could blow up into a potential conflict. This is where your experience and acumen as a manager comes in handy. A stitch in time could save the day.

Conflict Resolution Strategies #2 – Be Objective

When called upon or intervening to resolve a conflict, it is important to review the matter in an objective manner. Being objective in situations of conflict helps you think clearly, and helps you move towards a fair, efficient and speedy resolution. It is easy to assume one party as the victim, and the other as the perpetrator when things are taken at face value. However, that is where your role as a manager is crucial. Look at the whole matter objectively, taking stock of, and recording facts wherever necessary before making a judgement or pronouncing any decision.

Conflict Resolution Strategies #3 – Call for a private meeting

Speaking to the concerned parties at the same time and place while the matter is still fresh, can only cause things to get worse. A process of reconciliation should definitely be initiated, however not at the very outset. Call for a private meeting with both parties concerned and hear them out individually. This will help you get a clearer picture of the issues, and will also function as a cooling period for both parties. In a way, they get to speak what’s on their mind and that in itself is a crucial part of conflict resolution.

Conflict Resolution Strategies #4 – Keep it professional

Once a conflict goes down the personal route, it is a very sticky and unpleasant situation to recover from. It may be very difficult to stop an escalation in that direction, because the base of no conflict is wholly professional, whereas the base of all conflicts are definitely to some extent ideological. Ideological conflicts in turn, can quickly turn into personal ones. Your intervention as the manager is what stops the conflict from turning into a personal one. As a manager, keep your treatment of the conflict as professional as possible and avert/ reject any personal stabs.

Conflict Resolution Strategies #5 – Not every conflict needs your intervention

Understanding that conflict is a natural part of the work space is a lesson you will learn over time as a manager. Not every conflict will need your intervention, and it is up to you to choose which ones need your intervention. Allow for a culture where conflicts can be resolved naturally and mutually. That is how it should work for most small-scale conflicts. Knowing just when to step in is a managerial art, one that comes with experience and practice. But having faith that your team can resolve a conflict on its own is also a managerial art.

Being in a leadership position is not easy because there will be situations you will have to deal with, which given a choice you’d choose not to deal with. That is where the challenge of being a good and efficient manager lies.  How you deal with these issues affect the environment in the organisation, and the productivity and vibe of your team. Never hesitate to reach out to senior colleagues or mentors for advice on a given situation related to conflict resolution – keeping in mind the confidentiality of the parties involved, of course.

Have a case study or personal experience on effective conflict resolution strategies? This is the right place to put them out! Comments invited.

5 Skills For Managers that Will Always be Relevant

5 Skills For Managers that Will Always be Relevant

The learning never ends. No matter what level you are at in your profession, there will always be a skill that will help you do what you do better. To be able to continually better oneself, by working on your skill set and garnering skills is the secret to feeling truly accomplished and satisfied. Even when you are higher up in the hierarchy and are completely confident about your abilities , there are certain essential skills for managers that will always be indispensable for you. Have a look at what these forever relevant skills for managers are!

Skills for Managers – Communication

 The art of communication is the language of leadership. James Humes.

This quote summarizes in just a short sentence how important communication as a skill truly is, for effective management and leadership. More than just a skill, communication is an art that one can never learn enough about. As a manager, your success is not to be gauged by your individual progress. It is determined by the success of your team as a whole, with you at the helm. Your communication with your team, and how well you are able to get through to them, is one of the prime factors responsible for determining the success of the team. As a manager, your communication skills should set the example for the rest of the team to learn from!

Skills for Managers – Motivation

The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things. Ronald Reagan.

Being a manager and a leader has got everything to do with being able to motivate your team. Possessing motivational skills enables you to be able to maximize the potential of your team by make them believe they can. Even the under-performers can surprise you with great results, just with a bit of motivation. A good manager always believes in the true potential of his/her team. If the team isn’t performing well, the manager understands that the team as a whole, or individual players might need that extra push, namely Motivation.

Skills for Managers – Delegation

If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate. John C. Maxwell.

Delegation is one of the most important skills necessary for a successful manager and employer. Learning to delegate well is a skill, which if done wisely not only saves you time, but comes in handy in helping you build a very strong team. Delegation as a skill is not just a technique to free some of your time, it is much more than that. It is about learning how not to micromanage, and trust your people that they will deliver the tasks entrusted to them. Learning how to delegate effectively and efficiently is a continuous process and much about this skill is learnt via trial and error, and on the go. Two things though that form the cornerstone of this skill is attaching the elements of specificity and measurability to the tasks you delegate.

Skills for Managers – Diplomacy and Tact

Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. Winston Churchill.

As a manager and a team leader, you will be faced with delicate situations almost on a daily basis. As you would already have learnt from your experiences, many of them will have the potential of eliciting your worst.  How do you put across your point and ensure you are heard, even in the most frustrating situations? Literally, when all you want to do is ask the other person to go to hell, but you cannot. And if you do, it can’t be good for you in any way.

This is where the skill of being diplomatic and tactful comes handy. This skill is not one that can be acquired easily, and takes years of practice and most of all, patience. But once you start putting it into practice you realize how indispensable it truly is. There will be difficult situations where you might feel like you are caught between the devil and the deep sea. And that is where the skills of diplomacy and tact act as your savior.

Skills for Managers – Balance

More than half of people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationship with their boss. Smart companies make certain their managers know how to balance being professional with being human. These are the bosses who celebrate an employee’s success, empathize with those going through hard times, and challenge people even when it hurts. Travis Bradberry.

Being able to maintain balance is a skill that takes years of focus and mindfulness. Reactions are the easiest way to emote. Balance and calm are the toughest to put into practice. Balance between what? Between being a manager and a human being. Very often, we seem to be caught up in the misconception that being kind and being professional can never go hand in hand. This quote by Travis Bradberry sums up beautifully how and why that is not a fact. Exceptional managers can be distinguished from ordinary managers on the basis of how they put into practice this skill. Because that’s when you stop becoming just a manager, and are also a leader.

Happy life-long learning, today and forever!