Monday, August 17, 2009

Personal grooming and Etiquettes

All of us at some point in our life have admired leaders having a charismatic personality and secretly wished that we had some of that charisma in ourselves. Though charisma or inner charm cannot be acquired superficially, it is still possible to develop a well liked and admired personality through proper grooming.

There are other qualities that a make a fulsome personality than sheer physical beauty. This is not to undermine the importance of a beautiful face but it is not everything. The inner charm or personal magnetism is what actually makes someone very special. However when the two are combined the combination is irresistible. A good attractive personality is always an advantage in any situation. People are drawn towards magnetic and attractive personalities and want to know all about them. It is exactly the reason why people are crazy about celebrities and devour every bit of news regarding them with interest.

The most important trait of good personality is its confidence. Self confidence or having confidence in yourself can make a huge difference in how people perceive you. If you unsure of yourself, you will be projecting the same image outside to others as well. So, it is important that you cultivate confidence in your self and this can only happen if you really believe that you are capable of handling any situation. Self belief and prepared ness are the keys to self confidence.

Pay adequate attention to you personal grooming. Be clean and neat all the time. Dress up properly for the occasion. No one wants to talk to persons who are shabbily dressed. A neat and clean personality always radiates a confident attitude – someone who takes care of himself can also take care of others. Clothes should be comfortable – not necessarily fashionable. Every fashion does not suit everyone. Do not be a blind follower – choose only outfits that you can carry off confidently.

Remember , The first impression is the last impression. People take only a few seconds to judge others and in these first few seconds, what they note is the appearance. When you are fresh and well groomed, it creates a positive impression. Research has shown that good looking people have a 20% advantage over the not so groomed ones.

As Dale Carneige in his best seller “ How to win friends and influence People” said -- Everyone can spot a fake and it does not help to be one. Be kind and gentle to people. Sometime, everyone makes a mistake, be forgiving and importantly – differentiate between the mistake and the one committing mistake. True, it may cause a lot of trouble, but it is not going to end the world. So be forgiving and be gentle. Develop your character by inculcating good behavior and discipline in your life. Let your inner charm and faith flow out and embrace others in its magnetic wrap. Charge yourself with strong willpower and have full faith in your abilities.

Office Politics

Office politics exists in every organization, small or large and no matter how much an organization tries to avoid it, it cannot be wished away. The reality is that where ever there are people working with and around each other, there will be personal and professional politics. From the first day of our career to the last day in office, office politics affects us all. Our performance at work, our relationships with superiors, peers and subordinates could be determined by office politics.

Office politics in broader sense, is a conflict arising out of personal and professional communication. It can be verbal or non verbal. Body language plays an integral part in office politics, both as a contributor and an inhibitor.

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests. Bitching and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But other than making you a constant whiner or a person who is always negative, it seldom accomplishes anything.

Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to change the situation. Remove the victimized feeling and allow others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints. You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome, but you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

To win this game, you must build a network of allies which you can tap into. Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Many organizations are now moving towards using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. In this review, ll the other persons who are involved in day-today interactions with the employee are asked for their opinion on the working of the individual. And thus a few bad reports from them could ruin your plans for advancement even if you have performed very well.

So, be prepared to encounter some nasty bits while in your work career, but be confident and choose your own way out of this mess.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Decision Making Ability

In our daily life, we take a lot of decisions everyday, some of them are routine while some involve some thinking from our side. And it is these decisions that we take , that has a profound effect on the way we lead our lives in present as well as in future. But we never give much credence to ourselves or to our ability to tackle sound decisions in our life. And we have all been involved from simple to many complex decision making activities at some point in our life.

But, even though we take lots of personel decisions every day , it is only in the context of our workplace that our decision making ability emerges as a good skill. As employees and as management personnel, our decision making ability is constantly under scrutiny at our workplaces and here we ourselves are not only more aware of our decisions but also pay more attention to making them.

As per one of the study, a sound decision making ability is given weightage by prospective employers especially at middle and top management level.But how does this process of decision making takes place ? What is so difficult about it that most managers are downright fearful of the consequences of a wrong decision? Generally, a decision making process involves three steps: A recognition of a need; a decision to change and a will to implement the decision.

Decisions are an inevitable part of human activities. If understood properly, each problem becomes an opportunity. Decision making is a key role for any manager or leader. But many people struggle when it comes to taking decisions. And this is not due to their inability but simply a fear of taking the wrong decision which makes them fearful. The fear of failure, procrastination and lack of clear understanding of the issue are the main reasons why decisions go wrong. And these are things which managers should totally avoid.

Management experts have come out witha structured approach to decision making which involves certain simple steps to take a complex decision. The first is to Define the problem as clearly as possible. It is absolutely vital to have a clear idea of the problem you are trying to reach a decision on. Many experts suggest writing down the problem on a sheet of paper and revising it again and again till it can be written down in one single sentence. Then the decision taker should assess all the possible outcomes. It is importanat to take a look at all possible outcomes of that decision. The third step is to explore various alternatives and finally Choose the best alternative. Of course, any decision taking will be incomplete without proper implementation. So, once you have decided on the option, go ahead and implement it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Maintain a Positive Attitude at work.

Most of us spend half our time at our workplaces criticizing our bosses, superiors or colleagues and blame them for our bad performances. We blame our circumstances, our personal problems, bad work culture, unfriendly timings and policies followed by our organizations but seldom have I seen anyone taking responsibility of their own behavior.

Achieving success in your career isn’t just about brains, talents and connection. Its more to do with the right attitude towards work. And I call ot a POSITIVE ATTITUDE and a POSITIVE BELIEF. And this is what Charismatic and successful Leaders have in abundance. They make things happen and move with the sheer force of positivity.

Everyone likes a person with a positive attitude. No one wants to listen to a whiner. Bosses do not want people who always bring problems. Come to think of it, none of us wants to work with a person who is always angry, grumpy or simply negative. But even then we all fall into the trap of negativity quite frequently especially with issues related to our workplace.

A positive attitude brings optimism into your life, and makes it easier to avoid worry and negative thinking. If you adopt it as a way of life, it will bring constructive changes into your life, and will make you happier, brighter and more successful. Always expect the best to happen and it will happen. It is certainly a state of mind that is well worth developing and strengthening.

Follow these simple tips to Get better success at workplace:

1. Take Responsibility: Easy to say but very difficult to do. None of us wants to take up responsibility at the workplace. But without it, you cannot hope to move forward. The moment something goes wrong, we attribute it to everything else except ourselves.

2. Nothing Is Impossible: Believe in yourself. It is easy to pass on the blame to management or the organization, but have you actually tried getting things done. Do it first without any presumptions, Most of the time you will find people responding. But our problem is, that we believe what others tell us – It cannot be done. As they say “It is better to try and fail, than not try at all”.

3. Learn from your failures: Turn your failures into stepping stones to success. It can happen. Things can go out of control, but that is not the end of road. You can always try again. Past is history – and we must learn from history and move forward. It is okay to make mistakes but it is definitely not ok to repeat them again. Therefore, learn your lessons quickly.

4. Be sincere towards your work: You cannot hope to rise further unless you can show enthusiasm and zeal towards your work. It may happen that you feel unmotivated for some time, but if the conditions persist, it is better to look for another career or job rather than stick to current one which leaves you dissatisfied.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Work Life Balance

The concept of work-life balance is not something new. It has been around for ages but it is only recently that people have become much more aware of having a good balance between work/career/profession and personal life. Not only the individuals but the organizations are also waking up to the fact that they have a role to play in helping employees maintain a good work – life balance.

It has been observed that the high stress levels or an imbalance between these two aspects in any employee negatively affect his quality of work, increases problems related to his health and causes decline in productivity and efficiency. Moreover, it also affects his personal life which again causes more stress in work life. So, this is basically a vicious circle which affects both the spheres of our lives.

There is a life at work and at home and also a life having space for leisure. Of late, we have been seeing an increasing number of social issues such as high divorce rates, infertility due high stress levels, more frequent nervous breakdowns etc. in young people. This is all due to the increasing importance of one’s career over personal life. Young people are falling prey to working 24 hours a day and hoping to get to the top very soon and in the process they totally neglect their personal lives which ultimately create such an impact on their lives that they lose out in work sphere as well.

Thus it is necessary that people exercise some control over when, where and how they work. True, work is important but not at the cost of health and personal life. Just as a good job is necessary to boost our self esteem and self worth, a good family and personal life is necessary for a happy and peaceful mind. A good balance in work and life can play a phenomenal role in the attainment of personal and professional goals.

The core of work life balance could be defined as the achievement with enjoyment. If an individual goes on working his or her best at work place without enjoying it, they will never be able to sustain it for long. Sooner or later, the performance will fall. But if you enjoy what you do, you will sustain your work motivation and excel in whatever you do. But most of us are not so lucky to get a job which we enjoy doing. There are many more concerns such as money, family etc which are involved. In such a case, though it may seem difficult, if you have a personal life to fall back on in tough times, it will help. Having something to look forward to at the end of a boring day at work can help lift your spirits and make you ready to face another challenging day at work. The key is to relax and unwind before commencing another grueling day at work.

It is quite possible that you do not enjoy what you do for eight hours a day , but you do look forward to what you do for next three four hours and that will energize you and de- stress you and let you enjoy your life. When you are relaxed and not totally dependent on your job, you have a better chance of managing your job better. Infact, you will see that you will find ways to motivate yourself and create a much better atmosphere at work too. Your productivity will increase and this will help you get better opportunities at work. Hence, it becomes absolutely vital, that you give equal importance to all the spheres of life. A person who is a workaholic and does not enjoy his family life cannot be termed a successful person.

Today the deadlines are getting tighter and an individual's job is not only to match that deadline but also to give quality output. Due to this work pressure it becomes exceedingly difficult to maintain a family life. It becomes very difficult to have the right mix of work and pleasure. While you strike a work life balance, you are not merely balancing your profession and family, you are also balancing your mental and status quo and thereby balancing your emotional intelligence, which is the worldly ability to manage you and to handle others.

According to Sarang Panchal, Nielsen’s managing director, customized research, Asia-Pacific, India, China and Greater China, “A booming economy has resulted in better jobs and salaries. However, this has brought in long work schedules, leaving individuals with very little time to balance their work and life,” It is not surprising that most Indians consider work-life balance as their biggest concern since demanding careers are taking a toll on their family lives.”

The organizations are also doing their bit by helping employees have a healthy work life balance. They have specialized training and awareness programmes and also allow their employees to actively pursue a hobby and a healthy after work life. According to Shantanu Banerjee, Director HR, Xansa , “Employees tend to feel motivated when they feel that the organization is putting extra effort in providing a healthy balance between work and life." It has been seen that there is a strong link between work-life balance policies and reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and job satisfaction. Other benefits include improved recruitment and retention rates with associated cost savings, a reduction in employee stress, greater levels of job satisfaction and loyalty and an improved corporate image.

The benefits of a healthy work life balance are there for both the individuals and the organizations. Hence, it is not only important but also better to give equal importance to all the spheres of your life.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Emotional Intelligence – How important it is in workplace

Emotional Intelligence as a necessity in workplace is fast gaining popularity these days. It has been observed and shown that because of their wide range of abilities, people with high emotional intelligence tend to be more successful in life than those with lower EQ (emotional quotient) even if their general IQ is average.

But before delving into its importance, let’s consider what it is all about.

Emotional intelligence as a concept was made popular by Daniel Goleman in his world famous book -- 'Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ', which is based on research by various eminent scientists such as Peter Salovey, John Meyer, Howard Gardner, etc. In simpler words, Emotional intelligence is the innate potential to feel, use, communicate, recognize, remember, describe, identify, learn from, manage, understand and explain emotions.

Similarly, Emotional Quotient is defined as a set of competencies demonstrating the ability one has to recognize his or her behaviors, moods, and impulses, and to manage them best according to the situation.

Actually, it is not hard to see what we are talking about here. Leaving aside the management jargon, it is as simple as being strong both physically and emotionally and to withstand emotional pressures at work. Even in our day to day life, we all are aware of certain people who simple cannot get hold of their emotions. They are too emotional to talk to. We avoid talking to certain type of persons who react rather strongly to things.There are some who cry at slightest trouble (especially women), some lose their temper at slightest provocation (especially men) and some who react even violently to certain situations.

This is exactly, what is being termed as emotional intelligence. That is intelligence to know and understand your emotions and not only understand but also being able to control them. So, when a person can understand his/her own reactions to situations and people, they are able to behave in much more appropriate manner at the workplace. And they are considered as more “matured” and reasonable to work with, for obvious reasons. Add to this the ability to understand other people also; relate to their situation, show understanding of their particular problem or issue , from their point of view and you get a person who can deal with people, understand their moods and issues and work accordingly. Who would not want to work with such people?

So, How does this behavioral intelligence translates into workplace success?

An employee with high emotional intelligence can manage and control his or her own impulses, communicate with others effectively by understanding others better and listening to them more effectively, handle unexpected changes easily, adapts to various situations, and solves problems. These employees are generally optimistic and do not react too overtly to any situation. The clarity in thinking and their composure in stressful and chaotic situations separates top performers from weak performers in the workplace. Obviously such people are a boon for any organization, but the vice versa is also true. That is, many people who are otherwise of average intelligence and good technical skills but emotionally weak lose out in career growth because of their weakness in controlling their emotions.

Experts have identified some emotional intelligence competencies that have been proven to contribute more to workplace achievement than technical skills, cognitive ability, and standard personality traits. These are but not limited to:

1. Empathy: Our awareness of others' feelings, needs, and concerns. This helps to understand other people’s feelings and perspectives, and showing an active interest in their concerns and interests. Also those in customer handling positions are able to anticipate, recognize, and meet customers' needs.

2. Social Skills. Getting other people to respond to you in a certain way or getting the desired responses from others. This is especially useful if you are in leadership position and can use these skills to influence subordinates and get desired results.

3. Personal Competencies: These skills help to manage our own emotions through self awareness, preferences, and intuition. Being aware of one's strengths and weaknesses leads to self-confidence and allows such people to effectively use their strengths while trying to improve on the weaknesses.

4. Restrain negative feelings and Reinforce positive behavior: the ability to control negativities such as anger and self-doubt, and instead focus on positive ones such as confidence and congeniality.

5. Maintaining good balance between work and family: Another important skill is to have a healthy work –family balance. As human beings it is good to have a cushion against negativity in any one sphere of life. We need to have a good strong family support system to help us enjoy both aspects of life.

Therefore, it is a good idea to spend some time getting to know one self and our responses in typical situations. Getting a better handle on your emotions will lead you to have a better control and progress in your careers.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Self Motivate yourself to overcome tough times.

Motivation is the most discussed and least understood phenomena. Right from Maslow’s theory till now, there has been an unending debate on how or what motivates an individual. But what has definitely emerged form this debate is that self motivation or intrinsic motivation is the one that stays a long time.

Extrinsic motivation is caused by external factors where someone else tries to get things done in a certain way and gives out rewards/punishments for adherence. Needless to say that intrinsic motivation comes from within where in the person really wants to do his/her work.

During the tough times such as the current economic recession, even keeping one’s job is getting difficult. Thus there is no question of high rewards or incentives for employees during these times. But it is still important to keep your motivational levels high because this can help you tide over difficult period.

So, what exactly is “motivation”? Motivation is a psychological process that gives behavior purpose and direction. Or it is an internal drive to satisfy an unsatisfied need.

Staying motivated is a constant struggle even in good times for most of us. We as humans are constantly exposed to negative thoughts from others as well as self induced doubts and depressions. And this is what separates the highly successful from the others. Although there is no simple solution for a lack of motivation, it is important to sustain it to stay afloat in the current job scenario. Keeping employees happy and motivated is one of the key challenges of Human resource people. Actually, sometimes it is more important for an employee to be recognized for his good work rather than be awarded. Little gestures of recognition and understanding can ago a long way in producing self motivated employees.

Let us look at some common tips to help one self motivate himself during slump times. But before that let us understand why we lose our motivation. It could be because of external factors such as bad vibes in the workplace or situation such as that of today of economic recession or they could be internal such as Lack of confidence, direction and focus. Out of these, there is not much we can do about external factors, but we can definitely control our internal motivational factors. And this is how we can do it --

1. Set Goals -- Short and long term goals - Use both short and long term goals to guide yourself to your ultimate aim in life. Keep reminding yourself of these goals as and when possible.

2. Make Work fun - Work is most enjoyable when it doesn’t feel like work at all. Add activities that you find most enjoyable and create positive environment to get better results.

3. Create challenges – you will be happy when you are progressing towards a goal which is not only attainable but requires you to be more creative. Winning small battles gives the motivation for tackling bigger issues.

4. Finish what you start. A half finished project is of no use to anyone. Quitting is a habit. Develop the habit of finishing projects.

5. Keep self learning or learning new things. First this will help to reduce dependency on others for knowledge and second it will open up new worlds of opportunities and most importantly, it will keep you interested in doing something new.

6. Align and Harmonize natural talent with interest that motivates. Natural talent creates motivation, motivation creates persistence and persistence gets the job done.

7. Learn to take risk. Failure and bouncing back are elements of motivation. Failure is a learning tool. No one has ever succeeded at anything worthwhile without a string of failures

Keeping track of your most important tasks will direct your energy towards success. So, keep yourself occupied with step by step goals and see how it takes you to the ultimate one.

Goal Setting: An Important Exercise

All of us who have worked in professional environments have faced this word very often. Goal setting and measuring has become a very important part of corporate work cultures. Infact, it has been termed and described as one of the basic reason of enhancing productivity in organizations. So, what is so special about it?

Goal setting is a not a new management funda or anything which has been unknown. We all have been doing it for ourselves everyday in our lives or at some point in our life. We all set our sights on something important in our life – it could be any particular object that we want to buy, a latest car, a play station, a house, a laptop . So, getting that thing is our goal and how we go about getting it is our action plan. The only difference here is that we do not actually acknowledge it as a goal and end up not achieving it.

This is where the process of verbalizing and writing down your goals can help. Writing down your goals is important. You are able to clearly define what you want. Secondly, it will make it simpler to review and follow the goal.

The written word is the difference between a real goal and a dream. But there are some things which need to be kept in mind when writing your goals:

1. Set a goal which is really important to you and not which others tell you are good for you. – usually we follow what others (parents, friends, peers) tell us to be good. And this is why most of us fail to reach our goals. The reason is that we are not at all passionate about such goals because they are not our goals at all.

2. Make SMART Goals – This is the most commonly used acronym used in connection with goal setting in business environments. But the fact is that it makes sense in personal sphere as well. Let us look at them one by one.

a. Specific – Each and every goal you set should be specific. A general statement such as “I want to be successful” is not a goal.

b. Measurable – Though this comes straight from business environment, it is important for any goal to be measurable; otherwise you will not be able to identify its success or failure properly.

c. Achievable – Do not set a goal which is impossible to attain. You will never even try to achieve it because you know you cannot do it.

d. Relevant – This is important because goals which are against your core values or wishes are irrelevant. This attribute also makes sense when we talk about having smaller goals which take us to the ultimate goal.

e. Time-based – The goals should be time bound. You cannot set a goal and hope you will achieve it one day. There has to be a specific time period in which you must attain it otherwise it may lose its significance.

3. Make them prominent – display these goals at all possible places within your home and office so that you can see them easily. They should serve you as constant reminders of what you are supposed to do in your life.

4. Review – Last, review your goals very often. Check out the progress you are making. Set smaller sub goals to reach your final goal. Not only these sub goals motivate you further on achievement, they also let you monitor the progress you have made till that point.

Another important aspect here is to be Flexible. Sometimes we seem to hit a rock barrier and it seems like we cannot go any further. In such cases, be open to modify your goals to suit the current scenario. Or it may also happen that the situation changes dramatically and the goals you set are no longer as relevant as they were then. Again, be flexible enough to revise them rather than leave them altogether.

But this flexibility should not be used to cover up the deficiency or under-achievement of goals.

Goal setting is the foundation for personal and workplace success. But it is not a simple writing down of some ideas on a piece of paper. Goal setting is a roadmap to your success. Therefore, put in some effort to set your goals and achieve what you want in life.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Be Responsible

Taking responsibility, Being Responsible, responsibility -- we have all heard these words very often in our life. And we use them quite liberally too. But, how many of us are actually doing it?

If you are thinking that doing your job properly makes you responsible -- then you are wrong. Politicians who claim to take moral responsibility for accidents and tragedies are simply faking it. No one take responsibility of other people's actions. And this is precisely the problem of 95% men/women/children.We equate responsibility with care, effectiveness and efficiency.

We as a society has been taught to take responsibility for everything except ourselves. But we do not take responsibility of our own actions and emotions. Everything is blamed on someone else or something else. For us, the government, the politicians, the rich, the bosses, the neighbours, the in-laws, the spouses, the kids -- everyone is to blame but our own selves.

Why is it so hard to look for shortcomings and faults in ourselves? We all know we are not perfect -- but still we all struggle to accept our faults. No wonder the, without acceptance, there is no way we can move forward to correct them. And when we learn to look at our own shortcomings and try to improve upon them -- we are being responsible.Let us look at some tips on how we can be responsible to ourselves --

1. first of all, acknowledge the fact that you are not perfect. And you can make mistakes. And there is nothing wrong in making mistakes -- but it is wrong not to own them up.

2. When confronted with a conflict, think about your own role before analyzing others. Most of the time you will find, that you could have done things differently.

3. Do not blame others for your problems. Look for solutions. Blaming others will not solve the problem.

4. Take action to improve things you are not happy with. Do not expect others to do it for you.

5. Fulfill your promises to yourself. Take time out for your own self and treat yourself with respect and you will find others will follow suit.

6. Do not allow others to make you feel bad. You are not what others think you are. You are what you think you are.

The idea is to be responsible first to your own self and then think of taking responsibility for others.