When problems arise, we often are not sure how to address it. Common pitfall include getting stuck with an emotional reaction, leaving the problem to escalate, or deciding haphazardly. There are easy steps to fix that.Read More
As a manager, I have always wanted to find balance. On the one hand, I want to be nice. I want my team to trust me, like me, confide in me, and enjoy their time around me and around each other. On the other hand, I want to deliver great results. I want to continually improve and over-achieve as a team and as individuals in the team.
Finding this balance is tough. Here’s a tip.Read More
“Did you try harder?!”
That was my favorite response when someone on my team came for help solving a problem… especially someone new. The response initially gets a surprised pause followed by a smile when she realizes it’s a joke. Eventually, people would start by “Yes Noor, I tried harder…” and continue with the issue at hand.
Little jokes like that lightened up the mood and added a little fun in our workplace. It was a piece of a puzzle of creating a great working atmosphere where people actually enjoyed coming to work. I loved it.
Here are some tips for injecting fun into your workplace… and improve performance while you’re at it.Read More
I was in a shop the other day watching the manager give heat to one of his employees. As soon as the manager walked away, the employee started complaining to his colleague. As I watched the employees robotically do their work, it was clear they were unhappy. I started thinking about how important it is for managers to treat their teams well. Many companies preach about how important their employees are. Some deliver on that, but very few go the extra mile for their employees and do something extra ordinary. Some companies like Zappos built a culture that helped them become a billion dollar company. For me, treating my team well was a priority. I always told my team that I would bend over backwards for them as long as they meet me half way and put an honest effort into their work. That was nice, and the team appreciated it as I delivered on that promise through actions. But still… that wasn’t really extraordinary or unique. One...Read More
I worked with a lot of young people in my career. I lectured to over a thousand university students and later managed a large team of people, mostly in their 20’s. I noticed that these young professionals made one mistake more consistently than any other. This meant I ended up giving one piece of advice more than any other. This advice, in my opinion, is one of the most important lessons any young professional needs to learn for his/her career.Read More
“This is the second month her performance has been poor. She seems to be bored and unmotivated, so I’m thinking to put her on a special project to get her excited about work again. What do you think?” That is what my assistant manager told me while we were discussing the team’s progress. He was referring to a team member who was a good performer, but had a sudden and sharp drop in performance. “No. That’s actually the opposite of what we should do.” I replied without hesitation. As a perplexed look started to take shape on his face, I explained that “we would be rewarding underperformance by putting her on a special project”. The message we would be sending is ‘slack off and get rewarded with working on cool projects.‘ His predictable reaction was “we can give her a strong word of warning and clarify that this is not a reward.” “Actions speak louder than words” was my prepackaged, generic, buzz-wordy, cliche, yet appropriate response. It won’t matter...Read More
I was in the meeting room with one of my team members. She had a look on her face that combined surprise and delight. It was her monthly performance review, which I started off by apologizing to her for being a little harsh on her during the team meeting earlier that day. I explained that I wanted to encourage other people to contribute, but I was wrong to shut her down when she wanted to contribute. I assured her that I appreciated her contribution and wanted to encourage it. She said she was not bothered by the interaction, but appreciated my apology. That interaction crystallized a lesson I had learned from managing people. One of the most important things a manager needs to have is his/her team’s respect. It is an important catalyst that allows the manager to lead a great team. It cannot be bought. You cannot fool people into respecting you (not for long at least). Respect is earned through actions you take, especially in tough times when...Read More