Inspire, empower, listen & appreciate. Practicing any one of these can improve employee engagement; mastering all four can change the game.
A hiring decision should never be a democratic decision.
The interview panel gives its recommendations -> and then the hiring manager gives his observations. It is the hiring manager’s single call – with the recommendations factored in.
Some mechanics and rules (such as categorization between hire/no-hire/weak-hire etc) can be brought in to break ties and help the hiring manager strengthen his view point, but it should be just that.
The hiring manager should have his veto call over the others. The accountability rests on him to hire whom he thinks is the best hire. The buck ends with him. The minute it becomes democratic, the buck starts circling. The accountability dilutes and spreads out. There is no skin in the game. Too safe. No risks. This can never end well.
As a leader, the two most important things you can gift your team is pride and joy. Your team should enjoy their work and feel pride in what they worked on. These are the two fundamental premises that I base leadership on. If you are able to enable this for your team, you are a good leader.
Most other leadership traits and good working environments are derived from this base. Let us take a couple of examples, and see.
- Great teams pour their heart out into building cool stuff. Have we all not realized that, we put in our best effort if we enjoy what we are doing?
- Growth – Most folks grow in their career paths when they accomplish significant milestones. I measure milestones by impact. And people realize significant impact that they are making, when they feel proud. Pride swells when you accomplish more and more.
It is a cyclic process too. When you enjoy the work you do, you achieve more, feel pride, which makes you reinforce the joy in your work.
I was reading this great HBR article on how praise and how it is delivered is very important. The article highlights the importance of this via an example of a manager from Germany working with a universal work force. As widely perceived, German culture is heavily result and detail oriented and quantitative. Praise, is often offered as an acknowledgement of the quantitative work delivered. The article described the manager as not being very comfortable with the american way of praise – such as saying “Good job” etc. And this lack of praise got folks to leave.
I do agree with this a 100%. And I would like to extend this to general cultural sensitivity. I work from India in a company spread across at least two geographies. And the folks on the US side are from even more diverse geographic backgrounds (such as the middle east). It is super important to understand the cultural context of the specific team you work with. In the current environment, there is no way, this can be generalized across the company.
Company culture cannot be decentralized either. Local managers (like me) are expected to handle the cultural implications of the local geography. While this is a noble idea, assuming that the local managers know best, it is necessary but not sufficient. This is because, given the increasing amounts of participation from remote geographies on larger projects, it is not just the local manager that the individual contributors work with. More often than not, on a day to day basis, engineers work with other engineers (or their engineering managers on the other side of the ocean). While the local managers tries his or her best to accommodate these cultural conundrums, if the relationship with the others are suffering, there could be bad side effects. This could work against the effort put in my the local manager, and hence making the local manager unhappy as well. Classic examples of cultural differences in the Indian context would be religious festivals (or pujas or functions) where the entire family congregates. In the American context, other than Christmas and Thanksgiving, there are probably no other similarities. Another example is the case of a close family member recuperating from surgery, where the employee would take some time off, or work from home. Again, in the American context, the love and affection is reflected in the quality of health care and care givers that the family member provides.
In closing, my firm belief is that, management in the 21st century is not just project management or technical management. If you are working in what we, in India, call an MNC (or a multi-national-company), management includes educating your peer managers in other geographies on your local cultural context. It also includes you learning from your peer managers about their cultural context and propagating to your team. The more the engineers in your team understand this, the more comfortable the work distribution and interactions become.
(reblogged from filterkaapi.in)
Rands has done it again. A very nice read for people managers in the tech world. I have experienced this first hand in my few years of management experience. It is defenitely true that, our first instinct as a manager is to see if you can act and fix the problem leading to the rant. But then most often than not, the rant is just a bunch of unorganized information that comes out of the employee, that he (or she) shares in the act of trust. The employee feels that talking about this to you makes him (or her) relieved. The most important thing is to determine when to act. The essay has a few nice pointers on that – such as “has this rant come in multiple times before?” Is the person ranting in pain? Is the impact leading to failure? Understanding and categorizing the rant is key.
(img src: flickr)
Brainstorming is often mis-understood as open discussion – which it is not. This short animation/video shows how brainstorming, not done right, would not generate any ideas.
We recently saw the conference call in real life parody. While it was all hilarious and all that, in all seriousness, there are several rules that can make things better. TheMuse has a great list of 27 unwritten rules for conference calls.
Several gems here:
Schedule the call for the length of time you need, and remember that this can be five, 10, or 20 minutes. You should not be rounding to the nearest 30-minute increment.
Just like with meetings, start on time. Waiting for stragglers only encourages them.
If someone joins late, do not catch him or her up. It wastes everyone else’s time. Encourage this person to catch up with someone at the end of call to see what was missed.
Five minutes before the end of the call, warn everyone that it’s wrapping up, and ask if there are any questions. Do not let it run over if at all possible—it’s disrespectful of other people’s time.
Read the full article here. [link]
(image src: flickr)
For all those who attend conference calls in real life, this would just ring through. A hilarious parody on conference calls.
A super interview with a world renowned dog trainer (well, he says that he does not train dogs – he just trains people to be better with dogs). He talks about his difficult times – when he jumped the border into the US etc. Very candid. Very open. And a great interview.