Learn and Lead

About continual learning and leadership

Career Paths for Trainers

Someone asked a question on the career growth paths for trainers on one of our internal forums. And about the same time I came across this interesting blog post which talks about not worrying about career path and living your career story, written by Jason Seiden. It is from Dan McCarthy’s list of 20 Best Leadership Blog Posts of 2010. Just loved the way Jason explains the need to dump career paths and focus on building your career stories.

So, what could be a Trainer's career stories? While it is really for each one to decide for themselves, I can imagine some of them going like these:

  • A trainer could become a better trainer. This seems to be least favorite path of trainers but is the most crucial and can take trainers to the peak. It is also the hardest in my view. By becoming better trainers I mean really be known in the industry. Build your social network and stay in touch with your students. Continue providing them assistance post training. Be less of 'sage on stage' and more of a 'coach by the side'. Start a blog and write a book on your subject or on how to become a better trainer. Understand how people learn and create training practices that help people learn faster. Do research on the subject of training and learning. If you are in the training business, there is a great scope for better trainers who go beyond training in a class and help build learning solutions, who can do research and appropriately adapt their training strategies, or even create new ones, who can create new standards in the training industry.

  • Depending on the acumen towards operations, people management and business, trainers could move to roles like managing training, handling projects and other ops roles. Trainers could even take on sales/business roles. They could move to manage training centers, area, territory, region, zone, country. Many senior people in our organizations have been trainers at some point of their careers. All training businesses need people with good ops, sales and business management skills and acumen.

  • Trainers could become Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for content development projects. Trainers could even start writing content, depending on the skill and interest. Trainers could become full-fledged content developers. And from there ID specialists, or take the other path of project management. From either path, trainers could move to taking on business or sales roles.

There's no dearth of career growth paths and I am sure there are many more than what I have listed above. What's really important is to figure out what's the career story we want to create for ourselves.

Collaboration: It’s Not About Technology, It’s About the Culture

I got a chance to talk about how companies can use technology internally to collaborate and share more effectively. I started with examining what’s currently in use in organizations.

Email is the most commonly used collaborative tool. Unfortunately it is also perhaps the worst tool for open collaboration in an organization. You can only collaborate with people you send the email to. And the information is then trapped in email inboxes of people who were communicating with each other, with no access to others. The information isn’t shared beyond the people who the email was marked to.

There are other tools used for collaboration, like project-based collaboration using Microsoft SharePoint and wiki-based project workspaces. Amongst synchronous collaboration tools, there’s chat, video conferencing and online web conferencing tools like WebEx and Microsoft Office Communications Server. There are also tools like Salesforce that have the potential to be great collaboration tools if they are used correctly. And many employee portals also provide some collaboration features like discussion forums.

Of the tools that companies can use for collaboration, I am a proponent of micro-messaging in the workplace. Tools like Yammer, Socialcast, and Socialtext are great micro-messaging tools. Cloud documents is another collaboration tool that I feel companies should probably use more frequently. Services like Google Docs, Windows Live SkyDrive and Zoho are great online collaboration tools. Companies could also try Skype as a free video conferencing and web conferencing tool.

But I feel collaboration in companies is not really about technology. It’s about the culture. It’s the culture to:

-          Broadcast yourself: Can you simply broadcast what you are doing without anyone necessarily anyone asking you? Executives in companies might be a little shy of doing this but unless you broadcast what you are doing, how can you collaborate?

-          Openly seeking help: Don’t be shy to seek help, don’t worry what people will think about what you might not know.

-          Respond to others: Collaboration is not one way. You have to be open to responding to others if you want collaboration as a culture in your organization.

-          Share information freely: Do I even need to explain this?

-          Build personal networks: The bigger your personal network is, the better your chances of collaboration. This is true even within an organization. The more people you know in an organization, the better your chances of collaboration.

-          Not be afraid to make mistakes: You will make mistakes online. Can you build the culture where people are not afraid to make mistakes?

-          Constantly be open to learning: Do you have a culture in your organization where everyone is eager to learn? The more open the culture to learning, the more collaboration you can expect in your organization.

It’s important to understand why companies should collaborate. Some contexts that have changed for me personally over last few years:

-          I am as knowledgeable as the knowledge I have to I am as knowledgeable as the collective knowledge of my personal network.

-          I am node of reference because I know things. Of course that’s true. But I am also the node of reference because I know who knows.

-          I am expert because I know things, which is absolutely true. But if I don’t share what I know with others, I will soon lose my status as an expert. I am an expert because I share what I know.

-          I can learn only from gurus. That’s something we should all let go. I can really learn from anyone irrespective of their position in the organization.

Here’s my presentation.

Would You Get Your Boss Promoted?

I have never come across a post that talks about getting your boss promoted. So this post by Dan McCarthy is a refreshing change. We don’t seem to like our bosses, managers are always complete nincompoops, idiots who seem to have gotten where they are because of anything but competence. Everyone rushes to the ‘rescue’ of the poor worker from the clutches of the incompetent ‘manager’.

So why would you even want to think about getting your boss promoted? Dan provides useful insight. He says:
I’ll bet when you worked for a successful manager you had:
- More resources
- More credibility
- More meaningful, value-added work
- More development and career opportunities
- A bigger slice of the merit increase, bonus, or commission pie

He goes on to say:
Now think about when you worked for a failing manager. …you probably experienced:
- A lack of resources; your team was always at the end of the line when it came to budget, office space, equipment, headcount, etc….
- No matter how good you may have been, you carried the stain of your manager’s bad reputation
- You worked on low priority projects that didn’t seem to matter
- You didn’t get much coaching, and maybe not much development (failing managers are usually threatened by ambitious, high achievers)
- A lack of career growth opportunities – because your manager was stuck in place, and didn’t have the political clout to be an advocate for his/her people

Here’s how you can get your boss promoted:

1. Be damn good at your job.
2. Support your manager behind his/her back.
3. Give your manager credit for your own successes.
4. Nominate your manager for an award.
5. Show confidence in your manager’s potential.
6. Make development suggestions on how to be better prepared for larger opportunities.
7. Give feedback to your manager.

How to Become a Thought Leader - Part 2

Sometime back I had written about how to become a thought leader in three easy steps. Dorie Clark takes it a step further in detailing it out. She provides some useful tips on how you can share your thoughts and be publicly recognized as a thought leader. She recommends following the six steps to jump-start your thought leadership:
  1. Create a robust online presence
  2. Flaunt high-quality affiliations
  3. Give public speeches
  4. Appear on TV
  5. Win some awards
  6. Publish a book

Read her full post on HBR Blogs.

Would You Fire Your Best Performer?

Sanjay is a great team leader aspiring to be a manager. He has shown good results in the projects he has handled. He has shown willingness to go the extra mile in the tasks assigned. He has been constantly told he is a great performer and the company would not like to lose a great team leader. Regular feedback and company awards have made him proud and self confident. However he has had some issues in his ability to handle larger projects and teams. His view of the industry is relatively narrow. His view of a manager’s role is limited and his attitude is bordering towards arrogance and over confidence. He is closed to any feedback about his limitations and refuses to accept inputs to improve his abilities to become a good manager. He will not get the manager’s position that he is aspiring for. He has thrown tantrums that he will start looking for another job that gives him the promotion that he believes he deserves.

Would you simply wait for him to quit his job, paying him while he finds another job? Or would you fire your best performer who is great at the current role but not ready for the next role? Or would you give in to the tantrums and promote him even though he is not ready for the role?

With the job market opening up and companies vying for talent, I foresee a repeat of what was happening couple of years ago. Given the paucity of talent people were promoted to roles they just weren’t ready for. Do you think this will happen again?

Changing Context

During a recent organizational development workshop that I attended, the facilitator talked about changing context. It was an interesting discussion that got me thinking about my changed context. I could recognize a few that I have experienced in the last couple of years.

About two years ago my context as a manager and leader changed about the way I was managing my teams. I moved from 
"I have to do everything and I have get everything done” to “I have to enable people to do their jobs"
This significantly changed my approach to tasks that I and my team are responsible for. I would like to believe that this has actually made me more effective as a manager.

Since I started my blog and being more active on the social network another interesting context changed for me. I have gone from 
“You are an expert because you know something” to “You are an expert because you share what you know” and “You are also an expert because you know who knows”. 
Truly gives meaning to the phrase “the more you give, the more you get”

People retention and recruitment is a big challenge. I have tweeted in the past how I came across resumes of people who’ve had far too many job changes in their career. Now when I am recruiting, I am looking for if the person will stay in the organization for around 2 years. My context changed from looking for 
“Longevity in an organization” to “Will the person stay in the organization for about 2 years”
While it is too early to know about the specific hiring decisions but at least I find it easier to hire now.

What context changes have you experienced?

A Seat at the Table: Are you Ready?

Loved this article in the Learning Solutions magazine The Specialist’s Dilemma about getting a seat at the table by Fred Nickols. I especially loved the following description:

Next, take stock of your grasp of your organization's purpose, mission, operations, history, structure, strengths, personnel, politics, finances, the opportunities and threats it faces, its competitors and their relative advantages or disadvantages, its customers and markets, its key suppliers and critical inputs, its stated and manifest strategies, its reputation, any governmental and regulatory considerations, the executive cadre (including their history and relationships inside and outside your organization), and anything else you can think of that I haven't included in this list. If you don't have a good grasp of all or most of those matters, then you probably don't belong at the table – at least, not just yet.

Yup, more is required for a seat at the table than just being very very good at what you currently do. And yes, you should question whether you really want a seat at the table. It isn’t always pleasant :-).

11 Reasons NOT to Ban Social Media in Your Organization

Jane Hart seeks rebuttal to reasons commonly given by organizations for banning social media at work. I have heard some of these. Here’s why I believe organizations should NOT ban social media, rather find ways to leverage it. Some of these are in the Indian context of hiring and retaining workforce. I am adding an 11th reason that I have heard for why organizations ban social media that could perhaps make it to the list.

11.          Social media takes up too much of company’s Internet bandwidth hampering other work.
Given the advantages of social media, and reducing cost of bandwidth, it might be a very worthwhile investment by the organization. Investing in bandwidth is probably as critical, if not more, than investing in higher-end machines and laptops.

10.          Social media is a fad.
If so do you want to be left behind and not know anything about it?

9.            It’s about controlling the message.
If it is are you using the channels available to you and the employees? Just because social media is banned at work does not mean employees don’t have access to it at all. They are on it whether you like it or not. And if you are indeed worried about controlling the message, are you on the same channels are your employees are?

8.            Employees will goof off.
If employees have to goof off they will, whether they have access to social media at work or not. If you are managing your work allocation and performance management well, and have the right business measurements in place, it doesn’t really matter whether employees goof off or not. If you are measuring the time they are spending on activities rather than the results they are expected to achieve, you are probably a lawyer or a consultant billing by the hour. I can’t comment on lawyers but as a consultant, you better focus on results or you’ll be out of business.

7.            Social media is a time waster.
See point 8.

6.            Social media has no business purpose.
If your customers aren’t on social media, investors aren’t on social media, stakeholders are not on social media, employees are not on social media, competition is not on social media, and you don’t believe in continual learning, keeping track of market trends etc., then yeah, perhaps social media serves no business purpose for you.

5.            Employees can’t be trusted.
If you can’t trust of your employees, why are you in the business that needs employees? Do you trust them enough to let them talk on phones, use email? Then you can trust them with social media. Yeah sure there are sensitivities of using social media on which you should coach your employees, just as you would to use the phone or email. The video talks about employees can’t be trusted to not put up photos on the office party. Well what’s the harm? It’s a great opportunity to tell the world what a fun place to work your organization is, and therefore attract more talent for your organization, especially when the workforce is getting younger (also see point 4).

4.            Don’t cave into the demands of the millennials.
Enough demographic studies show that in India the workforce is getting younger. Wouldn’t you want to create an environment that your workforce relates to and enjoys? Would you want to create an environment that your workforce finds stifling? You could potentially use social media access as a retention strategy.

3.            Your teams already share knowledge efficiently.
Cool, so you will understand how social media makes it easier to serve this objective.

2.            You’ll get viruses.
So get better anti-virus protection software and better processes to update your computer with latest patches.

1.            Your competition isn't using it, so why should you?
Don’t all business gurus tell you to do things your competition isn’t doing to get ahead in business? Do you really have this as a reason for banning social media at work? Duh!

Progress so far - Unofficial Salary Survey 2010

It’s been a slow start to the 2010 Unofficial Salary Survey of eLearning, Content Development and Training jobs. You can now view the responses by following the Responses link.

Some highlights so far:
  • Functions that have participated are Instructional Designers (33%) and Technology/Programmers (22%), followed by Project management (17%) and Graphics and Media (11%).
  • Most participants have 10 years work experience (28%) followed by 5 and 3 years (11% each).
  • So far the survey seems to be dominated by male responders (72%).
  • Only 28% people switched jobs last year.
  • Mostly people from elearning/training vendors have participated (72%).
  • City spread is fairly even with nearly equal participation from NCR, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai. Surprisingly, Bangalore has had low participation so far.

Some changes I had introduced in this year’s survey were:
  • Number of years of experience is more specific rather than a range.
  • Salary details are now a number instead of a range. This will help get better inputs about salaries.
  • Gender info can help to see if there is any gender inequality in salaries.
  • Industry info can help identify salaries in different industries.

The survey can be useful only if more people participate. Do spread the word around.

There's nothing official about this survey. The survey is not based on responses by companies but based on responses provided by you, the employee. This survey is not associated with any organization. The survey is anonymous.

This survey is for you if you are an Instructional Designer, Content Developer, Technical Writer, Project Manager, Graphics designer, Flash Programmer, Content Integrator, Tester, Editor, Trainer, Training administrator, SME, or any other role involved in elearning, content development and training delivery.

Click Unofficial eLearning Salary Survey of India 2010 to participate in the survey. I will publish the findings on my blog here sometime in August/September 2010. This year’s questionnaire attempts to find out more about you and the industry to provide a more in-depth analysis.

Help derive maximum benefit from this survey: spread the word about this survey. Email, Tweet, Facebook, Orkut, LinkedIn and Blog about this page for your friends and colleagues.

Earlier survey findings:

A Day in the Life of a Student

My 10 year old son wrote a creative writing piece as part of his home work that I just had to post here. It has some interesting insights into the lessons of life he might be imbibing at this age. So here it is with due permissions from my son to post it on my blog (with corrected spellings).

A day in the life of a student

As everyone knows that student life is difficult, I would first plan my day so that I don’t have to plan it afterwards. I would go to school, do my homework. But it isn’t as easy as it looks like. Some ma’ams (teachers) give hectic homework which makes my brain heavy as a kilo, and some ma’ams are so sweet that I get overconfident for the UT (Unit Test) she has made and I get bad marks. Some are both so I get confused is she strict or sweet.

There are always two choices, a bad side or a good side. The bad side is full of cool guys and bullies while the good side is full of kids who only study! Half of the bad side becomes prefects and a quarter of the good side become prefects. This student life is so confusing.

So a day in the life of a student if hectic, difficult, confusing and weird.

Unofficial Salary Survey 2010

It’s time to launch the 2010 Unofficial Salary Survey for elearning, content development and training jobs in India. There's nothing official about this survey. The survey is not based on responses by companies but based on responses provided by you, the employee. This survey is not associated with any organization. The survey is anonymous.

This survey is for you if you are an Instructional Designer, Content Developer, Technical Writer, Project Manager, Graphics designer, Flash Programmer, Content Integrator, Tester, Editor, Trainer, Training administrator, SME, or any other role involved in elearning, content development and training delivery.

Click Unofficial eLearning Salary Survey of India 2010 to participate in the survey. I will publish the findings on my blog here sometime in August/September 2010. This year’s questionnaire attempts to find out more about you and the industry to provide a more in-depth analysis.

Help derive maximum benefit from this survey: spread the word about this survey. Email, Tweet, Facebook, Orkut, LinkedIn and Blog about this page for your friends and colleagues.

Earlier survey findings:

Challenges with the Cloud

In the recent few months, I have encountered situations that required multi-location teams to collaborate and customers requiring almost real-time status update. I have tried to encourage usage of the “cloud” for the team spread across locations working on the same documents/spreadsheets. We have SharePoint Server as an option but that’s mostly used as file storage, if at all. I have explored Google Docs and Zoho. However for some reason working on the cloud just hasn’t take off. Here are the challenges I face with cloud computing:
  1. INERTIA: We just aren’t really used to working on the cloud. Change is always hard and we just fall back on ways of working that we are comfortable with. It is always easier to simply email the document. It is easier to work just double click the document and start editing it rather than log on to the separate system in the browser and then navigate to the folder to edit the document.
  2. NO INTEGRATION WITH EXISTING SYSTEMS: Using Google Docs or Zoho was hard because of lack of integration with existing systems. For example, we don’t always have a list of Gmail IDs for everyone in the team. This means an additional step to make the collaboration document accessible to all. Each cloud service requires a different login ID and password than the regular network sign-on on the machine.
  3. ACCESSIBILITY AND SPEED: Many of our team members are traveling and are on the road so to speak. They don’t always have access to the Internet. So having documents on the cloud severely handicaps their ability to access the documents when there is no Internet connectivity. And working off the Net is slower than working off the local machine.
  4. SECURITY FEARS: While we explored Google Docs and Zoho, there were fears whether we should actually store our company and client data on the cloud. While I am personally very confident that Google and Zoho will safeguard data stored on their server, there is still an inherent fear of putting up company and client data on their servers.  Perhaps this fear is to do with the added responsibility that the individuals don’t own the data. There is no problem in having personal emails and chat on these servers, but putting company data on the cloud is just too much added responsibility.
  5. LACK OF OFFICIAL ITS EVANGELISM: While we have SharePoint Server available to us, it is primarily used as file storage (if at all) rather than a real-time collaborative tool. Even with our SharePoint Server installation, there’s very little official ITS support available. There’s no one really evangelizing cloud collaboration as the new way of working. I would look for the ITS team providing awareness about official tools available and training on how to use them. This has to be driven by having cloud collaboration as part of the ITS strategy. I think this is the biggest hurdle to cross if cloud computing is to be embraced.

MBTI Insights

I am going through a leadership workshop and as part of that, we took the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) questionnaire. I have taken this questionnaire a few times before and have sat through sessions explaining the concept of physiological types. This time however our facilitator Santosh Babu provided some interesting perspectives and insights into the test.

There’s a difference between type and trait. Type is who you really are. However trait is something that you demonstrate. I think when I filled the questionnaire, I answered questions according to the traits I demonstrate, or perhaps even the traits I want to/need to demonstrate. When our facilitator explained the different types, I felt I was quite different from type that the questionnaire identified for me.

The E-I Dichotomy
The Extraversion-Introversion dichotomy is primarily about how you use your energy. Extraversion people are people who can easily communicate with various people, communicating with others is energy generator for them. Introversion people are people who prefer to think deeply and prefer to have their own space. It is not that the Introversion people can’t communicate or generally display more “introvert” characteristics. It is just that they need to make the extra effort to communicate and then need some time alone to recuperate. Extroversion people typically have more breadth (multiple interests but not deeply into any) while Introversion people are people with more depth (fewer interest but with more focus). Introversion people act as extroversion people when they are with their close friends or if the topic of discussion is about their interest.

The S-N Dichotomy
The Sensing-Intuitive dichotomy is about how you communicate. The Sensing people tend to first identify the elements and then build a picture around those elements. The Intuitive people tend to create a big picture. Sensing people will first spot the small mistakes in documents/reports, while the Intuitive people will focus on what the document/report. The Intuitive people are more imaginative and verbally creative.

The T-F Dichotomy
The Thinking-Feeling dichotomy is about decision making style. Thinking people will collect data. They will create systems, processes and rules. They want to be fair using the data and rules around these. Thinking people want to be objective and fair. They are analytical and want to identify what’s wrong with something so they can solve the problem. They may appear to be tough minded. The Feeling people are more focused on being fair to the situation and the people involved. They use personal value to make decisions. They assess the impact of decisions on people and strive for harmony and positive interactions. They may appear soft hearted.

The J-P Dichotomy
The Judging-Perceiving dichotomy is about orientation to external world. The Judging people are more structure, organized and like to live in a planned and orderly way. Perceiving people tend to be more flexible and spontaneous in their ways. They prefer to stay open to last minute options and can adapt to change.

By the questionnaire, I am ENTJ personality type. However by explanations above, I am closer to ISFP or even ISFJ at times. The facilitator also suggested that you could take three inputs – the test, your own feel and what others might perceive you as to identify your personality type and traits you demonstrate.

Top 10 Qualities of a Good Manager

Loved this post by Taruna Goel where she asks if you are a manager by choice or by chance. Taruna nails it when she shares her view of top 10 qualities of a good manager. These are:

  1. It is about people.
  2. It is about management.
  3. It is about mutual respect.
  4. It is about work ethics.
  5. It is about being responsible and accountable.
  6. It is about letting go. Good managers never micro-manage.
  7. It is about communication.
  8. It is about thinking out-of-the-box.
  9. It is about developing yourself.
  10. It is about still being friendly.

Head over to her blog to read the whole post.

Is Free a Concept that Works Only in Abundant Economies?

I have been quite enamoured by the whole open source, free software concept, coming to believe that companies can make money by giving things away for free. So when Seth Godin wrote about two lemonade stalls applying different business models, it made perfect sense. There's one stall selling lemonade at $1 per glass and another giving it away free with a tip jar. And the little girl giving away free lemonade made a fortune in tips. But then I wondered what would the situation be for the two stalls if they were located on a roadside or on a street in an Indian city or town. Would the stall giving away free lemonade still make money? I am not quite sure if it would (it might be an intersting experiment to do though). Which makes me wonder if the whole "free" concept is primarily a concept that works in economies of abundance. Would this work where the primary customer doesn't really have cash? What do you think?

Where am I?

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. Just moved into a new role and back in Delhi. And that’s what’s taking up a lot of my mind-space. New role, new team, new projects, new clients… Blogging has been slow and there’s been a recession of my online presence. Things are settling down and hopefully in the coming few months, I should be back on my online presence track.

A very interesting part of my role is that I am responsible for many employability projects in India. It feels great to be contributing to India’s growth and training youth to be more employable. From what I understand this has its own set of challenges, not just in terms of training but also in terms of motivating the youth and then finding them a job. I am looking forward to getting into the thick of things and do my two bits for the country.

And if you are still wondering what I am up to now, you can view my updated LinkedIn profile.

Recognition Beyond Awards

A few years ago my boss said to me in a review meeting that we weren’t doing enough recognition. I defended we were probably doing too much. We had Star of the Month, spot awards, recognition mails etc. I also felt exceptional work should be recognized not just great work.

And then a little while ago, an Aha moment for me happened. Recognition is not just about awards, it is also about acknowledging the work being done that is just supposed to be done. A simple Thank You can go very far in acknowledging the person and work s/he is doing. A genuine from the heart Thank You is sometimes as much of a reward as any monthly or annual award. Sometimes that is all we want to hear.

And the opportunities to thank people around us are aplenty: Thank you for collating the data and preparing the report, thank you for organizing the meeting, thank you for participating in the initiative, thank you for organizing the team lunch, thank you for your inputs on the idea, thank you for… the list is endless.

So go ahead, say Thank you to someone today. It’s a great feeling.

Dealing with Office Bully

I recently received an email seeking my advice on how to deal with an office bully.

Hi Manish,

It has been a long time since I interacted with you. The project that I am on is beginning to gain momentum and it seems it's going to be a rugged and enjoyable ride throughout the year.

Today I write seeking your guidance. A guy in the office who has been in the company for not more than 5 or 6 months has developed a tendency somehow for irritating me.

He does this by -

a. Interrupting me when I am saying something.

b. Calling me with funny names in front of other people and in meetings and trainings.

c. Interrupting me when I am talking to a colleague about some project related work.

d. Suddenly slapping my back when I am involved in work calling me with a different name and then walking away.

I have once retorted back and also confronted him to no avail.

He has a known problem with behavior. During an office trip, he got drunk and started making fun of everyone and started cracking vulgar jokes in front of the ladies.

I am a little vexed about how to approach this problem. I don't want to be a part of a formal complaint because it could be seen as manipulation. I am on contract and I don't want to be tainted on account of a jerk. But I have been dealing with his crap everyday for some months now. This affects my work many times because I feel insulted and humiliated.

I have informally discussed this with a colleague who suggested that I should talk to the senior PM but then the project is just gearing up, it needs people and I run the risk of being labeled as someone who is bringing up problems.

Kindly guide me.

Here’s how I responded.

It is unfortunate to hear your plight. I am quite sure there is no one way to deal with what you are going through. You’ll need to figure out for yourself what works best for you. Given the limited knowledge I have of the situation and the persons involved, the options that come to mind are:

  • Ignore him, environment will take care of him. If you say that he has a known problem with behavior, he will probably get marginalized in time anyway. If he doesn’t improve his behavior, your boss will ease him out of the team and in all likelihood out the company. Unless of course, this person is really good at what he does, like a real genius. In which, I guess you should learn to live with his banter and try and learn from him. Hard to do I know, but geniuses are known to come with their idiosyncrasies.
  • Ignore him, don’t feed his behavior. He is probably doing all that to gain attention. If you don’t give him the attention he is trying to get, perhaps he will stop doing what he is doing.
  • Be friends with him. After all, he is probably doing all that just to get attention. It is possible he doesn’t have many friends. Take some time to actually know him. Perhaps his behavior will change if he finds you friendly. Perhaps you won’t find him so irritating if you get to know him better.
  • Confront him, one on one. Talk to him one on one. Be open and try to understand his situation. Then explain that you are uncomfortable with his behavior.
  • Confront him, take him on. Start calling him names, start paying him back with the same coin. Okay, perhaps not the best idea. May lead to more adversaries and therefore avoidable.
  • Talk to your boss, or even HR perhaps. It need not be a formal complaint. Just as you are asking me for advice, you could ask your boss for advice for handling this situation. It’s a good way of letting your boss know of things without complaining.

I believe that if you approach the situation with the openness of understanding the other person better, you will usually find a solution that will work for you. I know it is a lot of words, but I hope you are able to derive something out of that I have written. All the best.

I am not sure if this is all that he could do. What would you suggest?

Social Media is a Waste of Time

I am sure you’ve heard this before, what with 54% companies banning social media sites. Of course, Twitter and Facebook are complete waste of time. Reading and writing blogs is a complete waste of time too. I also hear some executives say email is a waste of time too. And phone? What does everyone talk about anyway? They should get off the phones and just work (and I have had managers complain that personal calls were affecting productivity of some people). I think books are a waste of time too. After all what good could possibly come out of reading anything.

Social media is a tool, a medium. What you do with it constitutes the value you extract from it. Twitter can be a very useful productivity enhancer tool. However if you use it only to catch up with friends, chat about what you are having or review movies (and there is a lot of that going on on Twitter), then yes companies will see it as a productivity sapper. Facebook is a great way to connect with people. But are you spending too much time playing Farmville or answering who is the best looking friend, then yes Facebook is not exactly going to be popular with your boss. Blogs are a great tool to reflect what you have learned, great way to connect with other thinkers and great way to learn. But if you are overactive on your blog about movies, your landlord, or your blue umbrella (yes I have seen this posts with more than 50 comments on how someone got wet because they forgot the blue umbrella or something like that), then companies aren’t necessarily going to be thrilled by it. You can spend all your time reading John Girsham or Harry Potter, but companies would prefer if you read Good to Great, Built to Last or Wikinomics or something like that and implement your learning in your work.

So if you don’t want companies to ban Twitter, Facebook or other social media sites, then show your boss the value you are getting from them and how the company can benefit from it.

How to Kill an MIS

Here are five easy ways to kill your MIS:

  1. Make it hard to access the MIS. Don’t automatically give access to everyone who needs it. Add special permissions that need multiple approvals for access. Have multiple logins.
  2. Make it hard to access data. Have too many clicks to reach the data. Have reports that aren’t intuitive and require you to make multiple selections.
  3. Have useless data parameters.
  4. Shrug your shoulders when data isn’t right. Garbage-in-garbage-out, right. So when the MIS throws up data that is meaningless simply shrug your shoulders and say that it shows what was entered.
  5. Don’t validate input data. See previous point.

Are You Having Fun?

The eight irresistible principles of fun from Box of Crayons, “an irresistibly funky animated movie designed to help you create more fun in your life”

  1. Stop hiding who you really are. Take the time to figure out what makes up your DNA.
  2. Start being intensely selfish. Get hungry for things that are truly important to you.
  3. Stop following rules. It’s no longer about what you can’t do, it is about what you can do.
  4. Start scaring yourself. Explore the edges; dip your toe in the outrageous.
  5. Stop taking it all so damn seriously. Lighten up, this too shall pass.
  6. Start getting rid of the crap. Think of all the stuff weighing you down and get rid of the clutter.
  7. Stop being busy. Just because you are going flat out, doesn’t mean you are on the right track.
  8. Start something. Don’t wait any longer for permission to do what you want to do.

How to Become a Thought Leader

Three easy steps to become a thought leader:

  1. Have a thought. You can’t be a thought leader without a thought. Have a point of view about everything, be opinionated.
  2. Share your thought. It’s all very good to have a thought but it is quite useless unless you share it. To be a leader assumes you have followers. You can’t have followers if no one knows what your thoughts are. It’s easy to share. Share more at workplace, be a node of reference, start a blog, don’t pass on an opportunity to present, be available, be visible.
  3. Make sense. It is good to have a thought and to share it with others. But ultimately it needs to make sense and resonate with others. Otherwise you are just opinionated. This is the toughest part of being a thought leader.

So there you go… becoming a thought leader in three easy steps.

Development Goals for Leaders

Another great post by Dan McCarthy on 12 development goals for leaders. He is spot on for the 12 development goals for leaders. There are additional ones suggested in comments on his post, but I quite like the 12 he lists. Thank you Dan. Head over to his post for more.

  1. Strategic thinking
  2. Listening
  3. Coaching
  4. Financial acumen
  5. Cross-functional knowledge and perspective
  6. Industry, competitive, and customer knowledge
  7. Leadership presence
  8. Change leadership
  9. Remote management
  10. Collaboration
  11. Talent management
  12. Time management

Leadership Development Carnival: Best of 2009 Edition

Catching up on reading blogs I follow, I came across the Leadership Development Carnival on Dan McCarthy's Great Leadership blog. Head over there to read 50 outstanding posts on leadership. I am still going through the links on his blog. Great post to start of 2010.



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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my personal opinions. Content published here is not read or approved in advance by my employers and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of my employers.

Creative Commons License This work by Manish Mohan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 India License.