The Ten Qualities Of Outstanding Employees

Back in the day it was easy to be a great employee. You only had to show up at work on time, work hard all day, be nice to everyone and avoid breaking the rules.

The working world has changed dramatically since then. Now we have to bend and flex at work to do our jobs. We have to keep lots of different people happy. We have to juggle priorities, and change our methods and approaches on a dime.

We have to know a lot about the organizations we work for — not to mention our industries and ourselves. We have to keep an eye on the world outside our cubicle walls and keep asking ourselves the question “What do I want from my career?”

Years ago, great employees were dutiful, loyal and easy to please. They worked hard without complaining — that was one of their principal virtues. Unwavering loyalty is not the hallmark of a great employee anymore. That is a characteristic of a fearful drone whose greatest fear is that they might displease their boss.

There are managers who only want fearful drones working for them — but you cannot afford to spend your career that way!

These days, great employees are proactive. They think for themselves. They don’t just work hard without making a fuss. They suggest ways to make the work faster and easier. They have ideas and share them.

Here are ten qualities outstanding employees possess. If your manager doesn’t value these qualities, maybe they are not the right manager for you any more — if they ever were.

1. Outstanding employees know more than just the procedures their job requires. They know the reason their job exists, and that knowledge lets them suggest tweaks and innovations that let them work more effectively.

2. Outstanding employees notice what is going on around them at work, and they integrate their constant learning into the way they do their jobs.

3. Outstanding employees form great relationships with people inside and outside the company. They know which teams they are a member of and they work to strengthen their team relationships so that things don’t get tense or stressful in a clinch.

4. Great employees look ahead and anticipate problems that might emerge on the job. They bring up potential problems early and push to get those problems addressed before they can do harm.

5. Terrific employees tell the truth about sticky topics like workload, work/life balance, difficult customers (or vendors, fellow employees or managers) and ineffective procedures. They find their voice and use it even when no one else dares to.

 6. Awesome employees have a personal career plan or direction in mind. They don’t assume that their employer will manage their career for them. They manage their own careers!
7. Great employees address conflict rather than avoiding it. When they step into a conflict resolution process, they maintain respect for everyone in the mix. They don’t place blame on other people, and they don’t apologize just to keep the peace.
8. Top-notch employees ask for help when they need it.
9. Outstanding employees don’t rest on their educational credentials,  job title or honors bestowed on them. They are open to new ideas no matter who suggests them. They share their own thoughts, not the conventional wisdom they’ve been taught by other people. They don’t brag about themselves — that is a sign of fear!
 10. Finally, excellent employees are coaches and mentors to people around them. They often hear “You are so generous to share your expertise!” They don’t take the view that knowledge is power. They know that knowledge is only power when it is shared with others.

You might be an excellent employee without being recognized for it — that happens to a lot of people.

What does it mean? It means that you are casting your pearls before swine — and that will not help you or the swine who cannot appreciate the gifts you bring.

If you are an outstanding employee stuck in an undeserving organization, your path is clear — it leads up and out of there, and on to your brilliant future!


How Google’s AI-Powered Job Search Will Impact Companies And Job Seekers!!

In mid-June, Google announced the implementation of an AI-powered search function aimed at connecting job seekers with jobs by sorting through posted recruitment information. The system allows users to search for basic phrases, such as “jobs near me,” or perform searches for industry-specific keywords. The search results can include reviews from Glass door or other companies, along with the details of what skills the hiring company is looking to acquire.

As this is a relatively new development, what the system will mean is still an open question. To help, members from the Forbes Coaches Council offer their analysis on how the search system will impact candidates or companies. 

1. Provides A One-Stop Shop 

In this information age, it can be challenging for job seekers to wade through online content to locate right-fit opportunities. Google’s new feature will streamline the tedious job search task by intuitively aligning wants with needs, and narrowing search results. It’s a “one-stop shop” for job seekers, drawing relevant job postings into one location and helping employers gain greater visibility.

2. Could Be A Game Changer For Transparent Communications 

If “let me Google my next job” becomes the cornerstone of job search, I predict it will become a game changer in transparent communications between candidates and employers, from candidate application to confirmation of next steps. The pain for candidates is the lack of feedback. If Google can change this, I expect the tech to impact employer brand — hopefully for the better.

3. Reputation Management Will Be Key For Companies 

Google’s new AI-powered job search engine couples job postings with employee ratings from sites like Glass door, so candidates can read reviews about a particular employer before applying for the job. Companies with negative reviews will have a harder time recruiting the right talent, while companies with positive reviews can draw from a larger candidate pool. 

4. Will Create Access, But Not Improve Etiquette 

Good for Google for showing the way to job seekers, but with great access comes great responsibility to better communicate. Without this perspective, job seekers may roll through people, information and create poor communication that could injure their credibility. LinkedIn creates access points and etiquette through InMail. I give them credit. But job seekers still need people skills to win.

5. Expect Competition To Increase

Google jumping into the job search market may make it easier than ever to apply for a role online. For companies, this could likely tax the already strained-ATS system, and unless fixed, could mean many more resumes falling into that “black hole.” For candidates, competition might be steeper than ever, which means networking will be even more important to job search success. 

6. Provides A Move Towards Closing The Wage Gap 

Google is empowering both employers and candidates to move towards equal pay for equal work. It will eliminate silos of information, where pay data has been hidden as it relates to work competencies and experience needed to qualify for positions. Increased access to information and data promotes transparency, and will inevitably cause a shift in compensation.

7. Companies May Have To Get More Creative With Their Strategies 

Google Jobs will impact the career industry in a similar way that its impacted the travel industry. Google will feature their own search tool first, and may feature jobs at Google first. This will force candidates and companies to be more creative with their strategies. Companies may want to post jobs on Google and on other top job sites. Candidates will want to apply in more than one spot. 

8. Makes A Challenging Part Of Life Easier 

Finding the right job fit is equally challenging for candidates and companies. The new Google job search feature will make it easier to bring both together by reducing duplicate postings, and helping both candidates and companies find a match that may have otherwise been missed. I believe one of the greatest benefits is the ability to pick up on social and work experiences via Facebook, LinkedIn and Gmail.

9. Aids Human Resource Management 

Hiring the right people is a hard task, especially if HR managers are bombarded with thousands of CVs. Sometimes, implicit biases can creep into the job interviewing process, and qualified candidates might be overlooked. AI can give a boost to hiring strategy by helping HR specialists identify the best candidates for a position and thereby decreasing human subjectivity and error in decision-making.

10. Understanding Keywords And Trending Topics Will Be Essential 

Since Google’s AI is based on crowd-gathered metrics, the importance of keywords and understanding trending topics is essential for both employers and candidates. Standing out from the crowd or getting relevant results will be determined by how well you speak the expected language of the AI. Optimizing for the search engine’s results pages will make or break your search for a job or candidate. 

11. Companies Will Test The Waters Before Committing To The Process 

Both employers and employees will test this first. If the Google system gives off high-quality search results, then recruiters or job searchers will save a ton of time and money to find their best match. If not, and search results are not qualified or any other complication shows up — for example, you can’t reach either party — people will just go back to their old ways. So we must wait and see!

12. Candidates Will Be Less Likely To Miss Opportunities, Even If They’re Not Actively Looking 

The new Google AI feature streamlines the job search process and delivers greater simplicity to active job seekers, while simultaneously creating a new temptation for non-job seekers who will receive notice of jobs openings they weren’t looking for. Candidates are less likely to miss available job opportunities and will be able to use the data-rich Google profiles to apply for a tailor-fit role.


Why employee engagement matters – and 4 ways to build it up!!

As you know, employee engagement is an important factor in how well organizations function. But how important is it, really? Joe Wedgwood of The Happiness Index answers that question using the latest research on engagement — and he provides some helpful tips on how to improve engagement in your organization.

Organizations with high employee engagement levels outperform their low engagement counterparts in total shareholder returns and higher annual net income.” — Kenexa.

Your people are undoubtedly your greatest asset. You may have the best product in the world, but if you can’t keep them engaged and motivated — then it counts for very little.

By making efforts to keep your people engaged, you will maximize your human capital investment and witness your efforts being repaid exponentially.

The benefits of an engaged workforce

1. Increase in profitability: 

Increasing employee engagement investments by 10% can increase profits by $2,400 per employee, per year.” — Workplace Research Foundation.

 There is a wealth of research to suggest that companies that focus on employee engagement will have an emotionally invested and committed workforce. This tends to result in higher profitability rates and shareholder returns. The more engaged your employees are the more efficient and productive they become. This will help lower operating costs and increase profit margins.

An engaged workforce will be more committed and driven to help your business succeed. By focusing on engagement and investing in your people’s future, you will create a workforce that will generate more income for your business.

2. Improved retention and recruitment rates:

“Replacing employees who leave can cost up to 150% of the departing employee’s salary. Highly engaged organizations have the potential to reduce staff turnover by 87%; the disengaged are four times more likely to leave the organization than the average employee.” — Corporate Leadership Council

Retaining good employees is vital for organizational success. Engaged employees are much less likely to leave, as they will be committed to their work and invested in the success of the company. They will have an increased chance of attracting more qualified people.

Ultimately the more engaged your people are, the higher their productivity and workplace satisfaction will be. This will significantly reduce costs around absences, recruitment, training and time lost for interviews and onboarding.

3. Boost in workplace happiness:

“Happy employees are 12%t more productive than the norm, and 22% more productive than their unhappy peers. Creating a pleasant workplace full of happy people contributes directly to the bottom line.” – Inc.

Engaged employees are happy employees, and happy employees are productive employees. A clear focus on workplace happiness, will help you to unlock everyone’s true potential. On top of this, an engaged and happy workforce can also become loyal advocates for your company. This is evidenced by the Corporate Leadership Council, “67% of engaged employees were happy to advocate their organizations compared to only 3% of the disengaged.”

4. Higher levels of productivity:

“Employees with the highest levels of commitment perform 20% better than employees with lower levels of commitment.” — The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Often your most engaged people will be the most dedicated and productive, which will give your bottom line a positive boost. Employees who are engaged with their role and align with the culture are more productive as they are looking beyond personal benefits. Put simply, they will work with the overall success of the organization in mind and performance will increase.

5. More innovation:

“Employee engagement plays a central role in translating additional job resources into innovative work behaviour.” — J.J. Hakanen.

Employee engagement and innovation are closely linked. Disengaged employees will not have the desire to work innovatively and think of new ways to improve your business; whereas an engaged workforce will perform at a higher level, due to increased levels of satisfaction and interest in their role. This often breeds creativity and innovation.

If your people are highly engaged they will be emotionally invested in your business. This can result in them making efforts to share ideas and innovations with you that can lead to the creation of new services and products — thus improving employee profitability.

Shake Up Your Talent Acquisition — Kill The Rate Card To Improve ROI

Nearly one-third of the world’s workforce is comprised of “external” or “independent” talent defined as workers that do not have traditional “employee” roles with an organization. As organizations shift from “hiring” employees to “buying” external talent, they must get smarter on how to work more strategically with staffing agencies and employees.

The concept of “buying” or “borrowing” talent has grown exponentially since Kelly Services (1946) and Manpower (1948) first began providing staff augmentation to companies for lower-skilled workers.  But today’s landscape of buying external talent is much different from the days when “temp” labor meant hiring a Kelly girl to help out in the typing pool or having Manpower provide extra folks to fill in at the warehouse during volume spikes. 

Today’s staffing agencies are propelling the world into a free agent nation filled with skilled knowledge workers of all disciplines and specialties.  According to Staffing Industry Analysts, the percentage of “knowledge workers” comprised 73% of all non-traditional workers in 2016 – up from 56% in 2008. Organization such as 99Designs and Athena help organizations flex their marketing and account departments by providing expert graphic design and reliable accountants to fill gaps in talent.  Even physicians and college professors are making the shift to an independent workforce with the aid of companies like Heal and Vitea.  

As companies have increased their spending on labor services, so has the degree of management complexity required to facilitate that spend. The result? More and more organizations are choosing to outsource this complexity, and procurement organizations have emerged as a principal gatekeeper.  Progressive procurement functions see this as a fantastic opportunity to help their stakeholders achieve better business outcomes. These better business outcomes encompass management around the broad aspects of procurement, talent onboarding, Statement of Work (SOW) and service delivery, knowledge transfer, and risk management of external labor. One aspect that continues to be scrutinized is the “rate card.”

External Labor: The Rise of the “Rate Card” Mentality

Traditionally, purchasing labor services fell under the purview of either human resources or the operational function where the labor support services were consumed. For example, a marketing department would identify and hire the best staffing agency to provide support for marketing projects.

With the Great Recession of 2008, as procurement organizations began to accelerate their influence in the labor equation, they turned to the tried and true strategies of increased competition and volume aggregation. Additionally, by looking at labor services through a more “commoditized” lens, procurement professionals were able to help their organizations use scale and purchasing power to reduce input costs.    

A key purchasing tactic was to create a “rate card” that enabled them to commoditize various labor services into standardized buckets, using either absolute numbers or by setting a particular range.  Theoretically, this allowed procurement category managers to compare various staffing agencies on an apples-to-apples comparison for various job classifications.  For example, prior to procurement getting involved, one organization found that the variation in spending by different functional departments for project managers ranged from $50 an hour to $210 an hour.

Other organizations didn’t even have a known rate, because they were paying a “fixed fee” for project management support, which made it hard or impossible to identify the cost per hour. Using a category management focus and bundling their volume across the various functions, procurement organizations have been tremendously successful at reducing the cost per hour they are spending on staffing support.  For example, an organization buying project management support was able to create three levels of project management classifications – one for buying “general project management support,” one for buying IT project management and one for “PMP Certified” project management to manage more complex projects.  Competitive bids then resulted in more consistent pricing and also ensured that the company did not “overbuy” skills they did not need.

Rate card logic can be applied to a multitude of labor classifications from janitors and maintenance personnel to graphic designers and IT application developers. Some organizations such as Microsoft even have rate cards for buying professional consulting services. The concept of the rate card has also become a staple tool in developing large scale outsourcing deals as well. 

There is no doubt that a rate card approach has paid off handsomely in terms of reducing labor rates across the board.But the key question is: has that level of sophistication now reached the point where this approach is beginning to reduce the quality of the work itself?

The Perverse Incentive of Labor Commoditization

Many argue that labor commoditization and a rate card mentality has had a negative impact on an organization’s most strategic assets: its people.

Teresa Carroll, President, Global Talent Solutions for Kelly Services, explains the rise of the rate card has unintended consequences. “To realize true value for money you have to focus on the work outputs required and how best to achieve them. By being disproportionately measured on lowering input costs staffing partners and outsourced suppliers are often deterred from offering the best available talent.  For example, a pure cost focus can easily lead an organization to hire talent at the ‘right’ price, but receive the wrong value. What if the best talent may cost 20% more, but be 50% more efficient?  The staffing agency or outsourced service provider is forced to offer a knowingly sub-optimal resource just to meet the client’s rate card.”  The outcome may end up being penny-wise and pound foolish for the client when the “right” rate card approach racks up other costs in the end.

Tom Mehl, VP of Operations for the Populus Group explains the dilemma of using a rate-card model. “The whole staffing industry is caught in a Catch-22. We also need to realize a rate-card model creates the dynamic of a never-ending cycle of simply getting butts in seats to get work done at the lowest cost per billable hour.  Today’s forward-thinking organizations are partnering closer with their staffing and human capital partners by finding ways to not only procure the talent they need, but creating solutions that retain top notch talent through efforts like Redeployment Programs, Alumni Programs, Silver Medalist Programs, Talent Clouds, and Direct Sourcing Efforts.”

Carroll also points out a negative consequence associated with highly competitive bid rate cards. “Today’s workplace is rapidly evolving; talent has a choice and we are finding that the best talent is often choosing to leave organizations behind that choose to manage on labor cost alone. The most talented workers would much rather work with the companies that are in tune with their broader values, for example by offering a flexible project structure that better supports work-life balance needs.  Decisions are increasingly based on the holistic benefit of an assignment rather than the size of the paycheck.”

Many organizations are now deploying more fixed price “Deliverables” using a “Statement of Work” (SOW) to define the workscope, but not the hours or level or of effort needed when procuring labor services. On the surface, this is smart because it forces a supplier to cap the number of billable hours it can charge.  But Philip Ideson – a popular procurement blogger on the Art of Procurement — warns organizations that deliverables-based sourcing of labor services is not a panacea.  “While many have made the shift to deliverables-based approaches to creating SOWs, the vast majority of suppliers determine the cost of the deliverables using a rate card to calculate their costs. And if they are uncertain about the level of effort, they guess high, ultimately increasing the price that is paid. For strategic work, a deliverables-based approach still provides a strategic value proposition, but it is not a one-size fits all solution”

Robotic Process Automation: The Rate Card Killer

If being penny wise and pound foolish is not a reason for organizations to reevaluate rate cards, robotic process automation (RPA) will be the rate card killer of the future. RPA is the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a “robot” to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems. The focus is now shifting to segmenting jobs into tasks and automating those tasks that are predictable and repeatable. The shift is in more complex thinking that adds mutual value to the vendor/partner relationship.  It’s not a simple rate card or SLA, it’s about getting to positive business outcomes.

Advocates of RPA predict some job functions will be impacted by as much as a 90% reduction.  Carroll says Kelly Services is an advocate of RPA – something many think is counter-intuitive.  “While the headlines often focus on jobs being lost to robots, in many ways the human element of the talent supply chain matters more than ever. There are many stages between human and robotic work, and talent leaders need to be thinking about the implications for how work gets done, who (or what) does the work, and how the work is paid for.”

Carroll adds, “Organizations can automate processes across most aspects of their value chain — but you still can’t make people work for you if they don’t see your organization as relevant and inspiring or a place they want to engage with. As the in-demand human skill-sets become more specialized and harder to find, you’ll also need to be ready to acquire and engage talent in more disruptive ways.”

Michèle Coquis, an expert specializing in labor and services procurement for The Forefront Group, also points out the responsibilities of corporations and individuals when thinking about evolving labor services.  “While RPA and automation should be a key strategy for organizations to drive down costs, it is essential that they plan for the support and cross training of workers whose roles are likely to be replaced or changed due to automation. Likewise, it is unreasonable for workers – white or blue collar –  to presume their jobs will always be there. No one is exempt from change.”

Coquis says one way that organizations can adapt more smoothly to RPA and other changing technologies is through Vested relationship models with staffing agencies and workers. “The Vested sourcing business model creates a win-win business model for suppliers and workers to find ways to eliminate non-value activities and drive efficiencies in their work.  Identify a way to eliminate or automate 75% of your job through RPA?  The supplier/worker model will be incentivized to replace billable hours with more productive approaches such as RPA.”

A good example of the power of the a Vested approach is the Department of Energy – which created a win-win-win approach with Kaiser-Hill and it’s 8,000 workers to drive radical efficiencies in how they approached the cleanup and closure of the Rocky Flats Nuclear site.  The supplier and workers were paid on a traditional rate card approach.  Shifting to a Vested approach highly motivated Kaiser Hill and its employees to create over 200 innovations that led to the cleanup and closure of the Rocky Flats ahead of schedule and $30 billion under original estimates.  In essence, Kaiser-Hill and its employees were highly compensated through incentives to work themselves out of a job.

Coquis acknowledges that the staffing industry is slow to adopt a Vested business model because their business is linked to billable hours. “Fill and bill is the standard external staffing mantra and the easy thing to do. But if they can get beyond that and into a creative Vested model, they can really become valuable partners to clients that are reinventing the way they work and the upside for both companies will far exceed their current commercial deal.”

Kelly Services and Populus Group are two staffing agencies that are keen to adopt a Vested model with clients. Mehl believes using traditional rate cards does not motivate suppliers or the people performing the work to eliminate the work.  “Our job as a key strategic business partner for talent management is to create value and help our clients define and acquire the most appropriate blend of talent.  The Vested model motivates service providers such as ourselves to view work not in terms of billable hours, but in terms of the value of the work that is being performed. Creating Vested agreements with our strategic clients is a way to shift from the rate-card battle to a value-based approach that creates a winning solution for everyone involved.”

Carroll agrees.  “We are first and foremost talent advisors, focus on improving the quality of business outcomes. Killing the rate card mentality using a Vested business model creates a triple win; a win for our clients, a win for us, and a win for the worker.

Collaboration the Key to Success

The next decade will demand organizations to re-examine current pipelines and consider how technology and automation will impact decisions to build, buy, or borrow talent.

Carroll is adamant that organizations must collaborate to be successful. “Procurement, HR, and operations functions must work together to pinpoint which workers have the right competencies, where they’re located, how they want to work, and why they would choose one organization over another.”

Ideson is also a staunch advocate for collaboration. “Procurement must make a shift from focusing on ‘buying’ labor services to becoming active partners in helping HR and operations determine how to solve the scope of procuring talent. The talent value proposition and the importance of a strong corporate brand have become critical in attracting and retaining the modern, multi-generational workforce. Organizations are not the only ones with priorities, and talent is choosing to work in various ways that align with their own goals. Choices are constantly evolving. Individuals choose how they develop their skills and make the best use of their expertise. Which is one of the reasons why companies must now rely on a mix of full-time employees, temporary/contract employees, consultants, freelancers, etc.”

Winning the War on Talent

Coquis, Carrol, Ideson and Mehl all agree. Winning the war on talent will require a fresh set of eyes that demands a holistic and collaborative approach. Technology can drive efficiency and innovation in a workforce strategy, but only if organizations buying talent and their strategic suppliers are co-creating solutions that are designed to adapt to tomorrow’s demands.

Mehl sums it up nicely. “Making the paradigm shift will mean killing the rate card and other mentalities that drive ‘business as usual.’  It will also mean creating true long-term alignment with strategic suppliers that are willing to invest in transformation efforts that will meet the needs of their client’s ten years from now.”

The good news is that there are talent suppliers is out there that are not afraid to accept a paradigm shift. Seventy-year-old Kelly Services and newer organizations such as the Populus Group are leading the charge towards a more value-centric approach to talent acquisition. The question is whether  organizations stuck in the rate card Catch 22 are willing to make the leap.

6 Things Great Leaders Do Differently..!!

 Great leadership can be a difficult thing to pin down and understand. You know a great leader when you’re working for one, but even they can have a hard time articulating what it is that makes their leadership so effective.

It was recently rumored that Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz would run for president, but Schultz shut the idea down almost immediately. He wrote in an article:

“Despite the encouragement of others, I have no intention of entering the presidential fray. I’m not done serving at Starbucks.”

Schultz commitment to his company over the temptation of the limelight is interesting. What’s admirable is his desire to be a leader who serves.

Service isn’t just something Schulz gives lip service to in the press; his mission is to create a company where people are treated with respect and dignity, and he backs this rhetoric up with his money and time. Starbucks will spend $250 million over the next 10 years to put benefit-eligible employees through college, and Schultz wakes up every day at 4:00 a.m. to send motivational e-mails to his employees (the email he wrote yesterday asking employees to show empathy for customers who have been affected by the plummeting stock market is an interesting, recent example of this).

It’s through a leader’s actions—what he or she does and says on a daily basis—that the essence of great leadership becomes apparent.

“Dream more than others think practical. Expect more than others think possible. Care more than others think wise.” – Howard Schultz

Behavior can change, and leaders who work to improve their skills get results.

In Schultz’s case, he’s been honing his leadership craft for three decades through, among other things, the direct coaching and mentoring of leadership expert Warren Bennis at USC.

Not everyone can take on Warren Bennis as a mentor, of course, but when it comes down to it, improving your leadership skills is within your control. You just need to study what great leaders do and to incorporate these behaviors into your repertoire.

There are six critical things that great leaders do that really stand out. Any of us can do the same.

They’re kind without being weak

One of the toughest things for leaders to master is kindness. Kindness shares credit and offers enthusiastic praise for others’ work. It’s a balancing act, between being genuinely kind and not looking weak. The key to finding that balance is to recognize that truekindness is inherently strong—it’s direct and straightforward. Telling people the difficult truth they need to hear is much kinder than protecting them (or yourself) from a difficult conversation. This is weak.

True kindness also doesn’t come with expectations. Kindness is weak when you use it in a self-serving manner. Self-serving kindness is thin—people can see right through it when a kind leader has an agenda. Think of Schultz, who dedicated $250 million to employee education with no strings attached, and as soon as employees finish their degree, they are free to walk out the door. That’s true kindness.

 They’re strong without being harsh

Strength is an important quality in a leader. People will wait to see if a leader is strong before they decide to follow his or her lead or not. People need courage in their leaders. They need someone who can make difficult decisions and watch over the good of the group. They need a leader who will stay the course when things get tough. People are far more likely to show strength themselves when their leader does the same.

A lot of leaders mistake domineering, controlling, and otherwise harsh behavior for strength. They think that taking control and pushing people around will somehow inspire a loyal following. Strength isn’t something you can force on people; it’s something you earn by demonstrating it time and again in the face of adversity. Only then will people trust that they should follow you.

They’re confident, without being cocky

We gravitate to confident leaders because confidence is contagious, and it helps us to believe that there are great things in store. The trick, as a leader, is to make certain your confidence doesn’t slip into arrogance and cockiness. Confidence is about passion and belief in your ability to make things happen, but when your confidence loses touch with reality, you begin to think you can do things you can’t and have done things you haven’t. Suddenly it’s all about you. This arrogance makes you lose credibility.

Great, confident leaders are still humble. They don’t allow their accomplishments and position of authority to make them feel that they’re better than anyone else. As such, they don’t hesitate to jump in and do the dirty work when needed, and they don’t ask their followers to do anything they aren’t willing to do themselves.

They stay positive, but remain realistic

Another major challenge that leaders face is finding the balance between keeping things positive and still being realistic. Think of a sailboat with three people aboard: a pessimist, an optimist, and a great leader. Everything is going smoothly until the wind suddenly sours. The pessimist throws his hands up and complaints about the wind; the optimist sits back, saying that things will improve; but the great leaders says, “We can do this!” and he adjusts the sails and keeps the ship moving forward. The right combination of positivity and realism is what keeps things moving forward.

They’re role models, not preachers

Great leaders inspire trust and admiration through their actions, not just their words. Many leaders say that integrity is important to them, but great leaders walk their talk by demonstrating integrity every day. Harping on people all day long about the behavior you want to see has a tiny fraction of the impact you achieve by demonstrating that behavior yourself.

They’re willing to take a bullet for their people

The best leaders will do anything for their teams, and they have their people’s backs no matter what. They don’t try to shift blame, and they don’t avoid shame when they fail. They’re never afraid to say, “The buck stops here,” and they earn people’s trust by backing them up. Great leaders also make it clear that they welcome challenges, criticism, and viewpoints other than their own. They know that an environment where people are afraid to speak up, offer insights, and ask good questions is destined for failure.

 Bringing It All Together

Great leadership is dynamic; it melds a variety of unique skills into an integrated whole. Incorporate the behaviors above into your repertoire, and you’ll see immediate improvement in your leadership skills.


Let’s face it: Negative feedback on your job performance can be a drag. Who likes to be told that their work could use improvement?

Research published in the Harvard Business Review provides some interesting insight into receiving and giving such feedback. While managers by and large avoided giving negative feedback or praise, employees craved it. And they weren’t looking for platitudes, either—57% wanted corrective feedback versus 43% who wanted praise. Seventy-two percent said that corrective feedback could improve their job performance.

Still, it’s one thing to think about that in theory—and another to hear from your manager, “We need to talk about your performance . . .” If you do find yourself on the receiving end of negative feedback or criticism, here’s how to cope.

1. Check Your Defensiveness

When you get feedback that stings, be aware of your emotions, says Rebecca Zucker, a partner at leadership consultancy Next Step Partners. “Understand, ‘Okay, this stings,’ but why does it feel like this? Is it because I’m embarrassed? Is it because I tried really hard and I’m not getting the recognition I feel like I deserve?” she says.

Defensive reactions are normal but may not be useful in feedback situations—especially since many feedback givers don’t have great communication skills. So try not to let your feelings get in the way of what might be constructive dialogue. If you feel yourself getting angry or tempted to escalate the situation, listen to what’s being said, then take some time to process the information and formulate a response.

2. Take Notes

Note taking is often a good idea for a variety of reasons. Jotting down the feedback can allow you to capture what’s being said, says Tawanda Johnson, president and CEO of human resources consulting firm RKL Resources. Such notes will give you something to review once you’ve had time to digest what your supervisor or peers are saying. Depending on the nature of the feedback, it might be a good idea to take a look at your notes the next day and see if you have any additional questions.

3. Clarify What’s Fair

Sometimes, feedback is fair and meant for your improvement—and sometimes it’s not valid and the result of a misunderstanding or a poor manager. As you consider what’s being said, try to remain objective, says workplace bullying expert and philanthropist Andrew Faas, author of From Bully to Bulls eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire. Think about the dynamic in your workplace. Is your supervisor truly trying to help you improve and grow? Or are you in an environment where you’re being unfairly criticized for reasons beyond your control? If it’s the former, it’s time to work on understanding how to improve. If it’s the latter, you need to guard against letting unfair criticism demoralize you while you decide if this workplace is the right fit for you.

4. Ask Questions

If the feedback is fair, it’s time for a conversation, Zucker says. Negative feedback shouldn’t be a “dump and run” where you’re blindsided and have no chance to ask questions or respond. Try to stick to the facts and not the emotional component. If your boss says you need to improve your organizational skills and you’re not sure what that means, ask for examples, Johnson adds.

You might ask something like, “What are the one or two things I could be doing differently that would make the biggest difference to you,” she says. That way, you’re sure your focusing your efforts in the right place, she says. If your boss is talking about better project management organization and you think the problem is your messy desk, you could end up focusing on improving something that doesn’t matter.

5. Get Help

If there are obstacles that prevent you from improving, share them, Faas says. You might need extra training, or there may be factors of which your supervisor is unaware. If you’re dealing with a personal issue that’s affecting your work, or if you have a project that’s taking an inordinate amount of time and having an impact on your performance, your supervisor might not realize it. Discuss these impediments and what you need to get past them.

6. Create A Plan

Once you have clarity and a commitment of resources, look at the steps you can take to get better, Johnson says. How can you ensure that a mistake doesn’t happen again or a skill improves? Create a written series of steps with deadlines to hold yourself accountable and ensure that you make progress.

7. Follow Up

Zucker says that sometimes employees are worried about following up with managers after receiving negative feedback. “I think it’s perfectly okay to hold your managers accountable. By that, I mean schedule some follow-up intervals,” she says. You may want to plan a follow-up meeting in 60 days to review progress and get additional feedback. “A good leader would welcome that,” she says.

Trust, consistency key to building great workplaces..!!

A study by Great Place to Work Institute says Indian mid-sized workplaces are creating an environment that allows employees to perform well. 

These workplaces were identified in an annual study by the Great Place to Work Institute, a global management consulting and research firm. A total of 34,501 people from 219 mid-sized organizations—those employing 100 to 500 people—participated in the exercise.

“Why is it that companies which are so successful over time, we don’t remember the names of their global CEOs? Because culture becomes the CEO in these companies,” Prasenjit Bhattacharya, chief executive of Great Place to Work Institute, India, said at an event in Mumbai where the best mid-sized workplaces in India were named.

“The most important thing that CEOs do in these companies is that they keep their promises and walk the talk. Consistency is the key, and leaders at great workplaces use every opportunity and interaction to build trust,” he added.

“Trust is the magic word,” Srabani Dubey, vice-president of the institute, said, highlighting some findings of the 2017 study. “We find that when people are financially invested, they want a return. But when they’re emotionally invested, they want to contribute. When they contribute, business happens (grows) not two times, not three times, but five times the market performance.”

Dubey said the reward for great workplaces that follow exemplary human resource practices is that they can retain loyal employees.

“What is there at the end of the road? The great workplaces have an amazing bunch of loyalists,” she said. “No headhunter can poach their employees away. Their attrition rate is way lower at 12% compared to 19% in other companies.”

Topping the rankings were Cactus Communications, a global provider of scientific and medical communication services, Equitas Development Initiatives Trust, a public charitable entity, and United Colors of Benetton India, the local arm of the Benetton Group.

Other companies in the top 10 were Piramal Finance, Sony Pictures Networks Distribution India, SAS Research and Development, Gozoop Online, OSSCube Solutions, Adani Enterprises-Mining and Centum Learning.

Fifty-eight per cent of the firms studied were established not more than 15 years ago, while 69% of the employees in these firms were younger than 35 years. Fifty-two per cent of the organizations were multinationals and the rest Indian. Fifty-six per cent of the firms belonged to three industries—information technology, manufacturing and production, and, financial services and insurance.

The methodology employed to arrive at the winners was two-pronged. Two-thirds of the total weightage was assigned to employees’ feedback, measured using the Great Place to Work Trust Index Model, which contains several variables such as trust, credibility, respect, fairness, which define a great workplace from the employees’ perspective, according to the institute’s research. Anonymous surveys were administered to a representative sample to gather the data.

The remaining one-third weightage was assigned to the effective implementation of people practices and was measured using the Great Place to Work Culture Audit Framework. The framework assessed an organization’s people practices, studying their impact on employee perceptions, and also outlined a set of actions for leaders and managers to improve results. The information was obtained through responses to a culture audit questionnaire.

5 Powerful Tech Trends That Could Affect Your Business!!

It would be an understatement to say that technology has disrupted the business landscape. Every aspect of modern organizations today—how they create, communicate, transact and serve—is shaped by technologies that were far beyond the wildest dreams of business leaders a couple of decades ago. To paraphrase Bill Gates, technology and business have become so inextricably interwoven that you can’t really talk meaningfully about one without talking about the other.

The digital juggernaut is one of the best examples of this fact. With Indian consumers increasingly going online to browse and buy goods and services, everyone, from small businesses to solid old state-run corporations, is investing heavily in mobile, web and social platforms to give their users an end-to-end digital experience. At the back-end, too, things have become quite complex, with disruptions like the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data Analytics and Cloud Storage, the risks posed by increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks, and workplace trends like distributed teams and a mobile workforce, increasing the dependence of enterprises on technology.

This makes it extremely important for Indian organisations to build the necessary technological capabilities either in-house or through an external vendor/technology partner. So what are the top technology trends that Indian CIOs and business leaders need to prepare for in the coming years? Here’s our list.

1. The Internet of Things (IoT) to become more pervasive

Once upon a time, hardware used to be just that; now, it is incomplete without software that gives it a brain of sorts. And we’re not just talking about cars, televisions and watches—from footwear to refrigerators and household inverters, nearly everything around us is getting smarter. According to Gartner, the number of ‘connected things’ worldwide will touch 8.4 billion in 2017, up 31% from 2016, and this figure will cross 20 billion by 2020. This makes IoT one of the top trends to watch. We have seen some industry applications of this lately. One such instance is where the B2B arm of Airtel implemented a sophisticated IoT-based solution that enabled Luminous to roll out a new line of ‘smart inverters’. The device can collect and analyse data, and send valuable real-time performance and maintenance updates to customers through a mobile app.

2. Greater use of data analytics

Data analytics is pretty close to magic. For example, it’s what enables an e-retailer or a music streaming website to accurately predict what apparels or songs consumers like, and serve up those on a platter. The next few years will see data being structured and analysed much better to derive actionable insights into things like customer acquisition, market forecasting, inventory management, cost optimization, etc. For this, organizations will need to put data gathering and processing systems in place at every level.

3. Remote working and technology-enabled collaboration

Steve Jobs once said that innovation comes from people having ad-hoc hallway meetings or calling each other up at 10.30 pm with a new idea. His words have become even more significant in today’s world, where a ‘clock-in, clock-out’ system is being replaced by the seamless workplace, where boundaries of distance or time do not matter. Videoconferencing and collaboration tools will increasingly make it possible for workers to become truly mobile and respond more quickly to business needs.

4. Better security to deal with sophisticated attacks

Moving to an increasingly digital environment also exposes enterprises to higher levels of risk. Juniper Research predicted last year, that cybercrime will cost businesses $2 trillion by 2019. Therefore, CIOs will need to add muscle to their security architecture, and protect their digital assets and networks extremely zealously. Investing in building strong access control, data encrypting and monitoring systems should be a critical priority for business and technology heads.

5. Providing customers an end-to-end digital experience

In addition to app-based services, organizations and marketers are using technologies like Virtual/Augmented Reality, location-based targeting, Artificial Intelligence, etc. to improve customer experience in the virtual world. With people increasingly getting hooked on to machines, whether it is wearable tech, mobile phones or TV screens, marketers will have to get smarter about how they find, delight, convert and retain customers.

There are a lot of tech partners that can help enable businesses on this path. Airtel for instance is helping businesses across India prepare for a smarter and more connected world with solutions like Intelligent Connectivity, Enterprise Mobility, Cloud, Collaboration, IoT, and more. Companies like BPCL and Luminous have relied on Airtel Business to provide a significantly enriched experience to their respective customers. Airtel helped BPCL revamp its manual gas refill booking system, by creating a 24×7 IVR and SMS-based booking platform across 4600 BPCL distributors nationwide. This platform has enabled millions of customers to make their gas refill bookings effortlessly and quickly, and that too, in the language of their choice.


Look Before You Leap: 3 Steps to Leading Change

Embarking on a new career path or job can be both exciting and daunting. Exciting because of the opportunity to leave your mark and lead a team or organization in a new direction. Daunting because of the uncertainty of moving into uncharted territory and the change you may need to drive.

Whether your new role requires leading a successful company or a struggling team, one of the critical skills you’ll need to master is effective change management. How should you drive change? How much change is too much? How quickly should you implement change? The answers to these questions vary. If you’re taking over a business that’s on the ropes, the answers might be relatively obvious.

However, there will be times when you’ll be asked to take over a winning franchise. If your new organization has a strong foundation, an empowered team, proven strategies and clear momentum in place, the question then becomes more difficult. How do you bring your fresh perspective to a team with a strong track record without seeking change for change’s sake? It’s a fine balance.

I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on this question based on my first-hand experience. For the past 10 years, I have served as Intuit’s fifth CEO, following in the footsteps of great leaders such as Scott Cook, Bill Campbell and Steve Bennett. Following these iconic leaders has helped shape my views on how to lead change and empowering teams to achieve “the next chapter of great.”

As the late President John F. Kennedy often reminded us, “the best time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” With that said, it takes a different kind of change management skill. Here are three steps I’ve found useful in driving change when things are going well.

1. Test what needs to change.

First, ask yourself if change is necessary—and if so, in service to what? There are two key considerations here – internal and external.

First, look inside the business and evaluate key metrics to get a sense of where your teams are today. Are the current results on target? Are you being aspiration enough? Do employees and key stakeholders believe in the current game plan? Do you have personal discomfort as a leader, and if so, can you be explicit about what has you most unsettled?

Second, look outside the business. What are the biggest untapped opportunities you feel you have failed to capitalize on? What are the biggest risks on the horizon? What are your competitors doing? Companies like Airbnb and Uber demonstrate how quickly disruption can happen, so it’s essential to ask: Is our business at risk of being disrupted? If so, how can you evaluate what you’re up against? What are the data or trends? The answers to these questions inform the full-picture diagnosis of the situation and whether change is necessary.

2. Define how to change.

If you do need to change, the next step is to build a case.

Start by gaining a deep understanding of the current state. Go on a listening tour with all your stakeholders — hear their insights and feedback. At the same time, share what you’ve learned and your perspective, bringing stakeholders along with your own thinking.

Next, amplify what’s working. Be clear about what’s working well and just as importantly what won’t change. This matters as much as what will change, and validates work already done. Highlight areas where you have questions or concerns and unpack your logic. Use phrases like, “Because of x, y, z, I believe these changes need to take place.”

3. Make the change.

Diving headfirst into change is seldom a wise idea. Be sure to run your ideas by key members of your team to test whether they’re on the same page as you. Do this by engaging with them when you have the questions, and not the answers. Explore the pros and cons with them, asking things like, “What resonates?” and “What concerns you?” Adjust your game plan as you gather new input, and engage them in helping shape the change with you.

After getting alignment, go public. Articulate a clear vision for employees and external stakeholders. Show them where you are today, where you want to go, and the path you’ll take to get there. Don’t be afraid to repeat, repeat and repeat your plan for at least 90 days. In fact, during times of change, you should increase the frequency of your communication 3X. Repetition does not ruin the prayer! Finally, be clear and specific about how this change affects people’s roles and responsibilities.

Putting a bow around it, whether your organization is succeeding or struggling, these three steps can help you structure your approach to change. As tempting as it may be to leave your mark through sweeping changes, sometimes the wiser course is a more thoughtful and inclusive process.


4 Soft Skills Every Tech Professional Should Have..!!

When people think of technology careers, they think of computer-savvy people who can code, understand computer networks, run cable and have various other technical skills. Most overlook the importance of soft skills, which are important for any career.

Tech professionals not only need to be able to work well within their own teams, but also work well with other employees in the company that lack their understanding of technology. Harris allied, a technology staffing Placement Company, recently conducted a survey about tech recruiting, hiring and retention in 2017.

According to the report, here are four of the most important soft skills in demand for the technology industry.

  1. Ability to work collaboratively in a team setting:

In a business setting, technology supports applications, which in turn support the business itself. Therefore, tech professionals need to be able to work well with all of the members of the teams they support for the business to run smoothly. Collaboration is particularly important when there appears to be a conflict of interest between the different teams. Working in a tech position becomes significantly easier if you have strong conflict resolution skills to be able to mediate tense situations.

  1. Creative problem-solving skills:

The technology industry is rapidly changing. To thrive in this field you need to be able adapt to the new problems that arise with new technology and create solutions. Every year there are new computer viruses and new updates for software, and each of these new interactions come with their own unique set of exploits or malfunctions. Handling these challenges sometimes requires creative problem-solving skills that go beyond technical knowledge.

Technology is about innovation, successful companies create their competitive advantage through innovation and as a result look for employees with creative problem solving skills,”

3. Excellent communications skills :

In any tech role, you will be interacting with people who do not have the same level of technical expertise as you. It’s important that you are able to explain complex technical concepts in a digestible way for someone who doesn’t have that background. It is equally important that you can break down the potential business implications of a technology problem. Remember, technology is there to support business functions and whenever you interact with management, whether to get a budget for a project, request new equipment, etc., you need to be able to clearly explain the impact it will have on the business.

  1. Leadership skills: 

As you move up the ladder in the company, you need to demonstrate the capability to effectively lead your team. This includes being able to see the strengths and weaknesses of your team members, and distribute the work to the person who can do the tasks the most efficiently.

You also need to be able to motivate your team members, settle disputes fairly and be able to accept a greater level of responsibility for your team’s success. You may be placed in a situation where the internet isn’t working, a business application is malfunctioning, or there’s a security breach. You will be expected to able to walk into a room full of disgruntled employees and executives, take control of that situation, and solve the problem. To do this you need to have a strong constitution and a calm, analytical mind.

“Leadership raises the bar for the entire team.” “Strong technology leadership understands how technology can solve real business problems.”

For workers looking to land a job in the technology field, it is advised learning the business and industry, as well as the specific role and company you’re applying to.