Monday, December 31, 2012
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Have you ever been in an e-mail chain where more than 10 people were addressed in the e-mail, but no one knew who is going to respond? If you are a manager or in a similar position, then you must be getting these kind of e-mails at least once in a day. Isn’t it? Actually, this situation is very common than you might think. On an average, 70% of the e-mails in the work place are targeted to the wide audience to get some people’s input, while notifying others at the same time. And that’s where the problem occurs. Since there are multiple users involved in ‘cc’ of the e-mail, all of them think that someone will respond, and at the end, no one ends up responding. In order to avoid those situations, and get quicker response to your emails, I am providing you with few tips on writing effective e-mails.
Use appropriate subject line: You must have been through the situation, where one e-mail might have been forwarded and replied so many times that its subject line doesn’t have any value anymore. Isn’t it? Let’s say, you get an e-mail from one of your employees (Mrs. X) regarding the issue that she found during her testing. The subject line of that e-mail might be “Issue found during testing XYZ product”. After few to-and-from communication with engineers about this issue, you forward this issue to the product manager for prioritizing the resolution of this issue. In this situation, product manager might take few hours or an entire day, before he can respond to this e-mail. Reason being…..from the subject line, this e-mail didn’t seem important to him. And hence, whenever you are forwarding an e-mail to someone, please change the subject line to target your responder. If you would have changed the subject line to “Prioritizing issue resolution for XYZ product”, then you might have got a quicker and descriptive response.
Highlight names: Let’s consider the same example given above. Let’s say, you want to forward this e-mail to the product manager and the engineering manager for their specific responses, and you also want to include 4-5 engineers in ‘cc’ of that e-mail to keep them informed about the resolution. And your e-mail description might say something like “how do we prioritize the resolution for this issue?”. Since, this e-mail is directed to so many people at the same time, you might not get any clear response, since people will wait for others to respond. Let’s say, you would have wrote this instead……”@Steve: How should we prioritize this issue? @David: Is it possible to fix this issue in our next release of the product?”. I am sure, your response would have been more clearer, since you have targeted your questions to each individual included in the e-mail. Thus, I would always recommend you to target your responders by their name, if you are expecting them to provide their input.
I hope, these tips will help you to draft an effective e-mail, so that you can get your responses quickly and easily. Do you have any similar ideas through which you can improve your e-mail communication?
Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
I am sure, as a manager, you must have encountered a situation where your team has been working very hard for past few months to get that next product out of the door. And due to this situation, everyone in your team feels under-appreciated and overworked. And you don’t know how to keep your team motivated. Does this sound familiar?........Through this blog, I would try to give you some tips through which you can keep your employees motivated during this crunch time.
Provide feedback: As far as feeling under-appreciated goes, this has to be the #1 killer of team's motivation. During the crunch time, our focus is so much on the end result that we forget to provide feedback to our team. Sometimes it is very crucial to provide constant feedback to your team on how they are doing. This behavior not only conveys the message that you care for your team, but it also gives you the opportunity to correct any mistakes in your current process.
Communicate purpose: The second biggest killer of self-motivation is negativity. When we set personal expectations at a level that are unattainable, we start to invent reasons for why we are not achieving our goals. We start thinking about past failures that have not gone our way and weak points in our character or at least in our working style. This causes us to come up with all the reasons that we can't succeed. Hence, to keep your team motivated, you not only need to accept that the timeline given for the project was too aggressive, but you need to also provide them with the reason of ‘why we are doing, what we are doing’. This will provide your team with some background on why you are having these aggressive deadlines, and how it will impact the business, if you don’t meet those deadlines. Also, (if possible) you need to provide them with some blueprint of the plan, so that this doesn’t happen again.
Positive reinforcement: During these tough times, I would recommend you to remember old success stories, and recognize it for what it was. The power of this kind of positive reinforcement and positive feedback can’t be underestimated. Make sure that your team is getting the positive feedback from you that they need. Always make sure to restate your team’s and individual achievements during your team meetings and one-on-one meetings with your team members. This will encourage your team to keep going.
I hope these tips will help you to keep your team motivated in the crunch time. What would you do in this situation? How will you keep your team motivated?
Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.
Bhavin Gandhi | August 19, 2012 at 9:34 PM | Tags: 21st century, Building Trust, Change Management,Communication, Communications, Crunch time, Leaders of Tomorrow, Leadership, Manage Change,Management, motivation, Motivation criteria, Over time, Performance Improvement, Performance Management, Positive reinforcement, Project Management, Provide feedback, Work culture | Categories:21st Century, Leadership, Management | URL: http://wp.me/p103Cm-8b
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Have you currently graduated from a part-time MBA program? Do you find it difficult to capitalize on your MBA? Well…...you are not alone. Recently, one of my colleague, who has finished her part-time MBA, asked me similar questions. Though she has finished her part-time MBA, she was not recognizing any benefits from it. While I don’t have magical solution to make your MBA work, I have few suggestions which can help you.
Communicate with your manager:
If you are like me, and if you are also working on your MBA while working full-time, then you should communicate your intentions to your manager before you even think of starting the program.
Some of you might be hesitant to share this knowledge with your manager, since you might be afraid to see the reaction from your manager. While some managers will see this communication as an effort from your side to change your existing job, 90% of the manager see this as a potential growth opportunity for their employees.
What can happen here? Either your manager will be impressed by your initiative of pursuing further education to help towards your job, or he will just neglect your entire conversation. Well……you don’t have anything to loose here. But if you don’t have this conversation with your Boss, then you have everything to lose.
I remembered, when I had this conversation with my boss…..he was not only impressed by my decision to improve my knowledge, but he also took the initiative to find out more information regarding the tuition reimbursement program in my company. As a result, I ended up paying only 30% of my total tuition cost for the entire program.
Implement your learning at work:
Most of the people who pursue their part-time MBA want to get a head in their existing job, so that they can get promoted to the next level. Though the idea behind this thought process is very nice, they lose their focus in middle of the program.
I have seen numerous MBA students, who get busy in their day-to-day coursework that they forget to implement their learning at their workplace. Thus, at the end of their MBA program, they have this knowledge which they can’t apply to their existing job, and hence think of changing their job instead of growing within the same company.
By implementing your learning at your current workplace, you will not only practice your knowledge and get better at it, you will also increase your visibility within your peers. Imagine, if you are working in Software Company as a software developer and going for your MBA in finance. Though these two subjects are completely different, you can still use your finance knowledge to assess the business impact of your new project. Wouldn’t you look more prepared when you are presenting your next development idea to your VP, and providing him with all the stats on how this project will help the organization to succeed?
Thus, you should always try to find opportunities where you can practice your MBA learning at your work place.
I hope these examples were helpful to uncover the full potential of your part-time MBA program. In the meanwhile, if you have any other ideas through which you can make your part-time MBA work for you, then please feel free to share those here.
Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.
Bhavin Gandhi | August 8, 2012 at 8:44 AM | Tags: 21st century, Action Plan, Full-time MBA, Leaders of Tomorrow, Leadership, Manager Training, Market yourself, New hire, Online MBA, Part-time MBA,Performance Improvement, Performance Management, Self improve, Self improvement, Self leadership,Self learning, Self-initiative, Sell yourself | Categories: 21st Century, Leadership, Management | URL:http://wp.me/p103Cm-87
|by Bhavin Gandhi|
This is a long lasting debate. Some people prefer to do a full-time MBA as compared to a part-time MBA. Though you can’t say which one is better over another with utmost certainty, I would recommend part-time MBA for working professionals as compared to a full-time MBA. Obviously, there are various reasons why you want to do a part-time MBA, but some of the primary reasons are as follows:
Cost savings: Unless you got accepted to an Ivey League University for your full-time MBA, I would recommend you to do your part-time MBA from some local University. It will save you some tremendous amount of money. Let’s say, if you were to do your full-time MBA from some University. In that case, you had to quit your job for couple of years. Let’s say, you are earning $50,000/year right now. That means, you are losing $100,000 in two years of your education period, because you won’t be working full-time during that time. In addition to your loss of income, you have to pay for the tuition from your own pocket, which might be anywhere between $50,000 to $200,000. In short, you would be losing on an average around $150,000 ($100,000 + $50,000) during these 2 years of your full-time MBA. Let’s say, you somehow magically find a job in this economy with your full-time MBA, which pays you $15,000 more than your previous salary, then also you will take at least 10-15 years to cover that cost. Isn’t that right?
Minimal risk: Other than the huge cost savings, part-time MBA comes with other additional advantages. And one of the most important advantage is – minimal risk. If you are a working professional, then chances are …… your current employer might be covering partial or full cost for the entire program. Thus, you don’t have to come up with the tuition amount from your pocket. Let’s say, you started your program and in the middle of it, you somehow didn't end up liking it. In that case, you can just quit, since you haven’t invested much of your personal money in this initiative. In addition to this, you don’t have to spend much time studying for GMAT or GRE, since most of the part-time programs (like Harvard Extension School) offer few classes as Grad Special, and if you perform well in those classes then you get to enter in to the program without giving your standardize tests. This will ensure that you like the program before you actually get admitted in to one, unlike the full-time MBA program.
Understand the other side: When I first thought of doing my MBA, I wanted to do it to understand what my Boss does. Being from a technical background, I always had a problem understanding the strategic decisions taken by my company. I was much more involved in the technology as compared to the business behind it. My part-time MBA provided me with the opportunity to understand the business perspective better. I am not saying that I couldn’t have learned the same thing through full-time MBA, but if I were in the full-time MBA program, then I wouldn’t have the opportunity to connect this learning to the current work environment. Most of the times, I would learn something from my MBA classes, and I was able to directly apply that learning at my work place. And that has helped me retain approximately 60% of my concepts, which I wouldn’t have otherwise remembered due to lack of practice. And maybe, this is the key reason why one should prefer part-time MBA over full-time program.
I hope these tips will help to choose between full-time and part-time MBA program. Do you have any other reasons due to which you would prefer a part-time MBA program over a full-time option?
Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Have you finished your MBA through an online program? Are you unable to experience any benefits from your degree? Well…..you are not alone. More than 50% of the employers still prefer an MBA candidate with the traditional classroom experience as compared to an online MBA student. Despite of this stereo types of an online MBA candidate, you can still succeed with your degree. You just need to know, how to sell it. With this blog, I am going to provide you with some pointers through which you can get the same benefit out of your online MBA program as compared to any other in-class MBA program.
Capitalize on cultural awareness:
If you are doing an online MBA from a Tier 1 or Tier 2 level school, then chances are…….you must be working in a diverse team with people from different countries. You should use this experience as your strength during your job search. Mention those specific projects on your resume to portray your knowledge of cross cultural understanding. With most of the major companies going global, this experience will definitely work in your advantage, if presented correctly.
I would also recommend you to provide some specific examples on your resume on how you had solved some of the cross cultural conflicts. These kinds of smaller examples can help you bring up this topic during your in-person interviews. And you can then elaborate on that in further details. It goes without saying…..try to connect your experience with the company’s current needs of working with cross cultural teams.
Be the leader of your virtual teams:
If you think of it, all the project teams in an online MBA program are nothing but a virtual team. In your program, you must have worked with different people from different time zones to finish certain projects. And hence, you should also capitalize on your experience in working with remote/virtual teams. Don’t just say…..”I have worked in a virtual team”. Try to be more specific on your resume. Provide examples on how you resolved issues due to time and language barriers during your project. It wouldn’t hurt, if you can talk about those experiences in your in-person interviews, and maybe summarize with lessons learned during your experience.
In today’s world, lot of companies operate in different locations. Thus, most of their meetings, projects and day-to-day activities are virtual. Thus, if you can prove that you have not only worked in that environment, but you have also learned how to improve those communications in that environment; then you would definitely standout from the crowd.
I hope these tips will help to sell your online MBA degree to your future employer. Do you have any other ideas through which you can show the importance of your online MBA degree to your future employer?
Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.
Monday, July 16, 2012
In my last blog, I have discussed about how you can come up with the practical definition of your successful life, and how you can break it down in achievable goals. In this blog, I will provide you with some pointers through which you can achieve those goals to become successful in life.
Ask for advice: My Dad always told me…….”If you want to become successful in life, then you need to take help from 2 different kind of people. ONE: Those who are successful according to you. SECOND: Those who followed the same path as you might want to pursue, but who are not as successful as others”. This approach will not only help you visualize your successful life, but also give you an idea on how your future would look like, if you couldn’t achieve all of your goals. One might ask…….where would I find those kind of people? The answer to that question is very simple. Internet. I would personally prefer to ask someone who I know, but you can’t always have people around you, who share similar career goals as you, and who are successful in that. Thus, you can become a member of few online forums, which are related to your interests, and then cultivate your relationships with those members. Once those relationships are established, you can then ask them for their advice. Chances are….they might be able to even help you with your goals.
Give your best to everything you do: I know, this seems to be very obvious, but hardly anyone follows this rule. For example: Let’s say……..you are stuck in a job that won’t lead you towards your ideal success, and you want to get out of that job as soon as possible. At that time, most of the people (8 out of 10) would focus their energy in looking for a better job, and won’t provide their complete attention to their existing job. While this approach might be able to get you a new job that you love, but in the process of finding this job, you might ruin your existing relationships with your current coworkers, and maybe establish a stereotype of being a slacker. Thus, I would recommend all of you to give your best to everything you do. You never know…..maybe your existing Manager might recommend you for the ideal job that you have always dreamed of.
I hope these tips will help to achieve your ideal life. Do you have any other ideas through which you can have a successful and filling life?
Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Few days back, I was advising one of my friend on how to expand his start-up. During that conversation, I realized that some of my advices are very common for everyone to follow. Whether you are a fresh graduate or an experienced professional or a proud new business owner, you should always follow some simple tips to become successful in life. With this blog post, I am going to share those tips with you.
Define success: Every person will have their own dreams, and hence their own definition of success. An engineer wouldn’t consider an artist a successful person, and vice versa. Thus, before you start hunting for an ideal successful life, you might want to self-analyze yourself and define your specific success criteria. And while you are in that process, make sure that you consider your happiness as a part of this process. After all, no one wants to be successful and not happy. Right? Let’s say………your definition of success is to make couple of million dollars in few years. To achieve that………you might need to work 7 days a week with existing salary that you earn. In this case, you might want to think if you are willing to sacrifice that time away from your family or not, and then adjust your definition of success accordingly.
Establish achievable goals: Once you have done the hard part of defining your success criteria, now it’s time to establish some goals. Make sure that those goals are achievable, otherwise you will be discouraged when you realize that you can never achieve your goals. Let’s say……..your success criteria is to become a highly paid artist. In that case, you want to establish few goals like…….I will draw at least 2-3 paintings a month, or I will display my art in 5-6 art exhibition a year. Ideally, these goals should be smaller milestones towards your successful life. So, make sure to keep a checkpoint on these goals. I would advise you to revisit these goals every 3 months.
In my next blog post, I will provide you with few ideas through which you can achieve your goals to become successful. Until then, if you have any other ideas or comments about becoming successful in life, then please feel free to share it here on my blog.
Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi.
Monday, July 2, 2012
Have you ever wondered about …… What exactly does the ‘scope of a project’ mean? …..I have…. I kept on hearing this term from the time when I started my career. Though I have learned its meaning over the years; people around me still describe the term vaguely. Thus, I am going to provide you with some simple tips, which can help you to clearly define the scope for your project.
The deliverables: Let’s say, you are one of those project managers whose projects are very complex, and you don’t know where exactly to start for defining the scope of your project. If you are not sure about how to move forward with this process then you should at least try to define the deliverables of the project. Don’t stress yourself too much. Ask your customers to provide you with tangible (I mean tangible) deliverables that they would like to see at the end of the project. Once, you figure out the final deliverables of the project, you can then go ahead and try to define the interim project deliverables. These defined deliverables will tremendously help you to better understand the project.
Project boundaries: Once you got some handle on how the project should look like through its deliverables, you should now define how it shouldn’t be looking. For example: Chris is going to look for a software third-party provider within the US. In this case, third-party software providers from China are out of scope. If Chris was considering the needs of the entire global company, this would not have been a good boundary statement since he could not have stated a good out-of-scope statement.
Project Features: Once you have described the deliverables and the boundaries, you have completed high-level scope. Now, it’s time to describe the physical characteristics of the deliverables, called features. If you were building a software framework, for instance, most of the functionalities would count as features. These might include the number of GUIs (graphical user interface), number of APIs (application interface), etc. So, follow the top-down approach and start defining project’s features from its well defined deliverables.
Project Functions: Once you finished describing project’s features, now you need to describe how people interact with a deliverable and how a deliverable interacts with other deliverables. For example, if you need to change invoicing and billing transactions, most of the requirements could end up being process oriented. This would include how billing transactions move from orders to invoicing to accounts receivable. Basically you are defining the information flow in this phase. Thus, make sure to involve all the stakeholders, who will be affected by this information.
I hope these simple tips will help you to better define the scope of your project. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can make this process simpler. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
In my last blog, I have discussed about how you can save some money and re-training costs by hiring a fresh graduate instead of an experienced professional. In this blog, I will provide you with few other reasons why you should prefer fresh graduates over an experienced person.
Flexibility: In my experience, I have found less experienced people more flexible as compared to very experienced professional. For example: I had this one intern, let’s call him Mr. X, who was very self-motivated to learn. Thus, Mr. X will come early every morning, and read all the required process documents and training documents before he started his work. He would still work his core hours with some of my other experienced team members, but he was always willing to put in some extra time to learn new things. His hunger for learning new things helped me a lot, as he would come on weekends sometime and finish some of the important tasks of my projects.
Happier workforce: I am not saying that fresh graduates are always happier at work. I am saying that……….. Since they don’t have any past experience to compare their existing job with, they wouldn’t complain as much as few experienced professionals would, who might have worked in different companies and have seen different company cultures and practices. For a fresh graduate, your culture and practices will become his primary bench mark, since he will grow with your company, and learn all the practices and procedures established by your company. Also, smaller incentives like free bagels, donuts or lunch will go a long way for him as compared to other people, who might have seen different (better) days.
More growth opportunities: Obviously, you can have various growth opportunities for your experienced professionals depending on your company’s policies. But trust me, you will have way more opportunities for your employee’s growth, if you hire a fresh graduate. For example: I work in a Software Industry. In my company, we have various job ranks for our engineers. Ranks go from 1 to 6 depending on their experience and capability. Let’s say, if I hire an experienced professional on “Engineer Level 5”. Unfortunately, after his promotion to the next level, “Engineer Level 6”, I might not have clear defined path for his growth. And that employee will feel stagnant in my company, and might try to leave for another job. Imagine, if I hire an “Engineer Level 1”, a fresh graduate, for the same position . I will have more opportunity to grow him within the company in a given hierarchical structure of the company. Thus, I would recommend you to hire a fresh graduate, if you already have few experienced people in your team to provide a direction.
I hope these tips will help understand the importance of hiring a fresh graduate in comparison of an experienced professional. Let me know, if you have any other reasons why you would prefer hiring a fresh graduate instead of an experienced professional. Please feel free to share your opinion here. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi
Monday, June 11, 2012
If you could hire 4-5 people in China for the same salary that you give to 1 employee in the US, why wouldn’t you offshore your work to China? Doesn’t it seem like a perfect plan to save some recurring operating costs? Trust me; it might not be as easy as you think. Apart from obvious major risks like language barriers, culture differences, and copyright infringement; there are various other risks that can make your offshore venture a failure. In this blog, I will put some light on some of those hidden issues.
Increase in travel expenses: Most of the armature businesses will measure the success of their offshore project through the reduction in their recurring operating costs in the US. Often that performance metrics doesn't take the overhead costs, such as traveling, in to the consideration. Successful outsourcing requires significant face time during the launch phase to establish the rules of engagement and regularly thereafter to maintain the relationship. And these costs greatly increase as both the client and the offshore supplier make lengthy and expensive trips.
High turnover: With more and more companies moving their workforce to India, China, and Brazil; the demand for offshore workers increases, so do their wages. Salaries in India, for example, are increasing by double digits almost every year. For some overseas locations in China, employee turnover is extremely high sometimes as much as 50% as employees are regularly recruited away from their current jobs. For a knowledge-based function such as software development, this high amount of turnover can be disastrous in the long run.
Negative ROI: On an average, it takes approximately 3-5 years before one can see the same amount of productivity from their offshore team. Research has shown that although the advertised savings for offshoring were around 60-80%, actual savings of 0-20% were common and in many cases it was negative. Most of the businesses fail to consider the additional costs that are required to increase their management and training efforts, so that they can have the same level of quality in their end product.
Of course, not everything is bad about offshoring. In my next blog post, I will discuss few ideas about……’why you should consider offshoring’. Until then, if you have any other ideas or comments about offshoring, then please feel free to share it here on my blog. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi