Excellence is a way of life.

The word excellence has a profound meaning in it and it invites pride enormously.

I often find myself reading and re-reading all my notes and emails just to ensure that the same is presented well. Even a simple format that I make for my team goes for several corrections and filter for perfection within myself. I used to wonder whether I am Excellence.jpgsuffering from the ostensible OCD.  For those who haven’t come across this abbreviation, it is an obsessive compulsory disorder, a compulsive obsession for certain things in day to day life. For example, one having OCD for reading would not stop reading the same stuff a number of times. I soon realized that it’s a lot to do with the word – Excellence. I realized that we have to keep excelling in our daily tasks every day, every hour, every second and the small steps that we take daily to bring that change for better at our work is nothing but an act of excellence.

Then I realized that it doesn’t occur to all. It comes to those who are restless for betterment in their daily life.

Have you anytime felt uncomfortable with a project that you did or that presentation that you made overnight or that process note that you created, where you felt like going back to it again and tie the loose ends again and again? If you have ever felt that way anytime in your life, you are certainly in a progressive track in your career life. You are nothing but a living soul of excellence.

I walked into the office of Dubai Service Excellence last week and the littlest things that one notice there would surprise you and it’s the smallest things in our daily life that show our excellence and our thirst for excellence. It’s a way of life.

I walked into a library for reading some of the good practices that companies in Dubai do and I could see a number of companies’ report neatly arranged on a table for me to read, each report were kept one after the other on the table, in the same line, not one above or below the line… I guess someone has practiced this in their daily chores. Someone who kept them there knew how to do it. Someone put their heart to it while doing it. Excellence comes when one engages himself/herself to what one is doing. It’s a habit.

Here I recollect what Aristotle said– we are what we repeatedly do, excellence, then is not an act but a habit.

Excellence is not a single act, it is a repeated action that stands out, hence it is a habit. I am always noted as a fanatic for cleanliness and my team, unfortunately, keep hearing from me for not keeping their workstations clean and neat. Not everyone has it in them, but a habit of making sure that your desk is clean, neat, papers are neatly kept in the right folder, your pen holder is in the right place, your notice board hangs papers in an order, your chairs in the office are in right place, the files behind your desk has labels that are uniform and many more.. It’s excellence and excellence in action, in habits, in life.

And excellence is not doing things repeatedly but doing that one excellent thing repeatedly, that one act of yours that comes naturally to you over a period of others.

I was honored to have an excellent leader in my career life, not mentioning his name here as I haven’t sought his permission for the same. However, he as an epitome of excellence is worth mentioning here. It was a board meeting and many were sitting around a table, tea was served to all by pantry team, one of the director’s tea spilled over to the saucer. To my surprise, this great leader of my life, chairman stature person got from his chair pulled a tissue, and lifted the cup and wiped off the spill of tea and placed it correctly for his director friend. One would think why would one do this, many would let it go unnoticed, but if you care to see perfection, a need to be perfect, a need to correct things to perfection, excellence becomes a way of life.

Today we keep hearing about service excellence, customer service excellence, business excellence etc.. In my view everything starts with the leader. Do you ever ask what is that one thing that differentiates you from others? Do you care for that missing dot in your email? Do you care for the salutation that you leave on your emails? Do you care for the emotions of the reader? Do you address issues one by one with clarity? An organization’s excellence depends on the leader’s habits. If you are one who would want excellence in everything that you and your team do, your organization would be living a life of excellence.

Excellence is not just in the surge in bottom lines or in the way your finance cuts corners, or in the way you squeeze the maximum out of your team, or in the way you put pressure on your team to perform. Excellence is by being an example to your team, by being there for them, by handholding your team to perfection, by setting standards in your organization and following it to the tee by yourself. It’s a pity that many leaders fail to practice excellence at work and at themselves but happily wear the mask of excellence in public.

Excellence requires genuine inner drive and is not a fictitious expression. One need to be sincere and real to be excellent. You cannot fake excellence. It has a life and spirit. It is a demonstration of your true values and beliefs. Just to give an example, I have come across leaders who says that this year is a year for employee happiness and they announce this proudly in meetings and when it comes to doing things for making that reality, they do nothing about it, they take no initiative for making that happen. Excellence is doing what you believe in, doing what you propagate. In an organization, people respect their leaders who do what they say, who walks their talks. Excellence is contagious. You need to practice it and you would see how it voyages to the team and then to the organization.

You don’t need to plan for excellence. You don’t need to devise strategies for excellence. It’s here… It’s in the now! It’s in the present. Do it now. Do that littlest thing right in front of you. Walk into your office greeting all your team every day and you will create that aura in the office. Brief your team on keeping things in place and see the difference that it can bring to your office. Create a nice label form, presentable for those box files that you have on the rack and name them right, code them right .. See the difference in your office. That large notice board in your office, make it look presentable and have it updated. That’s excellence. Create work processes, document it and review it, check it frequently and make your team own it and embrace it as their own work, that’s excellence. Keep changing and updating your work processes and that’s excellence.

If you are managing a department or function, define responsibilities, create forms and formats, communicate workflow and keep improving the work processes for better delivery of results and you will see excellence falling in place. As a leader of a team, if you come across one issue at work, focus on the process and not just on the issue in hand. Work on improvising the process to avoid future occurrence of issues and that’s excellence.

Be an example in the way you communicate, the way you address a meeting, the way you walk, the way you open a conversation. Your excellence is exhibited in all these. One need to critically assess every step that they take in their daily life if excellence is what one desires. Excellence is in your leadership style and as a leader one need to know that their habits, their style, their words, their actions etc rise excellence in their team, organizations.

Organizational excellence comes into light when there is a sustainable improvement in performance using a variety of principles, systems, processes and tools at work. Everything depends on the action that leaders take not just in what they preach. Excellence hence is a realistic, consistent action. 

Excellence is a discipline as well. You cannot expect your team to be disciplined if you are not!!. If you are a leader who practices punctuality, promptness and quickness in response, it’s excellence and the team down the line just fall into the process of excellence. Do you answer your emails timely? Do you respond to your team’s text messages timely? And above all are you consistent in your actions? Then mark it, You are practicing excellence.

Excellence is also the way you guide your team, the way you teach your team, the way you treat your team, the way you lead, the mannerism you spell at work, the clarity of communication you practice, the care you impart, the respect you deliver and the direction that you give consistently. Leaders should be an embodiment of excellence.

Continuous improvements that you make at work life is what determines the excellence. For that, one need to feel the need for change, need for improvements, need for betterment. If one sits in a comfort zone, breeding complacency, excellence will fly off the window.

As the leader, so the team. If you are a leader who constantly looks for doing things differently, who wants to keep improving practices, who believes in delivering quick service, who believe in owning every situation, you will see your team carrying the same on their shoulders and excellence is a byproduct then.

Excellence is not what you display outside, it has to be a result of quality works behind the scene, a demonstration of inner values. Awards and recognitions of excellence come on your way more often if you practice excellence, but how genuine and consistent you are in excellence is what matters more than the short term recognitions that one receives for excellence. Excellence is not an end in itself, it’s a process. Excellence is a journey and not a destination.

Finally, I believe that excellence is a personal choice. Companies and leaderships set certain standards of excellence in organizations and impose them onto people in the journey of excellence and often it’s not a sustainable one as excellence are a mindset and one need to have it self-imposed than being imposed onto by someone else. It is an act of setting standards for oneself  and assuming a sense of responsibility to achieve them consistently. A leader with an attitude to excel will transfer that attitude to his team by way of setting standards at his workplace and the littlest standards make a mountain of excellence and hence Excellence is an Attitude!!

By Binu Prasad

Image: courtesy google.

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Manage People as you Manage Business

IManaging Talentsn a recent reading, I happen to come across a phrase: “Manage people as you manage business”.

It’s quite interesting to contemplate on why many leaders fail in managing their people with the same passion that they have in managing their business results.

It’s a fact that, if one manages their money as carelessly as they manage their people, they would soon be extinct. All those businessmen out there knows this very well. However, the world has changed now and soon those businesses would be extinct if they manage their talents carelessly disrespectfully.

Having worked with many businessmen, owners and having seen many different types of those leaders in my career, each one had something to offer as a learning. Those who kept people as their backbone of their business excelled beyond boundaries and those who treated people as ancillary to their financial results kept losing valuable talents while harvesting money.

“Talent management” is an art by itself and in a world full of intelligence, managing them effectively is an art many business owners and entrepreneurs have failed to value.

Gone are those days where talent stays with your business for a lifetime. When we look back at our parents or grandparents, I am sure you will notice that they have lived their life with one organization and in today’s scenario, the talents change jobs in pursuit of better challenges, growth, pride, money etc.

In a word of social media and information surfeit, today’s talents do not have time to wait for advancement and they look for quick success as aspirin curing their quench for triumph quickly. All the more reasons, today’s business need to recognize the importance of managing this high potential, highly volatile, highly restless and highly ambitious talents effectively, sensibly and above all mindfully.

If you keep counting your coins at the end of the day and keep feeling happy looking at the bottom lines going up while smacking your senior managers, your employees, it’s about time that such a business would be history.

Every employee today looks at what’s in it for him like how a business man looks at as what’s in it for him. In business, the focus tends to be more on reaping profits and filling one’s pockets. In the race of making more, some of these entrepreneurs who happen to occupy the chair of leaders by virtue of their money tend to disregard the value of human beings, the value of people relations, the value of educated talents.

“Talents are hungry for Value recognition”

Often we see businessmen, who grew from nothing finding difficult to get out of the greed of money and, however, they try to dream to be a corporate, unfortunately, what is in their DNA resist them from changing. They continue to hold on to the relentless passion for making more money, forgetting the fact that the means of earning more emanate from the best of talents that he has.

In an era of competition, survival is the challenge that any business face and the victory of any organization is on the adroitness in nurturing its talent.

Talents today need recognition, it needs loyalty from leaders, business owners and those days of being loyal to one company or devoting the entire life to one company is all gone.

It’s an exciting phenomenon to look at that if you need people to be loyal to you, extend loyalty to them as well.

“Loyalty breeds loyalty”. 

How would you be loyal to your people? How do you make your employees feel the loyalty you extent? Companies like 3M are known for sharing their profits with their employees and there, of course, there is no need to worry on the lack of sense of belonging. Making your talents feel owners is the only way to make your business grow. The art of sharing is something which today’s business owners need to learn and accept for a continuous success. It’s a pity sometimes CEOs and business owners keep harping about the sense of belonging and commitment and loyalty etc. without even having the willingness to think about what they have done to ask for the belongingness from the talents.

“You reward your talent timely, belongingness will arrive naturally”

Today’s businessmen/ CEOs need to devote time to creating ideas to manage talent, in the same way, they create ideas for making more money. The love that you feel towards the business growth has to have its share shown towards managing talents. How the world would be if business giants look at Talents as their money, if they take care of talents as they do for their money and wealth?

“Love your talents, the way you love your profits”

Keeping your talents focused at results is the prime KRA of a CEO. CEOs must be assessed on how they manage their talents to performance. CEOs should be accountable to keep their leadership team together, their employees’ motivated every second.

Business failures must be considered as a shared responsibility even though people accountable must feel the heat of it. Any business downfall could be a reflection of the leader’s performance, but a CEO must take the ownership and handhold the leader of the business, must work together as a team, must understand the realities of business situations, and must be able to encourage people at a time of downward trend in business. One important aspect of talent management is to own the failures of your team and recognize successes as your team’s own achievement.

Often some businessmen, CEOs and other leaders of business tend to be emotional and their quench for more money and the fact of losing money getting to their nerves numbs them of people relationship tactics, resulting in sabotaging high-value talents, ridiculing the talents, degenerating the energies in team to pick up the loose strings and trudge forward.

“You kill talent if you mistreat them”

Sometimes I keep thinking that why these CEOs do not have the same appetite and drive that they have towards their financial results when it comes to keeping their team together, in recognizing their team, in supporting their leadership team, in handholding their team, in reenergizing their team to success. All that a CEO or a managing director require at times of slow business and at times of tough challenges is composure, self-assurance, the confidence and courage that should get conducted to the team to get their shoes on running track.

“Talents need to be inspired”

Managing talents are no easy task and it require people skills. It needs a heart and not just head alone.

Talents are a fluid commodity nowadays and easily tradeable in the market and losing one is easy which today’s leaders of business must understand and accept their existence in this competitive market.

Sometimes you lose a talent even when the talent is with you and hardly any leaders realize that. The dreadful thing to happen in a business is a talent living on your books of account but mismanaged. Talents can occupy both sides of your balance sheet and it’s high time one realizes the same for mending one’s way of managing them. Tactfulness is the key in managing talents. Respecting the talents around you is a great value that one can add to keep their talents together in business.

“A talent mismanaged can be lost even if it exists in Organizations”

By Binu Prasad

Source of Image: Google

Winning over “Scarcity of Generosity”!!!

Last week I sprawled over this beautiful phrase- “scarcity of generosity”. I have been thinking of this for a while now and it does have a deep meaning entwined in it.

Is generosity a scarce gesture that we see around always?

We see there is a huge vacuum of this every day, in the people around us. At the workplace, at the personal front, at the social circle and what more to say, even on the street that you walk around or even in a supermarket, we see the scarcity of generosity.

You don’t need to be rich to be generous and generosity is not often to do with money.

When was the last time you have seen someone very generous in imparting his knowledge to you? Or have seen the spontaneous time and effort that one has laid on your feet to be of service to you? Or the patient listening ear that one extended to you when you really had to talk your heart out?

We can think of various examples of the generosity being seen as a scarce gesture. I am not penning the same in the context of various situations in life but of the leadership stuff that we see around every day in our work life. Have you ever seen a leader who is generous and what fun you would have had in working with a boss like him or her? I am sure all of us would have had someone whom we worked for who had shown us that generosity is not scarce if one needs to make use of it consciously and genuinely.

It’s not a rocket science to practice generosity. Well, it’s not something that one can tailor make or fabricate in self-structure easily. Having said that there, of course, are that self-image conscious leaders around us who project themselves as generous for their own selfish means. There are these award and fame hungry leaders, well, they are not leaders but happen to be there by sheer luck or by god’s grace on to their business domain who gets into heaving money around public and misuse the sanctity of true generosity for prestige and power. God bless those.

As a manager or leader, one has plenty of opportunities to be generous and hence exterminate the scarcity of generosity!!!

  • Smile generously  

Imagine you have to work for someone who just can’t smile genuinely or you have to work for someone who you know it for a fact wears a permanent artificial smile. There is nothing that is so simple and priceless than a genuine smile. It speaks loud when you smile at your colleagues and when you exchange that twinkle in your eyes. It would light up the days for your team down the line. Rarely one would think this is a gesture of generosity. One would understand the value of this when you have a boss who just can’t bother to smile.

  • Greet your team and people around

It actually takes no effort to wish your team daily. I had a chance to be associated with a student of mine in 1995, where she would take that extra mile to come and wish people. It used to wake me up from my flood of thoughts. It just breaks the pressure inside you on hearing the same. If you can add the name of the person to it, it’s a  cherry on that sweet cake. The more you do the same, the merrier it would be. Be generous in wishing people and let that ego burst. Your team would be rich with that serving of yours.

  • Take that extra time to speak to your team personally

Stop by your team and ask them how their health is if they were unwell a few days back. Or if they had told you about their ailing mother, take a moment to ask about that. A few such genuine feelings shared would certainly go a long way and would put you on that pedestal of the generosity of courtesy.

  • Share a coffee with your team once in a while

Get out of your cabin, take that coffee and sit next to your team and sip that over a chat even if it’s of work. Simply talk about that extra shot espresso that you had at Costa. Break the monotony and make your team feel that you are a no boundary man. Once in a while pick that piece of cookies from their table or just drop a nice almond cookie on their table for them. Get that best choco donuts your team member likes on his birthday and places it on his table even before he comes to work. Many more such simple acts of genuine mindful gestures are nothing but munificence in some way.

  • Spend time to teach your team

I don’t believe in having a daily meeting with my team. I have never practiced the same. I meet them often on something called Capsule Meeting. They are incident based meeting. That’s a quick 5-10 minutes meeting where it’s mostly a standup meeting that has a message to convey and a learning to absorb. Praise people at this time, support some, express your annoyance at some’s nonperformance. Make that meeting a high impact short capsule. Call that needy team member for a long meeting with you, sit beside them and work on their file and make them do the work in front of you and when needed take over and make them see how you do it and take the time to teach them the why and how of every step at work. Come to the level of your team member, speak slowly, look at their eyes and engage them at work. Carry their thought process along with yours while explaining and throw the balance work on them and leave them to do it by themselves saying you will check it once they are done. A true leader is a generous teacher. Never give them a fish but teach them how to fish is a great generosity that a leader can show to his team.

  • Turn mistakes into learning opportunity

Mistakes are natural. Criticizing mistakes and not doing anything about it nor providing a solution is the worst thing a manager or leader does. Focus of a leader must be to show the anger towards mistakes and not the person. The art is to make the team understand that the anger is not on him or her but on the mistake that had taken place. An anger is natural and at times in managing people or work. You would need to practice it and one who can practice that as an emotional tool for managing instead of an emotion by itself is a true leader.

One must accept mistakes and then see the what, why and how of that. Getting your team together to see the solution is the best thing to do and one’s mistake should be turned to a learning opportunity for all in the team. Like I said earlier, a capsule meeting on the error can be very positive if the leader presents it across as a learning opportunity. If one can pull the self out of the situation and see the issue from a distance and bring the team to participate in the solution building, the leader wins. There is nothing that is so generous that a leader can do in digging the mines of mistakes to discover golden opportunities for learning.

  • Ask questions to your team and awaken their brains.

Imagine a workplace, you are doing the routine mundane tasks every day and the manager who handles the department or function eats all the cake of your hard work. Even machines would wear off if it’s left to run on its own without any interventions periodically. If you are a true leader, you must understand that the brains should not be left to rust. Every job has a mundane part of it and is inexorable. It’s the leader who must keep asking questions to the team, just to ensure that the brain muscles are put to exercise. The neurons must shake and blood must flow rapidly to all sides of the brain. There is nothing more generous than awakening the minds of your team.

  • Care your team 

You overheard that one of your team couldn’t access her bank account due to some issue and she has been struggling to get that sorted out… Call her aside and ask her whether she is in need of any financial need immediately. Your team member wants to attend to that quick medical check up on Monday morning before coming to work, Don’t think twice before saying yes to her. One of your team members was shifting his flat, give him a day’s off if he needs to settle down recognizing the long hours that he had spent at work without being asked for. There is this driving license class that one needs to attend and, unfortunately, the time slot she got is in between the work hours, give it off to her and you surely know that she would be there when you have an extra load of work. Make that quick one minute call to your ailing team member in between your work hours. Surprise them on their birthday. Care is a form of generosity and is meaningful when it’s genuine.

  • Stand up for your team

Your team are in their learning path, they are there because of their limited knowledge, skill and looks up to you for that icing on their knowledge. They make mistakes. Cover them up and do not let anyone else holler on them, hold them under your wings and face the brunt of the situation and take it on you. And don’t forget to give them a piece of your mind in private as they need to learn out of the situation and they must also understand that no one else have the right to shake them except you. The best benevolence is when your team know that there is someone behind them as they face challenges at work.

  • Reward your team non-monetarily

Take the time to write them a personal note when they do an extraordinary work. Take that extra care and give your team few days off when they have done long hours of work during the crucial time at work. Have a capsule meeting to express your gratitude for that excellent performance by any of your team. Take pride in appreciating your team. Get the words of appreciation packaged in mindful emotions.

  • Love your team

Be genuinely interested in your team’s well-being and care. Be mindful of their upbringing, culture, capability and behavioral patterns. Make them comfortable with you where they can even show the courage to challenge you when you slip on any of the work commitments.

After a tough day at work where you have really made your team member feel devastated about his or her work or performance, make that last call before you sleep or a quick nice text so that they can sleep peacefully. Make sure you are a dinner table talk at their home and sparkle the eyes of their spouse and parents.

Generosity– it’s just there around you in abundance. It’s just that the leaders or those managers are blind to it.

It’s a scarce stuff for those who doesn’t wake up to its calling.

By Binu Prasad

Do you manage change or inspire people? 

Change Management is an interesting topic that runs around in a corporate circle.

Inspire ChangeMany portents it with managing change that happens at an organizational level. I have had the chance to know more of this phrase through a close friend of mine who was involved in change management project of a whole province in India where she had to implement a technological change in a government sector. Hence, my thoughts on change management have some link to the so-called principles of change management that organizations adopt to make things happen. There are plenty written on this topic and many models and theories are available on this subject, however, does change management really mean managing change?

In my regular interaction with this friend of mine, I realized that technology is less spoken about in our conversations, but the humans involved in the technological change is more a matter of concern. It’s always to do with people behavior towards change that the leader wants. It’s all about certain core competencies in people that leaders struggle with while leading people towards a perceived change. Hence why would it be managing change? Shouldn’t it be managing humans?

How can you manage change? Change is something that had been transformed into or that had been evolving into or what one wants it to be from what it is now and what it has been all these while. It has probably been moved from what it was in the midst of being managed. Hence, the act of management was and is there when change is happening or when the change happened. You don’t need to manage change, it happens and it becomes a new way of life.

To me, change management is an oxymoron. What need to be managed is the people who need to accept the change. Change is there already and is the “present” now or a foreseen state of “expected present”.

 Trying to manage change would be futile. It’s like when you relocate to a place, there is a big change that you would face in a new place in terms of place, lifestyles, culture, people, environment, rules, laws etc. It has happened or you knew it was happening. The change is the present situation of a future scenario. All that you would do is to manage yourself in the new place. So it’s managing self that is important and not managing change. Change is constant and what needs to be changed is one’s behavior and approaches to handling the unforeseen or anticipated situation or the desired result.

You cannot manage change. Foreseeing, identifying, accepting, planning and responding to/dealing with the consequences of change are the important issues. These are what I term as “change management”.

We can elicit and manage certain technical processes involved in achieving the change you want to. We cannot “manage” the human side of it.

We humans are unpredictable and in groups, the dynamic and chemistry of our interaction is even more so. It’s a fallacy to believe this can be “managed”.

The term Manage doesn’t suit here when we talk of change management. What matters is inspiring people to accept change.

Human beings need to feel invited, encouraged and inspired to actively play a role in driving the organization to achieve the new desired status.

They need a purpose, or at the very least, a good reason. What leaders need to practice is on how to inspire people and build a drive for action in them to make them embrace change that the organization is going through or the organization desires to achieve.

If human beings are not inspired, the change that you want is no way going to be a reality. It just becomes a destiny left to be formed by itself.

A true leader is one who dreams of the destiny and shapes it well through managing people rather inspiring people. Sometimes people don’t need to know the destiny of an organization. A good leader will occupy their minds with excitement, inspiration, the energy that translates into action and before people realizes, the change that the leader visualized would have become a way of life.

All that matters in so-called change management if it has to be termed so in today’s corporate world is to inspire people to be engaged with their heads, hearts, and hands in the organizations to bring that desired change.

 A leader has a great role to play, rather an only role to play in cultivating that need to make people feel part of something big, bringing a sense of belonging and driving them in that meaningful journey and making sure that their contributions are acknowledged mindfully. And then you will see change being embraced well or rather managed well to make meaning out of the oxymoron – “change management”.

I leave this note of mine here with thoughts in your mind on whether its managing change or inspiring people for desired change that matters?

Written by Binu Prasad. 

Note: The above blog article is my own interpretation of the subject.

Image: Courtesy Google.