Friday, August 31, 2007

IT companies show the door to deadwoods

This is a eye opener for all who think IT career is like bed of roses. There are lot of things that happened in IT industry which created a very beautiful picture and people thought this to be the best place to be, even if one might not have all the traits which are needed to survive and sustain the growth. Yes the good thing that IT has done is it opened doors for lot of deserving ones who had good analytical and reasoning skills, although these people could not pursue a direct course in engineering or Bachelors in IT. Opportunities did come up indirectly when these same people went in for focused courses, which lead to entry positions in IT & then it was the hardwork and efforts put in by the people to grow and get themselves adjusted and finally experts in their skills.

This article should not be taken in the wrong sence, but like all things in life, everything has a good side and a bad side. It is a matter of which side of the fact is highlighted more & which side comes up on its own. Hope you like this article and do leave your comments.

Deadwoods’ is how they are known in recruitment circles. And there seems to be a rise in numbers of this bunch of guys who have flunked their appraisal test (been rated bad performers) in IT/ITES companies and are being chucked out by employers. According to sources, the top IT companies — both Indian and MNCs — are asking their deadwoods to leave, even as they are in an aggressive recruitment mode.

Recently, IBM India is reported to have asked over 1,000 people to leave because of bad performance. That’s about 1.9% of its total headcount of 53,000 and on par with the 2%-3 % that Wipro sees in terms of percentage. According to industry sources, while the average attrition rate for a well managed company stands at around 18%- 20%, about 50% of this are actually nonperformers who go out of a company.

Wipro HR executive vice-president Pratik Kumar said, “We hate to weed them out. So our effort is to put them on improvement programmes. We have formal discussions with them, do an analysis and give them about six months to improve. If they still can’t perform, then we shake hands.” Stating that one needs to look at it not just from the human angle but also from the business impact, he added that “if you want to be competitive , you can’t shy away from it.” The entire process of appraisal is done very systematically and there are two-three stages before any employee is put in the underperformer category said Vati Consulting CEO Amitabh Das. “I think it is a good sign that companies are taking this very seriously as in the long run, it helps in improving the productivity of the company,” he added. Mr Kumar also points out that though the category has remained steady in percentage terms (about 2%), the bigger numbers being seen now are a factor of scale and size. After all, the major IT companies in India have been adding between 12,000-25 ,000 people each in the last couple of years, to take their headcount beyond 50,000 people.

So what happens to these guys? Adecco India CEO Ajit Isaac said:,“People shown the door by the big companies are willing to go to the tier II and tier III companies, which welcome them since they have the brand in their resume. An HR person can’t always know why the candidate has left his previous job. So for these people in the smaller companies, its a honeymoon period for first 6-8 months but if their performance continues to be bad, then they hit a career crisis. Some of them are looking at joining startups while a bunch of them go to BPO firms.” Ad Astra Consultants founder Nirupama V G said, “Some people get jobs on contract basis to ensure they get the relevant experience before trying for another good position . Or some go in for temp jobs.”

I guess, one must never stop learning & if they feel they have learnt everything they had to learn, then it is time for them to look for another job or the company might ask you to look for one, since you would then would not be contributing in anyway to the company.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

So, think you're ready to move up in the ranks?

This is an interesting article forwarded by one of my colleagues, which I thought was something to share with everyone. This has been taken as it is from www.careerbuilder.com. I am sure this will be useful for everyone looking for a career growth.

Vince Thompson was willing to do whatever it took to make his company successful. He shifted from sales management to leading sales training when the need was there, and when the company asked him to run its Southwest territory, he relocated for the position.
"The knowledge I needed to change positions did not come from my predecessors or even bosses," Thompson says. "It came from mentors and colleagues within the company that were vested in my success and willing to teach more and provide honest feedback."
It's no good to sit still in any area of your life -- work is no exception. Thompson, author of "Ignited: Managers! Light Up Your Company and Career for More Power, More Purpose and More Success," says we should all try to live up to our potential as contributors and to do that, we have to aim to get ahead at some point.
"What's important to recognize is where your passions and strength lie and then to spend your time advancing them. Blindly following the upward path has lead some to find great dissatisfaction," Thompson says.
Even though you know you want to get ahead, situations arise that can sometimes prevent you from getting there. People get comfortable and stop trying, or they think that trying won't make a difference, says Deborah Brown-Volkman, president of Surpass Your Dreams, Inc., a New-York based career and mentor coaching company.
Individuals may also assume their employer would rather hire someone externally with prior experience, says Kim Hahn, founder and chief executive officer of Florida-based multimedia company Intellectual Capital Productions, Inc.
"There are lots of reasons why it's preferable to train a current employee in a new role rather than take a chance on a stranger," Hahn says. "It takes time and money to recruit and train a new employee, and even once that's accomplished, there's no guarantee that the new employee will be able to fit in with the style and culture of the corporation."
You're dying for more respect and recognition for your work, and you'd love to tackle bigger challenges, learn new skills and contribute more to your company. Don't sit back and wait for an opportunity to present itself. Your chance for change may be under your nose.
So, think you're ready to move up in the ranks? Here are 10 ways to get ahead with ease.
1. Identify your area of interest
Hahn suggests making a list of your talents and interests and applying the list to the kinds of work you want to perform in your new job. If you're not sure, contact your human resource department -- most have tests that can help you identify what's most satisfying to you.
2. Communicate your desires
Managers aren't mind-readers, so be explicit with your aspirations to move up, says Lisa Kojis, managing partner for staffing firm Princeton One. "Share your aspirations with your manager or superiors in the company, especially during review times so that management can help establish goals and benchmark for determining when is the right time to promote you." But...
3. Don't ask too soon
"You need to be a proven commodity at the job you were hired to do first," Kojis says. "Take on additional responsibilities if you can, without being asked and without receiving additional compensation for it."
4. Be a team player
Thompson suggests understanding the roles of the others on your team as much as possible. Kojis agrees, saying that you should explore other divisions in your parent company. "Be open to relocation for the next opportunity," she explains, "If your company is too bulky, go elsewhere or figure out what you will need to stand out."
5. Network
Make a list of all the people you count on for success and make sure they believe in your ability to contribute, Thompson says. "If your teammates are rooting for you, that'll mean a lot," he says. "Start by building or restoring trust and then focus on ways that you can deliver them value."
6. Seek out a mentor
You can learn a lot from people who have mastered the career you aspire to, Hahn says. "Most successful people love to share their secrets for success and are willing to give advice, make introductions and assist an up-and-comer in the organization."
7. Develop additional skills
Take inventory of what you can bring to the table and what new tools you'll need to acquire, Hahn says. You may need to take some in-house classes or get your master's degree.
8. Don't let money motivate you
Too often we judge things based solely on money and responsibility, Thompson says. "Think about how moving up enhances your skill set, makes you more valuable and affects your family and personal life," he says.
9. Ask for feedback
Know how your work is being evaluated and get your goals and evaluations in writing, Kojis says.
10. Do it again!
Remember that this career change need not be your last, Hahn says. "Life is like a menu and you should sample many choices."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Indian Wok : Desi Chinese Restaurant

From today I am starting a series of articles about the Food places in singapore for indian food lovers. These artciles would cover things like location of the place, rating based on my or my friend's experience who have been to these places & of course menu offered & favorites. Hope you all love this series & can make use of this useful information. Please don't forget to drop your comments on the respective article, so that others can make a good use.

We have a food fanatic among us, Abhijit, & he loves to try new places & food. Its difiicult to stop him from talking about food, once he starts. So i thought he is the best person to start with giving his contributions to this section. He is from the Macch loving State West bengal, Calcutta since sometime has spent time in Pune & currently is tasting the waters of Singapore. Here we go with the love of modern Indians for Chinese food (Indian Chinese) I mean.....

Place: Indian WOK
Traditional Indian Chinese flavour - A must for all who relish Indian Chinese and crave for spice.

Starters : A Must Try
Chicken Lollipop - Mild
Steamed Momos - Mild
Chilly Chicken Dry - Spicy
Manchow Soup - Mild
Hot and Sour Soup - Spicy

Main Course : Chef's recommendation

Mandarin Fish - Mild
Ginger Chicken - Spicy
Lamb with dry red chilly - Spicy
Mixed Fried Rice (Chicken,Lamb and Eggs)- Mild
Hakka Noodles (Chicken)-Mild

Sweetdish - Declicious

Lychee with vanilla icecream

Remarks:

It was an experience worth remembering and have frequented the joint quite a few times. Prices are towards the higher side but worth giving it a try if you go in a group of two or more families.
Service is a bit towards the slower side specially on weekends.

Hospitality is good. But you surely experience the indianness of chinese dishes.

You would surely want to go back again.
Rating : 7/10
Location: Race Course Road,Little India & 699 East Coast Road, Singapore 459061(Nr. Siglap Center)

Operating Hours: 11am-3pm & 6pm to 10.30pm

Contacts: 64482003

Website: http://www.indianwok.com.sg/

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Greenfield Project

In software engineering jargon, a greenfield is a project which lacks any constraints imposed by prior work. The image is that of construction on greenfield land, where there is no need to remodel or demolish an existing structure. Such projects are often coveted by software engineers for this reason, but in practice, they can be quite rare.
Greenfield carries a similar meaning with modern wireless LAN networks. 802.11n wi-fi networks have an optional greenfield mode that improves efficiency by eliminating support for 802.11a/b/g devices.
Today, the term Greenfield is not restricted to software domain. Examples of greenfield projects are new factories, power plants, airports which are built from scratch on greenfield land. Those facilities which are modified/upgraded are called Brownfield projects (often the pre-existing site/facilities are contaminated/polluted.)
Greenfield also has meaning in sales. A greenfield opportunity refers to a marketplace that is completely untapped and free for the taking.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My Kids Love at Vivocity

I had been to Vivocity a few times before I realised that on the 3rd floor of this mall there is a place created like a beach with a water pool which is about knee deep or about 1-1.5 ft which lets the children of about 2 years or so to stand in the water without getting drowned. Vivocity is located at harbourfront MRT station which is also the station one has to get down for getting to Sentosa. Infact there is a monorail station which commences from Vivocity to Sentosa which is the newest attraction from Sentosa management for the tourists. Remember the monorail in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - which i have mentioned in my earlier blog this is just the same, except the journey is within the sentosa island.

My son, aadi is always thrilled to go to this place since the time we have shown this place. We had been there with our friends family who too has a daughter almost the same age as my son. Both the kids were initially afraid to get into the water, since it appeared deep at the first instance. But eventually looking at the other kids having fun in the water, our kids alos jumped in and started playing with water. I too couldn't resist the tempatation to walk in this water pool and rest my tired legs walking through the hard granite floors of the mall. Faisal my friend was a little shy & conscious initially to play in the water but his daughter got him loose & he too enjoyed playing with us all.

I held my son along his stomach and made him hit his legs on the water like cycling to get him feel he was swimming & surprisingly he did it very well for first timer. He now days swings his hands in such way which shows he wants to go swimming & always look forward to go to a swimming pool and have loads of fun. I am sure the designers of Vivocity had all this fun in mind while building this area. During this time, the parents can have a lovely time watching thier kids play & enjoy these lovely moments. We sure did & love to do it very often. I think these are the places, where we elders get time to be child again and have a carefree fun.

There is one more smaller area which is formed by having some usual things like See-Saw, water fountains which are sort of dancing with the way they have been programmed. I remember couple of kids, a brother and sister playing among these fountains. The nozzles of these fountains are spaced at about 1 foot or so. So these brother sister were trying to pass these fountains, one by one avoiding the water to fall on them and passing each one once it threw water & shut for sometime. Since the fountains were designed for certain display, once in a while the water use to get onto the children which they tried to avoid by bending forward or backward and in this process got wet by the other fountain and we and few other parents sitting by this area couldn't resist laughing aloud. As they say, money can't buy laughter & laughter is the best medicine. It sure holds true here, you dont pay for the display & you gets loads of fun and laughter at this place.

I would give a 5 star for this place for parents with kids.

Carrot Halwa - Gaajar Ka Halwa

One of the most favorite deserts of India, Gaajar Ka halwa is the most loved items among Indians. One does not have to think of calories intake while having this & has to get sheer joy in enjoying this age old recipe. Again, this has been contributed by Pankaj, and I am sure he loves this very much & so shall you.

Ingredients:
  • 1 kg juicy orange carrots

  • 1 1/2 litre milk

  • 400-500 gm sugar

  • elaichi powder (cardomon)

  • saffron few flakes

  • few drops orange colour (optional)

  • 1 tbsp ghee

Method

  • Peel and grate carrots

  • Put milk and carrots in a heavy saucepan.

  • Boil till thick, stirring occassionally.

  • Once it starts thickening, stir continuously.

  • Add sugar and cook further till thickens.

  • Add ghee, elaichi, saffron and colour.

  • Stir on low heat till the mixture collects in a soft ball or the ghee oozes out. Serve hot, decorated with a chopped almond or pista.

Mix Veg Curry

Pankaj who has spent a few months in Singapore along with his friends has spent some time cooking, would like to share this recipe, which according to him would be simple to prepare and should be fast enough to cook. Hope you guys try this out & let us know if this is as simple & good as it appears.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables sliced, boiled
    (use carrot, cauliflower, beans, peas, potato, etc.)

  • 1 tomato sliced

  • 1/2 coconut grated

  • 1/2 tsp. ginger grated

  • 1/2 tsp. garlic crushed

  • 3 green chillies

  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds

  • 1/2 tsp. each cumin, mustard seeds

  • 1/2 tsp. red chilli powder

  • salt to taste

  • 1 tsp.lemon juice

  • 2 cloves

  • 1" piece cinnamon

  • 2 tbsp. butter

Method

  1. Drain the boiled vegetables, keep stock aside.

  2. Blend together, coconut, chillies, sesame seeds, cinnamon, cloves in mixie.

  3. Heat butter, add seeds, allow to splutter.

  4. Add ginger, garlic and paste.

  5. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes.

  6. Add vegetables except tomatoes.

  7. Add 1/2 cup stock. Cover, simmer for 5 minutes.

  8. Add salt, chilli powder,tomatoes and cook till gravy is thick.

  9. Serve hot with parathas or chappatis.

Making time: 20 minutes.
Makes: 2 servings

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pride of India - N. R. Narayana Murthy

16th August 2007 was a special day for me, one it is my beloved brother Parag's birthday who turned 27 and today I was standing next to the Great Mr. Narayana Murthy and got a couple of minutes to talk with this charismatic personality. It was sheer luck that we met Mr. Narayana Murthy. Me and my friend got introduced to one of the CEO's, who happened to be part of Kannada association. We had met him at the Indian independence day celebration here in Singapore when we took a photograph of his with the Indian ambassador & introduced to him. We took his card & my friend, sent the photograph to the CEO & we had not expected to hear from him so early, but it was destiny I guess, that we got a call from him. he informed us that Kannada association is having Mr. Murthy for dinner on 16th august & that we could meet him during this time. We had to agree immediately.

We arrived at about 7:30 pm for the function and met our friend who was in a telecon with his american & Indian office. He got us into the function after completing the formality. We were thrilled to see Mr. Murthy & Mrs. Sudha Murthy. I had heard about Mrs. Sudha Murthy, who has also been the founder member of Infosys & known for her wonderful way to mesmerise the audience with her speech. We were not to be disappointed, although Mrs. Sudha murthy spoke completely in Kannada, we could make out some portion of the topic, which as about her experience in the international market representing such a big name. We got busy taking lot of photographs while the speech was on. Finally the time came when Mr. Murthy was invited to give his speech at the event.

We were so glad, when we were just about 2 minutes into hearing what he had say, when he announced that he would prefer to talk in English and not in Kannada. Although his talk was going to be more on the occassion of 60 years of Indian Independence, it was a sheer bliss to hear from the man who built the Infosys empire & had a vision for his company which started in 1981 along with six other software professionals and served as the CEO for 20 years before handing over the reins of the company to co-founder Nandan M. Nilekani in March 2002. Mr. Murthy mentioned about the growth India is doing and our duty as citizens of india to contribute in the best possible way to contribute. Seconly the thing that hit m when Mr. Murthy said is that India's 60th year of independence is something of baby steps into its independence looking at the history of India as country since we have been developing and redeveloping since past 1000 of years with things like caste & religion which have been imbibed into the society and it is difficult to change the way people & society looks at things at once. He stressed the point of getting the country which could work on meritocratic method which Singapore is developed & is running smoothly. But he also pointed out that it is a huge task and that youth will play a major role in this & their appropraite grooming into today's competitive world will get the change happen.

Mr. Murthy had kept his speech short but precise due to time constraint, but he took few questions from the audience. One of the questions that was put to Mr. Murthy and Mrs. Murthy was " How do they handle their relationship and what is their secret". Mr. Murthy answered to this and I quote "He said relationship has to be such where both partners have to listen to each other and understand the situation he or she is going through and should be able to lend him or her a hand to get through the situation. He or she should share such a relationship where ones presence should lighten up the others life after a hard days work and that both should be responsible for each others health and needs & make sure to meet the demands to the best of the abilities & resources. Thier important role is to groom the children in a such a way so that they can be independent & responsible when they grow up and contribute to the society & make the parents and their country proud."

I shall the recorded speech of Mr. Murthy of this day. I am sure hearing him would be something more wonderful.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Poor Show

We were all being bombarded since a month or so about this exhibition called " Zak Salaam India" and finally we decided to go for the same on saturday 18th August. We were expecting something good to cherish about based on the promotions seen on television.

One thing which is a real pain is the venue for the event, Singapore expo centre which is like one end of the city and it takes hell of a time to reach this place, by bus, trian or taxi. taxi is also expensive. We had the big cab in mind to go to this place, Maxicab which is a 7 seater taxi is run by comfort & we tried to get this booked since my family and another friend's family were planning to go together. Unfortunately, it was tough to get the cab after trying for about 15-20 mins and we gave up the idea of taking this cab & instead take the normal cab. The journey takes about 30-35 mins by cab as well and one easily needs to shell about S$18-20 to get to this place.

Surprisingly when we arrived which was pretty late like 6 pm something, we saw the crowd walking towards us rather than to the exhibition hall. After walking the long corridor towards hall 3 we arrived at the entrance where we had to fill up a small form. I still am in doubt what they are going to do with the information, since it does ask for any specific information. Anyway, we entered the hall and were glad and confused to see familiar names from India industry - Ministry of Food and Agriculture & companies like Ayur, Yoga institutes & few other well known names which I can't recollect. There were a few educational institutes like SP Jain institute of management, VIT Pune, and few others. Then there were advertisings & stalls from real estate industry advertising for plots & houses in India. Some of them claimed to be very cost effective for plots & houses in India, in the current boom in real estate, but somehow none of us were convinced about the authencity of these companies. we moved on & came across some handicraft & jewellery items, which again seemed out of place. Not so sure if any indian citizens would have thought of buying the indian stuff at a fat price at this exhibition, rather than buying it in india from a reliable source & good price.
One of the stalls which was talking about Yoga for Life, was infact conducting Yoga sessions, in the midst of this chaos & people enthusiastically were trying to do it in the space that was available. But it was not a good place to practice it, is what I felt.
Finally we were little hungry and moved to the eating stalls - Komalas, Andhra Curry, Gangotri and few others. We had Dosa, medu vada & biryani. Biryani was a disappointment!!
All in all, I felt this was a very unfocused event, not trying to woo the intended audience (who that is again a question). The stalls had very letharigic and uninterested people at the counters who didn't look interested to talk to the customers. (as if they knew none were interested) The food quality was not so good and the cleanliness was also not taken care of.
Hope the indian companies come with a focused approach & target client & make money and get useful leads from this type of event. If they try to get Indian crowd to come for the event but not satisfy them, then how is it going to work for international citizens. Secondly Branding is something Indian companies need to look at seriously if they ought to enter foreign markets and make big ultimately, which is what the whole exercise is for.

Friday, August 17, 2007

60th Year of Indian Independence in Singapore


It was about 8 pm something on 14th august when I got a call from Yogendra who asked me if I wanted to join for Independence day celebration at the Indian High commission in Singapore. I have been out of India for past 6+ years, but I had not been for independence celebration for some or the other reason. Anyway, this time it was serious and somehow I was excited about attending. Finally, we were 7 of us who met at Somerset MRT, which is the closest MRT to the Indian High Commission, located at Grange Road.


The event started off at 8:30 am and we were just to arrive when the announcements started off. It was almost like being in India, since all the people around us were in traditional Indian clothes & holding Indian Tricolor which looked very attractive seeing it after long time. The other reason to feel like being in India was the Anchor person for the event being a Punjabi gentlemen, who had a very typical accent and somehow it was sounding little funny to the ears. The event started off with the flag hoisting ceremony, followed by our National Anthem. The chief guest for the occasion were none other than the Indian High Commissioner of Singapore (Dr S Jaishankar) & his wife.


The high commissioner then read the President's speech made by the new president of India, Shrimati Pratibhatai Devisingh broad casted the previous evening.


We were hearing this for the first time since there was no direct telecast of the same in any of the Indian channels in Singapore. I was troubled by the noise next to us, by youngsters who were mostly in their 20's who showed enthusiasm in attending the celebration, but didn't have any respect in listening quietly to the speech that was being read. I could not help but go to the group and ask them to keep quiet and understand the importance of giving respect to someone important like the High commissioner and the speech that he was reading of a person who is the 1st person of our country.


The speech was pretty generic, while stressing on the need for us all to give our efforts to get India ahead in all sectors of industries. Agriculture being one of the important areas of focus again which is the major industry in our country. The contribution by the Indians staying abroad has also being playing a major role in building a brand for Indians and Indian services.


There was good news for the people in Singapore which was shared by the High Commissioner - 1) The Visa services is going to be outsourced which will result in smaller queues and faster processing of visas for foreigners intending to travel to India in the next 1 month or so.


2) The passport services are also planned to be outsourced to avoid delays in getting new passports or other related services.


There are other areas which are also going to be implemented to improve the services provided by the embassy & shall be declared soon.


The most interesting step taken towards the change is the renovation of the embassy office & revamping of the website. http://www.embassyofindia.com/ I have seen it and it really looks good. I would like to congratulate the people behind this and would encourage them to better themselves further.


After this speech, there were couple of performances by Temple of Fine Arts - http://templeoffinearts.org/sg/ which were really good. This was followed by performance by boys and girls from DPS International School. The music was so loud for the first performance, that the voices were not audible and we went in and informed the event organisers to rectify the issue. After these performances there was one more performance by two small girls who sang " Kar chale ab Fida jaan tan saathiyo .. ab tumhare havale vatan saathiyo... which reminded me of the Fauji Bhaiyon ki Farmaish program which is telecasted on the Vivid Bharti.


The event came to an end with the snacks which were provided & led to a chaos and a scene one could only see in india- Nobody standing in queue, no discipline & everyone was eager to get to the snacks & have to the fullest. This is the only time I felt real sad to see the same problem that we still have in India due to the population which leads to a confusion and bad picture of us as Indians in not maintaining discipline. I guess, that's what we call getting Indian experience staying out of india. The snacks were very filling - the items being served were Chola Batura, Samosa, Chutni to go with & Jalebi. They were served hot & were very delicious.


Well we all felt good after this event and started talking about who all will be here to attend the event next year.

Fearful Traits of Managers

I recently came across a survey blurb that stated that a certain percentage of management feared being out of the office because they were afraid that a subordinate would outshine them in their absence. While I don’t remember the exact percentage, I know it wasn’t a trivial number. I was a bit shocked by the response because (perhaps naively) the thought never occurs to me when I’m out of the office. The fact that there are managers with this paranoid fear says several things to me about their management difficulties:

  • They are very insecure in their position.
  • They work in a very dog-eat-dog environment.
  • They are afraid of their own subordinates.
  • They take credit for everything.
  • They pass on the blame.
  • They have low self esteem.
  • They don’t view their marketability as being very high, increasing their fear that they will lose their job.

Perhaps I may have it all wrong, and in fact, they are all very well adjusted and particularly shrewd in the analysis of their current situation? Maybe a few, but I’m guessing the rest of the respondents have one or more of the problems described above — all of which are bad and need further elaboration.
First and foremost, no manager can be effective if they truly are afraid of being shown up by their subordinates. These managers are not likely to mentor their subordinates, don’t give a flip about continuity/succession planning, are probably very risk averse, are very controlling and route every decision to themselves, and probably micromanage to an extreme — in other words — a real dream to work for, eh?
Addressing the first two points, one must wonder if the insecurity is rooted in actual behavior observed in the current environment (have they seen it done to others before in their workplace?); is this a manifestation of past experience or just plain paranoia? If this is a regular practice in your workplace and you don’t happen to be playing for an NFL team where you are fighting for roster spots all the time, then one might consider looking for a healthier environment. If the insecurity is based on other factors, some serious introspection is probably warranted.
Points three, four, and five above are mostly symptoms of their fear, manifested as poor management. Points six and seven are personal problems that need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and perhaps some counseling; however, all the traits in the list above can be dealt with proactively in some fashion by changing some workplace behavior.
If you’re afraid of being replaced by a subordinate, you can solidify your position in proactive and healthy ways. The first way is by building better relationships. As a manager, you have readier access to individuals in the organization that your subordinates do not. Use this access to build relationships with those above you and across from you on the org chart. It is not only good for business — you will come to understand the operations of your organization better — but it also buys you the good will of the people you interact with. Relationships are taken into consideration when hiring, firing, and promotion opportunities present themselves.
Being out of the office (assuming it is for business) also means that you again have opportunities for relationship building and for networking. Good work outside will filter back to your organization.
If you are concerned because you believe you have lost your edge and your subordinates are sharper than you…well…do the obvious. Work on sharpening your skills to stay competitive. Keep in mind that the skills you are sharpening are probably not the same as those of the people reporting to you, particularly as you move up the org chart. How well you program in C# probably doesn’t amount to a hill of beans to your boss if your job is not to program but to manage. Lifelong learning helps you to avoid skill gaps that can lead to insecurity and low self esteem.
Try and remember that as a manager you work THROUGH people and they are your assets and hopefully your allies. If your workplace resembles Mutiny on the Bounty, you had better take a hard look at how you are managing. Your subordinates should not hate you nor be plotting against you. If they are, you better try to get to the root of the problem ASAP, and you should start by looking at yourself first.
Lastly, work hard, be proud of what you do, but always be ready to leave. The workplace, as is the world, is a very unpredictable place and hardly ever fair. Never get so settled in a position that you become complacent. Always plan for your next move. Put away some money in an “emergency cache” that can fund six months of unemployment. It may take you awhile to build it, but having it gives you the peace of mind that your world hasn’t completely fallen apart should you find yourself out of work. That peace of mind also works to reduce anxiety about being let go.
In summary, a manager carrying around fears of their subordinates outshining them when they are absent is a problem that needs to be dealt with. Whether you need to leave an unhealthy environment or do some serious self-evaluation and behavior changing, you do not want to operate out of fear. It is unhealthy for the organization, the people you supervise, and ultimately you, the manager.

Have your ever been paranoid about scheming subordinates or been in an unhealthily competitive environment? Have you ever observed or tried to coach others with these traits?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Malaysia

I stayed in Kuala Lumpur the capital of Malaysia during 2003 to 2005 when my company was planning expansion in Malaysia. I fell in love with this country & still keep visiting some places around in Malaysia whenever there are long weekends or holidays. This has also become one of the hot spots for tourist in this region specially for people from India, since it is close to India, hardly about 4-5 hours from India & close proximity to other tourist countries like Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and other south east asian countries. Malaysia is celebrating 2007 as the tourist year and one might not have missed the colorful advertisement "Truly Asia - Malaysia". Malaysia celebrates her 50th year of Independence by organising various events one of them being The 2007 Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival (MMSC) which offers lot of bargains.
Malaysia’s geographical position places it between the great civilisations. To the west are Hindu India, the Islamic Middle East and Christian Europe. To the north-east are China and Japan. The shipping routes from China to the west pass through the region, and the most direct route passes through the Strait of Malacca. This has made Malaysia a natural meeting place of trade routes and cultures, something which has brought the area great wealth, but has also made it difficult for the Malay peoples to resist foreign influence and dominne.
One doesn't feel he is stepped into a pure Muslim dominated country when one arrives in Malaysia, but you get a warm welcome from the Malaysians - coming from India, Chinese & Muslim religions one and all. People are friendly and cool and will always offer a helping hand at situations. Coming from Singapore at that time, I felt the behaviour and attitude very pleasing from the malaysian chinese as well.
Well most of Malaysia is a part of equatorial forest with lots of tall trees and the variety in the vegetation is worth admiring & adventurous. Although urbanisation has taken over some of the areas in Malaysia, it is delighting to know that Malaysia has managed to capitalise on the natural beauty of their country by converting these destintations into tourist attractions and showcase the cultural heritage in the best possible way.
My first desitination was Kuala Lumpur (KL) - which is the capital of Malaysia. It is like most major capital the happening city with the major development work in terms of infrastructure, industries, people & culture is a true metropolitan in nature. Kuala Lumpur is the seat of the Parliament of Malaysia, making it the country's legislative capital. The city was once home to the executive and judicial branches of the federal government, but they have since moved to Putrajaya for the most part.
Protected by the Titiwangsa Mountains in the east and Indonesia's Sumatra Island in the west, Kuala Lumpur enjoys a year-round equatorial climate which is warm and sunny, along with plentiful rainfall, especially during the southwest monsoon from September to April. Dust particles from forest fires on nearby Sumatra Island sometimes create a phenomenon known as the haze. This usually lasts for 1 to 2 weeks.
Kuala Lumpur has a road network leading to the rest of Peninsular Malaysia. Motorists may have a choice of paying cash, using stored value card Touch 'n Go or SmartTAG to pay at the toll booths while using the various highways/expressways. A recently-completed project, SMART Tunnel will allow motorists to enter the city, avoiding congestion by using an underground tunnel. However, despite all this, Kuala Lumpur often has traffic problems, and peak hour traffic is generally from 7:00am to 9:00am, and from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. Bus journey from Singapore to KL, will take you 4.5 hours or a little more depending on the traffic condition and the time required for getting past the immigration which is high during holiday season.
Kuala Lumpur is directly connected to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang via the KLIA Ekspres high-speed train service which takes only 28 minutes, while travelling by car via highway will take about an hour. The former international airport, Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang is now used for chartered flights.
Malaysia Airlines and all major international airlines to Malaysia land at KLIA. AirAsia makes use of the newly built Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCC-T) in Sepang. LCC-T is accessible to/from KL through a bus service from KL Sentral (transport hub).
We use to stay at one of the well known condominuims in KL Sentral by the name Scott Villa. It was walking distance from the KL Sentral station & has close proximity to all popular places in malaysia. The main hub is KL Sentral facilitating as an interchange station for the main lines.
Public transport on Kuala Lumpur and the rest of the Klang Valley covers a variety of transport modes such as bus, rail and taxi. Unlike most other major Asian cities, utilisation rates are low as only 16 percent of the population using public transportation. In addition, there is the metro system consisting of 3 separate lines, which meet in the city and extend to the Western Suburbs of the state of Selangor. The metro system consists of a Monorail, an Elevated Metro, and an Automated Metro with underground stations in the city centre. Food, pets and drinks are strictly prohibited among trains; heavy penalties are charged upon violation. Commuter trains also exists to link commuters to the city.







There are popular tourist locations in and around Kuala Lumpur.


Within Kuala Lumpur




  • The Golden Triangle, the commercial hub of the city, contains the Petronas Twin Towers and has a distinctive nightlife.


  • The Petronas Twin Towers are the world's tallest twin towers and second and third-tallest singular towers, standing adjacent to one of the busiest shopping malls in Malaysia, Suria KLCC.


  • The Menara Kuala Lumpur, currently the world's fifth tallest telecommunication tower, is located on the Bukit Nanas hill beside Convent Bukit Nanas. Its observation deck on the top floor provides great city views, and you'll be a few meters higher than the Twin Towers since the tower is built on a hill.

  • Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) is the first convention and exhibition centre in Malaysia.

  • Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (also known as KLCC) is another convention and exhibition centre in Kuala Lumpur. It is situated in the Petronas Twin Towers and Suria KLCC area. A gigantic aquarium called Aquaria KLCC recently opened here, housing more than 5,000 varieties of tropical fishes. It has an underwater tunnel, various exhibits of flora and fauna, and multimedia kiosks.

  • Dayabumi a major landmark located near Masjid Negara. It is an office building.

  • Kuala Lumpur General Post Office is located next to Dayabumi.

  • Lake Gardens, a 920,000 square metre manicured garden near the Malaysian Parliament building, was once home to a British colonial official. They include a Butterfly Park, Deer Park, Orchid Garden, Hibiscus Garden and South-East Asia's largest Bird Park. (Bird park pics)

  • Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium), was initially erected for the country's declaration of independence on August 31, 1957.

  • Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square/Merdeka Square), was the site of the lowering of the Union Jack flag and hoisting of the Malayan flag on the start of August 31, 1957. The square itself has historic association with its surroundings, namely the Royal Selangor Club, National History Museum and the architecturally Victorian-Moorish or 'Raj' influenced Sultan Abdul Samad Building.

  • Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, a Victorian-Moorish railway station, was completed in 1911, and superseded by KL Sentral in 2001; it currently serves commuter trains only.
    The Muzium Negara (National Museum) incorporates neo traditionalism into its architectural design.

  • The Masjid Negara (National Mosque), a post modernist mosque, was completed in 1965 and Makam Pahlawan (Heroes Mausoleum) the mausoleum of Malaysian leaders.

  • The Parliament House, a Malaysian federal government legislative building, was completed on 1963.

  • The Tugu Negara (National Monument) commemorates those who died in Malaysia's struggles for freedom (principally against the Japanese occupation and during the Malayan Emergency of).

  • The Istana Negara, official residence of Their Majesties the King and Queen. Visitors can witness the changing of the guards daily from the main gate.

  • The National Science Centre, located in Bukit Damansara.

  • The Federal Territory Mosque located along Jalan Duta.

  • Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, a gazetted small tropical forest located on the centre of Kuala Lumpur City.

  • Many of the largest celebrations of Chinese cultural festivals are held at the Thean Hou Temple on Robson Hill.

  • The Chinese Night Market area (Chinatown), Petaling Street, has recently undergone a makeover; the most notable feature is the new covered walkway.

  • Mid Valley Megamall, one of the popular and largest shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur (situated in Bangsar).

  • Bukit Bintang, the ultimate shopping and entertainment experience in the Golden Triangle.

  • Berjaya Times Square, a newly built gargantuan ten-story shopping mall that is the largest shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, and among the world's top ten largest malls. It houses the world's largest Borders bookstore, Malaysian department store Metrojaya, the Cosmo's World theme park plus a huge IMAX theater.

  • The Mall is a shopping complex near Putra World Trade Centre.

  • Kuala Lumpur's Central Market, which was once the city's wet market, offers an assortment of arts and craft merchandise, varying from antiques and paintings to souvenirs and clothing. It is also known as Pasar Seni in Malay.

  • Trendy nightclubs, bars and lounges, such as Hard Rock Cafe, Zouk, Thai Club, Beach Club (voted Best Bar in Asia), Luna Bar, Rum Jungle, Nuovo, Espanda and many others are located within and around Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Ampang.

  • Brickfields, Jalan Masjid India and Lebuh Ampang are 'Little India's spread around KL showing Indian presence in KL.

  • Hindu temples such as Sri Mahamariamman temple near Central Market and Sri Kandaswamy Kovil in Brickfields

  • Istana Budaya, the national theatre located at Titiwangsa Lake Gardens.

  • Eye on Malaysia, the tallest Ferris Wheel in Malaysia located at Titiwangsa Lake Gardens.

  • Taman Connaught Pasar Malam is the longest night market in Malaysia.

This is just a glimpse of Malaysia starting with KL, I shall try and give information on other tourist attractions in Malaysia in my subsequent blogs.

The top 60 soft skills at work

Soft skills play a vital role for professional success; they help one to excel in the workplace and their importance cannot be denied in this age of information and knowledge.
Good soft skills which are in fact scarce in the highly competitive corporate world will help you stand out in a milieu of routine job seekers with mediocre skills and talent.

The most common traits, mentioned by virtually every employer, were:
~ Positive work ethic.
~ Good attitude.
~ Desire to learn and be trained.

What is a 'good attitude: "It is a behavioral skill, which cannot be taught. However it can be developed through continuous training. It represents the reactive nature of the individual and is about looking at things with the right perspective. You must be ready to solve problems proactively and create win-win situations. And you must be able to take ownership i.e. responsibility for your actions and lead from the front without calling it quits at the most critical moment."
Most of the business leaders observed that they could find workers who have "hard skills" i.e. the capability to operate machinery or fulfill other tasks, but many potential hires lack the "soft skills" that a company needs. CEOs and human resource managers said they are ready to hire workers who demonstrate a high level of "soft skills" and then train them for the specific jobs available. The ever-changing impact of technology has given hard-skills-only workers a short shelf life. Soft skills "are as important, if not more important, than traditional hard skills to an employer looking to hire -- regardless of industry or job type. This could offer a major breakthrough as educators and training providers seek to develop and cluster training courses to fit business and industry needs."

Top 60 soft skills which employers Seek
They are applicable to any field of work, according to the study, and are the "personal traits and skills that employers state are the most important when selecting employees for jobs of any type."
1. Math.
2. Safety.
3. Courtesy.
4. Honesty.
5. Grammar.
6. Reliability.
7. Flexibility.
8. Team skills.
9. Eye contact.
10. Cooperation.
11. Adaptability.
12. Follow rules.
13. Self-directed.
14 Good attitude.
15. Writing skills.
16. Driver's license.
17. Dependability.
18. Advanced math.
19. Self-supervising.
20. Good references.
21. Being drug free.
22. Good attendance.
23. Personal energy.
24. Work experience.
25. Ability to measure.
26. Personal integrity.
27. Good work history.
28. Positive work ethic.
29. Interpersonal skills.
30. Motivational skills.
31. Valuing education.
32. Personal chemistry.
33. Willingness to learn.
34. Common sense.
35. Critical thinking skills.
36. Knowledge of fractions.
37. Reporting to work on time.
38. Use of rulers and calculators.
39. Good personal appearance.
40. Wanting to do a good job.
41. Basic spelling and grammar.
42. Reading and comprehension.
43. Ability to follow regulations.
44. Willingness to be accountable.
45. Ability to fill out a job application.
46. Ability to make production quotas.
47. Basic manufacturing skills training.
48. Awareness of how business works.
49. Staying on the job until it is finished.
50. Ability to read and follow instructions.
51. Willingness to work second and third shifts.
52. Caring about seeing the company succeed.
53. Understanding what the world is all about.
54. Ability to listen and document what you have heard.
55. Commitment to continued training and learning.
56. Willingness to take instruction and responsibility.
57. Ability to relate to coworkers in a close environment.
58. Not expecting to become a supervisor in the first six months.
59. Willingness to be a good worker and go beyond the traditional eight-hour day.
60. Communication skills with public, fellow employees, supervisors, and customers.

How many soft skills do you possess?

Monday, August 13, 2007

5 rules of effective biz phone etiquette

Do you feel awkward telephoning a new work contact for the first time?
Developing effective phone skills to be able to call to confirm an appointment or ask for an interview slot or anything else is essential for career success. But since we live in an age of information overload, there is no predicting how the person on the other end will react. He may be hostile, choose to hang up, may ask you to call later or may be quite accommodating. Time is at a premium and people are stressed out. Given all this, nobody wants to attend to that unexpected call during a busy day. But with a little planning and preparation you can make a good impression over the phone even and achieve the objective of the phone call. Heed these tips.
1) Choose a good time
Put off making business calls when you're too distracted or tired to give it your all. You have exactly one opportunity to make a great first impression and you will not make it if you are not prepared. You need to be full of positive energy about what you are doing/ asking otherwise your voice will sound dull with no power to persuade or move the listener into action.
Smile when you talk to people on the phone it will show up in your voice.
Remember: enthusiasm is infectious. Think you are calling a friend. Let your voice be natural, calm, relaxed and easy-going. Try not to keep the other person on hold for a long time. If possible avoid it altogether. If you are making the call, you should have all the information readily available and not keep someone on hold. If you can't help her right away, tell her you'll call back then do so.
2) Opening the call
Eliminate any disturbing background noise if possible. Open the call with a standard professional greeting depending on the time of the day. Mention your first name, organisation, and purpose of the call clearly and be as direct as possible. Don't beat around the bush; it can be very irritating. It's a good idea to rehearse saying the person's name several times BEFORE the phone call. This will help with any pronunciation problems and also personalise the call. Remember to get his/her title right. Ask if this is a good time for you to be calling when you reach someone. If not, ask when you can reach them again. You will be surprised how many people you can actually get to talk to if you call first thing in the morning. Do not keep repeating their name during the conversation but stick to the rule of saying the listener's name three times during an 8 to 10 minute conversation. Leave brief, clear messages on answering systems, giving your name, reason for the call and contact information. Don't forget to leave your phone number, even if the person has it, so she doesn't have to look it up.
3) Display genuine interest
Allow the other party plenty of time to speak, and use prompt words such as "I see" and "Really" (in a sincere tone, of course). This shows them that you are truly interested in what they have to say. And let's face it, who wouldn't rather speak about themselves than listen to another person? Avoid acting rushed, even if you are. If you're so stressed that you can't handle the call well, let voice mail come on and pick it up until you've collected yourself.
4) A variety of response options
If the person you have called needs to get back to you with information, give him/her a variety of options e-mail, fax, voice-mail etc. The objective is to make it easy for them to get back to you.
5) Follow upMake sure you call back whenever you promised you would.
But don't be persistent to the point of sounding desperate. But timely follow ups will show that you are sincere and committed to the taskLearning good telephone etiquette is extremely important and those who master it stand a better chance of succeeding. So go out there and sizzle up your phone calls.
I am sure these tips are useful not just in business life but personal life as well and can really make things easier for everyone.

10 success factors - Outsourcing

There are many benefits to outsourcing. Companies are able to focus on their core competencies, benefit from cost savings and manage workloads more efficiently. With these benefits, there are also challenges. These challenges can relate to project management, cultural differences and management of expectations. To help companies benefit from outsourcing, we will have a look into the top 10 oversights companies frequently incur. Through these lessons learned, we hope that you are able to benefit from experiences gained by your peers.

1) Companies try to outsource project management responsibility:
It is often thought that once something is outsourced, it no longer requires attention. From a different perspective, when companies outsource - they are insourcing expertise, which is similar to hiring consultants. Without proper internal project management, companies can experience an increase in the project scope (reduction in cost savings); inefficiencies related to misunderstood expectations and increased tension between the service provider and the company.
Project management can be performed externally, however, this should be done with a third party provider that has clearly defined key performance measures.
2) Project scope is too big:
If the scope is too large or not well defined, it will cause problems for any type of project. Our partners have found that smaller pilots are an effective way for organizations to get their feet wet in outsourcing; gain crucial organization know-how and build relationships that will serve as a solid foundation for future, more comprehensive outsourcing initiatives.
3) Project definitions / expectations are not clearly defined
Reasonable, measurable, documented expectations are necessary to determine success or failure of the outsourcing effort. Without upfront investment in proper planning, the benefits of outsourcing will diminish quickly.
4) Key performance indicators are not properly defined or measured/enforced
It is critical to establish the key performance indicators(KPI's) prior to initiating the project. KPI's should includedelivery dates, quality measurements and financialmeasures. It is important to review the KPI's on a regularbasis and have mechanisms in place to resolveperformance issues when KPI's are not met. KPI's shouldbe viewed as a way to strengthen the workingrelationship.
5) Internal conflicts / politics are not managed properly
Outsourcing is a sensitive topic. Internal conflicts / politics can result from such initiatives. Managing these issues as soon as possible will help prevent them from escalating throughout the organization. Pro-active change management initiatives can help reduce the likelihood of such conflicts.
6) Mechanism to resolve disputes is not defined:
Even with best intentions, disputes can develop. It is important to define how to address disputes, define the escalation process and if necessary, the appointment of third party arbitration. A poorly defined dispute resolution process will affect performance and quality. This problem is closely related to poorly defined or poorlymeasured/monitored performance characteristics.
7) Business case / total costs are not realistic:
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Costing outsourcing engagements requires more that the simple calculation of (number of hours) x (rates). Investment in process changes, infrastructure and external support should be factored into the equation as well as internal
project management time.
8) Capabilities of outsourcing company are exaggerated:
Detailed due diligence including multiple conversations with current customers is the minimum requirement for understanding the outsourcer's capabilities. Working with outsourcing providers with a solid track record will help minimize many of the headaches associated with being the first client.
9) Outsourcing company chosen based on personal relationship, not qualifications:
When choosing an outsourcing provider, it is important to define clearly the outsourcing provider profile. This should include location, language capabilities, reference requirements, industry expertise, etc. If the outsourcing company does not fulfill these requirements, the reasons for selecting the company should be questioned.
10) Proper consulting support / legal counsel is not involved in project:
Outsourcers negotiate contracts with companies all of the time, most companies do it less frequently. Acquiring proper consulting support / legal counsel will make the process more efficient and mitigate potential future oversights. When selecting a third party provider for
support, it is important to conduct a similar due diligence to the one used for selecting an outsourcing provider.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rush Hour 3

10th August we i.e me and about 6 of my office colleagues and one of the elder brother of one of our colleagues went for this movie Rush Hour 3. The reason we had to go for this movie is Jackie chan & Chris Tucker a pair who has given thrilling movies earlier in the earlier series of Rush Hour (1 & 2). Although the reviews were not so good, we had to trust our instincts and our liking for this cast which finally did prove right, cos we had a fantastic time.

The good thing was that it was first time we office colleagues were going together for a movie & it was like a guys day out. Movie is related in few ways to the older parts in few ways
1) There is Ambassador Haan and his daughter Su Yan who are part of discovering the syndicate running the underworld activities in the world & want to get this to end. Naturally they are in danger of being attacked by this syndicate to protect their interests and
2) This is where Inspector Lee(Jackie Chan) & LAPD James Carter(Chris Tucker) come together again to save them and find out who is behind this syndicate.

The search leads to Paris & the thrill that takes place in the Eiffel Tower is worth watching. Jackie Chan looks older but still continues to show the agility which can shy off even the fittest teenager. Chris Tucker is at his best & his presence has dominated the movie throughout & it is pure exhasuting fun. Looking at the sequel and keeping in mind the earlier parts tends to make you feel you are almost seeing similar story, but it is again well handled & is fun to watch.
We all were laughing so much at some of the jokes that we missed a few good jokes sometimes.
One of the funniest parts in the movie is when Jackie chan & Chris Tucker go for looking at Su Yan's locker at the Karate class that she goes & there is this lovely confusion of names of the chinese teacher & Chris Tucker. I had got similar joke sent to me few weeks back, just wanted to share this:
Caller: Hello, can I speak to Annie Wan?
Operator: Yes, you can speak to me.
Caller: No, I want to speak to Annie Wan!
Operator: Yes I understand you want to speak to anyone. You can speak to me. Who is this? Caller: I'm Sam Wan. And I need to talk to Annie Wan! It's urgent.
Operator: I know you are someone and you want to talk to anyone! But what's this urgent matter about?
Caller: Well... just tell my sister Annie Wan that our brother Noe Wan was involved in an accident. Noe Wan got injured and now Noe Wan is being sent to the hospital. Right now, Avery Wan is on his way to the hospital.
Operator: Look, if no one was injured and no one was sent to the hospital, then the accident isn't an urgent matter! You may find this hilarious but I don't have time for this!
Caller: You are so rude! Who are you?
Operator: I'm Saw Ree.
Caller: Yes! You should be sorry. Now give me your name!!
Operator: That's what I said. I'm Saw Ree
Ain't it good!!! imagine Chris Tucker as the caller & it sure is fun.
A few times the movie is almost like a bollywood thriller which disobeys the universal laws but one can neglect these.
All in all I would recommend this movie for Jackie Chan lovers to be seen atleast once for the sheer fun. I would rate it a 3.5 Star movie. You can get more news on http://rushhourmovie.com/

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Staying Motivated During An Extended Job Search

Anyone who has been in the job market for any length of time knows how frustrating the process can be. In today's competitive environment it's not uncommon to send out numerous resumes yet generate only limited response for your effort. This can have even the most confident professional questioning his or her marketability and job-hunting abilities. It can be particularly challenging to stay motivated when a search takes longer than expected. The techniques you used early on may no longer be effective or appropriate several months into the process. It's critical to continually reassess your strategy and take steps to keep up your morale. Here are a few suggestions:
Take a class: While your job search is no doubt your top priority, using some of your time to gain new skills can be a wise distraction-and a valuable investment. Consider courses that will increase your marketability, such as those focused on business communication or technology. You'll expand your knowledge base and improve your longterm career prospects. Even if the course is unrelated to your profession, you can still benefit. Learning should be an ongoing process whether or not you're actively in the job market.
Volunteer: There's no more effective way to lift your spirits than to help others. As an added bonus, you'll expand your network, which is particularly valuable during a job search.
Take a break: Designate a day when you won't talk or think about employment issues. By allowing yourself some time off, you can recharge and remain productive.
Be around positive people: Surround yourself with friends and family who are supportive and maintain an optimistic outlook on life. This will help you keep your spirits high and provide the motivation you need when you hit a career roadblock.
Get exercise: Studies have shown that physical activity can minimize the psychological impact of stress. Getting into a regular exercise routine will keep you energized. Hiring managers look for enthusiasm when interviewing job applicants. It isn't always easy to maintain that enthusiasm several weeks or months into the search. Exercise can help.
Attend association meetings: Participating in activities offered by professional associations, including the Institute of Management Accountants, can help you increase your visibility in the accounting community. Play an active role in the group, and volunteer for projects. You'll make new contacts while providing much-needed assistance to a volunteer-driven organization.
Keep a record of your search: Spend about 10 to 15 minutes a day writing down your thoughts about the process. What progress did you make? What setbacks did you encounter? What new avenues can you pursue? The simplest ideas often can be the catalysts for new approaches to your search.
Talk to a professional: A career counselor or professional recruiter can assess your resume and cover letter, offer an overview of the employment market in your area, and recommend steps you might take to better target your search.
Re-evaluate your priorities: Failing to accomplish your job-- search objectives can be discouraging, so it's worth taking a second look at your goals. Have you inadvertently been setting yourself up for failure? For instance, if you are only willing to work for companies in a specific industry or geographic area, you may need to expand your search. Would you be willing to drive an extra 30 minutes each way for the right opportunity? Would you consider a position that has a lower base salary yet room for advancement? Decide your absolute must-haves, and be prepared to compromise on those aspects of the job that are like to-haves, particularly in a competitive job market.
Read books about successful people: Almost everyone has encountered a setback on the way to the top. Learning about the experiences of others can help you keep your own situation in perspective.
Join a support group: Talking with others who are going through the same experience is important so you can feel connected and develop new ideas that can help your search. Most major cities have career resource centers that host networking meetings for job seekers. You'll be surprised how willing people are to assist you, whether they offer leads on companies that are hiring or simply listen to your concerns.

The job-search process can be challenging in any employment environment, particularly for those not accustomed to marketing their skills on a daily basis. Finding a new position requires persistence and, at times, an ability to overcome rejection.
When faced with an extended job hunt, you need a strategy for maintaining motivation over the long term. Increasing your marketability, getting involved in the community, and periodically reassessing your goals can help you stay on track, by keeping a positive attitude in the face of setbacks, you'll position yourself well to demonstrate that resilience to prospective employers.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Booming Singapore economy

Singapore has been performing better than the projections since the last year or so and the results are clearly visible from the figures one can see. I got this article which was published in the straits times last week and thought of sharing this. Although being a small country the responsibility to keep the people in the country employed is being handled very efficiently by Singapore.

Here’s a quick look at what made the headlines in the past week (3rd August).

The booming Singapore economy created a record 61,900 jobs in the last quarter. There was a rise in all sectors, with the construction sector leading the growth with 11,400 new jobs. According to economists, the economy is growing stronger than projected, and there should be no slowdown in the job market until late next year.

Singapore’s unemployment is at a six-year low, but leaders of the labour movement want Singapore to have one of the highest employment rates in the world. This will be achieved by recreating old jobs, employing additional older workers, and retraining affected workers. The Government will also work with unions and bosses to arm workers with the appropriate skills for new jobs.

Singapore is an ideal test bed for new-technologies, and is attracting top researchers and engineers, despite competition from India and China. The republic’s reputation for being safe, reliable and pro-business was key in drawing top talent.

* Source: The Straits Times & The Business Times.

Negotiating with difficult people

This is the second article in this series which will give a good idea about how to deal with difficult situations and negotiate your way towards a better deal and have a win-win situation.

Have you ever had to deal with uncooperative, manipulative and hostile behaviour? What is the best way of dealing with difficult personalities/people in negotiation?
Often a lack of knowledge on how to deal with difficult personalities in negotiation leads to ineffectiveness and frustration. Negotiations where emotions play the main role don’t always have to end in win-lose outcomes. Let’s investigate what possible solutions we have to enhance our chances of reaching an agreement when dealing with difficult people.

Dealing with difficult people is one of the most challenging aspects of successful negotiation. Through practice we can without doubt improve the effectiveness of our preparation, get better at determining themost appropriate negotiation strategy and organising and managing agendas. Dealing with unreasonable or aggressive people will always remain a challenge that brings into play dynamics that can be difficult to manage. Before we look at the solution for dealing effectively with difficult negotiators lets examine the most common uncooperative personalities we can face in negotiations:

Competitive Negotiators
Probably quite often you will face negotiators who perceive negotiation as a war zone and therefore strongly believe that there need to be a winner and a loser. ‘I win, you lose’ negotiators will do anything they can to make sure they claimed most of the available value that is offered on the table.

Bullies
Bullies intentionally torment others through verbal harassment, blackmailing or other more subtle forms of coercion such as manipulation. Their main objective is to intimidate and push others around and they may wish to demonstrate their superiority to you in terms of status, capabilities, competency or knowledge and experience.

Avoiders – indecisive negotiators
Avoiders physically avoid, hide out or refuse to negotiate out of fear of losing. They may constantly use the hot potato tactic, avoiding responsibility and passing all the problems back onto you.
When faced with anger and emotional behaviour we usually react instinctively, without rational thinking and this is very often not the best approach. We tend to strike back or give in when confronted with a difficult situation, which doesn’t support an interest based approach. How should we deal with such situations? The real challenge is not to persuade the other side about the consequences of their approach but to keep our own emotions under control. Only then we will be able to focus on interests and shift the interaction to the right level. People may be uncooperative in negotiation out of fear or anger or they simply don’t see any other way than competing to secure their own interests and prevent themselves from being exploited. Below you will find techniques that William Ury recommends in his book – ‘Getting Past No:
Negotiating With Difficult People’:

1. Do not react
– Diagnose and identify what’s behind your counterparty’s behaviour
Detach yourself emotionally from the situation and try to look at it objectively. Put yourself in the shoes of the third party – mediator. Identifying interests and alternatives available to a negotiated agreement (BATNAs) in a preparatory phase will help you take the right direction which may be walking away and moving towards more attractive options. Never make a decision that derives from your emotional state. Buy some time for objective analysis and decide whether it’s worth negotiating further. It is critical to know your weaknesses and what ‘hooks’ you during negotiation. We tend to misinterpret our counterparty’s intention and behaviour purely because we have different preferences with regard to communication style and expectations in this area. Stay focused on your goals and always measure your next move against those goals.

2. Disarm your counterparty
Reassure the other side and help them regain their mental balance. Use Active Listening techniques to build a position to change your counterparty’s mind and perception. People are more likely to move from positions to more constructive discussion based on interests after they are heard. It will be easier for you to influence the other side once they know you really care about their interests and underlying needs. Remember that the goal of Active Listening is to understand the other side on the level of words, thoughts and feelings. Acknowledge their point of view and resist the temptation of defending yourself. Say ‘Yes…, and’ instead of ‘Yes…, but’. Avoid judgements and accusation. Focus on shared viewpoints and build common ground around common objectives.

3. Focus on interest, not positions.
Identify the other side’s interests and state yours firmly. Share the responsibility for the actual situation and encourage your counterparty to speak openly about their personal and corporate objectives and the impact of achieving those on their personal life and corporate wellbeing. Ask ‘What if.’ questions to identify options most appealing to your counterparty. Reframe personal attacks as concerns around the problems and reinterpret initial demands as aspirations. Change the other side’s perspective and reframe the situation in terms of mutual problem solving.

4. Build a bridge towards agreement
Try to present potential agreement as built on your counterparty’s ideas and viewpoints. Ask the other side for constructive criticism and do not overlook potential intangible interests that the other side may be looking to satisfy – recognition, saving face, security etc. Ask under what circumstances the other side would be willing to agree to a proposed solution.
Armed with the right attitude you can persuade any difficult negotiator that a rational, interest-based agreement is in everyone’s best interest - common efforts towards problem solving are more profitable than a competitive and often destructive ‘win-lose’ attitude.
You are permitted to re-publish this article provided the below resource information is included at the end of the article and you provide a link back to this site.

The Negotiation Academy – http://www.negotiationeurope.com - (TNA) is a global negotiation consulting firm, and negotiation skills training provider. Committed to delivering best practice based negotiation solutions, TNA collaborates with clients to instil an organisational negotiation capability. With deep industry experience, global resources and a proven track record, TNA is ideally positioned to assist clients in achieving optimal negotiation results in the domains of sales negotiation training and procurement negotiation training.

Never Agree To the First Offer

Negotiation is one topic which plays an important role in our daily life which most of the times happens without the person knowing that it is happenning. Negotiation is part of our life be it renting an apartment, buying stuff for one's home, salary, getting your ideas through at your workplace or any other situation one can think off. Finally, in negotiation, there is no winner or loser but it is about arriving at a win-win situation for the buyer side & seller side. I found this article pretty interesting & lucid & one can get more articles from the website provided.

If you are the buyer, you will hear the seller ask for a lot more than you expected. If you are the seller, the buyer will offer you far less than you expected. The intention is to lower your expectations and thereby gain a concession without having to make one in return. Of course the risk is that you will be offended and enraged, refusing to have any further dealings with the other party.

It is important to note that the other party’s culture may dictate this tactic as standard practice. A German or American trading in China will grow accustomed to extreme proposals. If the culture in which you must operate dictates extreme opening offers, then you are recommended to blend in and take advice on how to play by their rules.

Experienced negotiators always start with their aspiration base – or opening offer. We should be prepared to negotiate even if we are presented with the most favourable deal of our life. Lets’ say you would like to sell a car and a couple approaches you offering what seems to be a very good deal –much more than you expected to get. If you shake hands immediately, you will trigger 2 kinds of thoughts in the other side’s mind, also known as buyer’s remorse:

1. We could have paid less – we shouldn’t have offered that much – we could have done better.
2. There is something wrong with the car.

Always negotiate! Research tells us that trading concessions is the most effective way to gain people’s commitment to a transaction. Negotiating concessions is the best way to ensure all round deal satisfaction.

The Negotiation Academy – http://www.negotiationeurope.com - (TNA) is a global negotiation consulting firm, and negotiation skills training provider. Committed to delivering best practice based negotiation solutions, TNA collaborates with clients to instil an organisational negotiation capability. With deep industry experience, global resources and a proven track record, TNA is ideally positioned to assist clients in achieving optimal negotiation results in the domains of sales negotiation training and procurement negotiation training.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Lead Qualification & Management

This has been a key topic for any company and sales person, to achieve the targets. This phase is where the sales cycle can be optimised and sales personnel can get closer to his targets in shorter time with good efforts & better time management. This article is something which sums these elements very well. I got this valuable article on web, published by Mr. Greg Wease and thought of sharing this for the use of fellowmates in sales.

Greg Wease is the VP, Business Development at emark Solutions, a tactical marketing support firm in Portland, Oregon. Wease's background includes several high-technology companies conducting sales training and market research programs

Introduction

Is this your problem?

Your marketing department has launched an all-out assault to stimulate interest for its product from key market sectors, deploying the “usual suspects”----trade shows, print ads, direct mail programs, even webcasts. The campaign has spawned hundreds of inquiries, making it a hit.
Now, of course, the inquiries must be processed, and quickly, since your company’s competitors have stimulated these very same respondents. However, as fate would have it, the marketing people struggle to shoehorn the processing of these inquiries into their already chaotic schedule. Before you know it, three weeks pass since the inquiries came in—and they haven’t been touched.

Finally, dealing with the inquiries rises to the top of the priority list. By the time the most potent inquiries are extracted and handed off to the sales department, only a few of them pan out from the hundreds of inquiries initially generated. Meanwhile, the remaining inquiries now sit in limbo. But what if some of these dormant inquiries eventually could be converted to potential sales? Tragically, no one will ever know.

Inquiry processing may be every marketing department’s nemesis, but that doesn’t mean that all the inquiries generated by various stimuli still cannot be qualified completely and expediently so that the conversion rate to potential sales spikes higher.

Nevertheless, qualifying each inquiry takes time, patience and perseverance all in a short timeframe. So, a good question to ask yourself is whether this whole process is something you maintain in-house or outsource. There are arguments in favor of both options. Just which one is best for your organization depends on many factors.

Leads vs. Prospects

Before delving into the pros and cons of processing inquiries in-house or outsourcing this function, however, it’s probably best to clarify some key terminology. It’s so easy, but also dangerous, to use terms like leads, inquiries, prospects, and suspects interchangeably, as so many companies do. For this discussion, here’s the basic terminology at issue:

An inquiry is a person who shows casual interest in your product. He may want some information sent or e-mailed to him for further consideration, but he’s in no hurry. This person has not yet been contacted or qualified for sales.

A lead is a person who has been contacted and qualified, and shows more serious interest in the product. This person may even have some urgency in learning more about the product, and want both information and personal contact with the company.

A prospect is someone who has definite interest in buying a particular product within your company’s, “product category.” He has a clear need for the product, a timetable, and a budget. Yet, to convert this prospect into a customer will require diligent qualifying on the part of your company’s sales department.

When qualifying, it’s best to follow the A-B-C Prospect Rule:

The “A” Prospect—A prospect who is preparing to purchase a product, yet considering competitive bids. The chances for your product being chosen are very high.

The “B” Prospect—A prospect who is still searching for a solution. Your product has been considered, but the prospect is not quite ready to buy, or there may be budgetary constraints that push the purchase out a bit.

The “C” Prospect—This prospect is not ready to ready to buy, and, although your product has been considered, it is not high on the priority list. It may take months before a decision is made.

Tracking Leads

The process of qualifying legitimate prospects so that they can be converted to actual customers is typically a long one, particularly if the price of the product ranges from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands.

To effectively qualify these prospects requires establishing an easily accessible and maintainable database. The idea here is to keep all inquiries in the database, yet to continually qualify them so that eventually each inquiry either becomes a hot prospect or is eliminated entirely.

Most marketing departments have limited standards for tracking inquiries, qualifying them, and generating data. One marketing department may use a different method for inquiry qualification compared with a marketing organization at another company.

The biggest problem, however, is that, in many instances, these departments fail at successful inquiry qualification because they don’t act fast enough on inquiries that they receive. They also view lead generation programs as single, discrete events, which means after all inquiries have been documented the vast majority of leads are discarded.

The marketing and sales groups have cherry-picked the best leads. Beyond this action, they simply don’t see inquiry qualification as an ongoing function that could yield additional sales opportunities down the road. This pattern must be reversed. Additional marketing support through lead follow-up programs such as telemarketing, e-mail and direct mail will keep leads warm.

In-house Processing

Since it is uncertain just which inquiries will convert to warm (“B” ) or hot (“A”) prospects, it becomes essential to process and qualify every inquiry received—immediately.
The most promising inquiries need to go over to the sales department, and once this happens it is their responsibility to make contacts with “hot prospects” who emerge from these inquiries while nurturing the remaining inquiries. This means that the remaining inquiries will require some kind of direct marketing outbound contact, such as e-mail, for example, which is inexpensive, and enables a company to efficiently maintain contact with every inquiry on the list.
It comes down to taking the investment that you have and getting some return out of it. Internal marketing professionals often do not view lead processing as their job. But truly it is. They need to look at all of the leads they receive as potential revenue for the company. Marketing organizations need to exercise “Just-In-Time” marketing—the practice of acting on inquiries as soon as they are delivered to the marketing department.

Lead Qualification Processes
If you’re planning on internally qualifying all of the inquiries that your marketing department generates, a specific protocol must be in place. Consider these components for an internal inquiry processing program:

A dedicated team of inquiry qualifiers. They will need a good knowledge of outbound marketing techniques such as telemarketing and e-mail and how to judge the value of information received for each contact they make. Once this tam is in place, they will review the “end of program” expectations—what the marketing or sales department expects when the inquiry qualification effort is complete.

Once this review has occurred, the inquiry qualifiers will need to set a timeline for the first round of inquiry qualification, which would also be applied to the ongoing inquiry qualification efforts. The first round might follow a trade show, conference or seminar, for example, involving 500 leads. Qualifying would place these inquiries into an appropriate inquiry “bin,” with Bin “A” being the most qualified and ready to purchase category, and Bin “E” representing a not interested status. One or two months after this round of qualification, a second round of qualifying would occur. This second round could include not only telemarketing, but may also use e-mail messaging to individuals to request further information from them.
The initial and main qualifying process tool will involve outbound telemarketing. This method can effectively allow the lead qualifier to obtain basic information from each contact (i.e., name, company, address, phone, e-mail), but also information based on weighted questions. Answers to these questions will give some insight regarding the quality of the inquiry. Telemarketing is also valuable for use with other marketing tools. For example, once an e-mail campaign to a batch of contacts in a database is completed, outbound telemarketing can be effective for further qualifying these contacts.

How many people would be needed to operate an in-house inquiry qualification program depends on the volume of leads that are generated. Whatever the volume is, these initial inquiries need to be prioritized and qualified in a relatively short period of time. Therefore, the staffing requirement will need to map back to the volume of leads.

Typically, a staff ranging between five and eight full-time telemarketing professionals per 1000 leads generated is a safe rule of thumb. Prospects gleaned through the inquiries need to be contacted and qualified within a two-week period upon the conclusion of any given marketing campaign.

The staffing, inquiry qualification rounds and timelines, and the marketing tools for nurturing inquiries received all are key elements for making a successful in-house program efficient and successful.

Outsourcing Lead Qualification

If you have just a few inquiries coming in each day, your marketing department probably can handle them just fine with the internal structure just discussed. But if you’re getting 1000 or more inquiries a month (some months more, others less), a full team of qualifiers will be essential.

At this point, an outside source probably could help process those inquiries. One benefit could be dramatically reduced cost by outsourcing the inquiry pre-qualification process as opposed to doing this in-house. The secondary benefit that comes out of this outsourced process is near-term sales opportunities that may not have been identified during the initial inquiry.
Through outsourcing, all leads can be thoroughly qualified, which will allow for identification of a need, timeframe for purchase, and budget, and possibly the prospect’s role in the decision-making process during the initial qualification phone call. Through outsourcing, leads can be acted upon immediately.

For example, when your marketing and sales people have just returned from a trade show, and have 1500 inquiries, the chances of calling any of them soon may be slim. With lead qualification, timing is everything. After all, inquiries that are more than three weeks old might as well be discarded. The prospects have forgotten about you and the product, and probably are in the process of looking at another competitor.

Coupled with an outsourced firm’s ability to swiftly contact new inquiries is the fact that inquiry qualification can be accomplished without ever adding to your staff or incurring excess overhead. Outsourced lead qualification can be turned on and off easily and quickly for short-lived marketing activities, yet provide the full attention each inquiry deserves.

Outsourcing inquiry qualification gives a marketing organization stronger accountability. Based on the bin process, a company’s management can see which inquiries represent the A prospects. Lead nurturing as handled in an outsourced environment can be part of a fairly simple program that may occur only on a quarterly basis. All of the data from the nurturing effort is sent back to the client, and then it is filtered down to sales representatives and managers.

On the other end of the spectrum, lead nurturing can be a complex program in which the outsourcing firm would have access to a client’s sales organization routing table. In this application, an inquiry would be given to specific individuals so that the sales management would have visibility of which sales people received certain inquiries. Once this is accomplished, it is up to the company’s management to follow up with the sales organization to ascertain the ongoing status of all inquiries received.

In-house or Outsource?

What criteria should you use to justify outsourcing inquiry qualification?

  • Does your marketing organization have the resources to meet all of the requirements for an inquiry qualification effort?
  • Will these requirements map back to the timeline in which the inquiries need to be qualified?
  • Are there qualified representatives in place to make outbound phone calls to your inquiries?
  • Does it make economic sense to use the resources of a high-end sales professional to make a lower-end, entry-level sales call?
  • You may want to consider outsourcing just a piece of the lead qualification effort. This might mean outsourcing the first round of telemarketing. Once this is completed, your internal marketing organization could continue the nurturing effort (i.e., moving contacts from Bin “B” to “A” or from Bin “C to “B”).
  • Conclusion

    The test of a good inquiry qualification program stems initially from how quickly inquiries are processed so that near-term sales opportunities can be identified. To make this happen, however, requires a commitment—of the best resources and people available, and to a strict protocol and timetable. Launching a finely tuned inquiry qualification program is manageable in-house, yet it depends on the volume of leads a marketing organization receives and its preparedness to deal with them in a timely fashion.

    Given the quick ramp-up required for the multitude of marketing activities most companies handle each year, outsourcing the lead qualifying effort—or a part of it-- might be a more practical, time-efficient and cost-effective alternative at various intervals.
    To know for sure, apply the criteria offered earlier in this discussion. It could mean the difference between potential sales captured or that were never visible in the beginning.