Showing posts from 2018

Customer Complaints: bane or boon?

Do you have customer complaints? Whenever I posed this question to senior leaders or business owners, a good majority of them shared that there might not be scope for complaints in their business but certain times customers might be sharing their feedback. In case further probed they tended to say that in the unlikely event of complaints, they definitely received the attention they deserved and so those complaints must have got resolved!
In all these instances as above I had felt that those businesses did not have a clearly defined process for handling customer complaints. They didn't have any means of tracking customer complaints and their follow up status. Neither they had the opportunity of looking at the root causes and acting on them. They probably felt it important to cover up complaints for managing their reputation or image or customer perception. They believed acknowledging complaints and transparently addressing them could lead to loss of face, loss of customers, and det…

HRM for Small Businesses

Small businesses generally do not maintain any dedicated HR person or team for structured HR practices. HR practices in most small businesses center around meeting payroll and statutory compliance requirements. As these tasks are repetitive and calculation oriented, the accounts teams are commonly to handle these tasks. So the need for a separate HR function or team is  not easily recognized in such organisations.

Is this arrangement sufficient for continuing business success? No! A business organisation is made of people. For growing a business and its operations, additional manpower become necessary sooner or later. There could be employee turnover too. These two basic situations can give rise to the following work Recruitment - Advertising for vacancies or selecting and engaging placement agencies, defining and explaining job specifications, screening CVs, organising interviews, selecting and finalising right candidate(s), finalising pay, making offers, preparing offers and appoint…

Demystifying Employee Performance Measurement and Rewards Management

One of the key HRM rituals in organisations is carrying out employee performance reviews, pay hikes and enhancing job responsibilities. This is also known as PMS, Performance Appraisals, Employee Appraisals, Rewards Management etc. But why do Business owners want this? To segregate performers from non-performers. Why? To recognize performance. Why? To motivate performers to repeat or improve their performance. Why? To get good or better business performance and profitability. So good individual performance is an imperative for getting good business performance.

So business owners or employers have reasons to ensure that their employees perform well. But how do they measure employee performance? Typically, employers consider performance to be directly proportional to utilization or productivity, i.e. (output / input) or (output hours / available hours).  It means, more the hours of work or output with the available man-hours, higher would be the performance! Though this hypothesis is …

ISO 9000 and Business Success

ISO 9000. Probably one of the most misused and misunderstood management framework in recent times!

What exactly is ISO 9000? It denotes a series of standards for quality management system from International Organisation for Standardization (or ISO) located in Geneva, Switzerland. ISO is an independent non-governmental organisation with membership of 162 national standard bodies (e.g. BIS or Bureau of Indian Standards is one such member).

And Quality Management System is a framework for managing the operations in an organization in such a manner that the quality of the delivered product or services meets the specification, which was confirmed to the customer.

ISO 9000 series includes a standard ISO 9001:2015 that is used for certification (or recognition) of compliance of the stated requirements by an organisation. This certification is granted by an authorized certification agency. The certification agencies verify the activities and /or evidences thereof by an organisation and assess …

Time Management: How to Stay on Top of your Tasks

Do you Have a continuously changing ‘To do list’ and updating it takes lot of time and you miss out on important actions several times?Find it difficult to track progress of tasks that you had assigned to your Leaders and Managers?Miss reviews with your team members for updates on the assigned tasks because of lack of time?Find different team leaders arguing or blaming one another for delay in responses, task updates or decisions that affects their team output or achievementFind it very tedious to go over the flood of sms and whatsapp messages from all your team members and spot the ones that may need your attention for any action / decision?

If you think you are losing out on revenues and profits because of the above then you are damn right and you aren't alone! Most business managers and small business owners are familiar with these challenges and are unable to resolve them appropriately despite all the software tools that are now easily available free or at nominal costs.
Some co…

How to Implement Change Successfully

Business organisations, Leaders and Managers are rarely short of improvement or change ideas that many times look very promising. However, it is probably equally rare to see these ideas get implemented successfully! Then are the ideas inappropriate, or the decision-makers not interested in improving things, or the people do not want it, or something else that resists implementation success?

There are scores of material available today on what ensures implementation success. So I need not repeat them anymore. I also feel most Leaders and Managers are aware of these essentials too. What I see most Managers miss out on is an approach to involve the target group in the implementation process! Its normally a top down given to you implementation job that smacks of imposition and demonstration of authority or power by the higher ups in the hierarchy. The people who are expected to implement and benefit from the improvements are made to detest and resist the change. So invariably the change e…

Change Success Requires Structured Approach

We all want to change something or the other to get some improved outcome. The desired improvement could be in our personal or professional areas. It could be improved performance, reduced travel time, quicker task completion, improved effectiveness of a training session....etc. The list can be endless.

But do we always get the improvement we desired? Unfortunately no. And I am sure it can't be attributed to our lack of commitment or intent in most occasions. Then why?

Let me share an example to illustrate a typical improvement effort gone wrong!

I was once scheduled to address a group of salespeople of a retail store before the start of the start of their daily work. they had to plan it that way as getting them together during the work hours without affecting sales operations was not practicable at

Growing Employee Expectations Supports Business Success

Does our expectations increase as we achieve something? It surely does and we start expecting something more, better, bigger or higher? That's human nature and it's true for everyone, but the type and quantum of expectations are different for different individuals.

Now, why am I discussing expectations? We all know this! But do we as leaders or business owners, consider fulfilling expectations of our teams or only ours for fulfillment? This is where many business owners / leaders do not feel comfortable. I have had several instances of heated arguments with business owners about why they felt it was better not to create opportunities or reward teams adequately so that their expectations do not grow! They felt it could cost them more, and /or retention could be more challenging.

Does this make any logical sense? If I am expecting higher revenues and profits, how do I go about it? I will naturally expect my teams to achieve higher or steeper targets to fulfill my expectations. B…

Employer Branding - The Best way to Hiring Success for Small Businesses

It is absolutely essential for the small businesses to hire right talent to grow business. Every small business owner understands the importance of getting the right person to work with him. However, very few are able to break the hiring jinx! Let's understand why.

The recruitment process involves the following steps

Defining the job specification for the vacancy Inviting applications through advertisements in portals or newspapers or through placement consultantsScreening applications and shortlisting candidatesConducting interviews / evaluations to select candidate(s) for final considerationJob offer and acceptance Joining and closing the vacancy To get the right fit candidate (or top talent for the business), we must do the first 5 steps right. We all know this and try to do it well too. But does it still get us the right candidates? No is the more common answer. Why? Because success of the steps also depend on the response of the job seekers. 

Questions that we must ask oursel…

Why don't many small businesses achieve the growth they want?

Is Sales the most important activity to grow the business? We can't disagree that its the only function that gets revenue. But should every business owner focus on the sales first, to increase the amount of business and achieve that elusive growth every year?

Apparently, this looks good enough. If you increase sales, you get more money and so your business ought to grow. In reality, nothing can be far from the truth. Sales is a key function, but may not be the one that holds a business back from getting to it's growth targets.

Let's look at what happens when we look to get more sales. We set higher sales targets. If we have the manpower to go for it, we rush for it. If we don't have the manpower, we hire more people or appoint sales associates, dealers, agents etc.

Let's take the first case, where we have adequate manpower to get more orders. So we bring more orders with some delivery commitments. What happens down the line? Pressure on procurement, production / ex…

Learning interest of a Leader fuels enduring organisation growth

Learning happens from within. We set ourselves a learning goal for achieving certain advancements in career or business. Once this learning goal is fulfilled successfully, a leader is not expected to stop. A leader must continue with the same zeal as before and set new learning goals for scaling newer heights. In doing so a leader not only uncovers new opportunities that help an organization to look ahead, but also sets higher standards of expectations from the members of the organization. This impacts the learning practices in an organization and thus the culture.
The systems in an organization (L&D / HRD) can facilitate and encourage the learning behavior of the people. As the outcome of the learning is owned by the learners, they feel stronger, empowered, confident and involved. This has a remarkable impact on the commitment level of the learners as members of the organization. We find the people in such organizations to be more energetic, positive and contributing. These are s…

How SMEs can hire good talents and build teams

Every small business owner understands the need for good people but very few are able to hire the right talent. I realize those who do are the ones that are able to scale up and sustain in the longer run.

Let's look at the problem more closely. How does a small business look for new people to hire? If they have in-house help, they buy access to a job portal and start filtering CVs based on conditions that they select from the available search criteria. If they do not have anyone to do the legwork in-house, they go to a placement consultant to help them get CVs for further consideration. Let's understand that the placement consultants source the CVs from the same of job portals. So the sourcing pool of CVs remain the same irrespective of the approach followed in recruiting candidates. 

Problem 1 If we choose the incorrect criteria to filter CVs, we get inappropriate CVs. If we get inappropriate CVs, either we end up not recruiting someone or recruiting someone who under-performs…

Time Management and Communication Challenges in Small Businesses Solved

Most small business owners have a common major constraint in managing their businesses effectively. They want to be free from day to day operations, decision making, coordination, tracking task completions etc. to devote time for developmental activities. However, they hardly get a chance to address anything but the 'Urgent' category tasks. But why?

We all understand and want to be accountable for the tasks that are assigned to us and want others also to be accountable for the tasks that we assign to them. In a typical work environment in any business, on a normal day, we plan several actions besides the regular operations related ones, e.g. customer asking for a special visit, purchase officer responding to an interesting vendor presentation that needs owner's intervention, a change in process suggested by an operator, an urgent analysis report request from the bank, sales report analysis that predicts change in consumption in certain products, and so on. How does one han…

Managing succession in family businesses

I prefer to work with family businesses than so called professional organisations. My reasons are simple. Family businesses have always appeared to be more sincere in their objectives. Hence, their chances of implementing changes / improvements successfully are always higher. And so, working with them I stand higher chances of tasting success and satisfaction. 
However, family businesses, particularly the more unorganized ones and smaller ones face one serious business challenge. They find it difficult to pass on the baton to the next generation smoothly. Sometimes (a) in smaller businesses, the next generation may not find the business appealing enough to get involved, or, (b) even if they join the family business, their ways of doing work isn't acceptable to their predecessors. 
In the case (a) above, the business owner loses motivation in scaling up or running a good business and performance gradually worsens. In the case (b), there is regular conflict in the two generations a…

Getting the best from Training Programs

Training is an activity that is coordinated by HR cell in organisations. Training programs across businesses in Kolkata and around have started growing in numbers gradually in the past few years. But most such training fail to add value to the organisation.

Outbound training is normally being used to reward the participants by providing them the opportunity of going out on a paid sightseeing in the name of developing skills / knowledge. I say this because I haven't seen a post-training process or effort that supports the application of skills and knowledge gathered in the training. The high motivation carried back to work by participants gradually fade off when they do not find any structure or encouragement for utilizing the lessons they had learnt.

In-house training outcomes have been more meaningful as they are normally used to deliver specific knowledge or inputs that participants need to do their jobs better. And they are able to relate to the training purpose better. However…

Do business owners really want teamwork?

Most business owners talk in favour of teamwork. They all want the team members to do their best to help each other so that the organisation as a team wins. Always! Nothing wrong in this expectation. In fact its a great thought and approach.

However, the business owners normally fail to demonstrate their faith in teamwork in the systems and processes they follow. Strangely, we tend to find that the organisation processes are normally designed to THROTTLE teamwork instead of supporting it! Some common examples of this conflicting approach can be seen when individual performances are measured, compared and rewarded in various ways. Some companies also have this practice of weeding out non-top performers every year - which means a top performer retained any year may not get selected in the top performing bracket in the following year and runs the risk of being screened out too.

Should we expect the team members to support one another in the above conditions and enhance their risk of gett…

Why this blog

There have been so many occasions in the past when I have had a profound learning experience while working with my clients or in training workshops. I always treasured these learning or knowledge more than that I gathered in classrooms or through books. Not that I don't read books or don't consider the wisdom compiled in those books. But when the same knowledge gathered from various books got tested live in front of my own eyes, a different level of understanding replaced the previous knowledge. It is a state of understanding where I could adapt the knowledge suiting the context, when I could develop a corollary or extend the knowledge to fulfil the desired objective or implement an idea. Awareness and application of these corollaries or extensions of the basic knowledge gives us our today's identity and brings out our signature style.

This blog would serve two objectives - to document all the empirical knowledge and to share the special knowledge with all those discerning…