Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

How to deal with angry coworker

In Uncategorized on February 28, 2010 at 4:08 pm

We work in a very deliverable focused world. Yet sometimes people lose their cool and get into tough waters with their coworkers who will directly impact the deliverable. When this happens, how do you go about addressing the situation?

When someone hard-walls your progress or shouts at you, it is easy to react in the same manner. However, this will only make the situation worse. Often times, escalation will be required to achieve the deliverable. Escalation puts a bad light on both parties and utilizes managements’ precious time.

First, understand that the person who lost their cool is after-all a human being, bound to make mistakes. Hopefully this is not an everyday occurrence. Next, focus on the concerns instead of the way the person shouts at you. Also, focus on your desired end goal instead of negatively reacting to the current chaos. HBR has a very nice article on how to deal with this situation.

We do not get to always choose our coworkers. Even if we did, things change. People handle stress differently. Stay focused on the end goal. The best you can do in such situations is to ensure you maintain a good working relationship.

You may also be interested in the article on its not just what you do, its how you do.


Volunteer while employed

In Uncategorized on February 28, 2010 at 8:46 am

When the times get tough, people consider volunteering in for-profit organizations. This helps to keep their skills to keep abreast and to build network. However, it is important to consider volunteering even when you are employed. Here are some key reasons why you should give this some serious thought:

  1. It helps you to network with other areas of your organization.
  2. It gives you exposure to other groups. Learning about how they do business can help you to innovate in your current function.
  3. Your knowledge is not limited to just your functional team. This gives you an edge over your peers.
  4. If there are any potential impacts to your current team because of the work done by the other team, then you can be proactive and prepare for change.
  5. When it is time for a job change, you can leverage your functional know-how and networks to land a job in the new team or use that work as a reference.
  6. If you are considering a career change, then volunteering helps to build your resume in your new area of interest. This sets you apart from candidates who apply without any relevant experience.

Given the many benefits of volunteering, how can you accomplish this? Identify how much time you can realistically spare, keeping in mind that you are still accountable for your current deliverable. Identify the new skill sets that you are interested in developing and / or your potential next group. Work with them to define a project with clear scope that will help you to reach your objectives & get started. All the above holds for volunteering within your own company. Be aware that stepping outside of the organization and contributing to another for-profit group may entail legal limitations.

I would like to hear your comments / thoughts on how volunteering helps you.

Customer focus

In Uncategorized on February 3, 2010 at 10:16 am

The primary purpose of any product is to address a customer need. If you are selling a room heater, it should be able to heat up the space at a minimum. When you develop any product or service, keep the customer in mind.

Identify what the customer expects that the product should do at a minimum, what is nice to have, and what doesn’t matter. Prioritize this list and use this as your guiding chart. It is very easy to get distracted with feature creeps. There are always many things you can add to the product. The key to success lies in the ability to distinguish what is really needed Vs. what is extraneous.

Considering the analogy of a room heater, one should be able to power it, heat the room, and turn it off. Nice to have features may be oscillation and timer. Is a radio really required in a heater? How about a TV monitor? Is the customer willing to pay a premium for a radio and TV on a room heater? Will you make more profit & sell high volume by including these features? If this sounds way off, have you seen a fridge with TV monitor?

It is important to understand the utility of each feature from customer perspective, where the competition stands, what you can realistically offer without compromising the quality of the product, and how much profit you will make. A little focus can save a lot of time, money and frustration. It may even make the difference between staying in business and shutting the door. Have you seen businesses over do? Share your examples.

Big rock, Small rock

In Uncategorized on February 3, 2010 at 8:58 am

Valuable employee time is often wasted in petty issues such as deciding the slide theme for a customer presentation. An organization can enable the team to be productive by following some basic steps:

  • Provide a standard template for the company. This ensures consistent branding. This also frees-up employee time on discussing which template is better.
  • Train the employees to focus on the big rocks & then fit in small rocks. For instance, a big rock is how do we develop the content that the customer needs. On the other hand small rocks are nice to have features which do not impact decision making for a product. Another example: A small rock is the presentation template whereas a big rock is the presentation itself, what is said and how it is said.
  • Develop the practice to understand the needs of the audience / customer and then focus your work around that. Organizations can enable this by providing all the basic infrastructure needed to get the work done.

Imagine the success and experience coming out of a positive working atmosphere, where the team focuses on the customer! If you get the customer needs wrong, nothing else matters. You may have the best looking product, but it is just that! It doesn’t serve the needs of the customer. Keep the big picture in mind and eliminate the distractions. Filling your time with small rocks leaves no time for big rocks!