According to a recent World Bank report “More and Better Jobs in South Asia”, eight South Asian countries (including Pakistan) will have to create 1-1.2 million new jobs every month over the next 20 years in order to satisfy the increasing demand for work by a more youthful population. This change will result in more Millennials (people born after 1982) entering the workforce with each passing day and will increase the diversity in the organizations that hire them. Millennials, having been raised very differently from the previous generations, will bring in working styles and behaviors which might clash with those of their senior colleagues and may affect the overall productivity at work. Therefore, if organizations are to thrive in the future, it is important that the younger and older generations proactively figure out ways to improve their interactions with each other. A few ways they can get along better are mentioned in this article.
Appreciate Strengths and Increase Level of Patience
Firstly, Millennials and the previous generations can develop good working relationships with each other by appreciating each other’s strengths and increasing their level of patience. Millennials are technologically savvy and quick to adapt to change whereas their senior colleagues have years of experience under their belt. Technology and experience are both essential for organizations to survive in the global marketplace and a simple appreciation of this fact alone can bring both parties together. With mutual respect, both parties can be less impatient with each other, willing to listen, and work out disagreements.
Secondly, both generations should share the knowledge that empowers them. In the digital era, where information is freely available online, it is a matter of time people catch up to those who are unwilling to share. Individuals who hoard knowledge may not get very far because their focus is on making things difficult for others rather than creating value. Positive behaviors of giving and sharing, that help people go farther in their careers and personal lives, win the respect of peers and encourage similar behaviors in others.
Thirdly, bureaucracy should be removed. Given the fact that speed and efficiency is generally preferable to slow and cumbersome processes, supervisors and peers are encouraged to cut the red tape and ease the frustration in their younger employees. The ease of doing things will help the organization as well.
Use the Best Communication Method
Fourthly, the method of communication should be relevant to the situation. Senior generations generally feel more comfortable with face-to-face communication, whereas, the Millennials prefer electronic communication. Although it may not be possible to satisfy everyone’s interests, it can help to know which communication mode the other party prefers. If too many meetings are called, the Millennials may become frustrated, and if too many e-mails are exchanged on a certain issue, the senior generations may feel slighted. Therefore, it is important to keep these specific preferences in mind before initiating communication and use the best method for that particular situation.
Lastly, Millennials and their senior colleagues both need to realize that successful organizations reward creating value- addition rather than maintaining the status quo or achieving seniority. Employees helping the organization save money, building new business or improving processes, have a much better chance at a promotion than those who merely consume resources. Also, by focusing on developing themselves, both parties can attain growth in an organization rather than at the expense of each other.
In conclusion, when Millennials and their senior colleagues collaborate effectively, they can create spectacular results for the organization. The trick is to get over preconceived notions about each other and look for ways to work together. Through a greater appreciation for each other’s strengths, more patience, better communication, sharing knowledge, lesser bureaucracy, and value-addition, employees can build constructive relationships, enhance commitment, and improve productivity across the board. When this happens, having diversity will be a pleasure!
Article by Warda Zaman. Also published in August 2012 issue of Jahangir’s World Times.
Interpersonal skills are essential for career success these days because of the growing importance of teamwork in organizations. Those who handle criticism and conflict well, manage negotiation better, and develop a positive atmosphere in the workplace find working in teams easier. For those that face a tougher time getting things done in groups, some simple tools in this article can help in getting started. The most common tools used by skillful communicators are verbal communication, body language, tone, listening, questions and feedback. This article shows how individuals can work on these tools to perform better in groups and improve their chances of personal and professional growth.
When it comes to verbal communication, it is important to ensure a positive use of language and to avoid putting others on the defensive. When handling a request for action, some people try to get away by saying, “This cannot be done”. Instead of giving unhelpful responses, it is much better to focus on facilitating people building relationships. The statement, “We will try our best to..” indicates one’s interest in satisfying the other party and generates goodwill from the other side.
Another way to make verbal communication work well is to stress the impact of the communication on one’s feelings and to use the word “I”. The statement: “I am concerned that this type of discussion will not serve any purpose” opens doors for communication because it is non-threatening; whereas, the statement “You are extremely difficult to deal with” may generate a defensive response because it can be interpreted as a personal attack.
BODY LANGUAGE AND TONE
According to Ali Mehrabian, a body language researcher in the 1950s, body language constitutes 55 percent of the verbal communication process. With such a big part of the communication process being devoted to non-verbal communication, a conscious effort to manage body positioning, interpersonal space, facial expressions, eye movement, touch, and breathing becomes imperative because body language can negate your words and project a different story from the one you want to tell. Walking with hands in one’s pockets can indicate dejection and patting one’s hair can be taken as a sign of insecurity.
Additionally, the tone of voice can result in others forming an opinion about one’s personality. A person who yells out an order “Can you get my tea?” compared to someone who says the same thing politely, might be considered difficult by others and avoided.
ACTIVE LISTENING AND ASKING QUESTIONS
One of the best ways to improve relationships is through active listening and asking questions. The technique of paraphrasing in listening helps ensure clarity in the communication process and removes any misunderstandings. The statement: “So if I have heard you correctly, you would like me to prepare a three-page report by Friday noon? Is that right?” is an example of paraphrasing.
Questions that solicit detailed information start with the words, why, when and what and are very useful in developing an understanding about the situation. By having more information through listening and questioning, people are in a better position to give advice, negotiate well and manage conflicts. Both these tools also help people win friends because those who use them make others feel important and happy.
Giving and receiving feedback is very helpful for people to stay on track, and in order for people to deliver on their targets successfully, it is important to give specific, behavior-focused, and timely feedback. Saying: “Your reports are usually late and badly written,” to a poor performer at year-end is ineffectual because this statement puts the recipient of the exchange on the defensive. Giving feedback about the report at the time of the event, specifying the actual problem in the report, and speaking about the impact of the bad report will be more useful in improving performance.
While receiving negative feedback, people should control their emotions and listen carefully to what is being said. Usually, such conversations can contribute immensely to self-improvement–it depends on how the recipient interacts with the content. By looking for the essence of the conversation, and not taking matters personally, people can derive usefulness from any type of comment.
For the most part, people who speak positively, use suitable nonverbal cues, listen actively and handle feedback well have a greater chance of going forward in their organizations. This is because they are more likeable and are better equipped to work in teams. An effective use of interpersonal communication tools can also bring about a positive change in people’s personal lives by helping them build happy relationships and enhancing their spiritual satisfaction.
Article by Warda Zaman. Also published in Jahangir’s World Times, July Edition 2012
“Come to the edge.’ ‘We can’t. We’re afraid.’ ‘Come to the edge.’ ‘We can’t. We will fall!’ ‘Come to the edge.’ And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew.”
This is a succinct exemplification of a very basic concept – that a leader’s main job is to inspire greatness in others so that they will perform to their full potential. In order to do so, leaders must possess certain traits which inspire others. Though there are a myriad of qualities that people have written and talked about, I will discuss the four key talents listed by Goffee and Jones1 that help corporate leaders to achieve spectacular results: approachability, intuition, tough empathy and uniqueness.
Approachability connects people and increases learning. Herb Kelleher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines, is known for his personable style and down-to-earth attitude. While at Southwest, he encouraged people to communicate with each other in a pleasant manner and his ability to make light of difficult situations evolved into a corporate culture that people loved. As a result of continued dedication to their jobs and loyalty to their company, Southwest Airlines employees propelled the organization to the top five “Most Admired Companies of America”, a position it retained for many years. Leaders who allow two-way communication, help others to learn in the process since they serve as mentors and enable others to climb the ladder of success quickly. When people learn new ways of achieving results, they are able to accomplish more by meeting challenges with confidence.
The second quality mentioned by Goffee and Jones, a strong intuition, enables quick decision making which is critical in the business world. Since most decisions must be made by connecting the dots well, many people falter because they lack the ability to visualize trends and forecast. A leader, because of strong domain knowledge, can analyze the facts easily and use intuition to arrive at a good decision. When Lee Iacocca was at Ford, he had a challenge to introduce a car which would appeal to a large audience. After reviewing market data and talking to people, he realized that the best way to launch a profitable car was to give customers the choice to add features as they chose. His intuition and confidence made people believe in his dream and in 1964, Ford launched the Mustang which was an instant success because it offered options based on customer demands. In the first 18 months a million Mustangs were built—far surpassing the sales forecast of fewer than 100,000 cars for the first year.
Good corporate leaders also use tough empathy to help employees achieve the required performance level. Since they are passionate about the work done in the organization, they use candid feedback to reinforce behaviors that determine success. Jack Welch, ex-CEO of GE implemented the 20-70-10 performance appraisal system, which divided employees into groups based on their performance as excellent, average and poor. This encouraged a culture of excellence because through timely feedback employees were able to improve their performance. With Jack Welch as the CEO, GE’s share price rose 4000%; it was considered to be one of the most valuable companies during his tenure.
Finally, true leaders are not afraid of being different. In fact, they use their unique abilities to create value in their work. Steve Jobs, ex-CEO of Apple, showed the world that his love for calligraphy and simple design could be translated into computer fonts and a host of technological products that have become indispensable. His team shared his enthusiasm and Apple developed products that were different and exciting. With Steve Jobs at the helm from 1997-2011, Apple bounced back from a dismal performance in previous years. By 2010, Apple’s market capitalization had surpassed that of Microsoft, and its shares had hit an all-time high of $300 per share (The current share price is $542 per share).
In the final analysis, approachability, intuition, tough empathy and uniqueness are essential for corporate leaders to rally the workforce around a common goal. Even though other traits such as vision and strategic direction are very important, the qualities of a good leader discussed in this article actually endear employees to their superiors. When leaders have such loyal followers, they can instill in them a desire to perform at their peak, and by taking on challenges and opportunities with eagerness and confidence, the entire team can prove that the sky indeed is the limit!
1 Goffee, Robert and Jones, Gareth, Why Should Anyone be Led by You (Harvard Business Review: Sep/Oct2000 Vol. 78 Issue 5) 62-70.
Superior University recently held a seminar on “Organizational Sustainability Through Building Brands”. The talk centered on the preparedness of Pakistani companies in the face of global competition. The questions about our local organizations were thought provoking because even though we see a surge of local brands in Pakistan, we often do not know what is really happening behind the scenes. It is mostly through word-of-mouth or sometimes the Pakistani media, that one gets to hear things which are not very flattering or encouraging about the state of our organizations.
Recently a newspaper published an article about the disorganization of our fashion designers at a very famous fashion event in Paris. Most of the fashion designers when quizzed about their lack of professionalism defended their behavior by blaming the other party. Some of the panelists gave the example of our fashion industry as a strong brand for Pakistan. I disagree. If we don’t have our inner workings right and defend our bad practices, we will have difficulty in maintaining our international presence. It is time we look at ourselves from the eyes of the people who interact with us.
The brands in the educational system are in business because of high fees and a monopoly. If you talk about the quality of education they deliver, you are left wanting. Parents are dissatisfied with the lack of homework, creativity in the kids and the attitude of teachers. If a new brand enters the market promising better quality with lower fees, these schools will get a run for their money. What unique selling proposition do they actually have? Does only the architecture differentiate them or is there quality in everything they do?
One can examine many other brands in Pakistan as critically and reach the same conclusion that improvement is needed on many fronts. Organizational sustainability will come only through imbibing a philosophy that centers around the consumer. All the stakeholders of an organization, including employees, must feel a powerful connection and loyalty to the brand and own it. The whole objective of sustainability in the future is to keep the stakeholders happy by delivering goods above expectations and creating a level of excitement that sustains the brand through good and bad times.
Writing is probably one of the most nerve- wracking activities one has to do at work. When we put things in writing, we expose the quality of our thoughts, language and abilities. Our nervousness usually stems from the fact that if our job is shoddy, our reputation and dignity will suffer. Luckily we do not have to be so tragic and can overcome the fear of writing by following simple but effective steps in drafting business documents.
Think about your purpose. When you write do you think of why you are writing? What is the final objective?
Know your audience. Who are the people you are writing for? Answer all questions about these people that come to your mind.
Do your research. Get all your facts and supporting documents in one place.
You should brainstorm and use techniques such as mindmapping. Write down all the points you need to cover. The idea is to first get uninterrupted ideas flowing and then connect the relevant ideas to each other.
Draft your paragraph. Write the part of the document you are most comfortable with first. Remember, this is just a first cut and will be revised multiple times.
Paragraphs require topic sentences which need a topic and a controlling idea. The topic sentence conveys the main idea of your paragraph and should not be too specific or too general. An example of a topic sentence is “One of the strongest arguments in favour of good relations with Afghanistan is that Pakistan will benefit from trade between the two countries.”
In the next few sentences you can give your reasons of why you think this is so and conclude the paragraph with a summary of your thoughts. Back up your statements with evidence or logical arguments–don’t leave thoughts hanging in the air.
A connection between sentences in a paragraph is crucial. Remember to connect the sentences to each other through transitions or pronouns. If the sentences are disjointed, you will create zero impact and only confuse the reader further. Practice writing good paragraphs and you will win in the writing world!
Carefully review your paragraphs for unity, cohesion and coherence. Talk about only one idea in a paragraph, connect the thoughts around the idea well and ensure you have built your case logically.
Ask someone to read the document and critique it. Another pair of eyes can spot flaws better sometimes. Other people can also give more insight into your document.
Revise your document based upon your own and other people’ s review through careful editing. You should look out for things like misplaced or incorrect words, your tone (your attitude towards your reader), your style of writing (manner in which you write to your audience), and proper grammar and punctuation. Short sentences, simple words and active verbs will enhance your writing. Formatting the document well can make things stand out better.
The editing process is tedious and can make you start all over– please keep that in mind.
Once you are done, you should proofread your document in different ways. Try reading in the opposite order (last line and upwards) or read after different intervals so that you catch what you have missed so far. Revise if you need to.
Voila! You have a finished product after proofreading and you can pat yourself on the back because you went through an arduous process to get it. For any creative process, please remember the famous adage — no pain, no gain. Merry writing to all of you!
According to the Boston Consulting Group report “Global Talent Risk: Seven Responses” published in January 2011, 20 years from now there will be a dearth of talent in many fields, and organizations will be competing to hire talent on an unprecedented scale. It is evident from the study that despite the educational institutions and training facilities available worldwide, there is a gap between the talent required at the workplace and what is available in the market. If the developed world is concerned about impending shortages, Pakistan should review its situation as well.
Although our population figure stands at 187 million and continues to grow, our education system is fraught with problems. It is quite possible that Pakistani graduates may not possess the necessary skills to help their future employers stay competitive. The obvious question is: If the educational institutions are lacking, what should local organizations do to get skilled employees? Two things come to mind: firstly, develop existing talent in the companies themselves and secondly, or perhaps simultaneously, build strategic linkages with universities to provide the talent for the future, and not just mindlessly churn out graduates with degrees that will serve no purpose in the coming decades. In both cases, local organizations will need to have formal development plans in place to keep up with a changing world outside.
This article focuses on how local managers can help reduce the talent deficit by encouraging employees to develop a range of skills, and then providing them with ample opportunities to upgrade these skills regularly. The culture of development, however, has to be a collective approach with top management, managers and other employees working together. Without this, there will be no synergy, individuals will continue to work in silos and be unable to bring about talent improvement across the board. One way managers can help develop talent is by guiding employees.
Because employees mostly interact with their supervisors and not top management, they can learn considerably from the experiences of their managers. In fact, this interaction is so valuable that it should be made a part of the job description of the manager to mentor subordinates. Employees who learn from the experiences of their supervisors can be moved into positions of responsibility with relative ease. Since learning by doing is one of most effective ways of learning, the mistakes of supervisors will probably not be repeated and this will lead the organization to a path to greater productivity.
Planned experiences where employees are placed in unfamiliar situations are a great way to develop talent. Such experiences could involve sending employees to other countries, and enabling them to develop a global picture or giving them challenging tasks that are beyond the scope of their job description. Through exposure to different cultures and work patterns, employees will learn how to collaborate with others, handle stress, work tight deadlines and deliver under pressure. This helps in team management, decision making and conflict resolution — all competencies in great demand at the workplace.
There are now many opportunities for training employees in Pakistan. From certifications to soft skills training, local managers have a vast array to choose from. Although mentoring employees works best, bringing an external training source on board has its merits as well. New developments in the field alert employees to a different way of doing business and provide them an impetus to change their methods. Training, however, faces a threat from within many Pakistani organizations. In times of cost cutting, the training budget is reduced or done away with completely because employers see it as a frivolous expense. If local managers can support the HR function in retaining the training budget, they would play an important part in talent development.
Very often employees would like to take study leave to enhance their qualifications but some employers do not allow such educational pursuits; however, allowing employees to proceed on leave can result in several benefits for organizations. Organizations that are seen to prize talent attract other capable people as well. Letting employees go because the “policy does not allow it” can be detrimental to companies because the investment to bring them up-to-speed ultimately goes waste. Policies should facilitate in retaining talent not eroding it. Managers can try and get study leave policies changed so that the interest of the employee and the organization both can be served.
Another way Pakistani managers can develop talent is through job rotation. An employee who has worked in different departments or areas has valuable information on how the whole organization functions. Since this knowledge would help the individual in a leadership position down the road, and also help the organization to retain talent, such movements should be encouraged. Job rotation, unfortunately, is met with resistance in many organizations since no manager would like to lose a talented individual who is bringing in accolades for the department. Although it may be difficult to accept the departure of such an employee, the reality is that it will help employees build essential skill sets for the future. Managers can help by not standing in the way of their employees.
As a nation, we must all inculcate a culture of giving and allow others to grow in their roles. If every manager in the market were to think on these lines, talent development would get a boost and the threat of future shortage of skilled employees would start to diminish. Those managers who protect their territories and maintain the status quo are not looking at the bigger picture and are ensuring that everyone in the market will be a loser, including them.
By Warda Zaman, Director, Corporate Trainings, The Knowledge Factory.
Tenses give people headaches. They usually crop up in text, incorrectly, over and over again. Both employees and supervisors worry because document rework results in a waste of time and lower productivity. So what should one do about them? Well one way is to visualize the time of the action. That should resolve some of the stress in getting the tense right.
I recently reviewed an incorrect text which stated, “I come to work tomorrow.” The correct way of writing this is, “I will come to work tomorrow.” For some people, it is easy to see where the error is but for others it is hard to spot the mistake. Writing an extra word “will” before “come” seems unnecessary. Don’t we say, “I come to work every day?” How is the first sentence any different?
“I come to work tomorrow,” is incorrect because the action will happen in the future. It hasn’t happened yet. In “I come to work every day,” the action is in the present. This is the reason why we do not use “will” before “come”.
Another common error is to use the past tense when one wants to use the present tense. Someone might say, “Please opened the door.” Since the action has not taken place yet but will hopefully take place sometime in the present, the correct sentence would be “Please open the door.”
The past tense is for actions that have already taken place and the present is for what is taking place now. The future tense tells us about what will happen.
There are many different types of tenses in the English vocabulary but these are the most common errors that are seen in business writing. For clarity and professional writing, one should pay close attention to tenses.