You might have heard the old adage ‘one spoilt apple can spoil the whole basket’. In this case, we are talking about one demotivated, beleaguered salesperson. Just like the spoilt Apple, he can have a negative effect on the entire organization. Thus, it is important to identify the causes of employee demotivation and chalk out possible solutions.
Who likes to be criticized? By and large, people do not like to be criticized as it is damaging to their self-esteem.
Whether criticism is in the form of a comment, look, sigh or even a spell of silence, it is a means to evaluate the pros and cons of the action or work of an individual or a thing from another person’s viewpoint. One can have a negative viewpoint towards an individual’s work, or to an individual or to inanimate or animate objects. Criticism takes several forms, such as: husband condemning wife’s cooking, a teacher criticizes his student for incomplete homework, a film critic disapproving of a new film or an employer criticizing his employee for doing a shoddy job.
Negative criticism is disappointing and frustrating to the extent of an individual not putting his best effort in future. There is a dip in one’s enthusiasm and confidence levels to a great extent. If taken in good spirit, it helps the person correct his or her mistakes, learn new things and move ahead in life.
Here are some ways how you can take criticism positively:
When someone criticizes you, one’s first reaction is always to be defensive or rant. Instead, delay your immediate reaction to the action and contemplate on what was said. Count till 10 and figure out how to react.
If you receive an e-mail criticizing your work, reply after you have cooled down. If the criticism is verbose, walk away from the person saying, “We will discuss this later.” Having negative thoughts and views lead to resentment between the criticizer and criticized.
Instead of reacting harshly, view and understand the value of criticism. Take it as a recommendation or suggestion and increase your chance for improvement. Think of what was said, strengthen and improve your faults and emerge as a winner next time around. The next time adds to your knowledge and experience, lets you set a benchmark for yourself and rise high in the opinion of people. Learn to differentiate between constructive and non-constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is an effective learning tool.
Have confidence in yourself. If your work is not up to the mark, your boss could pass a comment. Instead of taking it personally, ask how you can correct your mistakes. Nobody is perfect. Successful people make more mistakes as they believe in the motto, ‘Keep trying until you succeed’, unlike unproductive people who quit after a failure or two.
When criticized, it is best to remain cool and calm, instead of reacting with anger and ranting. Rise above the situation without responding in a child-like manner with barbs and accusations. A poised demeanor will portray you in a different light. You will see a vast change in people’s attitude towards you and your self-confidence will increase as you are not seen to stoop to another person’s level.
Criticism is a good way to improve. Strive for the best possible changes to banish negative criticism in your personal and professional lives. Avoid repeating mistakes that provoke people to criticize you. Recognize your mistakes, correct them and try not to repeat them next time.
Many people have the habit of criticizing. If they do not matter to you, it is best to ignore them and continue doing the work.
At the end of it, thank the critic, despite the critic being rude, harsh or abusive, irrespective of whether the person accepts it or not. Most unexpected at the time of criticism, thanking is the way of winning over the person.
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When was the last time you opened one file to work on, closed it and moved on to the next task? You don’t remember, right? At this moment, alongside reading this post, you are perhaps listening to music, browsing various open tabs, finishing a report, monitoring tweets and reading e-mail notifications.
Notice the difference between the two instances. One instance had you concentrating on just one task without any distractions, while another showed your attention being shared among several tasks simultaneously. An individual’s ability to initiate one or more tasks while doing another task is multi-tasking.
David Crenshaw, author of “The Myth of Multitasking” and Walter Kim who authored “The Autumn of the Multitaskers”, say that multi-tasking or switch tasking is not a very efficient way of working. It slows down our thinking process as the brain attempts to perform more than one task at a time, with others lag behind during information processing. In short, multi-tasking makes an individual less productive, costs the Company precious time and gives us the individual the feeling that he will not be able to finish work.
To lessen multi-tasking, here are some suggestions from experts:
- Create a list of things to do and prioritize them according to their importance.
- Schedule time to meet people. Let others know that you don’t like to be disturbed at all times.
- Use a planner or calendar to schedule important tasks or meetings.
- Set aside specific time to check mail, tweets and other social networking sites. List time to do activities to avoid distraction.
- If you are speaking to someone, give him your full attention. Avoid working on another task or engaging in another conversation at that time.
- Turn off your mobile, e-mail or chat programs, if your work demands your complete attention.
To be frank, I find it difficult to multi-task, especially at work with jobs that require my full attention. At home, multi-tasking isn’t easy, but it’s doable. Multi-tasking has its share of negatives, such as:
- The quality of work is compromised as one’s attention is divided amongst various tasks.
- The brain’s ability to filter relevant information is slowed down due to interspersing of irrelevant information.
- Distraction is the highest risk to multi-taskers.
- Switching back and forth to doing various tasks takes time, so one takes longer to accomplish things.
- It is damaging to one’s work performance, productivity and interpersonal relationships, both professionally and personally.
Instead, create an environment of focus. Distractions and clutter divert your attention from the task at hand. A little persistence and commitment can get you of the multi-tasking rut. Slow down, do one thing at a time and feel effective and satisfied.
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The Oxford English Dictionary defines knowledge as (i) expertise and skills acquired by a person through experience or education or (ii) the awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.
Simply speaking, knowledge is the assured insight of a subject with the ability to use it for a specific purpose. Do you learn something new every day?
A human being’s quest to gain knowledge or information is insatiable. The pursuit can go beyond one’s professional training or education. A child can teach an adult something profound and easily adaptable. One good exercise to keep your brain cells active all through life is to learn something new every day. After all, if our responsibilities in life continue, so should our learning.
So, how do you learn something new every day? Here are some tips:
Read: It’s a good way to learn something new. With the advent of the Internet, you have access to infinite information on the A-Zs of practically everything under the sun. If reading online isn’t your cup of tea, choose an interesting book, encyclopedia, etc, from your local library or just devour your local newspaper. You can even learn how your favorite chips are packed.
As a child, you asked your parents infinite number of questions each day. Over the years, you lost this habit somewhere. Now, start asking questions once again. There is nothing demeaning about asking questions because it’s the starting place of learning something new, just as children do.
Learn to listen: Being a good listener will help you learn new things. Listen to what your spouse, child, colleague or boss say. Contemplate and process the information mentally for the future.
Learn to slow down: Notice your surroundings and discover new things. If you take a relaxing walk, you will learn to absorb the beauty of Nature, and perhaps learn a thing or two about new friends you make while taking walks, etc.
Watch something meaningful on a regular basis: Informative channels like Nat Geo, Discovery, Animal Planet, etc are informative in their content. Get into the habit of watching educative information to increase your and your child’s knowledge. Surely, TV will never be called the ‘idiot box’ in your home.
The appetite for learning is ravenous. To gain knowledge, one does not need formal education or training.
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Project Management is part and parcel of every business. It is a systematic approach to managing and controlling new initiatives or changes in an organization. Projects, often time-bound, involve completing a number of activities within a given duration and a fixed budget.
More and more corporates are assuming responsibility for the impact of their commercial activities in different walks of life, whether it is the environment, communities, employees, consumers, stakeholders and all those who could be at the receiving end of the aforementioned activities.
One may say that accountability in an organization exists when all employees can be depended upon to do what they have acceded to do without any exceptions. Accountability is often an innate commitment that comes from an employee—it is not something that can be written, recorded and signed.
Having an effective employee performance management system in place can go a long way in keeping the Company healthy and ahead of competition in the long run.
Some successful employee performance management strategies are:
- List the Employees’ Expectations. There is no place for ambiguity. Clear-cut guidelines can be valuable in team building. This, in turn, can lead to higher productivity, accountability and increased team participation.
- Find out the Obstacles in an Employee’s Path. If an employee does not meet clear-cut expectations in spite of being aware of them, find out what is it that is hindering his/her performance?
- Be aware of and Acknowledge all that’s Valuable. An attitude where people and processes of importance are appreciated at the moment of action is of much more merit than filling up lengthy forms that may never be read.
- Beware of Pessimistic Employees. Managing them can be quite a task, but if done effectively, it can spare the organization any negativity they spread. If ignored, this negativity can gnaw insidiously at the organization.
- Building a Rapport with your Employees can be linked to Employee Performance. Associating workplace results with employee performance can help improve or refine the latter. Discussing new projects, overdue assignments or updates about accomplished tasks can prove to be easy ways to improve employee performance informally.
- Do the Groundwork and then Proceed. Avoid rushing with the design or implementation of half-baked employee performance management strategies. Unless fully ready, it can be more damaging than beneficial to the organization and employees.
An effective employee performance management system could include the following policies:
- Matching people and positions with an appropriate selection process.
- Discussing requisites and achievement-based performance levels, results and measures.
- Arranging for effective orientation, training and education.
- Building in continuous coaching and feedback into the system.
- Developing the skills of employees with quarterly performance reviews and discussions for further improvement and development.
- Enabling a workable compensation and recognition system that rewards people for their contribution to the organization.
- Arranging for promotion and development opportunities for its employees.
- Providing assistance with exit interviews to comprehend why good employees leave the organization.
An employee performance management system zeroed in for the organization should ideally reflect its culture and beliefs. Performance consulting and training can result in benefits for the employer in areas such as higher manpower productivity, knowledge, loyalty and contribution. This also means better measurement of enhanced employee performance.
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The 80/20 principle talks about an inherent disparity between cause & outcome and effort & results. It explains that a minority of causes, i.e. 20%, effort, lead to a majority i.e. 80% of the rewards. To use the 80/20 rule, an individual should identify his or her current prospects and exploit them to its potential. This rule helps you identify the triggers allowing you to utilize the maximum power to the most dynamic forces and banishing any negative influences.
To harness the power of the 80/20 principle in your personal life, the two things you should do are:
- Identify key happiness triggers (20%) and
- Ditch the activities (80%) that provide little or no satisfaction
Some ways where you can apply the 80/20 principle:
- Foster important relationships
- Focus on memorable moments in your important relationships
- Read few and important books
- Let go of unused stuff
- Learn to use the tools you need the most
- Do away with meaningless activities
- Concentrate on your strengths
- Save for major expenses
- Do away with unproductive sources of income
- Make most of your productive time or condition
If you view your business from the 80/20 rule, you’ll realize that a handful of customers account for the major part of your income. These customers are long term users who benefit from your services.
To apply the 80/20 rule at work, find products or services that generate the most income (20%) and let go of the remaining (80%) products or services that provide secondary benefits. As a manager, you should work hard on essentials that work for you. That is, you should spend your time attending to those business segments that make the most of your core skills and leave the tasks that are beyond you to other people (20%). By letting go of bad clients and focusing on selling and improving service to the best clients, your business will flourish.
The message of the 80/20 principle is simple—focus on activities that produce the best outcomes for you, professionally and personally.
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Pressure is defined as urgency in one’s personal and professional affairs or business. Working under pressure is the reality of many people’s professional lives. Some people have to deal with very high pressure every minute of their lives while others have to deal with it as the project deadline approaches.
People working with the bomb squad, the President of United States’ bodyguards or neurosurgeons are examples of high pressure jobs where pressure is an omnipresent factor. Meeting sales targets or financial targets, or project delivery are the kinds of work where pressure increases as the deadline approaches closer.
Generally, very high pressure jobs are the ones that are highly paid, purely because you need exemplary mental and physical resilience to simply go through a work day and emerge unscathed. One also has to be ready to go through this kind of pressure, day after day, year after year. It’s good for somebody who looks forward to it with enthusiasm enough to last a lifetime or one who has the courage to carve a career out of it. However, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea.
Pressure can be utilized in various ways, sometimes to better your team’s performance and productivity. There are a great number of people who work only under pressure and are unable to perform satisfactorily in the absence of pressure.
There are a few prerequisites to be able to work well under pressure. They are:
- Mental Resilience is Extremely Important. This refers to the strength to not lose your emotional balance when faced with high pressure situations. Only people who are mentally resilient can stay motivated under high pressure and keep at their task without giving up. This quality alone can prevent early burnouts and help keep you in shape health-wise while meeting deadlines.
- Planning is Indispensible. Situations or actions that can be anticipated will help you tackle them better under pressure and give you the results that you want. Planning ahead definitely gives you an upper hand.
- Focus is Vital. This ultimately helps you achieve what you want—whether under pressure or not. So, it can be the deciding factor in the race to meet your goal.
- Delegate Work. It’s impossible to do everything under the sun—instead delegate work. This is a worthwhile exercise and can help meet professional deadlines. Breaking the project into bits and working to meet the “bit” deadline is far easier. By meeting these “bit” deadlines, you will complete the entire project well in time.
- Be Composed. Composure is a valuable asset for people with high pressure jobs. The ability to remain calm and collected is helpful in many ways. It helps you stay focused, think rationally and take correct decisions. When calm, you are in control of the situation and can respond to it appropriately.
- Be Adaptable and Flexible. These two qualities are useful weapons in your artillery to deal with high pressure situations that can sometimes change your world upside down in a matter of minutes.
These are the qualities that will help you move on in life, instead of being bogged down by analytical rhetoric over what happened.
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