Thursday, 31 December 2009

2009 to give way for India 2.0 and Sameer Shaikh 2.0

Yes.. 2009 goes off... Today as on 31st December we all would release 2009 to get into a mode of retrospection and planning for the next year. A quick review on this blog for the prime time actions of 2009...

1. Depression : The biggest ever economic crisis continued all through the year almost, trying to get its head up the economy was altogether a platform to inspiring leaders. Those of apples and facebooks and twitters who made money even in the downturn show that there is nothing called as depression.

2. The Obama's got in to Steer America to a better reputation. Manmohan Singh re-elected to lead the largest democracy in the world.

3. Swine Flu terrorised the world as mush as Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations did.

4. Andhra Pradesh is burning.. earlier with the death of YSR and then with the Telangana issue.

5. Sachin shows that fitness is in mind, Tiger shows it somewhere else ;)

6. We spend almost half of our year to plan and deliver the future of our Company.

7. India gets Intelligent people like Manmohan Singh, Shashi Tharoor, Nandan Nilekani in the cabinet.

On a personal level :
1. It was a Happy year.. lot of work
2. We could bring the old gems together to work with and elevate the future with class
3. The Teams in UK and India started up well and are contributing to the future leaps and bounds
4. Inspite of tough year our Management showed a lot of faith in us and Development
5. I found a way to find time and blog..In the last 3 months I almost blogged 50% of what I blogged in rest of the year.. some of them I thought were quality posts.
6. I prepare for a funfast new year.

Wish you all a very Happy New Year and a funfilled New Year eve.. May this year bring a lot of propsperity, wealth and fun to your professional and personal lives. Have a review of your Year soon so you can start preparing for it.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

We all Suck at Feedbacks - Part 1 / 4 How to take it?

A few weeks ago it was my time to throw back some feedback to the Team, some of the Team members and of course myself. We as a Team always believed in constructive feedback. A feedback that will help Team members improve. Ideally feedback is meant to be given to improve, but the intention is usually not mutually accepted. Not that the they are agreed upon or disagreed, but feedbacks dont go in the order and form they are supposed to go due to communication or understanding.

I decided to put up this series that comes exactly in line of time when I am supposed to do a Annual review for the Team. Though as a Team we have been sharing feedback very often, A annual feedback is the time that determines a glossary of the last few shares of feedback, summarized and polished and hopefully effectively communicated.

I remember the "Appraisal Meetings" I have undergone and here I write how a typical feedback/appraisal session goes. The employee goes in a room with a document filled where he rates himself between 1-5 for items like Communication skills, Effectiveness, Technical strengths, deliveries, quality etc. he chooses to put 5 on every item his eye can see and his Manager sitting in is sitting there with an intention to cut down that 5 to 2 or 3 or maximum 4 even if he is not, he is in mind of the employee. After the meeting is over the employee goes out sits beside his colleague or go out for a Coffee and utter this "He is an A**Hole, A donkey can be a better Manager than him" blah blah blah... both of them agree and the guy who just went for a coffee is prepared to enter the same room...Conclusion of the meeting is that the employee thinks he is not getting a promotion or a hike, because the Manager blamed him for everything he did in the past. He is going to update his resume as soon as he goes out.

Well the cause of the above scene maybe anything... but one thing is for sure. The later part of the scenario is more driven because the feedback is not accepted with the same intention as it is given. Now let’s pick the most mature person in the Team, with the best attitude, with the best track record and give him a feedback constructive or non constructive. There is a lot of defence on everything said. Do we know why? Do employees think that a feedback session is a War? Do employees and Managers not share the correct wave length? Well the answers differ... but of all these elements there is definitely 1 major issue which causes a lot of questions we raised above... WE DONT KNOW HOW TO TAKE or RECEIVE FEEDBACK... Yes we don’t know... So let’s take a few tips on how to take feedback:

If you want to receive it first “Be Prepared” for it

Many of us don’t self evaluate before they get into feedback sessions. This causes a lot of trouble when you are in a feedback meeting. It’s very important that you as a feedback receiver are aware of all the points that relates to your feedback. I went to a feedback session where a Developer working on 2 of the last 3 projects in the last few weeks was able to start the project well, but never took care to finish it. When we reached a point to discuss the projects, the developer went defensive and did not want to discuss the projects at all forgetting the fact that the projects or points coming out of the feedback session were a part of the feedback. Eventually this was caused as the developer was not prepared to take the project feedback. Ideally a few days before the feedback session it is important that we go and review ourselves with a yard stick that is stricter than the one of the Manager.

God gave you ears to listen, both Good and Bad things

We are not used to listen. When somebody speaks we want to cut him off. If he speaks bad about us then we don’t want the person to even start. We so much want to listen only Good things about ourselves that when it comes to some unpleasant set of items, we don’t want to listen it. We say that Managers biggest weapon are his listening skills, but I say that anyone’s biggest weapon can be his listening skills. If you can listen to criticism you can survive. Listening quietly and noting the feedback items on a paper will help you review things for yourself after the feedback is given.

Boss is always (R)ight

He may not be always right. But that doesn’t mean that after the feedback we have to prove how wrong he is. Usually after any feedback session you would see the employee who received the feedback discuss things with colleagues. Honestly these sessions are usually driven towards how the employee is right and how the Manager is not. This can cause some level of discomfort both for you and the Manager.

I want to!!!!

The objective of feedbacks is to let the employee know what he is good at and what he needs to work on. Listen on what improvements are coming out of the discussions and be ready to accommodate the improvements. When the Indian cricket captain Dhoni always had a motive on the pitch that would drive him to go and hit and score as fast as he could, there were 2 reasons to it.. 1 patience and another the number at which he was playing... even being a captain he was once asked by a Sr. Member of the Team to play up the order and keep calm... he started by accepting this in an interview and changed to keep cool head on the wicket... when he was able to get this working he changed his order and started coming up the order. Result? He scored more runs and played more longer innings.

In your feedback sessions show an attitude that you want to work on things.

I need help!!!

A lot of people cannot accept the feedback, or cannot accept the improvements coming out of feedback sessions. It may be due to various reasons...yet these people are not able to ask for what help they need to work on the improvements or to perform better.

In my second job we had a lady in our Team who played a Team lead, who would start to work at 10 and finish at 4. She was not available for tele-calls post work hours, nor she would be able to work on something post work hours even if it was urgent. Our Manager who was a workalcoholic somehow could not like the fact that she was not able to support in emergencies. He shared the feedback a couple of times and asked the lady to be available to the Team in emergencies. The lady resigned in a few days. Only later we came to know that the lady was suffering from a slip-disk and had physiotherapist appointment at 4:30 every day.

Ask for help if the feedback demands something from you and you think you can’t do it without certain help.

Get or Die is not the case

A lot of guys get defensive in feedback sessions that because they could not get something or because someone was not working well they could not do what they were meant to do. Some also go to a stage saying they need X, Y and Z and only then they can consider achieving the feedback. Remember feedback is given to not receive back excuses or demands.. they are given to help you do better... so never let demands or complains make the feedback sessions... have a separate forum for that.

Finally feedback is not personal; it is a part of you that needs professional acceleration... so accept it with some spirit and work on it

Monday, 28 December 2009

Tharoor needs to normalize

Shashi Tharoor is in news again, yet again over the tweets he sent over the Visa norms that the Government of India has put up conditioning the security. As we all know Shashi Tharoor was a diplomat in his past and is now stepped in to his new role as a Minister of State for External Affairs. The switch is big enough to get him into the arena of complex political scenario. The last tweet about “cattle class” and the current one mentioning “26/11 terrorists were not holding Visa” or “Security or Tourism, I prefer later” (Surprisingly it seems that the later tweet has been removed as I don’t find it in anymore). Well the reason this post belong here is that I link Tharoor tweet controversy to a step missed in Team building, Our Prime Minister really need to consider this.

Team Building is not a straight forward process and so is not the process of inducting someone to a new area… I believe in something called as a policy of FORMING --> NORMING --> PERFORMING. Every new member in the Team has to be inducted, explained and let get adjusted to the environment. Then get him involved silently and let him adjust to the complexity of the scene, this step is the most critical one, Normalizing. If you don’t normalize then you face issues that Shashi Tharoor has being experiencing. He is a seasoned diplomat, but politics is not just diplomacy. The type of people you deal with and the way you deal with is completely different.

I wrote a while ago about this : Team Building, what does Leadership need?

In Indian politics you have to not only follow diplomacy in your statements and interactions but also diplomacy in oral and written behaviors. We as Indians give freedom of speech to everyone except the party ruling the nation?. Opposition parties can shout on what is said or not said, can hold protests and demonstrations , can shout and yell and abuse anyone (include Abu Azmi who was abused for not taking oath in Marathi) but if a Member of the ruling party speaks something “He is sure to face heat” .

As Indians, As Ruling Party members, as opposition, As Media we all need to help Tharoor normalize to Indian politics. He will definitely find a better wording for making the same point as he is Master of the language ;)

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The Christmas Gift exchange

The first time we did this as a Team was 4 years ago, my first year in the current company, our Stress Busters team organized this event. Since then every year we have being doing this, and every time we do it we love it more. To me this was new, but kind of amazing. I cover you the event we did on 24th evening with the small Team of 10 guys in Pune and on 21st with the UK Team. I am sure everyone enjoyed, but as usual I cannot resist putting it on the blog.

So here are the rules of the Game, You can try this it can be a very good Team building event.
Each one of the member secretly brings a gift and keeps it in the store room, no one except the person who bought the wrapped gift knows what it is, Till the actual day and time of the gift exchange the gifts are collected and being bought up in the area where the exchange will happen. Each member based on a roll can go and pick up a gift from the pool of gifts without seeing what exactly it is, he then unwraps it, if he doesn’t like the gift he opened he has a choice to select any of the other gifts that are opened by others. The first one is the most unlucky one as he would not get this chance. So A, B, C and D have opened there gifts already and E comes and picks up the next and he doesn’t like the gift, he can choose from A,B,C or D.. the person who just lost his gift has a choice to pick up a new gift or choose from A,B,C. You are allowed to setup and bargain with others for the gift you like. As many interesting gifts you have creates as much of stealing and bargaining.

The funny part of this exchange was initially we started by changing a rule that no one can unwrap the gift until end, but then we refactored in the middle as it was not getting interesting to change the rule and let open the gift as you take up the gift.

The funny items in this exchange that almost all people liked and were wanting to have the Movie tickets of “3 Idiots” a new released movie which was well booked on the weekend, A wireless headset. We had contestants Yogesh T , Ani , Vijay wanting to have the movie tickets. Rhushi , Puneet, Ani , Amit wanting the wireless.

So begin our exchange with the pool and the first one to go unlucky was Nikhita... Rhushi, Ani and Puneet lost the wireless as others who came in a roll always picked that item, eventually the desperation for the wireless lead to a level where I was offered 100 Rs to pick up the wireless for other and it went as an auction, especially because I was the last one on the roll. People started sharing their gifts in exchange to get their favourite.

This was a funny exercise and of the 1 hr of fun we had, we had good laughters and shares of jokes, some good reactions, some desperative attempts and art of bargains to keep the gifts or convince others to take their so that they can pick others.

I wish we get Christmas exchanges more often and Christmas keeps on coming. Over and Over under so much of pressure we really really had a good time. I am also waiting for the Team in UK to send me the photos / videos to be added here...

Don’t just be a “bargain” Guy?

We all bargain something or other, somewhere or else... we have learnt bargaining from our mothers, sisters, grandma’s, teachers, Bosses, colleagues and everyone else who we deal with on a day to day basis. You want your kid to wake up early for school he would ask for a toy, you bargain for a cheaper one. You drop him to school to study the teachers bargain for studies. You want him to be admitted to a school you bargain on price... Now as Software Engineers you face this bargain every moment..

Your Sales guy comes to you and ask for a feature, you bargain on time, he on dates.

You estimate your Project manager bargains on it

You give a Project plan your customer bargains on it.

An 80 yr old man who could not get out of the bed asked his 10 yr old to go and buy stuff from market. Since he was too young to shop, the grandfather told him “Bargain on anything that the shop owner offers”. Kid asked “what is bargain?” Grandfather said “If he tells you the thing is for 10$ you ask for 5$”. The kid went to a shop asked for a video game, the guy came back and showed him one. The kid said “I will pay 5 dollars for this”. Surprised with the kid the shop owner checked his price list found it was 4$ and he was still in profit said “OK, take it for $5” The kid thought for a moment and said “I will pay 2.5 for it”. The pissed of shop keeper said “take it for free”.. on this the kid said “then give me 2”

Everyone in this world bargains and when they bargain they bargain hard... But as Manager’s it is our job to balance the bargain. It is a need not a necessity so when we have to choose we can decide what and how much to bargain. Next time you sit on a chair where you have to bargain as an Engineer, Sales, Customer, Project Manager, CEO or CFO or anyone... bargain:

  • On time that will not hurt Quality
  • On resources that will cut cost but not Quality
  • On schedules that will not hurt the burn-down status of your resources
  • On commitments that will not affect your Teams plans and schedules
  • On Plans that are over optimistic
  • On technologies that can help you build a stable product than a faster product.
  • On Quality that can let you sleep with peace

Saturday, 26 December 2009

That 1 thing

Well we always crib about that one thing... When in school you say that 1 Grade that got me off second, that 1 chance I did not get to make the football team, that 1 thing I lacked the other guy had and got the girl I had a huge crush on, that I failed negotiation that got you in the wrong job, 1 bad deal that took your promotion off, 1 delayed release that got sales loose confidence in you... We all have this 1 thing... 1 thing that always hit, every now and then , every time or another... we are always pulled back by that 1 thing...

But.. now isnt it enough time you cribbed about that 1 thing? isnt it time you should just grow up and change the perspective of that 1 thing? Why not take this one thing and see how positively it can make our lives well....

This year think of :

That 1 Hope that you need to make lives better for your customers.

That 1 remark from your customer that your product is Great.

That 1 Thank you from your support team for handling the issue well.

That 1 word of appreciation from your Team that can help you build another great product

That 1 feeling of gratitude towards your Team that work so hard to help you succeed.

That 1 wish to grow higher and higher and still be ethical on moral and professional grounds

That 1 thing you always hated and see how you can turn it around

That 1 missing element in your product that take you miles away from competition

That 1 Idea that can change the world

That 1 moment of Happiness that you get from your kids, family, Teams.

That 1 mistake you made last time, that you definitely want to correct

That 1 thing you are being asked to improve

and to make all this happen that 1 thing that we call Attitude....

Friday, 25 December 2009

Be Capable, Success will follow - Raju Hirani in 3 Idiots

Second time in the row I saw this movie today 3 IDIOTS a bollywood masala movie from the maker of Munnabhai MBBS and Lage Raho Munnabhai, Raju Hirani, from the producer of 1942 a Love story , MunnaBhai series, based on Chetan Bhagat's 5 point someone and with the lead played by Aamir Khan. This movie really entertains, its a block buster but also leaves us with some questions that needs some serious thoughts. Leaving the entertainment side, Hirani definitely gives us back a lot of lessons to learn from...

1. Success doesn't mean Money
2. Learn your lessons well
3. Attitude is needed, A Good one definitely
4. Teachers need to learn first
5. Do what is your passion
6. Be Capable first, Success follows ability

To give you a gist the movie is about 3 students and their life in an engineering college, based on facts events, mentors , attitudes, approach on life.. it ends up with the lead who guides and takes life innovative way, brings on change with his Iris attitude. He goes missing and I will leave the plot to be explored by you. I liked the dialogues and each of them are hitting my minds since last 2 days... here I write about them...

1. Success doesn't mean How much Money you make or what designation you hold.
A few years ago, a talented Engineer in his early career left the Team I lead. He came to me and said "I need a promotion, I am OK with my Role in the company, Team and my salary."
I asked "All of a sudden, whats in your mind?"
he said "All my friends now are Team Leads and Managers, they earn 5 figures, its time for me to grow. I also think that my peer is my bigger competitor here and I can go out and grow more than him or my friends"
I said "Do you want to grow because your friends have? Or you want to grow because you think you deserve it?"
He said "I am getting old now, I think I deserve to grow"
I said "So You want a jazzy designation to impress your friends? Or you think the jazzy designation would be justified by what you do?"
..... The guy left us, A few years later the guy got in touch with me and said.. "maybe I should have taken the role when I was ready, I think I screwed up a lot of projects because of inexperience and abilities"

In Summary : If we make more money from our jobs or have bigger designations doesn't makes us more successful than others.. eventually it is what we do and what we turn around that makes us more successful. Early Feb I wrote this about success.. worth read to connect

2. Learn your lessons well
We learn our lessons, but do we learn it well? So you would ask me what does this mean!!!! A couple of years ago a Software Company made a disaster of their product. They Outsourced the product development, not enough analysis done on the requirements, technologies, no efforts on process, no definition on what to achieve, No stakeholders defined, no ownership taken, The Team had an attitude of money buys service and who gets money has to do things. They failed miserably, The outsourcing partner did not understand what to do and how and they took the company in ditch. The company recovered.. formed its own team, got a new product done to begin, got the foundation of a great product ready. They learnt their lessons and they got well out of it. Eventually when they progressed to newer development they hired 100 people in a month to do the rest of the development.. another disaster in way!!! if you had learnt your lesson well you would have Built the Team not formed.

3. Attitude, Have one a Good One
We always talk about it in our blogs.. so I dont elaborate much now... but its very important that you have an attitude that leads you to be capable of doing things...

Attitude, is what keeps us going. Attitude is what reveals our characters... Attitude is what is required... You have one is the basic necessity. And when you have one, dont leave it..

4. Books are friends and teachers, Do all friends guide well? Also Teachers need to learn first.

Well they definitely need to. I think we as mentors, Guidance sources, advisers and drivers to our Teams also need to learn TEACHING first. Not only our educating systems needs to be changed, but also the way we teach. When I say education system I refer not only on how we teach our kids, but also our employees, teams and members of organizations... This movie has a character called "Silencer", the guy who believes that he can dump the book in mind without understanding what it means... but its not his fault, because the examination he writes or the questions he answers to the interviewers or professors is based on what books teach.

In one of my previous companies we had a SQA (Software Quality Division), this department would audit and evaluate all the projects done by the company, define flaws , recommend suggestions to improve the quality process. However the members who were a part of this had a bible book in front of them to refer to it... and when they did not find something in the book, it meant the project did bad on quality ;)... In one instance our product involved a short term (1 day) project. The requirements were one liners as the customer needed it very very urgently. But since it was not a bug, nor a change request nor a full feature we did not have SRS and other documents for it... result? SQA recommended not to go ahead with the project, result????? wanna guess????

I have also seen that many of us dedicatedly believe in what text books says.. for instance principles of Agile... Ask a Developer who involves himself in Agile, he would know that demo and integration of feature, code and qa is an ongoing process. Nothing is complete. Ask a Text Book Agilist He would want a document, a start and end of the feature and time lines... Books are our friends (Not all friends give perfect guidance)

5. Do what is your passion
If you are passionate about doing something, then do it. Dont do something that you are not passionate about. But remember lean your passion in a way that you still have a day Job. Passion is needed in what you do, but it cannot be converted in what you are doing. Passion is the part of your character, that tells how much of your character actually exists.

6. Be Capable first, Success follows ability

If you are passionate and capable... Success will follow. Google did not start big... it grew, it followed its path, showed its capability, success could not hide long, it followed. Gandhiji took his abilities and followed a path, success (Independence) came along. If you are running behind success then you are ruining those abilities of you that you can definitely succeed with. If 1M Unique readers is your blogs goal, and if you focus only on SEO, promotion and marketing... without putting the actual writeups (ability of your blog to get readers) you will not succeed, you may see short term benefits not success.

Pele the football God once said "When I step on ground, I just want to play good football, Wins and Goals come along when playing the best football"
A Painter puts all his imagination in his paintings... he doesnt know when he starts on what he wants to get out of it... but when he puts all his efforts without thinking of results he creates a "Mona Lisa"....

As the Hindu Grantha of Bhagvada Geeta says "Do your Karma, Dont think of fruits, they will come with your karmas"

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

What is your most innovative thought, One that we cant find on Google

If the answer in your mind is "I dont know" Or "not yet" then its time for you to get your innovation cells activated and do some serious thinking. Yes... Today I had a chat with a graduate student from the University campus session I did last week. He asked me on how he can find a job that would keep him inspiring..

I asked "What do you think would inspire you?"
He said "New Challenges and New things to implement"
I asked "New? what new?"
He replied "New, like twitter, maybe a twitter based startup"

I told him... Think of the Idea and the UVP associated, Yes the value proposition that the users of what you would develop would derive... Think of something that we wont find on Google or Bing or Techcrunch and then define what value it would bring to people, community and user base. An Idea that is just new wont help... an Idea that can bring a high degree of Unique value proposition would, An Idea that is new and brings a high degree of UVP will definitely. Yes we would call it value driven Innovation!

The guy went back... and I am waiting for him to come back with several ideas of his, that he thinks can bring a difference. I assume the thought of innovating the thoughts to innovate is motivating....

So what has being your most innovative thought? The thought that we dont see on Google yet!!!!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Successful Manager : How not to messup Delegating

Do you delegate? Do you believe in delegation? Do you just delegate or you are involved? Are you a chicken or pig in our story? Well all these questions sometime shine in your minds, rest of the times you ask yourself. If not more, some of your seniors bring this to you when you start taking more and more responsibilities. In our step towards finding the orgasms of Management we explore this vital skill we call “Delegation”.

When we as Managers decide to trust others with appropriate responsibility and authority so they can achieve the set of tasks designed that were meant for us, we call it Delegation. But do we use and misuse delegation? Yes we do, don’t we? A long time ex-colleague got me on gtalk today and told me how much he is enjoying his new BDM role... with a flavoured cream on top he added this statement “I don’t have to do all the rubbish, I just delegate the rubbish to others so I can do better things”.
I asked back “what do you earn?”
he said “Experience and challenges at the cost of my work getting done by others in time”
I asked “What do you loose?”
I got no answer.... So the point here is we as managers believe in delegation, and yes we have to.. Delegation is an art through which we groom our future, we prepare our subordinates to take up tasks that we do, thus add value to their growth. We move over those tasks of us that we can easily do, to be done by others for reasons like “Time” , “More work” , “Building the next level” etc etc. But do we really use Delegation effectively? I think Yes, I think No.... meaning sometimes Yes and sometimes No... So here we put down some tips on delegation, better of how to handle Delegation..

1. Identify what to delegate
It’s very important that we know what we need to delegate. Many of us really really don’t know. For instance everything that we take to one of my fellow colleagues he wants to do it, all by himself. His answer on any task would be “I will do it” in return he loads up himself with a piled set of tasks that he cannot do all by himself. I always use a dinner course technique when deciding what to delegate... as in When you get a plate full of food, all the food that you love... what do you do? You pick the best of things that you love and that too in certain limits... You don’t have only ice cream for dinner.. so when you have tasks to do... go by the dinner menu technique.. pick your items you want to have and pick the items that you want others to have... pick the quantity correctly so that you don’t have to loosen your belts when you are done ;)

2. Who benefits?
Yes you do. But who else? Ideally we think of benefits for us when we delegate... like I delegate the task so I can go home early. Or I delegate the task so I can do something more important. I think when you choose items you want to delegate you should also think of benefits of the delegation. A more simplistic view is when you delegate tasks that are second line that you are doing and that can help:
1. Get someone else too able to take care of in your absence
2. Prepare the person to the next level
Benefits that the person doing it will derive from it have to be explained better, This will ensure that the benefits of delegation have multi routed outputs. Thus increasing possibilities of the task succeeding.

3. Identify the person
If this fails the whole delegation model fails. The person who the task needs to be delegates needs to be picked up well. For instance you cannot pick up a Jr. Developer to do a Code review for you if you are an architect, it may be good for him but in the end a disaster for all. Imagine having a Air hostess getting control of a Airbus 380, even if the pilot thinks autopilot works? Or imagine the pilot turning the mode of the plane to autopilot when in a stormy situation? Yes the person doing it has to be chosen. Keep the following things in mind when you choose:
1. Is he ready to do it.
2. Is he capable of doing it.
3. How much of time he needs from you to do it? Do you have time to give him?
4. What happens if he fails?
5. What happens next if he succeeds? Do you have expectations to be managed?
6. Will the person do this without having to move out of what is hi core interest?

4. Understanding
Its very important that you as a delegator explains the delegated task very well to the person who is going to take it up. There has to be a very clear understanding on :
1. What needs to be done.
2. What are the ways to do it
3. Who , How , When to contact for what
4. Success and failure criteria.
5. Process and guidelines.
6. Expectation from you in terms of results and steps in results.
7. Final output

5. Time, Support and Help
You can’t just delegate a task and vanish. Delegation brings more and more responsibilities... Once you delegate you have to follow up with the person (Not to micro Manage) but to ensure that the required help and support is seek. Ensure that you give enough time to the person to understand and get adapted to the task. Follow up so the person seeks required help and support from all sectors that involves his/her task. Facilitate whatever possible to let the person get a good control and fall into the correct and positive rhythm. Ensure that required authorities and responsibilities are listed to the member. If its a checklist its well and good. Imagine a security guard asked to protect a premise not having access to the premise? Remember even if the person doing the task is responsible for it, you as a delegator is the accountable authority for it.

6. Review , Evaluate , Feed it back.
Yes.. Frequently review it, evaluate the status, provide guidelines and feedback appropriately. It cannot be worse than not reviewing a delegated task. This can break the moral of the person doing it because he/she may think that it is less important and thats why it is delegated, also the task will loose its own importance.

7. You don’t need to be a Manager to delegate, You don’t need to delegate things to others
Yes. You necessarily not be a manager. Imagine a part of the code you are supposed to work is also being worked by someone else... you can delegate a part of your task to your colleague. Imagine you have to go pay bill for your phone and your friend is going out to do something, can it save some time for you? The other side of delegation is you don’t need to just delegate things to can delegate it to yourself.

8. Prepare a checklist
Always. When you delegate a task, make sure you have your own checklist to follow up. It would be good to create a checklist for the person who is doing it. This helps in clear definitions of things to do.

9. Credit reasonably
A lot of times leads and managers think that delegation is a easy way to succeed. They get someone else do the task and prefer claiming the credit for it. This creates a very bad culture and over and over gives a broken moral to the team. Ensure that the credit is given to the people who are doing it. Leadership is on how best you get it done, leaving others to learn from things and at the same time letting then have their share of cake they deserve.

10. Failures
Before delegating analyse the risk and consequences of failures. You may not want to delegate a task that will involve a huge deal that can change the future of your company. If you are the best person to work on, DO IT. Seek help and manage delegation in doing it. Define the failure items , potentials and criteria so the person doing it knows what NOT TO DO and avoid. Also be supportive if a delegated task fails.. this can else turn a disaster.

11. Be Reasonable
Amit a day ago gave me an example on how his lead would give a task to him without his knowledge of how and what to do, and also giving an estimate that is unreasonable, forcing him to do it. Finally when it came to review and seeking responsibility how his lead would not turn up. This shows that you maturity level is low and you need to grow up to give a reasonable time to everyone you delegate the tasks because they are not as experts as you are.

Monday, 21 December 2009

5 reasons why not to link twitter with your linkedin and Facebook accounts

A few days ago linkedin had twitter integrated, when I logged into my profile I saw a whole bunch of friends linking tweets with linkedin. Whoa... isnt that the first thing you do when something gets hyped or over hyped? Facebook with twitter , linkedin with twitter , product portfolios with twitter and so on..... Eventually not only linkedin, everything thing that has status are now linked with twitter.

Eventually when you login to some profiles (include mine) al you would see is repetition of status across twitter , facebook , linked in.. in other words same info everywhere... I chose to unfollow those friends who have done so. Simple reason.. why see the same information everywhere...

Now this can cause you some followers, friends and good contacts or potential clients too... thus I am forced to give you 5 reasons not to do so.. at least not with Facebook and twitter.

1. Repetitive Information

I always felt that integrated twitter account helps a lot to manage your various status based social networks.. initially it started well... later it turned out to become a sort of unwanted link... for instance I followed the CXO of one of my previous clients over twitter , was a contact over linked in and of course a friend over FB, as time passed by it became apparent that I was only seeing info that I was seeing on twitter, to a matter that his blog also was showing nothing but tweets. Logically it was a waste following him on twitter and in my regular twitter cleanup exercise he got unfollowed. Why see same information again and again and at multiple places.

Moreover in terms of SEO this is of no benefit, eventually when twitter searches over google you may not find you high in ranks due to simple algorithm logic of duplicate content.

2. Dead Profiles
Profiles that are usually updated via twitter are less interested as the walls would show nothing but your twitter status. These profiles can be so dead that if your friends and contacts may decide to leave you. This usually happens with the Fan Pages. having your product twitter account and Facebook Fan page may result in duplicates and people may want to go to one source of information. This also comes with a fact that with several integration options you become too lazy to update relevant information across platforms.

3. No split in general, professional or social status

You may think that it is good to have them integrated but if you really want to link then choose what to link. Tools like Selective Tweets help you do that... this way you can limit the type of information (which could be very personal) going to your accounts (that are supposed to reveal your professional part). A friend of mine tweeted about how he hates his work, eventually his twitter account linked to linkedin. Over professional business networking platforms will be corrupted with unwanted personal tweets.. sometimes over hundreds of them in a day.

4. Confuse self , Confuse others

Imagine a housewife friend, a non internet savy who connects to your facebook profile only... what will happen if they see thousands of tweets all over your FB page or profile? Specially if you are a seasoned twitterer your profiles are going to confuse the only time visitors.

5. Dont get Hired , Soon get fired

If your linked in account says how much you hate your job, You are not getting hired and may soon be fired. This is due to the fact that many organizations over a period of time have started considering doing certain research about candidates they interview or new employees that are going to be part of their teams on internet and social networking sites. This gives a very bigger perspective of personal side of the members.. We ended up rejecting 2 potentially good technical resources as their social networking status revealed a greater sense of negative attitude and some statuses also revealed how much they hated working over certain things.

Not only this if you are tweeting how much you hate your company , Boss , employer and linking it to your FB or twitter you sooner or later going to loose your job.

Now before you go ahead and link your various social network sites with your twitter account, think, you may be watched, you may be writing on things that you dont want some people to know. Even loose your job and web credibility.

So what do you want to do?

Nandan Nilekani's first day in Parliament - Of Culture's and Dress Code

I read this today after some of my friends tweeted around it that said Nandan Nilekani's first day in parliament... For those of you who are unaware of who this person is and why he is on my post please refer here , here and here...

The whole post is nice for some reasons and not very inspiring to me for others.. A Technocrat when travels to be a Cabinet Minister it inspires me on my way to get into politics sometime in my life… if not for changing the world at least helping my hand in changing India.. What disturbed me in the post is listed below as mentioned in the write-up:

“It was Minister of Textiles who had a comment to make before the next point on the agenda. He made a request that I should be attired in a more austere way instead of a flashy suit. It did not go well with the image of a minister who should live to serve the common man and should be less ostentatious in his habits. I stood up to reply. I offered my apologies to the Honourable Minister and assured that I shall be in a more acceptable dress next time. I felt that he was right. We also used to have corporate dress code in Infosys. So it's here as well!!!! I sat down and felt somebody nudging me. I turned around and to my surprise; it was the former Indian skipper and one of my favorite batsman Mohd. Azharuddin. I remembered that he had recently won the elections. I smiled at him and mentioned to him that I used to like his game very much, shaking his hand. No Rolex, I noticed. Azhar told me that he would “fix” me an appointment with an Italian designer who had designed his dapper Kurta suit. An Italian designer in Milan doing Kurtas!!!!! I made a note of this and reminded myself to give this example to Friedman for his next book,” The World Markets are flattened”.

Though I would treat “attired in a more austere way instead of a flashy suit” to be as attired in a less flashy suit… How many of Indians do think that if a politician is wearing a Khadi, he is as genuine as Gandhiji? Or how many of Indians feel that being a politician you are working for improvement of lower class only? OK forget what others think and feel… As self do you think if you don’t wear attire that suite what our minister called “austere” you would do less? And then have the dress that is designed by some famous designer for money that can be used to feed hundreds of poor Indians for a few years? Amazing isn’t it? Anyways my point is not to criticize what Mr. Nilekani wrote…instead to point the RULE that asks people to wear specific attire for reasons “unreasonable”

Dress Code’s… I think they are nice to have but to determine the minimum code rules that need to be followed with dressing in different places… I would imagine a dress code to be followed when you represent your company, organization or country with those extended others who you call clients, customers, vendors, diplomats or other nation’s representatives… You need to be wearing reasonable attire that can keep up to the reputation of your organization. Does enforcing dress code means that people really refer to the dress code and the moral behind it? BTW what is the exact reason to have dress code? I know that in some BPO’s and companies’ people are asked to be “Formally dressed” which means that a formal attire that doesn’t say that you are partying while at office or you just returned back from a disco.

There was a lot of fiasco when Sania Mirza and another tennis player wore casuals in the Beijing Olympics parade … read more about it here and people crumbled and cribbed about culture and attire ethics not followed… but what if somebody chooses to follow the dress code and find runaways to the clauses? Eventually Mandira Bedi Saree controversy cannot be easily forgotten… read here …

So over and over.. here is my view on dress code’s
Dress code’s needs to be event based.
Dress code need to determine what you cannot wear and not what you should wear.
Dress code should be based on profession and the type of work people do.
Dress code should be not to enforce people to buy new things or wear things they are not comfortable with.
In other words
Dress code should be replaced with a plain guideline to not be very casually dressed and leave the mature people who represent our teams, organization, cultures, states and nations to decide what best attire can represent it.

Your views….

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Are Cultural issues killing your Business ??? - Part 2

We discussed in yesterdays post What Are some of the Cultural Issues that can kill your Teams today we speak about how to be prepared to handle these issues.. A lot of time we are unaware of cultural issues others we ignore them.. in spite of having global teams and knowing the global impact we intend to intentionally or unintentionally ignore or avoid handling this issue.. A Cultural Quotient in Managers can definitely help this cause.. Now how to build this cultural quotient... and what is this cultural quotient?

What is Cultural Quotient?
Awareness of cultural differences, not by theory but by experience in working into different cultures is what is a unit of cultural quotient. Knowing what are the differences and barriers in different cultures is the CQ. We cannot just build it or buy it.. We cannot just train our people and get it implemented.. I am sure if we would then again we would not have any issues.. and businesses running without visible issues are no more businesses.

CQ can be built in different people but with time and enough training , exposure and above all awareness. Long back when BPO/Call centers were a big hype in India.. all Business Processes from various parts of the world were outsourced to India.. and to make it effective Language and Accent trainers were introduced to the calling agents.. people on calls from India got American names, they were trained with American accents and so on.. did it help? for a while it did.. but the mass was involved attrition, switching roles and jobs couldn't let companies handle this training as they should have... Then came in house training division and tests.. people were trained by companies own people , had to run through tests before they got into projects... yet.. did the accents and utilization of language change? Not really.. see below :

You may still hear on phones words like "Arey" , "na?" , "listen na" blah blah... Conclusion is just training is not helping.. there is something beyond that....

How to help us build it?

How to handle a cultural awareness is by way of :

1. Introduce people to cultures ...
2. Have them stay over the different locations for short , mid and long term
3. Train a bunch of them there and then let them go back and train the rest.
4. Imbibe cultural events to let them know the importance of various cultures... so Easter or Diwali or Hanukkah is just not a holiday but more.. or Presidents Day or Revolution Day or Republic day is beyond a day off at work.
5. Always ensure cross cultured people mingle
6. Get together of families when in different culture can give a good insight.. specially when you are invited for a Dinner for instance...

There are many other ways.. but remember, you cannot just get 50 people in a training room , teach them what people do in different nations and regions and build a CQ for them. Steps would be for individuals and Managers to list down:
1. Top few cultural elements of different cultures there Teams are based in
2. Start events that expose cultures , smaller ones that can involve smaller groups and let the word spread through.
3. Have shared collaborations places, blogs and intranet portals list down the celebrations..
4. if you are on a farther side make sure you do enough research before you get involved.
5. As managers its your job to allocate time to such events that can help build a proximity.

From a Professional Standpoint:
1. Make sure there are clearer roles defined for each of the member of cross cultural Teams
2. Ensure that the Objectives are set well
3. Success and Failure criteria are defined
4. Encourage involvement in decision making
5. Encourage co-ordination , Ideas sharing and other things that can help Teams build more confidence.
6. Introduce cross tasks so that such people can interact and know each other
7. let the blame game never come into picture, because that is something that can kill.

What else? How do we bring Cultural Difference to Normality , so that we can surpass the productivity levels?

Friday, 18 December 2009

Are Cultural Issues Killing your Business?

You may have being involved in Cross cultural teams, as a part of your Software Teams or your company outsourcing your Business or Knowledge processes. Every time you dealt with teams out of your region you might have faced challenges... if you say that you never faced any issues then in Swami's language "YOU ARE GOD" in Aaron's words "YOU SHOOT"... in practicality "You are lying"... Yes.. as we are going global, we are facing more and more issues that are directly linked to cultural differences.. and since you are doing the same tasks or sharing the same tasks, you are definitely going to mess it up if you dont understand the issues and be proactive enough to work on them....

Exactly as we have the IQ , we should factor something called as Cultural Quotient, the thing that will help us build intelligence to factor the cultural issues that cross culture teams can face...Cultural Intelligence is a way of understanding diversified cultures and managing a balance in them, thus helping managers in steps achieve:

1. Understanding cultural barriers
2. Creating a framework to manage the base
3. Increasing productivity

Here I bring you some things that can help us collectively if we work lets

1. Identify these issues
2. Find solutions to them
3. Improve our effectiveness and help our organization achieve more...

There are common challenges that you face in global teams spread across cultures... some ways to avoid them and some potential ways to penetrate the issue and kill them is what we need to work on. The post is not an answer to your problem... but instead a wake up call for you to contribute to this issue that can save us millions easily....

A few of the major areas of challenge in cultural diversified organizations are:

1. Communication

With tools and channels to support effective communication like Skype. Yammer, IM , VOIP, Collaboration tools.. it has become easier and easier now to communicate. However it is not really the channels that are the challenge here... its the way the communication happens in different cultures that cause the fallback for organizations to achieve their goals...The fruits of globalization...

Here are a few of those common things that affect you.. in day to day life...
You are in a conference with an American , A European, An Indian... During the conference somebody propose a solution and expects you to answer...
The European would say "Yes" to confirm that it will be done.
The Indian would say "Yes" which means that he understands the problem, He may not agree to the solution and means that he is not sure of doing it too...
An American would say "Yes" and it means that it is wide and clear to be done.

Similarly... Greetings have their own effect in different cultures..
For an American a firm handshake determines self confidence, A limp one can be taken as homosexuality, a long handshake would mean closeness and even sexual attraction. While in Africa a limp handshake is a correct one , if it is for a longer time it is the perfect handshake.

An eye to eye contact with anyone while any conversation is the right thing and shows your correctness in America, while an eye to eye contact by a lady in India maybe seen as dis respect.

Eventually due to all of such smaller but important reasons in different cultures, communication becomes key and more potential to failures... Imagine a Yes said by an Indian taken as a commitment by the client.. or a limp handshake to the potential biggest deal, or no eye contact during a business meeting with your boss?

2. Approach to work

Its the approach that is differently handled in different cultures... You would find a Japanese doing several checks, references , discussions and more and more analysis and planning before doing anything... while a General American would with some basic level of analysis kick of major projects.

Its also the approach to work that can cause bigger conflicts in between teams or people if they culturally differ. A few weeks ago I had being involved preparing a business plan for a friend's statrtup who is now pitching a VC. The friend also had an American partner who was involved in making this plan... Creating a cyclic analysis and report of revenue model, the American friend more focused on dumping the basics, while my friend waited and worked for few more days to get the analysis and data correct. Not that Americans jump into things, but the depth is analysed in more agile way.

The approach can be a decisive killer in between colleagues and bosses and peers.
3. Decision making style

Always Key... An Indian would assume that he would need enough direction and guidance under a leader before he kicks off his task. An Aussie would take the lead and begin the task. Also the way decision making is done is or can be different... A Chinese employee will go ahead and implement what is being told... A British may come and ask several questions and challenge the decision. A Chinese Manager would accept anyone to abide by the decision made, while if the Britisher sees a lot of loopholes would like it to be reconsidered.

Ready for a disaster?

4. Tolerance

There is a certain level of Tolerance low and high between the various cultures... Ambiguity of Tasks, roles and job profile may have very less tolerance as you go western... while Tolerance towards quality of work and results has very less as you move east.

A few weeks ago I read an email from a funny forward... the software vendor almost abused the company who was giving him a job to outsource since in various iterations it was not getting clearer to him on what is expected.

How we tackle them? Well I know this has turned out to be a big big post... But I think it makes sense to add up more of the reality challenges and then go for Solutions.... what do you think?

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

21 Habits of Winners none of Sinners

We started the series together, you and me for the Winning Habits and More Winning Habits , We left the path way half way... and this definitely is not a winners habit... so we come back to cover what we left behind.. Yes.. what are those habits of winners that really make them winner.. what are those habits that we have and cant see? Or need a bit of polishing? Lets run through the habits of Winners... those 21 that I think can bring a new perspective to our lives.... to yours to mine.

1. They carry the Attitude
The Attitude to survive , Succeed, Grow , Help , Improve is what they posses as an inherit quality. They may not be great by acts but they are definitely greater by attitude. My customer screwed up the setup and I have to spend my weekend fixing it, So what, they rely on us and they run a big business on us... I have to do this.

They care about themselves, the people they work with and when you care you show a great Attitude. Their answer to what you care the most is "The values we deliver to our customers, then the values we spread in the Team". Yes they have a fantabolous attitude... Do you?

2. They kill negativity
The Biggest killer of productivity is negativity .... Jealous of collegues growing, not happy about company , not happy about work , people blah blah blah.... Winners learn not to crib... they learn to find out their way in-spite of problems... They try to kill the negativity by spreading the positivity around.

Way back in 1999 I went to see a cricket match , Sitting in the dressing room with the players a few of which were friends.. I read through and realized that they were all cribbing.. bad pitch , Bad setup, bad team , bad selection , bad opponents, bad everything... One of the assistant coach came in and asked "What is important to us? to win this game or to think about why the hosts did not give us a good ground or why we dont have good cricket kit?".. The captain took the broken leg pads and went to bat, scored a ton came back... Team inspired, negativity died.

3. They Posses Creativity

Not everything works same way always... Winners are creative minds... Because they realise how important it is to win, they try to find all possible ways to win.. Creativity erupts. Not only they are creative in some segments.. they are creative in all what they do. Creativity helps them do what they really want to do.

A fresher from school took a job into sales.. he went door to door to sell scissors and home use goods... first day of his job he was trained on field, second day a colleague took him along with... however the colleague chose to visit all friends and relatives and distributed them the goods, for him he sold everything he had... the freshmen could not sell anything, because he was just following to keep up with his colleague. He cried that night , next day he came afresh, he went alone with the goods... targeted goods that were for kids, took the encyclopedia to all houses as it was summer time... went to a garden with playing kids demonstrated and got more than expected items sold.. He knew what he wanted to achieve ;)

4. They have a perspective
It is important to have a perspective on what you do. People having no perspective of things end up doing things for no cause... long term with NO Interest. They choose to relax and think for a while on what they want to do, every day , every hour , every moment. They celebrate what they accomplish and thus get inspired to do more of it.

5. They educate themselves every now and then
If Jack never learnt new things, he would go out of Job. They learn new things always.. but they educate themselves on new things.... For them learning is one side of the coin.. educating self is another...

6. They organize themselves
How can you do things if you dont know what to do , how to do and when to do... Winners are habitat of organization. They organize well. they know how to organize.. A friend of mine who is a 3 kid Mom, works with an IT company does a 11 hour shift a day , handles husband, kids , school and everything.... yet spends time writing a blog which is read by a few hundreds everyday....
7. They Collaborate
Always... they collaborate... they know that knowledge comes by sharing.. they share . Meet new people. throw ideas. Throw ideas to anyone they meet... They are not afraid of someone stealing their ideas... if ideas were stolen.. apple falling would have been credited to someone else...
8. They Integrate

Just meeting people isnt enough.. you ahve to integrate well to cultures , to environments to places.. this is what winners do.. they adapt and integrate easily.. this helps them building trust and bondings easily.

9. They accept mistakes
They make mistakes and then they accept it. They face and are ready to face consequences... running away from mistakes is not what they do. A development team did a major change in their product. One of the developers working on it screwed it up badly, he knew he screwed it up.. he started running away from the bugs , issues raised around it... to a matter that he never asked about what was happening with the development he did for long. The release went through with lot of issues. He knew he made a mistake.. he came up and said... "I screwed it up, I could have done it better.. next time this wont happen"

10. They are passionate for Success
Success is what they see in everything they do and every where they are. The passion is dark and thats why they see and want to see and meet success. If you are doing things for the sake of it... you are just doing it. If you see Success as your goal.. yes you have a way to go...

11. They are Proactive
They think future. They are proactive, sometimes careful, sometimes pessimistic... but they are proactive...They may build an ark with a fear of a storm... people may laugh at them for it.. but they want to be prepared for the worst. They ensure that all potentials are thought of.

12. They think of the finish line
When they begin they think of the finish line... They are the Usain Bolt in mind.... they only see the 8 second mark and the finish line.... Winners want to see the end, they see the end right in the beginning... Its the attitude to see the end that drives them to success.... its like running bare foot in a desert with no map is very less productive than running barefoot in the same desert but knowing where to go and how.

13. First things first
Priority matters to them... So you wont find them doing things just becuase they know how to do it... or it is easy.. what comes on priority is the first thing they do...

14. Winner is a Winner is a Winner, They win, They let win
They want to win. They win. They want to win they let others win along with them. Winners believe in collective growth.

15. They Synergize
They Synergize and generate an energy to surpass.. Synergizing is a regular habit of winners.

16. They Learn from mistakes and success
Everyone does from mistakes.. they learn their lessons from success and failures.
17. They leave Ego to sleep
If ego is working, nothing else is.. They know this well and thus they leave ego in a can, closed and freezed in a freezer.

18. They Innovate
They do new things, regularly. They believe in things differently. Always.. Innovation and creativity goes hand in hand for them.

19. They think collectively
They give importance to opinions. They think collectively. They think as a Team. They are eager to get matters discussed and find a solution a common way. Yet they dont want or are not keen in getting what they desire... For them collective thinking is getting a good solution not MY Solution.

20. They lead , They lead from front
They are their with the Teams, with their colleagues. They step ahead to do things, to take responsibilities and work on getting it to success. They lead even if they are not leading.. They drive the path and vision the pathway. They are in the front row of everything to make it happen.

21. They realize they are Winners
They know they are winner... true winners. They know this and thats why they win... they realise their potential and know that they can do anything on this earth.... Winners in heart , in mind know they are winners... be it Napolean, or be it Gandhiji.... they know they can do it, without a Doubt.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Etiquettes of Business Lunches

In the last post we discussed the do's and dont's of Team lunches.. today I write about the Etiquette's of Business Lunches. Yes those lunches that you take with your clients, customers, potential customers, bosses. It is as important to have some etiquette's followed (calling strictly) as it is to attend these lunches/dinners with them dressed strictly formal.

If you are with your Boss, Customer, Clients and Prospects remember one important thing "You are under a radar" yes, you are being watched for the manners. It is extremely important that you do some basics / learn some fundamentals and execute some starters correctly. Here is a list of some things that you should take care on Business dining...
Through the post we will refer Business Partners, Clients, Customers and prospects as Clients to avoid confusion.

1. Make sure you take your client to a place that determines not very casual or inexpensive dining place if you are the host. If you are not the host be courteous enough to accept and acknowledge the invitation well in advance.

2. Nothing is bad than keeping your client hungry
Try to be as much punctual as you can. Be in time atleast 10 - 15 mins earlier, if you run late not more than 10 - 15 mins. Make sure if you are the host or not if you have to meet a client try picking them up from the workplace so you can go to the dining location together. This is due to the fact that if you know each other you can choose to save time, if you dont imagine waiting for each other.

3. Initiation is import, Are you prepared?
No matter if you are having your lunch with your client or Boss, do you have something to speak about? I have seen several members just eating and looking at faces. The impression your boss or client can make around with this is not going to please you. Before the lunch / Dinner prepare yourself with some small talks.. they can be anything related to city , growth of company , domain, media or general issues...

4. Drinks and Drunks
If your client chooses to order some drinks accompany him, dont go haywire and start ordering cocktails... the first question your boss , client will have is "does he come to office next day if he drinks so much", if you are the first one to decide then put off by saying "I can company if you are interested". Start with breezers or very light drinks..

5. Whatta nice chick!!!!!
Unless you know your client , boss very well.. never ever go and discuss women or politics over business lunches. The talk speaks a lot about your character and its not good to reveal it for no reason. Also remember that your client or boss is not dating you. Bigger blunder is, if the client or boss is an opposite sex never ask for a Date ;)

6. If you cant respect people who do lower jobs than you, You cant be respected.
Treat the staff well. If you throw arrogance you reveal a very non essential part of your character. Calm down even if there is a blunder, shows maturity.

7. Know with who you are talking
Imagine discussing things that may not please someone you are dining with and he is your potential client... in a sense that you may say "XXX what a shameless city" Now imagine if he / she is from there ;) Be prepared and know your customer and their business well. If you are with you boss try to discuss topics that you are sure you know about... Idiots sound good in movies not in real life.

8. Never hammer your competition
You have to surpass your competition by outstanding them , not by cribbing about them. Never ever slam your customers or competitors in front of your customers. If possible in front of your Boss ;) He may like it , but he may also find you defensive. And blaming someone doesnt make you good.

9. Dont let the check go off
If you are the host then never let your client know the amount.. he has seen the menu , so he knows the cost.

10. Suggest
Suggest for restaurants, Food, and anything that come your way in discussions, never dominate the discussions... listen to the client,boss and see what they want to say...

Now time to go to some manners... if you are attending the business , informal dining... here are the Do's and Dont's :
1. Unfold your napkin when you seat, keep it on your lap. Use it to wipe your lips and fingers.. sneezing is a NO NO.
2. Drink your own glass
3. Hold the knife and fork in correct hands, use fork upside down when eating some rice etc.
4. Do not order food items that you cannot easily have without using hands
5. A Clean plate is an offence for a chinese host , maybe not for an Indian. You can leave some food in the next plate...
6. Try to give some respect by standing up when some guest arrives and greets you, when a lady is in action it is good manners to d this when they come and leave too.
7. Use the time when the food is served to have small talks

1. Keep mouth full while talking
2. Burp or make noises while eating.
3. Picking teeth, sneezing
4. stretching across table
5. Drinking too much wine
6. Just focusing on food and wine
7. Order food that involves a lot of gravy and sleazy material that would need a lot of care.
8. Dont Criticize food or wine, specially if it is a choice of your client or Boss
9. Leave the Dinner before everyone is done and ready to leave if you are with a client or if everyone is done and with due excuse if you are with your Boss or Team.