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attract-and-retain-talent

How do you attract the best people AND then make sure they stick around and stay motivated

As anyone in HR would tell you, this is a continuous process; it is not a one-time solution or package that you can offer employees, but a long-term, deep-rooted organisational culture that ensures employees at all levels stay constantly engaged and motivated.

A big part of this process is career development.

Employees across the board, especially the millennials, understand that to grow and scale the corporate ladder they need to offer more value for money – i.e., additional skills, more experience or a mature and strategic thought process – some of these come with time and some need to be developed – but they all need the employer’s support.

Whether it is offering your team opportunities to stretch their minds and resources or giving them time to study further or offering in-house skill-building opportunities – the organisation is the first port of call for an employee’s career development. Almost all employees look internally for professional growth opportunities, and when they don’t find it, they eventually leave!

You are probably thinking – “hey, we know all this! But there is only so much we can do with our budgets and resources.”

Agreed! It is not our intention to teach you your job, what we hope to do instead is highlight some companies that are implementing this successful programme – to maybe leave you a bit inspired for your next L&D meeting!

So, without further ado, here are a few career development initiatives we really liked –

Successful Career Development Initiatives

1. Pixar, AT&T, and Schneider Electric

Why we like them: Huge investment in creating university-style learning environment and infrastructure for all employees.

All these three global giants have invested a serious amount of time, money and thought into developing huge learning centers for their employees.

While at Pixar the focus remains on fostering creative thinking, at the AT&T University the scope is broader, and they have achieved this by partnering with well-known online and physical universities; all employees can choose from a large variety of courses developed in partnership with Georgia Tech and Udacity Inc.

At the other end of the spectrum is Schneider Electric; they have created a learning center that is very specific to their domain and offers over 200 courses on energy efficiency and data centers.

2. Culture Amp

Why we like them: The initiative lies with the employees, and it’s not all about professional learning – the initiatives are really about what the employee wants not what’s best for the company.

Culture Amp has really given the responsibility of learning to the people along with the tools. They have two great programmes which can be implemented by companies of all sizes –

Coaching for Everyone – Every single employee is provided with sessions with an executive coach or a life coach at 6, 12 and 24 months and they can use these sessions for anything they like – professional or personal issues.

Learn Yourself Up – a quarterly budget for training is open for all to use – for anything they like. Employees pay for a part of the course fees – a smaller percentage for professional courses and a higher one for a personal one. But again, it can be anything they like.

3. Optoro

Why we like them: Employees are given budgets to use as they see fit.

Optoro offers its employees an annual professional development budget that they can use – in conjunction with their managers – to further their professional skills.

They also provide skills-based seminars on a plethora of topics the whole year round and actively encourage all employees to participate in the conferences, organizations and learning programs that will keep them expanding their professional knowledge.

4. Amazon

What we like: No questions asked, equal opportunity for all

If you have been an Amazon employee for at least one year then you are eligible for a course worth $12000!

The Career Choice Program by Amazon pre-pays 95% of tuition and fees for certificates and associate degrees in areas that are in high demand, such as aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technologies, medical lab technologies, nursing, and so on – regardless of whether they have any relevance to work at Amazon!

Conclusion

We doubt there is any organisation out there, large or small, that is not working hard to engage and motivate employees to the best of their abilities and budgets.

But, it is easy to get caught up in the business of running an organisation; of meeting targets and deadlines. Which is why you need to remember these three things –

  1. Employees WANT to be good at their work and they WANT the resources to do better.
  2. Career Development planning doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming or very elaborate – but it has to be meaningful.
  3. If you don’t fulfil the development aspirations of your employees, the most talented of them will leave. And this will cost you in the long run.

Whether you have a robust L&D programme or are just starting to put down the foundation of your career development policies, it always pays to understand the needs and aspirations of your employees and this is where we can help.

To know more click the Request Consultation button above.

motivating-millennials

Struggling to keep your millennial employees motivated?

Discover how to keep your new-age workforce engaged and loyal.

Motivating, retaining and keeping your employees happy and engaged will always be a priority for the entire management, not just HR but for anyone who manages a team.

As the new generation of Millennials enters the workforce in large numbers, to create a productive environment, policies and engagement models need to align with their way of thinking.

How does a millennial approach work?                 

With high expectations, high energy and high self-confidence – millennials approach work very differently from the baby boomer generation! They are extremely comfortable working in teams and in flatter organisations, love to multi-task and, of course, are completely at ease with digital technology.

For the millennial – aware of global situations – civic responsibility is quite important; they don’t just want to do well but also do some good!

Creativity and innovation is also something they value highly at the workplace. Being able to come up with new ideas, processes, products or services is important for them, and a company with a culture of encouraging an individual’s talents gets an instant thumbs up.

How can companies retain and integrate millennials to grow their businesses?

46% of the workforce will be made up of Millennials by 2020! While we need to engage and retain them, we also cannot afford to ignore the other 54% of older employees.

While some motivating factors remain true across ages – money, responsibility, and appreciation – generational viewpoints differ on the specifics. It has become clear that a one-size-fits-all engagement policy is not entirely effective in organisations with a mix of age groups and generations.

Here are some initiatives that can be targeted towards Millennials and also appeal to the Gen-Ys:

Flexible Working Solutions

Work-life balance is cited as the number one factor for choosing a job according to this study by Deloitte. This can be done by breaking down the traditional workday and offering flexible working hours. The idea is to prioritise deadlines and outcomes over putting in a set number of hours.

With so much technology, there is no reason to be rigidly chained to the desk anymore – allowing employees to choose their work times can go a long way in keeping them happy.

Continuous Feedback & Appraisals

Usually, the organisational appraisal policies are annual or bi-annual at best. With millennials, there is a demand for more regular and constructive feedback.

This is a generation that wants to know where they stand and are looking for ways to improve – for this continuous and constructive feedback is important. This small but essential change to the appraisal structure can go a long way to make millennials – and indeed everyone in the company – more productive.

Quicker Promotions or Incentive Schemes

The organisational structure where they have to wait years for a promotion is seen as demotivating by most millennials.

While some organisations cannot create new titles or change promotion policies, performance bonuses, training opportunities and some forms of recognition always help create a sense of achievement and progress which highly coveted by everyone regardless of their age.

Social / Community Building Programmes

According to the 2014 Millennial Impact Report, 94% of millennials want to use their professional skills to benefit a cause.

A great way to harness this energy is to involve them in CSR activities. A company that is seen as a socially conscious organisation is sure to appeal to the millennial worker.

More Learning & Development Opportunities

Almost all organisations have L&D policies and matching budgets to facilitate their projects. Millennial employees value skill enhancement and advancement, and a generous L&D HR policy would certainly make an organisation seem more attractive.

Over decades HR policies have worked with some of the ideas mentioned above – L&D and Incentive Schemes have figured in HR and Management discussions for years. The challenge is to adapt these existing policies to meet the expectations of the new generation of employees.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you are a 20-year-old fresher or a 60-year-old approaching retirement, we all want the same things in life – we want to take care of our families, succeed at work, leave behind a legacy and enjoy ourselves – the only difference is how we approach this key human wants.

If you are looking for ways to engage your employees, then we can certainly help. We can help you devise strategies that can foster real engagement and across all organization levels. Click on the Request Consultation button above.

women-entrepreneurs

Leading Women: Stories of Entrepreneurship

All of us have hidden strengths that come forth when we are challenged or inspired.  And at SoaringEagles we love to hear these stories of human endurance and ingenuity. Of dreams – big and small – becoming a reality.

Every month, we try to catch up with a woman entrepreneur or business leader for a quick chat to understand how they do, what they do!

This month, we spoke to Nirali Sanghi, Founder & Owner, Indiaparenting.com

Indiaparenting.com is India’s first and largest parenting site catering to the needs of parents across diverse geographies, culture, and language with nuanced content that is relevant to their local culture.

“I had a 5-month old baby; we did 18-hour days, and I couldn’t wait to get up the next day and start again.”

This is the sentence that sticks to mind from our conversation with Nirali!

Here’s the rest of the talk –

Q: You launched indiaparenting.com in 1999 and almost 20 years down the line you still sound so excited about it. Tell us how it all started.

Nirali: Well, after I had my baby in 1998, like all new mums I went on the Internet to look for advice and information and saw a huge gap – there was no information that was India centric. All the biggest websites and forums were either US or UK based. Things like Indian baby names, information on mundan ceremonies, etc – things that are specific to our culture was just not discussed online.

So right off the bat, I knew that this is something that has enormous potential! By the time my baby was 5 months old, I had a team of 15 people working out of my bedroom – there were desks and laptops all around and a baby sleeping on the side. We launched the website in May 1999.

It was crazy, but also really great! We were doing everything in that one room; writing, designing, programming – you name it.

You have to remember this was the dot-com boom period and the website really took off very very fast. We even had an offer to sell it. We got funding in 2000, just before the huge dot-com crash!

Q: Wow, this sounds exciting! Did you find it difficult to get an investor on board? And did this investment help the website?

Nirali: Well I have around nine years of experience in Banking and Marketing, so when it comes to approaching investors, I knew what I was doing.

At first, the idea was to use the funds to acquire other similar parenting sites and expand the business, but with the crash, the market was quite iffy, and in 2003 I decided to return the unused funds. Our investors had entrusted it to us and as we didn’t need the funds anymore; I was sure that returning them would unlock the investment for someone else, so we gave the investors their money back.

Our website was self-funded and making money. We didn’t need the extra funds, and it was the right thing to do.

We did a whole redesign and relaunched the website in 2008, and then the market crashed again in 2009!

Q: What bad timing! And twice in a row! What are some of the challenges you faced throughout your 20-year journey?

Nirali: In the beginning, naturally the struggle to just get it off the ground was immense – there was no office, very few employees, I had to keep a tight rein on the cost because it was all coming out of my pocket and also it was all so new.

Plus, I have very strong opinions on what I like regarding content and style and managing a diverse team of creative people with different mindsets was something I had trouble with in the beginning.

What I find professionally challenging and also very exciting is to create new products and develop them from scratch – its all yours, like a baby. That’s what keeps me going really.

Of course, along the way, there were products and services that didn’t work very well – like an e-commerce venture for baby products. We realised that people are searching for specific information when they visit us, and the mindset was not receptive to pitch sales.

Q: What about your experience as a woman entrepreneur? Anything that stands out?

Nirali: I didn’t have any specific challenges being a woman.

Now things are a bit different, but at the start, we would go for meetings, and people would just look at the male employee, they just expected the guy to be senior, I guess (laughs). Men focus on men! All that has changed a fair bit now, so many more women in boardrooms now.

Q: Almost 20 years down the line; what are your takeaways from the journey.

Nirali: We are the largest Indian parenting site! And the first, other sites came and went, but we are still here and growing. I couldn’t have done it without my outstanding team. We have 15 permanent employees now, and every single one of them is fantastic. I give them a completely free hand and no matter what the challenge – they just crack it! I know it sounds like a cliché, but we are like a family.

Q: You recently did one of our courses on public speaking. What motivated you to do this course?

Nirali: Well actually I am getting several opportunities to speak at forums and conferences, and I thought I could use some help.

What I discovered is that I am part of the vast majority of average speakers (laughs) – we are not too bad, but not great either. So, the course really helped spike my confidence by correcting some important points – like dealing with negative situations or structuring the ppt.

What I really liked was how to make your presentation memorable – I never really thought in that direction, so that was quite refreshing.

Q: Finally, what do you think is the most important requirement for an entrepreneur – women, and men.

Nirali: From my experience, its family support. Your husband, your children, and your extended family matter a great deal – they can either make the journey fun or make it harder.

As the digital world expands and fills up our homes, we are quite sure that Nirali and her team will continue to grow with it. We wish them continued success!

If you would like to share your entrepreneurial journey, then drop us a quick note or a comment below. We would love to hear from you.

good-speech

What Makes A Good Speech, GREAT? (And Why Steve Jobs Is Still Inspiring People on YouTube)

When we first thought of deconstructing a good speech, it seemed like such a great and obvious idea to showcase our public speaking programme.

After exhausting a month’s worth of data on YouTube, we realised it’s not easy to pick just one. When it comes to great, world-changing orators, there are so many to choose from!

After much thought and discussion, we finally picked Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at the Stanford university’s 114th Commencement on June 12, 200529 million views and counting!

Wow! Right?

For us, two things immediately stand out –

  1. The power of storytelling
  2. He is reading it out from his notes!

But seriously, one of the reasons we chose this talk – apart from the fact that this is a great example of a memorable speech – is to debunk the myth that a good speech has to be memorised!

Now to be honest when it comes to the delivery style, this speech doesn’t hold a candle to Martin Luther King’s famous civil rights speech or Winston Churchill’s radio address or Hitler’s power-packed performances.

There are no quotable quotes, no deep voices, no arm throwing – yet it is memorable; you will remember his life stories, and you will remember the last few words (Stay hungry, stay foolish) forever!

Let’s find out why this is a good speech –

Humans are wired to listen to stories, and when those stories are about love and loss and overcoming difficult life situations, we empathise! We root for the underdog, and we revel in his victories. In the end, we come out feeling good!

The speech follows the arc of his life – mapping three crucial milestones and each reinforces the same core message – Do what you love, believe in yourself, and everything will work out!

Let’s look at the first story – we start with a baby boy left in limbo while his birth mother holds out for the right parents. He builds up the importance of education and then destroys it in favour of individuality, and he does this in one of the best and most expensive educational institutions in the world; in front of hundreds of graduates – how’s that for a beginning!

And before it all gets too heavy and sentimental, he times it just perfectly to give the story a happy ending with a little bit of fun in the form of a humorous swipe at his biggest competitor –

 “If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them.”

Moreover, he returns and employs this storytelling structure in the other two stories as well – starts with an idea or a hint to what the core message could be; talks about a terrible period of his life and finally presents a uplifting success story – the audience is literally living the highs and lows of his life with him.

From –

“My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.”

To –

I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery, and I’m fine now.”

And then there is the message at the end of each story! He leaves the audience with these uplifting, life-changing mantra that inspires and transforms them. The 3 stories define a full circle – the speech is not just a collection of unrelated anecdotes from his life – they trace the pattern of birth, life, and death itself! And each episode come back to the core message – Find your calling, don’t settle for less.

We deconstructed this speech to find out some specific takeaways. We wanted to list some of the reasons that made this speech so memorable – it is certainly not the delivery style; there are no theatrics or even a slide.

After much discussion, we listed these features that we can replicate to make other speeches memorable –

  • Grab attention right at the start with a shocking or out of the box fact, story or an idea.
  • Use humour to gently bring down the audience from an emotional high.
  • Use the classic dramatical structure to build tension and give a resolution.
  • Work with one core message that you can reiterate again and again during the speech.
  • In the end, leave the audience with an inspiring thought or a vision that they can connect to personally. A universal idea that they can unite behind.
  • Finally, keep it short – Steve Jobs’ speech was barely 15 minutes!

This is just the tip of the iceberg! For those of you who might want to apply these learnings to your presentations and public speaking engagements, we have put together some more recommendations (all those hours on YouTube threw up some gems). So, if you have some time – take a look and be inspired!

A deconstruction of one of the most popular TED Talk given by Simon Sinek.

And certainly, take a look at this landmark talk on The Secret Structure of Great Talks by the guru of Presentations, Nancy Duarte

If you are feeling a tad overwhelmed before your big talk or presentation, then why do it alone. Reach out to us and we will be able to help you structure your content for maximum impact. Click on the Request Consultation button above.

presentation-skills

Getting Ready For An Upcoming Big Presentation? Then These Top 6 Tips Will Help You to Present Like A Pro!

All of us – from senior management to a fresher – have sat through at least one (if you are lucky) excruciatingly boring PowerPoint presentation! I remember my worst experience – it was this lady from a digital marketing agency who read out every single word of a 40-page PPT! Talk about zero presentation skills!

I distinctly remember thinking that I don’t care how good their offer is, there is no way I am giving my marketing budget to someone who is doing such a bad job of marketing themselves!

This little anecdote underscores a point we all already know – communicating well is the key to success. And not just in the corporate arena; being able to present your idea and vision clearly and with confidence, is critical to success in all professional spheres. Whether you are a small business owner, a blogger or a politician, if you cannot put across your ideas convincingly you will not grow professionally.

But presentations can be spruced up, and speaking skills can be polished. Sometimes you might need some professional guidance, but with a little bit of time and effort, it can be done. If you are looking for some quick tips to improve your presentation skills, then dive right in –

First off, know this – it is entirely possible to upgrade your presentation skills in very little time. While getting comfortable with public speaking might need some practice and experience; there is a lot you can do in a couple of days to improve your presentation skills.

Presentation Tips

A killer presentation is a combination of two things –

  1. Content structure
  2. The skill of the presenter

Take a look at your content and decide on a core message

Before you write down even one word or make your first slide, evaluate your entire content, and find the core message you want to leave with the audience. You could also jot down key points you want to reiterate or emphasize.

Tell a story

We all love a good tale, and nothing keeps people’s attention more effectively than a good narrative structure. Start with a bang, present problems, take them on your journey of finding a solution, and leave them on an uplifting note.

If you are presenting dry facts, then try not to do so directly; weave a story around them to make them more exciting and memorable. An excellent way to do this is to explain them through your own personal situation, through a case study or through an imaginary experience.

With every passing decade, attention spans are getting shorter, so you must structure your content to inject some excitement every 5 mins. This could be a quiz, a question, a multimedia component, a game, props or a joke – anything that breaks the content flow.

Humour always helps

Nothing breaks the ice and gets the audience behind the speaker more quickly than humour. A funny picture or a cartoon, an amusing anecdote, a quirky quote or a self-deprecating pun can lighten the atmosphere and put people in a more receptive mood.

Design visually appealing presentations

If you are using decks, then make sure that you keep these basics in mind –

  • Don’t put too much text on the each slide
  • Present one idea per slide
  • Make it visually appealing – there are so many templates available out there that the audience’s design expectations have gone up – simple bullet points no longer suffice
  • Use multimedia intelligently
  • Use fonts and font sizes that are readable
  • Keep a consistent colour or design format throughout the presentation

Body posture and expressions

Many people tend to shift from one foot to another and sway back and forth or continuously touch and adjust their clothing or hair – all this comes across as nervous, distracting behaviour. If you are not seated or don’t feel comfortable striding around on stage, then it’s best to just stand still and use hand gestures.

During a presentation, maintaining eye contact is also quite important; its best to select a bunch of people distributed evenly across the room whom you can look at directly. Along with eye contact, its also a good idea to smile –  not only does it help you keep your nervousness in check it will also project a positive attitude to your audience.

Prepare and practice your presentation

Nothing beats practice! There are very few natural speakers who can go extempore; for most people, it is advisable to memorize and practice the presentation several times. If you don’t want to bank on your memory alone, then carrying cue cards is highly recommended.

Naturally, if you are presenting along with a deck, you can always turn around casually and refer to the slide. But coming back to where we started – no matter what you do, don’t start reading off the slide! It is there to create a visual reference point to what you are talking about and cannot replace your energy and your passion.

I am sure you are reading this because you have an idea or vision bubbling inside you that is just waiting to come out and I hope reading these tips can help give it the attention it deserves.

Nancy Duarte, the guru of presentation skills, puts it so well –

“..an idea is powerless if it stays inside of you. If you never pull that idea out for others to contend with, it will die with you. Now, maybe some of you guys have tried to convey your idea, and it wasn’t adopted, it was rejected, and some other mediocre or average idea was adopted. And the only difference between those two is in the way it was communicated. Because if you communicate an idea in a way that resonates, change will happen, and you can change the world.”

For working professionals and business owners, a presentation is an essential part of their work. If you feel you need to upgrade your skills in this arena, click on the Request Consultation button above.

fear-of-public-speaking

Why Do We Fear Public Speaking? And What You Can Do Immediately To Vanquish This Fear Once And For All

Have you ever come across someone who tends to freeze in front of an audience, even a couple of people? They find that their mouth dries up, their voice goes weak and their body starts shaking. They may even start sweating profusely, go red in the face and feel their heart thumping rapidly.

Has this happened to you sometime? Do you often shy away from any opportunity to speak in public? Does the thought of speaking in public leave you frozen with fear?

Glossophobia – fear of public speaking

Yes, there is a cool Greek-inspired name for fear of public speaking as well! And as much as 75% of all people are affected by it. Not surprising really, we have all felt butterflies in our stomachs before going up on stage, and most of us have an anecdote or two about public speaking disasters.

But why does something as straightforward as speaking in front of a bunch of people, cause so much dread for so many people?

Studies across the globe have identified four main reasons –

An Anxious Nature

For some people predisposed to anxiety, public speaking can trigger a threat perception hyperarousal – basically your body senses and experiences it as a threat and reacts accordingly – making it even more difficult to perform well.

Your Thoughts

You build it up to be more important than it is, you don’t think you are good enough, you think everyone will judge you and so on – basically your thoughts take over and inflate the importance of the situation to such an extent that natural nervousness snowballs into full-blown fear of public speaking.

Past Experiences

Did you have a bad public speaking experience in the past? Do you speak in public regularly? Your skill and past success or failure play a big role in how you approach public speaking situations.

New or Unfamiliar Situations

It is natural to feel more anxious if you are encountering a new audience or trying out an untested idea or are in an unknown setting. Even something like speaking in your second language or on an unprepared topic can trigger anxiety.

If you are trying to grow your business or climb the corporate ladder or have a fantastic idea that you need to communicate – you need to look your fear in the face and vanquish it.

How? Well keep reading – we have put together some simple tips to help you become a better and more confident speaker.

Know your Content

With anxiety comes the loss of concentration and memory — the first thing to go out of the window is the speech or the presentation you memorised. To avoid a black-out its best to understand your content thoroughly. Don’t just learn the lines; you should know the content well enough to be able to convey the idea in entirely different words.

Practice

For nervous speakers, practice makes perfect! Practice the speech, the pauses, the stance, the gestures and practice in front of a mirror and front of friends. Rehearsing your speech or presentation bakes it in your mind and when anxiety strikes, being over prepared will come in handy.

Relax

Relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, meditation or even some physical activity can help you tamp down the anxiety. The goal is to start the speech with a calm frame of mind, a lower heartbeat, and controlled breathing. If you start off nervous, chances are it will keep getting worse.

But relaxation techniques don’t just work overnight – you will need to make them a habit and practice them constantly to see the benefits.

Know your Limitations

Like everything else, public speaking also requires practice and time to perfect. Don’t try to just jump into a big gathering straight away – know your capabilities, start small. If you are having trouble memorising your content, carry bullet points; don’t force a joke or an anecdote if you don’t want to; don’t speak in front of hundreds of people if you can’t handle ten.

Becoming a good orator requires time and experience. Understand which stage you are at and take your time.

Lastly, ask for Help

You don’t have to go at it alone; if a big presentation or an important speech is coming up, then bring in the professionals.

Counsellors can help you structure your content, help you practice, give you useful and actionable tips to improve and also provide the much needed emotional support.

Don’t let the fear of public speaking close opportunities and stunt your professional or personal growth.

Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it so well,

“All the great speakers were bad speakers at first.”

If you want to become a confident and engaging speaker, then don’t hesitate to get in touch!

You might not end up loving the stage, but we promise you will learn not to hate it.

To know more, click on the Request Consultation button above.

secret-sauce

The Secret Sauce for Success

That day I learned something. And that is a learning I decided to apply to my life.

It was the new years’ eve and the entire family had gathered together to ring in the New Year. I decided to whip up something new, something different that evening. I began with confidence but each time I tasted the dish, I had the sense that the dish was lacking in something. Some 3 tastings later, I decided that there was an inherent weakness in the recipe. I kept trying to correct that weakness and in the process ruined what could have become a perfect Master Chef worthy experimental dish.

A couple of hours later, just as the clock was about to strike twelve, I reflected over what went wrong with the dish. I had looked at the cooking process all wrong. I was so obsessed with correcting the weaknesses in the dish that never once did I try to work on the strengths of the recipe. I could have done so much to enhance the taste, some of the flavours were so spot- on and the colour did look perfect.

That night I realized that we tend to focus on our weaknesses way too often when instead we should focus on our strengths, the actual secret sauce for success. I realized that if I want to excel in whatever I do, I need to focus on my strengths and draw out the best from myself.

According to Gallup Database of Strengths- based Interventions, employees who learn to use their strengths are 7.8% more productive on the job and have 14.9% lower turnover.

In fact, during the 1950s, Nebraska School Study Council carried out a state- wide research to identify which teaching method could help improve rapid reading speed. While the statistical results to identify the teaching methods did remain insignificant, two interesting results came to light. The data revealed that performance increased 1.6 times for average performers and performance increased by 8 times for students who were naturally able to read fast.

So what are the ingredients for this secret sauce?

Identify your Capabilities

Think about all your life experiences (the good and the bad) and ask yourself these five questions.

  1. What was so exciting about that experience?
  2. How did I handle that experience?
  3. What did I learn from that experience?
  4. What was unique about my experience?
  5. What exciting words can describe how I handled that situation?

Seek Feedback

Ask any five people you trust what they think are your strengths. Ask them to answer these three questions.

  1. When do you think I was at my best?
  2. What did I do well?
  3. What was unique about the way I handled myself/ the situation?

Invest Time in Developing the Capability

Once you have identified your strengths, invest time in honing them. Practice consistently so that you can perform better.

According to studies conducted by Gallup, an Employee who regularly applies her strengths at work is 5.1 times as likely to strongly agree that she knows what is expected of her at work and 6.2 times as likely to strongly agree that she has the opportunity to do what she does best every day.

Leverage your Strengths

Restructure your roles in such a way that you take on tasks which capitalize on your strengths. Are you excellent at creating presentations? Why not share a presentation with colleagues highlighting processes followed in the department? This will let the concerned people identify your strengths and the same time will highlight how you take initiatives.

So go out there and shine the light on your strengths and expertise and see success follow you around. If you want help in figuring out your strengths, you can explore the coaching programs offered by SoaringEagles. Click on the Request Consultation button above.

intrapreneur

It’s Your Turn to be the Intrapreneur

Yes! I am talking to you…enough of blaming others for limited career growth, poor management, etc. It’s high time to be that ‘irreplaceable’ employee. It’s your turn to develop Intrapreneurship in you.

Ken Kutaragi was working in the sound labs at Sony Corporation (1975) when he bought his young daughter a Nintendo game console. When he saw his daughter playing with the new Nintendo game, he was not at all impressed with the quality of the sound. Ken believed that a digital chip, dedicated solely to sound, would significantly improve the quality of the Nintendo gaming system.

Ken successfully developed a CD-ROM-based system for Nintendo. Ken Kutaragi visualised the business opportunity of computer gaming systems for Sony. With his Intrapreneurial spirit, Ken pushed hard to convince the Sony Corporation to enter the electronic gaming business. His persistence paid off and he went on to lead the effort to help Sony develop its own gaming system. This went on to become a blockbuster product success we all know as ‘PlayStation’.

Sony backed Ken’s Intrapreneurial venture by investing $2.5 billion into the PlayStation start-up, and has gone on to build over 70% market share in the global home video game console market. Ken’s Intrapreneurial success has been called one of the greatest new business creations and launches in business history.

Animator John Lasseter was fired from Disney after suggesting the company get into computer animations. After all, he was just an artist. He went on to work for a division that later became Pixar. Here his interest in CGI was not only appreciated, but led to several hits like Toy Story and A Bug’s Life. Eventually, Pixar was sold to Disney. Lasseter went on to become Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios.

There are many examples of employees who has shown Intrapreneurship. Cheryl Pohlman (Kodak), Jeri Yoshizu (Toyota). If they can…then what is stopping you?

Entrepreneurial employees don’t always make it at large old-world companies. But, as the ability to innovate has now become a competitive advantage, even a requirement for survival, such large legacy companies need ways to retain people who can pull off innovative ideas. These employees recognize opportunities, and have the drive and persistence to make them happen.

If you want to be the ‘Irreplaceable Employee’, adapt the following 3 traits of ‘Intrapreneurs’

Driven To Come Up With New Ideas:

They are not satisfied with a job where they show up every day, follow orders, and go home. They want to do more, to achieve more ultimately, to have some degree of control over what they are doing. You will find these employees willing to follow through on their ideas with passion, taking ownership of some small part of the organization.

Willing To Take Risk:

Every business that exists represents a risk that someone was willing to take, and it’s similar for Intrapreneurial employees. They are not paralyzed in situations where the outcome is unclear and potential failure presents risks. If anything, they are energized by that sense of desperation and driven to come up with the best solution. Intrapreneurs aren’t afraid to change course, nor do they fear failure. They have an inner confidence and courage to believe that every step takes them closer to their ultimate goal.

Focused On Results:

They want to know how they are doing, what they are doing well, and where they can improve. That thirst for information spreads to the rest of the business, too, and they are always looking for ways to do things better. An entrepreneur “gets it” and does their work in a way that shows the organization they are someone it can’t afford to lose. The money and advancement finds them.

Konosuke Matsushita, one of the business titans of the 20th century, said: “Think like an entrepreneur, not a hired hand.

Apple, Motorola, Mitsubishi, 3M, and Johnson and Johnson are all well known examples of large organizations that practice and develop intrapreneurship today.

If you want to become that irreplaceable ‘Intrapreneurial Employee’, check out the coaching programs offered by Soaring Eagles. This program helps you develop into a highly productive, creative thinking leader who can communicate their ideas with confidence and influence people. Those who have stayed the course and followed the strategies, have risen from a sea of mediocrity in the workplace and emerged as Intrapreneurs!

Interruptions-Interrupted

Interruptions, Interrupted

It is Monday morning and Marcia starts her week all committed and determined to deliver on all projects before deadline. She reaches work with a spring in her step and a song in her heart (Marcia loves her job and can’t wait for Mondays) and starts her laptop with gumption and alacrity. And lo behold, her colleague pops in and says, “Do you want to grab a cup of coffee before you get started?” And although there is a voice inside her head which is squeaking and pleading with her not to go, a huge monstrous desire to have that coffee and the amazing sandwich to go takes charge, thus quelling that squeak to a non- existent silence. And so, the day goes by with a phone call here, an email there and questions popping in from everywhere. And before she knows it, a whole week has flown by and the deadlines have all been again revised because they couldn’t be met. Does this sound familiar?

Basex research conducted in the US reveals that interruptions can impact an individual’s productivity, energy and work satisfaction and the estimated cost of this impact is close to $588 billion a year. The results of this study are startling given that a large part of our day just gets spent getting interrupted. This estimated figure does not include the rise in error rates and the resulting costs from these errors. 

According to the Journal of Experimental Psychology, error rates doubled following a 2.8-second interruption and tripled after a 4 and a half-second distraction. So, you can imagine the cost implications of interruptions.

So, who creates these interruptions? Others or do we create them? Dr. Gloria Mark, Associate Professor at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California conducted a survey of employees at Microsoft and found that 44% of the time employees ended up interrupting themselves.

So how do we deal with this huge problem of interruptions? You can use the ICAP strategy to deal with interruptions.

ICAP Strategy for Dealing with Interruptions

Identify

We all have To- do lists which help us identify what needs to be done. But we seldom create the Not- to- do lists. Identify all the things that you should not be doing such as peeking into your phone, randomly checking social network updates, compulsively refreshing to check for emails. Interruption could also be in the form of a person reaching out to you with requests. Identify all the elements that are interrupting your work.

According to a study conducted by The Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London, when you spend your time constantly on emails, text messages and calls, your IQ drops by 10 points. This loss is the same as the loss you would experience when you miss a night’s sleep. (Yoga Journal, p. 22, 12/2005).

Control

Take control of the situation. Tell people when you will be available to talk to them. Show that you respect time and treat it as a valuable resource. You can do this by valuing others’ time. You can take efforts to show people that you value time by requesting for time on their calendar or being time- bound and not exceeding time allotted to you. Set up a time to check emails. And I know this may sound very drastic but keep your phone switched off during office hours. That way you won’t feel compelled to check for updates.

Assert

Learn to say no. Most often we allow ourselves to be interrupted because it is more difficult to say no or because we feel guilty when we say no. Learn to be Assertive. Remember that you are saying no to the request and are not rejecting the person. It is important to understand that when you are saying yes to this person, you are saying no to your work and the cost implications of saying no to your work are a lot higher that saying no to this person.

Plan

Sometimes, interruptions are unavoidable. You can however plan for these interruptions in your calendar. Most people get overwhelmed due to the ad- hoc tasks that come in and which don’t allow for planned tasks to get done. This is why planning is so critical. When you have your day planned and prioritized, little else can deter it. If the interruption at hand does not lead you closer towards your long-term strategy, it means you must not let interruption get hold of you. If the interruption leads you towards that long-term goal, go ahead and welcome the interruption. Plans can be more fruitful when you have clear understanding of your goals.

This ICAP strategy can help you manage interruptions much better and can help you be more productive. If you don’t have a long-term strategy sketched out yet, now is a good time to work on it. Like Mahatma Gandhi said, “The future depends on what you do today.”

Are you struggling with finding time to do strategic things? Do you find yourself mostly caught up with day-to-day execution challenges and firefighting? How is this impacting your performance and movement towards your goals? Do you want to get a hold over your time and focus on strategic initiatives? A coach can help you with this goal. Feel free to schedule a free consultation with us. 

Communicate-better

How to Communicate Well With Others: Top 5 Tips

Communication is at the core of our existence. Whether we know it or not, we are all communicating with others all the time – be it through words or through our body language. As a social animal, we cannot survive without communicating with other. Why do you think solitary confinement is one of the most stringent punishments in prison? So the first thing to acknowledge is that you can communicate. Don’t ever say or think that you cannot communicate, you will only pull yourself down.

The quality of your communication determines whether you get what you want or not. If you find yourself in situations where people just don’t get what you are saying, it is time to reflect and understand where the communication is not going right –

– is it that your idea is not clear; or

– is it that your words are not appropriate; or

– is it that you are not able to get the attention of the listener; or

– is it that you are not able to get the listener interested in what you have to say; or

– is it that you know what to say but just don’t have the confidence to say it well?

It is important to know where you may be getting stuck so that you can improve the quality of your communication and achieve your objectives. The top 5 tips to enhance the quality of your communication with others are as follows:

Enhance Your Active Vocabulary

It is important to use the appropriate words in our sentences to get our ideas across. If we do not have a strong vocabulary, we will struggle to express our ideas clearly and succinctly. If we have to use a lot of simple words to get across one idea which could have been expressed better with one appropriate word, we run the risk of the listener losing interest in what we have to say or worse our ideas get buried under a bunch of random words. So it is important to have a large active vocabulary, i.e., words that we can actually use while speaking and writing.

Everyone has a much larger passive vocabulary than an active one, and that is perfectly alright. However, if you make efforts to listen to how more advanced or difficult words are used by others and try to use it in your communication, you will develop your active vocabulary and then not be at loss of words. Focus on the type of words you will actually use or that are used actively in your industry.

Be Clear about what you want to say and what you want to get out of it

People have very short attention spans and they don’t like to listen to someone who rambles on without any clear purpose. So before you can engage anyone in a conversation, it is important that you are clear about your own thoughts and ideas. When you have that clarity of thought, you will be able to structure your message better.

It is important to be clear on what is it that you are trying to achieve while talking to someone so that you can guide the discussion towards getting that end objective. This does not mean that you show no interest in the person you are talking to. You objective could very well be to get to know the person better and understand what their challenges are so that you can then see how you can help them. At times we make the assumption that the listener knows what we want and will do the needful without us actually specifically asking for it. This approach may not get you the desired outcome. The better approach is to have a clear ‘call to action’ so that the listener knows what you expect or want them to do.

Grab the attention of the listener

Has this happened to you – you are sitting with a group of people and when you try to say something, you realize that no one is listening and then you just stop talking. Believe me, it happens to almost everybody. The important thing is to not give up and start believing that no one wants to listen to me. You have to make an effort to grab the attention of the listeners and say what you have to say. There are many ways of doing it. You can interject when there is a slight pause in the conversation or when one topic that was being discussed has reached its logical conclusion. You can use phrases like – “I want to add to that” or “I had a similar experience” or “Do you want to hear another perspective” or “I agree and ….” or something on these lines.

Another scenario very common these days is when you are trying to say something and the listener starts looking at their phone or doing something else. Before you can get your message across, you need to grab their attention.

Make it interesting for the listener

If you want to engage with someone and have them listen to your ideas, you need to make sure it is interesting for the listener. You need to look at things from their perspective and present your ideas in a way that makes it meaningful for them. If the listener does not see anything of interest to them in what you have to say, they will eventually switch off and your efforts would be wasted. So it is better to understand your audience and tailor your content so as to make it about your audience and not about you. This simple strategy will see your quality of communication improve dramatically.

Work on building your confidence

When you have confidence in yourself, it shows and it attracts others to you like a magnet. People want to get to know you and your self-confident attitude shows that you are worth their time and effort. A self-confident person also makes others feel better about themselves. People who lack confidence tend to avoid connecting with others, they avoid eye contact and project disinterest. This turns people off. For good conversation to take place, people need to make eye contact and need to show interest in each other. So to become a good conversationalist, work on building your self-confidence. When you feel good about yourself, you will be able to make others feel good about themselves.

Remember, a conversation is always a two–way street so both sides need to get to speak and should listen when the other person is talking. Being a good conversationalist is not only about speaking well but also about listening well. When you listen actively and understand the other person’s perspective, you will be able to present your ideas in a much more attractive manner.