Now, how to make your people? Draw your inspiration from this Chinese proverb -
“If you want to plan for a year, plant corn;
If you want to plan for 3 years, plant a tree;
But if you want to plan for 10 years, plant men.”
Plant men? Yes. Become a “gardener” of men. How?
1. Lead your people with the flag in your hand
A manager is a leader of his group. This is so, irrespective of whether it is a large group of 600 men or a small group of six men. Therefore, a manager must behave at all times as a typical leader, with a flag in his hand, so that his men can follow behind.
There is a lot of wisdom in the hackneyed proverb. “Speed of the boss (leader) is the speed of the team”. The illustration on the next page elaborates it best :
Now, if the engine (the manager) is travelling at sixty kilometers per hour, won’t the wagons (his people) also travel at the same speed? Yes, they will. And on the other hand, if the engine slows down or gets derailed, what will happen to the wagons?
“An organisation is the lengthened shadow of one man” and that is you, the manager. Your values and your beliefs “ooze” out of your organisation, if they happen to be good ones. And if your values and beliefs are ordinary ones, they too become obvious. It takes, say, three years for your CGR (Character, Goodwill, Reputation) to go up and, say, three months for your CGR to come down. Let us explain. When you walk an extra mile for your customer to repair his machine, which is out of the warranty period, on free-of-charge basis because you believe it is not his fault, don’t assume that this act of yours will bear fruits right away; it may take three years before the customer is ready to buy again and he remembers your gesture or is able to convince someone else to buy from you. So patience is a virtue and is very, very essential when you are managing people including customers.
A leader has to be an entrepreneur, an innovator, and an inventor. A manager must understand these aspects of his leadership role and act accordingly. Any manager who has his eyes glued on short term profit and loss statements can’t do it. He has to listen to his people, to his customers and, above all, to himself. If he makes up his mind to outperform every quarter, he will.
He has to possess a lot of courage to be able to lead. What is courage? Courage is will power. It means coolness and presence of mind under all circumstances. He may face occasional storms. And staying calm during these storms is what will take him through them. Staying calm means not showing or expressing anxiety or fear during lean selling periods because lean seasons pass away, turning boys into men.
Courage, yes, but what about security? This may be a good question and the answer is : Security is a myth! Why? Because there is no limit or end to security. Security is peace of mind. So how much is enough? Look around and see and you will find that your watchman has more security than you. It has been wisely said, “You want peace of mind, but the attempt to pacify it is like trying to calm waves with a flat-iron.”
Don’t push. Pull. General Eisenhowever used to teach leadership with a piece of string. He would put it on a table and say, “Paul it and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it and it will go nowhere at all. It’s just that way when it comes to leading people.”
2. Understand pygmallion effect (PE) to turn your people into committed people
What is Pygmallion Effect ? We strongly recommend you see the feature films “My Fair Lady” and “Man Pasand” - get these from any video parlour in your area.
The story of Pygmallion :
There was a rich trader in Greece who commissioned Pygmallion, a talented sculptor, to create in marble, a statue of a lady for his gardens. While sculpting the marble block he was doing such a fine job that he fell in love with this statue as if it were a real person. As time passed, he would speak to it for hours on end, not noticing the lack of response on her part. So strong was his belief in ‘her’ that one day a miracle occurred. She came to life and loved him for the rest of their lives. Pygmallion’s belief converted his fantasy into reality.
This is also called “Self-fulfilling Prophecy”. In other words, our subconscious thoughts play a very important role in our actions and decisions towards people. It is human nature.
If a person believes something to be true, he acts out that belief in the same manner. Thoughts become actions, and these actions become inter-actions with the second party. It is the perception of another individual which becomes the basis for taking and making decisions.
There is another interesting story on the subject “There were three colleagues named Ram, Laxman and Bharat working in a company. A dealers’ conference was to be held and a pencil had to be purchased for inserting in the conference folder. All the three were asked to work on it. Each one individually went to the boss and asked the same question : ‘Boss, the pencil with eraser cost Rs. 3 and the one without it costs Rs. 2; they come in red, green and brown colours. Which one should I buy?”
The boss may react to the same question in three different ways. His reaction would depend upon the individual impression that he has of each of the three men. Incidentally, purchase of 40 pencils is a very minor decision and need not be talked over with the boss.
“When Ram goes to the boss and asks the question, the boss says, ‘Ram it is good that you asked me. I am happy you consider may opinion.’ This is because of the Pygmalion Effect; the boss thinks well of Ram and he has made up his mind that Ram won’t make any mistakes. His opinion remains subjective and possibly the organisation may suffer.
“When Laxman goes to the boss and asks the same question, the boss says ‘Laxman, I wonder why you ask me this routine question? Why not go and decide yourself and I will go along with you.’ This is also because of the Pygmallion Effect because the boss is not very sure of Laxman and sometimes does not have full confidence in him.
“When Bharat goes to the boss and asks the same question, the boss says, ‘Bharat, this is too much. Why do you waste my time and irritate me? Please go and buy green pencils with eraser.’ Again, this is because of the Pygmallion Effect and the boss is to be blamed for not letting his people make routine decision and thus building confidence in them.
Any good boss will cultivate his people to start taking and making as many decisions as possible - starting with small ones and gradually coming to bigger. ones - and occasionally sitting with his people and analysing the decisions taken so that the quality of decisions taken keeps on improving.
3. Build self-respect of your people
Any manager who wants to make his people ensures that each of his actions builds - up - “brick by brick” - the self-respect (self-esteem) of each of his men. He must genuinely believe that people want to work and they want to work purposefully.
It cannot be done in one day or in one way; rather, it is a continuous approach. It is a habit-forming approach and, therefore, be cautious of the fact and accordingly build it into a healthy habit over the years. How? Here are some of the ways :
(i) Catch them doing something right! Yes, sir, keep on listening and keep on seeing and whenever you come across any of your people (employees, customer, family members, colleagues, and so on) doing something right, catch them! Do not only notice it but also acknowledge it openly. Follow it up by relating the incident at a right occasion and also put it in writing. Remember, the pen is lighter than the sword. Whenever you do any such thing, it amounts to your giving a medal and that is it. Think about it. Don’t you expect your boss (your customer) to catch you while you are doing something right? If so, why don’t you make it a habit? You will benefit from it.
A man was once saying his prayers and his neighbour accidently saw him doing so. When he met him, he said, “I am happy that I am your neighbour. You are a good man; you say your prayers.” The man started saying his prayers for longer and longer hours because he liked to listen to this word-of-mouth publicity. This went on and on. One day, this man was asked, “because once my neighbour caught me saying prayers and appreciated it!” Is it not logical, common sense and a good example of auto suggestion?
(ii) Give them security, give them education, give them training, give them money, give them challenge, give them job satisfaction and, above all, give them respect - like you expect from your boss. Everyone in the world has a boss, in one way or the other. Once you have the right attitude and desire to give security, education, challenge, money, and so on, believe it you will be able to do so irrespective of the size of your organisation. Mr. R. Subramanychari, the Escorts dealer at Guntur does exactly that. He has built this dealership over the years by simple thoughtful acts, e.g. when an employees has worked with him for five years, he gives him a plot of land; he pays a doctor Rs. 300 per month and every employee can go to him for consultation. The dealer says that when his business does even better he will start paying for medicines as well. He sold only 35 tractors in 1987. You don’t have to have a large organisation to start doing what big corporations do.
There is no end to what you can do for your people. It is not always the amount of money or time that matters but the thought behind it and the style it is done in. We have seen many employers giving Deepawali or New year gifts to their employees like rich men distributing alms to people sitting in a line in a temple compound! They give because they have to give and not because they love to give. Whatever you give should be given with a feeling. What you say, when you give, is 10 percent; what your eyes says is 20 percent; what your mind says is 30 per cent; and what your heart says is 40 per cent! Remember this, and you will never go wrong.
(iii) Teach them discipline by setting examples. When you want to make people, you have to discipline them sensibly. You cannot do it overnight; it takes continuous conscious efforts on your part. It is not a situation of “tap on, tap off”. You can’t say, “Today I will have discipline in the office” and then relax.
In this connection, there is a wise American saying : “If you are ten minutes early, you are already five minutes late.” In other words, always reach fifteen minutes before the appointed time. It is a good habit which will reduce blood pressure, anxious moments and results in a “you care” attitude.
Any leader - manager - should set good examples himself. If you come at 11 a.m. and your office starts at 9 a.m., even if your people come at 9 a.m. They may not put their hearts in their jobs till they see you working harder than them. Try coming in at 8.30 a.m. for a year and see the difference. Moreover, you will be able to look straight into the eyes of your employees, and your voice will not only carry conviction but will carry fairness as well. You will not only reap rich dividends but will start enjoying your job as well.
4. Their success is your success
Let your employees taste the “blood” of success. Once they taste success, and you talk about it sensibly and from your heart, you will create a snow ball situation. You won’t be able to stop your employees from trying to achieve one success after another.
What is success as applicable to your employee? Well, it happens when he achieves more than what he is supposed to on encouraging and keep on chasing till success is achieved. Sit with him using commonsense and then help him make a step and in the meanwhile prepare him for failure, in case things do not work out as per expectations. There is always a next time for him as well as for you. Some day, he will fast success and that is it - his success is your success; their successes are your successes.
A good leader (manager) shares his success with his employees and takes the failures on himself. His shoulders are strong and broad. He admits his mistakes gracefully and asks for suggestions to avoid failures. In the process, he earns the genuine respect of his employees.
Give them a reason. A reason for doing is important for your employees. A sale is a sale but when you tell them that a sale of one unit means so much profit to the organisation and, in addition, better prospects of more sales, the employees are likely to understand it better.
And make it a habit to give them your reason for whatever you want them to do. Because people never really put themselves into a job until they understand how their individual roles can make the business successful. Your employees will then start working harder as well as be smarter at their jobs.
5. Forgive their mistakes gracefully
There is another American saying : “Even the chairman’s pencil has an eraser on it.” In other words, when a chairman writes, he too can make mistakes while writing and he uses the eraser to rub out his mistakes.
Human being are people. People are employees. Employees are human beings. Human beings have built-in human weaknesses such as laziness, greed, short temper, telling, lies, selfishness, and so on. Once you know such weaknesses as built-in parts of your employees, you can keep them in mind while getting things done from them. You can apply the needed “discount factor” when dealing with them. They may have weakness such as :
• Employees may take longer time to do their promised jobs than they should.
• Employees may have an in-born tendency to cheat unless preventive atmosphere exists in the system.
• When employees cheat, the manager is to be equally blamed for allowing himself to be cheated by creating temptations for them.
• Never allow your employees to cheat you. If one is dishonest and you ignore it for too long, you are tempting your honest employees to became dishonest. Don’t allow your employees to get away with swindling.
•l Remember that an employee is honest or dishonest just like a woman is either pregnant or not pregnant. She cannot be a little bit pregnant! However, use common sense and forgive an employee for occassional lapses in case you feel that he is basically a good person.
Don’t be shocked if we say that people are like apples! When you get an apple with a spot on it, what can you do? You can either discard it or else eat it after removing the spot with a knife. 96 per cent of the time, the spot is not very deep. A spotless apple is very expensive. Similarly, most of your employees, colleagues and associates are like apples. You have to remove their weaknesses with your “mental knife” and use their strengths to mutual advantage.
You may have heard the name of Michelangelo who sculpted the statue of David, which is considered one of the greatest works of art ever created by man. The block of marble he used was flawed and imperfect. Many artists had seen the marble block standing in the open pit with imperfections visible even to the naked eye from a distance and said, “Nothing can be done.” They refused to try and overlook the flaws.
Mcihelangelo saw the block and had the vision to see the form of “David” waiting inside the marble asking to be set free.
Michelangelo did not see the imprecations; he saw the greatness and looked around the flaw. Like a soft spot in an apple he cut around it, as though it wasn’t there . Inside, after chipping for a while, it was very good marble. That is it!
We can all be “Michelangelos”. We all see our people. Unless we try to become Michelangelos, we will see imperfections in our people and thus will not be able to work towards maximising our profitability. We have to have the vision and you can develop this vision to see through your people and by trial and error and practice, you can overlook their imperfections and utilise their strengths.
6. Make yours a winning team
A Japanese wise saying beautifully describes the concept of “working together works’ in the following words : a projecting nail must be hammered down.” There are basically five principles underlying the concept of “working Together Works” :
(i) It cannot be a management director
Any idea, to be successful, must be understood and backed by each member of the team.
Have you ever wondered why a particular player is not selected in the team? Possibly, this player is excellent as an individual player but is not willing to sacrifice personal acclaim for the good of the team. Take your office; you may have an excellent employee but if he is not walking that extra mile in harmony with his colleagues, he is useless to the business. Therefore, as the leader of your organisation, ensure that you have good team employees instead of only good employees. Make sure that you use your “dip stick” again and again.
Each member of an orchestra has to play the notes on his instrument so that the net outcome is music. If every musician plays a different note, the result will be jarring noise. Even in a boat race, the fastest team is the one whose members move the oars in perfect unison and of course most forcefully.
(ii) Equality of Sacrifice!
Lee Iacocca of Chrysler fame, accepted $1 per year as his salary which was once around $1,000,000 per year. He could then afford to go to the union and his other colleagues to ask for sacrifices. If the leader sacrifices today for tomorrow, his followers will also do the same willingly and naturally, the team will work more effectively. Iacocca describes it as “to bleed equally”. And it often takes adversity to get the people to work together. If you are the owner of a business you have to set examples. When you talk, your employees will listen. And when you act, your employees will watch you. So you have to be careful about everything that you say and everything that you do. If everybody is willing to suffer equally in your business in terms of working hours and conditions, you can be sure to beat your targets. As simple as that.
(iii) Getting along with people
This is dependent upon your attitude towards them. How you feel about yourself is very important, both to other people and certainly to your. If you do not feel good about yourself, it is hard for you to feel good about other people and to work with them. Remember, good attitudes do not result from good positions or wealth. The fact is that people get good positions or wealth. The fact is that people get good positions because of their positive attitudes. It is as true as the fact as : “You do not smile because you are happy; you are happy because you smile.
(iv) Put yourself in others’ Shoes
Each team member has his own problems. See his problems from his angle. Put yourself in his shoes. Solve his problems to the extent possible and try to solve every problem of each of your employees. The spirit of trying to solve is important and once you try, even though the problem may not be solved, the employee will feel satisfied that you had tried to help him.
(v) Add a drop of Smile
Even for our body to function well physically, it is very important that its parts work in perfect coordination. If any of the parts suffers a damage or becomes inactive, it has a crippling effect on the whole body. This is the simplest way to explain the concept of “Working Together Works” which can be further understood with the help of 13 body parts that must work further understood with the help of 13 body parts that must work together so that the output of our body is greater than the sum total of the output of individual body parts. (AF)
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