Monthly Archives: November 2012

Should you have a niche in your outsourcin​g market?

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Many outsourcing companies have various specialties that are popular.  This is normal. But, how many do their work in a special way that separates them from the pack? Would it be a good idea to do so?  Survival in business can be achieved in several ways:  Being the best, being first (having longevity in a particular industry or invention), and being different.   It makes sense to be super in any case, but being unique can get you certain types of clients more easily — clients that tend to like the specialized way that you perform your work.

Lets say that there are ten call centers in India and let’s say that they are all more or less run the same way.  They will be competing on price, and on who knows who, and not much else.  But, what if one call center developed a reputation of having flexible terms.  What if another call center had girls with very pleasing voices.  Perhaps a third had workers who received two hours a day in coaching and that they were by far the most capable and refined in the entire marketplace.  As you can see, there are may ways to differentiate yourself from the competition, and developing a long range brand identify might make sense if you do a good job of it.

There are ways to screw up your brand image.  If you try to promote your workers as the best trained, but still do shoddy work half the time, you will quickly lose your reputation.  Be an extreme of what your branding says you are, and then nobody will ever question you.  If you are cheap, then be extremely cheap.  If you are good, then be really good.  If you specialize in being multi-lingual, then offer 20 languages, and have really good people speaking all of those languages.  You get the picture!

Dedicated Workers

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There are different types of workers.  Some bring their work home with them, while others clock out at 5pm and forget about work alltogether.  Those who succeed typically feel responsible for their work regardless of whether they are in the office or not.

A portrait of a super-worker is the person who lugs a laptop with them wherever they go.  If they go on vacation, the laptop comes with them so they can stay up to date with at least some of their tasks.

Getting workers to this level of responsibility is not easy, and in many cases not possible.  But, if they are made to feel that their ultimate success or failure is tied to their reliability to getting things done, then they might start working when they are not expected to be working.

If workers feel that they will never get ahead no matter what, then perhaps they will not take any responsibility after they clock out.  Instilling a sense of long range job security, recognition, and respect being tied to stellar performance is a job that a good manager needs to master.

Getting workers to care

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It should be a science to figure out how to get workers to care.  Managers often study how to milk more productivity out of their staff, but do they study how to make workers care?  One elderly manager in the United States told me that caring / integrity is the FIRST thing he looks for in a worker. He told me that if a worker lacked skills, that skills could be taught, but that teaching integrity was not generally possible.

So, perhaps starting out with workers who care makes sense.  But, a more interesting topic to discuss is how to optimize worker caring.  There are many ways to get workers to care more.  Making them feel like a part of the company and a part of the long range membership of the company makes  alot of sense.  Some executives include all workers in profit sharing and stock options.  With huge companies, I personally feel it makes more sense to have workers reap a long term benefit if their particular department does well in addition to the long term wellness of the organizatin as a whole .

Another aspect that is typically purposely ignored is tying the workers into how the customer feels.  Todays workplaces are segmented with the salespeople selling,, and then forgetting about the client after the sale is made.  The technical staff does its part without interfacing with the customer, and the accounting department doesn’t see a human face of the client either.  Having workers be more part of the whole transaction in an emotional sense seems to be practical.  If programmers see a client when they are happy that things went well, or frustrated when things don’t go well, perhaps they will care more.  If a salesperson is held responsible for selling the wrong thing to a client and actually talks to clients throughout the business relationship, they will have a very different attitude.

Integrating segmented companies is important in business.  Departments need to be able to seemlessly communicate with each other, and all workers need to be in touch with clients in one way or the other. My idea is very unpopular with many companies who don’t want most of their workers interfacing with clients at all.  Additionally,, most workers don’t want to be bothered talking to clients and simply don’t have the social skills to do so in any case.  But, there must be some way to have all workers get some sort of feedback of how the customer’s life is improved by their work, or inconvenienced by their failure to do what they are supposed to.

Too many chiefs and not enough Indians?

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My friend told me a story about his buddy.  His friend seems to go back and forth from India to California.  He had a job here in California managing seven workers.  It was okay, but he longed for India.  He went back to India every year to see family and meditate, etc. This time, he decided to get a job in India, so he could be close to the family.

This character is a perfect example of how NRI Indians have a tough time readjusting to Indian life.  Indians get used to America after a year or two, but getting used to India after living in the states for five or more years is daunting and perhaps impossible for many.

In any case, this loveable NRI got a prestigious job in an IT firm in Chennai.  Instead of having seven people under him, he got twenty-four. Yes — this is how management is done in India.

In America, everyone wants to be the boss, but few want to be the worker. We call this scenario by a name created based on Native American culture —

Too many “chiefs” and too few Indians.

When we say Indian in this context, we mean Native Americans since they were confused by the early European explorers and thought to be Indians from India despite the fact that they didn’t wear saris or cook dosa!  I don’t think the Christopher Columbus ever had the luxury of ever having a dosa (he should have stopped for a bite in New Jersey).

But, in India, management has the opposite problem.  Too FEW chiefs, and too MANY Indians! How can any one manage 24 employees? In any case, this manager was on call 24 hours a day it seemed. The phone was ringing off the hook.  There were hundreds of projects simultaneously going on.  The stress was piling up. Finally, he took a vacation to a remote part of Tamil Nadi.  He couldn’t enjoy himself, and the phone was ringing off the hook.  His wife askied him why he even bothered taking a vacation if he couldn’t relax.  He said that he didn’t know. That vacation was his breaking point.

It was time to move back to America and go back to managing only seven workers. The moral of the story is — don’t try to manage 24 people no matter how good they are. You will go crazy, and there is no place to run unless you quit and move to California which is not possible for most people.