Tag Archives: Management

When you slow down, I slow down

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I have noticed that in my handling of people who work for me, I tend to mirror their behavior. When I first hire someone, I am very attentive to them. In fact, I normally delay hiring new people until they will be able to have my full attention. There is a lot I will have to explain to them and a lot I would need to do to check up on them.

Since I am very short of time most of the time, I have to prioritize where my time goes. If I am not done on a project, and someone needs my help. I have to choose. Should I delay my project to deal with someone’s project or finish my BPO project? If that new helper is putting in a lot of hours helping me, I would be more likely to get back to them quickly since I value them. Please keep in mind that I hire freelancers which might be part of the problem. On the other hand, if they slack off, and deliver far less than they promised me, I tend to keep them waiting as they are no longer critical to my survival. If someone quits who doesn’t do much, I am not losing much either.

In real life, I need to find a way to get more done and always be ahead on my schedule so I have time to deal with hirees. That way I never have to keep anyone waiting. I hope I find a way. That means outsourcing a higher percentage of my work so I’m not bogged down as much. Another thing that I need to think about is hiring people who speed me up, so I mirror their behavior, because I am always behaving like a mirror!

How I cut five hours a month off my routine

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I have a routine for how I do my work. Everything I do is regimented to a point. I have a routine and system for everything. However, those routines evolve over time. I get rid of some, refine others, and create new ones as well. Part of my system for running several directories is to give a welcome call to new members. I used to spend a long time on these calls. However, I realized that those who couldn’t give straight answers to questions didn’t do well on our outsourcing directory in the long run and did poorly on test questions indicating poor competency. So, I learned a shortcut. If people I called did poorly on basic questions, I learned from experienced (and tracking numbers) that they would do poorly in the long run. So, I ended the call with these people early. That way, I could spend more time with those who showed promise and future potential. The key here is not to spend less time but to invest your time in people who are worthy and end correspondence with those who aren’t.

If you want to rise to the next level in business, the most valuable skill you can learn is how to allocate your valuable time. If you can get the same result in 50 hours that another can get in 160 hours, you can use your remaining time to grow your business!

Compilation of posts about offices

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Some of our most popular posts have been about offices. So, here is a
compilation about office related posts.

Handling stress in a call center office

Working in an office vs. at home

How to find great offshore companies to do your back-office work

Judge a book by its cover; Judge a company by its office (2016 version)

Wouldn’t it be nice to have your office in the Himalayas?

Finding a lucky feng-shui spot for my office

Creating a corporate culture like Google’s and a customized office to match!

A 20 minute office visit reveals the character of a company!

Rates for office space around the world compared

Office in nature concept

3 ways for startups to save on office space


Younger workers want a positive social atmosphere

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Most companies are owned by older folks or people who are focused on work. But, to attract the younger crowd these days, you need to focus on what they want. Millennials expect a lot from their job and from their boss to the point that it might seem like you are working for them and not the other way around. In addition to salary, they want a positive social atmosphere, fun, and they want to grow their skillsets and develop in a way that will enhance their future career. Many are willing to sacrifice salary if they feel that growth is a possibility.

The point here is that the boss of such a company has to think not only of the most efficient way of getting work done, but how to create jobs that will provide satisfaction and evolution to their younger (and demanding) counterparts.

India’s work culture
In India, the traditional cultural model for the workplace is to have some older guy who is an ogre who is very harsh and critical towards workers. The workers who like the boss tend to huddle around him as they feel insecure without the stability of a superior thinker and leader around. The millennials or younger generation in India (and America), but especially India in the tech sector hops from job to job faster than you can say aloo-gobhi-paratha. In real life, to have any meaningful work relationship that grows into something you need to stick to the job for at least four years, not four months. It takes a year just to develop trust in an employee enough to trust them to do any meaningful and critical tasks.

Designing a dream job
If it were me designing the perfect job, I would make the worker pay their dues for a year doing work that is not fun to prove themselves. People jump boat so fast, that why should you invest in their comfort when they are not even going to be there. But, having a guaranteed fun job after twelve months is enough to entice a serious employee to stay. They will see the others who stuck around having fun doing all types of tasks. Even if you cannot have someone do meaningful work forty hours a week, they could do 10-15 hours a week so they could feel they were growing. You could have them do innovation, manage others, and more tasks that might make them feel important.

Does fun just happen spontaneously, or do the proper conditions need to be met? For me, fun happens when I am doing fun things with fun people. Fun is also unexpected, and you never know when you will find a task to be interesting or get a good laugh. Sometimes you need to throw in some unexpected or unusual activities in your day to increase your chance of having fun. Many call centers have regular contests, outings, and activities to boost the fun quotient.

Hire fun workers even if they are not good workers
My recommendation for having a fun work environment is to hire a certain percentage of people who are fun, even if they are not as good workers as you might desire, they will boost the spirits of the others. In China, they hire pretty girls to play ping-pong and talk to their male workers just to make them feel better. The girls can’t do any type of “real work,” but they do raise morale. It might be more efficient to hire people with desirable social (or physical) traits who are also capable of doing something productive even if they are a little less productive than the others. Or, you could have all workers be somewhat fun — with some being more fun than the others. How many fun people to have is up to you, but my only definitive piece of advice is to avoid people who are dampers to people’s enthusiasm or those who are hostile to others with little or no provocation as they will ruin the mood of your company really fast.

Don’t ruin the “fun”
Another easier way to have fun lies deep in the mystery of the Chinese culture. In China, fun is a type of noodle typically made from rice or mung beans. Fun is often a wide type of noodle which I enjoy eating. If you don’t know what to have for lunch at your company, try a group lunch where you eat fun — after all, you are what you eat. Unless you pronounce it the way they do in “other” (non-Cantonese) dialects in which it might be called “fen” which would ruin the “fun.”

Compilation of best Management & Success blog entries Part 2

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Here are some more of our most popular management and success blog entries from over the years.

A corporation has a board of directors, why shouldn’t you?

6 ways to be more in control in your business!

Putting clients on hold in a call center is a big problem

Does your downtime make you a better business person?

Do you see yourself as an entrepreneur or a CEO?

The right sized company to outsource to

Is it better to hire your own top-notch employee or outsource your task?

Does your team function as a team?

Is it better to have a woman do your phone calls?

24 tech workers for each manager

Handling stress in a call center office

Long range effects of business decisions — a mistake that got turned around

A coffee house guy gets hired by corporate America

5 tips for rewriting your outsourcing contract

Working in an office vs. at home

Having a foundation in business for long term growth

How to make sure outsourcing companies follow directions

How different cultures handle time

Are outsourcing contracts just another trap?

Bathe and meditate before making business decisions

Only 1% of customers feel they get the service they deserve

Half company; half school

3 ways for startups to save on office space

Small software companies lose a client as fast as they gain one

International contracts to watch out for


America invented & forgot about customer service

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America invented customer service, and then forgot about it The irony of customer service is that America invented the concept of customer service on a corporate level. The reason this is so ironic, is that these days, corporations are in a huge hurry to save as much money on customer service as possible while sacrificing quality. I would say that these days, America is very unreliable in customer service on all levels from restaurants, stores, banks to large corporations.

What about other countries?
Traditionally Europe never had good customer service according to a friend of mine who is from Austria. I cannot confirm her claim, but after my brief visit to Europe, I was appauled at how I was treated as
a customer. Indians have good customer service if you go to a hotel or restaurant in person. But, the minute you are dealing with a phone company, or dealing over the phone with anyone, the quality of service degrades to a horrible level.

Hospitality in Ethiopia
I spent three hours talking to a local Ethiopian girl who told me that
in their country they learn hospitality from age three. When they come
to America they excel in any business involving hospitality including
restaurants, hotels, cafes, etc. It comes naturally to them as that is
part of their culture. They know how to interact well, make you feel
at home, and take care of all of your needs. In short, with
Ethiopians, you will be treated like a king. What a nice change from
being treated like “whatever.”

Customer service is cultural.
However, cultures change over time, and America has gone from a place where customers are cared for to a place where saving money is key. India is a place where customer service involves having someone who can barely communicate in any language answer the phone and then put you on hold without even asking permission which is the height of rudeness — then, the phone disconnects and you get hung up on.

What can we learn?
We learn from others. Unfortunately, if you are in an environment where people are unkind, you will learn to be unkind. If you start off nice, the moral erosion might take a few years or decades, but those bad guys around you will rub off on you. On the other hand, if we want to learn how to give the best customer service, we can learn from those who do it best. We can learn what they are doing, and what it is about them that makes them so good.

My favorite restaurant has three Italian waiters.
These are not run of the mill guys. They have all traveled and had a lot of life experiences. Additionally, they are warm, inviting, friendly, talkative, and they love food. At other restaurants they have people who are just there because it is a job. Having people who bring personality, warmth, and spice to a job makes the customer service experience a lot better.

It pays to travel the world
If you go to different countries and see how they interact and see how they serve people, you will learn something. Of course you’ll see the “how not to” more than anything else. But, you might also see how nice Indians can be if they are in person (opposed to behind a phone) and how Ethiopians interact with guests. You might see how Wells Fargo handles its affairs in a professional way, and how efficient the Japanese are handling basic business transactions. I don’t believe you can provide good customer service unless you soak in some experiences with good role models and make service a priority.

Compilation of best management & success blog entries

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Here are some management and success articles to read. Some of them are very unusual and interesting.

What does Warren Buffet look for when he hires people?

The mindset of a millionaire

Business quotes that will inspire you

Being liked is a huge factor in an outsourcing manager

The rupee mentality

In China, hot girls were hired to motivate programmers

Small talk, Indians and attracting US clients

Steve Jobs watched his programmers carefully, so should you!

Mistakes and learning from them

I’m going to succeed because I’m crazy enough to think I can

Google has its employees devote time to innovation, what about you?

Warren Buffet works two hours a day; Are you a workaholic?

Think big, but start small in business

How do big companies get big? It’s not an accident!

How to create a corporate culture like Google’s and have fun doing it

Effects of hanging around the wealthy

How good are you at estimating jobs?

A good organization has people who take charge without being overbearing

What is the cost of a screwup?

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Do you run your own business or manage one? Do you screw up? I do too. But, not that often. When I try new things, or am too overwhelmed to be able to attend to things — screw ups happen. Generally the screw up is that the person I hired didn’t do what they were supposed to and didn’t give a damn either. I am too busy to babysit people. So, those that screw up are at the bottom of my list.

So, there are different classifications of screw ups. There are experimental screw ups where you try a new approach and see if it works. If not, you learn something. If you invest too much in going the wrong direction, then you lose big. There are hiring screw ups which are far more common. If you test people out over several months to see if they do good work and don’t lose interest, there will be fewer screw ups. Then there are major screw ups where your data got compromised or you lost a key employee due to an argument that would have better gone un-argued.

My main point of this quickie article is to keep screw ups small. It is okay to screw up, especially during experimentation. In fact, I wouldn’t even call an experiment, or trying something new a screw up if the results weren’t good. I would call it a success because you succeeded in learning what not to do next time. Until next time — I have things to screw up.

Steve Jobs watched his programmers carefully — so should you (2016)

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I wrote an article with an identical title a few years ago. It was so popular, I thought I’d write another version.

The psychology of the programmer
Most programmers and outsourcers in general do not want to be watched. They don’t want to be trained. They want to lock themselves in a dark room and just “bang out code.” Unfortunately, in real life I have found that the minute you are not in constant communication with a worker, the quality of their work will slide and the timeliness and efficiency will be very bad as well. Additionally, the minute I am not watching, programmers do off on tangents, start doing things that were not assigned, and waste a lot of resources. Then, when you question them about their failure to follow directions, they often throw a temper tantrum. None of this is acceptable. In my experience you have to micromanage programmers to a particular extent.

Steve Jobs watched his programmers too, but…
Steve Jobs has a similar opinion except that he was much more demanding than I was. He demanded amazing things from his programmers and chastised them if they made any mistakes. In real life, he could get fancy programmers because he ran a very prestigious company. If you hire programmers for odd jobs at a small company, you will not get the best. And if you criticize them too much they’ll quit, or get into a serious argument with you. Steve Jobs was a perfectionist and a visionary. He ran a huge organization with a huge programming budget. He could afford to pay high salaries, demand the best people, and stretch them to the limit. He had the luxury of being able to fire people on a whim if they didn’t measure up to his rigid expectations. Unfortunately, the rest of us can’t really get away with what Steve could. Let’s face it, there will only be one Steve Jobs!

Looking over people’s shoulders
Programmers are notorious about missing deadlines and not following directions. They just don’t know how to manage their time, and they just don’t care about the experience of the client. You need to keep on them and make sure they finish work on time. In fact, I would not hire a programmer for anything more than a test project until you are absolutely sure they honor deadlines which is less than 10% of them. Programmers also rarely follow all of the directions, so you have to always be double checking everything that they do. Programmers will typically blame the client for not making directions clear enough, so make sure directions are in writing. It makes sense to hire an outside consultant to check their code for quality and cleanliness as well. If you outsource to India, you are likely to get what is called “spaghetti code” which is a disorganized mess.

Watching programmers closely will help you spot a bad attitude
Are your programmers blaming you for not giving clear enough directions? Is there some excuse why they didn’t check their work? Do they want to avoid you or not have you constantly check their work? These are all signs of a bad attitude. Unfortunately, most programmers who work for anyone less than Facebook, Google, or Steve Jobs have a terrible attitude as they are the bottom of the barrel. By keeping a constant vigilant eye on them, you will spot their bad attitude quickly which could save your project.

The moral of the story
Most companies don’t want you watching what they are doing, and neither do most employees. The collective pressure to not pay attention to where your money is going is so oppressive that you might be tempted to give in. Steve and I say don’t. Watch people carefully and you can bring out their best. If you don’t pay attention it will be like a money drain. Fire people who don’t want to be watched as fast as you can. If that means your business will be smaller, that might be a good thing. The main thing is to be in control of what is going on. The minute you’re not in control — you’re in trouble!

You don’t get to the next level in business by being in a hurry

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Some people think you get ahead by being in a hurry. Others think they can slack off and still do okay. The truth is that you need to work very hard, but not be in a hurry. I remember reading how Warren Buffet observed that it takes nine months for a baby to be born. You can’t use nine women working as a team to get a baby in one month. Certain things in business just take time. This doesn’t mean you should slack off during this time. You should work hard and let nature take its course.

I remember when I was twenty I was in a huge rush to get ahead in my life. But, at that time in my life I was a complete failure. I was mediocre in everything that I did. Now, in my forties, I am still far from perfect, but I work hard and am always driving to get ahead. However, I realize that success and getting to that next level is not something I can control the timing of. There are some years that are good years and other years that are slow. I try to learn from what I did during those good years and learn from mistakes as well.

On a converse note, many successful managers do less. They find ways to supervise the right people for each task that they need to have done. If they are overworked, they won’t have time for critical things or for putting out fires. Whether you work hard or work smart, the point is to be on top of everything and make sure quality work gets done. After that — just let nature take its course.

Managing your attention with energy to gain focus

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Many of us work hard or work a lot of hours. But, we lose attention and start mindlessly doing tasks. For “busy work” this might work, but for work that requires our attention we need a way to gain focus. It is easy to do busy tasks all day long, but we often need to prioritize or make complicated decisions which require deeper though. How can we gain that focus?

By increasing your energy level, your brain will have more food for thought. Increasing your energy level is not rocket science. Here are a few techniques:

Eat an apple per day & go bananas!
Eating more fruit is an easy and cost effective way to raise your energy. You get enzymes, vitamins and other forms of nutrition. Eating an apple can change your entire world in a snap — or a crunch. If you are regular about eating fruit, you too will become more regular in terms of bowel movements which in turn raises your energy level. Additionally, fresh juices that were squeezed within minutes of your consumption are excellent.

Take a shower in an hour…
Your body attracts certain energies. Those energies can get yucky. The best remedy is using healing oils and showering. Most of us shower daily, but if you shower a second time you might feel better. Showing not only physically cleanses you, but cleanses your unclean energies. There is a reason why Hindus have a tradition of bathing twice per day. It is partly due to their balmy weather in India, but partly because of the purifying effect that water has on the human body or anything else. Many people own crystals, but they too attract heavy energies and water is one of the ways of cleansing them not to mention sticking them in dirt or salt to absorb the energies. Many humans put a cup of Epsom salt in their bath to go that extra mile cleansing their bad energies. Showers are good, but baths are even better!

Vitamins & Supplements
Taking vitamins and supplements can help your health. The quality of the vitamins can really vary, so getting most of your nutrients from real food is a good idea so that the supplements can supplement an already healthy diet. Keeping your cholesterol and triglycerides down can increase energy too. I have found that Q10 is great for your heart and blood vessels while Grape Seed Extract is good for eye and capillary circulation which is critical if you stare at a computer all day long with your eyes!

Walking can increase your energy step by step
Many people just don’t get enough exercise. Some of us think we need to go to the gym. The gym is good for building muscles. If we sit too long, we need good back muscles for our posture. But, for the most part we need walking or swimming to stay fit. An hour a day or more of walking is excellent. But, I really feel it if I cut down my walking for a week or two when I’m busy.

If all else fails…
Chocolate is a nice way to get some extra energy later in the day. Caffeine might cause you insomnia even twelve hours after the fact, but chocolate will do the trick and energize you for about five or six hours.

Take Breaks
We wrote many other articles about when to take a break and how often. This is really up to you, so study how you react to breaks and take different types of breaks. You can measure the effects. See if you feel better, and see if a walking break is better than a napping break. You will be able to work more effectively if you take breaks — and listen to your body, it will tell you what you need a lot better than your boss will.

How women can get even with men in the workplace

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In the real world, there seems to be very little fairness. This is why I generally recommend that minorities learn to be good at creating their own businesses. That way they get paid much closer to what they are worth without all of the discrimination and affirmative action. Women seem to also always be held back in the workplace due to preconceived notions. However, there are many things women have in their advantage that can help them get even.

(1) Patience is a virtue
Young men are known to lack patience. Men want to get ahead, and fast. Many find it painstaking to endure a boring job for years in order to get a good reputation with their company. Women tend to be more willing to pay their dues and take promotions as they come. Try to capitalize on your patience as a woman.

(2) Building relationships
Women are better at building and maintaining relationships than men. If your job involves managing clients or suppliers, it is in your interests to do an outstanding job and make it so those clients only want to talk to you — and not the boss. That way you have power as you become somewhat irreplaceable.

(3) Unvirtue may not be a virtue, but women do it anyway?
Many unvirtuous women sleep their way to the top. Personally I think this is very immoral, but people do all types of immoral things without batting an eyelash. If you and some chauvinistic guy are stuck in the mailroom as your job, and you use your charms to get a management position during your first year at the company — you can go back to the mailroom to taunt that male chauvinist and show him who got ahead in the long run. Or, as the case may be who got ahead in the short run.

(4) Being less threatening.
Bosses are tired of workers who have all types of demands and who threaten. Of course in the real world, women can be very manipulative and threatening. But, many women are not. So, you can capitalize on being loyal and non-threatening. Your boss will like that and in the long run if you have job smarts, that could help you move up the ladder.

(5) The art of subtle manipulation
In management, getting other people to do what they are supposed to is hard. Although women typically are not respected as authorities no matter how assertive they are (proven fact, not just making this up) women are often good at sweet talking people into doing what they are supposed to. When I need the programmers to get off their rear and fix something, I have to ask ten times. When my female assistant sweet talks them, she only has to ask once and they do it. Hmmm. If a woman knows how to sweet talk, and makes sure things get done, she could be a superstar in management and get ahead of the aggressive guys.

Well, that’s it for now. Women face the glass ceiling in the work place, but if they use their female charms to their advantage, they can get a significant lead over men in ways you can’t even imagine. Instead of complaining about gender bias, use what you have and combine it with responsible business behavior, and you a good chance to get ahead of the boys.

You might also like:

Is it safe for women to take cabs in India?

7 rules for women entrepreneurs to live by

Women programmers in the US and India