Category Archive Management

ByMani Prithiviraj

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 In the previous article, we reviewed Covey’s 7 Habits of Effective people. We understood  how alignment of actions with natural principles, balance of production and production capacity are important. In this post, we will look at the first habit which is “Be Proactive”. This is one of the habits associated with the self.

            Covey writes that a unique human endowment is “Self Awareness”. This is something that other life forms in the world do not possess. Some examples of Self Awareness are: self evaluation, learning from our experiences and learning from experiences of others. We have the ability not only to be trained, but also choose a training that suits us or even create a training.

            The term ‘proactivity’ is used a lot by modern organizations as a buzz word. While it refers mainly to taking the initiative, Covey explains that it goes well beyond that. According to him, proactivity also means that we are responsible for our lives and that our behavior is a function of our decisions and not conditions. We do not blame circumstances or others for problems that we face.

            I work in the area of customer support and one of the areas we focus on is proactive support. What is it that is different in proactive support? A few differentiators are:

  • In addition to resolving issues customers come to us for, we reach out to customers to see how they are doing and see if they need any help via phone, emails or visits.
  • Whenever a new release of a software is out, we explain new features that can be beneficial to the customers (rather than wait for the customers to ask us).
  • We offer to review existing processes to see if they can be improved to enhance productivity.

We see that the proactive support model give us a much higher probability of improving customer satisfaction, increasing their success and  encourage our customers to give us more business. It also improves the quality of our products, since we use feedback from the field and pass it on to the developers who work on enhancing the product.

We are all subject to Stimuli from the outside. Covey says that between Stimuli and Response, we have the ability to choose. A proactive person thinks and chooses an appropriate response to the stimulus he or she receives.  For example, one of our customers might come to us with a very harsh criticism. Now while the criticism might lack professionalism, the basis for the criticism may be justified. A proactive approach to the situation is to carefully analyze the problem in hand and focus on getting a solution for the problem.

During India’s Independence Struggle, Mahatma Gandhi remarked that “They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them”. The reason our feelings get hurt is not because of what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us.

As human beings we have several concerns in life. Concerns can be grouped into two areas as described by Covey. The inner circle in the figure below refers to things that are under our control. The outer circle describes things that are not directly within our control (e.g. the Weather, global economy)

 

Proactive people are focused mainly on the circle of influence. This approach helps in slowly expanding our circle of influence. On the other hand reactive people are more focused on the circle of concern.

Some of Covey’s suggestions for expanding our circle of influence are:

  • Being a better listener
  • Being a better spouse or family member
  • Being a better student and employee
  • Being a better manager.
  • Being a better teacher.

It is not that we completely ignore the circle of concern. We still need to think about it, but not let it be the major part of focus. We always have the choice of choosing an action. However, the outcome of our action is always aligned with natural principles. For example, we may choose not to wear our seat belt while travelling. However, if the vehicle comes to a sudden and  un-expected stop, we may get thrown, since that is a natural consequence the laws of physics.

According to Covey, the heart of the circle of influence is our ability to make and keep commitments and promises.  The commitments we make to ourselves and others and our ability to keep them is the clearest manifestation of our proactivity.

Hope you enjoyed this post. In the next post, we will look at the 2nd habit which is “Begin with the End in mind”.

Reference: 25th Anniversary Edition “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.

This is the fourth post for #MyFriendAlexa by @Blogchatter. I am taking my blog to the next level with #MyFriendAlexa and #Blogchatter.

ByMani Prithiviraj

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The 7 habits of highly effective people is a compilation by Stephen Covey of age old natural principles. Examples of natural principles are fairness, integrity, dignity, service, patience, quality and excellence.  According to Covey, anyone who consciously aligns their goals (personal or professional)  to these natural principles is bound to be very successful in life (Mahatma Gandhi is an excellent example of a successful person since he was aligned with natural principles) 

If a farmer wants a good yield at the end of the year, he needs to take appropriate steps throughout the year (e.g. Prepare the land, plant the seed, irrigate the plants, remove the weeds and finally harvest) If a farmer skips any of the steps or tries to compress the process, he is not likely to be successful in getting a good harvest. Similarly, Covey says that in life one has to align goals (personal and professional) to be in line with natural principles to be successful.

Covey defines a ‘Habit’ as an intersection of knowledge, skill and desire. Knowledge refers to theory or the “what to”. Skill refers to the “How to” and Desire refers to “Want to”. In order to make something a habit, we need to have the knowledge, know how to execute and also have the desire to execute.

The 7 Habits are:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek first to Understand then to be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

       The first three habits are focused on the self (inside) and the next three are focused on the outside (inter-personal relations). The last habit is the habit of rejuvenation or constant learning.

         Why are these habits of effectiveness? They are habits of effectiveness since they are all based on the natural principal of balancing production and the capability of production. Let us look at an organization with employees. Employees are capable of producing work which is beneficial to the organization. However employees also need to be cared for and nurtured,  in order to be able to produce work. If they over-worked and over-loaded by the management, then they lose the ability to produce results for the organization. A delicate balance between production and production capability is required according to Covey (similar to Aesop’s Fable story of the goose that laid the golden eggs).

          I was first introduced to Covey by my then reporting Manager Nathan Mac Donald in the year 2012. I can say for sure that ever since I started reading Covey’s book and making an attempt to follow them, I have seen small incremental improvements. My wish is that I had started when I was in school and college. However, I do believe that it is not late for anyone to start following the 7 habits of highly effective people. In my following posts, I will spend time discussing each of the seven habits.

Reference: 25th Anniversary Edition “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.

This is the second post for #MyFriendAlexa. I am taking my blog to the next level with #MyFriendAlexa and #Blogchatter.

 

ByMani Prithiviraj

Conflict Resolution at the Workplace

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Advances in Technology and Market Pressures have led to increasing expectations on growth and performance in our workplace. Expectations can rarely be met purely based on individual efforts. Successful accomplishment of organizational goals requires collaboration and team work. Goals have to be accomplished with a diverse workforce (based on age, culture, work-styles). This gives rise to interesting challenges. Conflicts at the workplace can significantly impact achievement of goals. In this article I am going to write about common causes for conflict at the work place and methods that can be used for prevention and resolution of conflicts.

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