An Unusual Love Story Provides Lessons on Leadership

Today being Valentine’s Day, we thought we would write about a love story that we do not often hear about – a love shared between a horse and a puppy. This poignant ad by Budweiser won the hearts of people because of its simple message of ‘love knowing no boundaries’.

An orphaned puppy did not allow the boundaries of his world to limit him. A good-looking stallion did not allow the kind of animal and its size to express his feeling of love. Both the puppy and the horse fought till the last, a battle that they felt was worth fighting while others perceived it as a ‘battle that could never be won’. This powerful mindset enabled them to experience the victory, the victory that brought them together, just the way they wanted.

This 60-second ad contained some powerful leadership lessons. Here are 3 that were significant for me:

  • Different is not wrong; different is different

Peter Drucker famously stated that management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”. But would accommodating something different mean doing something wrong? Often we immediately reject something that is varied from what we are familiar with. This interferes with our ability to explore unexplored paths, as anything that is new is unfamiliar. Our inability to accept and adjust to differences is usually the major contributing factor to inadequate cross cultural communication skills in organizations.

  • Overcome Challenges

The boundaries created by our challenges in our life often stop us from striving to reach higher levels. Once we realize that for every amazing achievement there ought to be a struggle to start with, we will start looking at challenges differently. It is the struggle in the cocoon that gives the strength in the butterfly’s wings that gives it the ability to soar! Effective  leadership  is the result of good role-modeling.

  • Persevere Until You Succeed

It is easy to give up on something that does not give you results; especially when what you are trying is unconventional. Many a time people have given up on something without realizing that success was just about to manifest. Trying a little bit harder and a little while longer would have got them the success. What would have happened to us if Edison had abandoned the project of the light bulb at the 1000th failure? Programs that challenge the leaders to function outside their comfort zone provide the best training for leaders.

“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm”. —Publilius Syrus. But the essence of leadership lies in accepting the differences, overcoming all odds and persevering till it’s done.

The cross cultural training   program conducted by MMM Training Solutions  focuses on accepting the differences provided by cultural diversity. Since our work environments are global now, our cross cultural business training is an important part of our leadership training program . In life it is not the challenges that are important but it is the attitude that you have towards your challenges determines your destiny

Good Interviews Leave Great Impressions About the Organization

Interviewing Skills Training

I have been lucky to have the experience of working closely with a few HR professionals in my career – sharing space with HR heads as a member of the interview panel. The conversation that unfolds while hiring senior and middle level managers is sometimes classic cases of what not to do in human relations. The first few minutes into an interview follows a usual pattern. But inevitably it turns in to a duel of wits. The loser always in my opinion is the interviewer. Not because the interviewer concedes to the interviewee’s opinion (it seldom happens) but because the interviewer does not know how to interview, leaving the interviewee feeling miserable towards the end. The interviewee is disappointed with the interview, the interviewer and the organization. An opportunity to impress upon an individual the values that the organization stands for is lost. This propagates poor reputation about the company in the market that in turn results in difficulty in attracting candidates for interviews in the long run.

I have noticed 4 common mistakes that even seasoned interviewers commit:

  1. Interviewers conduct an interview unprepared. If you are not thorough with the process, profile and competencies, the chances of hiring the appropriate employee is remote.
  2. Interviewers ask the wrong questions. The resume of a candidate just gives the basic data to filter down the number of candidates applying. The real information that goes into the decision of hiring comes from the interviews. So when wrong questions are asked, you get wrong information and wrong information leads to wrong recruitment.
  3. Interviewers have the tendency to jump to conclusions. Interviewers tend to make up their mind about candidates within the first few minutes even before collecting the necessary information. This also leads to wrong hiring.
  4. Interviewers simply check off a list of job requirements. This generally happens while hiring for the frontline positions.

Good interviewers allow a two-way probe and assessment. This gives an avenue to understand how someone thinks and relates to others. Good interviewers are well prepared, ask pertinent questions, stay in the present without being overtly judgemental and are conscious of their own reactions. They take efforts to make the interviewee feel comfortable. They avoid clichéd questions like ‘tell me about yourself’ or ‘where do you see yourself 5 years from now’. Instead they ask creative questions like ‘describe what you felt when you were shortlisted’. Good interviewers employ sound interviewing techniques and clarify their perceptions with well-focused questions. And mostly importantly regardless of the fact that the candidate is being hired or not, the candidates exit the interview feeling respected and listened to. This results in a good impression about the organization, which will ensure that they will recommend it to others.

The next time you conduct an interview, remember that your company’s future success depends on the right people being hired. In this context, interviewing skills for managers is an absolute necessity.

MMM Training Solutions conducts Interviewing Skills Training, which will provide interview tips on framing effective questions, active listening and the displaying the appropriate soft skills, which will leave a favourable impression in the minds of the interviewees.

Performance Appraisals that Works!

 Soft Skills Training

“It is discouraging how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”Noel Coward

It is a common practice for most managers just before a performance dialogue happens, to advice their team on how to go about their self-appraisals. In one of my first appraisals, 15 years back, I was asked by my manager to sit along-side him and follow his lead in marking the appropriate boxes. Out of the outlandishly long list of 32 parameters, he rated me as “Meeting Expectations” in 24 parameters, “Needs Improvement” in 5 and interestingly “Exceeded Expectations” in 3. I was then asked to rate exactly the same on my self-appraisal sheet. He never gave me time to read the parameters. He shook hands with me and said “Congrats! The management has concurred with me to give you a 2.5% hike in salary with a 25% hike in sales target for the next year”.  Within a month’s time I had moved out of that organization. The reason behind my exodus from that organization is not because of the spectacular hike offered (which I must add I graciously rejected) but because my manager would not let me know the 3 parameters on which I was rated as “Exceeding Expectations”.

For the next few years until I became a manager and learnt the essence of Performance Appraisal, I rated every parameter as “Exceeded Expectations” on the self-appraisal. This led to numerous livid exchanges with my managers and impacted my future performances.

As I re-evaluated my career growth, I was plagued by these questions – What is performance appraisal?  What is the importance of performance appraisal? Is performance review a stage for employees to blow their own trumpet?

I recently came across an acronym “PERFORM” that best describes the key elements of Performance Appraisals.

P – Purpose – Everyone involved in an appraisal for an individual should be clear on the purpose

E – Empowerment – At the end of the appraisal the appraise should feel empowered to face the challenges ahead

R – Relationship – Appraisals should be used as another platform to build effective relationships

F – Flexibility – Should elicit flexibility in operation for the year ahead to reach organizational business objectives

O – Optimal Performance – Clarify what constitutes optimal performance

R – Recognition & Rewards – Discuss rewards & recognitions that the individual is entitled to for what they have done and what they would get for what they are expected to do in the coming year

M – Morale – Elevate the morale of the employee to ensure greater productivity in the year ahead

What are the best performance appraisal methods that companies adopt today?

The idea of an effective performance appraisal is to have a flexible structure that describes job expectations with clarity, a process to capture employee performance, a method to evaluate the performance and to capture gaps if any that can be addressed for development, which is in line with organizational goals. MMM Training Solutions conducts Performance Appraisal Training that focuses on two key areasdeveloping the skills to identify both the strengths and challenge areas of the appraisee and to give empowering feedback.

(Read the article on ‘A directive to Effective Performance Appraisal’  for better understanding of Performance Appraisals)


Visualize your Way to being a Successful Presenter

 presentation skills training


Do we realize that the best of presenters or the best of speakers are probably just as nervous as any other person? But they are also confident. They are confident of their subject, they are confident of their preparation and most importantly they are confident about presenting in front of the audience. So what are they nervous about? They are nervous about those things that are not in their control. The possibility of technical snags, the possibility of some indifferent member in the audience who hijacks the session and the possibility of changes in schedule.

However the people with stage fear, the people who given the smallest chance run away from the stage, are nervous about everything around them. They seem to go blank the moment they step on stage. And when they manage to start their presentation, their ordeal includes mumbling, rushing through the slides, uttering more foghorns & fillers than meaningful words, sweating and fidgeting, leaving the audience bored and wanting to leave.

As a trainer who conducts presentation skills training, who gives presentation tips and trains people on how to give a presentation, I belong to the first group of people I mentioned who are nervous about the things that are not in their control. But that is not how I was when I started my career. During the initial stages, as a trainer (17 years ago), my presentation skills I used to find all possible excuses to avoid getting on stage. And finally when I was forced to present, I did everything on stage that would either put the audience to sleep or leave them laughing; laughing at my strange mannerisms on stage. When I was on the verge of giving up presenting for the rest of my life I suddenly remembered what my athletics coach in school used to say about preparation before a race. I was a 400 meters runner. I used to be extremely nervous before the start of the race. Hence, a day before one of the athletics meets I was part of, my coach took me to the track and made me visualize the race. Visualizing the warm up before the race, nailing the starting block on the track, the smell of the tarmac, listening to the silence before the gun shot, the thunderous sound of the gun shot, the grunt of all athletes while jumping out of their blocks, the sound of spikes piercing the track, running on the curve, the faint sound of the spectators yelling at the top of their voice, the final burst of speed approaching the finish line, the final thrust towards the finishing tape and the elation of winning gold. My coach asked me to repeat the entire visualization at least 20 times. And believe me the reality was every bit like how I had visualized barring the gold. Gold or no gold, I had conquered my nervousness before a race.

I decided to put this visualization method to test to overcome nervousness in order to make it an effective presentation. I took the last seat in the auditorium the day before one of those dreaded business presentations. I visualized the chattering of 50 people who were gathered, the smell of room freshner, the odd smell of the microphone, the glare due to the spotlight, the sound of silence before the start of my presentation, the joke that I would use to start my presentation, the laughter of 50 odd people to my joke proving that at least they understood what I meant, the smile of approval on the faces of the people in the front row, the softness of the thick carpet under my feet while I moved around the stage, my voice going to a new decibel when I was closing my presentation (which I never thought was possible on stage), the rasping sound of people clapping and the swagger while I walked off stage. I visualized this at least 50 times.

The rest as they say is history.