Thursday, August 28, 2008

Art of Interviewing

Recently I was interviewing some candidates for a Senior Level position for the new venture that I have started.

I was happy and comfortable to deal with managers, with 3 to 4 years of leadership experience, and very good technology hands-on approach. This was going from the tradition of looking at more expeience, which would cost more money, that a startup venture cannot afford.

With more than 18 years and also with the experience of handling labours in my Father's factory, I believe that was a right choice. Social designation would be there and I expect the sincerity of candidates to show that they are capable. We are willing to pay the right money for the right candidate with right experience.

I interviewed so many candidates, mostly referrals from friends, and they were taking it so light.

One guy a development manager in a financial software co. based out of USA at Bangalore (In...t), talked to me once for the job. Now the badger starts. He is keeping on calling me and this has become a pain now to answer him. I couldn't just cut him off. He threw a new ball doosra at me saying that "I am ready to take a plunge in untested waters ...","I am actually the key guy in this company, and willing to leave it for you.." etc etc

Tell me should I hire this candidate? Or based on his attitude, should I report to his manager, who happens to be a good friend of mine? Time would tell.


The Motivation Mistakes Managers Make

I. Too much emphasis on pay, benefits, and perks:

The Saratoga Institute reports that 88% of employees voluntarily leave their jobs for other reasons, such as misalignment of mutual expectations, person-job mismatch, insufficient coaching and feedback, perception of poor career-advancement prospects, work-life imbalance, and both distrust toward and low confidence in senior leadership. Still, most managers refuse to acknowledge the "push" factors, preferring to see the "pull" factor of more money as the prime motivator.

The truth is, both push and pull factors come into play, but companies make a big mistake by hanging their employee-retention strategies solely on the easier-to-manipulate tangible factors of more pay, better benefits, and flashier perks. It's not that these factors are unimportant; they're very important. In fact, most employers of choice typically offer better pay and benefits than their competitors. But what sets them apart are positive, caring cultures where most managers know how to provide the everyday coaching, feedback, and recognition that keep employees engaged.

II. Blindly following other companies' best practices:
One of the disadvantages of reading Fortune magazine's "100 Best Places to Work in America" list each year is that we become so enamored of great employers that we think their best practices will work equally well for our companies. Sometimes they do, but often they don't.

The best employers thoughtfully match their cultures, benefits, and management practices to the needs and desires of their workers. FedEx gears its workplace to the short-term work-experience needs of younger part-timers, while American Express focuses on long-term career development with a strong emphasis on gender equity. SAS Institute has created an employment brand that says, "Come to work for us and enjoy a campus-like environment, and have a life outside of work." This software-development company is famous for its 3% turnover rate in an industry where 20% is the norm.

Most companies can't-or won't-invest the up-front dollars to do what SAS has done. The good news is they don't have to. But by asking their particular workforce what they most want and need, companies can usually provide what it takes to keep employees-and keep them engaged.

The danger of benchmarking against others in your industry is that it may keep you from tailoring an innovative benefit or practice to meet the needs of the 20% of the talent that's creating 80% of the value in your company or department.

III. Failure to train managers and hold them accountable:
Studies of employee turnover consistently show that the direct supervisor builds or destroys employee commitment. Yet, how many companies select executives for their ability to manage people, train them in effective people-management skills, and then hold them accountable? You could probably count those on the fingers of one hand.

Many employers of choice carefully monitor their managers' voluntary-turnover rates, new-hire retention rates, and employee-engagement survey scores, and reward those who score highly with bigger bonuses. Managers with low scores get lower bonuses and are called into meeting with their superiors, which may lead to more training, coaching, reassignment, or termination.

In other words, smart companies know that as the competition for talent heats up, they can no longer afford the luxury of another bad manager.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Found this article on net, published in 2 or 3 websites. Nice one!

When you' join a company for the first time, you want to establish a good reputation, and that's especially true if you're a new professional in the workforce.

Below are several tactics that should complete your game plan for winning favor and starting a good foundation for your career.

Earn Respect Before a Special Request

Life sometimes gets in the way of everything, including work. On occasion you may need to ask your boss for an extra privilege -- but it's best not to do so straight out of the gate.

Hallie Crawford, a certified career coach and owner of, agrees. She says, "This generation has been pegged as one that expects everything up front at the beginning. That's not always accurate, but new graduates should remember that they'll have to pay their dues before they can have it all."

She recommends adhering to company policies and endearing yourself to your boss before asking for flexibility. "You want to prove that you perform well and it's worth it to keep you content," reveals Crawford. So, if your hours are nine to five, make sure you're at your desk at nine and at least until five. Down the road, after you've demonstrated your reliability and value to your boss, you may be able to negotiate more flexibility in your arrival and departure times or lunch hour or take a vacation before you're technically due one.

Tackle Something Without Being Asked

One of the best ways to gain the gratitude of your supervisor is showing initiative. "So many people get into a new job and think their supervisors are going to say, 'This is exactly what I expect you to do.' But this isn't school. You're not going to get clear-cut homework assignments. You have to ask, 'What can I help with?' or you can just dive into a task," shares Crawford, whose practice is based in Atlanta.

She recommends taking on a project that everyone is avoiding. Perhaps the supply closet is a shambles. Or there's a major backlog at an important filing cabinet. Maybe an important database is woefully out of date. Put in a few extra minutes each day so your pet project doesn't interfere with your primary responsibilities. When you're done, you'll have won your boss's admiration and your coworkers' gratitude. "You have to step up if you want to get ahead," states Crawford.

Offer Opinions With Tact

You've been hired because your boss and others at the company saw promise in you and your skills. Your opinion is valuable to the organization's growth and future. However, remember to offer it up gently and with respect. Crawford reminds new grads, "Blurting out things as if you're a seasoned consultant isn't the best approach. It's great that you have a fresh perspective, but you need to present it in the right way."

Rather than inquiring why something is done a certain way, ask if management has ever considered doing it another way. Suggesting a new process rather than questioning a current one highlights your forward thinking without insulting your boss's or the company's approach. "You don't want to come off as a know-it-all," she says.

It's Business, Not Personal

Work friends can become some of your best friends, in and out of the office. But, as Crawford reminds her clients, "You need to remember that these are professional relationships first." Even if you work for a hip company where fun is a part of the company culture, she says, "It's not a frat party."

If you're invited out to lunch or an after-work drink, don't overindulge in alcohol and don't be an "over-sharer." "You have to be smart," says Crawford. "If you don't want other people to know about it, don't do or say it." Over time you'll learn a lot about your coworkers and they you, but it will happen organically.

Figure It Out

It's important to ask a lot of questions when you're new to any job, and your boss understands that. But don't pepper her with queries all day long. Crawford points out, "You have to know when you need to go to your boss and when you don't. She's really busy and can't always hold your hand."

Crawford urges new employees to learn to work independently of their supervisors by reaching out to other key people related to their jobs and get to know them. Your supervisor will appreciate the fact that you've figured out how things work and that you've begun to build relationships throughout the company. Adds Crawford, "You don't want to keep falling back on the fact that you're new -- because that gets old."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Do you want to win the Website war?

1. Buy an e-mail list from any random provider.
Marketers (and content-generators such as! Did I mention we have some great newsletters of our own?) understandably want to disseminate the company's information to as wide an audience as possible, as quickly as possible. One common way to extend a company's reach (a leftover of the print catalog era, but less effective online) is to buy a mailing list of qualified buyers or people who have expressed interest in similar services.

E-mail is expected to be opt-in; that is, someone must explicitly give permission to receive unsolicited commercial mail from a particular sender. Almost by definition, anyone who sells a list of e-mail addresses is distributing those identities without the users' consent. Permission can't be bought, sold, bartered or assumed. It must be acquired directly from the only person who can give it: the owner of an e-mail address. Savvy spam fighters intentionally sign up for some lists with "spam-trap" IDs just to see if the e-mail ID will be abused.

If you're thinking of buying a list, you'd better be sure that the IDs were acquired properly -- which is rare. The Spamhaus Web site tells people never to buy a list of e-mail addresses for bulk distribution. Otherwise, Bam! Straight shot to a blacklist.

2. Don't follow industry best practices for mailing lists.
Any newsletter you send should use confirmed opt-in (sometimes called closed-loop opt-in) to ensure that the person who signed up is the person to whom the e-mail will be sent. This is a biggie. If your newsletter doesn't follow this rule and you get onto a blacklist for any reason, you won't be removed from the list until the confirmed opt-in issue is addressed.

Make it easy to unsubscribe from a mailing list. Even when you do make it a one-click action, entirely too many people fail to unsubscribe and instead stab angrily at the "This is spam" button in their e-mail client. Big e-mail service providers such as Yahoo Mail won't block your newsletter for a single spam report, nor will they list you in an RBL because of one lazy newsletter recipient, but you don't want to get anywhere close to the line.

Related Story8 ways to fight spam-filter frustration
False positives are the scourge of spam filters. Whether you're sending or receiving, here are some steps you can take to keep good e-mail out of the slush pile.
Another express ticket to the blacklists is to repurpose addresses. "Don't store a user's e-mail address for one reason and then send them bulk e-mail for a completely different reason," explains Richi Jennings, lead analyst for the e-mail security practice at Ferris Research.

For example, a hosted antispam service allegedly mailed its customers' technical contacts a marketing message. When customers signed up for the service, they provided a technical contact for messages about service outages, trouble-ticket updates, etc. "The technical contact has a clear expectation of the types of messages they'll receive, and that doesn't include marketing," says Jennings.

3. Let anyone use content-sharing features, willy-nilly.
Many sites (yes, including encourage readers to participate in some way. You might comment on an article (we writers do appreciate it, not that I'm hinting or anything), e-mail the article link to a friend or, with modern social networking tools, create your own page.

Those are great. But blog comments can generate comment spam, which points right back at your domain. Many sites' "e-mail this article" feature is malformed -- for example, spoofing the "from" address -- leading to bounce messages if not the land of blacklists. And so on.

Catherine Hampton Jefferson at SpamBouncer explains: "If you're a news site, for example, and want to let people forward a news story to someone, you should restrict them to sending it to a small number of e-mail addresses. I'd also check the IP they're connecting from against the CBL and perhaps other carefully selected block lists."

4. Use a dubious service provider.
It's astonishing how often companies choose an Internet service provider or Web hosting service without doing due diligence. Before you sign up, find out how often the company was blacklisted in the past year. Discover if they're known to route hijacked network space or if they have a history of spam abuse. One recommended resource for this is

This is especially important when companies use a shared mail server or host a Web site on shared hosting, adds Jefferson. "If you are [doing so], and one of your 'neighbors' spams, you can end up listed," she points out. "It stinks, but if you share the same IP with a spammer, IP-based block lists have the unpalatable choice of listing the IP and thereby blocking innocent bystanders as well as the spammer(s), or not listing the IP and letting the spammer spam away."

5. Tick off your technically knowledgeable staff.
If someone is on the inside, and they have been nodding along at each of the points I've already made, it's not all that difficult for them to get a company blacklisted. (I'll avoid examples here, because I don't want to make the job too easy for any disgruntled employees who might be reading this article.)

I'm sure that you treat all your employees well, that they are qualified for their jobs and that you have trained them on acceptable-use policies for e-mail (you do have them, don't you? Please tell me you do). Yes, sure you treat every employee with unrelenting positive regard and gobs of respect -- and I am the Queen of the May.

Someone, somewhere in your organization will eventually decide that he is being pushed to the limit -- and then you'll end up in a situation like the city of San Francisco's rogue network administrator. What technology do you have to make it difficult (it'll never be impossible) for an upset insider to give his manager a Very Bad Day?

6. Run a sloppy mail server.
Mail servers that don't follow the rules have a myriad of ways to get their feet caught in a spam trap, some of which were enumerated in other articles. Some of them are technical and under the purview of your e-mail admin, such as "The HELO/EHLO string should ideally match the full domain name."

Bottom line, here: Follow the standards.

7. Ignore the security on devices that may be compromised by spambots.
Your e-mail server may be pristine in its behavior, but if one of your end user's computers has been taken over by a virus that is sending spam, your domain is still responsible for polluting the Internet. Pay attention to software installed on your desktops and servers, either by staffers (using social engineering or deliberate malfeasance) or when users visit compromised Web sites.

Don't cast your hairy eyeball only at stand-alone PCs. One e-mail admin told me he once flagged an open relay that turned out to be an electron microscope at a Belgian university. Hewlett-Packard printers have been used as zero-day warez (pirated software) FTP servers. The more gizmos that are connected to the Internet, the greater the possible venues for spam and viruses. (Doesn't that thought just brighten your day?)

8. If you do land on a blacklist, threaten to sue and make angry demands.
It is possible to find your site on a blacklist because of an innocent mistake. But when you go to resolve the situation, assume that it was your error or ignorance that caused the problem, not someone else's fault. Do not threaten.

Otherwise, you might find yourself on the "permanent block list" with no chance to be removed. One e-mail admin says he blacklists for life anyone who tries to sue, including legal firms handling the cases. "Since they support Internet abuse, they really don't need to have the privilege of using it," he adds.

Matthias Leisi, project leader at, a "whitelist" of known legitimate e-mail servers, says, "We once had a guy threatening to sue us at if we would not immediately list all his IP addresses with highest trust score. When we told him that this is not the way we operate, he went into ALL CAPS MODE, telling us what a bunch of incompetent losers we are, and that he still insists to be listed, 'or else.'"

In point of fact, there is no "or else." Like a baseball player who disagrees with an umpire, the umpire may be wrong, but his decision is final. If you argue, you'll just be thrown out of the game.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Marketing skills right!

You should be capable or marketing your skills right, to whatever client you have.

They should appreciate your biz acumen.

Next the delivery comes.

Smooth talking owners are always despised by clients or empty names, just bcoz they hold a stake will not help.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Comparing Online CRMs

Here is the link

There is a big opportunity in this space. Customized solution is the key.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What is Leadership?

When a skilful and operationally driven manager gains influence in his/her workplace, he/she is beginning to develop his/her strategic thinking, and this manager has a growing number of followers and enjoys of the progressive recognition from Senior Management, the transformation from a plain manager into a nascent leader, simply has begun, and thereby his/her growing influence, power and authority that become in differentiating factors to encourage business transformation, corporate innovation and a strategic mindset.

This desirable metamorphosis typically happens when this manager, aside of having the right personality traits that are characteristics in a leader: passion to excel, innovative mindset, communicational skill-sets and strategic thinking, he/she has had a progressive career development path in different job positions and industries where he/she has learned the art of managing in highly complex business scenarios, has had the proper modelling of influential and recognized leaders and has been coached and mentored at the right time by influential professionals in the science of modelling business scenarios beyond from operational constrains, financial limitations and talent shortage.

In most of these transformations the blend of a corporate culture, an inspiring leadership, a motivating vision and a corporate attitude that is appreciative and supportive to encourage the assortment of skills, competences, expectations and initiatives of a valuable and proactive professional makes true the promise of becoming an excellent manager into an influential and empowered leader.

Leadership may be identified in function of the following attributes:

1. Empowerment in sharing an inspiring vision and creating empathy in managers and co-workers: A true leader, should be passionate professional and a charismatic individual with the willpower to create and develop an inspiring vision and generate empathy, full commitment and due admiration in others.

He/she should have strong skills, knowledge and intuition to understand those cultural issues that could be favorable for proper strategy execution and influential in managing all the enterprise changes that should be deployed by effective Senior Management commitment.

This leader should possess an outstanding capability to communicate pragmatically the scope, results and goals of the business strategy, in a way that generates due respect and trust.

2. Being credible and communicating effectively even in the most adverse circumstances: Other key factor of success is the role assumed for the leader of communicating effectively to managers and subordinates the advances and results obtained during strategy/project execution, by promoting feedback when necessary, sharing relevant information with stakeholders, generating employee’s engagement and making corrective actions when convenient.

This attitude helps to create confidence and trust from the whole organization toward their leaders, while being crucial to reduce those feelings of uncertainty, doubt and fear that in processes of profound transformation could create disengagement and demoralization in the workforce.

3. Integrity and Accountability: A leader should have solid values and reliable ethical principles that applies consistently as a value inherent to his/her professional engagement in the enterprise, being able to inspire virtue, correctness and righteousness in his/her followers and having the willingness of assuming the repercussions, consequences and effects of a mistaken decision, by identifying new opportunities and courses of action from learned lessons arisen of a failed experience.

For that matter other than Empowerment, Inspiring, Credible, Communicating, Integrity and Accountability - leading by example on what is needed makes a whole lot of difference.

Sathyameve Jayathe! सथ्यमेवे जयते!

Every new hire is a gamble!

As Donald Trump figured it out, Every new hire is a gamble!

So what best can one employer look into a person.

Obviously people prepare for interview. Setup the situational stories, and make it or flunk it.

It also depends on the interviewer to take care.

Personally, I have never hired a candidate, making sure doubly, and also look into the aspect of learn ability.

It is very important.

(people who wish to be part of my new venture, please email me at

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How Did I Make It? Sad Story any IT guy says!

Lots of guys who were lucky to make it big on IT world (says 2% of all who ventured), thinks that they can brag about making it big, and live like N.R. Narayana Murthy, they want to invest his experiences in teaching (politics I think) once they has turned the company into a money-spinner. (Let them wish, but they have to be careful on bloating the stock and bringing it down to 25% levels than peak!)

They also forget that, they stepped on other software companies, by not paying the right royalty for the software use and building the biz.

They should be shot at. Put in ICU.

"Remember, in the end, it's not the years in your life that count but the life in those years," says an eminent Philosopher.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Do Social networking sites help business?

Do Social networking sites help business?

This is an interesting question. I don't think social networking is being adequately addressed by businesses although it is more closely aligned to the way humans interact than traditional business methods or software. Just look at the massive growth of all social networking sites - there is a lesson to be learned there that is currently either not being addressed or considered an

In regards to recruiting/job hunting/etc., there is definately a place for social networking although there needs to be some sort of control or controlling structure in place to streamline the process and/or ensure its success. If I compare the traditional recruiting process (a company contracts with a recruiter who then works with the company to access the role's requirements,

etc., and then conducts a search) versus what I have seen as the process for social networking sites (company assesses need for a role internally, approaches several professionals online, makes an immediate decision - or NOT many times) I see many weak areas in the typical approach via social networking sites, such as: the company does not have the means to correctly

assess the role, the company doesn't have a firm outlook on the "pulse" of the job market, the company cannot translate business needs to recruiting requirements correctly, or the company is not really serious about filling the role.

Unfortunately, the end result could be that a professional contacted within a social network for a role could just be wasting time by communicating directly with a hiring company who has bypassed the traditional recruiting process. If I were to ask why a hiring company that is looking for a key position would decide not to include a recruiter, I can only assume one of two things - 1.

They are not really serious about the hire (and are merely "kicking tires" and seeing what is out there), or 2. They actually don't have the budget to use a recruiting agency (and therefore clearly don't have the budgetary commitment for the role in question to ensure its success). Either one is bad news for the new hire!

I am not going to address why a company would chose to fill a key role based on lowest cost versus best fit for a role. Maybe that should be addressed in a different post.

While I have heard many horror stories which follow the example above, I am not saying that social networking is not a good avenue for recruiting, but instead needs to have some form of control to ensure the following:

1. Companies posting roles on social networks are ACTUALLY hiring these roles within a designated time frame.
2. Companies posting roles on social networks understand the current job market, including current salary ranges, packages, etc.
3. Companies posting roles on social networks have the budget to ensure the role is successful.

I believe all of these are initial hurdles tackled between a hiring company and the recruiter that contract to perform the search.

Similar checks & balances also need to be incorporated in professional social networks. I believe recruiters working through social networks are a good initial move in this direction, but would like to see the professional social networks extend tools for both hiring companies and professionals who use them.

In regards to the software market, I see similar (if not greater) issues in regards to the lack of social networking integrated into them. Using CRM software as an example, most CRM companies either don't address social networking at all (even though their

customer base is asking for it), or have nominally addressed it in the form of an applet or two within the software (which have no real value for the user). Given the well publicized weaknesses of CRM to enhance the end user's experience and/or productivity

(CRM does well in providing data for management, but is less useful for end users), I am surprised they have not completely reworked the way users interact with their systems. If I use opportunity tracking in an SFA system as an example, social networking strategies follow human interaction much more closely than traditional systems that impose artificial systems of rules

on the user (either carrot or stick approaches are common). Why not mimic natural human interactions? This would allow users to intuitively use the system without training and/or the feeling they are spending more time to track data? I use sales as my example because salesmen are infamous for not tracking information effectively and/or sharing it with their team. Could it be the method of tracking is not correct?

If you are still not convinced, remember that millions of teenagers, who have been raised on social networking sites, will be entering the job market in the next 2 - 5 years. This will only exacerbate the issue!


What can your Social Networking Site Network do for you?

1. Get introduced to the people you need
When you need to reach a professional, Social Networking Site will tell you who can introduce you to the person you need.
2. Find professionals your friends can vouch for
Don’t just search the web for people. Search the people your friends know and can recommend.
3. Keep up with friends and colleagues
Social Networking Site makes it easy to hear news about their careers, projects and professional lives.
4. Don’t miss professional opportunities
With Social Networking Site, you hear about opportunities in your network, even if your friends don’t tell you about them.
5. Build your relationships
When a connection asks you to make an introduction, you build that relationship.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Jobs and Satisfaction!

You might work in big co's of small co's, but the experience you gain matters a lot.

Just by having a name tag of a particular co. may not help, even if it is once upon a time a big co. I know some folks who have worked with Enron (debacle!) and recently from JD Edwards to Oracle and out.....

Ethical biz is always going to survive. Few company's that I have worked with has put me into depression, which I have overcome.

I started Sharon Software Systems at Coimbatore during Nov 2001, with my hard earned cash (blowing half my earn't savings till that point of time), and could not get the necessary funding, hence shut shop during July 2002. Now in stealth mode for want of cash. I am sure of reviving it! I did start bifidium during May 1999, but gave up owing to fear!

That's was the reason I have come back to mainstream, and search of Job Satisfaction.

I am very sure I will make it big one day! Just waiting for the right VC/Angel and funding and necessary push....

I will start another venture soon!

Project management ability

Software development does aid in ones own ability to manage projects.

As an IT leader myself, I've seen and worked with many newly minted managers- and minted a few myself. I'm not going to try to classify managers here- but I will say that a good manager is a mix of many qualities- subject matter expertise, people skills, political skills- all are important. What does *not* seem to be important, across many managers I've worked with, is where and how those skills were developed. How they are applied is. If the manager is to be in charge of a highly technical IT environment, and that manager only knows a small portion of that environment, it will be harder- but, if that person has solid leadership skills, and is willing to do the homework, most of the 'downside' will be internal to the individual- they'll feel like they're drowning, for a couple of months, until they develop a network.

On the other side, some people just cannot break out of their mold- they're solid technology people, perhaps even gifted in a certain area- but lack people skills, or political savvy. Sometimes, a new manager will make the assumption that they're now the expert in everything, making themselves look foolish- and they seem to have no idea how foolish they look.

So, to get to your question directly- if you are considering a career in IT management, first assess your abilities in leadership- preferably, have someone external make that assessment, and determine if you have the requisite leadership skills first. After that, remember to stay humble and rely on your network- and you'll be on the right path. It's no detriment to be limited in a given skillset- IT is a huge area, with many sub specialties- and you will never be expected to cover them all more than superficially.


I'm making the assumption that the "software experience" you refer to is "hand coding software", or "the software that the company I work for might make" - and not specific pieces of software that are endemic to any IT department, like AntiVirus, Inventory management, CRM, Office tools, Document management, email, webserver software, etc. If this assumption is incorrect, then I absolutely think it would be a detriment to the manager's career in IT.

If the assumption is correct, then I believe the best option might involve seeking a position with a company outside of the tech space, like Law, Healthcare, Academia, etc., and of a significantly large size; where there may be several folks with specialized knowledge and responsibilities over their fields that could minimize your interactions with their areas of software.

I would generally counsel against this approach though, because IT management is generally a business function - and understanding your customers needs is a critical component of success in this career. An IT manager that understands the company's software is uniquely positioned to tailor his/her skills to the environment, which results in better process and prioritization. Demonstrating this ability at one organization after another is likely to advance the manager's career quickly, as any hiring manager would quickly see the obvious value.

So it isn't necessarily a roadblock, but it just changes the opportunities the manager might have to pursue.


No... but they had better have some tech skills (as you indicated) and some solid project management bonafides ( or be able to show me they are VERY willing to learn).