Archive for the ‘People Management’ category

On Accountability and in being accountable

January 28, 2012

In my earlier article on the ‘blame game’, I suggested we never use the term blame, instead replace it with ‘accountable’; as it has an inherent sense of ownership and association with the task assigned such that if it fails, the one would own the accountability of its failure and not pass the buck.

The term ‘accountable’ and ‘accountability’ find different interpretations and applications; most commonly understood with a negative connotation – unfortunately.  Most of us if asked when these words would be used; quick would be our answer to point out situations where something failed or was under delivered and someone were held responsible for it.  Our perception of these terms always associates it with something negative.   What is interesting though is that the system we have implemented in our teams or organizations is largely designed to highlight negatives, failures.  This is because we always fear the worse, as a result we always device mechanisms and processes to prevent the negative.  We are so focused on this that we literally fail to realise that there exists a green zone of positives, of new ideas, innovations and doing something differently.  And it is because our innate desire is to prevent the negative, valuable terms like accountable and accountability bear a negative perception.  Let’s face it, we always use them when we have to find a head to load the failure on; don’t we?

But with the economic conditions and market dynamics changing so rapidly; it needs us as leaders and managers to really stop fearing the negative.  We have been trying to prevent the negative and what happened with the economic downturn worked as a forest fire just ended up demolishing some businesses completely.

What if we were focused on the positives and clearly establish the risks involved; and safe guarded ourselves against the risks but stayed focused on the positives?  May be we could have had very good market conditions.

In this tone, I would like to highlight that accountability and thus being accountable is an extremely powerful thing.  Accountability does not only equal being responsible for something, but instead it means we ‘own’ it and have thus the responsibility to see through its successful completion.  It’s like a father being accountable for taking care of his family; thus making sure there is regular income, proper facilitation of life essentials and security, quality education for children etc. become his responsibilities.  He needs to be ‘accountable’ first – own it first – and then will he become responsible.

Accountability is always towards the objectives and responsibility is towards various goals leading to successful completion of these objectives.  If increasing the volume share penetration within the existing clients is an objective; then ensuring proper delivery processes, maintaining quality standards, process review and audits, team development – training, etc. thus become the responsibilities of a manager.  The thing he would be accountable for is increasing the volume share penetration but everything that it takes to do so becomes his responsibility.

At the same time, when someone is made accountable for an objective, it also requires him to be provided with:

–         Sufficient knowledge, skill sets needed to meet the objective

–         Appropriate decision authority required for successful completion of the goals

–         Autonomy in choosing the approach he as a leader would deploy to accomplish the objective

–         Enough man power and resources needed to get the job done

–         Guidance and knowledge sharing from previous experiences which will come to aide or become a reference point

–         A proper review mechanism and validation framework – built along with the person made accountable

–         An objective assessment of progress and assistance in developing course correction methods

If the above are provided only then can you rightfully call someone accountable, otherwise you are merely finding a head to attribute the failure on to and setting it up for failure.  As a leader assigning accountability to someone in your team, you are responsible to provide him/her with the right framework to ensure success and move forward in the positive areas.

Accountability thus involves a lot of faith, trust and belief from the person above in the corporate pyramid who is assigning the objective and from the people below who would work with the person made accountable to accomplish the objective.

I strongly believe…

Accountability is actions toward or involving others that reflect the integrity of the person you are and what you want to be!

Thus being assigned the accountability and in being accountable for an objective is an extremely powerful thing; because you now ‘own’ something and have to make sure you lead it to success.


Stop the Blame Game, will you…

January 19, 2012

In the recent past I had to sit through a problem solving meeting.  To be honest, I was not keen on it as I could anticipate what would happen.  The meeting felt like a never ending saga without any resolution in sight.  No sooner the problem was put forth, one of the most common things [unfortunately] happened…everyone involved went on defensive and tried to justify that they did what they could do best but it was the other person who did not do the job as planned.  The other person, seeing that all eyes were on him, said the earlier group of people did not provide him enough information and time to finish his job.  This went on for over 2 hours, which was 1 hour over the scheduled time and the meeting had to be ended as there were other things demanding attention and presence.  The problem was not even discussed let alone arriving at the solution.

The meeting, according to me, was a sheer waste of time and energy.  What went wrong?  Well, no sooner the problem was put on the table, various stakeholders involved started to blame someone or the other for a failed job.  They were only focused on ensuring they are not blamed for the debacle.  No one was focused on even looking at the problem objectively and find ways to solve it.  The moderator of the meeting tried to add some focus but in the midst of so much of reactivity the whole purpose of the meeting was side stepped and it turned to a dirty blame game.

Now these were all qualified, experienced people who were sitting there.  But in the spirit of defending themselves, they blamed others for the problem or failure.  They clearly failed to understand and realise that blame game never works.  They ignored a basic element that those who indulge in blame game or those who blame someone else for a failure always fail to realize an opportunity to learn, improve and perform; but more importantly demonstrate principles, culture of accountability.

What is worse is that if one person starts to blame the other, the other will inadvertently blame the third….and the cycle continues.  Blaming is contagious, it is viral.

It wouldn’t be surprising that those teams or organizations where a culture of blaming prevails always fail to be creative, learn from the past and improve, are never innovative and productive risk takers.  In other words, they are the laggards in their stream of business.  By merely being exposed to someone attributing blame for a failure to someone is enough have people turn around and blame others for completely unrelated failures.  Blame game is parasitic in nature, it robs you of a great opportunity to learn from a failure and evolve.

I often asked myself, why someone would blame others for a failure; weren’t they all in it as a team.  But I feel that if the focus is to protect one’s self-image then it is easier for people to be on defensive and the moment they are on defensive, they start to find someone whom they can attribute the burden of failure to.

This can happen in a team or a department or at an organizational level; where the impact grows manifold in the respective order.

It is a lot to do with what culture you have established in your team or the organization.  A culture of psychological security is thus one of the most important things a leader or a manager needs to focus on, it prevents people from worrying about their self-image there by not being defensive and restricting the tendency to blame.

I personally would like to suggest we never use the term blame, instead replace it with ‘accountable’…it has an inherent sense of ownership and association with the task assigned that if it fails, the one would own the accountability of its failure and not pass the buck.

So how do we build this culture to stop blaming and create a sense of security and accountability amongst our people?

Here are a few thoughts I have:

[1]  Set clear expectations and accountability for tasks and define single owners for these tasks.

[2]  Put a blanket ban on fault finding or the blame game.

[3]  Call it a collective failure and DO NOT ALLOW anyone to blame others for a failure.

[4]  Encourage people to own up failures, make it clear and demonstrate that it not only gains them respect from their peers and seniors but also gives them loyalty of their team members.  This sets the tone for security amongst the team.

[5]  It is important to hold people accountable, but do so objectively and with an aim to help them evolve from the failure.  Make sure to emphasize that the goal is to learn from mistakes, not to humiliate those who make them.

[6]  Creating a culture where learning rather than avoiding mistakes is the top priority.  Call a mistake or failure an opportunity to learn and evolve, this will help to ensure that people feel free talk about and learn from their errors.

[7]  Set the right example, reward people those who have made mistakes and have evolved learning from it.

[8]  Share examples of how blame game ruined the opportunity to do well and how someone took the accountability of failure and led a turnaround… share success stories.

What do you think?  How do you propose to stop the blame game in your team or organization?

Please share your thoughts and experiences.

Setting Right Expectations

January 8, 2012

The other day I was speaking to a friend of mine.  She appeared rather upset, so I enquired about it.  She was upset because she had a bad meeting with her boss; in simple words her boss was not pleased with the work she had done on a task that was assigned.  This is a normal scenario you’d expect in a day to day office life.  But was it really a normal scenario?  I asked myself.

I know of my friend to be a very efficient worker, a very good manager who knows her trade very well.  She is very diligent, focused and would her 100% to any task she undertakes or is assigned.  Her record by far as been exemplary with her organization and there has been hardly any instances of failure for her.  Then why did she have a bad meeting with her boss?  What had gone wrong?  I wondered.

When I probed her I realised very quickly that she was meant to fail on the task she had been assigned with.

Her boss was earlier questioned by his seniors for slow progress on a strategic internal project.  He had to react and find a quick solution to address his seniors’ concerns and discontent.  So, as is the normal tendency, he called a few of his team members and started to assign tasks to them…without really validating if his team members were the right ones to handle those tasks.  My friend handles the operations division and is very efficient with it.  She was assigned one of the tasks which a marketing team member needed to handle but because the marketing team did not do their job well on this project, he did not want to involve them or seek their support.  This was not something she had done before or invested any time in learning it – it was never a part of her role.  Her boss wanted quick results, in fact he wanted the tasks to be completed within a few days; which according to me was a tough ask.  In any case, my friend did take up the gauntlet and started to read up on articles and reference materials available to equip her with needed information and thus understand how she can accomplish the task assigned to her.  Obviously she was treading into a territory not of her own and thus would stumble.  And during the very first review discussion, her boss came down on her very hard.  He clearly expected her to be as good at that task as an expert in the marketing team would’ve been.

I am sure by now you would have figured what is wrong here.  An incorrect mapping of complexion of the task with competency of the individuals it was assigned to.  You cannot have a donkey run in a derby; it is meant for horses… just as foolish as having a fighter pilot fly a passenger aircraft; he is not trained and specialised for it.  Now it does not mean he cannot fly the plane or a donkey cannot run the race but more likely that they would do a shitty job at it.  This is a simple thing which we quite often tend to forget in our reactiveness.

But this is not the only lesson learnt.

I think the bigger and a more important lesson learnt here is about setting the right expectations.  I do not think her boss clearly understood what he was doing and in his reaction to the situation, ended up doing a very poor job at assigning the tasks and setting wrong expectations.  But at the same time, I feel, my friend also needed to make sure she understands the task assigned very clearly and help her boss set the right expectations; she should have explained her lack of experience and knowledge on the task assigned and thus established a need for support either from her boss or from the marketing team individual to successfully fulfil the responsibility.

Expectations, I believe, is a two way street.  It just does not have to come from the top to the level below it, but it needs to be other way round too to make sure both the parties involved appreciate what it takes to do the job well and do it right the very first time.  Expectations thus need to:

[1] Very clear, non-ambiguous

[2] Very well understood

[3] Aptly realistic

I believe managers and leaders must work hard to explain their initiatives and create conditions for their people to succeed when they implement them.  But equally so, followers need to work to fulfil their responsibilities and also ensure that they clearly explain areas where they will need assistance, support and direction.  The leaders need to exert their management skills to engage employees and set clear expectations and likewise the employees need to ensure that they confirm their understanding of the expectations and are upfront on seeking any support or training needed to help meet the expectations [at the least].

Here are three questions managers can ask to ensure that employees follow through on their responsibilities.

[1] Do your people [team members] know what is expected of them?  Too often we assume people know their jobs. People may know the specifics, but often lack knowledge about how what they do helps the entire organization.  People need to be told, and reminded, of the importance of their work.

[2] Do the employees know what they can expect from you?  It is important to let employees know that you as their manager are available to them.  The definition of ‘available’ may vary based on cases and from employee to employee.  Like; for new hires you might be more teacher than boss, for experienced team members you will play the coaching role while for the team, you will be the supplier of resources as well as their champion.

[3] Do employees know what is expected of each other? While managers need to make certain employees are doing what is asked of them, employees must also do their part to coordinate with each other.  Whether a self-managed team makes its own assignments or a manager makes the assignments, what matters most is that employees know who does what so work can be completed in a timely and responsible fashion.  This allows for a great opportunity for leveraging experience and skills in the team where every team members knows and understands how their skills can be utilized not only for their tasks but those for others too.

[4] Are there any potential causes for failures?  It is very important to ensure that a manager clearly assesses if the team members are capable enough to carry out the tasks assigned and at the same time carefully evaluate risks and potential causes for failure.  These could be cases like the one explained above where a team member has low or zero experience handling a task but has been assigned with it.  This helps the manager be prepared to provide necessary guidance / training, plan for corrective measures and be a coach available through the course of task execution.

[5] What is/are the support requirements, or is there any training needed to help proper task execution?  This question is more to the team members who need to be upfront and clear about what kind of support they will need from their peers or seniors to help execute the tasks or any training / guidance they would need.  The objective is to make sure the expectations are set clearly by the team members for the managers, who can then help them with proper support and guidance.  It will also enable the manager make sure he device proper checks and measures to help ensure tracking of the task and signal any concerns to aide triggering of backup plan or corrective measures.

If managers expect their employees to be accountable, then they must set the right example.  These leaders need to handle tough issues, volunteer for tough assignments, and go the extra mile to help the organization and more importantly their team members to succeed.  This will automatically set the tone for team members to put in their best efforts to fulfil, meet or exceed the expectations set for them.

How to stop your employees from leaving you

July 15, 2010

This weekend I was reading an article on the reasons why employees leave.  The article was developed based on the responses of over 1000 employees which were surveyed on what influenced their decision to quit, switch or change companies.

How often, as managers and leaders, do we come across situations when our team members put in their papers?  It is a regular occurrence in the course of a year, right.

The article also very nicely brought out the seasonality of employee turnover…two phases in particular seemed interesting to me; [a] post annual reviews when it is at its peak and [b] sometime in the middle of Quarter 3 when there is a surge in hiring at lateral levels to bump up the capacity for Quarter 4.  I am sure most of you would agree with this.

Ever wondered what are those reasons why employees quit, switch or change companies? 

The article listed top 10 factors along with their impact on employee turnover in percentage values to overall [percentage values derived on the basis of responses provided by employees surveyed].

Well, I was not completely surprised with what was the biggest reason for employee turnover.  Any guesses?

The most obvious reason that comes to our mind in a flash is Compensation & Remuneration, right.  Interestingly it was 5th in this list of factors driving employee turnover.  Wow…and all along we were worrying about our team members leaving because he/she was offered a better pay package.  In terms of percentage value, it influenced only 9% of those who were surveyed to switch or change their companies.

The top 4 reasons cited by employees were the ones which we know, but are hard to register and measure the impact of as they are somewhat intangible.

Below is the table which shows the top 5 reasons along with their % impact.


As it is rightly said…

People don’t work for the company, they work for their leader


People don’t leave the company, they leave the leader

I always felt that pay package was used as a scapegoat to blame for an employee leaving the company but the real reason was mostly never captured and if captured, it was not investigated and analysed and if analysed, no proper corrective measures were put into place – which overall points to the failure of leadership in the company.  I am sure if we review the notes from exit interviews or candid one-on-ones with those who have left the company, what is mentioned in the article would be obvious.

So how do you stop your employees from leaving you? 

This is a vast topic in itself which spans across leadership, systems and processes, performance management, career path building etc. etc.  But if I were to mention one very important factor to curb employee attrition/turnover then it would be faith, trust and belief you share with your team members and employees.  I believe if the team members have faith in their leader’s ability to help them succeed, then I am sure they will remain loyal to their leader despite any odd failures of the leader.

In this article, I have tried to suggest a few very simple things which can help one build and retain the employee faith, trust and belief.  I have tried this and it has ensured one of the lowest attrition rates for my teams across 10 years of my career.  But before I do that I would like to talk about the types of leaders which I think is important.

In my view, there are two types of leaders; Traditional leaders and Transformational leaders.

Traditional leaders see the employee-boss relationship as a transaction, money in exchange for labour.  Whereas the Transformational leaders know and recognize that employees want much more than that.  In my view, it is the transformational leaders who see it as their responsibility to help their team members succeed and provide them with an environment to develop and grow as professionals.  These are the leaders who understand that key to organization’s success lies in providing an environment which ensures the success of his team members, if they succeed – the organization will succeed.

Below are a few things which would help your team members succeed and you in winning their faith, trust and belief as a leader.

Genuine Respect and Affection.  This may sound a little touchy-feely, but if you possess genuine respect and affection for your team members, then you are more likely to have a focused concern that is exclusively for that person’s good.  Your team members would automatically come to see and understand that you truly care about them, believe in their abilities and want to help in shaping their future in the right way.

Spend time understanding each of your team members and developing his/her Growth Path.  No one wants to be exactly where they are forever.  Create a culture that allows your people to grow and expand by giving them challenging assignments, training and developing their skills to maximise their potential to succeed and realise the growth they could have.

Give them a sense of Fulfillment and recognize their Contribution.  A feeling of fulfilment is by far the best feeling you could give your team member, he/she then becomes your believer in your vision and very willing partner in your efforts in building the team.  Also sharing with them what their contribution was and how it helped achieve a unified goal goes a long way in building the trust and faith in you as a leader.  Emphasize the ways that their work matters to the organization and how much you value their contribution.

Share a Vision and give their tasks a Meaning.  We are meaning-seeking creatures.  Share a vision that demonstrates that all of your team members are engaged in a larger purpose – a unified goal to achieve and demonstrate how the contribution of every single individual is equally vital and would help fulfil the purpose.  This will add sense and a meaning to their tasks and their contribution, and will make them feel valued.

Give them a responsibility for something you know they could do well, even when they are about 60-70% ready for it.  Mentor them and stand by their side to help them succeed with that task.  This way you not only boost their confidence but you also are building their skill sets which will help them in their growth.

Let me ask you a question at this point.  What do you expect from your senior?  What would make you decide to move on?  If your answers match the factors and pointers quoted above then these are the same factors and pointers which will apply to your team members too. 

So take a moment and make a decision…would you like to be a Traditional leader and continue losing your valued team members or would you rather be a Transformational leader and retain the talent?

Happy Employee Success and retention! [I assume you’ve chosen to be a Transformational leader]

There’s more to racing than winning

May 29, 2010

I picked this line from the very-famous animated movie ‘Cars’ [2006]. 

I find this movie to be technical masterpiece, a showcase of commitment, teamwork and a drive to excel.  To cite an example… the team at Pixar took almost 17 hours to create one frame of animation only to ensure the lustre and shine on the animated cars mirrors the real world cars, which it superbly does and those who have seen it would agree no less.  They wanted it to look real even though it was an animation – now how is that for commitment and drive to excel.  But there is one more thing which is so very important about this movie…the message around which it is centred, as seen in some of the dialogues in the movie.

‘There’s more to racing than winning’ and ‘…it’s only an empty cup’.

Now it is important to compete, so don’t get me wrong when I emphasize on the message above.  We need to read in between the letters here to understand the implied meaning.  While it is important to compete, work hard towards the goal, be aggressive and do whatever it takes to achieve it; but more importantly it’s about the ethics, the values we bear in ourselves and the very essence of our core – our guiding principles, either as individuals or as teams, which will set us different.  Yes, winning is important but what is more important is to win without compromising the ethics and principles, and put the values at the forefront.

I am sure those who saw this movie, never for once cheered for the winner of the final race.  Instead, they would’ve cheered for the act of the car, who was about to win the race hands down, pulling back inches close to the finish line, driving backwards to reach the car which met with the accident and pushing or rather nudging that car to the finish line. 

Wonder where this came from…well some part of it could be the scriptwriter’s imagination and the other inspired from this real life incident.

This happened during 1976 Special Olympics in Washington. 

Nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100 yard dash.   At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with a relish to run the race, to the finish, and win.  All, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over, and began to cry.  The other eight heard the boy cry.  A couple of them slowed down and looked back.  Then they turned around and went back.  One of the contestants with Down’s syndrome bent down and kissed him and said “this will make it better.”

Then all of them linked arms, and walked together to the finish line.  Everyone in the stadium stood, and cheered; the cheering went on for several minutes. 

People who were there are still telling the story.  Why?  Because deep down we know this one thing: What matters in life is more than just winning for ourselves.  What matters in life is helping others win, even if it means slowing down, and changing our course.  What matters in life is going by our heart, sticking to our values and do whatever we possibly can to help someone else do better [and succeed].  It gives a sense of fulfilment which goes a long way in our lives and makes us true team players and even better human beings.

Now for a moment, think of a situation where one of your team member, junior, peer, or senior is struggling with something.  He could definitely use some help which will make a world of a difference to his morale and confidence.  How often do we face this in our daily work lives [and also in our lives out of work too]?  Quite often isn’t it. 

How many of us have went ahead and extended a helping hand, helped that person accomplish the task and succeed [in whatever sense it may be]?  Those who have would surely agree with me about the sense of fulfilment and empowerment it gives you, which would definitely have made your day and would have gone down your memory lane forever.  But more importantly, it made you a better and a stronger person from within.

Just imagine, for a moment, how would it be like if anyone and everyone in the team at work is willing and ready to extend the helping hand, support each other what ever it takes and help each other with things to make each other succeed?  I bet workplace would then become a very good place to be and you would love coming to work every day.  And more than that, you would win and succeed more often that otherwise.  The synergy which would then exist would only help improve the morale, the strength and the performance of the team.

I know to achieve this is easier said than done but someone needs to start rolling it.  So why not you? 

Remember, ideal teams [which is always dream of to be a part of] are not available readymade…they are to be built, one step at a time…shaping one person at a time and building on one principle at a time.

If you see the value in it then why not take a step forward and help someone win/succeed.  And please be sure to share with us the experience you had.

Q -> A -> P

May 27, 2010

Confused with the title of this article.  Reading it at first either created curiosity in you to figure out what ‘Q -> A -> P’ meant and thus you are reading this article or, worst, it might have confused you enough for you to choose to leap over this article and carry on with what you were doing on the internet.  This is exactly what happens with the kind of questions we ask; either to our team or peers or seniors, they would choose to leap over it and carry on or they will stand, think and wonder what it would take to find the right answer to it.  Well, in most cases you will find the earlier behaviour as the result.

This behaviour is not atypical.  Don’t agree?  Try this. 

Closely observe yourself when you are in a meeting or a discussion and there are questions being asked.  Register and note down how many questions which were asked actually made you want to find the right answer to it, or succeeded in getting the honest response out of you [or others] and resulted in an alignment with the conversation…the purpose with which the question was posed, and how many of them really increase your desire to collaborate with the person who asked those questions…to either learn more or improve upon something. 

From my experience, it is only around 10% of the questions asked in meetings actually have the potential to make you think, the rest are only meant to continue with the conversation but not add any real value, some of them are infact questions out of frustration which are only intended to tell you how upset that person is and that’s it.  But what is unfortunate is that even these 10% questions fail to inspire the right thought process and we end up with a defensive or an unclear response.  Which is why, most of the action points which emerge from the meetings either result in no substantial action-improvement or in most likely cases reach an impasse due to enormous to-fro…net-net; nothing productive is resulted

If you agree with my observations, are you already wondering ‘why’ does this happen? ‘what’ needs to be done to change this behaviour?  [or should I stop attending meetings or calling for one, as they yield no results until I have a reason strong enough to have a one or attend one?]

I have been thinking about this myself as I have attended or have had meetings which met the unfortunate end of ‘no action-improvement’.  I feel that to make the meetings and our discussions effective, as leaders, we need to learn to ask better and right questions; ones which inspire the audience to want to think of an answer, those which result in the team wanting to align better with the very purpose of we asking that question and I am sure if we are able to achieve this, we will be able to impact performance positively more often than not. 

Like the opening paragraph of this article, I feel the key lies in the questions – good ‘Q’uestions makes the audience relate to and want to find an answers for them, there by resulting in ‘A’lignment towards the cause of the questions, which in turn results in productive action and positive impact on the ‘P’erformance…thus, as the title suggests…

Question -> Alignment -> Performance

As leaders, we need to connect honestly with our team, peers and seniors.  As much as it is our need to connect with others, equally important it is to clearly know what to ask, how to ask and where to ask.  I feel that we, in most cases, can do a good job at finding the ‘what’ to ask but we generally tend to struggle or make mistakes in the ‘how’ part of asking questions.

Below I have suggested a few ways I feel we can address the ‘how’ part of asking questions.

As leaders we generally tend to collect or build a background around the point we need to ask our questions on.  However, in this process, we have thought over the questions so much – so often and mentally tried to answer them for ourselves [while preparing for the meeting or discussion] that we generally tend to be close-ended with the answers we expect to hear.  I feel that to encourage the audience [it could be the team, peers or seniors] for them to give right information, background and perspective to the questions; which will help us find the right answers eventually; it is critical that we remain open-endedWe need to ask questions not only to know what happened but more importantly what they were thinking at that time.  Asking open-ended questions prevents us from making any judgements based on our understanding or assumptions of the situation.  What happened, How it happened, Why it happened are the kind of questions which encourage a dialogue.

We need to be engaged during the conversation, act as we truly are there to listen to them, have affirmative and engaged body language which makes them feel our desire to truly be a part of the problem and help them find a solution to it.

We should always be curious to know more but the caveat is to make them speak more than us.  Those who tend to do all the talking are often deaf to other’s needs, avoid this trap as it will make you lose their confidence in you.  It is often observed that leaders feel that talking first and being the last person to voice an opinion on the topic is a sign of strength and authority, but this is not true.  Such an attitude often cuts off the information at its source.  Instead, being curious shows our interest in knowing more and willingness to go to the root of the problem and help find the right solution for it.  This will really encourage people to open up and share very important information and pointers which will truly help in finding the right solution.

Last but not the least, we should always probe to get the whole story and dig deeper to reach the roots. 

I have tried the above and have found them to be extremely useful in directing the course of the meeting or a discussion towards a productive end – almost all the action items from the meeting were executed and resulted in the output we desired.  It also helped me come up with some very productive initiatives for my teams [at my previous organization and current] which are already showing positive impact on the performance and more importantly the team. 

If you agree with the observations I have cited about and with the suggestions I have made then why not give it a shot yourself…go for it and let me know how it went.  Let us all learn from each other’s experiences.