Posted in General Stuff

Managing and Reporting As Remote Employees

It’s hard.  That’s all you need to know.  Let me first define “remote employee” – Remote employee is someone who is not at the same location as their manager.  I have been remote employee for most part of my 10+ years of career.  When I was at Microsoft, my manager was in Seattle and I was in NY.  When I moved to Dallas, my manager was in Detroit.  Now I’m still in Dallas with Facebook and my manager is in Chicago.  I wanted to share some learning over the years of working with remote manager (reporting up) and managing remote employees.

Being remote employee is hard.  My biggest fear has been: out of sight out of mind.  You miss out on lot of hall way conversations, office parties, office events.  You have to prove yourself again and again.  You have to make sure your manager doesn’t think you are slacking off because he is unable to see you in office everyday, working your ass off.  Actually, you have work extra hard to make your efforts visible, lot of times go out of your way to show the work you are doing is actually making an impact.  You also have to keep your manager aware of work you are doing.  One thing he will not see is frustrations and struggles of doing your work.  He will not hear you vent about ludicrous client requests or asks.  He will not see you working until 6 or 7 because you just have to get shit done.

Being introvert also doesn’t help.  Introverts like myself do poor job of marketing themselves.  I prefer my work and other people speak for my work and work ethic.  Introverts actually enjoy quite time to think through all the various scenarios and possibilities before suggesting anything.  We like to listen then speak rather than speak just to be heard.  When we speak, we want comments/suggestion/question to be powerful one not the obvious one.  If you remote manager doesn’t understand, value or know how to manage introvert personality, being remote is pretty much horrible.

So how do you manage up?  Here is what I have seen work and somethings that doesn’t work.

  1. Communicate, over communicate. Sending weekly updates and having regular sync ups with your manager will be helpful
  2. Include your manager in vital client email communications
  3. Speak up in meetings (even if you are an introvert, you kinda have to)

What hasn’t work?

  • Not talking about your frustrations with your manager. Be those frustrations be with client or with other team mates.  Introverts like myself do poor job of this and as a result suffer in silence
  • Not marketing your work and yourself
  • Not syncing with your manager’s manager on regular basis
  • Not having 1:1 on regular basis

How do you manage remote employees?

Managing remote employees is equally hard.  It is difficult to make those personal level connections with your remote employee if you don’t see them every day or know what’s happening with their daily life if don’t have hallway conversations.  Have to make an extra effort to make sure remote employees are aware of what rest of the team is doing and working on.  Have to understand their employee’s personalities and understand how to manage them.  Introverts should not be managed same way as extroverts and vice versa.  Highlight their work to immediate and broader teams.  Specifically ask about frustrations they have about their work and teammates or even better talk about frustrations others are feeling, so introverts feel comfortable to share.  This must be done in delicate way so that not too much negativity is coming through.  When possible, take time to better understand remote employee at a personal level, outside of work to make that connection.

If remote employee feels out of loop, unwanted, their work being unappreciated or not needed, or not managed based on their strengths that individual will certainly not last long in the organization.  It takes certain level of experience, perspective, understanding and extra efforts to manage remote employees.

Nobody said it was easy.

At the end of the day, employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.

Posted in Uncategorized

Allvoi Issues

Finally got rid of Magic Jack and got AllVoi.  Have spent at least 5 hours try to resolve the issue of breaking voice.  Here are the things we have tried:

  • Restarted modem and wireless router (multiple times)
  • Changed the wireless router settings – even technician did it via remote login
  • Tried running the tool at voipreview.org, but unable to do so due to security settings

Seeing issues with domestic and international calls.  So please don’t waste my time and ask me to do all these things again.

So far experience has been very poor.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Content Consumption versus Creation

It has been a while since i have written a post.  I have several posts in draft with bullet points but nothing completely written out.  Though this one will get out of draft format, i promise to myself.

This lack of blog posts has made me think about why nothing has been written in quite sometime.  Answer is lack of time – rather a weak/poor excuse.  Though truth is i’m too busy consuming content rather than creating it.  Now there are so many sources to consume different types of content.  Facebook to see what your friends are up to, twitter for everything, pinterest for inspirational stuff and availability of ever present mobile phones has made it so easy to just consume everything, regardless of there is a need for it or not.   After all these consumption of unnecessary content, I am really tired to create my own stuff.  Thus the lack of blog posts – mystery solved.

Let’s change that.

Posted in Uncategorized

Lesson Learned: Buying furniture

It has been a year plus since we have moved to Texas. One of the first things we had to do after buying a house is to fill it up the space with furniture, since our apartment furniture was second hand and we wanted to purchase furniture for long term use. So buying furniture was the first biggest project we took on.

We shopped at numerous brand name stores, compared prices and asked our friends and coworkers to make sure we are getting the most for our money. After extensive search and tons of hours of shopping we decided to go with Ashley’s furniture and take advantage of their 50% off only twice a year 4h of July sale. After spending a day(literally) deciding what to purchase and negotiating with the sales person we finally purchased our furniture. One thing done from the big list of things to do.

LESSON LEARNED: Now we realize that we had a mistake by buying furniture from a big showroom furniture chain (even though it was 50% off sale).

Here is what we should done:
1. We should have purchased from a furniture warehouse. This is where chain stores like Ashley’s get their furniture from. These guys sell almost the same furniture at much affordable prices. Couple things though: Don’t expect the customer support to be friendly as there are no sales people and don’t expect to purchase some long term warranty. If you can deal with these two things you will save money.

2. Some not so well known companies sell from the catalog the exactly same furniture as the big showroom furniture chain. What you can do here is to visit the showroom chain store pick out the furniture you like, make a note of name, model, color etc and find these catalog furniture company to place an order. You will save money and of course don’t forget to negotiate for the best deal. Same as before, don’t expect good customer service and extended warranties.

Buying furniture can be long tedious process, deciding on color, theme, style and what not. Take notice of above points to see if you can learn from our experience and save yourself some dinero.

Posted in Uncategorized

Why Aren’t More Asians Getting to The Top at U.S. Companies?

That is first sentence of an interesting article titled “Breaking Through the Bamboo Ceiling” written by Sylvia Ann Hewlett on Harvard Business Review.  In the article, author brings out some really interesting stats, including:

  • Only 1.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs are Asians
  • Barely 2% are board members

So why is this the case?  Do Asians not posses leadership capabilities or skills to delegate work?  As the article points out, it is more of culture and personal beliefs than anything else.  To some extent I must agree with that.  My belief is that if I work hard enough, my work will be noticed.  There is no need for me to shout out loud and put a spotlight on myself.  Yet, I have learned (through experience), that is certainly not the way to get a promotion.  You have to market yourself and  your work.  Have to remind your boss about the value you bring to the table (again and again) and clearly state your career goals.  I’m still uncovering this mystery and can certainly use some help. 

Would love to find out your thoughts around how you go about getting ahead in corporate America.

Thanks.

Posted in Uncategorized

Mumbai Blasts – People Helping People

“Three bomb blasts in Mumbai, considered a terror attack”, says NDTV.com.  Sad sad day, yet again not only for Mumbaikars but for all Indians.  News of destruction, death and injuries are coming in as moments pass. 

Out of all this, it is amazing to see people helping people in whatever ways they can.  Twitter feed #here2help is updating at amazing pace.  Mumbaikars are opening up their homes for the stranded and offering to help in any way possible.  Amazing human spirit.  Below are just 5 of the messages out of thousands:

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In this tough time, it goes to show that Indians are united as one.  Thoughts and prayers goes out to those impacted by this tragedy.

Posted in Uncategorized

Is Technology Making Kids Less “Social”?

Came across this post on my Facebook newsfeed which I thought was very interesting and true at least for me:

“My curfew was the street lights. My Mom called my name, not my mobile. I played outside with friends, not online. If I didn’t eat what Mom cooked, then I didn’t eat. Sanitizer didn’t exist, but you could get your MOUTH washed out with soap. I rode a bike without a helmet, getting dirty was OK, and neighbors gave a damn as much as your parents did. Re-post if you drank water from a garden hose & survived!!”

This was certainly the case when growing up in India, not sure if this is still the case.  While I was in middle school in India, first thing I did after coming back from school was, eat something real quick and run outside to play with my friends.  Nothing could keep me indoor.  We had games for all kinds of weather.  I thought I was Sachin Tendulakar of my apartment complex.  Kids from apartments from across the street were our enemies and spend number of nights strategizing how to kick their rears – of course it never happened.  While playing cricket, got in argument with elders whose daily routine was ruined by our high flying (Tendulkar like) sixers.  During Uttrayan time, there were competitions about who captures the most kites.  In summer, there were board games and marbles.  This one time, we even opened a bank where kids can borrow marbles from us – imagination at work.  That was then.

Today, kids don’t need anyone.  They got their Nintendo DS, Xbox, Internet, 200 channel cable, mobile phones and of course who can forget Facebook.  I am not saying it is for better or worse.  Today’s kids have access to the technology that was unimaginable just a decade ago.  Times have changed for sure.  These kids are digital kids, for whom text messaging is same as talking to someone face to face.  These are also the kids who have access to the world’s best libraries – any question can be answered within seconds.

However, what about social skills?  Undoubtly, technology has made it easier to stay in touch and connect with new people.  Real business can not be done on Facebook alone, can it?  Will these technology savvy kids able to read someone’s face and determine if they are trustworthy or not?

I’m curious to find out how are today’s parents developing their kids’ social skills in this age of gadgets?