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Email etiquette

Nowadays, it is very rare to see anyone writing with a pen or pencil (other than students). Writing has become a rare thing. I was invited to attend a lecture on Handwriting analysis in the IIMB alumni association monthly meeting. The lecturer, who is running a Handwriting Analysis institute asked the members present to write a paragraph with a pen. He then analyzed two of the handwriting and gave a quick analysis of the persons on their emotions, traits etc., I asked him a question - "where in the world people write, especially in corporate world". To which he answered the inner conscious of an individual remains and can be found in the handwriting analysis. He also added that there is nothing called a "GOOD" or a "BAD" handwriting. It is only LEGIBLE or ILLEGIBLE handwriting. So, the handwriting may change, but the characteristics of the handwriting will not change.

But our writing habit has gone and we live in 'e-Mail' world. When my aunt asked why i am not writing letters to her, I told it is better to create a mail id for her and her son can read out the mail to her. Even the personal touch of signing appreciation letters, signing greeting cards, signing a note of thanks etc., are now done through e-mails. Whoever you may be, you will now have a mail id and a mobile number to be identified, if not people are not others will not even look at us.

With emails being THE mode of communication, either personal or official, there are some etiquette that are necessary to portray the individual's stature. These are the basic things, which were ignored in current fast world. Some examples are :

the - da
This - dis
Your - UR
You are - U R
Tomorrow - tmrw
welcome - wc

Corporates, especially BPOs, KPOs train their employees on how to write / respond to an email. It is very critical, as it carries the image or the organisation. The mail should be responded quickly, unlike the usual snail mail. There should be present all the parts of a normal letter (address / salutation, body of the letter, conclusion, signature etc.,)

The email should be short and crisp. If it is lengthier, then use headers with bullet points or write a document and attach it to the mail. Do not use BOLD or RED colour font, unless you need to emphasize a particluar point or convey a deadline. Before sending the mail, do a spell check!

I came across a site, which explains how to send effective email replies. Click here for the page

Guide training to your team members on the email writing technique, as it reflects your team's image to the outside world.

Cheers,
Gopal
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Sitting Late v Working Late - Rejoinder

Working late and Sitting late - it differs, like Office Hours & Working Hours. People say that I spend 15-20 hours a day in office, but effectively they would have worked/spent 6-7 hours. If you have work and sit late (having not able to complete in the regular office timing) to complete your tasks, it is fine. But you need to be conscious that you were putting all your efforts towards your tasks during your normal office timing. These sort of situations will be occasional. If it is regular, then there is a problem. My father is my mentor on time management. I need not look for any book, if I follow him.

My father (retired now) used to ask me, what holds me in coming back home after the office timing. I tell him I had work and need to stay back. I am into the accounting department and it is a contagious habit. But looking back, I don't understand why I was spending that much time. At times, I take too much on my plate and try to complete it or one of the excuses, mentioned in my earlier blog.

When my father met my CEO (of my earlier company), he asked him why you all sit late. For which he said, I leave the office on time and these youngsters stay back for completing the work.

My father too worked in Finance & Accounts and was head of Accounts in a Danish company. He used to say - If the department head see anyone sitting regularly late in office, he need to explain why he is sitting late - only 2 options (1) Given excess work or (2) he is inefficient. So the culture was set in that organization.
But now, it is rare to find such managers. When I worked in UK, my manager used to chase me out, when I wait for my colleague to finish his work, thinking that he may require my assistance. But what my manager told me made me to think - He said, he has work and could not finish in 8 hours, so he is sitting. If he needs your help, he should have told you before and not after the office hours. By 5.00pm, all will start leaving the office, either to meet their girl/boy friends or to play some games or for beers.
Here in India, that culture (I mean effectively work during the 8 hours) has to pick up and am sure will come soon.

Another question from my father, which I am not able to answer is - With all gadgets, Software why you all take more time to complete the job, when the same volume of work was there in his time used to get finished on time. In earlier days, they did not have ISD,Chat, Mobile, Computer, Softwares (like Tally), scanner, etc., but managed to complete their job but with all these things, we are unable to complete the job on time.

All boils down to one thing - We don't plan well, our tasks.

If we plan to leave office by 5.00pm, we can. But are we doing it? No. If we have to catch a flight by 8am, we get up by 5am and reach the airport atleast by 7.30am. Why? Otherwise we will miss the flight. So, it is driven by the individual mindset and planning. My father still plans well and carry out his plans very well. He never missed out any deadline and worst part is he reminds me periodically of my deadlines!

Friends,
  • Plan well your tasks, give priority to important tasks .
  • Get out of the habit of staying back at office, if you don't have work.
  • Do a root cause analysis on what made you to sit late?
  • Never encourage your juniors to sit late, monitor their work
  • Come home, teach your child whatever you can in their subjects
  • Of all, teach them the importance of time, so that they don't spend much time in office.
If you want to know how much you spent late at office without spending time with your family, just deposit Rs.25 for every hour you stay after normal office hours to a bank account. You will know after 10 years how much you missed your family by looking at your bank account!

Time is valuable and spend it wisely and usefully.

Cheers,
Gopal
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Tax planning


Come March, all will march towards our consultants to reduce our tax liabilities. Though we know that this is the same case, every year, we will start our planning only during the last month of the year or the last month the employer !

Here are some thoughts on saving some money from tax:

a. Do not invest for the sake of saving tax. For example, you invest Rs.100 to save Rs.30 (average tax rate taken at 30%). But the investments having the tax benefits are all long term in nature. So your Rs.100 is locked atleast for 3 years (if not 5 years). So your Rs.100 would be earning around 8% (max). If you want you can pay tax Rs.30 and have the balance Rs.70 at your disposal. If you are smarter, you can earn more on the Rs.70 at your disposal. So have a mix of tax saving and cash at hand for some real good investment. You can also look at closing some high interest paying loans (personal loans, housing loans) with the Rs.70.

b. Do not go for housing loan just for the tax benefits. Leveraging through Debt is recommended, but in these markets, having too much debt is not desirable. I have seen people buying house to save on tax. If you can rent a house, you are better off. For getting a benefit of Rs.45,000 (30% saving on Rs.150,000) you pay interest of Rs.150,000. Why do you need to pay Rs.150,000 to get Rs.45,000? If you dont pay, you are better off with Rs.150,000 in your hand!

c. If you have made and money (short term) in the stock market, it is better to save tax now. How? Your short term Capital Gain from Shares are taxed at 15%. With the share prices going south wards, I would suggest selling the shares, which you have bought less than a year ago, at the current prices and book losses. The short term Capital Loss (STCL) can be adjusted against the Short Term Capital Gains (STCG). So, your taxable portion of the STCG is reduced and your taxability also come down. I will explain with an example:
I have made Rs.10,000 STCG. I hold 200 shares of X Ltd (bought at Rs.100 and current market price is Rs.40...so I have a loss of Rs.60 per share). I know the market price of X Ltd is keep falling. I sell the 200 shares @ Rs.40 and book a loss of Rs.12,000 (200 shares X Rs.60). I get Rs.8,000 in my hand as my sale proceeds (200 shares X Rs.40). Now my STCG of Rs.10,000 is adjusted against the STCL of Rs.12,000. So, I need not pay any tax, as my STCL is more and there is no STCG. Also, I can carry over the excess loss of Rs.2,000 over the next 8 years and adjust against STCG. What is so great about this? Here comes the interesting part. When the market goes down further and the share price of X Ltd goes down to Rs.35, you again buy 200 nos. You now got your 200 shares of X Ltd (your position remains same as far as the share holding is concerned). You have saved Rs.1500 (15% of Rs.10,000 STCG) and also carrying over Rs..2,000 to adjust in future years STCG. If you are smart and can predict the market, this is the best way to avoid STCG.

Whatever tax planning you do, please do keep in mind to maintain some liquid assets (like Cash, FD etc.,) to meet emergencies and also to grab some real good investments (like real estate). If you do not maintain liquid money, it may turn out that you may loose an opportunity of your life time. Also, maintain a long-term portfolio like Land, Gold etc, which can give a better return than any other product.

Consult your advisors, auditors before taking any decisions. In today's marktet you may get carried away by the marketing gimmicks by Insurance. Mutual Fund advertisements. So, be careful.

I came across a good article on Questions & Answers relating to tax benefits. The link is HERE (http://www.cogzidel.in/blog/taxing-times/)

Good Luck and happy investments.

Cheers,
Gopal

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Time Management


I got the following mail from my friends....and wanted to discuss.
***********************************************************************
Mail sent by Narayan Murthy to all Infosys staff:

It's half past 8 in the office but the lights are still on... PCs still running, coffee machines still buzzing...
And who's at work? Most of them ??? Take a closer look...

All or most specimens are ?? ...Something male species of the human race...

Look closer... again all or most of them are bachelors...

And why are they sitting late? Working hard? No way!!! Any guesses???
Let's ask one of them...
Here's what he says... 'What's there 2 do after going home...Here we get to surf, AC, phone, food, coffee that is why I am working late...Importantly no bossssssss!!!!!!!!!!!'

This is the scene in most research centers and software companies and other off-shore offices.

Bachelors 'Passing-Time' during late hours in the office just bcoz they say they've nothing else to do...
Now what r the consequences...

'Working' (for the record only) late hours soon becomes part of the institute or company culture.

With bosses more than eager to provide support to those 'working' late in the form of taxi vouchers, food vouchers and of course good feedback, (oh, he's a hard worker.... goes home only to change..!!).
They aren't helping things too...

To hell with bosses who don't understand the difference between 'sitting' late and 'working' late!!!

Very soon, the boss start expecting all employees to put in extra working hours.

So, My dear Bachelors let me tell you, life changes when u get married and start having a family... office is no longer a priority, family is... and
That's when the problem starts... b'coz u start having commitments at home too.

For your boss, the earlier 'hardworking' guy suddenly seems to become a 'early leaver' even if u leave an hour after regular time... after doing the same amount of work.

People leaving on time after doing their tasks for the day are labelled as work-shirkers...

Girls who thankfully always (its changing nowadays... though) leave on time are labelled as 'not up to it'. All the while, the bachelors pat their own backs and carry on 'working' not realizing that they r spoiling the work culture at their own place and never realize that they would have to regret at one point of time.

So what's the moral of the story??

* Very clear, LEAVE ON TIME!!!
* Never put in extra time ' unless really needed '
* Don't stay back unnecessarily and spoil your company work culture which will in turn cause inconvenience to you and your colleagues.

There are hundred other things to do in the evening..

Learn music....
Learn a foreign language...
Try a sport... TT, cricket..........
Importantly,get a girl friend or boy friend, take him/her around town...

* And for heaven's sake, net cafe rates have dropped to an all-time low (plus, no fire-walls) and try cooking for a change.

Take a tip from the Smirnoff ad: *'Life's calling, where are you??'*

Please pass on this message to all those colleagues and please do it before leaving time, don't stay back till midnight to forward this!!!

IT'S A TYPICAL INDIAN MENTALITY THAT WORKING FOR LONG HOURS MEANS VERY HARD WORKING & 100% COMMITMENT ETC.

PEOPLE WHO REGULARLY SIT LATE IN THE OFFICE DON'T KNOW TO MANAGE THEIR TIME. SIMPLE !


Regards,
NARAYAN MURTHY
*********************************************************************************
I do not want to debate on the statements made by Narayanmurthy. But here are my thoughts:

Is the mail really from Naryanmurthy?
Is he asking the bachelors to get a girl friend?

Am I going to discuss on the above?...................NO

Do not look into who sent the mail to whom, but look at the contents. It not only says that the resource should be efficient on time but also on the wastage of resources. In these economic slowdown, saving resources is very critical. Let us discuss on these lines.

1. Why people sit late in the office?

Excuse #1

There are many reasons for that. Primarily it is the people who themselves get into the habit of the sitting late. Very few cases, where the Manager sits late and expect the team also to sit late along with him. My boss tells me that I have the disease of sitting late. As most of you know, this is common in Accounts department. Being in a support function, all the day the accountant will work for others. After the office hours, he will feel relieved and start working on completing his own activity. This is how the practice of sitting late will start and become a habit. Office will become home and we start spending 8 hours at home.

Excuse #2

When you start your career, though you want to leave on time, you will not. Why? Others are sitting. How will that be treated? So you get used to that and that will become a practice. This reminds me the story of the Monkeys in the cage. The new monkey will also get used to the culture!!!! (I am not narrating the story, as most of you know this story of new monkey trying to get the banana and get beaten up by the others). This will continue in your subsequent organisations also.

Excuse#3

When you join an organisation, you will spend time in learning the process and to increase your learning curve, you spend time in the office and it will turn out to be a practice.

Excuse#4
When you complete your task on time and leave home early you get more work. So you will spend time to complete your work, so that you will not get more work. To be precise, you do not want to be penalised for the inefficiencies of others.

The excuse list is not exhaustive.

2. What can you do to avoid this late sitting?
  • When you join a company, understand the work culture. If possible, before joining the company itself.
  • After joining, make sure that you are not whiling away your time in cafeteria and then spend late hours in the office to complete your tasks.
  • Make sure you prepare a To-Do list and prioritize your schedules. As Stephen Covey in his "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" says - “The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”
  • If you notice any dependency on some department or person, try to work with them closely to understand their concerns and address them, so that you get your support on time. After all, it is a team work.
  • Improve your process efficiency. Cut redundant tasks, automate.
  • Do not encourage unnecessary intruders. If you are busy, ask them to come later.
  • If your manager gives you an unscheduled job and if you are in some other important work, as him which one to prioritize. Open discussion will be give good times, most of the times.
  • If nothing works, talk to your manager. If it is not working, talk to your manager's manager. Even, if it is not working.....you have to take the call !!
In this globalized economy, we are to work on various time-zones and our body-clock is challenged. So, plan your time effectively. Spend time with your family, develop some habits. Enhance your skill set. Acquire new skill set.

I have not elaborated much on the points, as I would like to hear more from my friends on their views.


Cheers,
Gopal
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RBI announces rate cut

D.Subbarao, the RBI governor has announced a rate cut of 50 basis points (pbs) on the repo & reverse repo rate on 4th March 2009. Now the repo rate stands at 5% (earlier 5.5%) and the reverse repo stands at 3.5% (earlier 4%). These rates, a year ago were 7.75% and 6% respectively (in Jan 08). During mid-2008, the repo rate was around 9%, while the reverse repo was pegged at 6%.
Okay, what does this reduction in the rates signifies?
If you recollect my earlier blog on the Third Quarter Review of Monetary Policy, we discussed on the reverse repo rate and the repo rate and how RBI uses them as a tool to control / loosen the availability of money in the system (called liquidity).
So, now that the RBI has reduced the repo rate, the banks can borrow from RBI to fund its activities. Also, the RBI has reduced the reverse repo rate. What does that mean? Now the banks deposits with RBI will earn only 3.5% return. Is it good? Do you know how much your bank gives interest on your savings bank account? Check with them...it should be somewhere in the range of 3.5%. So, the banks pay 3.5% and gets 3.5% return on their deposit!! Are they into charity operations? No. So what they will have to do? They have to increase the spread (the difference between the rate at which they borrow and the rate at which they earn). Now that the earning is known, so to increase it, they have to cut the deposit rate - simple. Why I took the example of Savings bank account is that, we all know that product and also it is the lowest interest paying deposit account.
Coming back to the banking side. They know that borrowing from RBI is cheap and also know that placing deposit with them will not earn much money. What they will do? They are now forced to lend to customers (other than RBI) to generate revenue to cover their cost. Else, they will sink. This will sound simple, theoretically. But in reality, it is not that easy to lend in this economic situatoin. Banks are very cautious in lending money. Forced lending will land them in trouble.
So banks are looking at various opportunities of reducing their borrowings (offering lower rate of Interest on their borrowing products like Deposits). They lend to top notch clients, look for more securities etc., Most of you know that Mar 15th is the last date for the Advance tax remittance for Income Tax. In the given economic conditions, corporates & business people will look for money to pay their tax dues. So, in my opinion the banks will start reducing the rates after 15th March.
Poor banks, they are now having funds and are looking for borrowers! Are you credit worthy, you can easily get loans and help the banking system. Look out for reduction in the Home Loan interest rates, FD rates, SB rates, etc.,
Let us wait and watch!
Cheers,
Gopal
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