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The Manager’s Cheat Sheet: 101 Common-Sense Rules for Leaders

14 Dec

1226939540wXly2gManagement is all about connecting with the people on your team. So how do you effectively manage a team? With common knowledge, of course. These are a few back-to-basics rules that will help you develop management skills that really matter.

 

Body Language

Like it or not, your body speaks volumes, even when you are silent. Here’s how to express an attitude that’s appropriate for a leader.
1. Stand tall. Keeping your shoulders back and holding yourself up to your full height will give you an air of confidence.
2. Take your hands out of your pockets. Putting your hands in your pockets is often seen as a sign that you have something to hide.
3. Stand with your arms crossed behind your back. This will help you adjust your posture, and it leaves your hands in a position that is open and not intimidating.
4. Make eye contact. Always look directly into the eyes of the people you are speaking with. This shows you’re interested and also gives you a sense of confidence.
5. Sit up straight. Even if you’re at an 8 a.m. meeting and feeling tired, it’s important to sit up straight in your chair. Slouching makes you look disinterested and can give off an unwanted air of laziness.
6. Face the person you’re talking to. This shows you are interested and engaged in the conversation.
7. Shake hands firmly. For many, a handshake is a reflection of the person you’re shaking hands with. You don’t want to come across as unsure or overbearing, so make sure yours is professional and confident.
8. Always smile. Smiles are contagious and will make others feel positive when you’re around.
9. Look your best. You don’t have to be model perfect every day, but you should dress appropriately and neatly. Clothes can have a big impact on the way you’re perceived.
10. Walk confidently. Keep your head up and take even strides.

 

Meeting Deadlines

No one will be happy if your team has to rush around at the last minute to complete a project. Follow these tips to make deadlines less stressful for everyone.
11. Only promise what you can realistically deliver. Don’t create deadlines that you know you can’t meet. By only promising what you know you can do, you’ll be able to finish on time.
12. Set clear goals. Once you know what you need to accomplish, it helps to know how and when you want to do it. Put your goals down on paper and make sure everyone on your team gets a copy.
13. Organize a team. Many of your employees will have unique strengths and training that can make them great assets to certain projects. Pick a team that has the right skills to carry out the job.
14. Delegate tasks. Spread work among your employees in a way that doesn’t leave anyone overburdened while also allowing the project work smoothly.
15. Create milestones. Creating milestones for you and your team will help you keep track of your progress and also give you a sense of accomplishment as you reach each milestone.
16. Keep communication open. Keeping everyone in touch with the status of the project is key to making sure it’s completed on time.
17. Do it right the first time. Planning ahead will help prevent you from delivering a substandard product. Having to redo something for a client costs money, and, more than likely, future business opportunities.
18. Stay organized. Staying organized will help keep you from wasting time chasing down important documents and information.
19. Make sure expectations are clear. Be sure that each member of your team knows what their specific responsibilities are. This will save time and prevent tasks from being overlooked.
20. Create a plan. Compile your goals and milestones into a comprehensive plan for attacking any project you are given. This way, you can make sure you’re staying on schedule and that all of your employees will be clear about how and when things should be done.

 

Getting Along with Employees

A happy office is a productive one. Everyone will be more cheerful if you follow these simple rules.
21. Don’t make your employees come in on days they’re normally not scheduled to work or call them while they’re on vacation. A surefire way to make employees resent you is to invade their personal time for nonpressing work. Unless you have something that absolutely has to be done, let time away from work stay that way.
22. Don’t play favorites. Playing favorites can bias your judgment and impair your leadership abilities. Treat your employees equally.
23. Give credit when it’s due. Don’t take credit for your employees’ ideas or hog their limelight. This action not only fosters resentment but also makes you seem untrustworthy.
24. Don’t micromanage. While it’s fine to keep up with what your employees are working on, don’t constantly look over their shoulders.
25. Never discuss employee matters with their co-workers. This kind of gossip always gets back to the person and will make you look unprofessional.
26. Don’t interfere with employees’ work. If your employees are getting work done, don’t stress about how it gets done. Even if it’s not being done they way you’d do it, it’s best to let employees use their best judgment.
27. Don’t push unreasonable deadlines. You don’t want to spend all of your time at the office, and neither do your employees.
28. Keep your promises. Barring some catastrophic event, you should always keep promises you make to employees, especially about pay and benefits.
29. Keep work about work. Don’t require employees to run your personal errands. Take care of your own personal business or hire an assistant.
30. Reward hard work. Make sure your employees feel valued for the work that they do. Employees will be more willing to put in extra effort if they know it’s noted and appreciated.
31. Provide motivation. Sometimes employees need a morale boost. Provide them with encouragement to get a project rolling.

 

Manage Yourself

Being a good manager isn’t just about what you can encourage other people to do, it’s also about managing your own performance.
32. Be accessible. Don’t hole up in your office all day — come out and visit with your employees. Let them know that they can always come to you with problems and concerns.
33. Be open to constructive criticism. It may not always be what you want to hear, but listening to constructive criticism gives you the chance to learn and grow from your mistakes.
34. Accept responsibility. Part of being the boss is accepting responsibility for the mistakes of all that you manage, not just your own.
35. Know there’s always room for improvement. No matter how good you think you are, your job can always be done better. Always be willing to learn.
36. Improve your skills. Learning is a lifelong process. You’re never too old to take a class or ask a co-worker to help you improve your knowledge.
37. Explain things simply. Don’t use big words or technical jargon just to sound smart and impress others. Your employees will understand and perform better if you explain simply and clearly what you need.
38. Instruct rather than order. You may be the boss, but you don’t have to be bossy. You’ll have more success if your requests are more tactfully delivered.
39. Include your staff in your plans. Don’t make your work top secret; let your employees know what’s going on and how they are expected to contribute.
40. Know your subordinates’ jobs. You don’t want to be caught with inferior job knowledge.
41. Be flexible. It’s fine to be firm in what you expect, but allow for flexibility in how it gets done.
42. Get regular feedback. Your employees and superiors can give you valuable feedback on how to improve your performance. Use this to your advantage.
43. Know your limitations. You can’t be everywhere doing everything all at once. Know the limits of your time and abilities and say no to things you know you can’t do.

 

Boosting Productivity

Getting the most out of your day can be difficult with a busy schedule, but you can use these tips to help you maximize your time in order to be better available to employees.
44. Get the most out of meetings. Be organized and prepared for meetings to increase effectiveness and time savings.
45. Focus your energy on things that matter. Don’t let trivial tasks take time away from things that are really important.
46. Identify your time-stealers. Everyone has little things that detract their attention and make them lose focus. Figure out what these are and work to eliminate them, if only for a few hours a day.
47. Be punctual. Being on time is a big deal. Never keep people waiting for appointments or meetings if you can help it.
48. Respond to your correspondence within a reasonable amount of time. You don’t have to be chained to your inbox, but make sure you respond to emails within a few hours whenever possible.
49. Do only what is necessary. There are times when going above and beyond works, but doing so on a daily basis can derail your progress on more important issues. Get the key things done first, then see if you have time for additional things.
50. Stick to schedules and routines. While they may not be the most exciting things, schedules and routines can help streamline and improve your productivity.
51. Organize and manage your schedule. Use any tools and utilities you have at your disposal to prioritize your day and keep track of what you need to get done.
52. Plan more than you think you can do. While this may sound stressful, it can actually be a great motivator. If you manage to get everything done, you’ll enjoy a great sense of achievement.
53. Get to work early on occasion. Sometimes an uninterrupted half hour in an unoccupied office can help you get key things done or allow you to plan your day before there are any distractions to slow you down.
54. Know that sometimes stress is good. While too much of anything, especially stress, can be bad, sometimes a little stress can be the motivation to get you moving, allowing you to get more done.
55. Do your least favorite tasks first. Get your most tedious and least desirable tasks out of the way earlier in the day. After that, everything else will be a breeze.

 

Managing Finances and Resources

Whether you’re a business owner or a manager, staying on top of tangible items is vital to success. These tips can help you keep track.
56. Set up a realistic budget. While it’s good to be optimistic, don’t plan for more spending than you know you can afford. Make sure you plan for emergencies and contingencies as well.
57. Save costs where they matter the most. Don’t just pinch pennies for the present. Make sure your savings will pay off in the long run. Compromising on quality might cost you later on in repairs and replacements.
58. Spend only when it’s necessary. Don’t spend if you don’t need to. Every bit you save goes toward your profit.
59. Find alternative sources of finance. Sometimes even successful businesses need a little help. Business loans and investors can help you through leaner times.
60. Stay true to your contracts. Not only will you gain the respect of your clients, you’ll also avoid legal battles that can be a serious financial drain.
61. Make sure employees are well compensated. Employees deserve to be rewarded for hard work. Make sure yours are well compensated for their time and they’ll be more productive and happier to come to work.
62. Learn to do more with less. Quality is much more important than quantity, so make what you have count.
63. Assign equipment wisely. While it might be nice for every employee to have a PDA, budgets often don’t allow for such conveniences. Make sure the employees that need tools the most have access to them.
64. Invest in solid technology. This doesn’t always mean the latest technology, but what your office needs to do work effectively.
65. Update when necessary. Using obsolete equipment and programs can really slow you down. Update when it makes sense so you won’t get left behind by competitors.
66. Don’t be wasteful. Every sheet of paper, paper clip and pen is a cost on your budget. Use materials wisely and don’t waste them out of haste or carelessness.

 

Communicating with Clients

Whether you’re a business owner or a manager carrying out a project, one thing is always the same: The client is dominant voice in decision-making. Learn to communicate with them effectively and you’ll set a good example for the people you supervise.
67. Remember that the customer is the boss. At the end of the day, your job is to make the customer happy. Act accordingly.
68. Differentiate your products. Don’t get lost in a sea of products and services like yours. Make sure you stand out from your competitors.
69. Retain customers as much as you recruit new ones. While you always want to bring in new business, it’s very important to maintain relationships with loyal customers.
70. Provide effective channels of communication. Make sure your clients can contact you easily and quickly if they have a problem, concern or question. They can also provide a valuable source of feedback.
71. Maintain customer data. Use this data to make your customers feel special by remembering occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. It’s also helpful for keeping track of purchasing preferences.
72. Segment your customers. Not all customers are alike. Divide your customers into groups that allow you to provide attention and services that meet each customer’s unique needs.
73. Provide effective after-sales services. Don’t let contact fall off after the work is complete. Make sure your client stays happy.
74. Listen attentively. Pay attention to exactly what clients are asking for to help you better meet their needs.
75. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know. It’s OK not to know the answer to every question. It’s better to say you don’t know and get back to a customer than to try to bluff your way through a conversation and have to backtrack later.

 

Keep Up with Change

There is no way to stop the world from changing, so follow these tips to keep up and ahead of the game.
76. Don’t fight change. You can’t stop markets, trends and technology from changing, so learn to go with the flow.
77. Adopt a predictive managerial style. Don’t wait for things to happen to make a move. Anticipate problems and provide contingency plans.
78. Test your contingency plans. Waiting for disaster to strike is a dangerous way to find out if your emergency plans will hold. Test them out from time to time to fine-tune them and make sure they’re still relevant.
79. Identify the positives. Even the most negative changes can have positive aspects to them. Being able to identify and maximize them can help make adapting less painful.
80. Be quick to adapt. Learn to adapt to changing situations quickly and be able to change plans on the spur of the moment if the situation requires it.
81. Stay tuned to external factors. Your business is affected in many ways by outside factors. Keep abreast of these so you can anticipate any sudden market changes that would affect how you need to manage.
82. Put in place a Research and Development plan. Encourage innovation and creativity to stay ahead of the demand for newer and better products and services.
83. Keep an eye on the competition. Don’t let the competition get the best of you. Keep up-to-date with what they’re doing and use it to your advantage in managing your business.

 

Resolving Problems

Whether problems are internal or external, they can make your management duties a nightmare if you don’t handle them correctly. Here’s how to stay on top of them.
84. Stand up for employees. If other departments or managers are bearing down hard on your employees, stand up for them.
85. Fix what’s broken. Don’t waste time placing blame. Take care of fixing the problem before dealing with any possible repercussions.
86. Manage and control your emotions. Don’t let anger or frustration affect your problem resolution. If you are emotionally invested in a situation, cool down before discussing it or bring in an outside mediator.
87. Learn when to step in. Some problems might resolve themselves if you just let them be, but you need to be aware of times where you’ll need to step in and take control of a situation.
88. Take the blame. If you’ve made a mistake, fess up. It’ll give you more time to work on fixing the problem instead of talking your way out of taking the rap.
89. Get the facts first. Before you pass judgment on a situation, make sure you have the whole story. Listen to employees and refrain from questioning anyone’s integrity without first ensuring that you’ve gathered all the data.
90. Rise above the crisis. Learn to separate yourself from the problem and rise above the fray. You’ll be able to think more clearly and make a better decision on how to rectify the issue.
91. Don’t ignore problems. A small problem can easily snowball and become something much more difficult to fix.
92. Try to depersonalize problems. Let employees know that the problem isn’t with them but with their actions. Don’t make it personal.

 

Go Above and Beyond

Managing people isn’t just about getting the job done. To truly be a great leader, sometimes you need to go above and beyond what the job calls for.
93. Lead by example. You can talk until you’re blue in the face, but the best way to get a point across is to be the model to emulate. Let employees follow your lead.
94. Get your hands dirty. Sometimes you need to show your employees that no one’s above doing unattractive tasks.
95. Make a difference to your employees. Don’t just be a generic manager — stand out as a leader and role model for your employees.
96. Gain your employees’ trust and respect. You’ll have a much easier time managing employees when they respect your rules and boundaries and trust your leadership.
97. Be empathetic to personal problems. Whether it should or not, what happens outside of work can have a big affect on the quality of work produced. Be sensitive if employees have personal issues that keep them from concentrating on work.
98. Be unique as a manager. Every position demands something different and you should be proud to be adept at your particular role rather than trying to emulate other managers.
99. Remember that ethics matter above all. Be honest and reliable in all of your business and personal relationships.
100. Be on the lookout for new ideas. You never know where your next great inspiration will come from.
101. Get to know your employees. Learn more than just their names. Get to know your employees’ family backgrounds, likes and dislikes. Doing so will make you more personable.

The original source of this article is InsideCRM.com , part of the Focus network of sites.

Tax Deductions FAQs

14 Dec


Tax Deductions

deductibleA deduction is an item that allows you to take a tax benefit up to the entire amount of the deduction. The good news is that this reduces your taxable income by the amount of the deduction, i.e., by using the deduction you end up paying a lesser amount in taxes. Just as an illustration, lets take the following simple mathematical example.
Amit’s income is Rs.100
Amit’s eligible deduction is Rs.20
Therefore, Amit’s taxable income is Rs.80
If Amit did not have a deduction, then his taxable income would have been Rs.100
By using the deduction Amit has saved taxes on up to Rs.20

 

What are the most commonly available deductions?

There are 4 most commonly used deductions that most people can avail of. These are popularly known by the section of the Income Tax Act under which they appear. Click on each of them to get more details.

80C deduction: Up to Rs.1 lakh, and used towards certain investments, payment of insurance premium, repayment of home loan principal amount, provident fund etc.

80D deduction: Up to Rs.15,000, and used towards annual medical expenses

80E deduction: Deduction of entire amount of interest paid on higher education loan for any family member

80G deduction: Deduction for contribution to charitable organization
In addition to these, there are numerous other deductions that are less common or that might not usually apply to you. Please check with your tax advisor if you might be eligible for any other deductions.

 

80C Deduction:Check out the eligible instruments

This allows a deduction for specific investment, contribution, deposits or payments made by the taxpayer during the tax year.

Who is it available to?

All individuals and HUF (Hindu Undivided Family).

What is the amount of the deduction?

A total of Rs.1 lakh in aggregate across all eligible 80C instruments.

What are the eligible instruments?

The most commonly used eligible instruments towards the 80C deductions are:

  • Life insurance premium, including premium for a unit-linked insurance plan (ULIP)
  • Contribution to Public Provident Fund or Provident Fund
  • Investment in pension plans
  • Investment in Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS) of mutual funds
  • Home loan principal repayment
  • Investment in Infrastructure Bonds, National Savings Certificates
  • Payment of tuition fees to for full-time education of any 2 children of an individual
  • Fixed deposit with any scheduled bank or post office for 5 years
  • Senior citizens savings scheme

Please check with your tax advisor in case from time to time there are other instruments that become eligible under 80C.

 

80E Deduction:Check out the eligible instruments

This allows a deduction for payment of interest of loan taken towards higher education.

 

Who is it available to?

The deduction can be taken by the taxpayer for his/her higher education loan or for any member of the taxpayer’s family. The amount must have been paid using the taxpayer’s income chargeable to tax.

 

What is the amount of the deduction?

The entire payment of interest is deductible. The deduction is available for a maximum period of 8 years or till the principal and interest amount have been repaid, whichever comes earlier.

 

What are the eligible instruments?

The 80E deduction is usable only in the case of loan taken for higher education from a financial institution or recognized charitable institution. In this context, higher education means full-time studies for any graduate or post-graduate course specifically in engineering, medicine, management, applied sciences, mathematics or statistics. Please make yourself familiar with whether your course and subject of study are eligible for this deduction.
Please check with your tax advisor in case from time to time there are changes to the amount of deduction under 80E and the types of education loans permitted.

80G Deduction:Check out the eligible instruments

This allows a deduction for donations made to recognized charities and charitable institutions.

Who is it available to?

The deduction can be taken by any individual, HUF (Hindu Undivided Family), firm or company. Please note that donations made in kind are ineligible for the deduction.

What is the amount of the deduction?

The deduction available is 100% of the amount contributed to the charity, or in some cases 50% of the amount, which may further be with or without restriction. This calculation can get a little complicated, so its best if you ask your tax advisor on the total amount that you will be eligible for. Also, different charities get treated differently, so best to seek professional advice on this matter depending upon the charity of your choice.

What are the eligible charities and charitable institutions where my donations are eligible for the deduction?

Common charities that are eligible for this deduction are the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, Prime Minister’s Drought Relief Fund. Before making a donation, please check with the charity if it is recognized and has been registered with the appropriate authorities.
If you make a donation to a notified temple, mosque, gurudwara or church, it might also be eligible but please confirm that this place of worship has been registered with the authorities. As mentioned above, donations made in kind are ineligible for the deduction, so make sure that you pay by cheque or bank draft and keep record of the transaction.
Please check with your tax advisor in case from time to time there are newer charitable institutions that become available or there are changes to the amount of deduction under 80G.

 

Less Commonly Used Tax Deductions

Under section 80 of the Income Tax Act, there are other less commonly used deductions. Please check with your tax advisor on how to use them, if you are eligible for these

 

deductions

Top Misconceptions about Taxes

Do I need to file my tax returns? How do I file them?

Misconception 1:
  • My employer has deducted tax at source from my paycheck and thus I don’t have to worry about filing tax returns.
  • Just because taxes have been paid on your behalf does not mean that filing a tax return is not required. If your combined annual income from all sources is above the amount that is exempt from income tax you are required to file your returns. Your employer gives to you a statement called Form 16 at the end of the financial year that shows the amount of tax that has been deducted at source. You will need to put the tax deduction amount shown on the Form 16 on your tax return form. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you obtain this statement from your employer on time.
Misconception 2:
  • Filing tax returns is a complex and cumbersome process. I need a Chartered Accountant to help me file my tax returns.
  • Contrary to popular belief preparing and filing a tax return is actually quite simple. In fact if you have a digital signature you can accomplish the entire process sitting at home on your computer thanks to the e-filing facility available on the tax department website (www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in). Alternatively, you can submit the returns online, print a one-page receipt, sign it and drop it off at the income tax office within fifteen days of submitting the returns. No documents are required to be submitted with the receipt. If you so desire, you can fill out the forms on your own. However, if you want professional help there are many third party service providers who offer tax preparation and filing services for as low as Rs.200.

Housing and tax

Misconception 3:
  • he interest I pay on a home loan is deductible from my income from house property up to a maximum of Rs. 1,50,000 per year.
  • This is true if you have taken a home loan for a single house and it is self-occupied. However, if you take a home loan on a second house, the entire interest paid on the loan can be claimed as a deduction from your income on house property. If you are planning to invest in real estate with the expectation that the property would appreciate in value over time, you could take advantage of the above rule. Thus a smart investment strategy would be to take a home loan on a second house, rent out the house and claim interest paid on the loan as a deduction from the rental income, thereby reducing your borrowing costs significantly.
Misconception 4:
  • I receive tax exemption on the actual rent I pay for my rented home. This is not entirely accurate. Section 13 A of the Income Tax Act states that the maximum amount that is exempt from tax is the lower of the following amounts: (i) the House Rent Allowance given by the employer, (ii) 50% of your basic salary if you live in a metro, (iii) or, actual rent paid minus 10% of your basic salary. Thus if actual rent paid is lower than 10% of your basic salary you receive no exemption. The other key point is that you cannot claim any exemption under this section if you live in your own home or if you are not paying rent to anyone.

The magical 80’s

 

Misconception 5:
  • Section 80C benefits are available only on making an investment or saving or paying a premium on insurance.
  • You can claim a deduction for the school or university tuition fees you pay for your children (maximum of two) as long as they are enrolled in a full time program at any institute in India. In addition you can claim a deduction for the repayment of principal on any home loan that you may have taken. Both these deductions have to of course be within the overall annual Section 80C cap of Rs.1lakh.
Misconception 6:
  • If I avail of tax free medical reimbursement from my employer up to Rs.15,000, I cannot claim deduction on health insurance premium paid.
  • Tax free medical reimbursement by your employer up to an amount of Rs.15,000 per year for your family’s medical expenditure is separate from the Rs.15,000 deduction available under Section 80D for the premium you pay on buying health insurance. Both these exemptions are covered under different sections of the Income Tax Act and you can enjoy benefits from both. The former covers costs for your daily medical needs and outpatient treatment (OPD), while the latter protects you from expenditure for hospitalization.
Misconception 7:
  • My friends tell me that the only interest payment I can claim an exemption for is the interest paid on home loans.
  • There is a section of the Income Tax Act called 80E that permits deduction on interest paid on loans taken for higher education for self, spouse and children. There is no limit on the amount of deduction you can claim. The only thing to keep in mind is that the program for which the loan is taken should be a graduate or post-graduate program in engineering, medicine or management or a post-graduate course in the pure or applied sciences.

Interest income and others

Misconception 8:
  • Interest I earn on my savings account balance is exempt from income tax.After the removal of Section 80L of the Income Tax Act, interest income from any source including savings account balance, is subject to income tax. What you may be referring to is the rule around tax deducted at source for the interest payments you receive on your savings account. As per existing rules, as long as the combined interest income that you earn, on any savings accounts or fixed deposits, at a single bank branch, is less than Rs.10,000 there will be no tax deducted at source. If you want to better manage your cash flow and do not want tax to be deducted at source you could consider spreading your deposits across multiple bank branches, even if they are of the same banking company.
Misconception 9:
  • I have to pay taxes on interest received from my fixed deposits only on maturity.
  • Your tax liability on interest income from your fixed deposit is calculated on an accrual basis. Let’s say that you have made a fixed deposit for three years and have elected not to receive any regular interest payouts and instead have decided to receive a lump sum payout on maturity after three years. That does not mean that you are not liable to pay income tax annually on the interest that is credited to your fixed deposit account every year, even though you do not have access to that interest income.
Misconception 10:
  • I received cash as a gift from a close friend. I do not have to pay any tax.
  • You are right as long as the amount was less than Rs.50,000 during the financial year. The applicable rules for gift tax state that any cash gifts, without any upper limit, received from specified relatives are exempt from income tax. However, if you receive a cash gift from a friend, which exceeds Rs.50,000 in one financial year, you are liable to pay income tax on the entire amount. However, the good news is that cash gifts received during your marriage, of any amount, and from anyone are totally free from income tax.

Regards,

Pinal Mehta

Human Resources