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Thursday, February 28, 2013

ON THE JOB SPECIAL.. Five Ways To Deal With Ex-Peers as a New Boss



 Five Ways To Deal With Ex-Peers as a New Boss 

When a colleague and peer becomes a boss, it could lead to people issues at the workplace. Find out how such a new boss can manage team members, who until recently were his friends.

1 Take Charge
The new boss must gradually establish authority. “The recognition that you are now the boss will naturally come to your ex- peers... It is for you to take immediate cognisance of this and take charge,” says Pavan Mahajan, EVP & CRO, Aspire Human Capital Management. Have a plan in place for the team to function more effectively, says Asif Upadhye, CFO at employee engagement firm Never Grow Up.
2 Be Approachable
The new boss must maintain communication with the team and empathise. “Your team knows your work style and has a perception about you as a peer. Absorb those inputs. Ask them how they feel about the recent change and if there are any issues bothering the team,” says Upadhye. 3 Maintain Discipline
Discipline has to overrule personal feelings, says Mahajan. At the same time, stand up for your team. “No matter how you felt about your peers in the past, focus on the collective strengths of your team rather than individual areas of improvement while having the courage to draw the line to your team on work deliveries and deadlines,” adds Upadhye.
 4 Earn Respect
A new boss should be focused on the departmental and organisational goals and on welfare of staff. Also, the new boss must earn respect of former peers. “Constant and clear communication, fair practices and how well you handle the task will get you the respect you deserve,” says Mahajan.
5 Stay Friends
It is possible to still be friends with your once-peers. “All you need to do is clearly outline expectations early on and maintain a certain balance between personal and work conversations. Your role may have changed. You need not,” says Upadhye .

. Rica Bhattacharyya 130212

TRAVEL SPECIAL...TRIP PLANNER CAMBODIA


 TRIP PLANNER CAMBODIA 

Ancient temples, white sand beaches, grief tourism... Cambodia has all this to offer, and more. How to prepare yourself before flying out.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
FREE
The only free activity is beach bumming and people spotting.
PAID National Museum of Cambodia: $3 Royal Palace: $6.25 Toul Sleng: $2 Killing Fields: $2 Angkor Archaeological Park: $40 for a three-day pass and $60 for seven days Beng Mealea: $5 Phnom Kulen: $20 Koh Ker: $10
OTHER SITES Beach: Koh Rong island, Koh Tang, Koh Ru, Ream National Park. Want something truly luxurious? Try Song Saa Private Island off Sihanoukville. Culture: Banteay Chhmar Temple, Battambang. Nature: Kep, Ratanakiri, Kratie, Kirirom National Resort.

TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
• Carry good quality mosquito repellent. 
 • You’ll need clothes for covering your shoulders and knees at most Angkor temples. 
 • Watch out for pickpockets.

DON’T MISS...
The capital erupts into a three-day frenzy every November for Bon Om Touk, or the Cambodian Water Festival. Falling during full moon and attracting millions every year, it celebrates the end of rainy season and reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River, the nation’s lifeline. Expect boat races, concerts, food fests, fireworks, and more, from 16-18 November.

THE CAMBODIAN WATER FESTIVAL
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The country is at its best between November and February. To avoid the crowd, as well as high-season rates, consider a trip at the end of October.

    TRIP    TRAIL
Here’s a sample seven-night itinerary to get you started. Begin the journey with Phnom Penh, where you can spend two nights to catch the main sights, including Pol Pot’s murderous reign at the nearby Killing Fields. On day 3, take a taxi to Sihanoukville for sand and surf. The typical fare for an air-conditioned taxi is $50. Spend two nights here to visit Kampot and its famous pepper plantations. On day 5, fly down to Siem Reap ($122 per head on Cambodia Angkor Air) and spend the afternoon at the Rolous Group. Space out the next two days for visits to Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Baphoun, Bakheng, and Banteay Srei. Consider replacing the crowded Ta Prohm with Beng Mealea. Lastly, fly home from Siem Reap, instead of backtracking to Phnom Penh.


BEFORE YOU LEAVE...  
AIR FARE
On the popular portals, Malaysia Airlines has the best fares, typically 42,300 for open jaw flights. The unrepresented Cambodia Angkor Air has Bangkok-Phnom Penh and Siem Reap-Bangkok at 15,510, while Delhi-Bangkok return flights cost around 21,000. That’s a saving of 5,790 per head.
EXCHANGE RATE
The local currency is the Cambodian Riel (KHR), but US dollars (USD) are as commonly used. At the moment 100 will get you $1.84 and $1 equals KHR 4,000. The good news is that the already affordable Cambodia may become more so if the rupee continues appreciating in 2013.
VISA
The best option is the e-visa, costing $25. Visit the site www.-mfaic.gov.kh/evisa, pay with your credit card and breeze though immigration at Phnom Penh. If you’d rather save money, not time, get the visa on arrival for $20.
TRIP EXPENSE
For a backpacking trip, the average daily expense per person (covering stay, food and local transportation) will be $15-20. Estimate $650-950 per head for a mid-range sevennight itinerary, without flights. Luxury breaks of the same duration will cost over $1,200. Keep some KHR notes of small denomination for tips.
ACCOMMODATION
While you can find guesthouses and hostel beds for as little as $5 a night, shelling out $10-20 will bring niceties like TV and AC. Three-star hotels cost upwards of $50 a night. Our favourite midrange hotel in Phnom Penh is The Pavilion, and Siddharta Hotel in Reap.
LOCAL COMMUTE
The handiest option is the motorcycle taxis or tuk-tuk that can be hired for $1-2 for short trips within town or for $15 for the day. To travel between towns, say, Phnom Penh-Battambang, buses are the cheapest option. Fares typically range between $6 and $10. Taxis, obviously, are better.

Sushmita Choudhury Agarwal ET130211

INNOVATION SPECIAL... Chip to Allow Smartphones to See Through Objects



 Chip to Allow Smartphones to See Through Objects

In the comics, Superman converts the energy from the sun’s rays into X-rays that give him the ability to see through solid objects. In a few years, a similar power may be available to anyone with a smartphone.
Ali Hajimiri, a professor of electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology, has created a chip capable of producing terahertz waves—radiation that can penetrate materials such as plastic and wood without the side effects associated with X-rays. When connected with a computer or mobile device, the 0.1 inch-wide silicon chip could help doctors locate skin cancer noninvasively and speed up passenger scans at airport security lines.
So-called T-rays have been used mostly in experiments in medical and dental imaging. Typically, the rays are created with bulky, expensive machines, which “see” using a single large beam that can image only a narrow area. Hajimiri, working with post-doctoral researcher Kaushik Sengupta, got thousands of tiny transistors to operate in concert, producing terahertz waves from a smaller package. “Imagine if you have an army of ants, where you can individually control what each ant does,” Hajimiri says. “It’s more versatile than an elephant. You can program them to do different things.” In his design, the transistors work in unison, increasing the chip’s range of view so it could, image the contents, say, of a box.
Hajimiri came up with the idea about four years ago, after observing that the transistors on chips were getting smaller and weaker but also extremely inexpensive to produce. “Everybody is complaining that you can’t do anything because the transistors are becoming so puny,” he says. “That’s true, but I have something that works to my advantage: I have practically an unlimited amount of transistors,” which allows the chip to produce a stronger signal that’s easier to control. The technology has “potential opportunities in a wide range of applications,” says Jim McGregor, founder of Tirias Research, which follows the chip industry. Installed in a smartphone, the chip could be used to scan packages at a post office for security threats or to find art hidden behind the paint on the walls of historic buildings.
DOUGLAS MCMILLAN BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK ET130211

PERSONAL / FINANCE SPECIAL...5 things to know about the PPF


 FINANCE 5 things to know about the PPF

The Public Provident Fund (PPF) may be one of the most popular tax-saving schemes, which can be opened in a post office or designated bank branches, but do you know the investment limit or the withdrawal time frame? Here’s how to familiarise yourself with this investment option. 1
How much is the interest rate?
The interest rate offered on the PPF is no longer fixed, but linked to the market. It is 0.25% above the 10-year government bond yield. This does not mean that the rate will change on a day-today basis. It will be announced every year in April, based on the average bond yield in the previous year. For the current financial year, it is 8.8%, but could recede next year. Bond yields have fallen below 8% in recent weeks and the average for 2012-13 has dropped to 8.25%. Analysts don’t expect the PPF rate to be more than 8.5% in 2013-14. 2
How does the interest accrue?
The interest on your PPF balance is compounded annually, but the calculation is done every month. The interest is calculated on the lowest balance between the fifth and last day of every month. So, if you invest before the 5th, the contribution will earn interest for that month too. Otherwise, it’s like an interest-free loan to the government for a month. If you are investing through a cheque, make sure you deposit it 3-4 days before the cut-off date. If your bank is lethargic in crediting the amount to your PPF account, your investment might miss the deadline. 3
What are the tax benefits?
The PPF corpus is tax-free at all three stages. The investment is eligible for tax deduction under Section 80C. The interest earned is also tax-free, and so are withdrawals. The original draft Direct Taxes Code, introduced in 2010, had proposed withdrawal of tax benefit. Though it would have been with prospective effect and existing investments would have been exempt, there was strong opposition to the move. The revised draft DTC nixed the proposal. However, with P Chidambaram back as finance minister, the original DTC proposals may come back in some form. Make the most of this tax-free opportunity before the rules change. 4
How much can you invest?
The investment limit is 1 lakh in a year through a maximum of 12 instalments. If your minor child has a PPF account, the combined limit for both accounts will be 1 lakh. Don’t invest more than the 1 lakh in a year, because if it is discovered, any interest earned by the excess amount will be reversed. There is also a minimum investment required. An investor has to put in at least 500 in his PPF account in a year. You will be levied a small, but irksome, penalty of 50 if you fail to do so. 5
When does it mature?
A PPF account matures in 15 years, but you can extend the tenure in blocks of five years after maturity. The balance continues to earn interest at the normal rate. The minimum investment of 500 has to be maintained even for accounts extended beyond 15 years. This does not mean your money is locked up for this period. The lock-in period falls with every passing year. In the 14th year, it will only be one year. If you need money, you can withdraw after the sixth year, but it cannot exceed 50% of the balance at the end of fourth year, or the immediate preceding year, whichever is lower. You can also withdraw only once in a financial year. You can also take a loan against it, but this cannot exceed 25% of the balance in the preceding year. The loan is charged at 2% till 36 months, and 6% for longer tenures. Till a loan is repaid, you can’t take more loans.

ET130211

CHILDREN BUSINESS SPECIAL... Digital shift pushes toy brands to India


 Digital shift pushes toy brands to India

Mumbai: Barbies and Hot Wheels are so passe, kids these days will tell you. For them, the toy story isn’t complete without the rush of new brands that have recently entered the market.
Hamleys, Simba and Hape are just some of the brands that have come in recently, even as a whole host of others, including Brio, will hit shop shelves in weeks and months to come.
What explains this sudden interest in India?
If experts are to be believed, toy brands are shifting focus to India and other emerging markets mainly because kids in the West are getting hooked to tablets and smartphones.
“The fact that the organised toy market in India is small is an added advantage,” says Arvind Singhal, chairman of Technopak Advisors. “Also, India has one of the largest baby populations, which spells an opportunity for toy companies.”
The slowing economy in the West, particularly Europe, has also led to a slowdown in the overall toy market, prompting toy makers to head into Asia, says Rajaram, category head - toys, stationery & sports, Landmark.
This shift, in turn, has started redefining the way toys are retailed in India.
For one, faced with competition from e-commerce companies, book store chains such as Landmark and Crossword have slowly been morphing into family stores, the spotlight increasingly shifting to kids.
Most of these stores are going big on toy retailing. Indeed, Landmark, run by the Tata group, has lined up as many as six brands for launch over the next two months.
In order to make toys a more edutainment item, Landmark also plans to sell them based on a kids intelligence quotient. “We plan to recommend toys based on a kid’s skill. For this, we will have doctors in the store who will be able to recommend a particular toy based on some preliminary tests. But rolling this out may take some time,” says Rajaram.
Among others, the Mahindra group, which runs Mom & Me stores, and Reliance, which has a franchise for Hamleys stores, have been ramping up their toy offerings.
Not for nothing are toys a
`11,000-13,500 crore market in India already and expected to touch `19,000 crore by 2015, says Prasar Sharma, founder, Exelixi Management Company, which bought Simba toys to India, quoting an in-house research.
“Rise in disposable income and aspirational lifestyle is another reason the global players are making a beeline to India,” he says.
Interestingly, these players have also reduced prices significantly to be able to take on unorganised players, which dominate the market. They are also rolling out smaller ticket size toys to lure more customers.
But it won’t be long before digital toys catch up in India, too, taking some sheen off the market, cautions Singhal.
Until then, the players would be looking to make the most of the market. Kids, for sure, won’t be complaining.

Nupur Anand DNA120225