Category Archives: change

Why villains are important

A villain is generally accepted to be the antagonist in any story or scenario.

Can one define light without darkness? or Good without evil?

I know this is not a new argument and neither am I trying to invent one at this stage.

However, we evaluate most things around us in relative terms. And such aspects as goodness and greatness are no exception.

(Before I go any further, do note that I expect exceptions in all and every category, however I am only focusing on a general and common trend) 🙂

Is a Hero really a hero without an adversary? Would we really accept political messages from one party if they were not opposed to another? “Comparison” ?

Absolute’s are relative. Debatable indeed, however go along with this thought.

I will not get in to the religious sentiment and rather on purpose stick to HR.

While we used to interview a batch of candidates, we would mostly end up hiring the best out of the batch, who may often not be out first choice if the person was placed in a different batch.

Overall the quality of our heroes enhances or deteriorates in direct proportion to the adversary 🙂

Enough for now. Would love to read your thoughts.

 

ONE STEP AT A TIME – HOW TO BE HAPPY PART 2

Letting go has never been easy. But often letting go is the only option to survive.

Normally when we do let go, we feel an acute sense of guilt – For no reason. However believe me it is only temporary and time will heal it.

Why would you want to let go ?

Every day you will come across people and issues that will give you only stress and nothing more. If you stop to think about them you will realise that there is no “solving” them. There is no recourse that will lead to happiness in these people or issues. These are the ones to let go.

There will be useless “problems” , illogical issues, fake and selfish friends, backstabbing colleagues / classmates etc where we find ourselves involved due to the simple sincerity of thought and honorable purpose. But really ? Is it worth it?

Be happy my friends and let go of your individual poison that is leaching onto you and draining your positive energy.

Let’s be clear on this. Life is not easy and it’s not a fairytale. One rarely gets a choice in the issues we get to tackle. So, in the challenges you do get, reconsider the importance of that challenge in your life or the life of your loved ones… then maybe its worth it. The issues or people may be a mix of fortune and misfortune and you can decide which one is more important based on logical arguments.

Then, there are others which we choose to keep in order to torture our own selves 🙂 Yes, I would say it’s our choice when we do this.

So there are 2 options:

  1. Let go and carry on with the positive life
  2. Try to handle it while keeping your own sanity and happiness intact.

My next post will be on how we can accomplish number 2 🙂

Till then – Be Happy !

One step at a time – How to be Happy Part 1

We are surrounded by people. People we perceive as friends. There are varying categories of this, however at one level or another our friends include our buddies from childhood, partners in crime from the college days and so on …

One significant “friend” category includes our colleagues that we spend a major amount of time every day with at work. One cannot simply discount this category.Good_Bad

As with all relations in life, a key to being happy is to remove selfish friends from your circle as soon as possible.

Now, I am no one to lecture you. Your call… If you love torture – please retain all your selfish friends…Why not even go out now and make a few new ones 😉 – To everyone his/her own poison 🙂

Here are a few signs to identify “friends” to let go of :

  1.  They believe they deserve special treatment.
  2. You are not a priority for them.
  3. They make shady plans or cancel with you for no real reason.
  4. You never met his/her friends!
  5. He/She is not able to sustain long term friends and is usually making new friends as they don’t really know him/her.
  6. They act like polite / cordial people.
  7. They try to confuse you – as if their failing is YOUR fault !
  8. They don’t care enough to stay in touch with YOU – even thou they can with their NEW “Friends” 😉
  9. They are not willing to change for you at all.

Life is all about learning and applying. No one can survive without changing and even less so without a few true friends.

My parting words – Take care of your true friends before they start to feel you are taking them for granted and immediately get rid of the selfish ones around you.

Result : You will be happier and probably live longer 🙂

Part 2 coming next week !

Remember-you-do-not-need-a-certain-number-of-friends-just-a-number-of-friends-you-can-be-certain-of.

 

 

Top tips on adjusting to your new job

Finally it has happened. The moment you were nervous about, the moment you even dreaded. You took the offer from the new company and are starting at your New Job !

The excitement, anticipation and naturally fears start to set in. What if’s, start to roll on like the fire work on the 4th of July.

Here are a few tips that I came across in my career which might make the transition more successful and palpable.

1- Prioritize !

You are expected to learn a lot of things from the culture to the actual tasks very quickly. That is a lot of information in a very short span of time.

The best way to deal with it is to prioritize the most important things first.

2- Find a Buddy.

While many organizations have a orientation or on boarding process where a buddy is allocated. Many still don’t have a formal process for this. Find someone ( preferably not your new manager 😉 ) who can give you a quick “to do”.

RULE: Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

3- Understand what is expected of you.

You cannot deliver – if you do not know what is expected of you.

Priority should be identify expectation and take up short term quickly deliverables first and make you mark !

4- Cut your losses !

If something is not working out, ditch it !

Of course I am not asking you to quit. Remember you are new, however if you think you have taken on more than you can handle – discuss with you boss and take on something more do able.

5- Get to know the new company ( Culture and coworkers)

You are at a new place – Accept it.

Acclimatize and adjust by understanding that things will be different here and so will the people.

6- Do not forget your former colleagues.

Remember they know you and at a time when motivation can be at a premium – they will come in handy to remind you of you strengths to give you the extra boost you need to succeed !

New Job

7- Rest

All work and no play – remember this?

You are in a higher stress zone than normal and you need your full strength. Rest and give yourself time a space to relax.

 

I hope I have been able to suggest some ways to make your transition more hospitable.

Best of luck and wishes for your new role !

Time

There was a time when I was very binary with my relations. As time passed I came to realize that I am missing out by ignoring the grey areas. Initially either someone was IN or OUT and no second opinion about it.

Then I “matured” in to realizing that we are merely humans and as humans we make mistakes and we learn. We evolve ( hopefully) in to a better person. So everyone deserves a chance.

However, I saw myself making excuses for people. Justifying my perception by interpreting their actions incorrectly. You can see that may not have gone too well.

It is only when you realize that there is a limited amount of time left for you that you really begin to iron out the issues and concerns which have lingered on for so long. Procrastination is punishment in itself.

Lets just assume, I had a two year deadline. What would I do?

I have prepared a list of things that I would do by using this opportunity of limiting my time and not imagining any world beyond this deadline.

  1. Catharsis
  2. Express the truth
  3. Take care of my IN people
  4. Make amends with the OUT crowd
  5. Try to live and enjoy the time I have
  6. Improve my productivity in life and at work
  7. Learn as much as I can
  8. Read and write.

There is also a lot I have simply summarized within the ambit of the above and I leave it open for anyone to theorize or improvise 🙂

One thing I keep stumbling on, and I may be absolutely wrong, however it is my take – Money is a very vital element in general well being. It is easy to make counter arguments. However nothing erases the necessity of money 😉

Till later.

A Dog in Sheesh Mahal

Don’t be too amused at the title just yet. Its a local idiom showing how a dog in a palace would behave. Out of place, bewildered, confused even bedazzled. Most of us started out careers at the entry level. We all have come from different backgrounds. Some have been exposed to corporate setups due to our parents or family and some of us have not. Some come from elite institutes while other from very humble beginnings. What all of us have in common is that we started somewhere and today we have achieved a certain status in our professional lives. Going back in the journey and recalling our first day at work …. Do that…please go back in time and remember. The nervous insides, tingling unexplained sensations, the fear of the unknown … Are you there yet? Good, or not too good 🙂 Now, do you remember the first senior who took you on and explained some of the basics to you. The first senior who corrected your mistake and told you ” Its ok. We all make mistakes…learn from this and you will be ok!” I feel certain that we can all name at least one senior in our professional lives who carved the path to our achievements , to our success. Being senior professional in our respective fields today … we owe it to those mentors, friends, guides to Pay it forward ! Acknowledge the fact that our knowledge and skill cannot be taken away from us, cannot be stolen. The purpose of our experience is to “share”, to give away to our new generation ( batch ) of budding professionals who stagger in to the hall ways of professional greatness .. unsure and unaware of the magnitude of potential they are carrying hidden away inside them. It is up to us to act as guides and in many cases as catalysts to build confidence and transform these freshers. I am a result of many great minds who have in their own unique ways contributed to my professional path. And today I would like to say “Thank you ” to all of them. I would request a moment from everyone reading this post to take a minute, remember those mentors and send them a thank you note, sms or email today…now . It may not seem much, but appreciation goes a long way. I am in the process of emailing mine 🙂

5 simple clues to spot a liar

A part of my job involves interviewing candidates for various positions and at different levels. The other day while writing some stuff on body language I started to think about the many aspects of a candidate that we tend to evaluate during the interview process. One aspect that we look at, or at least try to determine to the best of our ability is whether the candidate is being honest or not.
Here are 5 simple clues that you too can watch for in your daily lives and learn how to spot a liar:
<![if !supportLists]>1-      <![endif]>Observe the body language
Does the body language match what the person is telling you? Very often we communicate more from our physical gestures than our words. It is the gap between what is being said and what the body is trying to portray which will give a liar away. You do need to watch for it thou as many expressions can be as slight as an eye blink.
<![if !supportLists]>2-      <![endif]>Watch the smile
A smile can convey many things. However a true smile will always incorporate the lips and the eyes. If you watch carefully you may be able to detect any hidden emotion that a liar is trying to hide such as anger, fear or even disgust.
<![if !supportLists]>3-      <![endif]>Not what but how it is spoken
Experts believe and to some extent I have personally observed that whenever a person is lying their speech rate (words per minute) and breathing pattern changes. It may either increase or decrease, but it does change. Noting this may also help you identify if someone is hiding something from you.
<![if !supportLists]>4-      <![endif]>Against usual behavior
In case the person is reasonably known to you, one indication of lying can be uncharacteristic behavior. The above points need to be weighed in along with the observation of a different behavior pattern to make sense and / or pass any judgment.
<![if !supportLists]>5-      <![endif]>Type of query and its response
Ask simple question and get a simple reply. When you note that someone turns their eyes or starts to show uneasy body language when asked a simple question it means there is something they are hiding. Of course in case a tricky or hard / uncomfortable question is asked it is natural for the other person’s body language to reflect the uneasiness or prolonged processing time.
I hope this is some help and do feel free to add any observations that you have made during the course of your interviews etc.

My daughter and the Four balloons

A month has passed since my daughter’s first birthday. I tend to get a little sentimental here… Seems just like yesterday that all of her would fit in to my hands.
Anyhow, getting back to the point…
The other day, my father gave my daughter 4 balloons. Now the details about the balloons are important…so read on…
4 Balloons
The balloons were connected by simple transparent tape. How did that happen? Yes, you are right… they were some of the balloons left from my daughter’s birthday. Since these balloons had been taped to the wall and stair etc. Now finally the 4 balloons were loosely connected by the little pieces of tape.
As my daughter was presented the balloons, she burst with joy and started cackling and raised her hands towards the balloons. Moments later, “finally” the balloons were in her hands and she was as excited as the sky on the 4th of July (I figure only in the states ;)).
Now, an interesting development took place, one of the balloons came loose from the tape and bounced off on an almost 45 degree angle. My daughter looked at that one balloon and quickly let go of the 3 she had in her right hand and started to walk towards the one stray balloon that was quickly getting farther from her. Yes, she let go of the 3 in her hand to follow the one that that was getting away… apparently she thought (I presume) that it was going to get lost.
Anyhow, what happened after that is a different story. But, I learnt something from this.
This simple childish act of my 1 year old daughter, which may be classified as an inherent human trait (not learnt from the environment at this stage) is something which follows us humans all thru our life!
Look at it… everything in our life may be wonderful and then one thing goes wrong…and we let go of all the other things (the 3 balloons) and lose sleep over that one thing that is going wrong (the single stray balloon) all the while the majority of our life is not that bad, and in pursuit of that one stray balloon we give up the joy of 
the 3 balloons!!
I have decided now, that whenever something goes wrong in my life, I shall look at that event as the single “lost” balloon and not let go of the 3 I have in hand. Let’s reason with this… Is it fair to forsake the 3 in hand for one that is getting away…is that cost acceptable? How often have we realized this cost years later? Is it not better to rationalize it before we come to the realization that we could have handled the other things better while trying to manage the difficulties in life too?
Of course, needless to say, the balloons are the things that are happening in our life, the tape is the events and relations holding the things together and my little daughter is life… well she is my life J
I hope that everyone who reads this is able to find the 3 balloons in their life and not let go of them at the very first sight of one troubled balloon.  😉
Enough of balloons… My thoughts for the day and I wish everyone a very joyous and relaxing weekend!!

Handling Office Politics


Political Tug of war
Office politics is just like the lottery.  Dreaming about winning doesn’t get you anywhere – there’s no payoff if you don’t buy a ticket. But YOU have to play if you want to win. 

However, unlike the lottery, there are consequences if you decide not to play.

Game Plan

Not everything in life in black and white and unfortunately, office politics can’t be reduced to this level of simplicity either. 
Office politics is a complex stew of power, ambition, control and ego.  Winning, if there is such a thing, requires continuous attention to who’s important/not important at any given moment and strategically aligning with the right 
faction(s). Mistakes can be fatal to a career. 

It’s easy to see how many people decide it’s smarter to sit on the sidelines.  Swim with these sharks?  No thanks, it’s much safer not to get involved.  Or so you’d think … but you’d be wrong.

Opt out, and the best you can hope for is to be completely ignored.  This might be good for your psyche, but it’s tough on your career.  Promotions or good assignments won’t be coming your way, but a layoff might, if one’s in the offing.  All too often, quiet = expendable

If you choose not to play, be sure you don’t criticize those who do, or the game itself.  You’ll be labeled a loose cannon or a troublemaker.  You’ll also be a target for skilled political players who may decide to use you to further their own agendas.  It’s easy to identify the person who doesn’t want to join in as the malcontent who’s responsible for badmouthing unpopular decisions.

Well, says you, I’m not being negative, I’m just saying that things should be based on merit – the quality of your work, not who you kiss up to.  I agree – in principal:
It sounds great, but I’ve never seen a company where there wasn’t some element of politics at work.

This is Unfair

Right.  What’s your point?  The culture of each workplace evolves over time, largely in reaction to the example that’s set at the top.  Unless you’re the new CEO, your ability to unilaterally create change is very, very limited.  You can continue to resist, but it’s going to be a lot less painful if you adapt.

You’ll be most effective if you can deal with things the way they are, not the way you think they should be.  No one can take your principles away from you, but they can take away your position.  It’s really your choice, and I hope it never comes to that. The best strategy is to modify your view of office politics.  Rather than seeing it as a hotbed of useless gossip, intrigue, brown-nosing, or backstabbing, try to recast it in a positive light.  Think of the political game as a means for you to spread your own gospel through positive example.

One of the few absolute rules of office culture is that it’s not enough just to do a great job. You’ve also got to communicate your abilities and successes to the right people, and you’ve got to do it via the “right way”, which is going to be dictated by the company’s cultural norms.  Observation is the key.

Open Your Eyes and Ears; Keep Your Mouth Shut

A key mistake in office politics is accepting information without independent verification.  There are a couple of ways this happens.  One is that people look at an org chart and take it at face value.  In the work environment, there’s both a formal and informal hierarchy.  There are people on the chart with position and authority who are incapable of exercising it, and conversely, there are people that may not even appear on the chart who manage to run everything.  Your job is to figure out who’s who, and cultivate good relationships accordingly.  That won’t happen if you step away from your desk only to use the bathroom.

Listen
The second mistake people often make is to align themselves with one faction too early, or too closely.  When you start a new job, it’s tempting to latch onto a person or small group fast. Understandable – it gets you over being green and helps assimilate you to the new environment.  The danger is that you may inadvertently align with the wrong group, and you won’t know until it’s too late.  Better to be friendly towards everybody and get the full range of opinions.  If you don’t favor one faction over another, you’ll be able to array all of the different points of view and validate their legitimacy against your own observations. 

Spend less time talking, and more time listening.  This is a wonderful technique that has several distinct benefits.  First, you minimize the opportunity to say anything stupid or ill-advised that can come back and haunt you later. 
Second, people who like to talk think highly of people who listen. They project competence onto you because you let them do what they need to do.  They’ll speak well of you later, even though your view of these conversations is that they’re a good opportunity to plan what you’re going to do for lunch. 

The third benefit of doing more listening than talking is that your silence, especially your continued silence, is liable to make other people a bit uneasy.  People who are edgy tend to chatter more than they should. (Think how job candidates might babble to fill up a silence during an interview.) Sometimes, that chatter includes information that wasn’t intended to be revealed.  All the better for you.

Rules of the Game

There’s one rule in office politics that can trump all the other rules: never make your boss look bad.  Most bad bosses are capable of accomplishing this all on their own.  They don’t need your help and you don’t need to get dragged down with them.  Create a situation where your boss is seen in a negative light and you’ll be the one who pays the price in the short run. 

The other rules of office politics are less about the politics and more about you and your behavior. This list isn’t all-inclusive, and strict adherence doesn’t guarantee success.  But, it’s better than nothing:
1.     Figure out what you want and plot your strategy accordingly.
2.     Be a part of multiple networks, not just one.
3.     Communicate with your networks often, and in the ways that work best.
4.     Judge behavior in the organizational context, not against some idealized standard.
5.     Watch other people at work and identify successful behaviors that you can model
6.     Don’t pass along questionable judgments or spread rumors
7.     Look for win/win ways to resolve conflicts, but never leave them unresolved.

More

Despite all this, there really is one way out of the office politics maze.  Work for yourself and work alone.  You’ll still need to interact with clients and customers, but those politics are for another column entirely. 

Some types of difficult co-workers

Now that we have some idea about managing difficult people at work, lets proceed to identify some types… so to say, lets assign them a category and make our approach more targeted.

I have come across a variety of difficult people in my career, and others I have read about :). At times, being fairly honest, I may have been a difficult co-worker myself. My “real” friends used some of the measures discussed below in changing my outlook and making me in to a more professional person. The reason my I have highlighted ‘real’ is: Only the people who cared about me combined with a positive outlook towards organizational / departmental harmony wished to do something to handle the issues instead of simply making an issue out of every little thing I did and having me replaced.

Lets begin:

The Crabby Coworker

You know the type – they come in to work in the morning( or evening /night depending on your line of business) , don’t say hi, won’t even make eye contact with you or crack a smile. 
While we do not all have to be best friends at work, it is pretty awkward when you can’t interact with these people the way you would with a normal person who will at least say hello. What to do:
  • Try to find some common ground:There’s got to be something – anything – that you have in common with this person and if you’re able to find it, you just might be able to crack them. Maybe you and him/her watch ‘Humsafar’ 😉  – you could ask them what they thought of last night’s episode! Maybe you both have kids starting school this year – ask how that’s working out. The point is to find something to get that person talking so he/she feels like you’re both on the same side. They still might not pass any salutation to you, but you might get a glimmer or a smile every once in a while that can lighten the tension.
  • Ask if something’s wrong: When people are grumpy to the extreme, there is usually something wrong on a personal level. If you’re not afraid to have your head bitten off, ask if something is indeed wrong and if there’s anything you can do to help (only if you mean it…thou, I have had instances where the other person knew that I was genuinely concerned, but they still couldn’t resist punching my teeth out ( just an idiom)). This might be a brave approach depending on who you’re dealing with but can once again help open the lines of communication and might lead to a smile down the road. Maybe the person just needs to feel that they are not alone.
  • Don’t take it personally: Chances are that if you find this coworker cranky and difficult to work around…..realize that some people are just like that no matter what you do and try not to let it bring you down.

Agent Coworker (009) (Ahem ahem … informer extraordinaire)

One fine day, you are called into your manager’s office because you were tattled on by your very own 009 … and that too for something that doesn’t really matter anyway. 009’s are really like spies because they are very good at slyly discovering every little tiny mistake you have ever made at work and then going and telling on you, thus making them look good and you look bad. ( BTW, the 009 is an increment to 007, with a licence to chugli-fy)
Is there anything you can do? Yes:
  • Make sure they like you: It might make you sick to your stomach to try to be work friends with this person but if you can do it, it is in your best interest. 🙁 And honestly I don’t like writing this, just as much as you don’t like reading it. This is especially true if you have to work closely around the person and know that they will always be “watching you.” There’s a chance that if this person feels a friendly vibe between the two of you, they might move onto another target who hasn’t made that effort to be friends. Since nobody likes a tattle, they don’t usually have many friends. Use this to your advantage.
  • Be on your best behavior: Sure, if you know the tattletale is sniffing around, just carry out your work according to the books and to the highest code. If you do everything absolutely perfectly, there won’t be anything to tell on. Plus, try not to go overboard trying to share your impression of how the boss forgets what he was talking about, or the way the director smokes etc etc. Its better that you do your comedy in the privacy of your own personal friends. 
  • Avoid, avoid, avoid: If you really don’t have to associate with this person, don’t. It’s as simple as that.

The Know-it-All Coworker

Nobody knows everything but don’t tell your know-it-all coworker that! 
Mr. Know It All
What’s tricky about these people is that they’re hard to reason with because they carry on as if the only ideas that are “right” or “the best way” are their own. It’s especially difficult when this type of coworker is your supervisor who gets to call some of the shots that affect the quality of your job and eventually your day. What if you come up with a better way of doing something that could benefit your whole department? 
Here’s what to do:
  • Make them think that your idea is really their idea No, you’re not gonna get credit if you take this approach but if you can get past that and are just looking for end results, this method works pretty well. You might say something like “Remember your abc idea? (which is actually YOUR idea) I think that will work well for us because of xyz.” You’ll probably only want to try this for ideas that are only slightly different from theirs and not a paradigm shift otherwise your know-it-all coworker could catch on (but you might be surprised – people who think they know everything and are unwilling to budge are often not that sharp).
  • Show your evidence. Prove it. : Even the most knowing of all know-it-all coworkers may find it hard to hold onto their ideas if you can provide all kinds of evidence to show that another idea or another way may be better. Tread lightly on this one and make sure that your battle is worth it.

The Lazy Coworker

Lazy worker
There is nothing more frustrating than doing all the work while your lazy coworker(s) sits around and does nothing. Ideally, someone in charge will see the light and your lazy coworker friends will eventually get fired but we all know that it’s nearly impossible to fire someone these days so don’t count on it. Apparently some people think that HR should not fire, but should rather counsel and counsel again…and once again…etc…… So while the counselling is going on…you may want to try these instead:
  • Suck it up: Yes, you work and your lazy coworkers don’t but one approach is just to acknowledge that fact and move on. In other words, as they say, “do your work and go home.”
  • Don’t pick up the slack for the lazy one: You might find yourself taking on extra duties that were initially meant for your lazy coworker without even realizing it. Stop doing that! Once the workload starts to pile up and you resist the urge to dive in and finish it off, even your coworker may take notice of the backlog and pitch in to help. And if they don’t, say
  • “Help me! I’m overwhelmed! There is work to be done here!”: Sadly, you might have to spell it out to your lazy coworker just like that. Lazy coworkers are not all bad people but sometimes they are oblivious to the fact that there is work to be done so you really just might have to tell them.
To forgive is to release resentment, hatred, bitterness and desires for revenge…We choose not to hate such people, even though we hate what he or she did.

Always remember that when you forgive:
  • You don’t literally forget about the existence of the offense, and you don’t have to ignore the fact that it did cause you pain and hurt. 
  • It doesn’t mean you approve of the offense or allow it to happen again. 
  • You don’t have to become friends with that person or trust them to show that you really forgave them. 
  • Trust is something that takes a long time to earn, not something given as a token of forgiveness. 
Learn to forgive and move on… We live on a small planet and work in even smaller industries let alone offices…. We all have to share it…. Move on and work towards cooperation or at least co-existence.