Category Archives: values

Ethical dilemma – To do or not

As one grows in any profession the level of responsibility and in turn accountability only tends to increase.  While the new world of management sciences tends to churn out objective and criteria based grids to resolve most business concerns one the most often used deciding criteria for more experienced managers is their Gut feeling.

I am very sure that I am not the only one out there who feels this way. With this assumption in mind I shall carry on.

Ethics
Ethics

Let’s take interviews for example, for any two candidates with everything else the same ultimately I and some other managers I know more than often rely on their gut feeling about the candidate or their perception on how he / she will tend to perform in the future etc.

This might be simple in cases where two or more candidates are more or less at parity in all respects however it becomes more difficult to justify when the difference is very clear between the candidates and yet my gut tells me to go for the one who is perhaps weaker on the score card and flying high on my gut instinct.

Other decisions include for me, as an HR professional such concerns as conflict management, dispute resolution and sometimes in inquiries where at times all “evidence” points in one direction but my instinct tells me to look in a different direction.

More often than not I have found my and most of my professional colleagues instinct to be right ( do factor in that all colleagues I am considering have over 13 years of experience in  diversified environments). However there is the occasional wrong call too.

Now, let’s take a wrong call in consideration where the judgment call made by me for instance fired back. Now … what?

How do I quantify the logic in my decision? How do I prove that my “intention” was in the right place?

Now i do understand that it is very qualitative to justify intentions and gut more so.

Let’s take this further  …. During an inquiry there have been times when my inside screamed fraud and i could not prove it does that mean i get biased about the person hence forth?

Once i get under the microscope —  how do i defend my intention? Have i just wasted my entire professional career?

In matters of team management i find a simmer dilemma. I tend to be stricter and more demanding from team members who i have a positive gut feeling about and often my only defense has been time. Does everyone understand?

I for one really would like to quantify this feeling. One can minute such things make footnotes yet when put to question i doubt these can stand their ground.

But but but i am willing to put my career, my life on the line for someone i believe in. Period

Who is with me in this ?

The subtle human element that I have been able to comprehend so far in my limited exposure is that we are a very forgetful race and yet we are often quick to forgive. Something in this equation doesn’t make sense to me. Let go….  What can go wrong besides what will anyhow.

Yet we decide about paradigms as per our own perception. Internally we are idealists. How can i Say that?

Feel like re-reading history……the gloomy history of man. All in all when we come to HR its all about people and unlike machinery that comes with a manual …. We don’t 😉

 

We tend to generalize in order to be specific yet we claim that we don’t stereotype … How convenient.

 

To conclude in retrospect I live by my principles and experienced perception and if it takes me to the gallows …. Then so be it.

Till later shall look forward to your comments.

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.

Life is simple

Life is really worth living, if one decides to live it. The choice is yours and yours alone.

We choose to allow others to decide for us. When we allow others to choose for us – we become our very own victims.

Now this does not mean that no one is worth listening to. Intelligence is to listen to the experience of others and then decide on what suits you. So in management terms you would choose the best-fit.

I believe that we choose to complicate life. Here are a few things I have learnt so far that I feel are good guidelines to maneuver decisions in life:

·        Live and Let Live
·        Put yourself in the others shoes
·        Be sympathetic to others
·        Listen then analyze and then react
·        You will live this life and everyone else is an accessory with their own unique value
·        Either don’t do it, and if you do : then live up to it
·        Stop complaining and do something about it
·        Think of the worst that can impossibly happen and then whatever happens will be better
·        Be Objective
·        Equitable standards

I invite you to share your feelings and experiences on this and encourage a healthy open discussion.

In the lines

The other day I was looking at my 2.5year old daughter use crayons on a coloring book. I noted that she was not paying any attention to the borders of the Dora cartoon outlines. She was simply “spreading” color everywhere.

It makes me wonder… We are were once like that. We didnt care for any lines or boundaries to restrain our thoughts. First came the single rule note books and then the multi-rule English note books and so on. When we learnt to write we learnt to remain within boundaries. To live lives within limits to restrict ourselves.

Soon what may have started as a definition for our language letters writing becomes a defining moment in our subconscious where we automatically accept limitations to our thoughts.

We inadvertently accept limitations as givens and begin to think within the proverbial BOX.

Thou, it appears to be a great learning tool and leads to become a great disciplinary tool, I feel that we should encourage our children to color and paint as they feel and appreciate their ” Picaso’s” instead of discouraging them.

Only when their thoughts are left to grow and wonder and taste the air of freedom can they really “learn” to control themselves instead of becoming slaves to their own minds. Replicating, reproducing and not creating.

I know that many may differ from my point of view and that is fine and encouraging. Just wanted to share my 2 cents worth.

Office Show Down

Now that I am working for the 7th company in my professional experience spread over a dozen years and multiple countries and a few continents I feel that I have finally (rather obvious) concluded that office politics is not a local or regional phenomenon. It is a universal reality. 

The sooner we acknowledge its existence, the better prepared we will be to handle and cope with it. Mostly I feel it’s about how WE react to such situation and less about accepting it. 
But as the saying goes, acceptance is half the battle won.
First, always remember that amongst all the variables that you cannot control … there is one very important factor that you can control. That factor is YOUR RESPONSE to any situation. How you choose to react decides the tangent the situation will take. Always evaluate and respond in a manner that is above petty personal differences and ultimately good for the business.
Second, Always remember that if your reaction supports the bottom line then sooner or later your boss and management will see it. This is a good thing J
Third, instead of being upset about the things you cannot change its better to be happy about the things you can change. Very often we are too busy feeling victimized by some policy that we cannot change to notice the positive influence we can bring within our own area of influence.
Fourth, Its always better not to take sides. Being opinionated is one thing however taking sides is another. Learn better and effective conflict resolution techniques in order to resolves positively the disagreements.
Fifth, Always remember to understand before your seek to be understood. This helps in creating a deeper understanding of the others point of view and also creates a better possibility of a Win-Win situation.
Last, Never …Never get personal. It is an office and you will come across many people from different places and different insight and opinions and objectives. You must remain focused on the company objectives and stay aloof from making it personal.
Have a nice weekend!

Its all about how process things

So there is an old story I heard from someone last weekend and thought to share it with you all.
There was a small town and it had a sweet old lady who was the most popular sweet seller ( Mithai Seller ). Every day you could see lines outside her shop. 
Interestingly, she didn’t make the sweets her self. Rather she only sold them and had them outsourced to a sweet maker.
Now, one fine day a gorgeous young lady opens a sweet shop right across from her shop and goes in to business. Fact to be noted is that even this gorgeous young lady did not make the sweets herself but rather outsourced it to the same sweet maker the old lady was purchasing from.
On the very first day there was a huge line outside the new shop… yes, indeed many had come to get a glimpse of this gorgeous girl and customarily buy some sweets too 🙂
For the next few days the line out side the young lady’s store kept increasing while the line outside the old ladies store kept dramatically decreasing.
However, about a week and half down the time line … the reverse started happening. The line outside the old lady’s shop started to increase while the line outside her neighbors started to decrease … until the old ladies clientage was back to what it used to be.
Since everything seemed to have been same in both shops one bystander remarked that it doesn’t make sense that the beautiful young lady’s shop is empty … there was confusion.
So, one person decided to figure out this little puzzle. After a lot of investigation and eventual failure he decided to go and ask the old lady her secret to such success.
This is what the old lady said:
“ Dear Sir, I don’t do anything special to my mithai (sweet) but I think that it has something to do with how I weight the mitahis. You see, when someone orders 1 KG of Mitai , the young lady put 1.25 or 1.5 kg on the scale and removes the extra to measure the full 1 kg….. While I always put 600 to 800 grams and then add mitahis to complete the 1 KG.”
Scale
Scale
Surprising… don’t you think?
I believe it is the truth.
Regardless of the fact that both measure exact weight the perception that people leave with is that they are getting something with the old ladies style while they are loosing something with the younge ladies style.
The same I believe applies when one makes out policies at any organization. If you were to include all the exceptions in the policy … in no time will people start to view the exceptions as rules and rights. Rather if policies were straightforward and exceptions were reviewed on a case to case basis thou the decision may be the same in either case… the perception the employees leave with is that they have been heard and given special attention and treatment… perceived value addition means better motivation and improved word of mouth.
That’s my thought for today 🙂

9 to 12 Rule

Its been a while since I wrote my blog. A lot has happened since my last update.

I am working with a different company now. I have another little princess in my family. I have gained weight.

Now back to what I was thinking about.

I have found it almost impossible to focus on my strategic tasks at work due to the incessant visitors I get to my office. So after seeking advice from a few very wise mentors I have decided to implement the 9-12 Rule.

The 9-12 rule stipulates that my “visiting hours” so to speak are from 9am to 12pm. After which I work dedicatedly on my research and strategic policy matters.

I shall keep updating my blog with the results I get out of this in due course.

Stay tuned.

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.