Category Archives: integrity

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.

 

 

How it all begins

Like all things in life , learning too starts at a very very early age. If I were to give a number I would say as early as the mothers womb. A lot of material is available on the internet about different kinds of learning and how events effect our personality etc. I will not not go it to all that.

I will like to share a story very dear to me personally with you all.

Going back to 1958 a young boy of around 8 year is strolling and jumping near his home in a government officers housing scheme in Mid-town Lahore.

This boy, lets call him him Shani , to his surprising delight notices some money on the street. He is more over joyed by the prospects of what that money can get him than the surprise of actually spotting it.

Shani approached the money and picked up the whole lot and counted…Aath Ana, Rupaya….. SIX RUPEES!! Wooo….Half Anna

In 1958 for a boy of 8 this was very well a small fortune! Shani’s mind ran across what he wanted to do MOST in this world.

Shani thought and thought and quickly he came to a singular conclusion. His most loving desire was to suck on Sugar cane cubes ( AKA Gandarees) .

He rushes to the nearby street trolley vendor. He orders Gandarees worth Half a Rupee. He gets a TRUCK load of Gandarees ( figuratively of course – consider it my poetic licence)sugarcaneijpg

Just imagine yourself at 8 years getting a bag full of M&M’s or Mars … now you can relate to Shani.

Shani is on top of the sixth heaven. He keeps sucking the Gandarees and he gets so lost that he doesnt realize he is late getting back home.

Back home everyone was getting worried. Now Shani’s Mom passed away when he was very little and he had a number of older brothers and sisters. Being the youngest and perhaps somewhat pampered – his absence caused an uproar and confusion.

Almost everyone went out looking for him. A dozen or so long minutes later Shani was located in the park…lost in his world of Gandarees.

Long story short – he was brought back to his home and everyone wanted to know where he got so many Gandarees from??

Words were thrown around and a general sense of anger and disgust was growing.

Visiting that day was Shani’s maternal Aunt. Her husband has just got a new Fiat and wanted to drive the kids around 🙂

FIAT-500-1957-EDITION-SIDE-AT-LA-MOTOR-SHOW.jpg

In the midst of all the anger and resentment at a lost soul who was now destined to be the next dacoit of Pakistan 😉 Shani’s Aunt calls him and sits him on her lap.

She asks him where he got the Gandarees from. He in all innocence replies that he found 6 Rupees on the road and continues to tell the rest of his tale.

His Aunt asks him to produce the remaining 5 and Half Rupees and show that he is telling the truth. He promptly does so from the pocket of his shorts.

His Aunt takes the Half rupee coin and gives him a one rupee coin and tells him to go back and put the whole 6 Rupees back exactly where he found them.

She send him alone , unattended. Shani goes and puts the money exactly where he found it and returns in a short while and shares the completion of the task with his Aunt.

His Aunt then explains to him that he should never take what is not his. This is not how we were brought up. Then she tells his father not to scold him as he has learnt his lesson.

Then , she takes out the Half rupee coin she had kept earlier and gave it to Shani and said ” Enjoy your Gandarees again another day whenever you want. This is your reward for being honest”

What Shani did with that other Half Rupee is a mystery to me.

However what I can tell you is that Shani grew up to be a very ethical and morally upright person with numerous successes in life.

So, my little note to this is that we must try to inculcate these and more basic moral values in our kids at an early age so that they are not confused about them as they grow up and leave home to learn and venture on their own. It is these basic guidelines that will help them build more complex principles in life and give them success.

Till next time 🙂

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.

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. 

Managing difficult people at work

Difficult people present no problem if 

  • we pass or meet them 
  • on the street
  • in the supermarket 
  • in a building lobby
  • in the parking , etc

Nevertheless, when we have to work with them difficult people can become major irritants.

It seems that some people are just born to be difficult. We have all worked with them and most of us dislike them. Difficult people are easy to recognize–they show up late, leave early, don’t turn their work in on time and have an excuse for every failing – bottom line, its never their fault…. Hmm..heard that somewhere?

Wait, there’s more. These difficult people harass you and others, ask too many self-explanatory questions, neglect details, distract you and repeatedly challenge you and others for no other reason than to “appear” important. Even worse, when they interact with customers, vendors and people lower than them in the corporate hierarchy, they can be grouchy, impolite, condescending, uninformed, misleading, inappropriate or simply wrong. — Do you know anyone like this?

Naturally, no one wants to work with difficult people. When dealing with problematic employees, productivity decreases, frustrations rise, morale goes down and customers and vendors get upset.


Now, lets see how we can handle such people:

But I try my best

1. Don’t ignore the problem. Assuming that the employee provides value to the company and possesses redeeming qualities, there are ways to deal with difficult employees. Most often, managers will simply ignore problematic staffers. Managers who live by this rule hope the problem will just go away; that these people will somehow turn themselves around or stop being troublesome. Ignoring the situation is the wrong solution to what could likely become a progressive problem.

2. Intervene as soon as possible. It is important to take action as soon as the negative behavior pattern becomes evident–when left untouched, this problem will only escalate.

Occasionally, the difficult employee has no idea that his behavior is a problem or that others react negatively to his actions. This is because most people tend to put up with the annoying behavior and “go along to get along.” At the same time, some employees just consider it a “job frustration.” Just like some managers, employees want to be liked by colleagues and subordinates and are therefore reluctant to speak up when a problem arises.

Ultimately, it is the manager’s responsibility to take the appropriate action to correct the problem. Whether the concern exists due to the employee’s lack of knowledge of the issue, lack of feedback or projecting the difficulty onto someone else, the manager has the responsibility of addressing and turning around the predicament. The manager needs to gather information from employees to discern the extent of the problem and personally observe the employee interacting with customers or vendors.

3. Research the problem personally. Armed with accurate data and examples, the manager needs to then take this person into a conference room or office–away from others–and calmly address the issue. To begin, the manager needs to ask the employee if he is aware of any ongoing issues to determine if the difficult person is aware of the problems.

If the employee is “unaware,” the manager needs to describe the unacceptable behavior. The employee might interrupt to disagree or deny the existence of any issues. Nevertheless, the manager needs to continue by giving clear examples of the unwanted behavior.

The manager also needs to allow the employee to respond to the allegations. If the difficult employee refuses to believe that the allegations exist despite the evidence, the most the manager can hope for is an intellectual acceptance of the possibility that a problem exists.

4. Help the problematic employee to get back on track. Once the employee begins to understand that these negative behaviors are real and experienced by others in the organization, the manager or someone from human resources should begin to coach the difficult employee in displaying more acceptable and appropriate behaviors. The employee needs time and practice in “trying on” new, more suitable behaviors. HR and/or the manager need to provide specific feedback to this employee on the success or failure of his efforts in minimizing the negative actions and implementing ones that are more positive.

5. If all else fails, termination may be necessary. If the employee continues to deny his inappropriate behavior and refuses to try to improve the situation, the manager needs to place this person on the fast track towards termination. Often this involves recording a series of well-documented verbal and then written feedback about the behavior. Strictly following company protocol, there should be a period for the employee to address the questionable behavior. If this trial period does not result in improved behavior, then the employee needs to be terminated.

Most employees will recognize the negative behavior and will at least attempt to turn it around. This is especially true during tough economic times when unemployment is high and finding a new job is difficult. In any case, the manager needs to follow company guidelines in recognizing the unacceptable behavior, providing direct feedback, providing input to try to turn it around and ultimately taking action in a timely manner.

Not doing so is a disservice to the problematic employee, other employees and the success of the organization.

Some top reasons WHY HR is often misunderstood

Some top reasons WHY HR is often misunderstood –Take 1 J
Readers, I absolutely don’t pretend to speak for every HR department worldwide, but the HR professionals that I know are committed to both their employees and their company. They avoid causing employees pain intentionally. Here are some top reasons why employees might perceive the situation differently. These are the reasons why I feel I have observed non-Human Resource professionals having a list of depressing and so to say “HR horror stories”.
·         The HR staff person is caught daily in a balancing act between the role of employee advocate and the role of company business partner and advocate. And, no, the employee doesn’t often see or understand that the HR person is playing two roles. They gauge the HR person by their affect on the employee’s need.
    • As an example, the employee wants HR to make an exception for him; the employee doesn’t realize that an exception for him begins to set a precedent for how the company must treat other employees – employees who may be less deserving of an exception.


·         All information about employees is confidential. Even when the HR staff person handles an issue, whether the issue involved disciplinary measures or just a conversation, the steps taken and the outcomes are confidential. An HR employee can tell the complaining employee that the issue was addressed. Because of employee confidentiality, they cannot reveal more. This can leave the complaining employee believing their issue was not addressed. (The outcome of a formal, written complaint, as in sexual harassment charges, is generally disclosed.)
Blame it all


·         HR staff members need documented evidence that a problem exists. Witnesses are helpful, too, as is more than one employee experiencing the same problem. It is difficult to take action based on one employee’s word, especially if the other party denies the problem.


·         What an employee may see as unreasonable behavior on the part of a manager or another employee, HR may find within acceptable bounds of organizational behavior and expectations. The employees may have a personality or work style conflict. The boss may supervise an independent employee more closely than desired. HR can talk with all parties, but often, no one is wrong.


·         When an employee doesn’t like her job or work goals or experiences a conflict with her supervisor’s management style, HR can’t always find the employee a new job. Additionally, because of the cost of employee on boarding and training, the organization is likely to have policies about how often an employee can change positions. Indeed, proving yourself in the current job is the fastest path to a coveted new job.


·         HR doesn’t know about the promises you say your manager made to you about a raise, a promotion, special time off, or a rewarding assignment, unless the promise was documented in your performance development plan. You are welcome to complain to HR if you have addressed the issue with your manager. But, the end story is likely your word against the manager’s word. Is it possible you misunderstood your manager? If not be wary about promises made – when he has demonstrated he doesn’t keep his promises. Work with HR on an internal transfer.


·         HR is not always in charge of making the decision. In fact, the decision you don’t like may have been made by their boss or the company president. Good, company-oriented HR people won’t blame other managers publicly for decisions with which they may disagree. And, they won’t bad-mouth the decisions of their boss or other company managers, so you may never know where the decision was made.
So, an unresponsive, unhelpful HR office that avoids helping employees with their problems is not always the case. (Though I know from my experience that such organizations do exist, let’s hope they are on the path to change- Inshallah). There are legitimate reasons why HR cannot fulfill every employee’s wishes.
If the HR staff listens, communicates actively, and informs the employee why a decision is made or an action not taken, employees are much less likely to write asking how to solve their HR horror stories.
This information may help our fellow HR professionals better address the “misunderstanding” by employees.

The key to life

A bright day of August,  I would be around 14 or 15 years old at that time. I was vacating in Pakistan after having appeared in the O/Levels exams…The memory is clear thou saddened by the fact that the other person from the memory is now dead…My Dada jee.

He was in one of his lecture moods and well, I figure, he guessed right that I wasn’t 🙂

So, he started telling me a story of Batala (India – Pre-partition)

The story goes….

Rana ( My Dada jee used to call me so)….. When I was a very young boy, I went with my father to attend a wedding in a different town ( he knew the name of that town..I don’t recall it now). My mother, sisters and mostly everyone else in the house had already left a few days ago ( as was traditional back then).

Lock with Key

While leaving, my father (your great grand father) did something different….Once he had locked the house he gave me the big lead (metal) key to me for safe keeping 🙂 I was very happy at being given this responsibility. It was the first time that my father had given me the key to the home. Now the locks you kids have are different from the ones we used to use. He then proceeded to go to his cupboard and after a 2-3 minute ritual of locks, padlocks, etc etc etc… he recovered a lock (that looked quite like the picture here on the right).

He continued…

This key, your great grand father gave me and told me to keep it safely in my pocket. Once we started on our journey (via train)…soon i forget about the key in my pocket.

Jasmine

I still remember when we got to ( the city where the wedding was) there. While exiting the Railway station, my  father took a handful of Jasmine flowers and smelled them. He had me smell them too..it was very refreshing….He then gave me a few of the jasmine flowers and I placed them in my pocket so that I would smell fragrant…Artificial perfumes were not IN back then … (and we smiled at me.)

Then my Dada jee proceeded to tell me about the events at the wedding… girls … dances … food … and of course the all important family politics 🙂

Eventually coming back…

My Dada jee continued his story….

So finally we all returned to our home in Batala, Gurdaspur and my father asked me to produce the key….. When I reached for the key …(contrary to what I was thinking…the key was still in his pocket…hehe … no thriller there)….. I took hold of the key and brought it out. Along with the key some of the old jasmine flowers , now dry and brownish color came in to my hand.
I blew the dry flowers away and proudly gave my father the key…

My father took the key and then opened the lock… he asked me to stay at the door while all family members walked in to the home.

Finally we were the only two remaining standing…. My father took the lead key and gave it to me and said….
“Putar Khurshaid” smell this 🙂

Would you believe… The lead key was giving off the same fragrant jasmine smell. It was very amusing indeed.

My father simply said…. Son, you are getting older now and will soon enter more practical life where you have to choose friends and directions in life. Always remember just as the fragrant jasmine has penetrated the lead key , similarly no matter how strong we think we are…we always risk having habits from our company rub on us.
So instead of putting yourself on a silly test every other day to prove that you cannot be spoiled …. its better to avoid company of people that have negative behavior and be close to people who are good.

After that my Dada jee was silent for a bit and then he gave me that Key ….. and he said “I hope I do not need to say anything more now…..Do I?”

I was amazed and happily influenced at that time….I took the key…I still have it deep inside my own little ritual of locks and padlocks and such and I intend to share it with my daughter when she is old enough to understand this or when she needs to.

My Dada jee, passed away on 15 January 2005 ….. My daughter was born on 15th January 2010 ……. Ironic thou, I feel its just a way of nature telling me not to forget the important things in life.

Things rub off on us at all times… Try being influenced by the good.

Good Luck.

Reflection

Reflection is not something we tend to do very often. Mostly time is just not enough. We wish the day had 30 hours, and years had 500 days and with all this we would still age at half the rate that we do now…Probably add lesser pull of gravity to that list J
Do this for me… try it… just relax in your chair. Forget everything and resist the existence of everything around you. Now think about what you wanted to be when you were 3 years old. Work your way up on a approximately 5 year increment basic. This is what my reflection was:

Age
What I wanted to be
4
My Papa
10
Pilot
14
Doctor
16
Engineer
20
Software Engineer
25
HR Professional
33
My Papa

I have come full circle… What about you?
Life is full of surprises. My father comes factory built with faults, and that is what makes him perfect.  I too have my own unique set of faults. I am not perfect. It is really lovely and kind of my wife to think and say that I am a perfect Husband and a great father. But when I reflect on myself I see many improvement areas.
My father is the best example of a father to me. A friend, father, disciplinarian, ideal, angry young man and self less. I wish that if I were to be half a father to my daughter, I “may” be close to father.  Life is funny. You only get one change, unlike the computer games. Wonder what it would be like if there was a cheat code in life. My life revolves around my wife, my daughter and ofcourse my parents.
How I wish to be a baby again in the laps of my parents ( thou I wouldn’t remember anything ) J
Today when I hold my daughter, I feel the strongest sense of satisfaction and a spark of love that I have never felt in my life. A much stronger bond exists between my baby and her mother(my wife) ….now I know the meaning of “The cure to the worst of ailments lies in a mothers hug”.
My reflection made me call my dad and tell him that I love him and no matter how far physically I am from him….He is always a part of me and in my thoughts.
Would appreciate if you share your reflections.

Why should anyone read my blog

So, why should anyone on the WWW read my blog?

They should not. I strongly take a stand on this. No one should be allowed to read my blog. I dont read what I have written, and no one else should be put thru this agony either 😉

Ok, I dont mean that 100% … people should have the free will to read what ever they wish to read. Well, its not my words that are going to make someone free, liberal or unrestricted…that has already been done by other far more competent and thought provoking than I am at the moment. I dont claim to be smart either. People should attest to that. My own words should not be my judge.

Read what you like, write what you like. Feel the freedom. My keyboard is creating alot of issues. Almost like the little red ant buggers 🙂

Shall put up pictures of our beautiful locations today. wait for them.