Monday, 30 November 2015

Recipe for Success

Planning for evening snacks is a Herculean task. 

No. Don't you laugh. 

One who has done it or is doing it will fully empathize with me. 

My daughter has her own demands. My husband has his own tastes and preferences and I have my own set of  likes and dislikes.  

Apart from  dishes of ones own choice, there are a few common factors for the finger food and nibbles. 

One - it should be light so that you do not feel too full during dinner. 

Two - It should be healthy

Three - it should be rustled up in a jiffy 

I have tried using a roster plan where I write down what all I will prepare for the 7 days in a week. But after a while it becomes a tad too boring. Another demerit is that then the joy of cooking is lost and it becomes a very mechanical task. Also, the  innovation aspect takes a back foot.

I find cooking very relaxing. After a stressful work day, when I go into the kitchen and cook something delightful, it soothes my senses.

But, again, as I mentioned, it is a very difficult task. 

Let me give you an example. 

Suppose, I want to prepare sprout salad . So , I sequence my actions . Tiny chopped onions, garlic, a little bit of ginger, fresh coriander leaves and a few chili pieces. I saute these ingredients and put the sprouts in it , sprinkle salt and roasted spices on it.  

A few drops of lemon juice on top and ahh.... heaven ... ! 

Fresh, healthy and easy .... !

Yes, the execution is easy but just a moment ..... 

Had I not planned a day in advance that I have to soak the brown gram and the moong beans (green gram) and had I not strategized that this recipe will fulfill the needs of everybody in the family, I would not have been successful. 

In the same way, at work, planning and strategy are two most important  things that we have to do for being successful at any task.  

If we have to create a software application, we have to ask :

What is the purpose of the application ?
What do the users want
What are the common factors which is important to all the stakeholders?
What are the critical success factors ?

The answers to the above questions will help us create the strategy

Then we have to plan. 

What should be the milestones ?
What will be the sequence of the tasks ?
Who will do it ?
How will it be done ? What will be the design ?
Who and how will it be tested to check if all the requirements are met ?

And so on ....

Once these are done, then coding is the easiest part And we enjoy the work since everything works as per the plan ! 

Easy and fun ...just like rustling up the the sprout salad !

In my long years of experience, I find the organizations teams lacking in planning and strategizing. And even if they do, they do not spend the requisite amount of time and effort on these. 

We quickly want to start the implementation . 

The result ?

Delay in delivery, expectation mismatch of the stakeholders and lots of time , effort and money spent on rework. 

Just like serving poor quality evening snacks !

Cheers !

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Tips for creating outstanding Meeting Notes

I  must confess that in certain matters I am very conventional. 

I still prefer my good old notebook over a laptop for writing meeting notes.  

Nowadays the trend is to carry laptops or tablets and sometimes even a recorder (if permitted) for meetings.  

A few days back, I read a very interesting article on what you miss when you take notes on your laptop

The article was mainly for classroom lectures where one  group of students were asked to take notes on their laptop and another group in their notebooks.  Afterwards , there was a test on the lecture where the questions were a mix of  factual-recall based as well as conceptual-application questions.  

The test marks varied widely for the two groups. 

It was found out that the group which took long hand notes scored significantly better in the conceptual questions as well as factual ones.  

The group which took notes using laptops had long transcription like notes which was almost "verbatim" of whatever the lecturer spoke.  They failed to get the essence of the lecture. The electronic note takers had the tendency to write more and mindlessly transcribing the content. This led to "impaired learning". 

This made me thinking. 

Does this apply to taking meeting notes as well ? 

Hmm... not exactly but maybe partly. Let me explain. 

In one of my previous organization, just like instant coffee, we produced "Instant MOM (Minutes of the Meeting)" !  That was really a productivity enhancer, since the MOM was mailed to all the participants as well as other intended people.  If it was a customer meeting,  we gave them hard copies of the MOM as well. And boy ! They were impressed ! 

For this , we had a scribe who apart from being knowledgeable about the meeting agenda , had good typing speed as well. Mostly the scribe wrote verbatim and within a few minutes of the meeting conclusion, it was reviewed by another participant who checked mainly on the essence and the concepts , if missed out by the scribe . 

Well, this works well if the scribe is very well trained and experienced .  

If not, then it is best to carry on with traditional notebook , because apart from the spoken words, what is more important, specially for crucial client meetings - where negotiation or business deals are decided, are the body language, the pitch and tone of the voice,  the questions being asked and to whom it is directed to and all such non verbal and implicit things which should be observed during the meeting. 

A few other tips : 

  • Record your meeting summaries in a different color or draw a box around them so that you can easily find them months later.
  • Finish your notes by summarizing anything important that happened and put this summary at the end of your notes. For some meetings, the summary will be  very short.
  •  Engage your eyes and ears, and jot down the to-dos, decisions, and information that needs to be captured. When you type in your notes later, that’s when you organize. 
  • Group action items together, decisions together, and reference information together. Now you can easily refer to the meeting’s key outcomes.
  • You can buy special pens and paper that record your notes as an image, import them into your computer, and recognize your handwriting so you can search your notes.
Cheers !

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Jab we Met ... 69-76 Batch , Sainik School Tilaiya

This blog post has been written by Suchitto Kumar Das for his friend Ajit , who could not attend the Alumni Meet of the Sainik School Tilaiya, 69 - 76 batch. 

The venue of the meet was at their school : Sainik School Tilaiya, Jharkhand. Many of the class mates met after 39 years . 

5th Nov 2015
My dear Ajit,

 This is for you.

Let me begin with a disclaimer: I am extremely poor while describing emotions and other such non tangibles. So my narrative will probably be too factual and therefore dry for your tastes, nevertheless I felt that we owe it to you to give a detailed blow by blow account of the two days we spent in SST.

When my wife and I arrived in the school at about 8pm on the 31st, Ramnath , Sanjay 478, Vijay 535, Singhasan, Jaishankar, Sunil Singh (with their wives) Anil, Shivanand, YN, , Salil and Pramod were already there. On arrival we registered with the hostel supdt. And were given a kit containing 2 T shirts, a tie and the momento. People with their wives were given a room each in the guest houses spread out in the campus. The forced bachelors stayed in one of the dormitories We then gathered in a hall adjoining the tennis court/ Basketball court which used to be in front of  Mr. Farooqui’s house behind the Principals residence in our time. I remember Col. Satsangi and his wife singing Waqt ne kiya kya hasin sitam there once during an open air function with senior students.

There was lot of hugging and back slapping with long lost classmates over drinks and snacks. After some time, the principal, registrar and the headmaster also joined us.  Ramnath then took the mike and invited us to speak. Some of us and our wives spoke. Led by Ramnath, we waited  for the Ranchi party to arrive. Meanwhile the Principal gave a longish speech while making a pitch for acquiring a water filtration plant for the students partly with our contribution.

Meanwhile, people from Ranchi, Niranjan, Prabhas, Rangnath, Ramesh, Vyomkesh, Virendra Bhagat, Ashok Sahu and others arrived at about 11PM. The speeches and drinks continued till midnight.

 The dinner was called at 12 O clock at night. We had food in the Junior’s dining hall. The staff was nice enough not only to keep aside food for us but they even warmed it at that late hour. There was high drama after dinner. It was drizzling and none of us except Ramnath and YN was familiar with the general layout of the school which has changed completely from the days we were there. Group of forced bachelors had moved to the hostel where they were supposed to stay. Ladies had finished their food a little earlier and they were waiting in another wing. Somebody was not able to locate his wife and in desperation he ran around all over the campus in the rain. Somebody managed to misplace his car keys with his luggage locked inside the boot and another one was simply unable to locate the room he had been allotted. The confusion added to the fun we were already having. It also reminded me to find my bearings with respect to the old layout of the school as soon as possible. I will write about the changes in the physical infrastructure of the school later.

Things settled down only around 2.30 am in the morning when everybody was able to locate his/her spouse, car, driver, luggage et al. Meanwhile, the bachelors in the hostel had a good time chatting and pulling each other’s legs till 3 in the morning.

 Inspite of the late night, almost everybody was up early the next morning. We went for breakfast and waited for Shyam Mohan Murari, Sanjay Jha, Ravi Kishore, Shyam Kishore, Mukund and Arvind 490 to join us, which they did by about 10. All of us changed into the maroon T shirt arranged by Ravi Kishore. Apart from the emotional dividend, in terms of bonding the T shirt was very useful in identifying the batchmates from a distance throughout the day.

All of us then moved to Capt. Manoj Auditorium (named after our 500), where boys from classes XI and XII had gathered. After a very inspiring round of oath taking and a prayer song, began the speeches compeered by Ramnath. Almost all of us spoke for a minute or two each. All of us were obviously emotionally charged to have a get together after such a long gap. Some spoke very well, some fumbled a little and some like me mumbled incoherently. But everybody was very upbeat about the future of the school and its students. What struck me most about our batchmates is that almost everybody was proud of the achievements of his children. This is no mean achievement and many of us did attribute this to the values imbibed by us in school and our success in passing them on to our progenies. Meanwhile, Philip landed up in the auditorium straight from Ahmedabad via Ranchi. Suddenly, he appeared on the podium in his suit and tie. Many of us took some time to recognize him till he started speaking and the penny dropped. He, of course changed into the T shirt in no time and quickly immersed himself in the landscape of the bon homie.

 The principal and the headmaster also spoke. The headmaster, a strapping young Squadron Ldr.,  was particularly expansive about the giant strides the school has made in the academic sphere. He said that in 2015, there were 20 students who had secured more than 90% in CBSE exam and apart from making it to NDA, a large number of students had also made past the IIT JEE Mains. It was vacation time, but Class XI and XII students had stayed back for special classes and the headmaster said that he wanted to raise the academic standards so high that no Tilaiyan would need to go to Kota for IIT coaching. If even a part of it is true, it would be good for the students because I have always felt that in our times emphasis on academics was relatively less probably because of the overwhelming importance of NDA. I have always maintained that those among  us who did not go to NDA were probably not fully prepared either for life outside the school or for alternative careers.

Two of the ladies, Mrs. Murari and my wife Ananya also spoke on the occasion. Mrs. Murari recounted her visit to school immediately after her wedding. She said that the fact that Shyam Mohan took her to school instead of to one of the usual honeymoon locations showed his feelings and respect for the school. She also reminisced that the reception she received from the people in school befitted the one reserved for a new bride in one’s family. Ananya said that in the early days of our marriage she found it a little strange that I would mostly talk about my school and not about my college days, but then she understood that I was much more attached to my school than to my college even though the latter was much better known and more prestigious. I remember that even though I had lot more independence in College and life was more interesting in Delhi than it could possibly have been in Tilaiya, I yearned for my school days till much after I left school. In fact, I continued to live my days in school through my dreams almost all through my stay in college. Ananya also said that she was grateful to the school for having given her a husband who is respectful towards women and otherwise a good human being. This open praise by my wife made me vulnerable to a lot of good natured leg pulling later by my dear friends. 

We left the Auditorium (Assembly Hall for us) at 1245 and went to the staff room for snacks. The entire administrative block, the class rooms and the other adjoining buildings look quite impressive. They have been constructed in the land between the erstwhile administrative gate and the road to the dam, opposite the lock factory if you remember. The lobby of the administrative block has huge boards containing the names and school numbers of all those who have made it to NDA since 1963. There were some inaccuracies like Uday Shankar’s name was missing and Pramod’s school number was wrong. Nonetheless it is a commendable effort to remember and honour those who fulfilled the school’s stated mission. Principal promised to rectify all inaccuracies as soon as they are brought to his attention.

Led by Ramnath, we then went in the school bus to meet Mr. M Sharma, our maths teacher. He has started a residential school for small children on a piece of land located on the other side of the road from Urwan More to Dam opposite the Dhobi Ghat Corner of SST. He is 89 and though a bit frail physically looked  fairly agile mentally. All of us including all the ladies touched his feet and took his blessings. We presented him with a shawl.

We came back for lunch to school. We had lunch and then some of us went looking for the old landmarks. We entered the old campus near the hillock behind the dining hall which you were enquiring about. We made our way through the road between the MI Room and the Isolation ward and turned right towards U Kumar’s and HSPd’s house. New MI Room has come up in the house of U. Kumar. The old houses  are still there and we could identify M/S RC Sharma, RD Singh, Moinuddin, MN Jha’s house. The main passage to the old Dining Hall adjoining HS Pd’s house is almost nonexistent with some construction and some vegetation blocking it completely. Similarly, near Mr. RD Singh’s house, passage from the road to the back of Magadh house through its lawns was also blocked. Same with the passage to Maurya. In fact, we had to walk all the way to the gate and skirt Vikram House from the back. Vikram House lies completely abandoned with doors and windows barred and its dilapidated insides partially visible from outside. We entered Vaishali house from a door which has been created on the wall abutting the road outside. This building has been converted partially into a cafeteria and I am told is run by Moti’s family. Kitchen of the cafeteria is where the bathrooms used to be.

The passage between Magadh and Vaishali has been widened. Magadh, Mithila, Nalanda and Maurya have been converted into what somebody from school referred to as the holding area  for class VI. It seems the menace of ragging has afflicted our school also. In the main hostel building,  large posters advising students against ragging have been put up by the administration. Each of these houses has about 25-30 beds. The tall wooden lockers which used to be fixed on one wall have been replaced by steel cupboards/lockers. Beds and mattresses looked much better than what we slept on. Toilets for all the four houses have been shifted outside to a common area. After a tour of the old hostels and the roads, the unanimous opinion was all roads and buildings looked much smaller now than what we remembered them to be from 1976.

We then went to the Dam in the school bus. Some of us and their wives went on  boats in the dam waters for about half an hour. You must have seen the pictures. One thought that occurred to some of us is that we don’t remember doing any boating in the dam during our school days.

Some of us also went up the hill to the DVC Circuit House on the top. It is still the same. No additional structures seem to have been constructed in the last 50 years.

We came back to the school and went for tea and snacks to the area near the basket ball court and the handball court. Play grounds are in front of this area. A new squash court and a gym has come up where we had the swimming pool. Play grounds have been provided with cemented seating arrangements like in a stadium. A permanent shed with seating arrangement has been made where the teachers and students used to sit while watching cricket and athletics. Football goalposts have been placed perpendicular to the direction they were placed in our time. The football ground at the lower level at the far end still exists in the same form as it used to. Headmaster’s house is at the same place. The road that we used to travel between our houses/classrooms to the playgrounds is still there but is closed to the students because the old classrooms have been converted to staff quarters.

Almost all new important buildings like the boys’hostel, dining hall, class rooms, auditorium and the administrative block have come up beyond the boundaries of the old school. These buildings have been constructed on the land between the old boundary of the school and the road to the Dam. Somebody must have acquired that land for the school in the subsequent years. Now there is a single building which houses the entire hostel complex and is connected to the dining halls. Modern multistoried flats have been constructed for teachers near the hillock you were looking for. The road along the school boundary from the hostel gate to the gate near the office has now become the main thoroughfare inside the school. I could not see the old assembly hall, staff room and the library or the boxing ring and the ground surrounding it. Many of these buildings seemed inaccessible to us. The old access routes may have changed to such an extent that we could not reach them. We could only see the back of the science block and the physics and chemistry lecture theatres.

In the map Red is NOW and Black is as it used to be in 1969-76

We gathered at the tennis court again in the evening at 7.30. The hostel superintendent proposed a game of Antakshari between the ladies and the gents. From our side, Niranjan was the star of the show, ever ready with the appropriate song, so much so that the referee banned him temporarily so that others could also get a chance. After the Antakshari, Shivanand, Madan Mohan and my wife and I sang a few songs. The grand finale to the cultural evening was, of course, the spirited performance by Sanjay jha which got many of us on the dance floor. He sang Dumadam mast qalander with gusto.

Since many of us were preparing to leave, dinner was called at 9.30. We had very good food at the tennis court. 

People then started leaving with smile on their faces which scarcely hid the tears in their eyes and the pain in their hearts at having to part again.

This, then is a chronological log of our activities during the two most wonderful days of our lives.

You will appreciate that the entire narrative is a first person account written from my perspective. It may not be totally accurate as the time was too short to absorb everything that was on offer. Others may have more to add to this or may even correct me if I am wrong. Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.



Friday, 30 October 2015

Moment of Truth

In 1982, Jan Carlson had just been named the CEO of Scandinavian Airlines. 
His company was in trouble.  They had just been ranked by a consumer poll as the worst airline in the worldLast in service, last in dependability, and last in profits as a percentage of sales. 
Yet one year later, in the same poll, they were ranked number one in all three categories. What happened?
Carlson had decided to focus on what he thought was the most critical issue...serving the customer. He wanted to keep it simple: Identify every contact between the customer and the employee, and treat that contact as..."a moment of truth."
He set out to let his people know the importance of that moment...the captain, the ticket agent, the baggage handler, the flight attendant.
"Every moment, every contact," he said, "must be as pleasant, and as memorable as possible."
He figured that he had approximately ten million customers each year, and on average each customer made contact with five of his people for approximately fifteen seconds apiece. Therefore, in his mind, these fifty million contacts, fifteen seconds at a time, would determine the fate of his company.
He set out to share his vision with his twenty thousand employees. 
He knew the key was to empower the front line.  
Let them make the decision and take action, because they were Scandinavian Airlines during those fifteen seconds. He now had twenty thousand people who were energized and ready to go because they were focused on one very important thing...making every moment count.
"A leader's job is to look into the future and see the organization,
not as it is, but as it should be."
 -- Jack Welch
Excerpt from: "You Can't Send a Duck to Eagle School" 
-- by Mac Anderson

Monday, 19 October 2015

What happens after the Job Interview

Dear Readers, 

I have talked  a lot about Job interviews in my earlier posts -  My Three Interview Questions (Click here) and  Common Interview Questions (Click here)

In this post , I will write about the crucial activities and decisions after interviewing a candidate and issuing the offer letter.  

This post is mainly for people who make the hiring decision.

So, the interview is over and the candidate has been selected by the  technical Interview Panel as well as the HR panel.  The candidate has provided reference contact numbers , scanned copies of his pay slips for the last 3 months. 

For crucial positions , it is mandatory to do reference checks diligently. While reference checking, it is advisable to check with the candidate's immediate supervisor. Apart from the technical abilities, s/he can give important inputs about the personality, teaming and other softer aspects which are very important for the person to gel in the culture of the organization

Sometimes , while reference checking,  the HR will understand that the former employer of the candidate is holding back something.  To address the same , a question can be asked like this . 

"X will be holding a very crucial role in the organization. Can you point out certain areas where he should be provided support or training ? " ... and you bet you will get an answer which will hold the clue  ! 

If you get a poor reference from one, check with other references which the candidate has provided.  Sometime, previous employers give poor feedback due to some personal conflict or exceptional events.  So, talk to a couple of references before you come to a conclusion. 

Three points to avoid : 

1.  As I have written in a previous post (click on links in the first line of this post) Appearance is important but do not get too biased about this while comparing candidates.  Emphasize on the appearance but do not Over emphasize.

2.   Beware of the "Halo Effect" : If the candidate is a reference from a very senior person in the organization or if s/he has done exceptionally well in a part of the tests or any such things, do not let it affect the overall decision making process to lean towards the candidate. Judge him without bias and without the "Halo".

3.  Similarity with you : If the candidate has similar interests, same school, same hometown etc., you might get leaned towards him . Let reason prevail and do not succumb to this. 

And then the most important part : Making the offer and finalizing the Salary !


You have already asked for the salary expectation from the candidate.  And you also have a certain range in mind which fits in with the salary structure of the organization for the vacant position. 

A few important things to keep in mind : 

  • Do not make any offer which will destroy the balance in the team/organization.  Yes, the position might be very crucial but if the offered salary is way above the employees doing similar work, then there eventually will be dissatisfaction in the team leading to attrition, conflict and disharmony.

  • We should not go beyond 20 - 25 % hike based on the salary history of the candidate. Yes, exceptions will be there when we might have to bring up the salary level of the candidate upto the organizations standard, but not otherwise.  Another exception might be the skill or capability of a candidate which is not there in the organization

  • Remember that salary is not the only thing. There are other aspects like leave policy, bonus or retention scheme, flexi hours and other benefits which should be highlighted while communicating with the candidate. 

  • Do not under estimate the power of the grapevine ... So do not communicate anything saying "please do not disclose ... "

  • Do not make verbal promises . Put it is in writing in some way or the other. 

So, the negotiations, agreements communications are done and job offer has been made.  After a few days or maybe 1-2 weeks before the joining date, the candidate calls up and says that his organization has made a counter offer and increased his salary so he cannot join or can join only if you increase the salary. 

Never ever go back to amend the offer again. 

Either the candidate is fooling you and does not want to join. Or he is plain and simple greedy and wants to maximize his change. Even if his organization has truly made a counter offer, he should understand that his skills are needed only "now".  Usually in such situations , once the need is over, a replacement/backup is identified to mitigate the risk of the candidate leaving.  

And of course , during the usual  annual hike , the candidate will be told that since his salary has been increased out of turn, his increment has been "adjusted " !! 

Lastly, it is a good practice to inform the "rejected " candidates that the position has been filled up.  

This shows the professionalism of the organization. 

Friday, 16 October 2015

Waiting for the Almonds ?

A squirrel joined the service of Lion, the King of the Forest.

He did whatever work was given him, quickly and well. The lion became fond of him and promised to give him a cart full of almonds as pension when he retired.

The squirrel envied the other squirrels in the forest because of their carefree life. He longed to run up and down trees and leap from branch to branch like them but he could not leave the king's side and even if he could he had to move with courtly dignity. 

He consoled himself with the thought that at the end of his career, he would receive a cart full of almonds, a food that few squirrels got to taste in their lifetime.

"They will envy me then," he would tell himself.

The years passed. The squirrel became old and then it was time for him to retire. 

The king gave a grand banquet in his honor and at the end of it, presented him with a cart full of almonds as he had promised.

The squirrel had waited so long for this day but when he saw the almonds, he was seized with sadness. 

He realized they were of no use to him now. He had lost all his teeth.

Moral : 

Enjoy every moment. Remember that the journey is as important as the destination

Thursday, 17 September 2015

The Most Powerful Mantra for Achieving your Goal

One of the definition of Success is achievement of an action within a specified period of time or within a specified parameter. 

Success also means completing an objective or reaching a goal. 

I am often asked  about achieving goals . 

"Ananya, I make several plans , I know my goal, but somewhere down the line , things seem to fizzle out . I lose track of things, the vision of my goal becomes blurred . When this happens, I start getting demotivated . And finally , I give up .... !  What should I do ?? "

All of us have some goal or the other. One person might have a goal of achieving the highest rung in the organization, another person's goal can be to complete his/her Ph.D  and yet another one may have a goal

to become rich.  I can dream of becoming a world famous author one day and my friend can have a goal to lose 10 Kg weight.

Whatever it is, goals are important for the individual. And having a goal is very important. Goals helps us to create a purpose. Goals help us to move forward. It inspires us, it creates a zeal for life. 

But the million dollar question is, How do we achieve our Goals without being waylaid ?

If you search on the net, you will find several tips, advice , articles on this topic. 

But , according to me , the most powerful Mantra for achieving your goal is daily ritual . 

Let me elaborate. 

Suppose , my goal is to compete in a Marathon Race next year.  I will plan for my exercizes, food, workouts etc.  I know that everyday I have to do 1 hour of running , eat a particular no. of calories etc. 

I am very motivated for 2 weeks and follow these verbatim. But slowly, things start fizzling out. Some days I don't feel like getting up in the morning, some days I binge. 

But, if we include these points as a part of my daily ritual - for example, after getting up in the morning, do we think that today I have to brush my teeth ? No! We go to the washroom and brush our teeth instinctively . 

That is exactly what I mean. 

In the above example, if I start keeping my walking shoes and outfit beside my bed, I will not need to THINK about putting them on.  Once I am ready , I will definitely go for my daily morning run.  Because, it has become a daily ritual for me. 

In the same way, if my goal is to complete a novel within a year,  it should be a part of my daily ritual to sit on my writing desk with my laptop and write. Yes, I agree that some days I will write crap, but I am sure that there will be days when I will be brilliant and my novel will be complete. 

Success does not come easily.  

For succeeding, we have to create positive rituals in our daily routine which will amalgamate with our goals.  And yes, we have to persist on these consistently. 

The 3 P's of of success along with daily rituals are : 

Persistence,  Perseverance , Patience ...

Achieve your goal and see what life has in store for you !!

Thursday, 10 September 2015

7 ways to deal with Mean People

Yesterday I read a very interesting piece in India Today , a leading magazine in India and I wanted to share it with my blog readers. 

It is titled "Our Strange World of Work".  Coming to think of it, the world is comprised of human beings and all of us are different ! This makes management of our workforce quite difficult as we have to deal differently with different people ! Definitely difficult , but inevitably interesting ! 

This different dealing is for everybody ... Team members, colleagues and  supervisors . 

So, how do we behave? Specially with mean and negative people? The following points are helpful. 

1. Insecure - They think that they know everything . They micromanage 
  • If S/he is your boss, keep her updated. Stick to your deadlines and always keep her posted about ALL the risks and issues

2. Liar - Makes Excuses, manipulator 
  • Never ever trust them. Document each and every move to secure yourself.

3. Excluder - They only look for personal gain. If not, you do not exist for them !
  • Try to keep a straight face without showing any emotion. It is better to keep minimum communication

4. Toxic - Backstabber, game player
  • Do not indulge in any gossip with them. Minimum communication.  Do not follow any advice or suggestion from them

5. Screamer - Insults, attention seeking, yells
  • Keep off as much as possible. Do not scream back. But do not let them trample over you.  Talk about any bad behaviour meted towards you as and when it happens

6. Narcissist - Wants everyone to feed their ego
  • Do not show emotion. And no need to feed their ego

7. Incompetent - Takes the credit of the work done by other people

  • Never pass on information directly to them. The information should be fed through neutral sources. 

I am sure you will be able to identify these people at your workplace. So try these out and let me know the results !

And of course , have fun !

Monday, 31 August 2015

When the Stars dim ...

The Senior Manager was intrigued.   During my weekly calls with him, he muttered  "Ananya,  Ruchika wants to switch over from Delivery Operations to HR .... I wonder why ...anyaways ... ". 

He then continued with the rest of the agenda items. 

But my antennae was sharp enough to catch this and I made it a point to talk to Ruchika after a few days.  

Ruchika was one of the best performers in the Operations and Delivery Department.

We sat face to face. She looked a bit tired after the long work day. 

"Hey ! What is the matter ? Are you not well ? "

"No... I am OK... Just a bit tired ... you understand how operations are ... something or the other always cropping up . And the customers have become so demanding ... they want everything ASAP !"

"Hmm ... Ok ... so work is keeping you very busy ... eh ? "

"Yes ... Just that nowadays I do not quite feel enthused about my work .."

"Oh ... why so ... ? " I wanted her to vent out. 

"Well ... so many things ... sometimes at the end of the day , when I ask myself what have I achieved today ... a big question mark comes in my mind ... "

"Really ? You are not enjoying your work ? You are a good performer , you have a lot of experience in this area and I always thought that you are a workaholic  " I smiled at her. 

"Yeah ... but nowadays I do not feel motivated . I think I need a change . I want to apply for the vacancy in the HR department"

"Let me understand it better. The HR role is much below what you are currently doing and the salary too is not at your current level.. and I am not sure that you will like the support role . Line function like in delivery and operation is much more challenging that support functions . So, even if you are placed in the HR role, the chances are that you might not like it after a few weeks or months."

"Hmm .."

"Ruchika ... let us talk more and think deeply... I would like to understand why you are not motivated ? Any particular reason ? " I probed gently.

"Well ... " She hesitated . 

"Yes ... go on ... this conversation will remain confidential ... ".  I worked with the organization as a change agent and a coach. 

"I ... I don't feel that I am adding value ... None of my suggestions are taken and I am not a part of any decision making ..."

The clouds started moving and I saw some light .

I talked to her for about an hour and what surmised is that she was very unhappy and demotivated about the ways of working in her department.  She was given a lot of responsibility without authority.  

She was not made a part of decision making.  When she had joined the organization about 18 months back, she was bubbling with ideas and suggestions. But by and by when her suggestions were not even acknowledged , she just stopped speaking.  Ruchika also talked about not being appreciated but whenever there was any escalation, she would be pointed at. 

Dear leaders and managers, you all must be aware that these are the most common things why an star employee becomes disillusioned and demotivated . And there comes a time , when these people leave.  As the boss , it is your responsibility to get a hang of the pulse of the employee and take necessary action. 

After our 90 minutes of discussion, Ruchika looked fresh. It is very important to listen.  Just lending a patient hearing of the woes works wonders. Listening without being judgmental is a quality which managers should nurture.  

"Ruchika,  I understand. Can I request you something ? I would like you to come up with a descriptive account of what your role should be like. Mark the areas where you think you should be a part of decision making "  .  And thus I continued.... 

I will talk to the department head and do the following :

  • Put authority along with responsibility at the appropriate places
  • Smoothen out the process of working
  • Rewards and recognition - yes it is needed at all levels !
  • Put in a process for suggestion submission and implementation
  • Train the managers on listening skills 

Cheers !