The perception mirage…

2010/02/22

What would others think about me if I do this?

What would my boss think if I go around with a bunch of friends who are not not seen as “potentials”?

How best can I “project” myself to my boss?

What would keep me in the good books of influential people?

At the outset, anyone would say these are questions you should not be asking yourself. But consciously or unconsciously, aren’t these questions we all have asked ourselves and even determined our reactions based on the answers. There are some tips I came across on how to avoid this perception mirage (courtesy M.K.Gandhi) and would like to share them here.

Please don’t do something that would not feel like telling your kids – When you do something, please ask yourself if it is something you would tell your children/grandchildren you did. If you won’t, please do not do it.

Control the space between action and reaction – Pro activity can also be defined as a “reaction” of ours based on specific principles and values we follow that fall into the overall natural laws. At the end of the day, you cannot judge every facet of a situation and keep responses ready for them all. But if you do follow the right set of principles and values, your reactions would always be pro-active.

Do the right things the right way – When you have the habit of doing the right things the right way, your perception need not always be positive. But at the end of the day, I guess we all know that there could and would be perception differences and that not everything would be positive. So, the best way to avoid guilt is not to do something that is “wrong” based on your own principles, which should (and typically would) be derived from principles prescribed as “natural”.

And don’t worry, people would figure you out either way sometime or the other. So do not think too much about how people would perceive you. As long as you know your intentions and actions do not harm anyone, its OK, people who know you, and care for you would forgive you.

PS: As my bio says, I’m a learner, but not the perfect practitioner – though I’m trying my best. So if anyone smiles at my short comings after coming across this post, I have the next post coming. 🙂

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How can you motivate your manager

2010/02/11

We come across numerous articles on how to motivate team members and most of them typically revolve around some of the points listed below:

  • Working with a responsive boss
  • High levels of trust displayed by the direct supervisor
  • Having a proper reward systems in place
  • Interesting and challenging responsibilities
  • Working in a good work environment
  • Being paid on par with the other players in the industry
  • Etc…

A lot of people management training also focuses on many key parameters including some listed above. But at the other side of the spectrum, the manager is a human being too, who needs motivation to perform better and help the team perform better. I guess we all pretty much agree that any human relationship must be a mutually beneficial and conductive engagement, and in my opinion, a supervisor-subordinate relationship is (and should be) no different. As much as it is the responsibility of the manager to motivate team members, there are a few things we can also do to motivate our managers. These are not impossible things to do, but doing these would only keep us in the good books of the manager – without compromising our values that is.

Being a can-do team member – Agreed, it is the responsibility of manager to build a can-do team, but certain times, people are so judgmental that even honest intentions are taken otherwise. If we are approached by our manager for some “challenging assignment”, please understand that he/she has picked us among the lot because we have shown behavioral traits to overcome challenges. There is no reason to cringe additional responsibility, rather we can be proud of the fact that we are the chosen one. Its better to discuss and work around challenges, than being defensive. Honestly, do you believe your manager would respond to you positively if you don’t?

Trusting your manager – Like it or not, believe it or not, your manager has more challenges than you can imagine. Expecting our manager to disclose all information before starting off anything is not feasible. Yes, trust is a mutual thing, but once we see traits of trust in our manager, is it not our responsibility to respond appropriately? Do you expect the manager to unconditionally trust you without reciprocation?

Understanding the reward system and working with it – It is generally not uncommon to crib about the reward system when we see a peer being rewarded and not us. If there is a proper reward system in place, it is better to understand the parameters and work towards them. If we can’t figure it, just ASK!!! It is not right to brand a system/decision biased without understanding it properly.

Taking Initiatives – Responsibility is generally given to people who display traits of handling the the unknown. The best to way to do it is by taking initiatives – I mean “initiating” things on our own and seeing it to completion. Just completing the assigned responsibilities is not the ticket to promotions or bigger things – it just ensures our paycheck.

Not being the negative force of the team – We all want to work in a good, professional work environment. But isn’t the environment is made of & by people who are part of it? What have we done to make the environment better for our part? At least, what have we done to ensure we don’t make it worser? Being a cribber, pretender, back stabber, the greedy goon, the office bully are the best ways to ensure we get noticed for all the wrong reasons. Work life balance is one of the most discussed topics these days, but sometimes I get the feeling that having a good work life balance is all about having the ability to dump work to attend to personal things – please correct me if I’m wrong.

Not expecting unrealistic and undeserved salary hikes – We all need money to survive, but honestly, is that the only reason we work for? If yes, be rest assured that we cannot find peace even if we work for a peace mission. If no, ponder over (and give feedback) on the points suggested above.

This is just a suggestive list and I’m hoping for comments from everyone for a better understanding. And if you feel you perfectly fit the bill and still not getting your due, then the best advice you can get is to dump your current job and move on.

Note: I have a manager too!!


Treks do Teach something

2010/02/04

We completed our third trek in less than 6 months – not bad for a guy who is not even married for 6 months uh? I don’t know when I started to call my travel “treks”, or how I started liking them, but I have always believed in travelling frugal with minimal baggage – including just barely enough clothes, elementary toilet supplies, absolutely no medications, no major planning, and more importantly, just about enough money. I also believed a vacation essentially meant running as far away from civilization as possible – with access to basic human requirements – food, shelter and clothes (but I started longed for a credit card acceptance recently though).

So when I joined a group of people for regular treks, i was neither bowled over or nervous – excited I was though.  Each of the 9 treks I had done were unique in one sense and common in another. Unique because each had unique experiences (of course, why else are there so many places in the world to visit), common because what I saw and you could say “learnt” were pretty much common.

Never try to fight nature

Because you cannot. Simple! Try to be with it. Nature has its laws and we try to continuously break it for our convenience. Just like its natural for you get drenched if you are deep inside a jungle when its raining, its natural to shift according to the calls of natural cycles (like business cycles?). And don’t worry, you will catch a cold or fever only if you move to a warmer place immediately, if you allow the body temperature to shift according to the outside temperature, you should be fine (I’m no doc, but I learnt this the hard way).

Never be scared by things you cannot figure out

If you cannot figure out or see something, what is there in it to be scared? Risk management is a very serious subject, but buffering just for the heck of it saying “we might face something – who knows” is not a good strategy. Either identify them and figure them out, or just ignore them. When we hear strange jungle sounds but cannot see them, we tend to either ignore them or figure them out. Freaking out never helped us. If we know what it was, we sort of know what to do. If we see elephant droppings in millions around us, we do freak out, but never stop walking. Irrespective of what the “risk” is, decide on what you would to face it and move on.

Remember there is only one way – Forward

You might be tired, you might feel like puking or passing off, but you don’t have a choice, just keep moving in the direction the trails take you. Once the focus is set right and goals clearly established, just go for it with whatever you have. There is not bigger motivator for you than yourself. You just cannot turn back once you are committed – what you would loose is much more that way.

Stick together with your herd

Just like elephants do all the time, the best way to survive a three day jungle trek is being with your group unless you are on a tested trail – and let me tell you, trekking is no fun on a tested trail. When you are treading a new path, better stick around with the team. Do yourself a service, please don’t set yourself unrealistic expectations of being an one man army. Such a thing is only fantasy.

Take things as they come

Extension of point 2 – no point guessing what you would see of encounter next. Just move towards the goal as a team and trust your instincts and nature. You would encounter numerous hurdles (whats the fun or better still, “challenge” otherwise), but try to figure them out and move on, you have a better chance of success.

Its OK to follow someone

Yes, individualism is important and thats what keeps a person going and motivated, but honestly its OK to follow someone. If you cannot figure out the trails and someone else can, just follow him/her. You are safer that way. Similarly, if you want to lead, better be sure where you are heading. You might be on the wrong trail, but if you have your fundamentals right, you would reach the right course one way or the other. Get your fundamentals right, you can survive any challenge. Read Gandhi’s autobiography or Steven Covey’s leadership materials to get an understanding of what right fundamentals might mean.

Reserve the biggest celebration only for the ultimate goal

We have gone for binges on the peak only to realize that we cannot cover even a single mile without being dehydrated to death – not literally though. But when we do the binge after reaching safe ground, its not only rewarding, but sometimes we get a feeling the body also easeing out a bit – hallucinations maybe.

Have fun

You might not have water and now know when your next source of water would be, you might have to rely upon energy bars for nutrition (which my mom never allowed me to have more than 1 a day), you might not even have access to an ATM, but as long as you can find fun in what you do, you would not loose it mid way. Just enjoy what you are doing once you are committed, laugh at yourself a bit, don’t be too self conscious – just don’t worry, the world will survive 2012.

Disclaimer: If these sound very similar to the thousands of “leadership” articles you have come across already, I apologize – I read some too.


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