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Managing a difficult boss

June 27, 2019

10 Year old but still very relevant!

WorkMusings

More often than not when you land up with a difficult boss you want an exit or you build a wall between you and your boss. Well if you like your job and the company, it might make sense to attempt to work around him or her a little bit:-

Prescription
Identify and appreciate your leaders strengths – this is tough since you don’t admire strengths in people you hate. But just intellectually analyse what could be his strength. Maybe at some point in time you will actually believe in them. But even if its an intellectual analysis its good enough. See how that strength might be benefiting the organisation. It might help you later in managing your boss.
Commit yourself to adding value to your leader’s strengths – Assist him in leveraging his strengths. You have to be tactful in this. If the boss is totally selfish you might…

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7 recruiting tips fishing can teach

January 12, 2015

This morning while waiting for a bite at the shore, I was amusing myself with the similarities between fishing and hiring. By fisher-boy-1397436-mthe end of my efforts (which resulted in no catch) it wasn’t just amusing but there was learning that I found reinforcing. Now I am not an accomplished angler but I do hire quite a bit and have had my fair share of hits and misses. Here are a few similarities.

1. When and where to fish – An experienced angler knows where to go fishing when. Which waters will carry what fish and when. What depth to go to. Same goes with hiring. We have to find the right waters for the talent pool. What joy when we occasionally hit upon a school of fish!

2. Motives and the bait – Good anglers keenly observe what fishes get attracted to. Some go for smaller fishes, some for worms, some others are mere curious. Understanding the motives and using suitable baits is important. Same is true for hiring. Understand where the motive of your candidate is and signal the right benefit for them to come on board with you.

3. Line and follow through – Bait may invite a bite but it’s not a catch yet. The line, knot and the technique has to be strong. The entire package and hiring experience has to be strong for the candidate to become a catch including the interview and hiring process.

4. Release and reload – Sometimes quite unlike fishing where ‘a catch is a catch’. If you are not satisfied with the fish you catch, you must release and reload. Sometimes you may have to make do with your catch because you want to get back to other things. Hiring decisions are not very different. We make the same choices. Most of us are dressed differently though.

5. It’s a game of patience – If you are hiring for the right talent, like fishing, you have to learn to be patient and persistent. I know of highly reputed companies who wait for months for the right talent. Probably many go fishing.

6. Tackle with tact – the angler is prepared for things turning out differently. He is not shy of using different lures and baits if the planned approach does not work. He will improvise as per the conditions. The astute recruiter doesn’t stop with one approach if it doesn’t work.

7. Its enjoyable – Anglers love their fishing trips irrespective of the result. Sure they feel disappointed but they go back at it again looking for a bigger, different fish. Apart from the desire to be successful they also enjoy the experience. It’s similar for the seasoned recruiters – they just enjoy the experience of looking out for the right candidate and the sea of prospective talents to search through. They enjoy their quest much like the angler enjoys his.

Happy recruiting!

Telecommuter tips: 5 dos and dont’s for working parents with toddlers

December 30, 2014

Working from home is different. Now before you say “duh, obviously!” let me accept that obviously it’s different from working in office but what I want to point out is its very different from working occasionally (or off office hours) from home, specially if you are doing this to oversee an infant child or toddler as a parent over a longish period. Lack of discipline, that didn’t matter earlier, will magnify the problems that you want to attend to by working from home.

I have been doing this now for over a year for at least 2 days every week, while I shuttle between two cities for work. Here are a few must dos and dont’s:

1. Set clear work timings at home even if you have flexible timings at office. Let your colleagues and family know about this. If you have a working spouse, it’s all the more important since she/he will plan their day based on you. You are likely to be more productive from home (unless you are the extinct sort who is not answerable at work or gets distracted by the temptation of watching TV all day), so plan work within fixed timelines. When you are working, you are working. When you are not you are not.

2. Don’t try to manage your kid and work simultaneously when the nanny doesn’t turn up. You are better off taking time off from work and focussing at the needs of your child. On most occasions you can work different hours to catch up on the work later. I have goofed up on this a few times and only been remorseful for getting irritated and angry with my child (ashamedly, I was not angry or irritated with my work!). In any case you won’t be able to focus on work. It’s a lose – lose game trying to be a superhero. The kind who get to multitask everything perfectly exist in ads alone.

3. Work from a space where you don’t get disturbed by your child when you are working and the child can’t see you all the time. It’s good for you both. It’s the same with your spouse and other family members. My daughter who is less than 2 years old reluctantly accepts to let me be alone when her nanny is around. But she gets very demanding when the nanny leaves because she believes it’s her time with me now. On the other hand I have to explain the same concept repeatedly to my wife 🙂

4. Take breaks to check on your child. Breaks will help you be more at peace now that you have checked on your kid. Short breaks are also important when you work for frequent long periods from home as it can be very exhausting working from a confined place alone. If you are the control-freak kinds, try using a nanny cam. I found some good affordable options with Dlink. You can hook them up on Internet and access the live video footage from anywhere in the world.

5. Make space for exceptions to the above when left with no options. Learn to improvise. Distractions that will keep your child busy for sometime should be top-of-the-mind recall and a loving neighbour or aunt should be on speed dial!

It’s not going to be perfect but the above has helped me reduce my pains. Happy telecommuting! Happy parenting!

Social Media and HR in India

November 20, 2010

I see a lot of value in social media for organisations and for individuals. For me social media has filled in a social gap that had formed with the new age corporations coming in place and with people being sucked away from their familiar social environments in search for better jobs etc. Social media brought you back in to that network. Thats why it was such a big hit.

I have been wanting to use this tool in my organisation for 3-4 years now particularly for knowledge management, collaboration and engagement. So far I have got a few eager ears but not much interest and excitement. And yet during the same time I have seen organisations embrace it and be quite excited about it. So today when there were speakers on this subject at the Chennai SHRM learning forum meeting I decided I should discover. Interesting sessions by the way, particularly Kiruba Shankar. You can see what he does by clicking here

I later on did some good old google research on the scope of social media and whether all this hype that is now being formed around it is really worth it. Realities don’t deserve the hype as is often the case. Its often a mixture of fad and fact. Various research indicate that the internet penetration in India stands at about 6-7% of the population. Thats about 71 million users. Now this figure includes people who access internet at least once every month! I would therefore assume that a significant chunk of this number are not serious internet browsers. Of these users about 13 million people use facebook. These are the set of people who use social media and are likely to be the serious web 2 netizens. Thats about 1% of the population. About 50% of facebook users are below the age of 24. In US, on the other hand, the average facebook age is about 38 years (Surprised?). Incidentally there is a very fast growth reported in the above 35 yrs segment in India as well.

A total of approximately 520 million people are employed in India. Of this population about 50 million alone would be employed in the organised sector. At least 50% of the facebook users in India would be in the employable ages and of these most would be joining the organised sector. Thats an estimated 5-7 million users out of 50-60 million in organised sector. I could be off the mark here in terms of accuracy but assuming that the above figures are indicative, we have nearly 10% of the workforce in the organised sector active on social media. Users on social media are actually growing so this makes a lot of sense now for organisations to consider how they can use social media to manage their human resources.

So is this sufficient for the hype? I don’t think so. I think organisations still need to see their internal demographics and geographical spread before looking into using social media to better manage their employees. Social media used for employer branding and hiring is another thought out decision based on where the target segment lies.  Jumping on to the social media bandwagon without a cultural understanding of the organisation is likely to bomb the project. Its only another communication channel to reach out to your target segment.

Start as you mean to go on

July 5, 2010

Leadership is a vast topic, much researched and also somewhat understood. I have much more to learn than what I have understood. When you look at leadership in its entire comprehensiveness, it’s a difficult topic to write on for two reasons. One is of course that you can not squeeze it in 500 words but the other, as in my case, is that one feels diminutive amidst its vastness. So I was thinking how to approach this without making it sound like a textbook (I was asked to write a piece for a newsletter). Then while I was listening to a song from Coldplay called “A rush of blood to the head”, I came across an old British expression ‘Start as you mean to go on.’ Now before you associate rock music with leadership, let me clarify that the song of course has nothing to do with HR or leadership but this expression ‘Start as you mean to go on’ really summarises an important aspect of leadership in today’s context.

Recession has hit many companies and put severe demands on the leadership at various levels in the company. Tough decisions might have been made by some leaders. Other leaders would have had to lead the survivors through difficult times. Even though we might have turned the corner, the memories of the recent past don’t fade away so easily. Each of us carries the burden of this past as a collar around our necks. Most of us would be leading some teams or people in our teams and we are responsible for the leadership that we can provide in our teams. These weighty collars of the past make our shoulders droop and with droopy shoulders we can not lead our teams.

The important aspect for leaders to focus on now is to break away from this collar and run, enthuse and excite ourselves into running teams as how you would wish they were run. That is the essence of the expression ‘Start as you mean to go on’. Leaders should consider that they have already reached where they wish to be and use that enthusiastic spirit to start your team work today. I have seen that this builds resilience within yourself and within your team and when you break out, you run faster than others towards your goal. It’s important for leaders to give themselves these placebo injections of positivism if need be.

And where we don’t lead teams, we still lead ourselves. Here too it’s important to think of your desired state of happiness and fulfilment and act in the present with the awareness of that desired state being already there or just around the corner. It’s important to believe in your success.

It is not at all easy for recession hit teams to feel the positivism again but let’s vow to get back to office tomorrow and lead our teams out of the weights of the past. Let’s huddle together to do our bits to lead and start as we mean to go on!

Start as you mean to go on

July 5, 2010

Leadership is a vast topic, much researched and also somewhat understood. I have much more to learn than what I have understood. When you look at leadership in its entire comprehensiveness, it’s a difficult topic to write on for two reasons. One is of course that you can not squeeze it in 500 words but the other, as in my case, is that one feels diminutive amidst its vastness. So I was thinking how to approach this without making it sound like a textbook (I was asked to write a piece for a newsletter). Then while I was listening to a song from Coldplay called “A rush of blood to the head”, I came across an old British expression ‘Start as you mean to go on.’ Now before you associate rock music with leadership, let me clarify that the song of course has nothing to do with HR or leadership but this expression ‘Start as you mean to go on’ really summarises an important aspect of leadership in today’s context.

Recession has hit many companies and put severe demands on the leadership at various levels in the company. Tough decisions might have been made by some leaders. Other leaders would have had to lead the survivors through difficult times. Even though we might have turned the corner, the memories of the recent past don’t fade away so easily. Each of us carries the burden of this past as a collar around our necks. Most of us would be leading some teams or people in our teams and we are responsible for the leadership that we can provide in our teams. These weighty collars of the past make our shoulders droop and with droopy shoulders we can not lead our teams.

The important aspect for leaders to focus on now is to break away from this collar and run, enthuse and excite ourselves into running teams as how you would wish they were run. That is the essence of the expression ‘Start as you mean to go on’. Leaders should consider that they have already reached where they wish to be and use that enthusiastic spirit to start your team work today. I have seen that this builds resilience within yourself and within your team and when you break out, you run faster than others towards your goal. It’s important for leaders to give themselves these placebo injections of positivism if need be.

And where we don’t lead teams, we still lead ourselves. Here too it’s important to think of your desired state of happiness and fulfilment and act in the present with the awareness of that desired state being already there or just around the corner. It’s important to believe in your success.

It is not at all easy for recession hit teams to feel the positivism again but let’s vow to get back to office tomorrow and lead our teams out of the weights of the past. Let’s huddle together to do our bits to lead and start as we mean to go on!

tags [leadership, recession, leaders]

The Workplace Volte Face

June 7, 2010

Its amazing learning what recession has done to the workplace and the learning keeps growing everyday. Again nothing surprising but definitely helps in a deeper understanding of organisations way beyond what textbooks prescribe.

Pre recession there was this optimism baloon in which most organisations and its people were floating blissfully. Not to say there were no challenges. But there was optimism around and that helped in a way to address these challenges. But then this post is not about the challenges really. Its about the changing perceptions at workplace.

Supply demand favoured employees. There were more options for employees and employee behaviour often tended to become arrogant. Quite justified too as most were coming out of years of restrictions on their lives. It was a freedom that many were looking forward to after putting a lot of hardwork in the past. True some were arrogant to have more faith in their abilities than perhaps correct. Employers on the other hand would go to large extents to satisfy some of this arrogance.

Post recession, most employers would tend to agree that its much easier managing people’s expectations now than it was before. Employees have become a lot more tolerant as the supply demand swings around to favour employers. Employers are more cautious about deviating from policies for employees. We suddenly read more about no star policies, horizontal versus vertical structures etc.

HR is not independent of business, and economy shapes your HR spend be it in the form of budgets, headcounts, layoffs etc. However there is a part of me that wishes organisations could be more consistent in their approach and go back to their core values to guide them whether in high or in a low. I attempt to tread the path with this thought as a guide and I truly admire organisations who demonstrate this consistency.

There is a learning for us employees too to be a tolerant and to demonstrate some patience, especially Gen Y, who are really the apple of all eyes, but also a little wobbly because of the choices available for them today.