Facebook Fatigue

Selfies

Gorgeously dressed bodies lolling about on beaches, canoodling in night clubs, more selfies

People I remembered as hunks having balding pates and bigger paunches strolling down beaches and puffing up hill

Once hot women trying to look hotter and younger

Ibiza, Shanghai, Scotland, Paris, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Washington, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macha Pichu, New York, Himalayas, Ladakh, Uttaranchal, Uzbekistan, Gobi Dessert, Dubai, Turkey, Afghanistan (yes that too)

Lovey dovey couples striking poses, once-self-proclaimed enemies now bffs

Change the world, stop the war, stop rape, conserve the environment, feed the hungry, liberate the inner child

Sign a petition

Join a movement

Like even if you don’t like to

Comment

Update

even it just means telling the whole world and the Martians (like they care, yes they do exist havent’ you read, really where were you) that you are happy/sad/lonely/hurt/intelligent/bitch/asshole/loaded/mental

that you burnt your biriyani

that you can boil water

that you can cook maggi noodles

that you woke up early to make breakfast for your lovely wife

or you stayed up late to make out with your doofey husband

Ah facebook

life doesn’t exist outside of it

friends don’t exist without it

you fart, you sneeze, you orgasm, you burp, you are alive

Yay facebook

So what happens one fine day when you wake up and see your life has passed you by on facebook

where everybody has travelled everywhere

married

had kids

got divorced

got promotions

lost jobs

lost lives

RIP

RIP facebook

Living

Still Alive

Breathing

Sleeping

Awake

Aware

 

 

 

 

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If only I knew

So this was my first managerial job and I got selected after a heated discussion in which I lost my cool, being the hothead I was. First day on the job I realised I had two senior people to manage along with a fresher and two peers – all of them new to the company just like I was. Intimidating since I knew some of them by reputation and felt these guys probably knew more about the job than I did. A series of high level meetings with managers from other regions and the top honchos left me with a complete understanding of the company’s vision, mission and future road map.

Back at base I called my team together and passed on my company’s mission statement and what our goals were. I made a huge poster and slapped it on the wall for everyone to remember it. I had one-on-one meetings with each team member to understand why they took on their role, what really interested them and tried understanding their motivation. I insisted on the following:

a)Daily brainstorming meetings before we began the day’s work so each member of the team knew what the other was up to

b)The team had to be reachable on phone

c) Work would wind up by 5 every evening

d)I would deal with the top management while the team focused on getting their work done

First month into the job and we were already battle scarred! Two of the team members could barely get along and wanted the same roles & responsibilities. I was busy trying to resolve their conflicts and ensuring the team was on the ball I never got around to interacting with managers and team members from other regions. I was busy ensuring my team had a solid rep that I fought their battles with top management slowly ingraining a Us vs Them culture. I wanted to be their friend resulting in people taking leave quite often and lower productivity. I did not want to get involved in office politics so I seldom met with the administrative or sales staff.

Eight months later I was up to my neck with conflicts within the team; senior members directly interacted with top management and I was given the impression during a review meeting that I did not run a tight ship and a junior team member resigned since the conflicts demotivated her. I quit shortly afterwards, miserable and low on confidence.

Of course, I had several managerial stints later during my career but they were riddled with challenges such as these. Now I only wish I had found a mentor much earlier in my career who would have warned me of the pitfalls of getting too close, too soon; of not interacting with peers in other departments; of not looking for developmental mentors; etc, etc…

Recently, I read Lineback and Hillman’s Being A Boss and it was an eye opener. The book is filled with valuable insights on tips and tricks for first-time managers to practice avoiding the snake pits of a corporate life. The authors recognize the role of the Boss in shaping the outcome of teams and organisations through their power to influence others and using the power of the network to grow.

According to the authors, the three imperatives of Being a Boss:

  • Manage Yourself
  • Manage Your Network
  • Manage Your Team

Hill and Lineback’s model of managing self, network and team is a great way for new managers to break the overwhelming task of management. The purpose of this book is to help a manager understand how to be an instrument to get work done and contribute to the organization. At the core, this book seeks to answer one crucial question: How to Exert Influence?

Influence is at the key of persuading your team to work towards organizational goals or achieving a business outcome. Many managers think their lack of knowledge, experience or skill especially ability to manage time becomes a hindrance to becoming an effective manager.

Imperative One: Learn that management isn’t about getting things done yourself. It’s about accomplishing things through others.

Imperative Two: Understand how power and influence work in your organization and build a network of mutually beneficial relationships to navigate your company’s complex political environment.

Imperative Three: Build a high-performing team out of all the individuals who report to you.

If you are serious about evolving into a good manager from a greenhorn and becoming a great manager who leads through example this is just the book for you.

I only wish I had read this much earlier……

 

Work Ethics

The earliest memories of my demure, 5’4″ mosima (grandmother) are always associated with sunrises, woody smoke, cotton sarees and the fragrance of Charmis cream. 

I’m nearly five I think, my summer holidays have just started and I burrow myself deeper into the thick blanket mosima has wrapped around me.

No books to be bundled inside my canvas bag, no homework to be checked by a hawkish uncle, no poems to be learnt by rote and no tests around the corner.  I will away the chirping of the sparrows, the woody smoke from the kitchen and the  morning light I knew awaited me. The chill of the morning along with the rhythmic snoring of my grandpa was enough to make me glide back to sleep where I knew I would dream of books piled high along with hot samosas and Boost.

But rain or shine, holidays or school my dearest would be up before the cock crowed. Yes, we had roosters at every corner in Bangalore then along with cowsheds. My city was truly a garden city. My road was lined with yellow and orange champa trees, their fragrance intoxicating and heady in summers; gulmohars in resplendent red during the monsoons and always, mosima pottering around the house like a goddess. She was omnipresent.

In the kitchen, making breakfast and packing lunch for a family of 8 that sometimes expanded to 15 and more. In the garden, watering her beloved papayas, pomegranates, banana, jasmine, hibiscus and all the other myriad bushes and trees that dotted our small plot. In the veranda giving a bowl of egg and milk to a stray dog we had adopted. She wasn’t a dog lover but there was just no way she could refuse to care for yet another creature. To her all of God’s creatures were to be loved and nurtured. She would be in the backyard serving coffee to the old lady who helped with cleaning vessels and washing clothes. To the market she would go with her cloth bag and me in tow. At times, I would accompany her on a 6 km hike to our ration shop to buy the monthly groceries of rice, dal, oil, sugar and wheat.

Till the day she was admitted to the hospital where she breathed her last my dearest never wearied of fulfilling her duties to her family, her neighbors and the ones she cared for. 

Always the first one to wake up and the last to sleep. Non-complaining, ever-smiling, quick with a hug and a patient ear. Non-judgmental and driven, to be the best she could for us, her thankless brood. 

Now as I pour over management books and read articles galore I realise my dearest had the traits of a successful entrepreneur and an inspiring leader.

  1. She worked harder than the rest of us, whom she united as family
  2. She never asked but gave willing of herself and commanded us with a gentle smile, never a tear or a threat
  3. She was always willing to give a second chance and yet another chance till proven wrong
  4. She was driven by an inner moral compass and higher principles
  5. She never advised without being sought
  6. She never sat on judgement but stood by your side to pull you up and get you going

As I look around me at  papers piled high, clothes strewn around, empty bottles of water and the clock ticking by I see a sweet lady pick up and arrange with nay, a murmur nor a rebuke.I hear her sing, cook and clean with never a care for her aching body or thankless brood (smaller though it be) and I think to myself, I can’t go wrong. For my mother carries on where mosima left off.

I have a long way to go but I know the work ethics I have imbibed from the women in my family run deep within me.

As I trace my career,  adventures in living, challenges and triumphs I realise it is my mosima I look to for inner strength and retaining my authencity of who I am and being the best I can be; of staying true to myself and bouncing back every time I fall.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be gorgeous, brilliant, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. …As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

 

 

 

 

So what?!

So I find myself becoming a prolific writer. So what?!

So it means..

i’m in my angst mode

i don’t have much to do

i’m introspecting more than i usually do

i think people bother reading what i write

i’m experiencing new situations and finding new solutions

……

actually yes to all of these but there is more…

this fortuitous article seems heaven sent but it got me browsing through the site and a few others i had lost track of. it also got me talking to people around, ‘why do you work for someone, so long when you can work for yourself.’ ‘Why do you work for an org for so many years when you could skip jobs and earn a lot more.’

gratification at seeing the monthly paycheck even if not so many zer0-s as you would like it to have; gratification at not having to beg/borrow/steal/murder for the few rupees that will tide you through the month; gratification that you know the processes and the people and  can steer your way through all the potholes and stink; gratification that you are looked up and not down since you have mastered, well nearly, all that there has to/etc..etc…//YOU GET THE DRIFT

now, what i was also offered were 2 different perspectives:

‘Would you leave your family because you got bored after 2 years? No, you stay on and you learn and you find new things that strengthen the bond. You buy a house, build a fence, plant a garden and whatever else that nurtures the team or rather, we are family spirit. You do the same thing at work. You don’t have a task list that you tick off daily but a slightly bigger picture that tells you what needs to be achieved over 3 months/6 months/whatever works.’

‘You learn all you can in 2 years but after 2 years you apply that learning. You give back, you nurture and you are confident of having mentored/groomed something or someone. Than look around there must be something else within the organisation, perhaps, a different department that has something of interest. Be open and be willing.’

Anecdote: A gentleman has been working with a leading hardware firm for 20 years with the same designation but progressively higher pay (I’m hoping). After 20 years when he was asked he said, ‘I don’t care about the designation it is all that I got to learn and all that i have to learn that motivates me. I find that even after 20 years in this organisation there is still something(s) that can be done better or improvised.’

Hmmmmm… Really…. Wow,  I thought to myself. I googled the gentleman’s name and he is a remarkably prolific patent holder. WOW!!

Tall order indeed.

Now, I have probably read hundreds of articles and self-help books on staying happy and motivated at work to go back to the same office and same faces day in and day out. I’m sure so have you. None of those help (ed) me since I find myself at the crossroads sooner rather than later.

These chance conversations and this write up gave me food for thought.

I realise and finally accept that familiarity is a deal breaker. Perhaps, that is why I stayed on with journalism for more than a decade, which too me is a rather lengthy time. I met new people, explored new topics, mentored and got mentored, probed and analysed…there was always a story around the corner.

Ask yourself, what gets you going…. you will realise you are closer than you think to finding what you want.

 

Neoexistential crisis…huh, what?!

This is truly a first for me.

How much is too much? and When is too much ENOUGH…

I didn’t mean to be cryptic but thought of letting these questions buzzing in my head out there in the open! Now what’s the deal, eh??

Here goes: I finally found a job that I like working in a place I like for a boss I respect with people I share a good rapport with, the usual stuff notwithstanding, and I get paid a decent sum, which maybe indecent by some standards but heh, whose complaining.

So what’s my gripe you ask..

The problem, and don’t laugh here, is I like my job so much that the world outside has ceased to exist. I wake up at 1 in the morning to check my mails. I respond to mails in such a jiffy that at times I do not read the mail through and end up sending addendums. I’m trying to be the go-to person. I alert my boss to whatever I think is important, even if it means calling him at 10 in the evening (yea yea it is night but in my work-filled haze it is but the start of a pleasant evening when I start working on documents and organising my mail).

I volunteer for work outside my defined profile and JD, and at times end up taking on more than I can chew..and boy, believe me, never knew leather was that tuff…ugh!!

Now I find myself unconsciously donning the role of admin assistant (nowhere near my JD), fairy godmother (you get my drift :-(( ), one-woman army (huh, since when) and doormat.

Yes, and before I forget there are a team of similar drones all over the organisation whom I found ludicrously endearing and leg-stomping hilarious but now…..

HELP….

 

How do you hit the jackpot

After more than a decade of working, mostly being part of the print media I have come across less than a handful of people who I look up to. While one was a great mentor the other two were great managers who knew when to pull the leash in and when to leave it loose.

Most of the people who were in the supervisory or higher-up roles were routinely bad, pathetic in fact. Reasons varied from:

  • Indifference to creating a motivational environment for the team to work with
  • Lack of mentoring skills
  • Scheming to serve one’s own ends; even using subordinates/co-workers as pawn
  • Inability to foster a spirit of bonding & build team work
  • Discouraging youngsters/co-workers from trying new ideas/methods
  • Having a MY WAY or THE HIGHWAY attitude
  • Defeatist when confronted with a problem/new situation/challenge

and so on and so forth…While I’m trying to understand what makes a person stay on with the same organisation for reasons other than job security & not wanting to get out of a comfort zone; what I’m also trying to understand is why do people, especially youngsters job hop. Surely, monetary benefits can’t be the only reason since a pay hike of 1000-2500 rupees really doesn’t matter. Would be great to get your thoughts on both counts.

Meanwhile, here is my pick of the lot for being a REALLY COOL boss.

  • Give your employee the end-goal and allow them to navigate their way towards that goal
  • Create a sense of working towards a purpose as a TEAM
  • Make each member of the TEAM accountable for their responsibilities, actions and achievements
  • Applaud good work in public and reprimand bad moves in private
  • Mentor the team or put a buddy system in place
  • Be a friend but only when asked for
  • The Boss is the (wo)man with a vision so be CLEAR in all communications & set expectations

I’m working with one such……

 

Hold On

Most of us go through life chasing that elusive dream, the pot at the end of a never-ending rainbow, the will-o-the-wisp, the genie of the lamp and what-have-you. Sometimes we find it within our grasp and poof it’s gone before you can say Buddha hoga tera baap.

I have done the same as well. Whether it was in a personal relationship or in the professional sphere I have chased a non-existent ideal state of being. After a handful of jobs and more than a handful of relationships I realised it is better to accept life the way it is and make it ideal at least for that point in time till time passed for another set of circumstances and another phase of life to set in.

Too much philosophy. But Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha explains this the best.He finds his nirvana with Vasudeva, the boatman, who listens to the silence and speech of the river.

And all this introspection was brought on by a newly married friend who said, “I always keep everyone happy but no one recognises me when I’m alone.”

Further prompted when an acquaintance reflected that it was difficult to work for a demanding boss and the constant pressure to perform, to excel, to multitask, to take responsibility and be accountable was making resignation a  recurring thought.

In both cases the frustration was understandable but the other side to this story. Both these people were not willing to reach out and ask for help or support or understanding. They had erected a self-imposed barricade.

The newly wed: Why should I have to tell them I feel lonely? Can’t they understand that when a usually boisterous person clams up? Why can’t they come and ask me what is wrong? Whether I need a hug or a shoulder to lean on? Don’t I understand their needs?”

The troubled-at-work acquaintance: “I constantly feel they are comparing my performance to their predecessor. I have not received any negative feedback but all the same I feel like an outsider. I don’t want to ask for help since it will prove what they think of me, that I’m incompetent.”

What’s the solution??

Harmony

I have always believed that a new kid on the block or an old foggie on the precipice of retirement should choose a small company.

The logic is simple:

If you are young and it is a small organisation: than you get

  • more responsibilities
    feel the rush of working and accomplishing on your own
  •  more accountability
  • great camaraderie
  • mentoring and timely feedback
  •  trial and experimentation is possible since the structure will be open
  • learn more than your job definition
  • an expedited learning curve

If your are old and in a small organisation:

  • your experience carries a lot more value
  • you have been hired for your experience
  • you have the opportunity to groom, mentor, provide feedback and see the results firsthand
  • you have responsibilities
  • you cannot be a deadweight
  • you think out of the box

If you are young/old and you work in a mammoth, chances are:

  • you are lost in the labrynith
  • there is no scope for change
  • set systems and processes need to be adhered to
  • creativity and experimentation aren’t welcome
  • there is always you to blame
  • the buck stops with you but the decision to carry forth the buck is some one else’s
  • constant prodding/monitoring/miscommunication

At least this is my perception, what do you think??

Office Bullies

Ever been in meetings where one person hogs the meeting and it soon becomes a monologue instead of a meaningful discussion

or where you try presenting your views only to be met with sarcasm and barbed comments belittling your ideas and intelligence

or where you go all pepped up to present this great idea which may take the company forward, no guarantees of course, but it just may..and even before you are through with the intro of “Heh I think..” there are a whole bunch of gloomy gusses waiting to water down that great idea or a single person single-handedly injecting vitriol

or your young colleague who has slogged hard at a presentation sees it receiving token acknowledgment

Been in any of these ARGHhhhhhhhhhhh situations, than I bet you know what an office bully is!!!

Surprisingly office bullies don’t have to be your heavyweights – the old has been done that who has become a part of the office furniture it could even be that mild-mannered ever-smiling friend who just likes to get a kick every time he sees a colleague fume or turn red with embarassment. So how does one deal with an office bully???

1st acknowledge the fact there is one, and it isn’t you that is acting like a magnet attracting slug (that slimey greeney thingie under the fridge)

2nd, introspect; analyse the situation; identify what triggers this bullying behaviour

3rd, initiate a dialogue with the bully without getting into a mud-slinging contest to see if you work together, after all that bully may be good at something where you need help (most bullies have low confidence levels and this is their way of giving a boost to their ego)

4th, if the above fails rope in a colleague who could act as a buffer till you come up with an alternate plan

5th, confront the bully. Remember, a bully always backs down when cornered (remember your school playground, well being in a corporate game is almost akin to a playground)

6th, that doesn’t work. SOS help-ur HR personnel or your boss, depending on who is sensible and has their head screwed on right and tight

Finally all else fails get yourself moved to another team or division where you don’t have to face the bully…



Camaraderie

I know several people who love to say “We are not here to make friends” when they are in the workplace facing an antagonistic colleague or someone they probably upset by being hyper-assertive.

Somewhere during the span of my over decade-long career I have bought that logic. “We are not here to make friends”

I have seen peers and friends use this stance at work to intimidate an under-performing subordinate or coerce co-operation from colleagues who refuse to tow the line of a corporate agenda or a personal mandate. And do this quite successfully too.

But what about those underlings frustrated at being treated like Man Fridays and Girl Fridays with never a thought about their career aspirations. I have seen many a closed door fights with resignations thrown and water poured over heads; HR playing referee or peacemaker and temporary peace reigning till the next time this stance rises its head again.

So how can camaraderie and work go along hand in hand, would love to hear your thoughts on this……….