Archive for September, 2010
One of the big highs of being a manager is the belief that there are people to do our bidding. Variously called as reportees, subordinates (eee I hate this term), team members… they work for managers. But wait a minute – do they really?
Go back to a day in your work… what do you do? Do you write the code? Do you do those presentations? Do you do those reports?
Overwhelming answer is no! with some exceptions (are you a manager who hasn’t made the transition fully – if say maybe or no!, then it is a different issue! ) We review their work, we set their goals, pass on instructions, provide them information… net net we don’t do the real work; they do. We facilitate, we provide, we review… and they do the real work!
How much of our success is really ours? How much of it is a result of the toil and hardwork our teams put in! It is a bit of both.. no one person can claim credit. A bad manager can insure failure and a below par team will insure failure but the truth is a great team, irrespective of manager, can produce great results!
What if we turned this on its head and looked at our jobs as really working for our teams. Our job day in and day out is to set them up for success. We think of what to do to enable their work…provide them the required resources, create the right atmosphere, set the framework and set them free! Meetings are set around their schedules not yours, information is rushed to them hot, not held back! Reviews are constructive and not fault finding missions. We worry if team members are stretched – like a prized horse owner would worry about his horses!
Imagine…. We will start looking at things differently, the pyramid will turn forever with the pointed face down… and the employee on top!
This is just a thought! Triggered off by a Seth Godin blog I read some months ago… but keeps haunting me!
It is contrarian, it is changing status quo, it is uncomfortable… it is letting go of power. The served become the servers! The leader leads by following!
Are you ready? I don’t know but I am going to try!
As always leave your comments , ideas… and Imagine how work would be for all of us if we did this
Who reports to who? Huh?
First things first, true to my word, I managed to buy the iPad yippeeJ and contrary to what I thought , I don’t feel a wee bit guilty! More like I earned the smiley’s and got the reward
So once I got over the excitement ,I decided to focus on more serious matters…to our bloopers!
On a recent family vacation, I found my fellow traveler urgently gesturing me to hurry to his assistance! He was trying to buy something in a shop and seemed at his wits end. “pls help me, I asked him for a bottle of coke and he says he can and he cannot and when I say yes, he asks me what you want! ”
Intrigued I asked the shopkeeper again only to hear ” bottle cannot, can can la!”. And I read the “ Ask me once more you mutt and i will throw you out of my store” look on his face as he said that. Then it struck me, he was saying or rather meant to say –“I don’t have a bottle, do you want a can?” Phew! Sure!
Speaking of can can and can cannot, a poor girl nearly lost her life on the same trip thanks to language travails! ” she no- no swim…” was my assertion to the snorkeling instructor , thinking he like the rest of the lot didn’t know English ( well the version of English we know)… Turns out he was not that bad with the language and instantly let her hand go hearing my NO as “Know”! So much for knowing! I needed all the good will to save my skin when she got back on the boat.
Speaking of knowing..i had to learn my numbers all over last week or unlearn what I knew of it- not still too sure which one!. 4 of us got to a restaurant, expecting another since there were inky 3 chairs I asked for two more. They got one, by the time they could get the other, another friend joined us. So I asked for 2 more. I asked the hostess ” could you get 2 more please” thinking I was asking of the 2 I had already asked she said ” yes sir we are getting you 2″ I said ” no I want 2 more” she said ” yes sir 2 coming” before she and i went on, my friend quietly got it himself!
Talk about misunderstanding, a few days ago my spouse gave me the onerous task of looking after our son , while she went shopping with her friend. To keep him busy i took him to a super market, walking around trying to figure out what to get him and keep him off my hair. We hit an aisle with shelves packed with biscuits. He immediately grabs a packet. I am intrigued and find out why? Apparently he picked this because it says free and he thinks he will get a tattoo or one of those silly cards. I figure it has nothing of that sort and it just has 25g free. I try telling him there is nothing free. He looks at me like I have lost it and says ” I know, you have to pay for it. There is something inside I’ll get free’. I assert saying no you will only get biscuits. The look he gave me I decided to just play along and not be lectured by a six year old!
Talking of lectures, I got one a few days ago. But we will keep that for another day. Happy bloopers till then! Can can leave comments? Cmon no cannot I no know! Ha ha here’s to a great rest of the week.
Today is the beginning of a long holiday weekend… everybody in the family is snugly tucked in fast asleep, with the weather at Bangalore being just perfect!!. But i woke up at an ungodly hour to attend an important customer call. Shuffling around half asleep, making my own tea(rare)… i was a little irritated that on a holiday i have to be pulled out of bed to attend this call! I really really wanted to sleep late… knowing I have another call today at 8p grrrr
This set me thinking, when was the last time i did something for myself… something i loved doing. i made a list of all the things i love…, read Milan kundera book for the 40th time without worrying about waking up the next day, sleep late till noon, find that dire straits cd with the first songs i ever heard.. to melt into the past of friends, lazy afternoons and the thrill of stolen sips of old monk rum! Or buy that coveted ipad i have been eyeing for so long( that now it hurts my eye to even look at it!).. but guilty to buy… wondering if the family can really afford an indulgence like that! Sigh!!
When was the last time… i did something for myself and not for my job, my family, my colleagues! It is so long ago I don’t remember.
i waited till it was a decent enough time to call a few friends, family only to be surprised! Now i am worried that i would get angry spouses… knocking on my door for unleashing the weekend of discontent and new resolutions ( the New year is a good 3 months away)!
One of my friends now wants to do a boys only trip to the Himalayas – we had made this promise to ourselves many years ago… but never got to it! Hmmm I should apply for leave to get there soon and begin with regular exercising to get ready for the trek!
i am buying that ipad next week! Reading Milan kundera this weekend … I cant find the cd but just one indulgence at a time so i am doing the next best thing.. get on frostwire and download the songs.. we don’t want our spouses going red over a long weekend with too many purchases do we!! Not a risk worth taking!
What about you? What are you doing just for yourself this long weekend?
A friend of mine wants to bake a cake for herself … hopefully she will send it over and not take this blog literally and eat it herself too
So here’s to great long weekend… one with a bit of self indulgence minus the guilt… How about beginning with a sinfully yummy breakfast and not going on the usual diet Just for a day.. it won’t kill any of us! Aloo paratha with dollops of butter and a tall glass of lassi! Now you are talking lunch not breakfast!
“Aarrrgh! These kids seem to be fighting forever, I wish they’d just learn to play…15 minutes is all they can play without squabbling”. That is my spouse pouring her angst. I was in the middle of a great book, but years of cohabitation teaches you when to drop the book for your own well being
Sounding as empathetic as i could, i enquired…”what happened dear…?” Quick retort –“Ask them!
i did exactly that… and was amazed at what i heard .
…he doesn’t want to play my game
…he is breaking the rules (or my version of it)
…he is winning all the time or he is taking all the turns
…he is not listening to me!
i pause and reflect – how is this different from the fights we see at work or even at home? No different, same reasons as these kids!
Most of us have fights (not fisticuffs, hopefully) at home and at work. They range from mild irritation to shouting, from a niggling discomfort to losing sleep. Irrespective of level, gender or education, most of us seem to be grappling with this issue. Some of us had shouting matches on hand, others had quiet insidious ones to deal with.
In our daily lives, fighting is a fact of life but most of us…don’t accept it. It doesn’t fit in with our world view of things as we were always told not to fight! Every day, I can hear my spouse exhorting our child not to fight… to be nice. phew! so much pressure.
It is natural that in any environment, both at home and in office, there will be difference of opinions, disagreements, dislikes, irritants… frustration because of what people do or don’t! Some of it is because of the roles we do. Traditionally sales and production (delivery), HR and finance, husband and wife, manager and reportee, peers are pitted against each other because of the roles they perform.
Sales will commit the moon, delivery will play it safe – rarely are they on the same page! Spouse never listens… on and on.
Conflict is natural – it is a way of life. It is how we deal with what is different. Some of us will pick up every disagreement, see a fight and go at it with gusto… some of us will run away from any conflict… shrink at the thought of a confrontation!
When I was researching for this blog, i met this young couple and they said they loved fighting -they always felt good at the end of a fight! Oops, what am I missing? As we spoke more i realized they had a healthy relationship, they had an issue they didn’t pile it on but threw it in the open immediately. Importantly, they had set a ground rule – stick to the issue on hand.
Laughingly, they narrated how initially, beyond a point, all fights were the same as they degenerated to slanging matches very quickly. Mothers, fathers, long forgotten slights… nothing was left! And they landed up raking the same stories. Until one day, they agreed that they will stick to the issue and not keep raking the same issue again! I gave a knowing smile
Also the deal was that they dealt with the issue that day and not waited for the appropriate moment! Sometimes, in the middle of a family dinner, they would have to declare time out, but they did!
Do you think we can pick some ideas from the couple?… Here is my attempt:
1. If you have an issue – talk about it, if you don’t like something -say it. Don’t expect the other person to automatically know that you are upset
2. Stick to the problem on hand stop pulling in the past (this is the tough one)
3. Don’t look for the last word… look for a solution or understanding if not agreement
4. It is ok to be wrong – and only the confident few can accept it
5. Understand intentions don’t count –it is your actions and words that count
It is tough! I am walking away with some thoughts… I will fight, but I will watch my fight. Fights are about emotions but keep the anger away. I don’t have to agree but I can agree to disagree and part amicably.
One of my mentors used to say that shouting is the sign of a weak person losing control. And foul language, is a sign of limited vocabulary. Please stay away from both.
As i close this, i wonder whether our ‘fighting style’ is reminiscent of the way we fought at the school play ground. The dreaded bully continues to bully in meetings, the ace negotiator continues to find middle ground, the tattler still carrying stories (read escalating matters) while the shy kid hides behind a nice veneer, not to miss the fence-sitters. They watched you get into a scrap just to bet on who’d be victorious, and are still eagerly watching for the same every time you walked into your manager’s cabin.
Hmmm…now what was i bully? Ace negotiator, tattler – got to call my brother to find out
What about you? Find out, will give you some insights
Have fun dishoom… dishooming! The first one is tough… but soon you will be acing!
BTW ‘ee yah’ is an attempt at replicating, in print, the karate shouts the kids in our complex belt out in their karate class!
When our son was around two or three years old, my wife and I were struggling to discipline him. From throwing the cutlery on fellow diners, pulling the hair of the person in the seat before us while watching a movie to slapping our neighbour’s teenage daughter…even now, writing this I am looking over my shoulder with fear! Quiet corner, no tv, glares, firm conversations… nothing helped! At our wits end and with our back to the wall we embarked on an experiment…
For some reason he loved smileys… so we put up a chart in his room and explained that if he behaved himself he would get a smiley on the chart for that day, else a sad face! It took a couple of days but he got it… and to our relief we realized that he started identifying what was smiley behaviour and what was sad face behaviour! And when he indulged in bad behaviour… gently reminding him that will get him a sad face seemed to work. In a week, we were seeing more smileys than sad faces…
Just when we said Ah! and were getting ready to declare victory… we noticed that some of the naughty behaviour was resurfacing! Slightly alarmed that our last straw was floating away we started paying extra attention. We realized that on days he got the sad face early in the day (and we were doing this too often)… the behaviour deteriorated! Hmmm… we figured that in his baby brain he knew that once he got a sad face on the chart you were done for the day! any amount of good behaviour didn’t change it and he had a free reign to do all he wanted that day! did I say baby brain! Phew!
So we broke the day into 2 halves and the smileys or sad faces got on the chart after lunch and dinner. Now even if his day started badly he had a chance to change it in the second half! Or if he got a smiley in the first half he could get 2 that day!
We could see the changes… so we got ambitious we said we will now break it into four, so he had greater chances! And we got even more ambitious and made it that if he got so many smileys we would get him his favourite treat the weekend!
And then it got so sophisticated that we lost track! and I forgot all about this, until I found these charts in a cupboard while searching for something! And the memories came flooding and got me writing this post!
Incredible lessons from a 3 year old on rewards and recognition!
1. We are quick to label bad behaviour but always wait for the day to end for rewarding good behaviour
2. We seem to be more keen on catching people doing wrong than catching them doing right
3. Bad behaviour noted too early and not providing chances for good behaviour will actually promote more bad behaviour. Am implicit threat of a penalty looming over you is more effective than an early overdose of penalties.
4. Rewards reinforce good behaviour more than penalties can deter bad behaviour
Many a times we look at reward and recognition as a manager to employee deal. It need not be that way… you can do this upwards, downwards, sidewards… we are all children and we need to foster good behaviour! Everybody needs their smileys!
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