Monday, 11 March 2013

TOP TEN ENEMIES THAT TURN A PROFESSIONAL INTO PIGWEED!

They are different by just a single letter, but ‘attitude’ and ‘aptitude’ are undeniably the two most important cogs in your wheel that you should be wise enough to keep oiled, always. Come to think of it, ‘attitude’ scores slightly more in the stakes covering up admirably any gaps left gaping wide in the ‘aptitude.’

But there are several prickly adversaries that hide just under the skin and in corners of our mind, ready to take shape and form and pounce on all the goodness and greatness we endeavour to embody. So who are these fellas who threaten to sink our smooth-sailing professional ship? Let’s get to know them better -

  1. MONGERING MOOSE

Water coolers, secluded sections of the Lobby, Locker rooms, Cafeteria are some of the places where these foes fester.

The main force that drags them out of the comfort of their homes is the prospect of a day filled with gossip-mongering. Colleagues’ personal information, professional issues, bad news – real or imagined, differences with bosses and team mates, malice – all this and more is the malefic substance on which their time is looped around.

It really is like a mental illness with these folks. They must concoct the news to be passed on or lend ears to muck flying around and share it with as many people as possible. The more malicious the exercise, more fun it is for these meanies.

  1. FEARING FERRET

These are the ones who are stunned into silence, each time an opportunity arises to speak up – be it the AGM, FRM, Employee meet, Annual Sports Event, a Public Speaking occasion, small intra-departmental roundtables, an informal team gathering – the cat always seems to get their tongue and goat. From knocking knees, shaking hands to stammering speech, they are an awful sight to behold. As hoteliers, we have several instances when we must take the mike by its collar and claim our supremacy. Public Speaking of whatever degree is, indeed, one of the marks of a man who wishes to shape himself for future leadership. Hence a ‘fearing ferret’ nibbling sorely at one’s self confidence is a really terrible idea.

Then there are others who lose their speech at the mere sight of the Boss, MD, CEO or Proprietor. In fact any person in a position elevated to his fills him up with imagined fear. Wonder what is the root cause but most of us seem to harbour this illogical fear of the boss or boss like figure. It is a killer of an attitude because some of us who get afflicted by this psychosis are actually quite intelligent people capable of contributing wonderful ideas.

But the worst fears revolve around unwillingness to take new challenges, shunning good risks, unpreparedness for unlearning and new learning, self-doubt – all resulting in un-deliverability and non-performance.

  1. CREDIT-STEALING CAT

These are one of the worst offenders. The creepiest thieves of all! You do all the hard work, planning, strategizing and these smooth operators have the gumption of claiming un-rightly what was never theirs and walking away with the laurels.

I have had bosses – direct and indirect - take away the shine from my scintillating work. Once an immediate boss had me write a speech for the Hotel owner, take away the sheets labored upon only to present it to the big gun as her own effort. She, a compulsive ‘credit-stealing cat,’ would often spin a sham of a brain-storming session in my office and then walk with well-practiced √©lan into the General Manager’s office to present my ideas as hers; of course all behind my back. It took a lot of effort and sound maneuvering to stump her tactics in the bud. Upon reflection, sadly so many precious man hours and peace of mind were wasted in putting the cat firmly in the bag.

I have had colleagues steal stuff unabashedly. And then there have been juniors who have tried to shine under the borrowed light when I have been away on a trip. There are many of us who fall prey to this prowling cat.

It is not uncommon at all to see people walk away with other people’s ideas, presentations and work and attempt to bask in misplaced glory. If they had any values, they would not do it in the first place. The best solution is to identify the culprits and aim to insure oneself against imminent harm from such offenders by sane, sensible, above board measures.

  1. ANGRY BIRD
                                                           Pic. courtesy - Vivia la carte

These are the folks who seem to remain perpetually angry – at the establishment, at the colleagues, at the country, at the coffee machine, with the weather, with the stapler, with themselves. Anybody and anything can trigger a sharp, angry response from them. It is not the extraneous factors that are the trigger, as much as all the pent up emotion that is simmering within and the bent of mind that unleashes the deluge.

Such people are bad news for teams and companies. Their unhappiness and anger quotients are so high that they leave behind an infected trail where ever they pass through instead of being infectious with optimism and good behaviour. What’s worse, their attitude is contagious and tends to create bad flow of ‘chi’ in formal and informal meetings, invariably bringing down the productivity and energy levels.

Regardless of how great performers they are otherwise and which position they hold, the management must attempt to contain their behavior and channelize it for the greater good of the work environment as a whole.

  1. BAD-MOUTHED BADASS

These are close cousins of the Birds and the Moose. They are the Charlie Sheens of the corporate world. Uttering slangs and profanities is considered a matter of personal style by these slick swaggerers. Or it is a sad attempt to sound more sophisticated, worldly wise and well-exposed. There is that typical big guy in the swivel chair who loves to boom out ‘WTF’ to intimidate and impress. There is the smooth-operating colleague who tells a team mate to ‘stuff it’ because the latter’s memo has upset him gravely. There is that loudmouthed Exec Chef who yells at the Commis to ‘get-the-eff-in-time.’ 

From veiled insults to downright terrorization, these badasses have perfected their craft of ‘insult incorporated’ into their demeanour and professional behaviour. They run the entire gamut from Miranda Priestly’s menacing hissing “Details of your incompetence do not interest me’ in The Devil Wears Prada to Buddy Ackerman’s directly abusive “You. Have. No. Brain.” in Swimming with Sharks. It is a sense of power that the errant bad-mouth seems to enjoy while using such negatively powerful language; however ill-founded the notion may be. 

Whatever may be the scenario and whatsoever may be the trigger, bad language (though it creeps in and crawls around unofficially) has to be banned. Even if hotels are like second homes, given the amount of time we end up spending there, there is just no excuse for using X-rated language at work or even outside of it.

  6. INSECURE IGUANA

 
From the brightest of us to the weaker links, we all tend to feel insecure sometime or the other. Whether it is self-doubt, a temporary bad patch, senior’s perception of us or how we perceive his opinion of us which may have nothing to do with reality, a contemporary’s competitiveness, looming targets, sharp deadlines, expectations – self and of others, smarter colleagues or the smart alecky, a cocky number two who threatens our stability, change of leadership, change of management, change  of brand, promotion, demotion, shift in location – these are but some of the reasons that contribute to making us feel insecure in our roles.

Many a times it is just us. I know I often have the need to get a positive stroke – ordained or worldly – to spring back into my secure, stable, confident mode. A positive feedback or two should be enough to get you back into the groove. The idea is to harvest the insecurity in order to reap rich dividends.

Harold W Dodds, the fifteenth President of Princeton University said, “Each one of us requires the spur of insecurity to force us to do our best.” It is a fact that a little bit of insecurity is actually good to keep you on your toes and push you to deliver even better. But please check it, the moment it begins to gnaw at your productivity, eat into your self-image and hamper your reputation of being a good worker.

  1. LYING LEECH

No one of us is truthful a 100% all the time. That is a fact of life. Admit it and hold your peace. From faking illness or making the family pet or an in-law get sick to get that extra day off to becoming a story teller of histrionic proportions to extend the annual vacation by a week; from blaming technology for not completing the report on time to invoking weather gods to help us escape from a dreaded meeting – we all are guilty as charged. In fact there have been surveys and studies conducted globally to list out some of the most bizarre and outlandish excuses / lies employees have come up with to not turn up at the office, shirk work or let others take on their responsibility. And yes, it is a universal phenomenon.

It is sort of convolutedly okay to tell a white lie. Of course our scriptures have taught us that if a lie is told to benefit or protect somebody then it is a good deed. And yes, we are not talking of lies in world and corporate history that have harmed nations, forced companies to nosedive into ignominy and made shareholders lose both their dream and dollars.

Fudging reports and records, lying to score over a work mate, fabricating a yarn to earn brownie points, a raise or a promotion, giving unrealistic timelines knowing fully well that they are unachievable, which then hinder the end process, painting a particularly bad picture of the competition so that your brand looks good, playing around with the sales, profit & loss figures or cooking books in any other way, telling a team member that their effort is not good enough just so to undermine them, spinning a super-achiever story for yourself in front of the Supervisor – these and hundreds of others fall into the deadly pit of corporate sins that we will and must pay for in the long run.

There is indeed a line we must stay within and never think of crossing, when this – perhaps the eighth deadly sin – is in question.

  1. SYCOPHANTICAL SUCKLING
                                                           Pic. courtesy - Vriad Lee 

The corridors of our world of work are teeming with these servile flatterers looking out for an easy ticket to ride on the professional roller coaster.

My very first secretary was a remarkable lesson to me in the area of team / personnel management. On the first day she introduced herself and gave me her version of bottom to top orientation, telling me candidly that she was there to do my bidding – personal and professional. Her accent lay heavily on fetching a cup of coffee, taking clothes to the hotel laundry, buying presents on my behalf, running other similar errands – for she had been doing this and more, including babysitting, for my predecessor. When I began to tutor her for serious work and shape her for professional assignments I was not a good-enough boss for her. By not getting my personal work done by her I had failed miserably for not being an affected, dictatorial boss woman in her scheme of things; after all she had grown on the staple of such a boss-subordinate equation.

Then there was this Management Trainee who would love to swing by my office just to chat me up and tell me how great I was, just how recognized my name was in the PR circles, what a hero I was to her and how she was learning things from me. Years later, when she worked with me at another hotel and had then become the Guest Relations Manager she lost interest in my invincible powers and aura and found another person-in-position to kowtow to. That is the thing. Such sucklings have ‘fine-art-ed’ the tactic of bowing and scraping to those they can then milk for their benefits and rewards. The hoopla around polishing apples is to cover up their lack of ability to perform well and yet stay in the reckoning. Sadly, many a times such despicable acts of ‘sucking up’ bring to their fold what they are seeking out, emboldening their belief in this hateful practice.

There are times, when a lot of us, in the effort to appear civil and overfriendly with the person in authority, will compliment him or her on a range of things – from their hairstyle to management style, tie to tactical approach, shoes to swagger, leadership skills to the shiny Lexus in their garage; so as to ingratiate ourselves into their inner circle.

Again, there is that fine line between being genuinely nice and wheedlingly sycophantic. May we keep the difference in the top of our minds and choose wisely.


  1. SLOTH BEAR
                                                           Pic. courtesy - Julieni Cole

This is definitely one of the seven cardinal sins, even in the work sphere, as much as in life. We procrastinate and put off, find novel reasons to stash away files that may need attention, we squander away precious time in silly pursuits – non-productive chats, computer games, social networking diversions, fun distractions, drag our feet on tasks and laze around when the need of the hour is to smarten up and accomplish. Most of us are in the dock for having done some of these things to varying degrees. And sometimes it is okay – in order to break the monotony, kill the boredom, bring colour to a dour assignment, re-pattern the regimen. It is the habitual sloths amongst us who directly hit the bottom-line and impact on everyone else’s tempo and performance.

The worst of the lot are those who show more and do little. Most of their thinking, planning and energy go into putting up an act of work while in reality they are busy doing nothing, or anything of substance.


  1. NEGATIVE NINJA

Negative Ninja is the dark influence that imbalances the corporate yin and yang. They bring with them a pall of nimbus to cast a damningly murky shadow on our work days. They love to speak ill of those they work with – from boss to the secretary, from management to the minions. It is extremely difficult to keep such employees happy. Coffee time, smoke breaks, lunch hours or just catching up in the corridors are perfect times for these people to rant and spread the bad word around. In their eyes, nobody is as good, as hard-working, as committed, as productive as they are. From boss’ strict policies, HR’s practices, Colleague’s Sales report to Assistant’s presentation – they must pick holes in everything and speak in the negative. They are so much vitriolically charged that they miss out the pleasures of a superior’s praise, teammate’s timely help in accomplishing a task, a subordinate’s free-willed extra hours put in to meet a deadline, a commendation letter from the Corporate Office, a pat on the back by a guest. They are so blocked up within that they fail to stop and smell the roses.

Unfortunately, their attitude can be contagious and create an adverse atmosphere at the work place. Between the HR and the management, there is a need to admit that there will always be such type of people in the teams and devise ways to rein in their good stuff and quell the bad energy.

Its confession time, folks! We all are guilty of being each of these in some shade and percentage or another. These are some of the major corporate sins that we have either committed ourselves or been sordid victims of.

It would be a better working world and a much more productive place if each of these foes could be weeded out and replaced with exemplary attitude and positivity of approach. After all, we ourselves would stand to gain!

 
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 PS - Remaining pictures courtesy - Google Images

Friday, 1 March 2013

TOP TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR PROFESSIONALS!



Commandments are those revered principles that guide us on to the right path, nudge us back into action and advise us on the universally respected do’s and don’ts.  Every time we hit a roadblock – the external ravages on our time or the internal gnawing that end up being so detrimental to our productivity, it makes sense to reflect on the professional commandments to be the guiding light in times of professional overcast-ness.

Here is a quick list of Top Ten Commandments to breathe new energy into your work lives and to help you revisit your work practices in order to make your professional ride less bumpy and more rewarding. One wise tip – this is a list that we should be sensible and astute enough to keep.

      Pic. courtesy - Armene


     SMILE WHEN SPEAKING ON THE PHONE

We, as hoteliers, have been told the importance of the above innumerable times. And this does not just hold good for Guest Relations or Sales staff. It applies to all – whether you open doors, carry luggage, devise strategies, cook award winning meals, pour the glass of expensive wine or sit in the corner office managing the entire show.

It is a proven fact and a golden rule of training that people can ‘see’ you smile over a telephonic conversation. And smiling when speaking on the phone (and in these times on Skype, chats, Vimeo or what have you) is a surefire clincher for a deal and the super glue that has the propensity to seal your business relationship.

Whether you are a PR person, a journalist, a service provider, a client, a telecaller, a smile is the perfect bridge over which you should lug your professional wares; even when dishing out something that may not be too palatable.
     
            
    REPLY / RESPOND / REVERT

No matter how busy you are and which chair you fill up, there is just no excuse for you not to reply to anything addressed to you. In fact, it is plain bad manners if you don’t.

I once had a boss who would respond to everybody on every message that he received – himself and not through his secretary – even as he ran one hell of a busy show at work. One great lesson I learned from him – as long as you respond, even with a word or a line you have covered a lot of ground.

And today, with all those smart phones, palm tops, voice-controlled software occupying our communication space, there is just no getting away from minding this facet of our professional p’s and q’s.

                                                               Pic. Courtesy - idasouth
      
     BE COURTEOUS

Actually, what triggered the thought process for this piece was a brief and hugely curt (impinging on rude) exchange with a career consultant. Yes, you heard me right! A consultant who earns his bread and butter from dealing with clients in an extremely people-centric job profile! The person on the other side had given out her name as the contact person to a job posted out; which means that she was willing to receive queries or had been put in this role by her superior – in both cases it was her job to handle such queries. Our conversation started with an abrupt verbal whack of a crude ‘Yes’ as the manner of addressing a phone call and stayed largely monosyllabic in content and monotonic in character. The result of this acerbic dialogue was, as expected, unpleasant – the lady with her un-lady like and unprofessional behaviour teased out the aggressive side of me, put herself in a spot where she could have been flagellated, set the unfriendly tone for the conversation which she would have difficulty in retracting, formed an image of her in my mind that told me that either she was not happy with her job or with what she was asked to do or simply that she was not a happy and pleasant person in the first place.

In the area of hospitality, we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen; as the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company so beautifully describes. And this holds true for every service sector; actually to the non-service ones too. I am reminded of the patriarch of the Indian hotel industry, who I have had the pleasure and privilege to work with and who would always address me in his rich baritone as ‘Ms. Dhir’ – an employee on some rung on the executive ladder in one of his hotels. He set a fine example and chalked out a wonderful template to be emulated by all his employees, whichever of his hotels they worked in, in whatever country.

If you are taking the trouble to step out from the cozy comfort of your hearth and go out into the big bad and competitive world of work – to make a name or living or moolah or all – you owe it to the world and your professional persona to be courteous, always, even when your patience, intellect, wit and wisdom are sorely tried. There is just no other way, buddy.
     
             
     BE GRATEFUL

In the professional cosmos, attitude enjoys the same pride of place as does aptitude. And your attitude will be defined to a large extent by this basic approach to life. You have a job, a good job that pays you well, recognizes your contribution and allows you to grow; then there is a lot going for you to be grateful for. In the cosmic sphere of work and in life itself, it pays to be karmic and somewhat spiritual about the station you are placed in and the destination you are driving towards.

What the heck, in today’s times of global recession and retrenchment, just having a job that pays is one hell of a reason to be grateful for.

A sense of gratitude will keep you grounded and help you not be a stuffed shirt that nobody ever likes. Besides, the attitude you throw into the Universe always comes back to haunt or enchant you, as the case may be.


Pic. Courtesy - Godfrey Phillips India

BE A CORPORATE SOCIAL CITIZEN

With the shrunk global boundaries and innumerable bridges built on the information superhighway and business networks, you cannot just keep yourself isolated in your corner of the office in that part of the world.

With protests playing out on Twitter, causes finding windows of visibility on Facebook, issues being thrashed out in intellectually stimulated forums on LinkedIn, stay aloof at your own risk.

Now, much more than before, there is enough opportunity for us to align ourselves with causes that speak to us and in the process get our organizations involved. Being responsible and conscientious as an individual paves the way; and getting all that corporate muscle of your organization behind you provides a remarkable fillip to the causes espoused.

Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates, Azim Premji, Oprah Winfrey are known as much for their philanthropic pursuits as for their business acumen and for appearing on the lists of World’s most famous, most influential and rich. With such examples before us, why wouldn’t we want to join the league! 


NO WATER COOLER MOMENTS OF ADDING TO THE GRAPEVINE

We have been told by our mothers first and then by our bosses, that what goes around comes around. If you dish the muck out, it is bound to splatter on you.

No matter how much relief, momentary pleasure or feeling of getting back to somebody this nasty habit brings, we should resist this sordid escape route from stress and look out for brighter, more positive and fruitful avenues to make it a win-win situation.

I cherish the reputation I have built on honesty, integrity, hard and clean work. I am not willing to compromise that and I am, certain, no well-bred professional worth his salt would wish to. 

When we have so many positive and exciting choices available to vent out our ire – social media for one; when there are discussion forums where we can share our feedback and learn from others’ experiences in a positively motivated manner away from the pettiness; then why would I want to be known as the person who cannot be trusted, who has a weak mouth and a weaker gut.

POLISH UP THE ABC OF MY BEHAVIOUR

My behavior is a reflection of my personality. My behavior is a wholesome whole of the subsets of my thoughts, prejudices and beliefs. With this monumental legacy straddling on my behavior, I cannot afford to shortchange it for something less exemplary. Besides, I can only control my actions guided by my behavior and cannot be held responsible for other’s reactions. Hence, I better learn to keep my yard clean first.

Here’s my crisp ABC -

Enthusiasm in my Attitude – as it helps me be more productive, is infectious, assists me in sailing through choppy seas at work and rise and shine even when it’s overcast.

Buddy Up with the team and bulldoze to tease out the best talent in all so that the common pool of excellence always strives to create, innovate and perform remarkably. 

Compassion in my Character – It is an age old Tao that I have no business to judge others unless and until I have walked their unique paths. Just as in life, in the sanitized sanctum of office too, we need to show compassion to our peers, our subordinates and yes to our bosses as well.




BE RESPONSIBLE

For my words, for my actions, for my portfolio, for my team and its actions. And never think of passing the buck. With responsibility come great rewards, greater recognition and a far bigger sense of accomplishment.

When we get into our careers, we always anticipate an upward growing graph which is the barometer of what we learn along the way and more importantly, how much and of what value we contribute back. It is being responsible that puts us in a happily receptive place for greater heights and hurrahs.

  
BE CLEAR IN MY COMMUNICATION

No adding to the confusion. No being verbose, needlessly. No increasing the information overload without the gravitas. No using unnecessary jargon.

Whatever be your line of expertise and choice of vocation, clarity in communication is one of your biggest assets. It helps you be unambiguous and be clearly understood. Plus all that headache and loss of time you save yourself from when something is said and something completely else is unwittingly grasped. What a nightmare of an office situation that is!


BE A SOLUTION SEEKER TO THE PROBLEM AND NOT BE THE PART OF THE PROBLEM

There are enough of us releasing hot air in meetings, raking up issues on email, taking to the equivalent of temper tantrums at work; instead of bringing calm to a turbulent situation, soothing out frayed nerves, bringing sense to the table, giving solace to team members and generally being the ‘sweep soul staff’ who could endeavour to keep the place clean, harmonious and balanced on an even keel.

There will always be problems at work – personnel-related, business-centric, performance (or the lack thereof) – led, market-induced, competition-created, economic, political, even ethnic or religiously motivated. What will make you stand out as a leader will be your accent on these situations, the ability to right the wrong, the perspicacity to influence others, to assist the management to steer to more stable waters and above-all to add to the bottomline as problems unhandled or mishandled are directly proportional to business adversely affected.

Have a wonderful journey on your careerway and continue to be the star, both as a person and a professional!

Picture courtesy - Google Images and www.deviantart.com 


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