Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Seven Cardinal Sins Committed by an Hotelier!

Hoteliering is an exciting business with never a dull moment on either side of the continuum, running from good to bad. Hotels are, truly, a line of business on steroids. They never sleep, they never take leaves. There are no summer offs or Christmas breaks; in fact some of the traditional festive times when the entire world seems to shut down are the peak season time for hotels. War or peace, bad or robust economy, change in the country’s government, change in the hotel chain’s ownership or management – hotels never seem to close down. Even under bombings or terror strike, hotels manage to spring back into action in no time.

With such frenetic activity at play, driven by people of all creed, caste, colour, culture; hotels become hotbeds of frayed nerves, sharp tempers, low immunity, people short-circuiting driven maniacally by high expectations and forever-burning fire in the belly to deliver and over-deliver.

Hence, it is but natural that we as hoteliers are prone to committing some of the Cardinal sins; all in a day’s work.

These thoughts are meant to guide us back on the track of righteousness and nudge us into fair play. The little reminder (borrowed from the Bible and Dante’s The Divine Comedy) at the end of each sin is intended to serve as an instant deterrent. Here follow, in alphabetical order, the seven deadly sins that we can consciously or subconsciously commit and stand the risk of being accused of -

1.    Envy

Hotels are a kind of show business. More than a lot of other professions, Hotels urge us to look closely at our own Image management. Because we represent brands and deal with a certain profile of guests, it becomes imperative for us to present our best to the world. We must be kitted out in the finest threads, often branded. We cannot afford to have a strand of hair out of place. Those limbs that shake all those hands and do all that walking around must have been neatly attended to. Not just the shoes, even the teeth should be regularly polished. You get the drift, don’t you!

In such an environment, comparisons become easy. So and so is carrying a giant LV Tote, has acquired the latest iPhone, is driving fancy wheels, has been holidaying in the most luxurious places, is sporting a Hermes tie………….our place of work brings in several opportunities for us to turn into varying shades of green.

Besides the outward disposition, the work culture is such that we are given to one-upmanship, tussle for position and prominence and deeply embedded sense of competition – inter-teams, intra-departments, with sister hotels, with other chains. And therein, get the seeds of envy sown in intelligent, hard-working people who, otherwise, have honourable intentions.

A colleague gets sent for the WTM in London or ILTM in Cannes, yes Cannes – every time. A certain Guest Relations Manager is allowed to sign off at the unbelievable hour of 5 PM every day, only because she is proximal to the head honcho. The peer’s appraisal is shades better than ours; which means that he or she is up for a higher raise and a fatter pay packet. The PR Director is the apple of the GM’s eyes and seems to have it somewhat easy. The expatriate colleague, fresh off the boat, received a warmer orientation and welcoming than you did and his list of perks have stuff that you cannot even ask the Management for. There are a million occasions in hotels that can turn you into a green-eyed monster; should you not be watching that mind of yours and not letting your conscience and good sense to rule over unwanted thoughts and emotions that steal a passage into the deeper recesses of your head.

The scriptures define ‘envy’ as wanting to have what someone has, a desire for others’ traits, status, abilities or situation; and liken it to jealousy.

Wouldn’t it be better if we focused on bettering our own selves by admiring the good in others, by getting inspired rather than vehemently grudging others’ of whatever we are after!

Sharp reminder of divine punishment – In Hell - You'll be put in freezing water. Dante’s diktat – “Your eyes will be sewn shut with wire because you have gained sinful pleasure from seeing others brought low.”

2.    Gluttony

I have seen some hotelier friends go berserk at events – internal or external. They will reach out for the finest single malt, the most expensive cigars; top their plates with caviar or oysters or whatever else has fancied them as if the world was going to end tomorrow. I have seen hotel colleagues run massive entertainment bills because it was all going to be paid for by their official expense accounts. I have seen these very same people be mindful of their personal finances and how they spend their hard earned money.

There was this PR predecessor at a certain hotel I worked for, who was known to invite her husband to almost all her official dinners. This way, not only did her husband get to network with a great set of contacts; there was also no need for anybody to prepare dinner at home. How did I find out? Her overdone malpractice became a joke with the journalist friends, some of whom recounted the story to others and it got onto the spin of whispers on the informal circuit.

Not just hoteliers, the larger world too, seems to want more of everything – more money, more promotions, more rewards, more fun, more attention, more fame, more glory, more happiness, more free time, more trips……the list of wants is endless.

And then, there are the typical three villains we have studied about in our Psychology classes. We all, from the time we are toddlers, seem to pine for more power, leadership and control – seat of most of the trouble in the history of mankind. So, we come to work in the haloed precincts of our marble and metal edifices and splatter around our gluttonous need to gain more power, be a lot more in control of things than we are hired for and send out bad energy that spin balls into an overly negative atmosphere at work. This sense of acute selfishness cuts us off from others and makes others skeptical of us, creating a feeling of distrust, disharmony and disengagement.

Gluttony stems from complete lack of self-control and can have serious ramifications when one just must address this self-indulgent state of hunger any which way he can. The more serious outcomes can be embezzlement, cheating, misappropriating funds and putting business to sizeable risk.

If we didn’t have this innate desire to consume more than what we actually require, not just life in hotels but life in general and the world at large would be a much better place and we would not be heading slowly but surely towards our own extinction.

Sharp reminder of divine punishment – In Hell - You'll be force-fed rats, toads and snakes. Dante’s Diktat – Gluttons are “forced to lie in a vile slush produced by ceaseless foul, icy rain.”

3.    Greed

Mentored by envy and fuelled by gluttony, Greed, indeed is, the wounded heel of Achilles in all of us. We just seem so unsatiated, regardless of what we achieve and all that we earn – be it praise or profit, rest or riches, material gains or momentary pleasures.

While a lot of us get slayed by this dragon of greed that raises its ugly head within us, in some degree or other, I have had one outstanding example in my recent professional past. The Colleague seemed to have this endless pit of greed which he was enslaved to and had to fill it by hook or by crook. It was sad to see him want more and more of everything. He wanted to be the highest earning, even among peers. He would unabashedly put others in bad light or steal credit so as to let the strobes shine on him. When we all were given Company cars, he wanted his to be in a different shade and with a sunroof. From thinnest laptops, latest gizmos to clocking maximum frequent flier miles, the man was ravenous about everything.

But almost all of us fall prey to this, at some point or another. It could be our greed for praise and recognition. We may covet that position, regardless of the value we are capable of bringing to it. We could be avaricious about the troika of pay, promotion, perquisites. In fact, Company benefits have become a dirty word, just because our sense of greed overpowers the humaneness and professionalism in us that should, instead, guide most of our actions.

Our inclination to feed the excessiveness fuelled by our selfish greed forces us to disregard our personal and Company values.

The good thing, whether we like it or not, and whether we wish it or not, is that life and work both teach us that contentment is a far better thing to abide by. Now, it is up to us whether we want that lesson to be pleasant or harsh.

Sharp reminder of divine punishment – In Hell - You'll be boiled alive in oil. Dante’s Diktat – You’ll be “bound and laid face down on the ground for having concentrated too much on earthly thoughts.”

4.    Lust

Just because we work in an industry that works through the day and the night does not mean that we consider it a place where ALL our basic needs be met and desires be fulfilled.

We lust for money, we lust after power and fame, and we crave carnal pleasures. That is human nature – as we’ve all come to learn and live. But then, we have also learned to live within the realm of ethics and virtue that stand tall between being lawful and illegal; grossly improper in conduct or within propriety.

Hotels present enough opportunities and have several hidden nooks and private spaces which propel secret rendezvous. Then, the work environment and hours are such that many love stories can blossom into a walk up to the altar. And that is kind of nice and fascinating about the industry.

What we have reservations against is one-sided lust or emotion driven by desire to gain out of it or control someone or harm another or just as a past time when energies should go into productivity and honest output.

Several office romances have grown up into wedded bliss. Some spouses have continued working together in the same establishment; others have worked out different arrangements. But it all has been a wholesome outcome. And that is what is sought. We must remember that romantic emotion is rational and thought over, while lust is insane, unbridled and irrational. 

I have seen flushed faces staring back from quiet Ballroom stairways. I have unwittingly caught red-handed passion-stealers on guest floors. Back of the house Duty Manager’s Desk, abandoned work stations, under-lit hallways, even unoccupied guest rooms have been breeding areas for those bitten by the love / lust bug. I have personally warded off interest from an overly keen boss, a colleague with a glad eye, as also an over-friendly guest. Lust is not uncommon in hotels; like in a lot of other places.

What is strongly objected to; is when lust at work takes the nasty forms of sexual harassment and sexual favours for promotions, job security and preferential treatment. Further a lustful relationship at work is unethical, it is against corporate mission, vision and goals and clouds good judgement on part of the workers involved. It eats into productive time and useful energy that would otherwise be put to decent work. It leads to gross misuse of office resources. Behaviour such as this puts a blotch on your reputation and credentials and hinders your growth and development. Lust and similar inordinate behaviour make you unprofessional and shave off years of hard work gone into assiduously building up a personal brand.    

Not just the above mentioned connotation; lust for money, success, power is based on an unreal, unethical premise that will not serve you in the long run. There are enough examples of stalwarts and superstars who have fallen into the abyss of shame, ignominy and anonymity; and they have found it difficult to embark on the scaling up once again.

Sharp reminder of divine punishment – In Hell - You'll be smothered, not in kisses, but in fire and brimstone. Dante’s Diktat – You’ll be forced to walk within flames to purge yourself of lustful thoughts and feelings. And then blown back and forth by the terrible, hurricane-like winds of a violent storm (symbolic of your own lack of self-control), without rest.

5.    Pride

We all our guilty of this; in small doses or big dollops! The organisations we work for are one of the biggest reasons for creating a sense of false pride in us. The fault lies with us as the lines between these mega brands we represent and our own selves get blurred so much so that we think we are the Brand. Custodians, Ambassadors, Representatives yes; but we are not THE brand in its sense of opulence, luxury, fame and reputation. Yet, we hear the commonly uttered chant, “Don’t you know I am so and so from XYZ.” Do we take a minute to reflect on the fact centered on what will become of us if the XYZ is removed from our calling cards? If we were to view the reality for what it is, we would be a lot humbler and shorn off affectations.

We are proud about the companies that have hired us, the designations we can boast about, the flashy lifestyle that those roles have bequeathed on us, the associates and affiliations the company has brought closer to us. Did you notice, I said ‘about’ and not ‘of?’

This arrogance, vanity and sense of self-importance is the cause of our undoing. All sacred writings known to man define Pride as “an excessive belief in one's own abilities that interferes with the individual's recognition of the grace of God. It has been called the sin from which all others arise.”

Pride is the worst sin that destroys all our senses – it blinds us from seeing what is right and fair, it shuts our ears from voices of reason, it disrupts our thinking, it makes us ravenous for more false adulation and flattery, it steals the kindness and compassion from our hearts and minds and it makes us utter such awfully damned things about ourselves that continue to haunt us all along our personal and professional journey.   

Pride makes us paint a distorted, unrealistic image of ourselves as superior workers, better than the rest. It throws a spanner in our learning process and stunts our mental growth.

People with Pride as against people who are proud of their work, their skills and their workplace (and there is a marked distinction between the two) are usually disdainful of others, are destructive of the team spirit and are sheer killjoys to work with. They enjoy bringing in fear psychosis into the environment they dwell in and are parasitic in their equations, always wanting to gain more out of others unrealistically and disproportionately – be it recognition, rewards, riches. People with arrogant pride step on others to prop themselves up, are myopic in thinking as they wear blinkers of pomposity, excel in alienating others, imprison themselves in their constricted castles of conceit and erode the healthy work environment with their pronounced negative effect. People afflicted with hubris are so greatly self-centered and have an intense love for the self that they fail to see beyond themselves. Hence, they fail to acknowledge the good deeds and good work of others. The worst sinner is a grossly proud and supercilious boss as he or she stomps out all good energy and from him flow harmful traits of fear, flattery, wasteful fawning, falsification and fantasy that is as far removed from reality, rectitude and efficiency as anything can be.

What is mindboggling is the fact that pride stems from low self-esteem, a complete disregard of the status quo and outright rejection of others and their sound opinion. It is said in the Bible, “Pride goes before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall.” And Pride has the propensity to bring about the downfall of the ‘prideful’ individual and destruction of the workplace in which such people fester. Dante defined Pride as "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbour." Extrapolate this to the work environment and see the quantum of venom and viciousness it unleashes.

Sharp reminder of divine punishment – In Hell - You'll be broken on the wheel. Dante’s Diktat – You’ll be “forced to walk with stone slabs bearing down on your backs to induce feelings of humility.”  

6.    Sloth

There was this Banquet Operations Manager in one of the hotels I worked for, who had created quite the reputation for himself. If the gent was missing from action in the post lunch hour, we all knew where he would be. Often, the Manager was startled back into action from his afternoon siesta which he stole in his bunker tucked away in the lockers and brought back to an urgent meeting in a laughably dishevelled condition which led to a lot of titters, winks and nudges.

At another hotel, there was this Human Resources Director who became a butt of inside jokes for the afternoon power naps that he just had to take. I remember getting into his shoes during the course of a certain Food Festival for promoting which I had to entertain my media friends for elaborate lunches and dinners. Getting back to the work station post these soporific lunches was quite a painful task. But the difference lies in periodic or situational vs. the habitual; the latter being a point of serious concern.

There are lazy people by nature and bearing and there are people who get slow for a certain period of time on account of immense work pressure that threatens to keep them on their toes for time that stretches well beyond the witching hour. We know that operational staff in hotels come under the latter category – Rooms, Housekeeping, Kitchens, F&B – our mates from these departments keep the hotel buzzing through the day and night. Regardless of the shift, feeling not so bright and up and about at all times is absolutely excusable and cannot be slotted under sloth.

We are talking of those of us who are in the habit of delivering their shoddy, unproductive best on account of an inherent behavioural pattern of being slow, tardy, lazy and lackadaisical. We are also talking of those times, when the best of us are hit by the wave of languid inertia and shameful indolence that eats into our office time, office reserves and supplies, our fecundity, the Company’s bottom line, our reputation and that value that we bring to the table. Sacred books also view Sloth as the ‘failure to utilize one’s talents and gifts.’

Sloth conjoined with its close cousin ‘procrastination’ works towards sending your output to the outpost of leisure & lethargy and your mind to a suspended state of vacation.

Lazy workers and slackers can easily be accused of theft at the workplace – they steal company’s precious time and destroy the day’s propensity to produce. They are destroyers – they eat into Company’s market share and profits by their sheer non-deliverability. They are seasoned annihilators – they kill drive, company morale, customer trust and satisfaction and above all, their own potential and opportunities.

If we are not slothful workers by nature and inherent personality, then we all our aware of several ways to shake us off the stupor and supineness. A drink of water, a brisk walk around the hotel, a quick conversation with another colleague, a little 'me time' of music or reading, a spot of meditation, a spurt of office calisthenics or stretches – all are known to bring the gush of energy back into us. For those whose CV should have sloth mentioned somewhere amidst similar other strengths (err weaknesses) must be sent for mental training, behavioural coaching and must be reprised of the Company mission and goals. If all this fails, then either they should not be hired or relieved very quickly.

Sharp reminder of divine punishment – In Hell - You'll be thrown into snake pits. Dante’s Diktat – You’ll be made to “run continuously at top speed.”

7.    Wrath

Machines don’t talk back to us or argue. Machines don’t swear at us. We can kick the sides of machines should they fail to perform to our expectation. Try that with people and you put yourself in the dock for being reprimanded, red-marked or thrown out of your job, depending on the seriousness of your crime.

But hotels, being a people business, give us any number of occasions to lose our shirt. Then these awesome places of work go ahead and give us more reasons, such that we do not wish to put back on the darned piece of clothing.

The Boss is mean and vicious, the subordinates slimy and snarky and the peers downright cut throat and caustic – reasons more than enough to make us see red and get vindictive. Other members of the team refuse to see our point of view, our POV is not even considered or heard at forums, our good ideas are mercilessly squashed. In the official quagmire, we deal with people who are smarter than us or less endowed – either ways it gets our pulse racing – angry that we are not as good or exasperated on having to deal with the low brows.

The superior rides roughshod over our esteem and endeavours, the associate aims at snatching away, ever so indiscreetly, the credit due to us; and the junior snakes up to gain a firm footing on the ladder at our expense. Life at work can be so unfair and it is our birth right to be angry about it. Right!! But the real deal is; we cannot afford to be angry. The better rationale is, we should not be angry and should attempt at winning over the raging sense of wrath into productive channeling; as this negative emotion is known to harm more and help much less.

With hotels lending a million permutations and combinations to equations and activities, it is not unusual for them to be wrought with elevated tempers. I have witnessed the Executive Chef bellowing out in full steam over his Kitchen underlings. One such colleague showed this aspect of his personality to me and the accompanying TV crew, all because he was excessively stressed over a big Food Festival, the opening night of which was not going his way.

I have sat within ear shot of a red-faced General Manager as he threatened to take the pants off the Director of Materials because the man was not managing to get some consignments into the hotel on time for a mega launch. Another time, the same General Manager with the same hot-headedness lost it on the Financial Controller so bad that we thought he would get up and punch the guy in the face – in the Morning Briefing, with all of us Excom around!

A Managing Director with one of the world’s leading hotel chains recounts an incident when he worked in the Chef’s kitchen as an entrant into the industry. He noted with disbelief how the enraged Chef would chuck ladles of curry onto the facing wall just to vent.

Such heightened drama comes easily to those who have a lot under their hats and belts. Working in overly stressed condition often brings this downside in our demeanour.

While, in all the examples above, the managers have had sound reason to be irrational with their temper but it is never a good thing to lose it publicly. In times such as this, no matter what or who is the trigger, it makes sense to count to ten or hundred and bite your lip in time.

Sharp reminder of divine punishment – In Hell - You'll be dismembered alive. Dante’s Diktat – “The wrathful will fight each other on the surface, and the sullen lie gurgling beneath the water, withdrawn into a black sulkiness which can find no joy in God or man or the universe.”

The non-believers and agnostics amongst us will, no doubt, be disbelieving about the ‘punishment in hell’ blocks. But even the most rational of us will agree that heaven and hell exist here and now. At the workplace, punishment can take the form of soiled reputation, defamation, legal suits, blacklisting, losing one’s job or position right up to rendering oneself completely un-hire-able.

While we all can be accused of being guilty of all or some of these sins to varying degrees, our effort must be to seek penance by our noble thoughts and wise actions. We must aim to rise above the bar and attempt to not commit any of these sins, at least consciously – both at work and in life!


PS - Picture courtesy - Google Images and Deviantart. Gluttony by Anita Joy Holland. Sloth by Azlath.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Top Ten Traits of a Professional!

We all need to interact with people who sell us their services or products. That is to say we have to, on a 24x7x365 basis, have an interface with workers who are skilled in some function or the other; a function that assists us in leading our work and private lives smoothly. From the member of the domestic staff (true for many parts of the world), the Grocer, Bank Teller, Housekeeping Attendant, Valet, Call Centre Customer Care support, Plumber, Maitre d’hôtel, Doctor, Chauffeur to the Owner, Chief Executive, Financial Consultant, the Priest who presides over our birth or weds us and the Legal Eagle who reads our last will – our life on Planet Earth is driven by people. The human interaction gets compounded and complexed in people-specific industries which are run more by people than the machines; such as Hotels, Hospitals, BPOs, Travel & Tourism, Advertising, Financial Services and the like.

So, if I were to define one attribute that has the perspicacity to keep my life balanced, safeguard my sanity and infuse a sense of perfectionism into the most prosaic of situations, then it would have to be professionalism. Professional people keep your boat safe from sinking into the choppy waters of inefficient service, lousy products, no after-sales service, no guarantees, no returns or refunds. Basically, no nothing. Nada! For a Professional you are an individual; for a non-professional you are one of the crowd. For a Professional, you are not just the current focus but a future prospect. For a non-professional you are part of the assembly line; you move out another comes in. To keep it simple, Professional people make our life easy. Period!

If you have even the slightest of doubt and are about to send to me your counter arguments in torrents, then weigh the pros and cons of engaging in an animated, attentive dialogue with a Professional BPO staff member who may be sitting in Philippines but is clued on to bringing a sense of closure to the problem at your hand, most likely to your satisfaction. Now compare this to losing precious work or sleep time over a prolonged, fruitless discussion with a non-professional who not only fails to provide you with a solution, instead he or she goes on miserably to add to your monthly medicine bill by raising your blood pressure by several notches. Same thing with a pro and non-pro Flight attendant, a Hotel Front Office Manager or Reservations Clerk, the Travel Agent, the Media Representative, Spa Specialist, Chef, Business Development Manager, a Business Partner, heck even a Boss or the Undertaker.

So what sets a Professional apart from the riff raff that seems to strut its stuff without sense or shame in our stratosphere!

Well! there is a range of hard and soft traits that help us define a Professional.

Hard Traits

1.    Professionals are knowledgeable – The moment you hear the word Pro, you know that you are going to enjoy the     privilege of dealing with a virtuoso; someone who is an expert in their field; be it keeping a guest room spotlessly spic     and span or managing a large hotel chain, ensuring that it stays highest ranked in any rating or recognition. The bank of knowledge keeps them ahead of the game. A professional is a maven with pronounced facets of a maverick because excellence is the course he takes and his goal is to break the glass ceiling. A Professional sets exemplary standards with his working style, his know-how and eagerness to present his best, always.

2.    Professionals are experienced – Several years of hard work – first study, then practice - have gone into shaping the     Professional into what he is today. The Professional dips into the pool of experience to outshine and often go beyond the brief. 

3.    Professionals are SMART – in their approach and the results they show. Their performance is, indeed, specific (Professionals are focused), measurable (result-orientation is a key factor for them), attainable (Professionals are practical and seldom have their heads in the clouds), relevant (their efforts must bear fruits of business, satisfaction, customer retention, problem solving for themselves, the Company they represent and the guests) and time-bound (Professionals apprehend the importance of time and are aware of the ills of non-deliverability or deliverability in an untimely fashion, which may be as good as task not done).

4.    Professionals are leaders - Professionals take charge. Have you noticed how there is that one Server who will outperform and over-deliver should things go wrong with your order at a restaurant? He will assume command over the situation, apologize sincerely, rectify the order, make certain that you are not made to wait any longer and cap it off with a comp side or dessert. He is a Professional who knows his work, is in control, values you, is adept at saving the reputation of his Company and ensuring that the business stays with them and does not walk over to the Competition. In a crisis condition, have you taken note of the Security guy or Guest Relations executive who will go beyond expectation to take stock of the situation, swiftly, and then strategize to provide safety while soothing your frayed nerves with a personal touch. He or she is a Professional. He need not be a certified Fire Fighter; it is enough that he is the best in his role, is quick to assume responsibility of his actions and does not ever mind pulling the weight of others when they fail to match up.

Professionals have a strong leadership quality even in their everyday work situations. And in times of crises, they are stars that shine out with their steely resolve and stellar skills.
5.    Professionals are visionaries – Professionals are on a journey – their destination is ‘being the best in their field and roles; ’higher after higher scales of excellence are the milestones. To be such work wizards they strategize to develop new tactics, perfect their old good practices and draw a road map that is onward bound, both in terms of productivity and passion. Professionals are far sighted and that is why they always manage to rise above the small issues and petty people.

6.    Professionals are perpetual learners – Professionals know that the place they have reached has not come easy. They are also aware that the road ahead is going to be tough, arduous and competitive. Professionals refuse to rest on past laurels. They are mindful of the fact that their skills and the business must evolve in step with the dynamics of the world and the changing times. Besides, their drive and zeal nudges them to push the envelope of learning, mental growth and physical limits of performance.

7.    Professionals respond and resolve – This is one of the most common grounds on which somebody is called a Professional. Professionals bring together their learning, experience and attitude to give sensible, effective and optimum resolution to your issues. Because they have the expertise, they need not skirt the issue and hide behind files and faux reasons to escape the matter. More importantly, they hold in high esteem the tag they have earned on merit and they are not willing to lose that by being seen as laid back, inefficient, careless and non-committed. Hence, Professionals always respond.

One of the nicer aspects of dealing with such people is that even if it is to decline or regret; Professionals leave such a great after taste that you wish to do business with them again.

8.    Professionals are competitive – Not only with others but with themselves too; in fact more with themselves. They must meet their own high expectation and come up to the level they visualize themselves at. Professionals blossom in good, honest competition. The eagerness to outclass, the passion to chart new courses, the excitement of better, brighter goals keeps them motivated and stimulated. Professionals admire other skilled workers & specialists and must compete with them to get to greater heights of brilliance. This sense of competitiveness gets going the ball of learning, improving, growing into the state of work awesomeness; to the satisfaction of both the doer and the recipients.
9.    Professionals are bottom line friendly – Professionals endeavour to perform such that the outcome of their actions is always profitable. They despise anything that brings loss; in terms of bad service, inability to close the service delivery loop, losing a client, profit deficit, business failure. They are conscious of the fact that for them and others to grow and flourish, the business must remain successful. What's more, they acknowledge the fact that it is often bad actions, bad planning and bad decisions that lead to bad business. And they wish to be associated with none of these.
10.    Professionals always see the Big Picture – Professionals usually do not sweat over the small stuff. Their sights are set high; hence little everyday battles are simply stepping stones in their way; as it is the war of wisdom, wonderment and world class achievement that they must win.   

Soft Traits

1.    Professionals are kind and compassionate – Perhaps because Professionals are self-made and have tilled to get there, they are thoughtful of efforts put in by others. Because they have figured that every day is not the same and every person even more different, they are considerate of others’ eclecticism and cherish the worth they bring to the table. Professionals are generally more understanding. They value others and their efforts and are inclined to bring out the best in them. On the other hand, the ‘nons’ may give two hoots to all other beings but for the three most important in their scheme of things – I, Me, Myself.
2.    Professionals are hardworking and self-disciplined – That is how they became professionals in the first place. They have a strong willpower, are persistent and persevere to attain the seemingly unachievable. Professionals believe in turning the boulders into building blocks and enjoy the thrill and the challenge of the process.

3.    Professionals always deliver – Be it the General Manager pledging a healthy bottom line to the CEO, the CEO always being answerable to the owners, the talented Chef presenting just what the guest wished, the Concierge managing to get the right and full information sought, the Chauffeur offering a smooth, suitably informative, relaxed and enjoyable ride to the hotel, the Sales Manager connecting all the dots from opening a dialogue to successfully closing the deal to everybody’s satisfaction; professionals deliver. Without fail, each time, every time!

Professionals are duty bound and committed. And that is why they deliver.

4.    Professionals make mistakes. Also professionals make no compromises – Professionals understand that making mistakes is an integral part of learning and growing. So they make mistakes unabashedly but not carelessly. And they detest making the same mistake over and over again. ‘Compromise’ does not exist in a Professional’s lexicon. They do not cut corners. Professionals know that the path to excellence is not easy and that there is no short cut to success.

5.    Professionals instill trust – On the basis of their prowess over their function, the proficient hold on their area of work and the enviable experience under their belts, Professionals instill a strong sense of trust in us that they will carry out the required action to the best of their knowledge and ability. They have no excuses up their sleeve to shirk work or responsibility entrusted in them and they can be implicitly relied upon. Professionals also earn our trust because they are honest and ethical. Because they are above board, there are not many motives for them to resort to lies. Also, Professionals believe in fair play; they play by the principles.

6.    Professionals do not step on others to climb up – Professionals respect hard work. They recognize the blood and sweat that goes into putting sincere efforts. They are aware of the rough patches one has to overcome before the ride gets smooth. Because they treasure what they have achieved on merit and not by easy means, Professionals do not believe in stepping on others, undermining their efforts and putting others down to put themselves up. In their rule book there is no place for such shameful, worthless shenanigans.

7.    Professionals are team players – Professionals gather that no man is an island. From the teacher who imparted lessons beautifully, the class which egged them on with a sense of healthy competition and cheered them every time they stood ahead to get that medal, the University Guide who refused to accept shoddy work on their dissertation, the new work mates who accepted them and made them feel comfortable in their first jobs – Professionals know that work life is all about team playing. For you to strike a goal or hit a sixer, there must be others on your team who rally around you to help you in giving your best shot. The mental, intellectual, skillful games we play at work are no different. If it were not for the team mates, Professionals realize that they would remain lone rangers in a lonely, uncharged, unexciting world of low or no productivity. This holds true for our virtual work worlds too.

8.    Professionals are secure, confident and humble – Professionals are self aware of their strengths and weaknesses – the first they build upon continuously and the second they overcome by practice and persistence. Professionals are self-sure and confident of the distance they can travel and the summits they can successfully climb. This sense of confidence stems from the learnings that they have build upon as their bank of knowledge; which practiced with finesse and commitment over time gets translated into experience par excellence.

Professionals are never proud but they have a pleasing sense of pride in their mettle, merit, acumen and     accomplishments. Professionals maintain humility because they know that they have to grow up and on to perpetuity and that the room for improvement is, indeed, the biggest; always – no matter what they have achieved and where they have come to, this far.

9.    Professionals are mentors – Professionals thrive in active cultures of growth, learning and development. They need to be challenged and love to add the extra to the ordinary. Therefore, to create such an environment, they must nurture others around. Professionals get immense satisfaction from dispensing their endowment and sharing their skill-set with others. For them to bite the bigger part of the pie, they must ensure that the ball is left in other able hands. Moreover, Professionals see mentoring as an extended exercise in personal growth and self-advancement.

10.    Professionals are happy, enthusiastic, positive and optimistic – There is no other way. Happiness flows out of the fact that it has been a well-spent day with a task done well. Enthusiasm is integral to carrying out the job in the finest way known. Professionals breathe in and out positive energy; because negativity can sap the sense out of professionalism. And professionals are optimistic – hope springs eternal for, even if things didn’t turn out as planned today, tomorrow will always be a better day. Professionals will strive such that is does!


A Professional has the power to add a spark to or ruin your day. A Professional can set the tone for a great day ahead just as a non-professional can spoil it so badly for you that the bitterness or exasperation of the exchange carries on into your other interactions and spheres of work.

So, what are you and who do you wish to be? The choice is in your hands.


Friday, 5 July 2013

Two Biggest Life Lessons make for Management Best Practices!

It has been a great day for me today! Now greatness can be defined in a myriad ways – You could have got a raise or a promotion or good feedback on that major presentation you made to the Board. The day may have started well with a piece of joyous news about the family. You just started on a month long holiday after a seemingly long period of hard work and some serious tilling. It could also be a simple yet complex reason – that things went your way – simple in its outcome, that they happened, complex in their modalities, on how they came about. In my case, it was a special day today as I learned a great lesson; as a matter of fact two.

So let me share them with you and also discuss with you the reason they are great lessons indeed, for work and life.
A Win-Win Situation
As a writer, it is my constant desire, like any other writer, to be read, accepted, acknowledged and appreciated. So, when I write stuff, I want to see them lapped up on the old and new media.  The Social media has spewed thousands of avenues where one’s writing can be featured and very greedily, we seem to want it all.

While posting one such article I had an extended dialogue with an online Group Manager, who very professionally explained to me why she was rejecting my articles from the Discussion Board and putting them under Promotions. I disagreed with her, as the articles were not promotions – for any business or website. The intent was just to share a topic I felt had wider value, with a wide audience. The long dialogue ended on a pleasant note, with the Manager not only understanding and agreeing with my honest and credible point of view, but she made some very nice comments and promptly sent me a Connection request.

JC Hammond, the Group Manager and also Freelance Blogger, Content Curator, Social Media Specialist, Editor - The Preternatural Post, had the following to say to me -

“Well, one of the Group rules is BE NICE. It always amazes me how many people have trouble doing that. I approved your new link and really enjoyed the article.” And later added, “Given our discussion, you are the kind of professional I enjoy being associated with so I'd like to add you to my professional network.”

What a win-win situation!

A Lose-Lose Situation
On another Social media platform, I was an indirect and passive party to a discussion that was clearly vicious, seething with malice, swollen headed and in two simple words, ‘not nice.’ Rohini Majumdar, another passive participant and a young, dynamic, UK-based freelance designer, had this to say in the thread - "This is hilarious. You know what's screwing up this planet? The Ego. The need to be right, bigger, better, stronger, whatever. Who cares?  We all just keep consuming and arguing.....my two pennies worth to this circus. It's very entertaining." And with that she seemed to have hit the nail on the head of the biggest problem that eats into our personal relationships and professional equations. A trait that has the propensity to demonise us, squash all good sense, destroy and denigrate our true personality and turn us into a laughing stock to the repugnant pleasure of others.

This discussion was clearly a ‘lose-lose’ scenario, where not just the antagonist but even the protagonist lost. The offensive attacker lost his reputation and came out of it as the ‘bad man.’ The receiving defender lost both his time and peace of mind.

Two Lessons Which Will Take You Far
Lesson 1 - BE NICE

When you decide to go out to work and make a career for yourself, the first speed bump that you hit against is people who are not so nice – the Boss is seldom nice (especially when viewed from a skewed angle), the Management is not nice (with their large axe to grind), the HR is particularly vicious (always the management’s watchdog) and the immediate Supervisor is almost the Villain (with the sole aim to show you in bad light). The organisation-specific emotions are often woven around this theme and rarely do we find a consummately happy, content and satisfied team player. 

The biggest problem, however, lies with you. When you are not so nice yourself – to the Boss (yes, you heard that right), to the peers, to people who report to you, even to the guests, to the blue collared workforce that actually makes the foundation for the Organisation to have a certain positive rhythm - the energy gets reflected back at you in a much higher degree of scorch and burn.

When you are not nice then you indulge in the following vices –

1.    Bring in negative energy with you into work. An energy that is as threateningly infectious as the good energy is refreshingly so.

2.    You take affront at the slightest of slight and then plan to counter it with revengeful acts.

3.    You give an ear and mouth to information that is not your business in the first place, the sort of business that often festers menacingly in the water cooler corners or the cafeteria. Gossip mongering comes easy to you.

4.    You get into convoluted loops of name-calling emails that swell up with unpleasant character assassination; when they are actually meant to convey sane, sensible, value-adding, professional thoughts and ideas.

5.    Your strategies are centered on stealing credit, back-stabbing, being slothful yet demanding recognition and reward, dressing up the mediocre as something magical and passing the buck.

6.    You hate everything that the Boss, management, team asks for.

7.    You refuse to share information with your team and those who report to you, making their lives difficult and their deliverables out of reach.

8.    You trounce upon people mercilessly; but whine and whimper uncontrollably at the faintest payback in the same vein.

9.    You cut corners in your work, don’t think twice before snapping ties that bring no benefit to you and cruelly rend the rope that others sweat out to climb up to the next level with effort.

10.    You have the mean machine going on all its engines, in all its deviousness with the focus on hamming, harming; shamming, shaming; gaming, grandiosing; vindicating, vilifying.

But if you are nice then you are naturally kind, compassionate, understanding, team-playing and positively productive with your nous blend well with your niceness.

Being nice brings in fewer furrows on your forehead; less worries, more enchanting wonderment; it makes you less jealous and more zealous; less abrasive and acerbic and more affable and intrinsically aggrandizable!

If you are nice then the Universe is your ally, the world your oyster, the Boss your mentor, colleagues your cheerleaders, work a place of good fun and mirth and life a magnificent roller coaster ride in a Fair full of surprises – some that you rejoice in, others that you learn from.

What’s more! if you are nice and ask for things nicely of ANYONE, you usually get them!

Lesson 2 – KILL YOUR EGO

Okay, tell me quickly who is the master of your mind? YOU in all your wise consciousness that Jung would be proud of or a negatively-driven Ego being nurtured by an inferiority complex in a make-believe world that even Freud would be ashamed of!

If you want to visualize what is Ego then picture this - You are sitting atop a giant Redwood tree with a saw in your hand desperately trying hard to halve the branch you are perched on. Which side are you sitting on? Yeah, you got it right – the side that is going to fall hard with the biggest thud on solid ground. That is Ego and this is what it does to you.

So, what is the kind of cross you bear, if you nurture your Ego?

1.    To cradle an Ego is like nursing a wound that never heals. In a work environment, the strikes you make and the wounds you receive are in multitude given the number of people you need to work in unison with.

2.    If you have a big, misplaced Ego then you have a passion for bringing everybody around you down, including yourself.

3.    An Ego makes a Boss turn a workplace into hell and himself into the Satan’s sentinel.

4.    The Ego acts as an impediment in your road to greater learning and path to success.

5.    The Ego blinds you from reality, deafens you against voices of reason and caution, immunes you against the touch of humaneness in you and makes you utter things your sane mind would never think of saying. Outside the informality of your house and into the formal world of work, this is nothing but hara-kiri.

6.    When you act out under the influence of Ego you create such a spectacle that the fence sitters and bystanders find the show disdainfully entertaining. The blood is on your shirt and you are not even cheered for it, let alone respected or sympathised with. 

7.    The Ego has been the Achilles’ heel of many men of might and has engineered their shameful fall into the deep gorge of disgrace and anonymity.

8.    The Ego cuts you off from the team, destroys the spirit of common goals and vision and turns you into that bad patch that must be removed if beyond rectification.

9.    It is Ego that makes you stick with your wrong and not admit a mistake. It shackles you such that prospects of growth are more like a grind and a work day full of problems that pull you down rather than filled with passion for excellence and superlative performance.

10.    The Ego deviously designs to hold you back into a rut when an open, clear, fair, wise mind would take you to greater heights of reward, recognition and positive responses from all around you.

“The ego may have its uses but it should not be allowed to be the boss. To be alive is to fall into the ego trap. The trick is to trick the ego into serving something bigger than itself,” philosophizes Rohini Majumdar, a follower of yoga and meditation who is endeavouring to not be taken a prisoner by the urban 9-to-5 life of routine and bondage.

Therefore, if you must get violent at some stage in your life, then you must pick up the sharpest knife of reason & rationality and kill your Ego!