Friday, 12 December 2014


Recently, I was approached for a job with one of the leading national business magazines. They are coming out with a new magazine on Hoteliers and were looking for an Editor. Though overall the assignment sounded very exciting, due to a number of other factors I had to turn down the position. Maybe, the personality traits exhibited (including through e-communication) could be one of the factors.

At the interview, the owner of the publishing house and the CEO had handed out a couple of magazines to me for reference, asking me to return one of the magazines whenever I had gone through it. On the third day from the day of the interview I wrote to them to thank them (sending thank you notes after an interview is considered one of the finest interviewee attitudinal aspects; but more on that later) for their time, for the lovely meeting we had had and to regret my availability for the position.

I got a reply from the CEO which I was shocked to go through. It had accusatory undertones. So what was really wrong with it? Let’s find out in the points listed below.

We all know that emails are the biggest aids, abettors and rescuers in business communication; so much so that we tend to use this vehicle even intra-departmentally. Regardless of what the health watchers will say, we still find it easier to tap on the keyboard and send mail than lifting ourselves even half up to confer over our cubicle walls.

Yet, in spite of the ease they bring to the way we communicate and conduct our business, we commit such glaring blunders that are nothing short of ‘communication crime.’ Here are a few to avoid, so as not to hang ourselves on the noose woven with threads of wrongful methods we adopt in our communication -

1.     Not sticking to facts (or not checking facts thoroughly)

It seems that we are in a tearing hurry to say our piece and hit the ‘send’ button. Goofing up on grammar and stumping ourselves with shoddy syntax is a minor issue. What is big is content that has not been checked to be factually correct, absolutely appropriate and relevant. People from my line of trade – Public Relations – tend to, ironically, commit this one quite a bit, given our propensity to be verbose, beat around the bush and weave unnecessary tapestry around what we actually want to state.

In that CEO’s response to my thank you note, he kept asking for papers & presentations that he had not given to me in the first place. I do not know what led him to it – amnesia, too much work load, carelessness; but at one point I was so irritated by his constant asking that I had a good mind to ask him to review his CCTV tapes.

Whether it is because we have not read the initial request carefully or are against a sharp deadline or are loaded with a multitude of tasks; we still do not have an excuse to send information that is not meaningful and correct. Our text, many a times, tends to get fluffy and superficial intended to just fill up the body of the mail.  Imagine the extent of disconcertment we put the receiver through by coming out as an indolent, incompetent individual.

With any mail that carries our signature at the end, the onus lies squarely on us to stick to the facts. No reason – real or imagined – is fit enough to cover our smudgy tracks. 

2.     Assuming others can read our minds

This is a basic communication flaw in general and not just with e-communication. This is also the root cause of most misunderstandings between every conceivable equation on this planet.

Parents feel children just know what is expected of them and vice versa. Bosses are of the opinion that the subordinates will magically know everything they are supposed to without proper, systematic and clear channels of communication. Guests are indignant if the hotels ever use the IDK option. Conversely, hotels have lost several dollars in damages only because they felt that their guests knew about the policies and had patiently read through the very fine print of all T&C.

In e-communication, this assumption costs us dearly. Without the benefit of our presence, with no body language or tone and modulation of our voice to assist us we become sorely handicapped when we leave gaps in our communication. Our baseless presumption that the person in front is tuned in into our chain of thoughts causes a terrible logjam.

Communication gurus have defined 7 C’s of effective communication, viz. Clear, Concise, Concrete, Correct, Coherent, Complete, and Courteous. And at least four of these assert the significance of complete lucidity in your communication.

3.     Using all caps

It has been universally stated that using all capital letters tantamounts to shouting on e-communication. And that is being grossly uncivil and impolite in any circumstance. The point we are trying to make is often lost in the noise we create by raising our voice. This holds true for e-communication too, with all caps blocking the flow and continuity of the remaining text.

So why do we do it? Whether it is to make a loud statement, have the words stand out, reinforce what we wish to say or plain laziness of removing the Caps Lock, text in all caps is always an eyesore.

There is a time and place for using all caps. It is a communication privilege that must be used judiciously.

4.     Copying to all

Going back to the erring CEO, all the mails he was writing to me, he was copying to everybody and their brother. Mind you, he was only replying to my thank you note and asking me to return ONE magazine that he had lent to me. Yet the mails (every back and forth of them) were copied to the Chairman, the Consulting Editor, the Editor of a sister magazine. Along the way he added a couple of more people including the new hire for the position that I had declined. I found it all truly absurd and annoying. A dialogue between two seemingly senior and mature professionals was being turned into a street square exchange with several unrelated or remotely related onlookers.

I don’t know about you but I stand guilty of this one. At times, when dealing with certain kind of crafty colleagues, one wishes to copy the communication to the boss. That is never a good idea as it amounts to tale-telling or unnecessarily ploughing a path to the Boss’s ear. What’s more, the Boss needs to know the beginning of a project and the outcome and not all the drama played out in between with its convoluted twists and turns; unless and until a major issue has cropped up.

The same applies to a lot of people we add to our cc list. It is essential that we reflect on the need, importance, role and significance of the names we wish to merrily add up. If they bring value to the discussion then we must go ahead and click on. If not, then we should let ourselves and others be; thereby allowing more important things to happen in the organizational cosmos and the universe at large.

5.     Replying to all

When you receive a mail that has already been copied to a large group of people; if all those that are cc’ed are significant links in the topic being covered in the mail then there is no problem whatsoever. You reply to them all too and get it done and over with.

But when people are copying mails to bring in authority or a larger ringside audience for the heck of it or for covering up their backsides or for making a superfluous point or for one-upmanship; it is then that you get sucked into the vortex of communication complications. If you omit some people in the reply back then it may appear that you have something to hide or fear. Also, it becomes an ego thing if the sender is copying to all and you do not return the favour. On the other hand, if you too copy to all then it becomes an e-tussle which neither party is willing to let go of, holding onto their piece of rotting meat like a terrier gone berserk. I really have this visualization each time I catch myself getting caught in this trap.

In either case, one is damned. Therefore, it would make a lot of sense, bring peace to the situation, ease up the matter at hand and streamline the two-way communication if we were to watch the cursor before it inches close to the cc button.

6.     Letting emotions get the better of sense

Communication is ‘the’ official carrier of our thoughts and emotions. Perhaps because we as human beings have the maximum number of emotions, including the sub-emotions we have created for our convenience; we love to play out our personal overly-dramatic soap operas, yes even on professional forums.

As extremely complex beings fighting to get a foothold on the higher planks on the Maslow Pyramid, yet slipping miserably ever so often on the lower bases, we often replace sense with schmaltz, rationality with rashness, wisdom with wilfulness.

With our bent towards over-emotionality we tend to rev up our reactions at the tiniest of real or imagined slight, we get into the quagmire of ego battles stemming from roles, responsibilities and designations and we play pliable pawns in the hands of that dreaded trinity of ‘power, leadership and control’ that has been foxing many a psychoanalyst from the time of Freud.

What’s worse in e-communication is that once we have let it out, the tirade and the torrent rests in the abyss of archives threatening to be unwantedly resurrected at a mere click of a few keys.

7.     Thinning the line between personal and professional

Riding on the high, unrestrained horse of emotions arrives this one; showing us in poor light both as a person and professional. When backed against a wall or held in a battle of wits or facing a threat to our perceived identity and the importance we hold for it in our own eyes, we resort to means that blur the difference between the two. Sometimes, it is also to show a state of familiarity with the person we are communicating with. But stepping on the line to get more on to the personal is a sign of over-familiarity and sheer impropriety.

Without being too starched up and stiff upper-lipped we must maintain the decorum and respect the rules that divide professional from the personal. There are dos and don’ts to be adhered to and observing them not only safeguards our reputation but also creates a conducive atmosphere for conducting dialogue and business.

8.     Using casual language and slang

First it was thought to be the lowest common denominator differentiating between the white and the blue collared. Then it tip-toed in with a set of new age professions which signalled post-war liberation and a sense of wild freedom that followed to herald the setting in of capitalism and materialistic rejoicing (think advertising and marketing). Next, it sort of became official together with Friday dressing and the over-riding success of Silicon Valley smartness. Finally, with digital revolution it tried to force its way in as a requisite to the changing modes of communication.

But regardless of the changing times, usage of casual language and slang will always be considered indecorous and unacceptable. Never mind the temptation from technology or the leeway sought from lethargy.

Use this only at your own risk. Just as people make opinions about you from your appearance, demeanour and body language; so do they from the e-persona and language you use in your communication, electronic and otherwise.

9.     Getting off on a tangent (and creating long threads of communication)

At one point we cry ourselves hoarse for facing daily exigencies and for the general lack of time. On the other, we sit in front of our computer screens getting entangled in long-winded web of words. We, carelessly, engage in stretched out back and forth dialogues that defeat the S.M.A.R.T objectives which should actually define our work strategies.

We forget that concise, concrete and coherent are integral aspects to the effectiveness of our communication; allowing ourselves to go with the mindless flow.

It is surprising how we take out time to fritter away the precious hours in inflated texts and ostensibly intellectual regurgitation, when clear, simple, to the point and crisp communication would stand us in better stead.

Before you crib at the water cooler about how little time you have to chew on the mountainous pile on your desk, step back to think about where your time is unwisely invested. If this is a problem area, like it is in most of our cases, then sit up and rectify. Also, if you see yourself getting caught in the mesh of meandering exchanges; immediately disengage, retract and get on the course of meaningful and productive communication.

10.                         And worst of all – not responding

This is plain bad manners and one of the highest forms of unprofessionalism. Yet we commit it; for lack of time or intent. Or because our decks are not clean enough, weighing as they may be under the deluge of excessively collected debris of unnecessary mails so much that we find it hard to fight our way to the more important stuff.

Sometimes, we reduce the significance of a mail or its sender by inflating our sense of importance that we feel it is okay not to respond. Often times, we hide behind excuses to cover up our ineptitude.
I, once, had a busy GM for a boss who made sure that he replied to every mail (personally and not through his secretary) even if it was with just a word or two.

I have also had the pleasure of dealing with some hotel chain owners who make it a point to respond. It does not matter whether the mail was written by an entrant or an advertising executive.

They know, like any professional would, that the loop of communication will close only once it has been replied to.

Like I said before, while in face-to-face conversation you still have body language to fall back on; in e-communication there is no recourse and you must meet the situation head on.

And in these times of all the smart devices, androids and voice operated software at our disposal; there is just no getting away!


Picture courtesy - Google Images

Thursday, 2 October 2014


When I was starting out, Companies, to my mind, were these giant edifices of stone and steel with high ceilings and vast cold interiors, with crisp air of detachment and clipped, formal conversations. I felt that I and several other people who went to work were governed by the invisible yet potent forces that swept through the monstrous Goliath we worked for, guiding us tiny Davids by their deft hand of skilful puppeteering.

Soon enough, it dawned on me that there was no such unseen-yet-tangible power that held sway over us and that ‘we’ were the Company. As tiny or big, but significant, cogs we kept the organizational machinery well oiled and moving.

Over the years I have come to know that employees are the life force of any organization; cold stony interiors, imposingly gleaming exteriors and thick tomes of company bibles and manuals notwithstanding.
I have seen the wrong set of employees break the best of places and happy, positive, motivated teams take even small establishments to great heights of fame and fortune.

When one is younger and perched on the first few rungs, one is brash enough to think that things will not function smoothly if it were not for their brilliance. As you move up and along, you realize that there are several people and things that contribute to your growth process and keep you in the reckoning. It is the other employees, your company colleagues and inter / intra departmental teams that help pave the path for your company’s and your advancement.

While a lot of us, including the Top Dog, make the mistake of thinking that we are irreplaceably important; we come to realize soon enough that our positions are strengthened and our roles made more meaningful by the efficacy, knowledge, cooperation and deliverability of the significant others.

If one must grow, then one must delegate well and help one’s team to grow. If the Company as a whole has to do well, then it can only do so if all the little and big parts work in tandem and with a focus towards the common goal.

Companies would just be buildings and ill-kept ones at that, in the absence of a good workforce.

So how do you win employees and influence them positively for the greater good of the Company and the people that make it what it is!

Here are ten simple tricks that pack quite the punch.
      Call them by their name

With this practice I have seen strangers step easily into my circle of acquaintance. They feel that they have an equation with me. Leave alone educated, well-bred folk, even the construction workers I have been dealing with, for the better part of the year, feel identified and accepted. Imagine what this simple habit can do with people who are well-exposed to education and advanced by experience.

The moment you address someone by name, they feel recognized. It is an affirmation of their vital presence. It signifies that they are important enough for people to recall their name. It is a vocal acknowledgement of all the things – background, experience, responsibility – the name brings with it.

Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts have made quite the art of this Corporate philosophy. Many Four Seasoners have told me that it is imperative for all senior executives to memorize the names of all employees and their spouses. Think about how much positivity, a sense of bonhomie and professional bonding, mutual respect and just the right dose of familiarity this injects into the organizational climate, decidedly making it a better place to work in.

When you call somebody by their name you establish a direct line of contact with them and make them more accountable to what your need or expectation is of them.

Calling somebody by their name is the easiest way to show respect and the quickest strategy to convey inclusion.
           Pay respect to their designation

Whether it is a bell boy or a valet or the visiting sommelier from that la-di-dah Wine Academy – pay weightage to that brass plate pinned with pride on their jacket.

At my first job with India’s premier company in the Social Expressions Industry, I cannot tell you how proud and appreciated I felt each time the Company owner introduced me to his business associates thus – “Meet Aruna, our Creative Writer.” I felt such a big surge of joy and self-confidence course through my veins making me want to deliver my best.

I often remember two different bosses I reported to at different times when I worked at the Australian Mission in India. Both had distinct leadership and management styles – one was a stellar example of the global best practices and the other falling somewhere at the bottom of the heap with his terrible ways. Yet, they both have left indelibly valuable lessons. While one would brush us aside in meetings or go on to say, “This is Aruna from my Department,” the other would make it a point to give the following introduction – “Here’s Aruna Dhir, the Media Relations Officer.” She struck a perfect Ten, first with the full name and then the designation, every time, regardless of who she introduced us to – an upcoming artist from Sydney or Minister Downer, the then Foreign Minister.

Each time I have introduced my staff appropriately – whether it has been our Residence Manager, the able Secretary or the efficient Assistant Manager – I have noticed their body language change. The eyes shine, the shoulders square up, the gait gets more professional and the entire deportment reeks of confidence in oneself, self-assuredness and loyalty for the Company they represent.

A designation is descriptive of a person’s role and responsibility and surmises in its few letters the remarkable experience the person brings with him and the journey he has been on so far.
            Display importance in the role & responsibility they bring to the table

Behind that brass plate is years of qualifications, experience and wisdom which enables your company to run smoothly. Show importance, be sincere and mean it.

No person is an island unto himself and no team can work in isolation. It is such an obvious fact that we all would be completely rudderless, disoriented and non-performing if the interconnected webs in the organizational matrix did not bring all the value that they individually do into the big pool of resources which then gives direction, movement and headway to a company’s onward path.

Every role – big or small, front of the house or back of the house, black suited, blue collared or white aproned – brings with it multi-dimensional value and such amazingly wide range of experience that must always be optimally harvested.

To cite a little personal example – No matter how self-reliant, independent and charge-taking I may be, purely on account of practical reasons and the quantum of work I may be needed to handle, I would find it extremely difficult to concentrate and deliver well if the Housekeeper had not run her magic hands through my office, my Assistant had not helped me pick up some of the balls that I must throw simultaneously up in the air, my Printer had not cooperated in helping me meet the deadline, my colleagues from other departments had not shared information and handled their end of the deal adequately, the General Manager had not given his timely approvals and so on.

With hotels, every minor cog or a big component is essential to the smooth running of the hotel machinery. From Chauffeur to Chef, Doorman to Director – Food & Beverage, Engineering hand to Executive Director, Laundry Valet to Liaison and Finance Controller, Sales Executive to Spa Expert, Concierge to Communications Chief, Housekeeping Head to Horticulture Manager – each individual is integral to the flawless functioning of the hotel. Each must be valued for the nous they bring with them. You ignore any part and you end up losing both guests and reputation. 
      Get to know them

In the service industry at large and in hotels in particular, we end up doing long hours and work on shifts that never seem to end.

When an organisation is so much about people – on either side of the table – it makes a whole lot of sense to invest in this software and make genuine efforts to know the team members.

That is why there are employee meets, Annual Sports Days, birthdays that are celebrated collectively, Employee-of-the Month Recognition, Staff parties, Team events, Departmental outings. Also the formal appraisals and reverse appraisals. Make use of these tailor-made occasions; or else create special opportunities to really get to know your people.

Learn about their ambitions, aspirations, drives; encash it where necessary, employ the talents where they fit in and carve a path of succession for them.

Your people pool is one hell of a goldmine of talent and experience that can help you reap rich business benefits. In turn, you give fillip to the vertical and horizontal growth trajectory for the people who bring power to the organization. 
      Get to know them up, close and personal

That is why Bowling events, staff day outs, Quarterly Picnics and the like were invented.

That fellow in the starched uniform is actually a fun guy with a special talent for singing or mimicry. He is the heart of any party. That lady Housekeeper who makes the beds perfectly has a great hand with origami. No wonder then that she churns out jaw-dropping works of towel art that take the breath away of guests from around the globe.

At almost all the hotel chains I have worked with, there are these two important fixtures on the HR Events Calendar – the Annual Staff Party and the Departmental get-togethers. The Human Resources, Sales and PR Departments go all out to make these events a resounding success by creating fantastic party themes and mini events that keep the evening buzzing right through and by going to lengths to ensure wonderful gifts for as many employees as possible. At one such event, my Assistant won the ‘Miss XYZ Hotel’ title, the euphoria from which stayed with her for a long time giving itself away in the spring in her step, the twinkle in her eye and a radiant smile. From iPods to Chanel first edition scarves to trips to Maldives or Dubai – we have had hotels think up the best tricks to make these bonding events difficult to forget.

Then there are the out-of-station get-to-know-your team trips from which colleagues come back knowing an impressive lot about the boss or the direct supervisor or the cubicle neighbour – all in the way to create happy, productive, non-conflicting work atmospheres.

If you know your people well you not only know what keeps them ticking, you have the knowledge to utilize their best attributes in the right place at the right time making them feel more involved and appreciated. You can also do an easy SWOT analysis to see what are the traits that can be underplayed or aspects that can be trained upon to improve or shoved under. I knew this Sales colleague who was extremely good with numbers and had a keen business sense. He was always the one to make the FRM presentations for his Director. He went on to do due diligence for the Hotel Owner in his next role and eventually moved into international strategy and business development for a multinational chain.

On my part, not only my command over the language but my interests in training saw me offer tailor-made capsules to a wide range of people from the telephone operators to chefs, engineers to the HR folk.

Therefore, knowing your employees is an integral baseline to a happy organization and a healthy bottom-line.

      Get to know their family and the family dog

This actually happens at some of the best international chains. Even the Dog bit is true, I am told by an ex-boss who worked for Four Seasons for a long time.

Not just Indians and Asians, I have seen people from all over the world gush over their families and enjoy sharing about their significant others. Making an attempt to know the families has several pluses. With the family getting to know the place of work, it infuses a happy and healthy energy for the organization in the minds of both the team member and his significant other. In the times of professional exigencies – in the tough-scheduled, round the clock hotel jobs this is more a rule than an exception – the family is much more understanding of the occupational pressure and willing to support. The employee on the other hand is less stressed and more mentally free to engage in the work at hand.

A French boss was so proud of his lively wife and would talk about her with such glee. The rather nice lady had a bent for interior designing and readily extended help to the F&B team when they were doing up one of the restaurants for a food festival. Then there was this French-Australian Executive Chef whose Australian wife would help us put up a great show during Melbourne Cup celebrations or the Oak’s Day with her wide network and first-hand knowledge.

Knowing the family of your people provides you with so many more options to connect with them at different levels. It helps you become that little bit more familiar, which comes in handy when you wish to dissipate tensions, reinforce bonding and ensure the two-way loyalty – the company’s towards its employee and vice versa.

      Learn about their fears, inhibitions and reservations

We all have a big set of weak traits, rational and irrational fears, cultural or personal inhibitions that come in the way of our growth.

If I speak about myself, I have this strange, dichotomous conflict of interest. My professional playing field is Public Relations yet I feel I am quite the introvert in large gatherings. Once you put the microphone before me, I end up speaking rather impressively but put me in a moderate group and I become tongue-tied. For years I have had to battle this strange situation that tears me into two different directions. It has not been easy because my area of work pushes me into the feared zone on a multitude of occasions that I simply cannot turn my back on. An encouraging boss and a positive organizational climate have helped me steer smoothly without sinking my ship of reputation.

A rarely occurring case of mental paralysis is quite alright and something that one can get over. I was attending the IXth Commonwealth Study Conference in Australia and was called out to write a formal document on one occasion and participate in a team skit on another. Inspite of having been a published writer for better part of my professional life and being known at large for my gregariousness; unfortunately on those two occasions I failed miserably. Neither did I manage to produce any coherent literature, nor did I shine out in my parts so much so that the Team Lead ended giving me monosyllabic words to utter all through the performance. Thinking back about the episode still makes me feel terrible about myself. Yet, my Australian Group remembers me for a lot of my other facets and not the two sore thorns in my flesh; perhaps because they were one-off and not a common pattern.

A mature organization, wise HR people, considerate colleagues and an understanding boss can play such a huge role in ensuring that the employee gets the better of his weak spots. As a step further, they can help him build a success story on the behavioural boulders by the right intervention and assist him in winning his personal hurdle race by turning the stumbling stones into building blocks.

It is the Supervisor and Company’s moral obligation to combat those demons on a war footing along with the team members. There are no perfect employees. Perfection is a sense of perpetual aspiration.

A good boss and a great organization can always manage to harness the strengths, weed out the weaknesses to turn the entire team into an envious group of people who deliver one tour de force after another.

      Build on their strengths

Every employee has a mixed bag of strengths running through the direct – Writing skills, Business acumen, financial proficiency, good in Sales, impressive academic record, technical knowhow; and the indirect – great with people, attention to detail, pleasant demeanour, good in crisis situations, multifariously talented.

I remember my first mentor with a lot of fondness and gratitude. She nurtured us like cherished plants, watering our desires to grow up, feeding us with excellent experiences that she would squarely put on our table, support us only that much and then nudge us to become more accountable, fertilize us with splendid ideation meetings encouraging us to think out of the box, knowing well that we would bear rich fruit.

An Assistant I taught everything from scratch had this Buddha like disposition and she was great with people. She was a wonderful team mate during crisis and was a perfect foil for my Type A personality. It was such a wonderful outcome to help hone her professional skills and fan her inherent facets. The Department fared better as we went along aiding and equipping her; allowing her to blossom. 

Whether it is team building or crisis management or being good with numbers or great in handling difficult people; find the mojo of the employee and turn it into a major strength; which the employee, the team and the Company at large benefit from.

      Get their family into the work place

I think this is the nicest and surest way to seal bonds, earn loyalty, reinforce brand affiliation, cultivate trust and leave an increasingly warm feeling for the Company in the employee. There is also the bonus - that of turning the family members into extended brand ambassadors.

When I was about eight, my Dad would take me to his office on certain days of the year and fill my day at his place of work with a set of unforgettable experiences – I could watch him work, have a site visit when he was in meetings, get to draw exciting stuff with those official red and blue pencils, walk the corridors with him and meet people who handled different roles. At the end of the day, I was so proud of what my father did, happy to see a wonderful place of work, learn about new things and in the process have an ineffaceable impression from the first-hand experience that would definitely stay with me for a long time.

Many years later, I was a visiting fellow to the United States and was meeting with the head honchos at the World Bank. On the day of our visit, guess what they were observing! A happy, energized, exhilarating Daughter’s Day Out! The biggest conference room had been done up for the special visit of the little VIPs. The Buntings and the balloons had been put out to give a facelift to the dreary room, the activity stations had been laid out and the elaborate menu planned for the lunch party. But most of all, I am telling you, I saw all the executives – even the senior most – strut their stuff about to impress their little wards in a fair attempt to leave lasting impressions. The working Mom or Dad was showcasing their company and their work to their impressionable children; in turn the kids would have one of the finest and enduring lessons on the goings-on at the World Bank.

I truly believe that getting the family into the work place through the various HR tactics – Kids’ activities, rewarding meritorious children with certificates, gifts and scholarships, get-togethers where spouses are invited, Christmas and New Year parties where the employee’s family is the special guest – is one of the strongest ways to keep the employees happy, proud and bonded with the brand, which they would truly wish to promote from their heart.

      Put thought and feeling into your gifts to them

We all have been recipients of gifts from our bosses and colleagues and givers of similar gesture to our teams. Even though we are told to not look the gift horse in the mouth, just how many more duty-free shop bought Toblerone packs can we eat, how many Pierre Cardin pens will we stash away and how many more perfume miniatures that we will pass on as a gift from that trip back. Gifts without thought are the number one reason for that other bad habit – what comes around must go around.

Whether it is confectionery from your trip back or Xmas gifts, let the gift speak volumes. Skip the standard chocolate routine (for all you know, the recipient may not be a confection lover) or the other cheap (by that I am not hinting at the price at all) or common gifts. Gifts should be thoughtful; even when they are the inevitable chocolates. Focus on suitability – do not try to shove square pegs of inconsiderate and indifferent gift boxes into round holes of individualistic personalities.  

One of my sales colleagues once got me a lovely crushed silk scarf from his trip from Hong Kong. Even after more than a decade and a half, I love the little piece of cloth and enjoy wearing it. Did it cost him a bomb? No. Do I still remember him, even after not having worked with him for more than ten years? Absolutely yes! Well, gifts should have this sort of effect on the recipient. That is why they are or should be given in the first place.

Back in the early 90s, on one of my first few business trips, I was travelling to Mumbai with my Australian Boss. We were staying at the Taj, on the same floor, in suites facing each other’s. Imagine my pleasant surprise when my boss dropped in, took one look at my room and ordered me out of my mine and into hers. The reason – she had a sea-facing room whereas mine had a view of the mesh of scaffolding that had been put up and hid indiscreetly by the equally ugly tarpaulin. My generous boss wanted me to have the nicest experience at one of my earliest hotel stays so much so that she was happy to shift to the room with a crappy feel.

One of the nicest gifts I have received was from the Hotel General Manager - my immediate boss at the luxury chain I worked for. It was when he withdrew his name from his place at the prestigious Summer University put together by the Hotel Chain’s Centre for Learning and Development. He put my name instead knowing that it was one of the greatest lifetime experiences for me and that I was very eager to be part of knowledge enhancement.

He said he had been a part of one too many and felt that I would gain a lot from the interface; which I did, with faculty from some of the finest international management schools. But the greatest lesson I learned was to be thoughtful about my team, about being genuine and kind, about nurturing the team and giving them positive growth opportunities and yes being selfless.

The above two bosses have left such a mark on me that I enjoyed the companies I worked for largely because of them. The two have taught me some wonderful lessons that I imbibed into my own style and that I often quote and refer back to when writing out case studies for others to benefit from.

Like I said, companies are not concrete and mortar. Companies are caring set of people who create outstanding organizational climates for all those around them.

Picture courtesy - Google Images