Monday, 27 January 2014


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!