Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Would you like to make your Organization the best? Here’s how!

Organizations we work in are much more than structures of mortar, glass and steel. They are actually living things that breathe, inhale and exhale energy and embody characteristics and emotions mirroring all of us who come in and work here. 

The kind of Organizations we represent can be underlined in three important constituent elements – 

Progressive Organizations as edifices of good energy.

Complex Organizations as matrixes of dynamic traits and mindsets of its workforce.

Individual-focused Organizations with significance to the unique disposition and value that each of us brings.

We, as complex beings, need to be mindful of all these elements.

Progressive Organizations as edifices of good energy

People-centric organizations such as hotels, hospitals, educational institutions and the like are a world unto themselves. These are people-rich businesses like no other - both on the inside and out - such that for them to be a successful and harmonious venture there must be thoroughly trained and rightly attuned ladies and gentlemen serving discerning ladies and gentlemen (borrowing from and re-phrasing Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company’s Rule of Business).

A Progressive Organization is where we can achieve more than we could in a mediocre one. A Progressive Organization buzzes with happy employees and happier guests! In contrast, commonplace organizations are those where the only thing that attracts the guests is the off-season discounts.

We all have worked in both kinds of organizations. There, really, is no ideal organization but both companies, leaders and the team endeavour to make it a win-win place by benchmarking brand values and evolving the brand ethos.

Most of us want to work with wonderfully progressive organizations with utopian work environments without realizing that each of us is an essential cog in the corporate wheel. We as micro components and as a whole make the hotel or any other Company what it is – whether in tandem or in conflict with the hotel’s parent philosophy.

We must do a lot of internalization and introspection in order to make our organizations optimum places to be in. So, the buck must stop with us and not the Hotel owner, Corporate Training Manager, the General Manager or our Department Head alone. 

Organizations are complex 

Every place has its mixed dynamics as much as there is a mesh of people who work there and bring in their set of values, drives and energies adding to or depleting the corporate culture.

I used to lament about the deep-rooted politics, credit-stealing, clique driven and yes-man culture in one of my previous hotels. And now when my niece talks about her experience with a Swiss 
MNC or a progressively Indian Legal Services / Development sector and my husband brings his woes from the Consumer Durables line of business, I notice that things are not very different. 

And that the more the companies may be different in their areas and appeal, the more they are the same in their cultural dynamics. 

In the hospitality industry, the issue is compounded by the power of ten. After all, it is a business of the people, by the people, for the people; to shamelessly borrow from one of Abraham Lincoln’s famous thoughts. 

No organization is immune to the extremely complex and intriguing four categories that a group of people put together in a common work environment bring in, viz. - 

There are great and efficient workers with questionable personal attributes.

There are excellent people with a poor set of work-related skills.

There are pathetic workers with deplorable personas, AND

There are wonderful, top notch colleagues with exemplary attitudes.

It is, indeed, a mixed bag of thoughts and feelings depending on the personal and professional characteristics of the people in question. Our response to them, our kinetics of equations at work and the interconnected web of relationships therein is a result of the chain of reactions set off by each of these conductors. Isn't it?

Individual-focused Organizations

This finally brings us to the most important element. We, ourselves!

Individual-focussed Organizations encourage the zeal and enthusiasm, individuals bring to the table. Such companies fuel the passion of high performing individuals and charge up the fire-in-the-belly of employees who strive for excellence and optimal result orientation.

Passion for one’s work ensures that the tiller paves smoothly all the paths that lead to his work or Goal. Be it, then, the path of wisdom or desire or honesty or punctuality or efficiency or being not just able to lead but also always blend well with the team.

Enthusiastic employees arm themselves with the essential requisites for the road ahead - such as education or experience – and keep them well honed.

And, if it weren't for the fire-in-the-belly, then serendipity, creative genius, excellence, going beyond the brief and the marvel in the mundane would well be lost.

Individual-focussed Organizations recognize this and inculcate such an environment where these attributes thrive and grow.


Keeping all the above three cogs of the big wheel well oiled and continuously serviced will ensure a smooth and long professional ride in a self-promoted conducive work environment; colour, caste, creed, character, cultural mooring notwithstanding.

The essence of the hotel organization is no different whether you are in an exotic land or by the banks of an azure sea. So employ and integrate these three elements for a winsome formula whether you work in a beach resort in Belize, a luxury Spa in Phuket, the mountaintop  hotel in Swiss Alps, a Palace in India or a Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa!

Picture Courtesy - Google Images

Thursday, 15 June 2017

What kind of a Leader are you - a Maker or a Breaker?

The dominant traits of the top most leader in any organization, unarguably, define the shape and personality of the organization as a whole.  

So whether the top dog is fair, biased, aggressive, assimilative, open-minded and inclusive or clique and coterie centered, insecure or confident, the organization tends to take on similar features and harbour the climate that screams of the same defining set of behavioural facets.

A Balanced Leader is the backbone of a Healthy Organization

In one’s career history, while growth and better opportunity are often the crucial reasons for moving out from one and into another organization, the other main reason that seldom gets talked about openly is a huge sense of disenchantment or dissatisfaction or unhappiness stemming from a sour equation with an immediate boss or the super boss or the politically charged peer group that makes it difficult for one to perform optimally. 

Complicated and unreasonable bosses or a set of ogre-like colleagues is, in fact, a bigger, often unspoken reason for people to move and seek greener pastures elsewhere. Several HR studies, globally, have proved this fact time and again.  

In the early 1990s, as a young, sprightly fresher with rose-tinted glasses, I joined the Public Affairs Section of a Diplomatic Mission in Delhi. This was my second job and I had often heard that it was Asians who were more cliquey, gossipy, with inherent biases and prone to apple-polishing. So, imagine my astonishment when I found some of my Western colleagues as guilty as their Asian counterparts. My first reaction was, “Hell, Here too!” And the second reaction post some thought, “We all are the same beneath the veneer.”

My first boss here was a grouchy, somewhat mean, cranky man given to favouritism and an unpleasant disposition.  He was tendentious towards one single person – obviously his favourite – instead of treating the entire team fairly; so much so that this person embodied the same attributes as the boss, adding extra doses of her viciousness to it. 

At one time when I was working along with her, she would rejoice in giving me some of the most menial tasks – “just do the filing,” “get me connected to so and so on the phone,” – and had the audacity to keep the official files hidden away and stashed under lock and key lest I lay my hands on them even when I had to file. Mind you, this was no confidential data but the ludicrous behaviour continued, fanned by the boss’ strong inclination towards this person that allowed for many such unprofessional acts to flourish in the department. 

Then one day this boss was transferred out and in came a breath of fresh air in the form of a youthful, dynamic lady who brought in a sea change in the department in terms of how we viewed PR work, how we regarded each other as colleagues, how our work was perceived by other departments and the parent Government we had to report back to. 

What came across bright and clear were two different modes of leadership, two distinct personalities who contributed in their own way to the manner the department looked, breathed, felt and delivered. 

While one was a negative influence, the other used her high standard of skills, fine leadership style, fair & equal opportunity approach to make every work day a fun and productive day and ended up turning the Public Affairs Department into a highly respected and sought after department in the High Commission.

Leadership Traits must dovetail into the Big Picture

My next stint for a period of about two decades has been with hotels. Now, hotels are completely multicultural organizations where the workforce is truly international, hailing from different countries; but of course, the largest base is of the countrymen from the place where the hotel is located. 

Yet, in hotels, it becomes extremely pertinent to know how to work together with people from as far and wide as France and Germany to Sri Lanka and China. Despite the cultural differences, this ends up adding a lot of fun elements to one’s day in the life of the organization as you end up learning about these cultures and understanding what makes the ‘other’ people tick. This, however, is a subject matter of another discourse.

In hotels, while the owner or the CEO of the hotel chain is the defining personality, the GM of the unit hotel where you may work is the lord of his own fiefdom. The team and staff pick out from this leader’s personality aspects and way of running his hotel as much as the top boss’ style percolates down. 

On hindsight, having worked with six different GMs across three hotel chains, I have been fortunate to sometimes thrive and at times strive & struggle in as many organizational climates. And where there has been striving, it really has been a battlefront that has made one as hard as a rock, yet more understanding of the complexities and dynamics of a fire-pit organization.

As a Leader, are you a Maker or a Breaker?

It has also brought home the point that leaders can really make or break an organization. Not just what corporate literature may tell you, from personal experience, too, I can list out the following – 

1. The organization can be a happy and fun place to which you look forward to returning every morning and to which you willingly want to give extra hours at the end of the day. Such organizations create an overriding sense of job engagement and satisfaction. 

2. It can be such that each day, nay, moment is difficult to pass with an impossible boss breathing menacingly down your neck; and a wicked set of colleagues rubbing their hands in malicious glee every time they pull you down like the proverbial crab.

3. The organization can be healthy, conducive to work with unsurpassed functionality and highly ethical work practices. Responsibilities and recognition, exemplary output and rewards go hand in hand in such places.

4. It can be sick, divisive, undermining and demoralizing. What might get you ahead is hoodwinking and proximity to the influential people like the bosses or the boss’ right-hand man; even if such easily ill-gotten prizes are short-lived and open to scrutiny.

5. The organization can be a place that allows you to blossom as a star worker with positive strokes that help germinate your skills and talent into wonderful fruits of productivity.

6. It can also be a place where there is so much of negative energy that all that can flower there is more bad blood splattered about by parasitic employees who eat into the climate.   

7. The organization can be a place where workers breathe in fresh air, enjoy positive influences, are allowed space to make mistakes and grow, have access to information, become a two-way process in clear communication and are given learning opportunities.

8. Then there are organizations that live in the dark zone of fear, punishment, connivance and control. They operate like secret missions where unnecessary stuff is hidden and kept out of reach of the employees thereby acting as a major impediment in the processes and execution of duty.

9. There are healthy and buzzing organizations that promote good work practices, innovation and creativity and encourage workers to take ownership of their actions.

10. And there are organizations where flattery, manipulation, bad performances, terrible attitudes and overall downward slope in almost all areas rule the roost.  

It is widely seen that the top man manoeuvring the reins of the Organization can really lead by example, allowing for the finest personal and professional traits and benchmarked business best practices to shape the organization into an exemplary company; that boasts happy, engaged and optimally delivering team.

Picture Courtesy - Google Images