Category Archives: Ego

Critical feedback dialogue

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Lucky (The female junior, early 30s)- Sir, what happened to that job we discussed last week. How do we do it?

Sunny (the male boss, early 40s) – I remember telling you clearly that estimate had to be taken from agency and an approval note made.

Lucky- (in a plain tone) I don’t remember.

Sunny- (getting irritated)- Well, I remember exactly, and you even said- one agency is charging reasonably, so we can get it done from that agency.

Lucky- (same tone) I don’t remember

Sunny- (with fuse blown, but in a clenched-teeth voice)- I remember 500 % that I told you, it is a separate thing that both of us forgot after that and the job was not done, but this was discussed.

Lucky- Sir, what happened, I wanted to ask you…..

Sunny- Let us not get into that in the morning, we will discuss later.

Later in the evening, Sunny calls Lucky and asks diplomatically- yes you were saying something in the morning.

Lucky- Sir, for last one week, you have been behaving differently , so I wanted to ask you what happened?

Sunny- Okay, first things first. About today morning incident, you know I hate lairs, and when someone directly or indirectly implies that I am a liar, you can imagine my problem. So when you said in the morning- I don’t remember, you were implying that I am lying, so I did not like that. This you have done once or twice in the past too, but I did not say anything. But when you did it again today, I lost control.

Lucky maintained deliberate, intelligent silence  and let Sunny finish, she just kept nodding.

Sunny then added- As for last week’s changes, let me start from the beginning.

See, as a team leader, I feel that I go out of the way to give visibility, exposure and opportunities to my juniors. Sometimes I feel that it is at my own cost, but I still do it. Secondly, I have told you earlier that my funda is clear, if one of us can do a job, I will not insist on both of us wasting our time on that. So you or me will do that. So I always try to create a positive work environment. Lastly, I asked during your appraisal this year, are there things you don’t like about me, and asked this again 2-3 times, you did not say anything, So I presumed that you are okay with my working and management style. And since I went out of the way to create a good team culture, I expected you to reciprocate that by being a good team member.

Lucky- And yes I always tried that. As for feedback about you, when you did my appraisal, I had worked with you for 2 months only so I could not tell much. But what happened last week, that changed your behaviour, which was confusing to me.?

Sunny- (Realising that her logic about 2 months working is solid, went to next topic) Well, you see, it is really good that you asked. Otherwise I was thinking that I had made a wrong image about you. After last thursday, I had stopped giving any agency work to you, and to show my anger, I was doing all agency related work myself. But when you did not react, I was puzzled. I would not have tried to have shown my anger this way to other guys. I did it to you, because I thought you were a thinking person, well-read, and you would notice the difference. So when you did not say a word, and acted normal, I was confused as to how do I manage such a team member. Because your non-reaction could mean only two things.

One, I was wrong about your emotional quotient, and you were plain Jane,a dumbo, who could not notice the difference in my behaviour, or

Two, you notice but you did not bother about my mood, anger, or reaction.

In either case, it was problematic for me. So I was confused how to handle you as a manager.

But by asking now, you have solved part of the problem.

Lucky- No, I noticed it Monday only, and in the evening I asked my mom also, and she said wait for sometime, you will get to know, but when it continued on Tuesday, Wednesday also, I was like what the hell. I did not want to ask as I was afraid it might make you more angry.

Sunny- Okay, so last Thursday, both of us knew, next three days were off-days, and we might have to work on all three days. I asked you given a choice, which days you would like to come, and you replied very curtly- If I have to come, I don’t mind what days?

That made me very angry. Here was I, a senior, who could have dumped the whole three days on you, willing to share the load, and offering you first choice. I was being generous and a good boss in my mind. And what do I get in return, an attitude and almost disobedience.

Then you said, you had to go home urgently, and I said-use official car for going. You were hesitant, but I insisted saying that we invest our holidays and all, so we deserve this much. You said okay.

I did tell you, that come what may, do try to come back, which I thought to myself, was a bit harsh, but I did tell you later that you could avoid coming if situation demands.

Aniways, you went and took a lift from another person, sms’ed me. I was okay with that. But then I went to agency and sms’ed you to use official car if you decide to come back to office. You sent back sms 2 hours later- I have taken a taxi and I have come back.

That really pissed me off, so I decided then and there not to call you on next 3 days.

On Monday also, my anger did not subside, I did not want to make an issue of it, knowing that my anger will go away in 2 weeks, so I decided that I will do all agency-related work and keep mum. This I thought will convey my anger to you. I wanted to convey two things to you.

One, I am self-sufficient and can do the work on my own, if required. If I ask you to do the work, it’s because I want the whole team to work together.

Two, If I end up doing work on weekends, I can jolly well do the work on weekdays too.

Lucky- Sir, I did not mean to hurt you, my anger was directed at the other departments who were working slowly and spoiling our weekends. Though I get it that my words did not convey this. As for car, while going home, I got a lift, and since I had already taken a taxi from home for the personal work I had, and I had to pay him aniways, so I came back by taxi.

But you could have told all this to me on Monday, you know how these things disturb me.

Sunny- No but it was intentional and I wanted you to realise how angry I was.

Lucky- I get that, but now you owe me a coffee, and please please in future do tell me if I say something wrong.

Sunny- Okay, deal.

(This is a real conversation I had with my junior this week. Thought to write in a dialogue form to make it interesting reading)

What say??

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Junior this!

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You can get a lot done, if you don’t mind who gets the credit, thus goes a quote. And I firmly believe in that on a day to day basis. Though I did have a conflict in my mind when I was assessed as not-the-best performer. So I can’t say I live by this quote 100 %. But to be frank, on a daily basis I act on it. However once or twice a year, when it affects my assessment, it hurts me but I come to terms with it soon enough and get on with my life.

So this junior who was feeling singled-out and shared that with me, who was feeling hurt by comments of a friend and shared. In both the cases, I took remedial measures, so that she does not feel singled-out and feel hurt. She reads a lot of books, talks sense most of the time, but last week she behaved very oddly.

We have been working on a publication for last one month. I have given her full liberty, exposure and visibility. So I was feeling good that we were working as a team. But when it came to a long weekend, when I asked her to share the load, and choose the days she wants to come, she said-If I have to come, I will come any day. Then same day, she also disobeyed me when she did not act on my advice to use office car for some urgent work, instead hired a taxi on her own. Same evening happy told, that she would tell something this junior said about me. All this made me very very angry.

So I worked on 2 full days on weekend and did not call her. Then I debated in mind if to tell her how upset I am. But then I remembered she is the same junior who had cried before others, when I corrected her draft and made a silly comment. So I decided that I will not say anything. But I was still not at peace. I kept on thinking, and found that her daughter was not well that day and I had insisted that she comes back to office. She might have disliked that, but what the hell.

So on Monday, I did not say anything to her. I kept myself under control though it was very difficult. I felt like making satirical comments or sharp taunts, but I kept mum. Strangely in that state of mind, I subconsciously took a decision that for this job, I will not send her to agency. If I have to work on weekends, I can very well work on weekdays too. She appeared to take it very casually. But somehow I am liking this sudden decision on my part. Though I know this will not work with all colleagues. But since she appears to be well-read and sensible, maybe she realises that she hurt me. Though there may be possibility that she would be carrying grudges against me, which I don’t know, but I don’t feel like asking happy right now.

Maybe in 3-4 days, my anger will cool down and things will be back to normal.

Let  us see.

Mood swings

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Mood is a strange animal, very difficult to control. One day it is on, one day it is off. At times I know the reason of my mood swing, and at times I don’t. Now I can’t blame it on hormones, or can I. Then mood can be interpreted as nothing but a state of mind, which also affects other organs of the body resulting in fast heartbeat, headache and what not.

But for every person, reasons for mood getting off-track are different. Thanks to Daniel Goleman, M. Scott Peck and Dale Carnegies of the world, I am trying to understand the working of my mind these days, and so trying to guess reason of my off mood today on this fine Sunday.

Two things really I could pin down on.

One is the fear of an important person being angry with me. Actually this person if the spouse of a big shot in our company. I was asked to assist them in a printing job, which I did last year also. But this time I could not give full time to it, and had to rely on another person who is formally the editor, and it seems this editor backbited and sullied my image. I don’t have any confirmation yet, just hunch because I was not called to their last meeting. So I am feeling cheated. Seeing in a big perspective, after 3-4 years, these things won’t matter, but then why is my mood off. Actually there is a function to formally launch the publication next week, and I am not sure I will be invited or not, and if invited I should go or not. Besides, another reason for that spouse being upset is that last year I made my spouse a member of their club, and told the friend who mediated, that why my spouse was not called for their get togethers. It seems this cunning, conniving friend might have complicated the things by passing on the things with spice to big shot spouse. Again this also is a hunch. What I could read from this situation is more than the loss of face, what worries me is the choice dilemma-I go or not go, I take interest or not. So Choice or decision, that too associated with a tricky situation upsets my mood.

I told you about a junior of mine, who was not very keen on coming to work on weekends even for an urgent job. Now the confusion, whether I tell her about how angry I was with her attitude, is again perturbing me. So here again the choice is making me upset, not the act itself.

I was thinking of telling another junior also about two of his lapses. Till the time I was thinking, I was not okay. But when I told him, that issue is out of my mind now. There was other issue also, but there I came to a different decision, and that also led to peace of mind.

Life is really simple, if you make it so.

Women bosses

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There was an article in newspaper on how women bosses are perceived differently and how they are far better than they are credited for. That made me think of two women bosses I have had.

One was a terror so to say. She used to shout at the slightest provocation, and that too on small things. All floors in our head office were aware of her loud voice. I caught her backbiting and backstabbing too, even on me at times. She was all good goody to your face but screwed you in your appraisal and rated those persons better who sucked up to her, or did her personal errands. She was more interested in her personal interests, rather than company’s interests. She played politics to ensure that a junior of mine, who was working with her for last 15 years (I came to head office much later) always got better of me. Additional telephone, better seating, better rating, better visibility and better job assignments. Though in front of me, she always criticised him, her bias was very clear. So women bosses also have as many bad qualities as men bosses have, so I don’t get this discrimination thing really. She did have positive side also. She was assertive, protective, woman of her words, caring at times, forthright in negative feedback in her trademark style of course, well-connected, good command over language, resilient, fast and go-getter.

Then there was this another boss who had this image of a tigress, but was very good at heart. She was too cold and calculating though with no personal interest in you whatsoever, self-centred (as most of the bosses are, I don’t know why I have a problem with that always), self-confident bordering on arrogance. For example once I sent her an sms regarding some event she had asked for the day before. Her reply comes- Yes, I know. Well I did not expect a bouquet or commendation but a plain thank-you or even no response would have sufficed. She threw water on my FYI act by snubbing me this way, and this she did a lot. Though I might have also irritated her at times unknowingly. For example, once she appeared for an interview of Board member, I sent her wishes and all, but when she did not get selected, I avoided raising the topic with her, thinking that it might hurt her more. And two days later, in a discussion with juniors in front of her, I said that she might become a board member some day and you will suffer if she goes out. A positive comment delivered at the wrong time. I repented the moment i said it, but the damage was done already. Aniways she adopts the need-to-know principle to perfection which at times is demotivating as you feel out of the loop. She will expect the unexpected from you at times like doing a 30-minute job in 5 minutes. She keeps her calm in big crisis situations but smaller issues ruffle her up and she loses her calm.

But then again compared to other bosses, she respects her time so she respects yours too,, she is polite when she speaks, she is reasonable and understanding if you exclude the time-problem, she shares her experience, she trusts you, she keeps her calm and is well-mannered.

So, that is how I saw my women bosses. Will write on women juniors some other time.

Leading people

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Today I was reading a blog on how we should lead with compassion and not authority. Our goal should be development of our team/subordinates.It led me thinking how peculiar work environment in public sector enterpirse (PSE), the type of organisation where I work, is better suited for this kind of leadership.

As we say, there are 1-2 typical things about a PSE.

-Horses and donkeys, meaning smart-workers and shirkers get equal treatment. Smart workers don’t get any special facilities, nor do shirkers get any punishment.

-Pays and perks are exactly the same, irrespective of the amount of work you put in.

-Promotions are time-bound. What matters more at senior levels is your connections etc. So a mediocre executive with networking skills has as good chances of promotion as an excellent executive.

-Transfers are also for those not well connected.

Now if you consider these and other factors, I don’t have much to motivate me. And it’s any fool’s guess that the same applies to my juniors.

So what do we do, keep working like machines without any aspirations, hopes, expectations, just rewards and all that.

NO, that is where the first line of this post comes. These conditions or obstacles which seem hampering growth, can be converted to opportunities.

If I don’t play politics knowing well that it hardly matters either way. If I don’t go running around grabbing credit for junior”s work  knowing that it matters not. If I don’t suck up to seniors instead I work sincerely for mental peace. If I am not egoistic, don’t throw my weight around, literally and otherwise, don’t treat juniors as machines and  tools, then I may already have made a good start.

Let me put it in other words. By doing all this, I will be motivating myself by getting the real happiness of developing and mentoring  my juniors, and my juniors will be hopefully happy to have a really caring and different boss.

Had I been in a private firm with cut-throat competition, backbiting, backstabbing, ratrace and all that, you can’t be a genuine caring and sincere boss. Unless ofcourse in C-suite.

I am saying this and will try to practice it now that I know its true worth. But irony is today only unwittingly I did the reverse. Actually ever since my appraisal rating has been downgraded, I have been a little bit edgy or maybe confused. Today happy was showing final proof of inhouse magazine to boss, and without being sure of it (though I had an inkling that she might be in doing that, and I hesitated also for a second, before entering boss’ room. Had it been pre-downgrading I would have not gone in even if I had 10 % inkling, as I would have wanted her to take credit for the job we did together). But I went in. Moreover while boss was perusing the magazine, I butted in at places. She did not seem to mind overtly at least. But I felt bad at my un-me behaviour. So, note to myself to avoid this in future.

Let me see if I can maintain this.

 

Ego & Narada-an ancient Indian saint

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Today was off and while surfing channels, I stopped at a religious channel and the speaker was explaining the concept of ego through ancient Indian story from Ramayana (the story of Lord Rama)

Narada is ill-famed to be a joker saint, with his wisecracks and smart tricks etc. But the speaker explained how he worshipped for several decades (after his master told him to follow the path of Prahlad, that story some other day). God was pleased and asked him to do some more meditation. Narada started again and was very devoted. Other gods tried to disturb him, by sending Kama (lord of lust, cupid). Kama tried a lot but did not succeed. Then he started saying- Narada is great, who has not only won his feeling of lust/sex, but also anger. Actually as per Indian scriptures, Kama had disturbed Lord Shiva (the destroyer) and Shiva had annihilated Kama in anger. So Kama referring to that incident said, Narada is even better than Shiva, as Shiva only resisted Kama, but Narada resisted Kama as well as anger, so Narada is better than Shiva. Narada opened his eyes after hearing all this praise. Basically his ego was boosted by this artificial praise by Kama. Narada went to Shiva and shared the story, Shiva listened patiently but advised Narada not to tell Vishnu. Well how could Narada stop himself. He went to Lord Vishnu and repeated the same thing. Vishnu also kept quiet. Narada went away, and Vishnu set up a kingdom by his powers where a princess Vishwamohini was about to choose her groom Narada passed by and thought if Shiva and Vishnu can have wives, why can’t I. He prayed to Lord Vishnu and he appeared. Narada requested him to help him in marriage. Vishnu asked again and Narada replied-do whatever is best for me. Vishnu made his face like a monkey. Later on when Narada was rejected he got angry and cursed Vishnu that you will have to suffer for a wife like me, and only monkeys will help you. Vishnu smiled and blessed him. Narada repented later on but God had his own plans. Thus was the ego of Narada and how he was brought down to reality by Lord Vishnu.

By the way speaker was one Atul Kishan Bhardwaj.

In an aside, speaker explained how Vishnu is Shantakaram Bhujangshayanam (sanskrit phrase meaning Vishnu is sleeping on bed of snake and is peaceful) and compared it satirically to our lives which he said are ashantakaram mattressshayanam (parody sanskrit meaning we sleep on top-class mattresses still we are not at peace). Speaker explained that Vishnu is in a sea of milk meaning living with truth, that is why he is at peace, whereas we live life of lies that is why we are never peaceful.

Managing the boss

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It has been a while since I started writing this blog, and since I am keeping it anonymous and not linking to Facebook, linkedin or twitter, I am losing out on many referral visits, but that is the price of anonymity.

Boss management is turning out to be a good lesson for me. It’s only been two weeks since I started working towards improving relationship with boss and it’s already paying off. His top priority was that he should be in the know of things and in loop all the time. I knew of this nature of him but used to ignore it due to my ego problem.

Now I take five minutes to jot down what all I need to share with him and when he come to our floor, I share those points in detail with him. And I now keep notes and papers to be signed by him with me, so that we have something others to discuss also. Earlier I used to send juniors to get ti signed from him. Then he has hot and sour relation with an ex-boss and thinks of me as more close to him, I have started correcting that impression also by sharing things which I don’t like about ex-boss.

And in these two weeks, I have realized the importance of having good relations with immediate boss, specially one who is feared because of his closeness with CEO.

There is renovation going on in our department and people are running helter skelter to lobby for their favourite seats in the new set-up. Now there are two seniors above me in department of the same rank, one is my boss. The other senior was going around and giving the impression that he is the one deciding the seats. His team was also giving the same impression. Now, I am okay with whoever does the arrangement but I did not like my exclusion from discussions and his team’s showing-off. With the new gained confidence of my boss, I simply said- Sir, such rumours are going on, do you know? That was enough for him to got to top boss and demand that he be included in finalization of seats. Top boss said he wanted that and had told so to other senior. Aniways this small trick resulted in my boss planning the arrangement for his team including me and shared the same with me. Win-win.

Then another junior whom I doubt for spoiling the relations between me and my boss, committed another 100th act of insubordination. After I shared the seat details with him yesterday, he went to top boss today and got his seat changed and came back and informed me. He never thought, as usual, to consult or ask me in advance. I was pissed off. Again I tried to use the fresh rapport with boss and told him that top boss it seems has changed the seat of this junior on his request. My boss being an ego-maniac, did not like it, which I knew beforehand, and asked this junior to stick to original seating plan. Junior tried to escape but could not. I know he must have been angry at me for throwing water on his plans and he will try to take revenge. But he deserved a lesson. Moreover I now realize that maintaining relations with boss at the cost of relations with juniors (if at all warranted) is better than vice-versa.

Another incident happened today. We received a note from a department that a high-level group has been formed having people from different departments, and a book needs to be written and printed. Our department has been assigned the task of selecting the agency for printing by tendering etc. Rest all will be done by the group. The moment I read it my blood started boiling. What do these people think of themselves. Is our department a printing agency? Why don’t they make us part of high level group? Or why don’t we give the names of agencies and let them do the tendering also? I shared the same with boss, who completely agreed and assured to speak with the department. It appeared like a small victory to me, in the domain of office politics. Let us see how far it goes. By the way, I got to know that HBR press has brought out a book on office politics. Waiting anxiously for my copy.

Another aside, happy has got a good new seat as favourite of top boss. We were pulling his leg and he commented- I don’t do any work which is assigned to favourites, rather top boss calls you every time for consultation. You will see in next order, you will get formal designation of favourite person. Though happy and me share complete trust, this statement brought out her latent views and thoughts. I was wondering are there more such hidden thoughts.

Show-offs

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Today only, my happy friend shared what happened with her. She was waiting at our office reception to welcome and escort a senior editor to CEO and saw a big car approaching. She thought this must be the car so advanced a bit. Suddenly a man standing behind her stepped forward and remarked- This is mine, I prefer BMW. She had a hearty laugh and so did I when she told. And we discussed how a sarcastic retort could be- I prefer Maruti-800.

But this happens so often. We come across people who show off on such material things. I have actually seen people moving around with brand tag stitched on the coat sleeves.

Then in our chartered bus for commuting to office, most of the people on receiving a call always reply-I am driving, will talk later. What the f. Is it bad to travel in a bus. If it is, why do you. People.

There are some who can’t have a conversation without dropping 4-5 names. It seems they don’t have any status or position of themselves, that they rely on using acquaintance with others as a talking point.

Few of my relatives and friends are the be-all and end-all of everything. Anything or any person you talk about, they know. Before you complete a sentence they will start nodding or interrupting for adding their own version. Such show-offs are a pain, when they start advising in office meetings. I have started putting the ball in their court by requesting them in front of HOD to carry forward what they have suggested. They never do, hope at some stage they will stop butting in.

And if you have a show-off as a senior, you are screwed big time. Because in their effort to show off always they end up taking shitty jobs in their hands and you end up doing these jobs. I know because I have had such bosses.

Some people try to threaten you by showing off who all they know. Being in PR, I have faced that a lot. But the key here is not to give in. I felt insulted and frustrated in such cases when they threw their weight around and wanted things done their way, but I took a stand and till now I have been successful.

I have seen relatives spending huge sums on parties, cars, bunglaws for showing off. But when you meet them one on one, they start their sob stories of how they are living hand to mouth. Who asked you to splurge?

Then there are people in power. They misuse their positions and claim to have a pulse on everything. I hope they know that most of the time we are respecting the chair and not the person.

On hypocrisy, which seems to be a cousin of show-off, some other day.