Category Archives: Frustration

Critical feedback dialogue

Standard

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??

Advertisements

Women bosses

Standard

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

Standard

 

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.

 

Emotional Judo by Daniel Goleman

Standard

A project manager notices a draftsman struggling over a simple aspect of blueprint. The project deadline looms, and they are all under tremendous pressure. As she approaches her colleague, the project manager notices that her hands are clenched, her thoughts are fixed on angry feelings about the difficult deadline, and she feels frustrated because the draftsman is not further along.

She relaxes a bit and asks the draftsman-What’s going on, is something wrong? His response is a litany of frustrations of his own, about not having enough information to finish the drawing., about how much he was asked to do in so little time.

Sympathetic, the project manager asks more detailed questions about what he is up against. Her speech is lively, animated, her gaze direct. She lets him know she feels overwhelmed by the pressure, too.

Her line of questioning leads him to see that he actually has more inthought, and formation than he that he can, in fact, finish the drawaing. He is buoyed, eager again to get back to the task. The manager even makes a joke about how everyone was missing some data on this project, especially the vice president who had made such a crazy commitment in the first place. They both laugh and get on with the work at hand.

What did the project manager do that was so right? She was emotionally present at work. She was fully attentive and involved in her work. Such person perform their best. Others experience them as accessible and engaged, and they contribute their creative ideas, energy and intuitions fully.

Presence begins with self-awareness. Manager… was attuned to her feelings, her clenched hands cued her to the anger she was feeling about the situation. And her empathy made her receptive to picking up the draftsman’s sense of frustration without taking it as a reflection on herself. Her ability to be comfortable with these distressing feelings let her deal with them effectively rather than avoid them. Instead of dismissing draftsman’s frustration or preemptively criticizing his performance, she drew him out. And she was able to highlight information that transformed the frustration to enthusiasm, ending the encounter with a joke that put th  onus where they both felt it to be- an EMOTIONAL JUDO MOVE that tightened the bond between them.

When fully present, we are more attuned to those around  us and to the needs of the situation, and we fluidly adapt to what is needed-in other words, we are in the flow. We can be thoughtful, funny, or self-reflective, drawing on whatever capacity or skill we need at the moment.

From- Working with EI

Bossing around

Standard

Well at times bosses do go on bossing around, without any rhyme and reason. They will start lecturing on what should or should not have been done in a situation, without asking if I did something. Today was one such day. A set of newspaper clippings was to be organized from a small town 1000 miles away. There was this guy we had tied up with earlier this year for such jobs, again my idea and initiative, but no credit, but he was not responding today. Aniways we knew it is not that urgent as it is being made out to be, no sky is going to fall. In some departments, like the one, where we had to send these clippings, where every junior officer thinks of himself as  god incarnate, and tries to earn brownie points with his seniors by pressurizing us minions. But our own boss goes out of the way to impress them, so we are left with no help. Okay, so boss who was bunking almost the whole day, calls up in evening and starts lecturing why clippings were not arranged. I tried to explain how we tried different sources, but he was not ready to listen. Neither did he ask his favourite executive in department, who is senior to me, to take care of the job. When it comes to facilities, perks, trainings, tours, exposure, seminars, conferences, committees, he is the favourite, but when it comes to shitty jobs, I am the chosen one. So I was given a piece of boss’s mind, without ever given a hearing to what all I tried. I WILL TRY THAT I DON’T DO IT TO MY JUNIORS.

Another incident that happened today was a junior coming to me and reviving my faith in giving credit to team. Though she is very conscious, touchy and all, but she came out from boss’s room and told me, sir, boss liked the photo we got edited last week, and was appreciating the agency. But I told boss that it was your idea and not agency’s idea to redo the photo. I was not expecting this maturity and broad heart from her, I would have imagined that she would have gladly accepted the praise, without ever mentioning my name. But she did and pleasantly surprised me. That she came out and told me, and I believed her also speaks of trust in our relationship. So I am tempted to consider my self a better boss to my juniors, than my boss is to me. This junior can sit idle for long hours without feeling any repentance, which I find strange, but then she works sincerely when required, is obedient, cooperative and cheerful. So I rate her better than juniors who do insubordination, are two-faced and dishonest.

Another colleague who had expressed his desire to sit away from me, as I keep reminding him of jobs to do, was taken aback today, when I taunted that I will remind him weekly since he does not like my daily reminders. Well that was my midway solution and also I wanted him to know that I know what he said about me to others. He today tried to reconsider his decision of seat change, discussed with others and me too. So tactic worked, though this time I insisted that he sits away because I am not very keen on sitting with him specially if he was not happy with it. He also tried to patch up with me by showing some soft-porn cartoon, ultimate in male bonding, and offering to give some movies in pen drive.

Such are the ways of the world.

 

 

Self-awareness for stress management by Daniel Goleman

Standard

The more accurately we can monitor our emotional upsets, the sooner we can recover from distress. Consider an experiment in which people watch a graphic anti-drunk-driving film depicting bloody auto accidents. During half hour after the film, viewers report feeling distressed and depressed, with their thoughts repeatedly going back to the troubling scenes they saw. The quickest to recover are those with the greatest clarity about their feelings. Emotional clarity enables us to manage bad moods.

..Even when people seem unflappable, if they are actually seething inside, they still need to handle their troubled feelings. Some cultures, like in Asia, encourage this pattern of masking negative feelings. While this may keep relationships tranquil, it can have a cost to the individual…Imploding is the problem here.

Emotional implosion has several drawbacks-Imploders often fail to take any action to better their situation. They may not show outward signs of an emotional hijack, but they suffer the internal fallout anyway. Headaches, edginess, smoking, and drinking too much, sleeplessness, endless self-criticism, And they have the same health risks as those who explode, and so need to learn to manage their own reactions to distress.

From- WOrking with EMotional Intelligence 

 

Demotivation

Standard

Human mind is strange. I shared in one previous post that I have been assessed and my rank downgraded from excellent (E)  to high (H). I pretended even to myself that I have been able to take it in my stride and am kool and okay with it. I asked the boss about reasons and what I could do to improve myself, but was brushed off politely saying u r good, this happens, will discuss sometime, which I am sure will never come.

Right so things must go on, but reality is not so. Now whenever boss goes away after office time and asks me to sit and wait for some important task, my heart burns. Whenever there is a holiday or weekend and I am asked to do some office work, I feel like reacting but I stop myself. Whenever boss attempts to praise me I get edgy and reply back harshly.  When other colleagues leave at 5-30 and I am expected to work overtime, I feel frustrated. Whenever I am admonished for small lapses of my team, I feel my blood boiling. But non-assertive me, always keeps quite. But internally I know all this is the result of E to H downgrading. I am still not able to digest it well. Though objectively the new boss is well within his rights to assess me as he wishes, but still downgrade is not easy to take.

Another problem I am facing with this boss that demotivates me is that he interacts directly with my reportees, gives them tasks without telling me, monitors those tasks directly, but when something gets delayed, I am expected to take care of this. I am not saying that he can’t interact with the millennials, as HOD he has right to do so. But then if they don’t act or respect me, he is to blame, as boss has given them undue weightage, and they think nothing of me in front of boss. Now they also don’t mind directly interacting with boss, without keeping me in the loop.  I try to act kool, but I don’t like this.

Then there is this ex-boss, who keeps digging holes for the present boss and expects me to help him, which I don’t, as I owe my loyalty to organisation not bosses. Yesterday only he sent some unit press release to boss. Boss called me and asked to mail to media. I edited it and sent some pix of CEO to media. Now this ex-boss calls me and starts giving lecture, why you did not research, why you did not talk to me, why you did not do this and that. I kept silent, he got the message and said take care in future. Same day earlier he called me and asked to arrange a car for a journo. Now he is ex-boss and I have to act with orders of present boss. So I asked how do I do it, he shouted that is your problem. I am literally screwed from both sides. God knows when I will be out of this grinding mill.

But all this frustrates and irritates me no end.

Yes