Category Archives: Impulse

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.

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.

 

Emotional Judo by Daniel Goleman

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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

Wishes & doubts

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Today was a big day at office. Our boss was to appear for an interview to become a board member in the company. We were holding all big decisions and tasks in last week, to give him breathing and preparation time.

Since yesterday evening boss had shouted at me for a job not done, I was in two minds whether to wish him luck before the job is done. I decided against it and waited for the job to be done till today morning, when I got confirmation and I told junior to intimate boss that job has been done, then only I sent the best wishes message. I was thinking of –Company Board will be lucky to have you, but it felt like a message from Board Chief, so I rephrased it- praying that Board is fortunate to have you. For a change boss replied with a thanks message. Normally he is not the acknowledging type.

So we waited and boss came back in forenoon, all smiles. We all were hoping that he gets selected. Though we would have lost a good boss, but company would have gained by his elevation.

In the meanwhile, another junior told me that she thought deeply if to send a message or not, and decided not to send the message. Reason- boss might feel that she is happy with boss’ going away. I was confused so she explained that similar incident had happened in the past and the wished person had taken it badly. To each her own.

Happy asked me if I had sent the wishes, I said yes. But the question itself was puzzling, what did happy want, I send it or not, or was happy brooding over who else, other than happy sent it. Whatever.

Then came my impulsive junior. He started monitoring the interview committee site since morning, though we knew results won’t be out before evening. In between, I met boss 1-2 times and we were pretending all was as usual. Though all of us, especially boss was eagerly awaiting the results.

And how we got to know was also funny. Boss was near our cubicles discussing some office things, surrounded by people, and impulsive junior calls him impatiently and says-please see. We half-guessed that it was the result. Boss saw and went back to room. In hushed murmurs, news spread that boss was not elevated. We were all sad, as we genuinely wanted boss to succeed. But as bad luck would have it. And this impulsive junior was openly cursing himself, for being the harbinger of bad news to boss. Impulse does that to you, right.

And the last image of office I have is boss passing by my seat, with big genuine smile on face. That is GRACE UNDER PRESSURE.

Bossing around

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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.

 

 

Just-say-no by Daniel Goleman

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Six friends, all in college, were drinking and playing cards late into the night when an argument broke out. Mack and Ted’s disagreement got louder and angrier until Mack flew into a rage, yelling and screaming-at which point Ted became noticeably cool and reserved. But Mack’s temper was now out of control, he stood up and challenged Ted to a fight. Ted responded to Mack’s goading very calmly, saying he would consider fighting Mack, but only if they finished playing the card game.

Mack, though boiling with rage, agreed. During the several minutes it took to play out the game, everyone else took Ted’s lead and finished the game as though nothing had happened. This gave Mack time to settle down and collect his thoughts. At the end of the hand Ted calmly told Mack- Now if you would like to discuss this further, I will step outside.  But Mack, who by now had had time to quiet down and think things over, apologised for his temper, and there was no fight.

They met again 20 years later, at their school reunion. Ted had a successful career in commercial real estate, while Mack was out of work and struggling with drugs and alcohol.

The contrast between Mack and Ted is telling testimony of the benefits of being able to say no to impulse.

From- Working with EI