Category Archives: juniors

Millennials and workplace

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Since I have 4 millennials in my 6-member team, I am interested in this topic. I found some interesting points in an article by Asha Bhandarker in Indian Management, which are jotted below:

Gen Y has been termed as selfish, disloyal, careerist, low commitment to organization, materialistic and money-minded.

Study by MDI, India found that millennials want

-freedom for experimentation

-opportunities to take initiatives

-encouraging idea generation and innovation

-appreciation of performance

-recognition and rewards

-fairness and transparency at workplace

-opportunity for growth and development

They are concerned about the style and behaviour of the executives they report to.

They look to work with those seniors who are humble and listening , accessible and available, empowering in approach as well as favourable.

A leader who is a good mentor and develops people by giving them valid and honest feedback.

Who is smart and clear thinker

An inspiring role model

Able to bring people together and build a team

Instead millennials have typically reported to executives who have been imposing, critical, ordering rather than guiding along with being close minded and rigid.

My boss and me

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In last one week, 2-3 things happened which resulted in this post.

My boss Tina is very forgetful and sometimes absent-minded. So I am not surprized when she gives credit for my work to other people in front of me, or claims credit for herself. So it was a pleasant surprize when she acknowledged my suggestion. What happened was that an event was to be organised and two booklets were to be printed for the event. While designing was going on I suggested that we can avoid mentioning event date on the book cover so that if event is rescheduled, booklets are usable. She agreed to it. And 2 days later, government announces austerity measures and disallows govt. programmes in 5-star hotels, so our programme is cancelled. Boss expresses happiness that we did not print date on books. In a moment of sucking-up, and since it slipped out of my mind that it was my suggestion, I said- Boss, your foresight was bang on dot. She said-you only suggested it. I ended up having a mix of emotions- guilt for appearing to be sucking up, happy that she accepted my idea, surprized that she acknowledged me and so on.

But in another incident, we were to launch a redone website. So she planned it all with my junior happy. I was also okay since I trust happy, who is boss’s technical advisor and best-rated executive of our department. Happy lined up everything as discussed by her with boss. But being nice she kept me in loop and informed. So on the day of the launch, I let happy and ann manage all the work. Aniways I was not involved in the discussions also so i was a bit upset also. When the launch happened, i was asked to join. Post the function,Tina called me and said- Why don’t you supervise. I told her, happy had discussed with you, and moreover she will think I am interfereing and trying to grab the credit. Tina said-no you need to get involved, i can not go everywhere. I said okay.

Next day she calls a meeting on website, where senior officers from different departments come and take part. She calls happy, ann and others but not me. I am again confused what is her working style. She discusses work directly to my juniors, assigns tasks to them, and then asks me about progress. Am I supposed to beg juniors to tell me what all jobs boss assigned to them. Tina can always tell me and then I can assign. It’s all very confusing.

An aside, yesterday I went to a printer for some urgent job. He remarked-Sir, you are so polite in your dealing that I can not say no to you for any job. It made my day.

Mistakes of Juniors

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This week has been unique in that two of my juniors have managed to make mistakes on two consecutive days.

First it was Lucky. Actually we had to get 2 books printed on an urgent basis. So we made the specs and scope of work for inviting bids from advertising agencies. She prepared a draft note based on our discussions and mailed it to me for checking. She also sent draft letter that was to be sent to agencies after this note was approved. I read the note and found that she had got the two books confused and jumbled up the specs. I corrected the specs and asked her to make same changes in the letter. She got the approvals and sent the mail. Next day when all the sealed bids had been received from agencies, she said one agency guy had called and pointed out the error in specs, as she was telling him something different on phone. She was very hassled, so I told her to calm down and we will see what can be done. I thought over it for few minutes and decided to tell to our boss and ask for her directions. Now I could have gone alone and put the entire blame on her, but I did not do that. I took her along and told boss that there was a mistake and explained the thing to her. She understood did not make too fuss about it and asked us to invite fresh bids. We did so and the issue was resolved. Since Finance was also involved in initial bids, I called up finance guy and said- Lucky had sent mail by mistake and this was how we were tackling. He said ok. Though Lucky sits in front of me and she was not listening. I felt bad in taking her name in front of finance. I had not taken her name in front of our boss. Secondly, I was apprehensive she might have heard in the open hall, so I wanted to come out clear, and said to her- I told finance ur name., though I did not tell ur name to boss. She said-why not sir, when I have made a mistake. Then I realized that I had broken the unwritten code of good conduct by bragging about it. I felt ashamed.

Today, Bob made a blunder. A few thousands calendars had been printed. Bob had supervised the job and today someone pointed out that there was a mistake, so the whole cost was wasted. Bob came to me and told. I kept cool and asked him at what stage the mistake had occurred. He said from the beginning. Bychance boss was not in office and was in a meeting. We asked the printer if the calendars could be salvaged, he said not really. I don’t know why but I was not very perturbed. I told him to remain calm, we will tell boss. It so happened that till late evening boss was in a meeting. So we decided we will tell later. Because if boss comes to know from some other source, she will not like that. And I had learnt from an earlier boss Jim that give negative news to boss first, positive news can wait.

Now I was in fix as there was not much fault of mine. Bob had seen the proofs, sent the okays, checked the final version. I had even asked him if he wanted any help, he said confidently no it’s all in control. Knowing myself, if i go to boss with him, I will end up becoming equally guilty if not more for the fault due to my modesty and definition of leadership. I do not want to be seen as ditching my juniors when they are in trouble. I don’t want to be seen as saying-he made the mistake. He is the culprit, let us hang him. I would rather say-we made the mistake. Boss will automatically believe what I say and consider me equally guilty.

But if I ask Bob to go to boss alone, he will feel deserted and secondly he may say anything to save himself. But that way burden of proving his innocence will be on him. Then I won’t jump and claim role in the mistake. Besides, I always encourage my juniors to go to boss and take responsibility. So they have to go when they make mistakes also.

FInally I have decided that we will go together and I will be cautious in jumping to grab the blame. If boss asks why you did not check- I will tell the truth that I asked him all is well and if my help is required, and bob said no all is well. Besides if every time I save them by sharing the blame equally, they will not get the lesson and become casual. Bob had earlier also made a mistake and he did not learn the lesson since I protected him.

Let us see what boss says.

If the issue does not become too complex, I am also taking it as a learning experience. Since I will have to face many such situations in future. Delegating jobs to my juniors and trusting them. They will make mistakes and I will have to face the brunt. Let us see how Tina tackles this.

BTW, an aside, I told Tom about his profile of activator, and he was not very happy with my assessment and told me so. He though profile fitted Jim and not him.

 

My Junior Tom

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Out of my 4-5 team members who are all millennials, Tom is the most challenging to tackle.

Today only I gave him some task, he did it very fast and mailed it to me. I mailed back-well done. His response mail-Like.

SO that is Tom for you, as millennial as one can be.

I got to know two comments he had made about me to others.

Dick always dumps all jobs on juniors and sits idle all the time.

DIck keeps reminding me of pending jobs all the time so I don’t want to sit near him.

I let it be known to Tom that I know about these two comments he made about me.

He became very edgy and tried to get more info out of me, saying who can make such comments about you.

He also told others that I favour some people because they are close to top management. He even said that I watch videos in office all the time.

He prefers getting close to top bosses and our seniors, even at the cost of bypassing me. If boss assigns a job to me and him, he will gradually hijack the job and start discussing jobs with him, and not me. A stage will come when boss thinks whole job was done by him and nothing by me.

He keeps bitching about me to to my seniors and juniors.

He is so careless that he makes a mistake 5 times in repeated drafts. I have stopped signing his drafts without reading each draft once.

He keeps surfing the whole day, goes for tea-break 3-4 times.

The other day he was making cheap comments about our boss, who is double his age.

I have tried all formulas with him-carrot and stick, but nothing works.

Recently he attended a training, and after that he is trying to improve relations with me, let us see if this goes anywhere.

 

Likes & Dislikes in Bosses

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Top 5 dislikes

ENIGMATIC We hate it when we don’t understand the boss. We want to know where we stand and what the rules are. We hate it when leader is inconsistent, or plays head games.  (Yep, my boss Jim was like that.)

THREATENING We don’t like the sword of Damocles over our head. We don’t like to see co-workers in that position either. Scapegoating, the art of torturing a subordinate for the sins of all, is a big no-no. It’s entertaining to a point, but no one wants to be the next line for humiliation. We expect our leaders to be able to discipline their passions and keep control of their emotions.

HYPOCRITICAL If you are an evil person, please let us know. We will be able to tell soon enough if you are self-serving. But please don’t say one thing and do another. It’s very confusing and gives virtue a bad name.

PEDANTIC Attention to detail is one thing, but let us do our jobs. When you are down in the hold rearranging the baggage, it makes us very nervous about who is steering the ship.

WASTING OUR TIME We understand the need for meetings. Hey, you are the boss. But we have a job to do here.

Top 5 Likes

COURAGE We love it when you take risks. We will feed off your confidence, and make you a legend. But we also want to see that 3 o clock in the morning courage, the courage to keep fighting when the whole thing seems to be coming down around our ears. We love fighters.

OPENNESS Let’s communicate. We can tell whether you want the real answers to your questions, or you are just showing off. How much noise you can handle. Challenging the prevailing wisdom always is. Openness means  making yourself a temporary equal once in a while and listening for the information that only the lower ranks can give you. (I think  I do it at times)

DRIVE TO WIN Sure, we all have different levels of commitment but at heart we all want to be winners. Set clear goals for us. We will block, carry the ball, or whatever but we want to know what the goal is. We want to see you committed to victory, however you define it.

FAIRNESS We know life is tough. Not everybody is going to make it. But we want to feel like we all have an equal chance to succeed. Mentorship is one thing, cronyism is another. Just be fair.

TRUST At the end of the day, we want your trust. If you give us the benefit of doubt, we will live up to your highest expectations. The greatest gift you can give us is your trust. If you can’t give it at least let us earn it.

(By Mark Bender)

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??

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.

Juniority

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You must have heard of seniority, so here is my version of the opposite behaviour viz. juniority.

Yesterday only, a junior team member had gone to another town for some official event. I was taking feedback from him on updates from time to time. So when the function was over, after an hour or so, this guy calls me up and says function went well and all. I said, okay and asked him to call up and tell the big boss also.  He replied- I have already done that, which irritated me. I did not say anything to him but was agitated a lot after the call. My reason was that he wanted to jump to the big boss first to grab the credit, and to ensure he is the first one to give the news, and he tells his reporting boss later. In other words, maybe he feared that he tells me first, I will go on jumping to the big boss and claim credit for the news. I thought to myself that he should have known better about me that I am not that sort, I told himself to tell the boss. So his over-smartness made me angry. I tried to give him benefit of doubt in my mind thinking that since boss was also monitoring parallely so there is no harm if he told the boss first. Or maybe boss only called him and he updated. But my anger did not fade away. So I almost decided that I will call him on next working day and tell that he should report things to me first and then to boss. Though there was a fear at the back of my mind that he would pass it on to boss. Well, after some time I mulled over how I behave as a junior. I realized that I also try to give important ideas and news updates to big boss first, and to reporting boss later. And my logic is that my reporting boss is a credit-grabber (which I think I am not, but seems people like this junior perceive me otherwise) and would ignore my contribution while mentioning this to big boss. So I revisited my earlier decision of telling this junior, and decided that I will instead change my attitude and let the juniors tell big boss first if they want to, and instead of saying-Tell big boss, I will just check-Hope you have told big boss. That way I will be able to cross-check if I need to tell the boss or tell the junior to intimate if he has not done already. Secondly, I will not get upset if junior replies-Yes, I have told already.

Second example of juniority also happened yesterday. Actually some very urgent time-bound job is going on and we have to work on three weekend holidays. Inspite of being the senior, I decided to be cooperative and asked my junior, what days would you prefer to come, and she replied- If I have to come, I don’t mind any day, and her tone was very edgy. Well, I was upset again. She is the person who has not been given any other major work, because she is engaged in this urgent job. She has not been asked to come on all three days as a junior. She is being given choice. But she still dares to get angry. Earlier last week also, when I had asked her to go to agency to supervise the ongoing job, she was reluctant saying we don’t have to do much, creative designer has to do it. Then I explained to her, how in an advertising agency designers work as a part of the pool and different client service executives try to get their work done first. So if a client is sitting on their head, the job gets done faster because designer can work on client’s job without being disturbed. If we are not there, and our client service executive is asked to spare the designer for a few hours, he can’t say no, because he has to work with those people daily, and has to ask for such help for himself at times. However, if a client is sitting there, they can’t do much about it. I saw it happening myself even yesterday also, when I went to the agency for supervision. She was not very convinced but went as if to oblige me. Now I feel like my politeness and softness is being taken for granted. And idiot me, I have decided to punish myself on these three days by not calling her at all. I know it will have no impact on her, she will rather enjoy and expect I do it every time.  Wify asked this morning why you are doing it all alone on holidays, no one else in your team. I did not tell her the whole story and gave bullshit that I have to go to office aniways for other jobs, so I will do it as well.  And I have this philosophy that if work has to be done on holidays there is no need for calling 2-3 people, when 1 person can do the job. So either I suffer, or a junior, family-time wise. That is why I gave her the choice but she acted pricey.

So that is juniority for you.

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