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Monday, November 26, 2012

PEOPLE AND THE RULES OF THE WORKPLACE


Today I am writing about a subject that most of you would be able to relate to it as it involves the workplace.

It is important to understand that workplace is a mini picture of the society that we live in and what happens at the work place is in some way a reflection of us as part of a larger society. What we do? How we behave? Is in some way a reflection of the norms of the society at a given point in time? When we join a new organization we all expect the rules to be very clear and transparent. However, it is the same very people who would like the rules to be tampered with when it comes to their own individual cases. Sometimes it looks like everybody wants the rules to apply to all except to themselves.

In my experience in managing people for the last 16 years in India, I have come across a variety of samples and have used them in my writings on this blog without using their names. Today, I am using one such case to drive my point but with a sense of caution that not everyone is the same and it should not be generalized. It only shows one type of employee within an organization and how their personal goal is so much in conflict with the organizational objectives.

The employee in question was a very different type of employee and I have always been very cautious of such people. This type of person at the workplace is one that will make you feel very good by following the not so important rules as long as they are with you. They will say good things to be on your side but inside their heart they have a very devious design waiting to be put in place. They will bend 90 degrees to say hello to you at the first sight but in their heart they are thinking something else. They are always trying to show you how important they are to the organization and how they can make the system so good and appealing. However, they can never take a responsibility and carry it through. The best part is that they will have a thousand reasons why it cannot be done. They like to give advice and act like a consultant but they cannot do anything worthwhile to add value to the organization. Having seen a number of such cases I now understand how they operate and how you can identify them so that you don’t waste time on such people. Many of these types of employees also play on the concept of I know such and such a person, or I am very close to so and so individual. This is their mean of creating a place for themselves in the social order. I call it as trying to be someone by climbing on the shoulders of some known people.

If you look around within your own organization you can find them. They are always very visible figures although most other employees know the reality; they just hang on with the person. These are the type of people for whom it is not too long that they begin to get exposed and they begin to look for other options to move on and that is when the real person begins to come alive. Such individual have a very short work life in any place of work. Thus the first thing that you will notice about such people is that their CV has a lot of job changes with a lot of them not lasting for over a year. That is the amount of time it takes an employer to understand the reality of the person and begin the process of letting them go. But we have to remember that these are very cunning people, they can sense that their end is coming and they will begin their search process and make a move before being fired. It is at this point that they want all the rules of the organization to be changed to accommodate their exit. Now the very rules that they had felt were great suddenly become bad as they don’t give them the flexibility that is desired.

Remember these are very dangerous people and are a drain on any system. In order to get their way they will tell you all the rules and the laws as per their convenience. The real person begins to appear, they will tell you things about you or others in the organization about whom they always talked very highly. What is going on here is the thought that comes to your mind? Well remember that they are now done with you and they don’t have to bend 90 degrees anymore because that was just a show to start with.  They did not do that because they respected you but just that they wanted to be in your good books. Such employees are there in every organization but they are there for a very short time.

One other impact of such people leaving the organization is on what they plan to do next. They will always try and tarnish your image and the make sure that all efforts are made to disrupt the whole system once they leave. These would include writing mails to your superiors, spreading rumors within the organization as to how bad things are in the place. There is nothing new in this pattern of behavior. In fact it is expected from such employees who have a short-term life. Remember that they cannot do any damage to you or to the organization as they are completely exposed and slowly the market catches up with them and they become “a don’t touch him” personality and it is then that they realize that their deeds are now known in the market place.

The most important rule of the game in such a case is to just ignore them and don’t let them bother you or the organization. They have a natural tendency of decay and destruction. Paying too much attention does not help in making the workplace a healthy and creating an environment for focused achievement. It is important to remember that all rules are made to serve the larger interest of the workplace. They are not intended to fulfill the individual desires of the employees.

HAPPY READING…

Sunday, November 25, 2012

UNDERSTANDING ACADEMIC FREEDOM


If you are in the field of education you would be very familiar with the term academic freedom. It was designed to give teachers the freedom to differ in their ideology, in their thought process and to challenge the existing wisdom without fear of persecutions by administrators and repercussions on their careers. This indeed was how it was till the 1960s even in India and teachers at that time were held in very high esteem both by students and the society at large.

Over time teachers started falling from grace and their credibility started to be questioned by one and all. To some extent we can blame the high level of governmental interference in educational institution as being the driver for this shift. But the teachers themselves have to take some of the blame for drifting away from their mission as teachers.

So what is academic freedom in the modern world?

Today, the term academic freedom has been used, misused, and abused to the extent that it has never been done before in the history of Higher Education in India. Teachers have used it to not be in the work place, to not teach, to have the freedom to abuse the system. How does having freedom to be in office or not being in office relate to academic freedom? When questions are asked about their teaching they say my academic freedom is being questioned. I know of a lot of teachers in higher Education who will not prepare for their class, they just go and teach what they know; they are unfair to their students and are not able to get over the ego. They will even tell students that don’t you want good grades to make them fall in line as per their requirements. These are all instances of those kinds of people who should not be in the field of higher education. These are teachers by default and not by design. They are destroying the whole system and they need to be controlled to ensure that our higher education system begins to gradually move a higher level of achievement. Having said that, I know that the shortage of teachers in higher education is also a reason for such a shift. Coupled with this is the fact that we have a lot of people who have not been successful in industry getting into teaching. I call this as the residual impact. We also have a lot of people who want to become teachers after they have completed their innings in the industry.

If we look at the public sector, we find a more alarming situation. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that 20 percent of the University teachers are making the system function and it is on their shoulders that the whole system rests and they are the real teachers. The rest of them are politicians with a face of the teacher.

The academic freedom has not produced any break through research nor has it created any new knowledge. Yes in some of the centers of excellence like the IIC, BARC, TIFR there have been great levels of contribution but they are only exceptions to the rule. So what has the academic freedom given to us, how has it improved the condition of our universities and colleges. I will argue that it has resulted in decline in our educational standards because it has lost its true meaning. Today we have reached a point where if there is any move to put in place a system which demands accountability from the teachers, it is opposed by the teachers unions.

I believe that India Higher Education will continue to suffer setbacks till the teachers in Universities and colleges begin to understand that a job of a teacher is not just teach, but it is the task of making of a Nation. I consider this task more important than the task of a CEO of a large company. In a large company the job of the CEO is to enhance the interest of the stakeholders of the company. In case of education it is the interest of a Nation by training the next generation.

Once teachers understand their role in the larger context of Nation Building, we will begin to see a major transformation that will take place in Higher Education in India. I believe that only teachers have the capacity to change the direction of the decline in our standards in higher education. If we don’t rise, we will regret this as our children will not be ready for the world that they will live in. I do hope that the task of Nation Building has to be entrusted to the teachers and they have to take the task seriously.

Let me know my thoughts on this piece of work. I look forward to your comments.

HAPPY READING..SORRY I HAVE NOT WRITTEN FOR SOME TIME..

Sunday, March 25, 2012

THE RED BOOK & THE ART OF GIVING

When I started writing my blogs my intent was to share my personal thoughts and what I have learnt from life and my upbringing. I have been sharing many of my experiences with all my readers and those who follow me on my blog. Today I want to touch on a subject that has been very close to my heart at the same time I want to share how my early childhood shaped my thinking on this subject.

As I have said in my earlier blogs I was born in a small village in UP. Life in the village in my early years was good by what we knew as children. My family owned most of the land in the village and most of the other residents of the village were dependent on our land for livelihood. Most of them belonged to the lower castes (I don’t like this term but I don’t know how I can explain to my readers) and our family was the only source of financial and material support to them. My grandfather was a man who was respected by all in the village. He was always available to all for any help they needed and he never bothered if there is any return for what he did in his life. He was a man at peace with himself and I am yet to see a man who was so giving in his daily life. Sometimes I felt that he believed in the concept of trusteeship, where everything was owned by the community. My grandmother on the other hand was a very God fearing person; she was uneducated but had managed to learn to read with the help of the younger educated lot in the family. Her desire to learn to read was driven her curiosity to read the Holy book “The Geeta”. She spent two to three hours every day in the devotion of the all mighty. Some times when I used to ask her why do you spend so much time in this, she would reply that since you all don’t have time for God I have do it for everyone in the family. I learnt the art of giving from grandparents and it has made a great difference in my life today.

My grandparents, by the standards of the Village during those days, were well-to-do and they were financially supported by their three earning sons. However most of the money they had went into helping others in the village. I remember very clearly how even at the age of 65 plus he used to take the sick of the village to the hospital in the city. He even paid for the expenses for the treatment and would keep writing in his read book which was known as the “Bahi”. (The bahi was a red register which documented the amount of money given to people and the record of any money received from those who had taken it from him). Most of the entries were debit entries in his red book, there were very few credit entries in it. But this trend never bothered him and he continued his mission of giving and standing by those in need. As I grew up and was at Allahabad University, I had more opportunities to spend time with him. I would often take a break and go to the village and spend time with my grandparents for a few days. Every visit was an experience of a life time. Every morning and evening he would be with people who had come to see him. It was clear that all of them needed his help and he never turned down anyone. He would ask his trusted housekeeper (who is still alive) to give them what they wanted. Some on would come to ask for 40 kg of wheat for the wedding in the family. Someone would ask for 35 kg of rice for the festival season. There were others who wanted money to meet the expenditures of the family. He never let anyone go empty hand.

Everyone in the family was unable to understand what he was doing but he knew his mission and it was very clear to him. He was so giving that he had handed over his entire business in Mumbai before he returned to village to a person who had been working with him as an employee since the time he started his business. He used to say he has been with me throughout my life and I need to take care of him besides you all don’t need this. None of his children ever objected to this decision and the business was given away.

During his later years of life he still continued writing the red book and the attitude of giving never changed in fact it increased with his age. Someone in the family once asked him; so many people from the village come and take things from you but they never return it and you still keep giving them over and over again. He would say “so what can I do”, I can’t let the families be hungry after all some part of it is theirs. He once told me that anyone who has a share in my wealth will get it whether I like it or not. I guess they were getting their share. The best part of all this was that no one in the family ever objected to what he was doing. He had full support on everything.

He passed away and very happy and satisfied man and his RED BOOK still had the entries of all those people who had taken loans from him with the understanding that it will be returned. No one ever came forward to return what they had taken but we felt that he had never given anything to be returned in this life. May be he was collecting credits for his next life. The RED BOOK is a family story and I hope that all of us in our life will have a RED BOOK which will tell the tale of so many families who you have helped and made a difference in their life. I have started writing my RED BOOK but I don’t know if I will ever reach the heights of what my grandfather was able to achieve. I have never seen a man so honest, so pure and so giving in my life.

Grandfather..Thank you for showing me the right path..


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A CUP OF COFFEE

The happiest people in the world are not those who have no problems, but those who learn to live with things that are less than perfect.”

A group of graduates, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.
Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the simple and cheap ones.

While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee.
In most cases, it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink.

What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… Then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

Now consider this:

·         Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live.
       
Sometimes, by concentrating on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us. Enjoy your coffee!.”

·         The happiest people don’t have the best of everything.

·         They just make the best of everything.”
1. Live simply.
2. Love generously.
3. Care deeply.

4. Speak kindly.

5. Leave the rest to God.

You are the miracle, my friend; your life either shines a light OR casts a shadow!
Shine a light & enjoy the Coffee!!!
 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

THIS IS THE REALITY OF LIFE

Following is a letter to his son and daughter from a renowned Hong Kong TV broadcaster cum Child Psychologist. The words are actually applicable to all of us, young or old, children or parents!

I am writing this to you because of 3 reasons
1. Life, fortune and mishaps are unpredictable; nobody knows how long he lives. Some words are better said early.

2. I am your father, and if I don't tell you these, no one else will.

3. What are written are my own personal bitter experiences that perhaps could save you a lot of unnecessary heartaches?
Remember the following as you go through life.

1. Do not bear grudge towards those who are not good to you. No one has the responsibility of treating you well, except your mother and me. To those who are good to you, you have to treasure it and be thankful, and ALSO you have to be cautious, because, everyone has a motive for every move. When a person is good to you, it does not mean he really likes you. You have to be careful; don't hastily regard him as a real friend.
2. No one is indispensable, nothing in the world that you must possess. Once you understand this idea, it would be easier for you to go through life when people around you don’t want you anymore, or when you lose what/whom you love most.

3. Life is short. When you waste your life today, tomorrow you would find that life is leaving you. The earlier you treasure your life, the better you enjoy life.

4. Love is but a transient feeling, and this feeling would fade with time and with one's mood. If your so called loved one leaves you, be patient, time will wash away your aches and sadness. Don't over exaggerate the beauty and sweetness of love, and don’t over exaggerate the sadness of falling out of love.

5. a lot of successful people did not receive a good education that does not mean that you can be successful by not studying hard! Whatever knowledge you gain is your weapon in life. One can go from rags to riches, but one has to start from some rags!

6. I do not expect you to financially support me when I am old, neither would I financially support your whole life. My responsibility as a supporter ends when you are grown up. After that, you decide whether you want to travel in a public transport or in your limousine, whether rich or poor.

7. You honor your words, but don't expect others to be so. You can be good to people, but don't expect people to be good to you. If you don't understand this, you would end up with unnecessary troubles.

8. I have bought lotteries for umpteen years, but I never strike any prize. That shows if you want to be rich, you have to work hard! There is no free lunch!

9. No matter how much time I have with you, let’s treasure the time we have together. We do not know if we would meet again in our next life.

Your Dad and Mum


Monday, March 12, 2012

BORDERLINE LIVING

Being born in this world we all have to live a life whether we like it or not. The important question is what kind of life we would like to live? I have always lived a life with a purpose and then devoting my time to the purpose that I have defined for myself. But there are a large number of people who spend more than half of their life just in finding the purpose for living a life. Then another 25 percent of their life time is gone in motivating themselves towards that purpose. By the time they are ready to push that purpose forward a long time has passed and very little can be achieved. Life is worth living and has a lot of meaning if we consider it as an adventure. A journey with uncharted path, a direction where you have to define the path as you move forward. Have you ever noticed that many people whether at work or at home are just not motivated enough to do anything but want everything from life.

At work we find people who will just do sufficient so that they don’t lose their job. They don’t have any passion for their own achievements. They are normally those that will not come forward to take up any responsibility. Many a time they would not even bring up any issue due to the fear that they may be given the responsibility to complete it. They would rather sit and talk about others than to do something constructive. These are the people who I consider as those that have a Borderline living. They follow a marginal approach to life. What they don’t understand is that the only people they are hurting in the log-run are themselves. They tend to have many explanations for their behavior and they can very easily justify their approach to life. They consider themselves as the incarnation of the super human and consider themselves as perfectionists. They tend to believe that they are always right but are very weak workers/ employees. There is another characteristic of such individuals; they are very respectful to their superiors as that is the main weapon of their survival at the work place. They also tend to speak the right language and have strong public relations traits. They are however, not long-term players as sooner or later they trend to get exposed and they have to move on to the next job.

Now let us look at the other group of people who give everything that they have for the purpose they have defined for themselves. These are people who are seen everywhere in the organization. They don’t like to be bound by job descriptions. They tend to find problems all around and take the responsibility to solve them or put a process in place to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to solve them. What type of DNA do these employees’ posses? It’s a difficult question to answer. I feel what we are, is to a large extent determined by a number of factors which include our growing years, the environment, the family conditions and the role models that we are exposed to in early years of our life. I have felt that those people who have been surrounded by people who have made easy money in life, the impact of such environment is likely to lead to a characteristic defined by Borderline living above. Some of these values are also taken from our own families. If you see your parents and family members working hard to make a living, it is likely that the same value systems will become part of your living life.

It is important for all of us to take a look at our own way of leading a life. Income without work is not what we should be looking at. What we earn should be in proportion to the contribution that we make to the organization. Life becomes interesting if you move away from the borderline living to life without border. Experiment and innovate, find new ways of doing things and finally be honest to yourself. If you can do this much you will find the right path to the journey of your life.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

TAKING OUT OF CONTEXT

Today I am writing on an issue that I have been thinking of writing for a long time. It is the issue of a situation when what you say or do is taken out of context and blown into a mountain. I am sure that all of us have gone through this at one time or the other in our life and if you are one of those lucky one that has not.. it will come sooner or later.

Think of a situation where you say something to a person and after a few days you find that the whole meaning of what you said has taken a different shape not to the person to whom you said it but to all those who came to know about it later. I have had a number of instances where this has taken place in my life. Trust me it hurts a lot because you now realize that you have been made a monster even though all your intentions were always good. You might have had the best interest of the person to whom you said but the world looks at everything in the color that it wants to see. These kinds of instances drain your energy and make you think where I went wrong. Many a times you do or say things to a person because you feel you can take the liberty to say it. You will be surprised that it may not be taken in the same light in which you might have said.

Now the important question for all of us to think of is ..Why do people do such things? Well there is a lot of fun and joy in talking about others. This is more so because every person can have his or her own interpretations of what has been said. There is nothing surprising about it; historically we have been doing this. I can give you evidence of so many different versions of the Bible, the Quran, and the Geeta. These are different interpretations of what we as human beings considered that the all mighty or the messenger said and that is how our society gets divided into smaller communities with different belief systems. So think of this, if we as humans can have different interpretations of the God/messenger, then why it would be difficult for us to interpret what we say or think about things that we express in our daily life.

I have always felt that people have their own agenda to carry forward. In most instances there is conflict between the agenda that one person wants to take forward and that some other person wants to take forward at the same time. This conflict, results from the self-centered approach that most people have towards life and work. So what is the purpose of doing something like this? Is there some material gain in it for the person in question? Well I personally don’t feel that there is but not everyone may have the maturity to understand that. That is where all the problems start and life begins to become more complicated. So I am here, listing things that you can do at individual levels to keep away from the negative force of taking anyone out of context.

1.       Always remember that people define their limits of thinking by the way they express things in reality or in different situations. Don’t count it against them, give them space for some time and they will realize it.

2.       People love talking good things about themselves and negative about others (there are always exceptions). Sometimes people can show themselves as being good only by showing how bad others are. This is what I call scoring points not due to you. Such people have not done much in life and they take shelter under the roof of relative comparisons.

3.       Don’t get upset about what they are doing. If you do, they win and you are on the losing side. Keep your cool and do not get angry, be nice to them as you would be under normal situations (I know it is difficult).

4.       Every person has a limit to their understanding which is a result of their upbringing and the environment that faced while growing up. We need to give benefit of doubt that it is not a well thought of strategy but just something resulting for past experiences.

5.       You don’t need to say anything bad to those who have taken you out of context. If you do then there is no difference between you and them.

Next time when you begin to interpret what someone else has said, wait for a while, take deep breath and ask yourself am I being hard on others. Your life is important but so is others, protects the reputation of every person and you will always fly in life. Let’s leave everything to the day of final judgment.


Friday, February 24, 2012

OpenBook: DON’T CARRY YOUR PAST

OpenBook: DON’T CARRY YOUR PAST: Sorry I have not written much this month. The work pressure has been very high and there is so little time left for anything. This month...

DON’T CARRY YOUR PAST

Sorry I have not written much this month. The work pressure has been very high and there is so little time left for anything.

This month I met a lot of people who I thought were very uptight about life. It seems as if the world has come to an end for them. But then when talking to them I realized what a beautiful world we live in and how we can make the best of what we have. Are we not blessed to be what we are?

Some times in life we come to a point where nothing seems to go right for us. Everywhere we put out hands, things just go wrong and it looks like the invisible had is working against you. We get into the frame of mind that keeps taking us to the past. We begin to live a life of illusions and seldom are able to look at the reality as it faces us in the present. It is however important for us to understand a couple of fact about life and living it. Think of this situation: the only thing that is certain about our life is its end. We know this to be the ultimate reality; now there is nothing worse that can happen to you than knowing that you will not be there forever. But we live life with a smile without ever thinking about it. May be the fact that we don’t know when it will come gives us so much of hope for the eternal life. So if we can go on with our life even when we know the worst case scenario, what is it then which can be worse than this that makes us so sad in life. I believe that it is due to the fact that a lot of us like to carry the baggage of the past and regret some of the decisions and actions that we have taken.

Life is about living in peace, the mind, the body and the soul have to be aligned both internally and externally for a journey that has too many roadblocks in life. Our objective has to be find ways to overcome these roadblocks and be prepared for them before they hit you where it hurts. I have always found that it helps to live in the present because it gives you an opportunity to add to your future and keeps you away from the past. It is never possible that you will never go into a flashback in past. We will all do that once in a while, but the important thing is not to get stuck in it for ever. The understanding that past can only help us in forging a better present and hopefully a clearer future is critical to living a good life. The reason that we should focus on the present is because it is likely to become your past tomorrow. It is thus possible each day to change our past based on what we today in our present. So if you intend to have great memories of your past, it is never late to start today. That is the funny side of our past. Sometime people feel you can change the past but in reality you can change your past through a focus on your present. Every day that goes by you are changing your past and adding new things in it.

Sometimes it helps if you begin to appreciate your past in life even if it has not been great by even your standards set for self. You will begin to love the small gains that you make each day as at times life is about relative good or bad. Because things have not gone the way we intended, even a small achievement gives us immense pleasure. We all need to begin to enjoy these small steps that we take in life.

If you are one of those that are always lost in the past, you have a reason to be worried and you have to find a way to come out of it and begin to live a life in the present. This is more because you are giving up so much of your present that it will have a major impact on your future. One way that has worked for me when I am lost in the past has been to find something creative to do. Engage yourself in an activity that will take your mind off from the past and divert all your latent energy into a creative cycle. This where having a hobby can be of great help. Sometime we take the help of friends to talk it out. It is not about talking out it is more about getting over with it. Personally I am a creative type of person, when i don’t want to think too much about the past and if it does not let me go of it, I find ways to forget it. I sometimes make animal figures out of plaster of Paris. I get so lost in trying to make them as close in look as the real animals that there is no other thought that comes to my mind. Try something like this when the past begins to haunt you.

I hope you enjoyed reading it.. but do think and stay in the present because that is where your future is.