A good friend once told me – People change jobs not so much because of the company, pay or facilities but most often due to people. This thought struck a chord with me as I reflected upon my corporate journey for the past 10 years.
I always looks back at my initial days as a CA Intern where I earned a meagre stipend of 2k per month which was then hiked to 4K and 6K in the 2nd and 3rd year of article ship. This is the kind of money I spend on a pair of shoes these days. But those days are the most memorable in my professional journey. While life was carefree as we were just interns and not employees, what made this stint special was the awesome set of people I worked with, most importantly my manager Prashanth. He was one of the coolest managers in my career- while he did have his favourites (I was one of them!), he played a fair game, made sure he gives an opportunity to all, appreciation and criticism were spelt out clearly for a job well done or messed up, He boosted my confidence and I was always eager to come out with better audit observations in the next assignment.
This is what a good boss does to you. I have been fortunate to have worked with some awesome bosses in my current job and this is one of the primary reasons I love my job. People who are super smart, savvy, motivators, challengers, above all kind and human. Doesn’t that make all the difference? Someone you would want to go to and have a candid chat with about an upcoming project or your appraisal and not leave the room with a feeling of “I would rather not have had this conversation which was ambiguous and left me at the same point I was before talking”
I have met some people who have been working with the organisation for as long as 30 years- the oldest I know is a colleague who has worked here for 37 years. He joined as a fresh grad and is a grandfather now. These people work abroad. I know the situation is quite different in India, where people hop jobs every 2-3 years for a pay rise. But I wonder, what made people like that colleague stick on for so long? There is no dearth of opportunities, I know many of such people are extremely talented and live in the financial hubs like London, NY where finding another opportunity is not difficult.
I think its more to do with the work culture which then boils down to the people you work with – for I have learnt this the hard way. A big and glitzy company on the Forbes 500 list, the fat pay cheque, work life balance, good friends at work- you may have everything but a bad boss can ruin your happiness at work. I was in such a situation for a long time where I lived in an ultra glamorous world but I wasn’t content. There was this gnawing gap and feeling of utter helplessness within me. This stemmed from working with some people who lacked the basic values – micro managing everything right from the time you enter office to the very details of what your day is like, making life terrible if you are unable to answer some question confidently or there is a small mistake in your work, bickering over trivial things like vacations, coverage, using the year end appraisals to make a person feel like they are doing a thankless job.
Having dealt with some really bad bosses for a large part of my career and a set of super good ones who are like that cheesy layer of the pizza which everyone loves, has made me introspect and decide on how I want to treat my subordinates as a boss
- The foremost rule that governs my behaviour is – treat someone the way you would want to be treated. As seniors we often have a unseen power and authority. We may say things which are rude and use our authority to undermine others , perhaps even get away with it but we seldom realise the intangible damage we are causing. The dent to the self confidence of a young girl or guy which will take a very long time to heal. As ambassadors of the company we work for, in a way we are marring the work culture as well. Disgruntled employees leaving the job and spreading negativity around, cost of hiring and training a new employee -the downside is really big.
- Make a conscious attempt to be kind to people Don’t hesitate to say sorry. A few days ago I was furiously typing on my computer cursing the latency issue which was rendering my PC very slow. It was 10 pm, I was terribly hungry, the driver was waiting for me downstairs, it was pouring outside. All I wanted to do is to go home and have a nice meal and chat with my daughter. Instead here I was with2 tasks I needed to wrap-up. I get an IM from a contingent employee in London where he is asking me something and I foresee his questions are going to result in more work coming my way. I snap at him and ask him to rather use the official email channel when he threatens me of escalation. After 1 minute, I curse myself for my rude, illogical behaviour. After all he was doing his job. I am the first one to tell sorry and he apologises for talking about escalations. The next minute he promises me a meal of butter chicken if I do visit London. I thought about this on my way back home, I could have easily ruined the relationship but I am glad I forged a bond.
- As a boss, its always tricky as you don’t want to be overly friendly and let people take you for granted. You got to be firm where you have it but that doesn’t stop you from being kind. If you see a new employee, take a few minutes to say hello, ask them about how are they finding the workplace, see your colleagues struggling with an issue at work or a technical question, step in and hep them out. Came across some great presentation, share it with the team. I have often found that I could gain the respect of my team mates not as much by authority but the things I mentioned above which helped build my credibility.
- Women are a minority at the workplace- the numbers keep dwindling as you move up the ladder. I am biased towards women- I would love to see more of them shatter the glass ceiling. At times its just about a casual talk in the ladies – inquiring about their pregnancy, child, their career and I was surprised to see quite a few confide in me about things that are not going well. Building that trust is vital and it often comes from informal conversations than official sessions.
- Who doesn’t love appreciation ? While its easy to yell at people for a job messed up, how often do we take time to say a “thank you , super job” for something that was well executed. Expressing your thanks on an email by cc’ing the stakeholders who are key to that person is like an icing on the cake. What I love is the unadulterated joy on the face of the recipient when he/she comes by to thank me for the mail. Have you tried this?
I sometimes think of those dark days where I had this sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach that its Sunday evening and I need to go to work tomorrow and put up with an entire week of hopelessness. That feeling is something which has vanished from my life and I can see the huge difference this has made. Its not that I do not suffer from “Monday blues” at all, every working person does. But its more about a lazy feeling than the one filled with dread and despair as it once was. I always think- I would never want to be the reason someone goes through this horrid feeling of not wanting to go back to work on a Monday.This is what keeps me vigilant and conscious about my attitude in the workplace. Be kind, it costs nothing- this is the my mantra which I chant often.
What are your thoughts about behaviour at the workplace? Any good/bad memory to share of a boss, being a boss? Please leave in your comments, I would love to hear from you.
(Image courtesy- asset.enterpreneur.com)
I am participating in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge