MindYourBusyNess: June 2009

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BEYOND TARGETS & DEADLINES

If you are a working professional, then there are fair chances that you are familiar with the terms ‘Target’ & ‘Deadline’.
How do you feel on hearing these words? If the memory comes with some uncomfortable feeling, you need to read this article.

Where is my choice? – There are certain things where you have no control in selection. For example you can not choose your parents or color of your skin. Similarly if you are performing under a job contract, someone else fixes the intangible entities like ‘Target’ & ‘Deadline’ for you. Your position does not matter. The decision maker is some one else –an outsider (He may not be aware of your capabilities, limitations & preferences or he might have not considered these factors while creating these entity for you). The realization of this fact will change your prospective.

Be the performer not the judge- Suppose you are staying in a hotel (which you have chosen as per your budget and requirements). It may not be the ‘best in town’ or your ‘dream hotel’. Now there are two choices. Either you start judging (and criticizing) the intelligence (or ignorance) of the person(s) who made this hotel-room for you and be relived of your burden of uncomfortable feelings. Or, the other choice is that you find the utility of the facilities available in your context and start enjoying them. Which one do you think is the better choice? Similarly you have two choices with your ‘targets & deadlines’-Criticize or perform (to achieve).

Unrealistic Does your ‘Target/Deadline’ sounds unrealistic to you? That means that you believe in your assessment that it can not be achieved under given circumstances. What effect this will have on your performance? You will start performing your act as a ritual without any will and enjoyment. In that case you can not achieve it in any circumstance. Think from other prospective now. Why don’t you break the record? Look around and see the achievers in any filed of life. What ever they achieved was considered impossible before they did it. They were not like others who never dared to think of those targets and remained looser. Therefore if you focus your efforts on seemingly unrealistic targets/deadlines there are chances that you emerge as record breaking achiever.

Long term analysis Targets come and go. Deadlines come and go. Life moves on. Sometimes you achieve target sometime not. Sometime you are not able to honor the deadline. What matters is your effort to achieve these entities. It is like a player who goes into the realities of victory & defeat. In the long run it is the ‘sports man spirit’ which is important not the victories or defeats which are short lived. But while ‘in action’ you have to do everything possible to achieve a ‘victory’.

MASTER PLAN

“Plan for the worst and Hope for the best”

You must have probably heard this quote.
Unfortunately many people go just opposite. They make plan where they consider all situations and factors in their favor.
Being optimistic is very good but not while you are planning. Making a workable plan means you think what worst can happen and make provisions to counter the probable damage. The basic purpose of making a plan is using your resources to optimum level and minimizing the faults. When you think of all favorable situations while making plans, the outcome is a weak plan. If such a plan is executed, you can imagine what kind of results will be achieved.
The other category of people is those who always think of the bad results. These poor pessimists spoil their health due to worry and also spoil the mood of others by their negativity.
When we are hoping for something to happen that means you are waiting for some result to be declared by someone else after you have done your bit. The match has been played and the players are waiting for the announcement of result. The examinations are over and students are waiting for the results. Now keeping yourself worried will not yield any results. Being optimistic here will make you feel happy at least.

I wish to amend the quote in questions as this –

“Plan for the worst,
Act on your plan
Accept the results (reality)
And move on to next plan”
Let me explain about the additional text here-

Act on your plan -A plan is like a blueprint. If we have made a blueprint it does not mean that the buildings are ready. Someone has to work on the blueprint to construct the buildings.
So action has no substitute if desired results are warranted. Plan alone will not bring the desired results. A plan has got a limited value only. Its full potential is in using it by way of actions. If it is your plan and if you give any importance to it, why not act on it and enjoy the results. (Who else will act on your plan?) Otherwise it will be kept in a tiny portion of your mind like a file or letter is kept in a big office. Yes, you may sell it or give away to someone who needs it or it may be stolen by someone.

Accept the results (reality) - The results may not match with our expectation. It is the time to find out whether the plan had some lacunas or the effort was not 100% or the opponent was smarter. Whatever be the case, one has to accept the reality as it is.
But reality is often bitter and difficult to accept. We tend to interpret it with our limited viewpoint and knowledge. In this process we miss what is obvious to others/ Almighty.
Failure is hard to digest but one needs to handle it naturally. It is not very different from success. In fact success and failure are the two faces of same coin. Like a good player who plays to win with his/her best capacity but accept failure also gracefully ,ever if it is by referee’s mistake.

And move on to next plan - Growth is a natural phenomenon. Stagnation is generally due to attachment to a past victory/failure or inaction due to a future failure or confident victory. Life is dynamic and everything in this universe keeps changing constantly. We can grow, only if we come out of the shackles of attachment to past or future and participate in real world. Making plans and acting on those plans are the cyclic actions of life. These are to be performed by all people, be it rich or poor, weak or strong, smart or dumb, fool or intelligent.

11 Tips on ‘How to choose an employer’




Are you an aspiring candidate entering the job market or a seasoned worker trying to change the job? Finding the suitable employer is a difficult task. Isn’t it?
It is not the employers only who go through selection process of candidates. Intelligent candidates do some research work and short list employers even in the present recession hit market. Considering the stakes involved, it is worth investing some time and effort in this exercise. Following tips may help you to do the job easier-

1. List them- Making a list of possible employers is the first step in this direction. It should be a realistic list matching your qualification, aspirations, limitations and preferences.
2. Face value- Spent some time on the website of each employer on the list. Read what they tell about them. Does that sound realistic? Note down the points which are not easily digestible by you and do some further research on these till you are satisfied. Rule out the employers from the list where you are not satisfied.
3. Probe further- Try to find out some links to present/previous employees of these employers. You may depend on your college-mates, neighbors, friends from social network sites, relatives etc. Ask about the actual work practices, work environment, work culture in the organization. Does that suit you? Is it in agreement of their stated version? Cut down names from your list where you are not comfortable.
4. First hand experience- If it is possible for you to reach to some of the offices of these employers, spend some time there. Talk to the staff. (you can pose like customer and query about their products and services) What is the attitude of most of the staff? (don’t base your decision on just one or two reactions) Do most of them sound positive and helping people? If not, eliminate the name from the list.
5. Find from competitors – Professional competitors are the best source of information about the reputation or weakness of someone. If you can find some connections, go out and find out facts.
6. Internet search – Spend some time on Google or whatever search engine you prefer. You can try searching for information/articles related to the employer or their work culture. If you come across many articles/comments regarding ‘unfair business practices’, ‘exploitation at work place’ etc regarding some employer , it is better to drop it from the list.
7. Industry practice –Find out work related trends in the industry of your interest. Then compare these with information you have collected about the employers. Is there a deviation? If so, then is it justifiable?
8. Cut he jargon – Many smart employers hide the actual details under loosely defined terms like CTC (Cost to company), ‘best industry practices’ etc. The candidates should find out by insisting for relevant details.
9. Hidden conditions- in your research work try to find out if there are some pre conditions regarding work timing, leave, allowances etc. Are these conditions practical?
10. Growth opportunity- Consider your growth opportunity in the organization and also the growth prospects of the employer.
11. Financial health- if you know the basics of finance and can make out some sense out of the balance sheet or share price movement and related information then you should also invest some time to gauge the financial health of an organization.

The above mentioned cues may help in making your decision making process better in this regard. After all, a job contract is one of the major contracts in an individual’s life and it needs to be handled carefully.

ARE YOU AT A RIGHT PLACE?


Are you uncomfortable at your work place most of the time?
Do you feel jealous about other’s jobs?
Are you thinking about a job change?

If answer to any above mentioned question is ‘yes’, then you should critically analyze and ask yourself, ‘Are you at a right place?’ The answers to following questions may help you in your analysis-

Is that your place? - If you feel that someone of your capability & qualification is in a better position than you, just consider some more details-
What price is he paying to maintain that position? Are you also willing to pay this price? What is his role and responsibilities? Visualize yourself under those commitment .Do you feel comfortable?
How did he land in that position? Do you have similar opportunities available to you now?

Profile - What are your natural talents and preferences? Are you able to use these to your advantage in the present position?
Are your weak areas protected? Do you get a chance to develop in these areas?

Compensation - Are you underpaid? Visualize yourself asking for a raise? Do you feel comfortable now? What are the justifications?

Money plus - Money is an important consideration but it should not become the only criterion for judgment about your job. What else are you getting in the job apart from money? List and analyze the utility.

Honest- Are you working honestly and wholeheartedly towards your job responsibility? (If your job responsibilities are not defined clearly, define it yourself considering stated and unstated expectations by your employer.)

Growth - What are your growth prospects? Where do you see yourself after one /two /five /ten years in the present organization?

Satisfaction
Are you able to enjoy at your work? Can you often say with pride that you are working as ‘…XYZ’? (Whatever is your current job designation)

Available options – What options are available to you as a new job? These options have to be ‘within your reach’. Moreover you should be able to take pains to adjust in the new role/challenges.

If you answer these questions honestly, you will realize easily whether you are a fit or misfit in the present position .The answer to the above questions will also become a guide for your next move which may be ‘a change’.

BRAKE TIME


How monotonous we become in our routine official work? Have you ever realized this? You may be passing through meetings, workshops, seminars, table work, field work, phone calls and reports preparation; there is a monotonous pattern of working (which you have learnt and acquired) for this serious official work.

Do you think about taking a brake? It is refreshing. You get rejuvenated. But two big questions are- ‘how much?’ and ‘how often?’

Well, it depends on concerned individual and situation. Listed below are common types of brakes which one must consider depending upon requirement and situation.

Very quick brake – Its span is few seconds but you can take it any where. Chances are that no-one will even notice this. You can take this brake while answering a phone call or preparing a report or during a meeting. This short activity can be 'taking a deep breadth, pronouncing a mantra, cracking a short joke, closing your eyes, throwing a smile, clapping, whistling, making faces or any such activity which gives you pleasure'. Beware; if you are taking this brake in presence of others, avoid doing things which may be objectionable by others on any account.

Quick brake between sessions - These are like commercial brakes during TV programs.You can insert these between any two sessions you are having on a busy day. It may be taken between two meetings, reports, phone calls or between a meeting and making a call etc. It can be 'singing/listening few lines of your favorite song (not loudly), Making a short personal phone call, drawing sketch/cartoon, lighting a cigarette' or any such activity. Beware, the brake activity timing should be much less than the timing of your sessions; otherwise it may not be tolerated by your boss, client or partner.

Day(s) long Weekend brake –Most of us get this privilege. If you are deprived off this facility due to any compulsion for a longer duration please make efforts to earn it at any cost. Regular breaks keep you healthier and more productive. You may go out for dating, picnic, movie or whatever you love to do. Beware, don’t make it monotones too. Bring variety in your activities otherwise its purpose will be defeated.

Days long Month end brake- Many of us do not think about this but after 30 days work .it is worth taking a brake for 2/3 days .if your employer allows this. This may be combined with other social/cultural/personal activates.

Long brake at Year end At least a week long vacations plan every year should be there on your calendar. Don’t be miser and drop this on economic grounds –you can intelligently plan it within your budget. Preferably go out of your city and out of your country if you can afford.

brake continuity has its down side also. When you come back to your work, you have to work extra to come to level. But the advantages are far more than the limitations.

The Boss


For me the most difficult person to tackle with (apart from my wife) is my boss.
How about you?
Think of your boss and you are out of your comfort zone. This entity is unpredictable, unreasonable and unquestionable most of the time.
Lucky are those who feel comfortable with their boss (all the time??)

We are not so lucky to exercise our freedom in choosing our boss, like we do for choosing our spouse. Unless you are the number one person in your organization, boss is a relationship which you are forced to keep.

Here are some tips to turn this relationship into a healthy one-

1. Know your position- There are some positions which are made strong and supported by the system in all conditions e.g. teacher(to students),Judge(to court),police(to accused) etc. Boss is also one such position. System will always try to support the boss whatever reasoning, logic or compulsion you may have. His/her instructions becomes binding on you while your suggestions can be easily ignored by him/her. So this relationship demands some extra care to be taken always.

2. Boss is also human – In spite of his advantageous position, boss, after all, is also a human being. So he/she can be approached. It all depend how you open a dialogue with him/her and put across your point of view. The dialogue may not be possible on your terms but if you are determined and have patience, you are likely to succeed. Perhaps you have to research a bit to know the possible ways to open dialogue with your boss.

3. Ask for a private meeting- If some issue is bothering your mind and it is affecting your performance, it is better to relive the burden by asking for a private (confidential) meeting with your boss.

4. Don’t eat up others time – Normally a boss to subordinate relationship is one to many. So if you engage your boss too much, he will start avoiding you. Boss is also like a web server to his subordinates and issues ‘time out’ signal to a slow request. Time is also a resource and you have to learn to share it with others.

5. Wear his shoes – If you feel your boss is not treating you nicely, just analyze how you treat your subordinates in similar circumstances. If you are honest in your analysis, you will realize the limitations of being a boss.

6. Straight dialogue- Put across your point of view in a systematic manner. Mention relevant facts & feelings. Don’t assume that he is already aware of some facts.

7. First complaint – Even if you are not satisfied with the behavior of your boss, complaint to him first. There are fair chances that matter will be resolved.

8. Be your boss –Every day before you interact with your boss, just organize your thoughts and do some self talk. Pretend that you are reporting to your boss about the status of pending jobs and your problems. This way you are always in the state of preparedness and can not be taken by surprise.

Work Place Blues





Where do you spend most of your time? (No, I am not being personal; it’s just a casual question)

In most of the cases, the probable answer to this question would be ‘your work place’.

You may be a secretary or the boss, a V.I.P. or an ordinary worker, a part time or full time worker, a freelancer or on pay rolls, you will agree that work is a very important activity of our lives. In most of the cases, it is your profession or occupation which gives you the social identity.

A traditional workplace means an office and nine to five job, but in today’s world the meaning of work place has changed. A modern work place no longer confines to office building. A home, train, bus, car, hotel or park or virtually any location can be turned to a workplace (Thanks to mobile phone, laptop & Internet). Flexi-timings for employees and 24x7 for the customers are the norms today

Despite the diversities in work, there are several work place issues which will remain common to all working persons. Some of these are -

ü Comfort level at work place
ü Job satisfaction
ü Roles and responsibilities
ü Recognition
ü Rights
ü Compensation


This forum intends analyzing such issues and providing tips and tricks which will make you more comfortable, productive and relaxed at work place