Office Showdown

I have finally (rather obviously) concluded that office politics is not a local or regional phenomenon. It is a universal reality. 
The sooner we acknowledge its existence, the better prepared we will be to handle and cope with it. Mostly I feel it’s about how WE react to such situation and less about accepting it. 
But as the saying goes, acceptance is half the battle won.
First, always remember that among all the variables that you cannot control … there is one very important factor that you can control. That factor is YOUR RESPONSE to any situation. How you choose to react decides the tangent the situation will take. Always evaluate and respond in a manner that is above petty personal differences and ultimately good for the business.

Second, Always remember that if your reaction supports the bottom line then sooner or later your boss and management will see it. This is a good thing.
Third, instead of being upset about the things you cannot change its better to be happy about the things you can change. Very often we are too busy feeling victimized by some policy that we cannot change to notice the positive influence we can bring within our own area of influence.Fourth, Its always better not to take sides. Being opinionated is one thing however taking sides is another. Learn better and effective conflict resolution techniques in order to resolves positively the disagreements.
Fifth, Always remember to understand before your seek to be understood. This helps in creating a deeper understanding of the others point of view and also creates a better possibility of a Win-Win situation.

Last, Never …Never get personal. It is an office and you will come across many people from different places and different insight and opinions and objectives. You must remain focused on the company objectives and stay aloof from making it personal.

Living in the “lines”

// My original article from 2013//

The other day I was looking at my 2.5year old daughter use crayons on a coloring book. I noted that she was not paying any attention to the borders of the Dora cartoon outlines. She was simply “spreading” color everywhere.

It makes me wonder… We are were once like that. We didnt care for any lines or boundaries to restrain our thoughts. First came the single rule note books and then the multi-rule English note books and so on. When we learnt to write we learnt to remain within boundaries. To live lives within limits to restrict ourselves.

Soon what may have started as a definition for our language letters writing becomes a defining moment in our subconscious where we automatically accept limitations to our thoughts.

We inadvertently accept limitations as givens and begin to think within the proverbial BOX.

Thou, it appears to be a great learning tool and leads to become a great disciplinary tool, I feel that we should encourage our children to color and paint as they feel and appreciate their ” Picaso’s” instead of discouraging them.

Only when their thoughts are left to grow and wonder and taste the air of freedom can they really “learn” to control themselves instead of becoming slaves to their own minds. Replicating, reproducing and not creating.

I know that many may differ from my point of view and that is fine and encouraging. Just wanted to share my 2 cents worth.

A brief history of HR Managers ( of sorts )

Human Resource management is not a new concept. Thou, I believe it has been standardized much recently, the railway applications or the Ford motor company etc models. Nevertheless, it has been around since the stone age.

The recruitment and or temporary staffing based on skills or previous success of individuals.

Compensation based on hierarchy in the group.

Rewards or bonuses based on involvement in the success of the hunt.
Certificates or “employee of the month” in the form of celebrations or victory paintings on walls with reference to one hunter.
Retirement benefits for older group members who are not able to hunt ( work ).

See the similarity… that’s why I always say that being an HR manager is not being an MBA or CHRP certified… its about an attitude, a set of behavioral skills that make the difference between an ordinary number puncher and an exceptional HR visionary.

Gender Stereotyping A Key Barrier

November 19 2009 – A study published in the December 2009 issue of the Psychology of Women Quarterly shows that management stereotypes are likely to evolve as more women assume leadership roles in the workforce.

Despite improvements in female participation at management levels, women still fill less than 2% of CEO leadership positions in the Fortune 500. It is not surprising to find, therefore, that leaders continue to be thought of as men with the management levels in most industries considered to be ‘male-typed’. But in a few industries women have moved into management positions. These industries have become more ‘gender-neutral’ and there are indications that stereotypes of leaders as men may be changing.

The study, The Evolving Manager Stereotype: The Effects of Industry Gender Typing on Performance Expectations for Leaders and Their Teams by Susan F. Cabrera, Stephen J. Sauer and Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt of the Universities of Cornell, Clarkson and Virginia respectively, investigates how male and female leaders and their teams are evaluated differently according to the gender-typing of the industry in which they work.

The researchers’ findings were that people have higher expectations for the performance of teams when the leader’s gender is consistent with the gender typing of the industry in which the team works. However, expectations for performance of leaders’ own performance were not impacted by their consistency with industry gender typing. According to Susan F. Cabrera:

“This research demonstrates the power of stereotypes concerning what kinds of people should lead organizations in what kinds of industries. In addition, it suggests that, as more women move into certain sectors of our economy, stereotypes may be evolving in ways that create a more level playing field for women who aspire to leadership positions.”

Gender Stereotyping
A survey published in 2007 found that gender stereotyping was a key barrier to the advancement of women in corporate leadership, leaving women leaders with limited and conflicting options.

The Double-Bind Dilemma for Women in Leadership: Damned if You Do, Doomed if You Don’t was the third in a series of reports examining the effects of gender stereotyping in the workplace by Catalyst, a non-profit organization working to advance opportunities for women and business. The study surveyed men and women business leaders in the US and Europe. Of 1231 participants, 296 were US senior managers and corporate leaders (168 women and 128 men) and 935 were European managers and senior managers (282 women and 653 men). The second part of the study provided qualitative analysis of in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 13 women leaders in a large US corporation.

The report argued that gender stereotyping results in organizations routinely underestimating and underutilizing women’s leadership talent. The 2006 Catalyst Census shows that while women make up over 50 per cent of management, professional and related occupations, only 15.6 per cent of Fortune 500 corporate officers and 14.6 per cent of Fortune 500 board directors were women.

Ilene H. Lang, Catalyst president said:

“When companies fail to acknowledge and address the impact of gender stereotypic bias, they lose out on top female talent. Ultimately, it’s not women’s leadership styles that need to change. Only when organizations take action to address the impact of gender stereotyping will they be able to capitalize on the `full deck’ of talent.”

The report highlighted numerous previous studies demonstrating similar leadership styles in men and women. However, earlier research by Catalyst found that women business leaders faced persistent gender stereotyping frequently confronting them with double-bind “no-win” dilemmas not experienced by men. The current study found that men are still perceived as “default leaders” while women are considered “atypical leaders” and as violating accepted norms, irrespective of their leadership style.

The survey identified three common dilemmas currently experienced by women business leaders, supported by comments from participants:

Extreme perceptions. Women business leaders are perceived as “never just right”. Those who act in a manner consistent with gender stereotypes are considered too soft, those who go against them are considered too tough.
“My observations show senior women to be at either end of the spectrum, drivers that do it themselves (even though they might have given it to someone). This type tends to give little recognition and is a perfectionist. The others are very effective delegators, giving lots of recognition and building loyal teams, but can be perceived as ‘not tough enough'” (US man, age 35-44, level not specified).

High competence threshold/lower rewards. Women leaders face higher standards than their male counterparts and receive less reward. Often they must work doubly hard to achieve the same level of recognition for the same level of work and “prove” they can lead.
“Men and women are seen differently, and the difference in my experience and observation is that we (women) need to show it more times before they believe it. With a woman, they will want to see the behaviour repeated more frequently before they will say that this is really part of the women (sic) and her capabilities” (European woman, high-potential manager).

Competent but disliked. Women exhibiting traditional leadership skills such as assertiveness tend to be seen as competent but not personable or well-liked. Those who adopt a more stereotypically feminine style are liked but not seen as having valued leadership skills.
“…it may just be that people are more sensitive to how women behave in that regard. There does seem to be a little more tolerance for harsh behavior from men rather than women. Women are quicker to get labeled, and with men, it’s easier to brush it off…” (High-potential woman, US-based manager).

“I have experienced in the past that women can be distrusted in leadership roles, especially when they use a dominant style of communication. On the contrary, if they use a collaborative style serving their organization and empowering people, they get more recognition and sincere appreciation from their male equals” (Spanish man, age 31-35, middle management).

The report suggested that organizations need to develop strategies to remove the pervasive and damaging impact of gender stereotyping from the work environment to take advantage of the expanding pool of female leadership talent.

Ilene H. Lang explained:

“While women may address double-bind dilemmas with individual strategies this is clearly about organizations shifting their norms and culture to meet marketplace demands.”

The report argues that education about how stereotyping works and holding individuals accountable can decrease the negative impact of gender bias. Actions that organizations can take include:

Providing all employees with tools and resources to increase awareness of women leaders’ skills and the effects of stereotypic perceptions.
Assessing the work environment to identify ways in which women are at risk of stereotypic bias.
Creating and implementing innovative work practices that target stereotypic bias; particularly effective when specific areas of risk, such as performance management procedures, are addressed.
The report suggested ways in which organizations can apply this knowledge:

Managerial training and diversity education – educating managers and employees about the origin and consequences of bias, inconsistencies between values and actual behavior, and causes and effects of gender inequality in the workplace.
Performance and evaluation management – employing objective and unambiguous evaluation criteria.


A page from “drafts” ;)

A couple were being interviewed on their Golden Wedding Anniversary. “In all that time – did you ever consider divorce?” they were asked. “Oh, no, not divorce,” one said. “Murder sometimes, but never divorce.”

It’s a safe bet you know all the advantages of your product or service. But it isn’t product advantages that close the deal – it’s customer satisfaction. Product advantages don’t mean a thing unless and until your prospects visualise what the products mean to them personally. The more you appreciate this fact, and the more firmly you keep it in mind, the more effective your sales presentation will become. Talking in terms of product advantages is like trying to sell a man a sports jacket without letting him try it on. He simply isn’t going to buy it until he puts it on and looks in a mirror. Then he can see what the jacket does for him and generate a real desire to own it.

Translating product advantages into customer satisfaction isn’t difficult. It’s merely a matter of customising your approach, of presenting your product or service in terms of the desires and satisfaction of this particular prospect. Yet it’s amazing how many salespeople are content to generalise. They talk endlessly about what a wonderful sports coat they offer, but neglect to have the prospect put it on.

The most important thing you can do to close any sale is to paint the prospect a vivid, realistic picture of future satisfaction – so vivid and appealing that he or she can’t wait to grab your pen and sign the order. That’s what selling is all about. People don’t buy product or services – they buy the expected satisfaction of using and owning them. Paint a picture of each prospect’s satisfaction at the start of your presentation and keep it up till the order is signed. Don’t talk in terms of product advantages, talk in terms of future satisfaction – until your prospect can see it, feel it, and taste it.

To believe with certainty, we must begin with doubting.

Ever come across an article about your product or a similar product in a trade journal or newspaper? Cut it out, have it laminated with plastic, and carry it with you to show to prospects or clients. If the article talks about the product in positive terms, it will help reinforce your sales presentations. If it points out negative aspects as well, use it to show how your product differs or how the product has been changed to eliminate those problem areas. If you want to include copies of the article with the literature you give to clients, write to the publisher and ask for reprints of the article. They’re often printed with the masthead of the publication across the top and make impressive pieces to leave behind.

Scientists estimate that the average person’s impression of the world is 87 percent visual. Hearing, taste, touch and smell make up the other 13 percent. What this means is that salespeople can’t afford to concentrate solely on the verbal aspects of their presentations. If they do, they won’t be making the most of their product or service.

It’s not the words alone, but the total picture you and your company present to a prospect that counts. This includes the attitudes, actions, and visual impressions made by everyone who contacts the prospect. Take the way you handle your product, for example. If you take worn, dusty samples out of an old battered sample case and dump them casually in front of prospect, what kind of impression are you making? Obviously the prospect won’t think much of your wares if you treat them with disrespect. On the other hand, if you treat your company’s products as if they had great value, you’re more likely to instill that feeling in the prospect.

Everything the prospects “see” has a tremendous effect on them, consciously or unconsciously. This includes your appearance, the quality of your presentation materials, your briefcase, the pen you give them to sign the order with, and the cleanliness of your car when you take them for a ride, the smile or the frown on your face. The top salespeople in every field take pride in their products, their company, and themselves. And they reflect this pride in everything they do, visually as well as verbally.

They also do everything they can to show prospects the benefits they can expect from using their products. The salespeople know that words are not enough. If you want your customers to think your products and services are valuable, you have to treat them that way, every chance you get. Don’t think people don’t notice these things. They do. And it will make a difference.

Most people don’t plan to fail – they fail to plan.

The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work.

A famous teacher once said that if he saw a pupil in despair over his work he always gave him a higher mark than he deserved. The following week the student always made a higher mark himself.

In a poem “Ode to Retirement” by Len Ingebrigtsen, is this line: “The reason I know my youth is spent? My get and go and got up and went.”

Franklin Roosevelt started his career as a lawyer in New York. One of the first cases he was retained to represent was a particularly difficult civil suit. The opposing lawyer, a notable orator, did well in his pleadings before the jury. However, he made one big mistake: he talked on for hours.

Roosevelt, noticing the inattention of the jury, decided his strategy. When his tun came to sum up his client’s side of the case, he merely said: “Gentlemen, you have heard the evidence. You have also listened to my distinguished colleague, a brilliant orator. If you believe him and disbelieve the evidence, you will have to decide in his favour. That’s all I have to say.”
Within five minutes the jury returned. It had ruled in favour of Roosevelt’s client.

Somebody asked the owner of a small country store why he didn’t advertise. “Oh, I tried it once,” he replied, “but people came from all over and bought nearly all the bloody stuff I had.”

A leading business authority makes an interesting distinction between those in an organisation who have power and those who have authority.

Power, he says, is something earned, a sharpening of abilities and talents within the individual, generally over a long period of time. Authority, on the other hand, is something which is conferred on an individual. It usually accompanies a certain job level or position and can be withdrawn at any time. Not so with power. It is something you “give” yourself by making the most of your talents and abilities. Only you, therefore, can deny it. Authority, concludes this expert, is always insecure unless it is based on a real and positive power, that is, on ability.

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers – Voltaire.

No such thing as Layoffs made easy!

I think there must be a book out there something like ” layoffs made easy” or “Rightsizing Counseling for dummies” ….
Its not easy to tell someone that they are not going to have a job anymore, let alone the fact they have probably worked for the company for 2 or 3 years etc.
Ones has to do what one has to do. The least HR personnel can do is to make it professional and compassionate …. so we are Change Managers. Nothing to laugh about I guess.

In today’s times with rapid and unpredictable economic changes in the market due to the COVID-19 pandemic many companies have had to lay off people. All the way from senior management to custodial staff no one has been safe. If the layoffs were not bad enough the vacancies in the market also form an appalling situation.

While under normal market circumstances an HR professional can expect the person being released to find another job soon, in the current situation that is highly unlikely.

Balancing the organizational and employee priorities is tough. Which generally beings me to the point that we as HR professionals have a thankless job 🙂

Listen up !

I read an article recently and got inspired to share my thoughts on the topic. The article titles “Shut up and Listen” written by Dave Kerpen is available on LinkedIn. My current thoughts on silence included a poem by someone called “The Desiderata” ( Translated as Desired Things) starts “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” Followed by the all time repeated and overly used quote “Silence is Golden”. And of course lets not forget ” Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt”.

Mouth and Ears

Now that I have put out the quotes known to me …. may not be appropriate to the topic but those are the thoughts that passed my head anyway. What that out of the way, I shall move on. When we listen, we actually show respect to the other person that we are interested in what they are saying. At least superficially. What are we thinking on the back of the interested face ? Franklin Covey is quoted to have said something along the line that mostly we don’t listen with the intention to understand, but rather with the intention to reply. So there I felt is the answer. If we are listening but not understanding since our intention is to respond and not analyze and process WHAT & WHY the person is saying what he / she is saying …Kaputs. No use. So, I have learnt this formally today and I have started to make an active and planned intention to observe this principle going on. We have two eyes, two ears and ONE mouth for a reason 🙂