Having said earlier why you should not quit, there are certain times when you need to change your job.
They are as follows:
- You cannot adjust with your boss and vice versa. Both of you have tried and failed
- You are suffering from stress – headaches, sleeplessness, anger, anxiety and depression. You have undergone counselling and realised that this problem is not about you
- The culture is chaotic, verbally abusive, hostile, disrespectful and demeaning and you cannot handle it
- Your work is constantly criticised or ignored and no one is willing to give feedback or mentor you
- You have been layered – some one else has been brought in between you and your boss
- You have been overlooked for important meetings, task forces and initiatives
- Your company is about to be acquired or merged or your company is in trouble
- Your boss has been fired and you are known to be closed associated with your boss
- A new CEO has been hired and he has started bringing his own team and the effect is percolating downwards
- You do not feel like coming to office on Monday AND you look forward to the weekend
It is very important that you seek counselling before you act precipitately. Sometimes, the problem is you, but your defence mechanisms do not allow you to accept it. If the problem is you, then you will face the same problems elsewhere. If you have been changing jobs too often, you may want to examine your own beliefs and whether you blame others – boss, family, organisation, society, even God for your problems.
Remember that your CV does not invoke trust if you have not stayed in any organisation for more than 3 years.
Few of us are natural networkers. We all know the important of networking, but invariably, we postpone it for tomorrow, because shy folks like us do not like to meet with people and make inane conversation.
It is easy to believe that social networking or internet based networking (read Facebook) is a better option. However, Facebook based networking focuses on broad-based and shallow relationships, whereas true networking requires deeper relationships.
People do things for others if they believe in the relationship. No amount of ‘likes’ and status updates (which I believe borders on voyeurism) substitute for face-to-face or at least voice-based and meaningful communication.
Meaningful communication requires
- one-to-one interaction
- where both parties are speaking (bidirectional)
and which leaves both parties happy and satisfied.
Status updates do not satisfy either of the above criteria and therefore does not help in networking.
This article from inc.com talks about networking for introverts. Lisa Petrilli, author of “The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership” tells you how to:
- Network on your own terms
- Be comfortable
- Leverage your skills as an introvert
Adding to the tips in the article, you need to do the following:
- Create a 30 second brief about yourself, describing yourself, your background and your future direction (where / what do you want to go / do and why). This helps a person remember you and also how he can help you
- Find out what the other person wants to do in life. Get into specifics. This shows interest and it will help you look for real options to help the other person. If you can’t think of anything, offer to connect him to others who can help him
- Networking is not about selfishness. People sense selfishness and avoid creating a relationship. Give first before taking, or at least prove that you understand that you have to settle your debts of favours done
- Do not badger people unnecessarily, chasing after them. Your introvertism is an advantage here.
The story of the Great Indian Crab Syndrome is well known. In essence, Indian Crabs do not need to be locked up as one crab will prevent others from escaping.
But let us be fair. This happens everywhere. I have worked in the far East and the Far West, fairly North (but not south of the equator). Trust me, at least in the northern hemisphere, it exists everywhere.
I consider it a natural process. Consider this.
This is a process of making one product indistinguishable from another product. In other words, the opposite of product differentiation. So where a crab pulls another crab down, it is not trying to make the other crab indistinguishable, so that it does not become a ‘run-away’ success?
- A Survival tactic?
After all, differentiation prevents unity. Commoditised products create cartels so that they can collectively bargain. When one product thinks it is different and can command a different market share, the unity is broken.
This is important for the sanctity of a group or an organisation. When we join the corporate world, we go through the induction programme, where we are taught conformity (read culture). We are given a conflicting message – employees are our greatest assets, we value innovation and creativity, but when we try to exercise this value, we are asked to conform.
- Low self-esteem?
If I am jealous of someone who is better than me, I would bring him down to my level. Any person who I perceive to be better than me can differentiate and command a better price!
- Stop striving for excellence
Differentiating is taught as a lesson in marketing, and all the books about corporate heroes tom-tom doing something different (even illegal), treading the road less travelled, ignoring the barbs and the taunts of the other crabs.
We all start off by with stars in our eyes, working hard. We gradually succumb to bare minimum work and rationalisation.Why do we look at each other, and if we see others not working, we too stop working?
We do not let others work, and we ourselves do not work.
So, who is the Indian Crab? Not the other people – but our own mind.
Is it important to have specific and measurable goals? It they keep on changing, what is the purpose of having a goal?
The answer to the first one is yes, we need to have goals, that too, written goals (one study shows that written goals are more likely to be achieved). If we do not have any yardstick of measurement, how do we know we are progressing and therefore when we are likely to reach the goal?
But even more basic than that, what should be my goal? How do I determine the right goal?
Our goals should be determined by our needs. So we have to do a needs analysis of what we would like to have and what we would like to avoid.
- One way is to think back and remember those incidents that made me happy. Then for each incident, I do a ‘root cause’ on why it made me happy. This will show me my needs. Then I create those goals that satisfy these needs.
- Another way is to think of incidents that made me unhappy. A root cause on this – why did that incident make me unhappy – would tell me what I would like to avoid.
Once I have my needs (what I want and what I don’t want) defined, I have to do two things:
- determine the relative important of each need
- determine the maximum time frame in which this should be satisfied (urgency)
Now I can find out what I have to do and when, and this determines my goals. We have to remember that to achieve something, we may have to sacrifice something else, and the important/urgent matrix above will help us realise our priority.
Another aspect of needs analysis is to determine whether these are your goals or the goals of your influencers or loved ones. Sometime, we want to do something but our parents want us to do something else. The question is whether I sacrifice my happiness for my parents’ happiness?
For example, I remember the time I got an award.
- Why did it make me happy? Because I made my parents proud or because my effort was acknowledged in front of a crowd.
- Why does that make me happy? Because I need the approval of people
- Why do I need approval? Maybe I have self-esteem issues and I need to compare with others to define me
So if I am seeking a goal in terms of what type of job I should look for, I should look for a job that gives me a lot of approval, or allows me to do peer comparison and which does not lower my self-esteem. Sales would be a bit of an issue as a job, because it has a lot of rejection built in. However, advisory services based on my competency would be good, because a client would be grateful for my services.
I can now set up a time frame for creating a competency that can be appreciated by clients and to find a job that allows me to use this competency.
Since these needs keep changing, (refer to my article on mid-life crisis) our goals will keep changing.
Suppose there are two conflicting goals?
If I have done my needs analysis in terms of all the type of needs I have and the priority of each need, and have determined who in my life is important and considered their needs, then each goal can be analysed based on how well it satisfies these criteria.
When we did manual labour and did not have labour-saving devices, we worked from morning to night creating the same output that we can now deliver in a fraction of that time. By manual labour, I do not mean physical labour, it could also be accounting, computing, research, even reading (dare I call it studying?)…
There was an element of Zen mindfulness (being fully in the present), as mistakes would require a great deal of redoing.
Think about writing a letter. An MS Word document can be automatically spell-checked and mistakes can be corrected. No one would know and appreciate, by looking at the final document, how much labour has gone into it. Compare that to the pain of writing a letter by hand, and the final sense of accomplishment we had of finishing a product that was created with minimal corrections. We were more aware of ourselves, what we were doing, what the world around us was doing, and we appreciated the fruits of our labour.
Consider food. Our moms take time to cook and be mindful of the final product with all its nuances of taste as determined by the preferences of the family members. When we eat, we are mindful of that love and we appreciate the subtlety. Compare that to a fast food, even instant noodles, which we mindlessly eat in front of the TV. We are, in general, no longer aware of, let alone appreciate, what we eat. No wonder, we need to go to a five-star restaurant to appreciate food, maybe because we pay so much for it that we have to extract all we can from the meagre morsel. The five-star chef put salt and pepper in front of you, which our moms never needed to. Maybe the love compensates.
This is the virtue of ‘Karma-yoga’ or the sense of fulfilment that comes out of mindfully executing work. Some persons do ‘Jnana- yoga’ where the sense of fulfilment comes from mindfully thinking about knowledge, its acquisition, its uses and its relevance. It is a desire of most young adults to move from ‘Karma-yoga’ (execution) to ‘Jnana-yoga’ (strategy). Often, they wish to skip the execution part.
With the advent of technology and labour-saving devices, the mind has become free. We no longer need to focus on the job at hand, because much of what our mind would earlier do has now been programmed into the device. Therefore the mind is unoccupied and looks for other ways to occupy itself. Instead of evolving from Karma Yoga to Jnana Yoga, taking time to ponder over various short term and long term strategies, we tend to keep the mind busy by entertainment.
Entertainment is a funny thing (no pun intended). Our mind gets used to a novelty and then craves newer and better sources. The need to keep the mind occupied and the addiction to entertainment leads to a craving for more time to get entertained. This creates a need to obtain more labour saving – or shall we say, time saving devices – faster and stronger cars and machines. This creates a vicious cycle of dependency. Entertainment devices is not just about TVs and such electronics, it also about ambience – from lazy-boys (the uber-comfortable armchairs) to sound-proof rooms.
If we look at peer comparisons about our possessions, it is primarily about the labour saving devices or entertainment devices or the means to purchase them. It is rarely about knowledge – when was the last time someone said, “I have a better dictionary than yours,” it was more like, “I can afford a more expensive dictionary than yours!”
These devices leads to less physical activity and a lazy mindset. This leads to lifestyle diseases. We compensate by buying faster and stronger gym equipment and devices for injecting chemicals and measuring bodily functions. We create a dependency on these chemicals and measuring devices. Because these chemicals help alleviate our problems, we are free to revert to our craving for entertainment.
Would it be fair to say, therefore, that technology has actually helped in reducing awareness of our actions and their consequences; which, in turn, has led to lifestyle diseases – a contamination of the purpose of life itself?
In any conflict situation, we immediate attribute the cause of the problem to a defect in personality.
If there is a fight between you and me, you will blame my personality or my disposition (“You never listen!”) not the situation causing the distraction. If a professor is strict in class, the students will label the professor a “Changez Khan”, not the situation which caused the professor to behave strictly. If your experience with a company is bad, you will attribute it to the company, not the situation. If a child has behaved badly, we ask, “What is wrong with you?” instead of asking “What made you do this?” We blame the person, not the situation.
On the other hand, if I have a fight with you, I will justify my loud voice to the situation, not to a defect in my personality. If I am strict in a group meeting, I will blame the situation, not my disposition. If I am the person from the company, I will blame the situation, not the company. A child will say, “He made me do this…I am not like this!”
So there is always a bias in judging a situation. We tend to take one data point and make a generalisation about the person. We then use that generalisation to predict all future interactions. If you have a bad experience in your college or your company, you will attribute it to the college or company, and then generalise all future interactions about that college (‘Don’t send you children there, it is a bad college!”) or the company (“Don’t join that company, or buy its products – it is a bad company!”)
But if you were part of that college, you would say, “There is nothing wrong with the college, the situation with that student was bad!” or if you were part of the company, you would say, “He could not adjust to the culture” or “One batch of products was bad, we have instituted better quality control!”
This phenomenon is called Fundamental Attribution Error, and is a basis of most social interactions. It is fundamental because this phenomena (attribution to “personality” for others and attribution to “situation” for self) cuts across cultures, time and geography.
Our mental models are created because of this. When we observe an incident and jump to a conclusion, that conclusion is typically a generalisation of the personality (“All men are dogs!”), rather than an attribution to the situation. We therefore tend not to give the benefit of doubt. We then tend to justify this attribution by selecting those examples that support our position.
Knowing that we have this “observation bias”, should we not ask, “What situation led to this?” which may allow you to do a root cause analysis, rather that jump to a generalisation? Do we really have all the data to jump to conclusions that it is a personality defect?
Yesterday, one of my ex-students, after watching a skit performed by the current students, which denigrated a Hindu deity, expressed his anguish at the denigration and his apprehension that if the video of this performance was uploaded to Youtube, it may have negative repercussions.
Today I was reading about the Jaipur Literature Festival and the Rushdie ‘tamasha’.
- Have we lost tolerance? The survival of Hinduism happened because of its ability to assimilate other perspectives. In fact, most religions that that have survived and are currently acceptable, are those that have adjusted their viewpoints. Fundamentalism and right-wing attitudes have equal and opposite reactions and create more polarisation of society.
- Is not acceptance of a situation a starting point to solutions? Only when we move from Denial to Anger to Acceptance that we can move towards solutions. Why are we not able to accept and something has happened, and then move on to prevention or mitigation? Why do we stay shocked, deny what happened or remain angry?
- Have we lost our sensitivity? Should we not, before embarking on an action, determine who will be impacted, both in the short term and in the longer term? The students verified with me whether mimicking me on stage was acceptable (because of an immediate fear) but did not verify whether vilifying a Hindu god was okay!
- Have we lost the courage to speak our mind? Do we no longer have the freedom of expression? Is this freedom being misused? Who or what determines misuse? Does our fear emanate from the recent phenomenon where bullying is the first line of offence? Are we becoming a generation of bullies?
I teach people to face fear. I exhort them to treat F.E.A.R as an acronym – “Face Everything And Recover”. But I will be frank, even I am fearful. In this situation, I shall desist from putting up the video for public display because of the potentially negative impact on the institution that hosted the plays.
But I am ashamed of the fact that I am displaying cowardice and hiding behind prudence as a rationalisation of my cowardice.
It is very difficult to share our feelings.
We have been taught and conditioned to “keep a stiff upper lip” or as the Greek philosophers said – be a stoic. Sometimes we are afraid to share our feelings – people may think we are weak, or cry-babies. There may also be retaliation, or someone may exploit our weakness.
Bottling up our feelings leads to a venting – not gradually – but explosively, impacting a lot of people around us.
A part of emotional intelligence is to learn that speaking about your feelings can be as effective as acting out our feelings, without the negativity. For example, telling a child, “I am angry” may be effective enough, without shouting or slapping him. Tell a professor that you understand that he is irritated may be better than arguing with him.
Before the internet happened, sharing our feelings was one-to-one. You could call someone and talk, or you could write a letter. This meant that our support circle would be limited in scope and in the promptness of response. Till that time, we would feel that we were alone and without support.
With the ‘Net, the ability to broadcast our feelings and to get instant support has improved. Needless to say, it has its drawbacks – people can misuse it. If you are venting against a person, that person can retaliate and so on. But if you share your feelings, without relating the instance, you may get a lot of positive support that helps you feel that you have a lot of support and people understand how you feel.
A support circle helps. To that extent, blogging can help. The following article mentions the same point.
I know that I am supposed to do a particular activity like an assignment, or study a book or write letters. But I tend to postpone these indefinitely, citing various excuses.
Charles Handy talks about 3 things that are required in the motivational calculus.
- I should know my needs. These can be the need for security, for money, food, clothing and shelter, or need for companionship, or need for approval, or a need to fulfill my debt to various people.
- I should know the result of which activity would satisfy these all or some of these needs.
- I should have the energy or the resources (money, time etc.) to spend on those activities.
The above are multiplicative. That is, if any of the three is not there, I would not be motivated.
If I do not know my needs, then no activity would motivate me.
If I do not have the energy or the resources, then I cannot finish the activity satisfactorily.
If I do not know how to satisfy my needs, then I will not be motivated.
Therefore, I have to link the activity (that I dislike) to a need. For example, if I fear that I will fail a course, and therefore have a need to pass it and get rid of my fear, I can link an assignment to that need. If I need the approval of my colleagues, and the distasteful activity will satisfy that need, then I will try to do the activity.
Whether I finish the activity or not is based on the resources at hand. If I do not have the time, or I delayed it so much that I cannot possibly finish, then I am not motivated to do the activity, even if I know that the activity will satisfy a need.
The same principle holds good for motivating others. If I do not know the needs of another person, I cannot offer him an activity, the result of which would satisfy the needs.
If I do know his needs and I can link it to an activity that I want him to do, and I provide him with the means and resources (including training) to do that activity, the person will be motivated.
Remove any of the three (needs, activity or resources) and there will be no motivation.
For that matter, why do people do anything? De Becker talks about 4 things.
- Justification: we make a judgement that we have been wronged, hence we need to retaliate. If we think about it, we have justified each of our actions (or inaction). Sometimes we say it was necessary or unavoidable. Sometimes, we assume an impact which may or may not really happen.
- Alternatives: typically, violence seems to be the only alternative. This comes out of a lack of emotional control, where we are so much into the emotion that we cannot perceive any other option.
- Consequences: whether we can live with the consequences of the act. In fact, if we are afraid of further retaliation, we may not act.
- Ability: do we have the confidence to use our body or a substitute (knife, gun or another person) to achieve the results.
When we talk about motivating others, the justification is the end result (either we want to avoid the pain or go towards pleasure) or what we want to get the person to do.
How we achieve the end result, are our alternatives. As a manager, we need to understand the other person’s justification and then come up with alternatives. We may then choose the right alternative. However, in general, we choose the first or the emotionally satisfying one.
Typically people stop at this level of analysis and start to act. But a good manager would think of the following also:
Will the action guarantee the consequence? What about other unintended consequences? This requires a certain experience.
Are we capable of doing this action? Intention and the selection of the most ideal alternative do not guarantee execution, if we do not have the skills and the experience.
Most motivational tactics fail, because without execution capability, they is only wishful thinking.
Suppose we wish to make people in the team work.
- The justification is the result of the the team work. Whether team members buy into the result will determine if they will contribute. The result may not be important if it is not important to a person. finding what a person wants and linking the result of the team effort to this ‘want’ requires a certain creativity.
- What can we tell a person so that he is convinced that he should do the work allotted to him. Maybe it is not the right work, because he perceives it demeaning. Maybe he thinks that you have given some one else the work that he wants to do, and that you are playing favorites.
- Does the person believe that the work he is supposed to do will have the right consequences? If you promise him that it will, but he does not have confidence in you, then he will not do it, even if he has the capability.
- And lastly, are you sure he can do this work?
Suppose we wish to change our job.
- We justify the change of job – the boss is not good, the company is not good, the work has changed etc.
- We look for alternative jobs – and here we indulge in a lot of wishful thinking and peer comparison.
- We check of the short list of jobs will have the right consequences in terms of peer approval, money and prestige.
- We do not typically, look at our capability in doing that job because we are focused on the job profile, not our capability.