by L. Aruna Dhir, Featured Contributor
THEY ARE DIFFERENT by just a single letter, but ‘attitude’ and ‘aptitude’ are undeniably the two most important cogs in your wheel that you should be wise enough to keep oiled, always. Come to think of it, ‘attitude’ scores slightly more in the stakes covering up admirably any gaps left gaping wide in the ‘aptitude.’
But there are several prickly adversaries that hide just under the skin and in corners of our mind, ready to take shape and form and pounce on all the goodness and greatness we endeavour to embody. So who are these fellas who threaten to sink our smooth-sailing professional ship? Let’s get to know them better –
1. MONGERING MOOSE
Water coolers, secluded sections of the Lobby, Locker rooms, Cafeteria are some of the places where these foes fester.
The main force that drags them out of the comfort of their homes is the prospect of a day filled with gossip-mongering. Colleagues’ personal information, professional issues, bad news – real or imagined, differences with bosses and team mates, malice – all this and more is the malefic substance on which their time is looped around.
It really is like a mental illness with these folks. They must concoct the news to be passed on or lend ears to muck flying around and share it with as many people as possible. The more malicious the exercise, more fun it is for these meanies.
2. FEARING FERRET
These are the ones who are stunned into silence, each time an opportunity arises to speak up – be it the AGM, FRM, Employee meet, Annual Sports Event, a Public Speaking occasion, small intra-departmental roundtables, an informal team gathering – the cat always seems to get their tongue and goat. From knocking knees, shaking hands to stammering speech, they are an awful sight to behold. As hoteliers, we have several instances when we must take the mike by its collar and claim our supremacy. Public Speaking of whatever degree is, indeed, one of the marks of a man who wishes to shape himself for future leadership. Hence a ‘fearing ferret’ nibbling sorely at one’s self confidence is a really terrible idea.
Then there are others who lose their speech at the mere sight of the Boss, MD, CEO or Proprietor. In fact any person in a position elevated to his fills him up with imagined fear. Wonder what is the root cause but most of us seem to harbour this illogical fear of the boss or boss like figure. It is a killer of an attitude because some of us who get afflicted by this psychosis are actually quite intelligent people capable of contributing wonderful ideas.
But the worst fears revolve around unwillingness to take new challenges, shunning good risks, unpreparedness for unlearning and new learning, self-doubt – all resulting in un-deliverability and non-performance.
3. CREDIT-STEALING CAT
These are one of the worst offenders. The creepiest thieves of all! You do all the hard work, planning, strategizing and these smooth operators have the gumption of claiming un-rightly what was never theirs and walking away with the laurels.
I have had bosses – direct and indirect – take away the shine from my scintillating work. Once an immediate boss had me write a speech for the Hotel owner, take away the sheets labored upon only to present it to the big gun as her own effort. She, a compulsive ‘credit-stealing cat,’ would often spin a sham of a brain-storming session in my office and then walk with well-practiced élan into the General Manager’s office to present my ideas as hers; of course all behind my back. It took a lot of effort and sound maneuvering to stump her tactics in the bud. Upon reflection, sadly so many precious man hours and peace of mind were wasted in putting the cat firmly in the bag.
I have had colleagues steal stuff unabashedly. And then there have been juniors who have tried to shine under the borrowed light when I have been away on a trip. There are many of us who fall prey to this prowling cat.
It is not uncommon at all to see people walk away with other people’s ideas, presentations and work and attempt to bask in misplaced glory. If they had any values, they would not do it in the first place. The best solution is to identify the culprits and aim to insure oneself against imminent harm from such offenders by sane, sensible, above board measures.
4. ANGRY BIRD
These are the folks who seem to remain perpetually angry – at the establishment, at the colleagues, at the country, at the coffee machine, with the weather, with the stapler, with themselves. Anybody and anything can trigger a sharp, angry response from them. It is not the extraneous factors that are the trigger, as much as all the pent up emotion that is simmering within and the bent of mind that unleashes the deluge.
Such people are bad news for teams and companies. Their unhappiness and anger quotients are so high that they leave behind an infected trail where ever they pass through instead of being infectious with optimism and good behaviour. What’s worse, their attitude is contagious and tends to create bad flow of ‘chi’ in formal and informal meetings, invariably bringing down the productivity and energy levels.
Regardless of how great performers they are otherwise and which position they hold, the management must attempt to contain their behavior and channelize it for the greater good of the work environment as a whole.
5. BAD-MOUTHED BADASS
These are close cousins of the Birds and the Moose. They are the Charlie Sheens of the corporate world. Uttering slangs and profanities is considered a matter of personal style by these slick swaggerers. Or it is a sad attempt to sound more sophisticated, worldly wise and well-exposed. There is that typical big guy in the swivel chair who loves to boom out ‘WTF’ to intimidate and impress. There is the smooth-operating colleague who tells a team mate to ‘stuff it’ because the latter’s memo has upset him gravely. There is that loudmouthed Exec Chef who yells at the Commis to ‘get-the-eff-in-time.’
From veiled insults to downright terrorization, these badasses have perfected their craft of ‘insult incorporated’ into their demeanour and professional behaviour. They run the entire gamut from Miranda Priestly’s menacing hissing “Details of your incompetence do not interest me’ in The Devil Wears Prada to Buddy Ackerman’s directly abusive “You. Have. No. Brain.” in Swimming with Sharks. It is a sense of power that the errant bad-mouth seems to enjoy while using such negatively powerful language; however ill-founded the notion may be.
Whatever may be the scenario and whatsoever may be the trigger, bad language (though it creeps in and crawls around unofficially) has to be banned. Even if hotels are like second homes, given the amount of time we end up spending there, there is just no excuse for using X-rated language at work or even outside of it.
6. INSECURE IGUANA
From the brightest of us to the weaker links, we all tend to feel insecure sometime or the other. Whether it is self-doubt, a temporary bad patch, senior’s perception of us or how we perceive his opinion of us which may have nothing to do with reality, a contemporary’s competitiveness, looming targets, sharp deadlines, expectations – self and of others, smarter colleagues or the smart alecky, a cocky number two who threatens our stability, change of leadership, change of management, change of brand, promotion, demotion, shift in location – these are but some of the reasons that contribute to making us feel insecure in our roles.
Many a times it is just us. I know I often have the need to get a positive stroke – ordained or worldly – to spring back into my secure, stable, confident mode. A positive feedback or two should be enough to get you back into the groove. The idea is to harvest the insecurity in order to reap rich dividends.
Harold W Dodds, the fifteenth President of Princeton University said, “Each one of us requires the spur of insecurity to force us to do our best.” It is a fact that a little bit of insecurity is actually good to keep you on your toes and push you to deliver even better. But please check it, the moment it begins to gnaw at your productivity, eat into your self-image and hamper your reputation of being a good worker.
7. LYING LEECH
No one of us is truthful a 100% all the time. That is a fact of life. Admit it and hold your peace. From faking illness or making the family pet or an in-law get sick to get that extra day off to becoming a story teller of histrionic proportions to extend the annual vacation by a week; from blaming technology for not completing the report on time to invoking weather gods to help us escape from a dreaded meeting – we all are guilty as charged. In fact there have been surveys and studies conducted globally to list out some of the most bizarre and outlandish excuses / lies employees have come up with to not turn up at the office, shirk work or let others take on their responsibility. And yes, it is a universal phenomenon.
It is sort of convolutedly okay to tell a white lie. Of course our scriptures have taught us that if a lie is told to benefit or protect somebody then it is a good deed. And yes, we are not talking of lies in world and corporate history that have harmed nations, forced companies to nosedive into ignominy and made shareholders lose both their dream and dollars.
Fudging reports and records, lying to score over a work mate, fabricating a yarn to earn brownie points, a raise or a promotion, giving unrealistic timelines knowing fully well that they are unachievable, which then hinder the end process, painting a particularly bad picture of the competition so that your brand looks good, playing around with the sales, profit & loss figures or cooking books in any other way, telling a team member that their effort is not good enough just so to undermine them, spinning a super-achiever story for yourself in front of the Supervisor – these and hundreds of others fall into the deadly pit of corporate sins that we will and must pay for in the long run.
There is indeed a line we must stay within and never think of crossing, when this – perhaps the eighth deadly sin – is in question.
8. SYCOPHANTICAL SUCKLING
The corridors of our world of work are teeming with these servile flatterers looking out for an easy ticket to ride on the professional roller coaster.
My very first secretary was a remarkable lesson to me in the area of team / personnel management. On the first day she introduced herself and gave me her version of bottom to top orientation, telling me candidly that she was there to do my bidding – personal and professional. Her accent lay heavily on fetching a cup of coffee, taking clothes to the hotel laundry, buying presents on my behalf, running other similar errands – for she had been doing this and more, including babysitting, for my predecessor. When I began to tutor her for serious work and shape her for professional assignments I was not a good-enough boss for her. By not getting my personal work done by her I had failed miserably for not being an affected, dictatorial boss woman in her scheme of things; after all she had grown on the staple of such a boss-subordinate equation.
Then there was this Management Trainee who would love to swing by my office just to chat me up and tell me how great I was, just how recognized my name was in the PR circles, what a hero I was to her and how she was learning things from me. Years later, when she worked with me at another hotel and had then become the Guest Relations Manager she lost interest in my invincible powers and aura and found another person-in-position to kowtow to. That is the thing. Such sucklings have ‘fine-art-ed’ the tactic of bowing and scraping to those they can then milk for their benefits and rewards. The hoopla around polishing apples is to cover up their lack of ability to perform well and yet stay in the reckoning. Sadly, many a times such despicable acts of ‘sucking up’ bring to their fold what they are seeking out, emboldening their belief in this hateful practice.
There are times, when a lot of us, in the effort to appear civil and overfriendly with the person in authority, will compliment him or her on a range of things – from their hairstyle to management style, tie to tactical approach, shoes to swagger, leadership skills to the shiny Lexus in their garage; so as to ingratiate ourselves into their inner circle.
Again, there is that fine line between being genuinely nice and wheedlingly sycophantic. May we keep the difference in the top of our minds and choose wisely.
9, SLOTH BEAR
This is definitely one of the seven cardinal sins, even in the work sphere, as much as in life. We procrastinate and put off, find novel reasons to stash away files that may need attention, we squander away precious time in silly pursuits – non-productive chats, computer games, social networking diversions, fun distractions, drag our feet on tasks and laze around when the need of the hour is to smarten up and accomplish. Most of us are in the dock for having done some of these things to varying degrees. And sometimes it is okay – in order to break the monotony, kill the boredom, bring colour to a dour assignment, re-pattern the regimen. It is the habitual sloths amongst us who directly hit the bottom-line and impact on everyone else’s tempo and performance.
The worst of the lot are those who show more and do little. Most of their thinking, planning and energy go into putting up an act of work while in reality they are busy doing nothing, or anything of substance.
10. NEGATIVE NINJA
Negative Ninja is the dark influence that imbalances the corporate yin and yang. They bring with them a pall of nimbus to cast a damningly murky shadow on our work days. They love to speak ill of those they work with – from boss to the secretary, from management to the minions. It is extremely difficult to keep such employees happy. Coffee time, smoke breaks, lunch hours or just catching up in the corridors are perfect times for these people to rant and spread the bad word around. In their eyes, nobody is as good, as hard-working, as committed, as productive as they are. From boss’ strict policies, HR’s practices, Colleague’s Sales report to Assistant’s presentation – they must pick holes in everything and speak in the negative. They are so much vitriolically charged that they miss out the pleasures of a superior’s praise, teammate’s timely help in accomplishing a task, a subordinate’s free-willed extra hours put in to meet a deadline, a commendation letter from the Corporate Office, a pat on the back by a guest. They are so blocked up within that they fail to stop and smell the roses.
Unfortunately, their attitude can be contagious and create an adverse atmosphere at the work place. Between the HR and the management, there is a need to admit that there will always be such type of people in the teams and devise ways to rein in their good stuff and quell the bad energy.
Its confession time, folks! We all are guilty of being each of these in some shade and percentage or another. These are some of the major corporate sins that we have either committed ourselves or been sordid victims of.
It would be a better working world and a much more productive place if each of these foes could be weeded out and replaced with exemplary attitude and positivity of approach. After all, we ourselves would stand to gain!