Call it a sheer culture of survival of the fittest or our higher expectations of accelerated career progression, the figures indicate that we, as a nation, have to work much harder to earn our wages than the rest of the world.
During my decade-and-a-half long career, I have found that the employees poised for larger work roles are the ones who are team binders, have innate ability to mould themselves into the vision of their leaders, and are able to successfully communicate view from the ground up all the time.
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It's an uphill task, be a tough nut
According to data gathered by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, nearly 14 percent of the workforce in India is putting in an average of 60 hours a week at work, roughly 12 hours a day for a five-day working week. Call it a sheer culture of survival of the fittest or our higher expectations of accelerated career progression, the figures indicate that we, as a nation, have to work much harder to earn our wages than the rest of the world. And this doesn’t count the work that we take up from home.
According to human resource consultants Randstad, 74 percent of about 800 Indian organisations surveyed in a study expected their employees to be available after work hours and 78 percent of them expected their employees to be available over the phone or email even during vacations. If there is one thing that the data shared above validates, it is the fact that to excel at the workplace in India, you need to be a ‘tough nut’ and rise above the chaos that surrounds us professionally and personally.
To begin, what you can do on your part is to manage your manager smartly. After all, sharing a healthy equation with your senior peers at work has never harmed anyone. This is extremely critical for the millennials who endure the longest working hours in the world and are also on the cusp of becoming leaders of tomorrow.
To err is human, accepting mistakes reflects humility
My professional innings have been an eventful one. I started as a journalist, covered a range of subjects, before becoming a specialist in the financial services reporting. Then my passion for sports made me spend time in the tribal areas of Odisha before I joined the corporate sector. During my initial days, I endured long working hours, writing, looking for stories, and spending time on countless interactions with people who wanted their story to be told.
But those days taught me a lot. I was extremely lucky to work with an editor who raised the bar of expectations always a notch higher with each success. The lesson, I learned, for life, then was that “you are as good as your last story”. I remember he deputed me to cover a story to track the value chain and the pricing journey of the vegetables from the farm to the retail shelf.
Despite my enthusiasm, my inexperience got the better of me and my story was a bummer. In a nutshell, I couldn’t deliver what was expected of me. However, what transpired during the debriefing taught me the thumb rule a professional must follow. Toeing the line blindly is foolishness but not being open to feedback and not accepting a mistake is simply arrogance. The experience taught me that admitting to slip-ups and subsequent learning are part and parcel of managing your superiors intelligently. The learning from the day continues to form the bedrock when dealing with my leaders. After all, to err is human. There is no point denying it.
Rome was not built in a day; never let your emotions slip
Let’s be honest and clear about one thing. Your managers have a broader perspective and a better view of what the organisation is striving to achieve. Trust them with their vision, and in case you have a different view keeping in mind you are the expert on the ground, always try to reinforce your perspective, backed by sufficient facts and relevant examples. And never let your emotions get the better of you, which is where many of us fail. Always remember that conceding space doesn’t necessarily mean cowering down, it just buys you time to make a more impactful argument.
Managers are multitasking; stay empathetic
It is very likely that your manager is fire-fighting several issues simultaneously. They are multitasking and shadowing their leaders, which at times, reduces their ability to micromanage your issues. This is particularly true for those who are either at the bottom or in the middle of the organisational hierarchy. Thus, it is advised that for interactions to be meaningful, it’s a good idea to write down the concerns you want to raise and the feedback you receive. Following this meticulous approach will enable you to put forward your discussion points and also result in judicious utilisation of your manager’s time. This is a quality every individual in a managerial position appreciates and holds in high esteem.
Be solution-oriented and accountable
Often, in a bid to impress our leaders or due to our inability to gauge the quantum of work and effort required to deliver quality work, we tend to overcommit on our work deliverables. This is a perfect recipe for disaster and usually ends up being counter-productive as both delivery timeline and quality of our work get compromised. Your leaders have faith in you, that’s why they pick you to play a meaningful role in a project. As stated earlier, mistakes are one thing and part of the game, but your leader will respect you if you deliver quality work at the stipulated time. Furthermore, everyone loves a worker who is smart, thinks of out-of-the-box solutions and does not put a spoke in the execution of plans due to their inability to spot the silver lining.
So don’t hold yourself back when asked for suggestions or during brainstorming sessions. Go ahead, always make sure to put your best feet forward and focus on being your best in every moment.
Aman Dhall is Head of Corporate Communications at PolicyBazaar.com group of companies
First Published: May 8, 2019 6:00 AM IST
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