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Saturday, June 23, 2012

My learnings from corporate life

Disclaimer: These learnings are purely from my analysis on things prevailing at various work places as per my observations & detailed discussions with many people working at many work places. The reader is free to agree/disagree/argue/debate on any of the below points.

1. Never get emotionally attached to the company.
The biggest learning of my work life is to not get attached to the company emotionally. The company takes advantage of us then, I know one can't help it but that's the harsh reality. The company will never be emotionally attached to us the way we are to it, after all why should the company be? If we still choose to be so, its our problem, we should not complain about the company then! I attended a training where the instructor, while sharing his past corporate life experiences mentioned that when he looks back to his corporate life years, he now realizes that his company had take advantage of his passion. When experienced people say something we think, it feels good. So, I am probably more sure to put this up as a statement here. I probably would have put in anyway, even if I had not met that instructor, but now I know there is at least one more person who learnt what I learnt!

2. Be yourself, you won't lose anything.
Many lose his/her identity in the process to fulfilling many objectives of self and/or the others. Some want to impress the boss & want to do what the boss wants them to, some are worried about acceptance in the bigger team & the circle around, some are bothered about the business being hit, some others are bothered about not being left out and so on, many more reasons. In this process, many tend to behave/act as a different person & just not being themselves. In this process, many tend to imbibe qualities that don't suit them. In many cases it is the fear, the peer pressure, the insecurity, the circumstances, the situations - but in the entire process, one loses his or her own identity & in some years, becomes someone else. May be for good, may be for better - but is it actually worth taking that entire pressure! For the fear of what? If we were just ourselves, wouldn't we have done as well as we had done? I strongly believe we could do much better. For a short time period, we could still be someone else till we overcome the fear, the insecurity, the circumstances, the situations, but not for the entire work life time.

3. Work for yourself & with a 'team', not for the company.
Many of us are worried about the company name that will be on our resume and so, we all tend to strive to work for 'the' company. I say always emphasize the 'work' & the 'team' that we work with & not the company. Every single moment in our work life, we deal with the work we do, and the team that we work with. If we don't enjoy our work or don't enjoy the company of the people we work with, would it at all matter which company we work for! It is correct that the brand name matters on our resumes, but I strongly believe it doesn't beyond a certain extent.
(I choose not to elaborate this any further here.)

Believe me, whatever I am, whatever skills I have - may it be analytical, communication, even the ability to write this blog - I give entire credit to my work & the people I worked with in my earlier company named Educational Initiatives Pvt. Ltd. It is not a big brand, but whatever I learnt there, I am able to use to be at par with my counterparts in the BIG brand that I work for now. I always feel companies/employers should consider talent from small brands as equally important if not more, as any other big brands. The learnings in terms of operational hands-on work as well as in terms of strategic thinking is much higher built in small firms rather than the big ones. Unfortunately, companies tend to do otherwise.

4. Never work to die.
I was (& probably am) a workaholic. But its fine to say 'NO' to ourselves. It is fine to log off during the hours we decide to. It is my biggest realization that if an email comes on the most important project in hand, we need not get restless to immediately reply to it or start working on it. Of course, there are situations where we need to react immediately but it is fine to judge the situation & decide on the time for the action to be taken. Not every situation would demand the same kind of attention, promptness, hurry, anxiety! Things can be unmanageable at times, but if things remain unmanageable for reasonable amount of time, there is something seriously wrong with either setting expectations or the way we function or a combination of these two.

5. Ignorance is Bliss!
The more we talk to & the more people we talk to and know about the things that we would otherwise not know, the more dangerous it is if we are not able to filter out the information from impacting us as a person or our work. The more ignorant we are of the information that we 'need not' know, the happier we are. We may be quite matured to not bother about anything being not the way we want it to be, but the more we hear or the more often we hear about any such information, at some point we will start relating ourselves to all that & it is definitely bound to hit us. So, being ignorant or keeping ourself away from coming across such unpleasant information frequently is a bliss. Evaluate yourself based on what you are contributing & what you are getting, it is simple ROI & the enhancement that you are making to yourself in whatever parameters of evaluation that matter to you. If the result of this evaluation turns out to be positive, that's the success, but the catch is the parameters of evaluation which definitely have to be chosen perfectly. So, ignorance helps us to evaluate in absolute terms just about ourselves & not in relative terms comparing ourselves with others.

6. Don't expect all your learning to be used in your work.
I laugh at myself when I think of this, I did this all my life till now. I saw that the famous 80:20 principle very well applies here, 80% of the work that we do would use only 20% of our skills. If we want to use over 20% of our skills, we should find ways to do something new outside of our core job, that is solely our own responsibility to analyze how we can do that.

7. Don't expect to have all the learning from work.
Again, I had this expectation for most of my work life time. I always thought all my learning would come from the work I do, and so there was a time when I used to prioritize my work & just my work & nothing else - play, enjoyment everything used to be secondary. I actually realized the 80:20 rule applies here too. Only 20% of our learning comes from the 80% of our time that we spend at work. But the rest of the 20% of our time spent on other small things in life, teaches us much more!

8. Its all people & only people!
A company is nothing but a group of people, then comes the vision, mission, the principles, the policies & so on. These are all thoughts & decisions of group(s) of people. Every single piece of work we do or the contribution we make is tied to a decision that the people have taken in the company. Our existence in the company is bound by people - the senior management, our team, the other teams, the 'boss'. We may be intelligent but it doesn't matter unless people recognize we are. We may be working very hard, but people should notice that we are. Actually there are 2 cases - we may be very intelligent & people might think we are not, but we might be just average but people might think that we are too intelligent. If it is the first case & we get frustrated about that, it is better to get out of that place. If it is the latter case, it might be good enjoyment :)

9. And, it is the 'boss'.
And of all the people, it is one person called the 'boss' who is the most important person in our work life. (S)He can make or break our lives. It is similar to a teacher. I strongly believe that if the teacher is good & teaches genuinely & passionately, it cannot happen that the children are not learning or not developing interest in the subject (Of course there are outlier students but very very few - visualize a normal distribution because there can be outliers on both sides: one who are hopeless & just live life without a meaning, one who are very deeply interested by birth in something & are too focussed towards what they want to do in life). Similar is the boss, no matter what we do, if the boss decides we should not grow, we just cannot. If changing the boss is not an option, just accept the harsh reality!

10. Be patient, its good.
No matter what, refrain from taking decisions in haste. The decisions we take should be well thought of, very well analyzed & our inner-self should be completely with us. I don't say we should not fight in a situation that requires that kind of a reaction, but while working & fighting towards our aim, we should be patient enough to react in the right manner. Golden rule is keep working religiously, studiously, again ties to the above points on being yourself, people etc., we should just keep working & doing our duties sacredly (ofcourse not any kind of work for a long time, again keeping in sync with all the above points on work etc.), the efforts can't go unnoticed. If they go unnoticed, it is the problem with the people around us, not us. What next is a decision that we would have to take then!