Did You Fire the Boss?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Did You Fire the Boss?

Fired the boss

Image: source

Boss stormed to my desk, shouting, “it’s the fifth time you’re late to work this week. What’s the meaning of this?”

I, obviously surprised and confused, replied, “that… it’s finally Friday?!”

Early in my corporate career, whenever I was to interview for a job, there was one piece of advice I was sure to get. It would be either from family, or close friends, or both.

“In case you’re asked why you want to change jobs, whatever be the real reason, say you need a more challenging role”, would be their order-sounding advice. And each time, that advice would lead to a heated discussion. I would reason out that if I was planning to leave for a particular reason, even if it was to do with a difficult boss, why not just be truthful about it? The retort would be, “Trust me. Do you want the job or not? Nobody wants to hire someone who might blame a company or boss for wanting to leave.”

So while that justification never made sense, at each interview, like clockwork, I would end up explaining exactly why I wanted to switch jobs. And at times, interviews ended exactly like I was warned they would. Despite sometimes having an initial advantage of more relevant experience. While the reasons for it could have been anything, friends and family always blamed it on my ignoring their advice.

Logically though, wouldn’t your reason for wanting to leave something reflect a truer form of YOU than otherwise? Like saying ‘no’ often says more about you than a reluctant or helpless ‘yes’ does. It probably shows what you believe in, what you stand for, and what you don’t tolerate. Which maybe right or foolish. But it reflects your priorities, your grit, even your disposition? The interviewer is looking for the smallest of factors he or she can possibly gather to add to the mix. The mix from which a final decision on whether you are a good fit or not, will emerge.

Many years later, I came across studies citing that between 30-60% of employees quit their boss, and not their company. It meant that one or more persons were the reason for a good segment of employees leaving their companies. Some studies estimated an even higher percent, around 70% or more! While this isn’t a rant against bosses, it is an attempt to know why we can’t, or shouldn’t, be more transparent during interviews.

A close friend of mine cited a relevant story some time back. He had interviewed two candidates for his team, and he had contacted their common ex-boss for verification. The ex-boss strongly advised my friend against hiring them, citing numerous reasons that sounded more personal and spiteful, than to do with talent. However, having already had a few rounds of interactions, and seeing the potential in them, my friend ignored the ex-boss’s advice and hired them. A long time later, he was glad he went against the advice of their earlier boss, as the two were still around, doing really well, both for themselves, and for the company. But there are many others who would have dropped those two at the first sign of a warning from even a stranger.

And yet during interviews, most interviewers still prefer hearing lies and super-cliches as reasons for wanting to change jobs. Candidate reasons instead, will range from their untapped potential, recently discovered talent, more responsibilities, to sharpening their focus/ efforts. Like some candidates whose reply to mentioning weaknesses, is ‘being a perfectionist’. Even if the only thing they’ve been perfect at, is leaving office on the dot, irrespective of deadlines. But you obviously can’t mention forbidden answers.

To conclude with a good ol’ corporate joke:

“Tell your boss what you really think about him/her, and the truth shall set you free, … from your job.” ~ Anonymous

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Two Sides of The Same…Country

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Two Sides of The Same…Country

Little over a decade ago, I had just learnt how to drive a car, and, sorry; I must learn to be specific. I had learnt to drive a car in India. Yes, here, it takes more effort, selfless commitment, definitely more skill, and sheer bravery to even just want to learn to drive a vehicle here, let alone actually drive.

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Not even attempting to give you an idea of what it takes, here’s a picture I took on a holiday in Rajasthan a few years ago.

That said, every once in a while, random scenarios would pop up in my head. About what if I was driving and ‘this’ happened, or, how would I react if someone on the street did ‘something like that’. It was probably a natural part of getting accustomed to the newly acquired skill and to getting used to how perspective changes when you are behind the wheel.

I remember one of the ‘possible scenarios’ was about who would be to blame. Say, if a vehicle was driving within the speed limit, and if it were to inadvertently hit someone who decided to dart across the street at the last second. It would give the driver almost no time to react. So could the driver be blamed for the fault of a reckless pedestrian? One who, well knowing the risks, still decided to test their luck? The answer came back a resonating, ‘no‘. The driver could not be blamed. I then reassured myself with the example of trains. Trains travel at specific speeds, and have considerably large stopping distances. So if someone decided to cross the track when a train was close, and got run over, it couldn’t possibly be the engine driver’s fault? Knowing well that crossing tracks is unsafe, and that crossing streets recklessly, equally so.

It all seemed fine. Till yesterday. Yesterday, a speeding train in the state of Bihar in North India, ran over 37 [yes, you read correctly; thirty-seven] pilgrims who were crossing the track at the time. It was tragic. And it was the fault of the pilgrims. But for those who of you who don’t know what followed, angry crowds nearby went on a rampage, setting the train on fire, and attacking and killing one of the engine drivers, leaving the other one in a critical condition. [the news article]

So my theories on ‘who’s to blame’ went out the window. India. A superpower. Among the most promising economies, is still incapable of identifying who’s at fault in something as obvious as this unfortunate incident. It also gives one a glimpse into who we are. Not who we are capable of being, but instead, of who we have stooped to become. Hopefully not for long though. Knowing risks, we’ll still expect the other person to take preventive measures, while we try to kiss a runaway train, while we try to break Border Collies speed records while crossing before speeding cars. Yes, that’s who we have somehow become.

However, and incidentally yesterday itself, there was a story that ended the day on a note of optimism. Bombay’s public bus transport service, the BEST, has been infamous for menacing drivers who break signals, who have run over pedestrians, and damaged vehicles as well. In my family itself, we have two to three horrifying incidents to narrate. Of how BEST’s impatient drivers have damaged our cars just because they were in a blind frenzy to zip through bus stops and go home.

best-bus
BEST_Bus_Mumbai

But last night was different. I was driving mom to the market to pick up some groceries. The road I was on, required me to take a right turn to get into the market lane. However, before I could take the turn, there were vehicles coming from the opposite side, and passing my car on my right side. I had to wait with the indicator on, as 5-6 cars whizzed past. A BEST bus was approaching too. While I could have quickly made the turn, knowing them well, I decided to wait for him and the few cars behind him to pass. However, to my complete surprise, he stopped the bus, and signaled for me to take the turn, while cars patiently waited behind him. Still confused, I made the turn, mom still wondering if that had actually happened. Thank you, Mr. BEST driver, for the pleasant surprise.!

Well, we all have it in us to change. We all have it in us to make a positive difference. It all comes down to us deciding to make that choice.

I’ll leave you to think about this, with a quote immortalized by Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV.

“If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change.”

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Like Endorsing, Endorse Liking?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We all remember the notorious financial meltdown of 2007-08 that washed away a lot of dreams. We all know why it happened. Some wise (read greedy) people built a huge structure on an extremely very weak foundation (sub-prime mortgage). And then went ahead and added floor over floor to their fantasy at the cost of the masses, till the foundation and everything with it, buckled.

While the ‘Like’ on Facebook (FB) and ‘Endorsements’ on LinkedIn (LI) probably could not, and definitely would not cause any such global shock wave, it is interesting to see how we are adding to its weak foundation, floor by floor, and to see what might happen when it buckles, and buckle it will.

Paid, Forced or Uninformed ‘Likes’ on FB, and ‘Endorsing skills’ without being sure on LI, are really creating a big mountain of unconfirmed information, which at best, is questionable.

Quite some time ago, when I’d see a few hundred likes on an business’s service page on FB, I’d assume it was probably a respectable/ liked business/ service. But once you know that Likes can be bought, or when you get ‘Like Requests’ from friends & acquaintances that almost forced you to like a page (most FB like requests I receive read like this ‘Hi Shrutin, please like this page [link].’), and when you see people around you obliging to such requests, then those hundred likes don’t seem that impressive any more.

On LI, people endorse skills of their contacts. Which, literally is vouching for a skill that your contact claims she or he possesses. I consider vouching a responsibility, especially since that endorsement is public. It means you know, and acknowledge that your contact is good at, or even just knows, the particular skill that you have endorsed them for. And when you get endorsed for a skill by people you haven’t been in touch for a while, and you are dead sure they haven’t a clue whether you even know that skill, that’s when you wonder about the genuineness of similar endorsements showcased on your contacts page. LI’s recommendation option is fine in itself, as contacts recommend based on good interaction or experiences based on past work done; and mentioning it in words gives more credibility than just clicking ‘endorse’ over some key words.

Like Endorsing, Endorse Liking

I recently interacted with an eminent person from the social media industry, at a TiE session. He was speaking on the advantages of social media for business. I asked him whether he saw concern over the  questionable ‘endorsing on LI’ and ‘Paid/ Forced or Uninformed Likes on FB’  that are creating a false world around us.  He, thankfully acknowledged the problem, which meant it existed. And he added that the average person wasn’t affected or bothered much about it, so life would go on at least for a while.

Many people you know might not have a clue as to what exactly you do, or how good you are at what you do. And yet they’ll go endorse you for certain skills. Which, I’ll agree, makes you feel good. And you might be the best your industry has to offer, but knowing that the person who endorsed you for it doesn’t have clue about what exactly you do, doesn’t that make you question the value of the heap of endorsements that you are piling up?

I don’t have any suggestions for the ‘endorsing’ deal on LI, but if you intend to spam inboxes with ‘Like Requests’, here are a few things you could take care of:

  • Write what the page/ company/ service is about
  • Highlight any achievements, differentiating factors
  • Reasons why I might want to like it
  • And last, and only if necessary, request the friend to ‘Like’ the page if they find it interesting and if they can relate to it. Also offer to provide them with more information if they are interested

Here’s a recent article that shows how this hype that’s been going strong for a few years now, is not much more than just a hype [Quality over Quantity]