Corporate Curry

Image courtesy joeydz

Most people today work in a company with several co-workers and realize that their place of work is actually a big melting pot of cultures, temperaments and attitudes. And this amalgamation of various kinds of people, put together in a formal work environment, is what creates a very dynamic and at times volatile environment in the workplace.
So far I have spent about 7+ years in the corporate world, specifically in the IT industry, in India. And over this period of time, I have met all kinds’ people and dealt with a myriad of situations. I do appreciate that there is still a lot to see and learn. But over this short period, my career has taught me some invaluable lessons. And based on my experiences, I have put together a small survival guide, which has seen me through.
I like to call it a survival guide because not doing most of below, has caused many a talented individual, do a lot of damage to his/her career/growth path. And in the bargain, also lose peace of mind.

  • Have a goal to network – Networking and building relationships is one of the cornerstones of success in today’s world. You just never know who you just might bump off today and then bump into tomorrow in an awkward corner! It is fairly simple. Every individual knows or is acquainted with at least a 100 people at any given moment. If a 100 sounds like too outrageous, try writing down the names of *all* the people you know, that comes to your mind. There is a fair chance that it will be way beyond 100. Now every once in a while call these people….maybe just to say hello. But stay in touch. I use the time spent traveling in the company cab, for making calls to people in my phone book. Usually I make about 2-5 calls in a week. It is not very much, but it serves the purpose.
  • Try to win people… make as may allies as you can – When I say try to win people, I am not advocating flattery or losing one’s self respect in the quest to be the ‘all-pleasing’ good human. That is a very undesirable situation – One I’d definitely NOT like to be in. But what I am trying to impress upon is to genuinely win people and make allies. The more allies you have, the stronger your position will become. The one definitive book, that I would recommend everyone to read is – How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie (Read Summary). Don’t merely read this book…USE IT!! It is too ambitious to try and inculcate EVERYTHING in that book, but gradually over a period of time and with practice, I think one would begin to get better and better.
  • Steer clear of Office Politics – Absolutely stay away from this… But at the same time keep your eyes and ears open too, lest you may find yourself dragged into unnecessary controversy. Keep your conversations polite and curt. No need to be offensive or aggressive in your official communication. If you find yourself stuck in OP, try your best to wriggle out of the situation. The key here is to be able to provide a safe exit for both parties. If you resort to fixing the blame, you run the risk of making things extremely difficult for yourself… moreover you dont know when the tables just might turn on you.
  • Never lose sight of YOUR career goals. – Always Remember, why YOU joined this company. Remember your goals. What is it that YOU want to achieve, working in here? You don’t want to get too involved with people. You didn’t come to win a popularity contest. Having said that, there is absolutely no need to be snooty either. It is good to keep your distance. Whether you like it or not, at times, familiarity does breed contempt! Try to cultivate a few good (read true & sincere) friends, and be amicable with the rest of the crowd. Period. Reflect on what you do and how you do it and work towards achieving your goal.
  • Express Yourself – Never ever assume that the management WILL KNOW what you want. It is a good idea to set up a quarterly meeting with, may be your immediate manager and (or) manager’s manager and discuss your career path and your goals. I would recommend that you clearly state, what it is that you desire to achieve, in terms of designation, work quality, remuneration, etc. Whatever your goal may be….Communicate and then follow up. This is especially beneficial because in such an open discussion, you would actually get to know the management’s perspective about you as well. And be ready for some real feedback. It is only to make you better. The biggest advantage of having such one-to-one meetings is that expectations are amply clarified from both ends and it leads to better productivity and a more satisfying work experience.
Remember, You work – they pay – So your partnership with your organization needs to be a mutually satisfying relationship for both.
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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Sudarshan says:

    Hi!
    I agree with all the points that you have listed in this blog. In the past (in the same company that I still work for), I have had open fights with my ex-boss (I have since moved out of that team) and also wrongly indulged in some bitching about some of the things that he had enforced and that I was not happy with. It was a combination of factors (frustration due to lack of growth, pressure of deliveries etc). When I look back, I feel unhappy at the way certain things went and want a professional relationship with him again because he is a very competent guy. Can you suggest some way by which I can build the bridge again?

  2. Anand says:

    Hi sudarshan,
    Thanks for stopping by.
    I can empathise with your situation, where the frustration grows just too much to bear.
    I have been through the exact same situation. But the one thing which prevented me from blowing the lid was that – ‘what goes around comes around.’.
    And since we are in an industry where after spending about 7-8 years, you tend to bump into the same set of people, somewhere or the other. So keep your relationship going.

    As for your question, I can think of two ways. One is a direct approach, where you set up a time with him and talk it out and let him know that you still want to work with him and whatever you had said in the past was more due to your own pent up frustrations.

    The second approach would be an indirect approach, where you look for an opportunity to interact with him for some task, and then gradually work towards building the relationship. And this time you need to be more open about your feelings and opinions.

    It is always good to keep the communication open, so that expectations are clear.

    Had I been in your shoes, I would have chosen the second approach (but that is my temperament).

    So I leave it to you on which approach to choose.

    Wish you good luck and it’d be great if you post back on how it worked for you.

    Cheers!
    -Anand

  3. Chrissy Scivicque says:

    Anand – I’m so glad to have read this! I especially love the point you made at the end – I think it’s all too true that we forget that this whole “work” thing is a two way street. Calling it a “partnership” really reminds you that, as an employee, you have power. Thanks for finding me so I could find you! I’ll be reading regularly. Keep up the great work and funny titles!

  4. Metamorphosis says:

    Good article. We do tend to forget that we are not here to win a popularity contest! Being amicable to everyone and keeping our eye on the goal is absolutely essential.

  5. Sudha says:

    Stopped by your blog after months! Good thoughts. Politics are rampant in every corporate set up. One has to steer clear of these disturbances and focus on the goal at hand.

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