Is internal competition killing your organisation’s effectiveness?

Most organisations have evaluation systems that measure employees against their goals and how they performed vs their peers. The obvious intent of the performance measurement system is to have a tracking mechanism to know how each of the employees’ is contributing, towards the organisations growth. This gives a comparative measure to reward good performance. This method stems from the grading systems in schools and colleges, that measure a student’s comparative performance, on various subjects. Parents have used this approach for years with children, to push them to perform better, by comparing them with siblings and peers. However, based on research, educators and child experts say, that, comparing a child constantly is not only bad for his/her self esteem but also leads to longterm performance and psychological issues. So if this system does not work for kids can the impact on adults be really that different? While the intent is to drive performance using competition among employees, the unfortunate truth is that, it is detrimental to the overall performance of the organisation.  To understand how this happens, let us start by understanding the meaning of competition Competition, is a contest between organisms, animals, individuals, groups, etc., for territory, a niche, or a……

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The difference that makes the difference

This week in India was marked with the sudden demise of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the Missile man, the extraordinary scientist and most importantly the man dubbed as the People’s President during and after his tenure in the Presidential office. What made him so admirable was not just his academic and career success, his knowledge and simplicity but everything that he stood for. He came from a poor, rural, Muslim family in Tamil Nadu and rose to the highest office in the country, through sheer determination and hardwork. For young India he is an Icon of what is possible. In the midst of scam, corruption, high competition and unequal opportunities Dr. Kalam’s life was an inspiration of aspirations, dreams and success. This post is a dedication and a reflection on the great man and his greatness. What makes someone who comes from a life of hardship and challenges make it the way someone like Dr. Kalam does? And more importantly what prevents others in similar circumstances from doing the same?   The biggest difference is not what the world throws at us but how we perceive it. Perception is the way we see and experience the world and it varies from person to……

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3 Steps to take control when change happens

take control

Change is difficult!
Occasionally its manageable. More often than not it is tough to deal with.

Some changes in life happen voluntarily for most of us. A lot of them are a result of circumstances. Whether we like it or nor change is part of us; professionally, personally, physically, financially and in all aspects of life.
All of us have heard the saying “Change is the only constant”. But, knowing that we must go through change repeatedly in life does not make it easier.

Perhaps what makes change so difficult for us is the fear of the unknown. We feel threatened by losing what we are comfortable with and stepping into unknown territory. We fear that the safety of what we know will get replaced with the insecurity of undefined terrain. Sometimes this fear is so big that we continue to hold on to things we are unhappy with because we fear that the “new” could be worse.  This is often a reason why people continue in abusive relationships or unfulfilling jobs. What if the next relationship is worse or what if I don’t find anyone? What if a new job is more demanding or does not offer the same financial security as this one?
Belief systems also sometimes hamper our need to change. If I walk out of this relationship that I feel trapped in am I being selfish? If I let go of a secure job to follow my dream am I being impulsive and rash?

And behind this fear and belief systems lurks the discomfort of letting go of control

Sometimes we willingly take on a change and then find that we can’t deal with it and going back to the old and familiar seems like an easy choice.  We may have started with wanting this change but when we get into the new situation it becomes extremely difficult to deal with.

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The missing piece in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Maslow spoke about human motivation and human needs being interrelated. Maslow’s work on the hierarchy of needs pyramid published in 1948 has been the basis of most of the motivational theories in organisations as well as clinical work on the psychology of motivation. Broadly put Maslow states the stages of life and motivation for an individual follow a certain sequence. When one need is met he/she moves on to the next need.   While early researchers were quick to criticise and point  out the futility of maintaining this sequence of needs, there is a broad acceptance that the needs themselves are very relevant to motivation. For this reason Maslow’s  theory is still taught in all HR curriculums although most researchers agree that these needs are all messily woven into life and cannot be separated so sharply. For most individuals all needs are present in varying degrees at most times. The intensity of each need is  subjective to circumstances both within and outside the individual. So how does one separate or understand what really makes someone motivated to do or not to do something in life?   To understand this concept, the one thing we all need to look at is the……

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Are you being a duck in water?

What is a duck in water? A client was recently telling me that he likes to maintain a calm exterior to portray a leadership presence. However he struggles to feel this same calm inside because, most of his days are so busy, he almost never find time to get anything done. This is the unfortunate truth of most leadership positions, whether you are a corporate leader or a business owner. Once you get into the role , you find, your time is no longer your own. There are always board members, important customers, department heads, employees  or other stakeholders who are constantly vying for your time. There is also a recurring need to attend various events, meetings, conferences and social gatherings either to represent the business or to be seen in the right forums for your own career’s sake. I hear leaders complain that they have no time to focus on what they want to do for their business and even to connect with everything that is happening at work because there is just so much to do. The analogy that comes to my mind is that of a duck swimming in water. While above the water it appears to be floating calmly, under the surface it is paddling furiously……

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Leadership VS the Myth of the Perfect Leader

 “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves” – Ray Kroc Who is a Leader? At a recent leadership workshop I asked the question, “ Who is a leader?” I got many answers and perspectives largely catergorised into leadership presence, knowledge, vision, team management and business sense. All answers together told me 2 things: There is no single definition of a leader. Each of us want something different from the people we perceive as leaders and we want them to be “perfect” in matching our definition. We all want strong leaders and we want them to deliver! We all like to fantasize about that glorious human being who will change the world. In politics we have seen Obama( Yes We Can!) and more recently Narendra Modi being put up on that pedestal where they are expected to turn around the economic situation. We don’t care about facts or what the challenges are. We just want outcomes. In the workplace, employees often look at their manager and expect that he/she replicate an image in their mind. When this leader fails to do so, they often feel let down, if not outright cheated. Organisations too have guidelines and criteria for leadership that……

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The achievement treadmill – why pausing it is so hard and what to do about it

“Sometimes you need to press pause to let everything sink in.” –  Sebastian Vettel Being a high achiever means that you are on a constant journey to scale bigger and higher mountain heights.  But as you move from one achievement to the next you may find yourself unable to stop, even momentarily, before moving on to the next pursuit. When you experience fatigue you probably dig deeper and keep on going. And as you do that you may experience an inner niggle that tells you to pause. This may either be in the form of exhaustion, loss of concentration or something bigger like an impact on your health. More often than not you will ignore the niggle and continue to push yourself to perform at the same pace that you always have.  I can already picture a lot of you nodding your heads when you read this and I know that I myself have been guilty of doing this. Most of us even take pride over being on top of our game inspite of what we may be experiencing. Before I continue, I want to clarify that this discussion is not about being driven in your career or wanting to……

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Imposter syndrome – The nemesis of all high achievers

The good news first. If you find yourself relating to this post chances are you are a high achiever or a leader in whatever you do. High achievers and leaders generally thrive on their achievements. While power, wealth and fame may also be strong motivators, the high of delivering on a difficult outcome is generally unmatched. The world of a high performer is also very different from that of an average performer. There is a lot more activity and a very strong commitment to the outcomes. Most high achievers thrive in high-speed, high stress environments.

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