Monday, June 17, 2013

Golden Nuggets from Ancient Wisdom: Handling Changing / Challenging Environment

I was having a phone conversation with one of my friends who is going through challenging and changing work environment. In the middle of the call my battery died. We both were online so continued our conversation via IM. The conversation captured a few thoughts on “Handling Changing / Challenging Environment”. I am sharing it for your reflection. You may find some golden nuggets in it or comment on the post and provide golden nuggets …. (I have edited the raw IMs to make it a better read)

My Friend: I am getting frustrated as I am doing job that I did not sign up for. I feel I am being forced to do mundane work. I don’t feel supported when I question inefficiencies, which is demoralizing. I think the frustration I face has an easy solution - I just need to stop caring that much, which is kind of sad for the company.....  What do you say?

AB: First, please keep your morale up. You are doing right thing by questioning inefficiencies of the system.

MF: Ya, but I don’t know if I can make any difference in this environment…
AB: Have you heard of Serenity Prayer...
MF: Nope, what's that?
AB: I love it, and follow it to the best of my ability...
“God - give me the strength to change the things that I can.... courage to accept the things I cannot change; and wisdom to know the difference!!!”

In non-spiritual terms: 
We operate in a three concentric circular domains around us. The largest circle is the Circle of Concern - we worry and we can keep worrying about these things, but nothing that we can do to improve things in this domain. The middle circle is the Circle of Influence - we don't have direct control over things here, yet we can influence; and the innermost smallest circle is the Circle of Control - these are activities and situations that we are in control . If we dwell too much in the Circle of concern and try changing things we are likely to become frustrated... 

MF: Very simple, yet really true, except that for my environment perception of value is based on circle of concern.....
AB: We should reflect on things in our circle of concern briefly (that we have not put them there wrongly); care for things in our circle of influence and focus most of our (change) effort in the Circle of control...

MF: But we are measured on things that we have little influence or control over
AB: Sometimes... and that is "What I have to Do" just because I have signed up to work for a corporation...
In that case we need to work on bringing things from Circle of Concern to Circle of Control. One way is organization empowering you and helping you use your positional influence to influence or control more things in your circle of concern (provided they benefit business), . That option once again might be out of your circle of control (hopefully in your circle of influence). But the way that is within your circle of control is - for you to show your leadership and gain that empowerment by generating influence through taking proactive ownership of things you think you can control. You need to successfully evangelize merits of your thoughts / proposals – showing clearly how they contribute value to the business or the organization.    

MF: The issue at my organization is that there is no influence to fix the concerns I have at any level because it is too hard......and not important enough. What if I am not able to bring things from my Circle of Concern to Circle of Control?
AB: Put your sincere efforts to change the thing that you don't like; If you can't change it - change the way you think about it... 

MF: But why are people afraid to take ownership or make decisions? 
AB: Knowing what you have told me about changes and uncertainties in your organization, it may be  insecurity. When the leaders are secure and confident; they are trusted and they make their teams believe that members are doing important work for the company; people don't hesitate to make right decisions because they know they will be supported even if the outcome is not favorable. People flourish and such companies flourish…

MF: Yes i agree with that. You cannot be correct all the time without a few mis-steps here and there

AB: On a lighter note, I might have shared Teflon Style of management.... did I ?
Teflon is the non-stick material on the cooking pans... People these days don't want anything sticking to them; so you ask anyone anything, if that requires effort - they will either say they don't know or tell you that it is someone else's job..  :)

MF: I must admit that I have not felt job security in my current role ever - from day 1

AB: You are lucky I would say...
MF: ha? In what sense? Good looking, smart......engaging......apart from that how am i lucky?

AB: Since you have not yet gotten into the comfort zone and not felt this is the permanent environment for you; you are able to think out-of-the-box and question status-quo without fearing for anything...
MF: That's a nice way of saying I am not fitting well… :)

AB: It is only after one feels comfortable that fear of change makes you compliant to the environment...
MF: But I feel unsettled.......

AB: Yet it is keeping you green; and not letting you become a fossil :)

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