Career Myths: Part 4 (16-20)

Myth 16: IT Is an Ideal Field

We all are different individuals with different tastes, perspectives, values, personalities, and ideas. So, we perceive things differently—what may be fun to you may be boring to me. Many come into IT industry because of the stimulating opportunities and monitory rewards. Considering the different kinds of opportunities in the IT field, there is certainly

room for everyone with some interest or the other. Some areas will obviously appear more challenging and exciting to you than others. This again reinforces the view that knowing what the job entails is key to making wise career moves. What makes IT interesting to different people may be one or more of the following reasons:

  • It pays well.
  • It provides an opportunity to visit many countries without spending money yourself.
  • Make a niche for yourself in a short time.
  • Allow you to work on the cutting edge technology with the latest products and programs.
  • For individuals who are fascinated by certain technologies and like being a part of the organization, spending the whole day in front of a computer and working with such intellectual technology, isn’t work but play.
  • Constant change and the unpredictability of IT is major attraction. People with this frame of mind see life-long learning as life long excitement.

But are the first three reasons compelling enough to take up a career in IT? A career in the IT field gives you various opportunities, but it also brings in a lot of stress and pressure in your life. Now-a-days we hear about young IT professionals committing suicide because they are not able to perform well at work or because of stress at work. Is it worthwhile? You work to live, not live to work. So, why take away your life for work?

Myth 17: Change Jobs Often to Increase Your Value

Gone are the days when people entered an organization and took pride in retiring from there after 30-35 years of service. Now, it is the era of job-hoppers, those who hop, skip, and jump from one job to another. It is common to find candidates who had multiple jobs with short stays one year or even less.

Ever since the invasion of multinational companies started in India, employees feel that there is no logical progression within any one company anymore. To get ahead in the rat race, gain newer skill sets, and get a better compensation, people often make multiple moves in jobs or careers.

The million dollar question is, does it help increase your worth and/or value? No! It does not. Try to avoid short stints under 3 years. The reason is, by the time you settle yourself, get the required skills, and make a name for yourself, you decide to move on. So, you do not add much value to the team and to the organization. With down-sizing in the parent companies, increasing costs in India, the parent companies are more concerned about aittration. They have begin to wonder if it is really worth hiring candidates in India to spend time and money on their training, only to be geared to recruit a replacement.

Myth 18: Women Cannot Balance Career and Family

Wrong! Women can find time for both a great career and maintain a happy family. Balancing a career and a family is difficult and is a never-ending process, but it is not impossible. Women can carve out more family time by balancing time, being organized, and streamlining the household tasks. In short, planning and organizing helps.

Prioritization, organization, and delegation are key to achieving the balance that allows a woman to enjoy a rich family life while also gaining fulfillment from her career.

—Laura Betterly, CEO of In Touch Media Group, Inc.

    • As far as the women balance both perfectly, people at work and at home are happy, with her respective roles. Problem arises when
    • Women decide to run away from the household duties because they feel they are a class apart by being working women.
    • The husbands refuse to help and support them stating that house hold work is not for the men—it’s a woman’s job
    • Women find that they are not getting any help and support and try to do lesser activities (specially at home) to make their life easier.
    • They start carrying their problems to work and don’t focus on their roles and responsibilities.

If the husbands want a working wife, they have to lend a helping hand. They have to be considerate of the fact that their wives also have work pressures and work related tensions. Childcare centers, tele-commuting, and flexible work hours help, but most women depend on some creative mechanism for organizing and planning their time that works for them. You just need to know how to do the balancing act. Do not give undue importance to one over the other. In any case a balancing act requires careful planning, setting priorities, time management, and fiexibility.

Myth 19: Accomplishments Speak for Themselves

The saying that your accomplishments speak for themselves and that you will be rewarded accordingly is almost a myth. You need to work hard to accomplish something and stand out from the others. But don’t depend on just your work to speak out your accomplishments. You have to communicate and make sure your boss knows what you have accomplished. They should be aware of the problems you faced and how you overcame them to contribute towards the project and the team. Only then will you be rewarded for your true worth. Else you will be taken for granted.

Self promotion is actually the art of branding and bragging. This is how you stand out from the crowd and keep your accomplishments in your boss’s mind when it comes to raises, promotions, and succession planning, or when your company is trying to decide who stays and who goes during mergers, management shifts, and down-sizing.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re seeking advancement in your current position, ready to change an established career, or just starting out—you have to be ever mindful of cultivating your own personal brand and promoting it. If your boss does not take the effort to motivate your or appreciate your performance in public, you have to speak out and blow your own trumpet. Only take care not to blow it very hard.

Myth 20: It is Difficult to Get a Job If You Are Overage

It is and it is not! When hiring experienced candidates, age is definitely not considered. When hiring someone without relevant experience, age sometimes becomes a selection criteria. The reasons are:

    • After other experience, the expectations of the candidate is much more than a person who is relatively younger and inexperienced. Most of the times, organizations are ready to take in people with no related experience in junior positions and might offer a salary relative to their relevant experience and skills. Those seeking a job may not be able to accept the fact that after being experienced, they are considered to be on the same level as the trainees.

 In such a situation, ask yourself if you possess the skills required for this job? Do you have the relevant experience? Why should the organization pay you for the skills and the experience you don’t possess? This will give you an answer why you are recruited at an entry level.

    •  Most of the time candidates beyond 45-50 years of age find it difficult to get a change in career because they probably lack the skills, education, and experience that the employer seek. If you are looking for employment in an industry or an area that focuses more on youth, then will surely be difficult for you to find a new job.

 You need to be flexible and mature in terms of understanding and accepting your limitations. If you are comfortable working with youngsters, in a junior position, for a lesser salary (probably), and if you are confident of using the skills of your prior working experience to your advantage, age doesn’t really matter. On a personal perspective, age limit is more of a mental state than physical. If you are eager to learn and grow in the team starting from the basics, age is not a constraint. For that matter, age is not a barrier in any field if you are mentally and physically fit for the job/work.

Career Myths: Part 3 (11-15)

Myth 11: Changing Careers is Nearly Impossible

Gone are the good old days when people entered one company and then retired from there probably after 30-35 years. Now a days it is taken for granted that change is inevitable. If anything is constant, it is change. While you can never know 100% that you are making the right choice at any given point, your goal should be to make the best choice. Then, continue to evaluate and re-evaluate your choice. Your first choice of career may not be your final decision or your final choice. If you are unsatisfied with your job or the specific career field for any reason, you can always change it. Career planning is an ongoing and never-ending process.

People continue to change throughout this life. So, priorities, values, and interests also change with time. In the recent years, so does the job market. Hence, as you evaluate your career plans and priorities, it is natural to change careers to take care of your priorities. In recent years, experts predict people will make an average of 4 career changes. That is, people will work for atleast 5-6 different companies by the time they retire. Many graduates work for two to three years and then pursue management courses as a way to enhance their skills and change careers.

You may currently be working in one particular field, wanting to change your career. If you have decided to make a switch only because of some minor problems you are facing in your current job, you have made a wrong decision. You should invest your time trying to look for the solutions to the problems you are facing. Else, you may have time only to run away from problems. Change careers only if you feel that you are not happy with your career choice and you don’t want to continue with it.

Changing careers is not easy, but it is not difficult either. As the workplace continues to change and evolve, more and more people have started changing careers. In most of the cases, the people realize that they don’t like what they are doing only after getting into the job. If they get a chance, they move on to the careers of their choice. Nothing wrong in doing that. As long as you have a plan and do your best to stick with it, you should try and switch careers.

You can compare career to marriage. Earlier people were tolerant and patient. They made efforts to save their marriage by trying to make adjustments and changing priorities and their way of life. Now, they say that they are incompatible and are not made for each other. So they get separated and move on. The luckier ones find better life partners. Similarly, people change jobs without trying to find the root cause of the problems or trying to solve problems. The luckier ones find a good work place.

It takes much effort to switch careers and you may need to get related certification or training, get relevant experience in the new career field, and focus on how the skills you currently possess transfer to the new career field.

Myth 12: If You Change Careers, Your Skills Go Waste

You may be concerned about changing careers after 4-5 years (or more) of work experience in a particular field because of many reasons; your skills go wasted, or not wanting to join in a junior position, or because of the fear of loosing your seniority. If these are the reasons that is stopping you from making a change, don’t change careers. As simple as that.

But remember that these days the age old concept of equating the number of years of experience to seniority is no longer valid.

    • Your skills and experience will be wasted.

The fact is, your skills are yours to keep. Though you may not use them in the exact same way, they won’t go to waste. You can take them from one job to another. Any previous experience will be valid in terms of the soft skills (communication, team spirit, leadership qualities, maturity in making decisions, etc.) which will help you to get faster promotions if you are good at work. You don’t have to be close to the top of the ladder when you enter the profession. It is up to you to positively use the non-related work experience to quickly climb up the professional ladder.

    • You don’t want to join as a trainee or at a junior position.

Most of the time you have to, for the very simple reason that you will be learning the basics of the job just as the others. The same amount of time and effort will have to be dedicated to you for training (the concepts, process, procedures, tools, etc.). This is even more evident if the work experience you have is in no way related to the job you have applied for.

    • You feel that you will lose your seniority at work.

In a senior position, you are expected to make important decisions about the project, which can make or break a project.

      • Making wrong decisions, when you consciously think that you are right may cause a critical situation. Relevant experience, having the skills required for the job, and the work related knowledge helps in making the right decision at critical stages of the project
      • These days, seniority is decided based on the knowledge, relevant experience, and skills you have.
      • Seniority also depends on other personal skills like being a team player, mentor, leader, and a good performer to name a few.

Myth 13: Others are Happy, You Will Also Be

Everyone is different—they have different tastes, likings, d dislikes, attitude, and personalities, among other things. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another, even if that other person is someone with whom you have a lot in common. If someone you know has a career that seems interesting to you, first understand it, read about it, research it, and analyze it. Then, check if it suits your interests. You may like it, but there are chances that it may not necessarily be a good fit for you.

Example: Ravi’s close friends work in IT field—software development, software testing, usability testing, and web development. They all enjoy their work. Ravi has done his graduation in commerce and has always wanted to become a charted accountant.

After hearing the various things his friends had to say about their work, seeing the kind of salary they get, noticing that they did not mind working late hours, and the frequent over seas trips they made, Ravi decided to try his hand in the IT industry. He enrolled himself for a course in software testing. After completing the course, he spend about a year looking for suitable jobs. Finally he got a job in a well-known organization.

Now, it has been more than a year, but Ravi is not at all happy with his work, the job profile, the work culture, and the work pressure. He now hates all that he earlier liked about the IT profession. He feels that he took the wrong decision and worse still, he feels that his friends did not give him the right picture about the work and the job profile.

Though they all were good friends, it was not necessary that Ravi would like what the others liked doing. This is a universal problem. There are many rewarding and satisfying careers. Evaluating potential careers can be an exciting process. Try to fully explore all the possibilities and make a decision based on what would offer you the most satisfaction.

Myth 14: You Should Choose the Occupation That Is In Demand

Occupations are in demand because of the market requirement at a given point of time. You should not blindly follow the occupation that is in demand if you don’t enjoy doing it. What you enjoy and what is important to you about life and work should also be taken into consideration. Remember the dot.com boom in the late 90’s that led to a bust just a few years later, leaving thousands of people jobless? Predictions about jobs are usually made regarding the most wanted jobs based on the information collected form various dependable resources but then, things can change. There is a time lag between the demand for certain kinds of occupations and the response to this demand.

Example: These days, there is a need for nurses in the US and in UK. The demand outstrips the supply with a resulting increase in salary, fringe benefits, and opportunity as employers compete for the limited supply of trained nurses. The students feel that there is an increased opportunity for them to go abroad and make money in this field and hence opt for nursing.

By the time they graduate, the job market may become flooded, and the supply may exceed the demand. So, the bubble will burst and many will become disappointed because they will be competing with thousands of nurses who came into the field with the same idea as they did. Those who opted for nursing because of interest will be happy working in the local hospitals.

This kind of changing demand and supply situation can happen with any occupation. Remember the kind of frenzy created by medical transcription about a decade back? Nonetheless, job outlook trends can be useful information if used cautiously and not as the only factor in your career choice. The job market fluctuates constantly and employment opportunities can change dramatically as a function of economic conditions, advances in technology, and the labor supply changes. Most often what is in demand now may not be 5 years from now or the vice-versa.

Myth 15: Money and Status Reflects Success

Money and status are very appealing and there is nothing wrong in wanting to achieve these goals. However, be careful not to compromise your values as you consider potential careers. While salary is important, it is not the only factor you should take into account when choosing a career. Surveys have shown that money does not necessarily lead to job satisfaction. For some people making a contribution to society is more attractive than earning a large income.

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.

—Albert Schweitzer

    • Contrary to what you may think, high salary doesn’t necessarily equate to a high level of job satisfaction and personal happiness
    • There are people who get a low salary in comparison to their friends or peers in the same field, but have highly satisfying job. For such people enjoying what they do at work is much more important. So, they opt for a better job profile that gives them responsibility and flexibility at work. Not commanding a high salary does not mean that they are not successful.
    • Try to balance your salary requirements with a career that you feel confident will utilize your skills and abilities. As you evaluate career choices, think carefully about what success means to you.

Career Myths: Part 2 (6-10)

Myth 6: Most Students Know Their Career Goals

Being undecided is normal. Most of the college students do not to have a clear idea of what to major in or do for a career. Studies indicate that 30 % of the students are unsure about their intended major and 65-70% will change their major at least once during their college career.

confuse

Some students know what they getting into (engineering, medicine, etc.) and so they have a reasonably clear career goal in front of them.

    • Those who take engineering will become engineers and those who take medicine will become doctors. But they will probably make up their mind about specialization only after a couple years in the college
    • A few students may actually stick with their original goals they had before entering the college
    • Majority of college students change their minds about their main subjects and careers several times before they graduate.
    • As you study the subject and gain more knowledge about the careers and the subject you have taken, you may feel there is a mismatch between your aspiration and your educational background.

Exploring options will help you make an informed decision. Hence it is very necessary to have career counsellors in school level so that the children are aware of the various career options they have instead of thinking only in terms becoming a doctor, engineer, scientist, lecturer, or a pilot. Early counselling will also help the students (and even the parents) in taking a proper decision and a focused direction to work towards.

 Myth 7: Wait For The Right Career

If you wait, you will probably find yourself waiting. You need to put in effort and try to get into a job. You will benefit from a career plan—it is a careful and well thought about process after thorough consideration of different occupations. It is unlikely that you will just come across the occupation that will perfectly match your skills and interests. The more information you gather about the occupations you are considering, the more likely it is you will make a wise career decision.

Though some things beyond your control will influence your life, you must take an active role to determine your own fate. If you look around you and check those people who are unhappy in their careers, you will find that most of them just fell into something without careful planning. Many occupations have the potential to satisfy your career goals. Once you clearly define what you are looking for in a career, you will find a number of areas that match these criteria. After selecting the field of your choice, you have to select a suitable job.

Example: You may narrow down your search to IT sector or software field and then you can choose among dozens of occupations in this field—software developer, system analyst, user interface expert, quality testing, usability testing, database controller, data warehousing, network administration, etc.

As you explore each option further, you can compare what they offer in terms of advantages and disadvantages. For instance, of you choose to be a software developer, you should choose and area of specific interest—embedded software engineering, C++ programming, etc.

Myth 8: Assessments Will Tell You What Career Is Right For You

Assessments take a sample of certain kinds of attitudes and draw conclusions based on the sample. Test results can be confounded by many things; cultural differences, unrepresentative samples, and unintentionally biased items, to name a few. The truth is, no career assessment can tell you what careers are best for you.

    • They can give you an insight about how the interests and values that you already have are related to different types of careers, and where people with similar likes and dislikes can work
    • Assessment can provide you with additional information that may help you in the career planning process. Then, it is up you to explore careers further and decide if they are a good match for you.
    • No counsellor can tell you tell you what career is best for you or what to do with your life.
    • They can only help you identify your interests, skills, personality, work values, and show you the possible paths you can choose from. Then, they provide you with guidance and assist you in deciding your career direction and help facilitate your decision.

You know yourself the best. Use assessments with caution and get the test results examined by a career counsellor, keeping in mind your experience, skills, interests, and knowledge.

Myth 9: Recruiters Have Your Best Interests at Heart

Head-hunters and recruiters get paid by the companies that hire them to fill their open positions. So, recruiters are not interested in getting you a job.

    • They are only interested in getting the money from the organization. So, they will not market you to companies (for their open positions)
    • They only try to fit someone into a position with the companies that employ their services.
    • They are not really concerned if you will get a good job in the given organization.

It is also not necessary that their loyalties are with their client companies or that the organizations they deal with should get good employees.

Myth 10: Accept the First Job Offer You Get

Most of the time, job hunting is not very easy. You just can’t predict what is going to happen.

    • You may get a job at the very first attempt
    • You may not get an interview even after sending out numerous resumes
    • You may have to attend a number of interviews for one job
    • Sometimes you may be so sure that you will get the job but don’t
    • You may interview for positions and you are sure you will get an offer and no offer ever comes
    • There will be times when you get multiple interviews and get multiple offers as well.
    • There are times when you may be in dire need of a job. Under such circumstances, the tendency is to take up the first offer you get even if that is not what you want to do.

However stupid it may sound to be, if you are strong enough to wait for the right job, wait and do not grab the very first offer that comes through. As long as you are not going to lose your house or suffer other financial or emotional consequences, wait for the job offer that best  fits the direction you want to move in. Take up the job offer only if you are sure that the job profile and job choice is right for you. Don’t base your decision on compensation as it may not always be the right criteria. Chances are you may regret such decisions.

Career Myths: Part 1 (1-5)

Myth 1: Choosing a Career is A Simple Task

Choosing a career is a great start, but there is a lot more to do after that. You need to take into account your interests, values, and skills when choosing a career. Just because the feedback of an occupation is good, it doesn’t mean that occupation is right for you. You need to be focused and have a career action plan in place.

stage

Career planning process has six stages and eventually ends in retirement. Choosing a career usually happens once in our lifetimes. Priorities and interests may change over the period of time—so it can also happen several times as you redefine yourself and your career goals. Career planning is a process, which requires a lot of involvement from your side. You should give it the time it deserves.

Planning your career will help you in the following ways:

  • It is a process that involves understanding more about yourself and the occupations which you are considering.
  • It will help you make a well-thought about and well-informed decision.
  • It will help you in achieving your long term career goals.

Myth 2: Experience Will Give You an Idea about the Occupation

Gathering career related information is an important part of the career planning process. This information includes educational background, training, job profile, salary, and career prospects, etc. While first-hand experience is great, it is definitely not necessary to have hands-on experience to form an idea about an occupation. There are other ways to explore an occupation.

    • You can read about the job. You may read about it on the Internet or buy some good books on the subject.
    • You can talk to people who work in that field.
    • You may join an online forum where you can post your concerns and queries if any. 
    • You will get suitable answers. You can also read the already existing information.

Myth 3: There Is Only One Right Career for You

Most people are capable of performing well in at least two to three different professional fields. The trick is to develop a good understanding of your values, skills, interests and personality. Then, explore those careers to find that one which best fits in your profile and interests. Career satisfaction can be found in many different careers. There are a number of options based on your interests, personality type and abilities.

Example: In general, if you are artistic and creative, you may enjoy being an art teacher, or a writer, or a painter, or an actor, or a dancer. Being specific, you may be artistic and creative. You may love painting and dress designing, but you may just hate dancing and writing. As you acquire more experience, your values, interests, and ideas about career may change. A career doesn’t always follow a logical progression so avoid thinking that the road you choose to take at this point in your life will remain life long.

Myth 4 You Cannot Mix Hobby and Career

Hobby is supposed to be some activities that you enjoy doing in your spare time. Webster’s Dictionary defines a hobby as a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation. The definition suggests that hobby and occupation are two separate entities. When choosing a career, choose one that is related to what you enjoy doing, even in your spare time.

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Even though most of the hobby skills are gained informally, without formal education or training, you naturally become skilled in your hobbies. Then why do people not even think about their hobbies or interests when taking a decision about their career. Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could spend more time on your hobby (like gardening, dancing, writing, acting, painting, or pottery) and get paid for it?

People are usually interested and very skilled at their hobbies. The combination of interests and skills are very compelling reasons to choose a career. These days, many people are innovative and experimental. They believe in mixing pleasure with business. They try to make their hobbies their career and are doing well in it. Many a times what you think you enjoy doing may not translate to a career. There may be some aspects of it that is not for you. In such cases, do your job and save your hobby for your free time.

Example: Even if you may have enjoyed training your dog a few tricks and to obey commands, doesn’t mean you can become an animal trainer or a veterinary doctor. Have you ever thought why the tailor who stitches well fitting clothes for you does not open a boutique?

That is because he probably sees it as his job not as his passion. It is also possible that he lacks the passion and the drive to do something more. When you attempt to turn your hobby into a career, you should have passion, patience, motivation, drive, and preserverance to follow up with your interests. You should also do your home work and research your career choice thoroughly.

Myth 5: Your Main Subject Determines Your Career Choices

Many employers look for qualities and skills that are not directly related to your main subject. Interpersonal skills, motivation, planning skills, critical thinking, organization skills, problem solving skills, positive attitude and the ability to work in groups are a few examples of what employers value. Most people find themselves working in fields that are only remotely related to their main subject.

    • Unless you are planning to enter an area that requires specific technical skills, such as engineering, architecture, medicine, or nursing, to name a few, your major subject does not determine your career. These subjects are more career focused whereas the other majors prepare you for a number of career options.
      Example: Many computer specialist positions are filled by candidates who do not have degree in computer engineering. They have chosen subjects in graduation (B.Com, B.A, B.Sc, etc.) that is not related to computers.
    • One major subject can lead to many different careers.

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    • One career can be reached through having a major in many different subjects.

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Even after getting a degree in a particular subject, students opt for business management in the areas that do not necessarily correlate with their major subject in graduation.

Example: John has done his graduation in physics, but chose to do MBA in business communication. Similarly, Mary, chose to do MBA in human resources after completing her graduation in engineering (computer).

So, in reality, it is possible to work in almost any career after graduating from a particular area. Most employers care more about your work-related experience and the skills that you have obtained than they do about your main subject at college.

Career Myths

Some people instinctively know which career they want to go into. For many, the decision is not always so simple. Choosing a right career is not an easy job as many of you may think it to be. Many people think they know the right way to go about selecting an occupation, but they often wind choosing a career that is unsatisfying.

When deciding which career you want to take up, it is important to take the time to think about what appeals to you, and decide which jobs t in with your talents and strengths. Since you will be spending a major portion of you day at work, try to choose a career that will keep you stimulated and interested in the long term. 

Job security is gone. It is now a myth. The driving force of a career must come from the individual.
—- Home Bahrami

Some of the myths associated with career are:

For more information, read the book “Choosing the right Career”. For details, see  https://sajithajayaprakash.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/book7-choosing-right-career/

 

Handling conflicts

If there is a conflict, you have to identify the type of conflict and find the appropriate way to address it. First and foremost, obtain regular feedback as it permits fine-tuning and adjustments with regard to the following factors:

  • Alignment to the principles and objectives of the organization.
  • Clarifying role issues.
  • Improving communications.
  • Tackling relationship problems early in the problem cycle.
  • Ensuring proper resource and people management.
  • Explaining why certain things should not happen.
  • Asking explanation why certain things happen.
  • Performance and/or non-performance.

Instead of avoiding office politics and people conflicts, identify the creator of these undercurrent, and handle the situation with enthusiasm, analysis, and integrity. If the conflict is between the team members you should do the following:

Step 1: Get to know the Facts

Don’t form your opinion of the situation without knowing the facts. You need to know the truth about the situation. What is important for one, may be of least importance to another. this variation of interest could be the root cause of conflict. Understanding their viewpoint of the situation will help you in understanding the underlying issues, and hence in making appropriate decision.

Step 2: Listen to Both Sides

Each individual involved in the conflict will have their side of the story. Something may be important to one person where as it may be insignificant to the other. When more than two or more persons are involved, talk to each one of them separately about their problem. Having a clear picture of the entire situation will give you a good idea about how you should deal with the conflict.

    1. Meet with each team member separately.
    2. Listen to their side or version of the story. Be patient and give your total time and attention to what they have to say.
    3. If the team members blame or accuse the other, allow them to do it to an extent, specially to let the venom come out of them. You should take care not to blame or voice negative opinion about the other persons involved.
    4. After listening to their views and problems, ask them questions so that you understand the situation even better.
    5. Don’t stop them when they are talking. Else they will get the feeling that you are not interested in their problem.
    6.  If the problem is of a bigger magnitude, ensure to have a senior member of the team or the HR personal with you.

Step 3: Have a Combined Meeting

Have a combined meeting with the individuals having the conflicts. During the meeting ensure to follow some guidelines to get a positive outcome.

    • Make it clear that you are trying to help them resolve the issue—the conflict has to be solved by them, not by you. You are just being a mediator.
    • Point out gently that it requires some degree of maturity to be reasonable and come to a solution acceptable by both.
    • Tell them to discuss what they think the issue is, not want the problem is with the other person.
    • Ensure to the people involved that you are NOT taking sides, but trying to help them solve the problem.
    • Don’t blame either person. Never make a statement like, “You should not have done this” in front of the other person. You may talk about the unacceptable actions during the personal discussion with the individuals. That is the time to talk about the problem and issues.
    • Ask them to tell you the reason of the conflict and how it all started. Often at this point, most of them may realize that the issues they are talking about are not the real problem or that they probably misunderstood the other. But this often depends on the type of conflict, maturity level, and attitude of the individuals.
    • Let them talk, but do not let them argue. You need to be in charge, of the situation. Do not let their anger or frustration take over.
    • Put forward what you understood about each side and ask them if they agree with your observation.
    • Discuss which part of the conflict was wrong, why it was wrong, and how it has effected the teams productivity.
    • Discuss the alternatives and mutually acceptable solutions.
    • Do not try to force an agreement that either person is unhappy with and do not let either of them walk away from the meeting unsatisfied.
    • If you don’t reach to an agreement, disperse, and then continue with the discussion later.
    • After winding up, it is a good idea to go for a lunch or tea together to ease up the tension.

Step 4: Establish Unacceptable Behaviors

To avoid the problems to some extent, establish unacceptable team behaviors and share them with the team members. Some of these behaviors could be:

  • Unwillingness to work with the rest of the team in harmony.
    (No to: I shall work on my own.)
  • Refusing to set aside personal requirements or agendas.
    (No to: I shall do only this task, not that.)
  • Showing a strong preference to be the star, rather than be a part of the process along with the team.
    (No to: I shall do only the tasks or projects that will put me in the limelight.)
  • Performing tasks or activities without informing anyone.
    (No to: secrecy.)
  • Expecting team members to help them out whenever they are in need, without first checking out the deadlines, priorities, and availability of the team member.
    (No to: I shall do things at my own pace. The others will help if I ask them to.)
  • Wasting time the entire working day and then:
    • Expecting the team members to stay back and help out.
    • Work late hours and speak about how late they stay to complete the work.
    • Missing deadlines.
    • Completing work in a hurry which causes problems in quality.

 (No to: I shall do things at my own pace and the way I want to do the work. The others will have to help me out if the project has to be completed on time.)

  • Resenting feedback, especially if it is about improvement.
  • Stealing ideas or credits. If someone borrows ideas from the team members, ensure to give them the appropriate credit.
    • If a team member suggests that a writer could add an appendix on troubleshooting tips, the writer should not send out a mail stating, “I feel that adding a section or appendix on trouble shooting tips will improve the usability of the document.”
    • If a team member helps a writer with format conversions and production testing, the writer should not send a mail to the project team stating, “I have performed the conversions and fixed all the errors.”

 

 

 

Dealing With Trouble Makers

If a person in your team is creating problems or is not following the processes and guidelines which affect the quality of work, you have a problem in hand.

trouble

Step 1: Separate Person from the Problem

The first step in addressing the conflict in a productive manner is to separate the person from the problem. Very often we feel angry at what the team member has said or done that we see the person as the problem. As long as you do that, there is little chance of an improved working relationship.

Managers need to understand that work problem is not a personal issue. First identify it as a work related problem. But what happens when a person involved is manipulative and is the actual cause of conflict? There are exceptions and in such cases, we cannot separate the problem from the person, because the person is the problem.

Step 2: Understand the Facts

Don’t form your opinion without knowing the facts. When dealing with the people, it is important to remember that everyone does not see things from the same perspective. What is important to you as a manager may not be of any importance to the team member or what is important to one team member may be of least importance to another. Unfortunately, we usually overlook the facts and follow the assumptions. I am often reminded of an incident which happened some years back.

Example: I was engrossed editing a document I had taken home from work. My daughter who was then about 5 years old, wanted to make a greeting card all by herself. She wanted to know how broad the card should be. Since she was too small to understand the measurement in terms of inches or centimeters, I answered, “A little more then the size of the palm.”

She protested, “Won’t that be too little?” I assured her that it won’t and asked her not to disturb me for while. She went to her room, only to rush back again. Before I could say anything she said, “Mom, I won’t disturb you, but please tell me should it be the size of my palm or yours?”

That was a good question. I was actually referring to the size of my palm, and assumed that my daughter would understand it. My little one taught me three very valuable lessons:

    • To understand the person we deal or communicate with.
    • To be very specific about what we say or write.
    • Not to assume anything in a communication.

These are even more important when dealing with conflict because you are handling a touchy situation and you probably have a couple of individuals who may not be in a mood to think reasonably.

Step 3: Analyze the Issue

When addressing workplace conflict, first analyze the issues from both, your perspective and the perspective of the team member. Ask yourself some questions:

    • What is this problem about?
    • What about the problem is upsetting or annoying?
    • Is it a personality problem or it just lack of maturity or professionalism?
    • Will a one-to-one discussion with the team member solve the problem?

Step 4: Be Prepared

Document all the issues you have with the writer. You will need this information to take an action against the person if there is no improvement. Talk with your boss and with the human resources personal so that they are aware of what is happening. Also remember to pay attention to the rest of your team.

    • Is one or more than one person disturbed by the happenings?
    • Do they feel that someone is doing wrong and is getting away with it?
    • Do they feel disturbed that you are protecting the person? If yes, it is your biggest concern. You cannot allow one person in the team to cause such a emotional imbalance. It will destroy the morale of the team.

Talk to the team members and check the problems and issues they have with the concerned person. Document all the issues and concerns.

Step 5: Talk to the Team Member

In some cases, addressing small issues can actually take care of larger problems caused by the people. Problems like issues with quality, lack of concentration, and reduced productivity can be discussed and sorted out.

The discussion and the action taken to fix these problem will take care of bigger issues like quality problems and delay in completing the project. Problems like misuse of resources, situations, benefits, and freedom show lack of professionalism or maturity. These issues can usually be sorted to an extent.

You may have to be a little strict while talking to the team member about keeping check on the time and effort they spend in non productive activities like personal mailing, talking on the telephone for hours, surfing, online chatting, long tea and lunch breaks, etc. Once these come under control, the rest of the things will fall into place, productivity will increase, work will be completed on time, there will be time for peer-edits, and hence quality will increase.

If the problem is bigger than these work related behavior (e.g., manipulation and backstabbing), and if you have a gut feeling that this person is going to make a bigger issue of the episode, do not do the talking alone. In such a case, have your department head or someone from HR attend it with you. Make the person understand the fact that you are trying to give a fair chance and time for improvement.

If the behavior of the person does not improve in the given time, let go the person. One individual cannot and should not be able to disrupt a whole team/department.