Archive for the ‘The Working life’ Category

A lot has been said and written about interview etiquette or your first day at work, but not enough has been said about how an office farewell can be used as a powerful tool to build people and teams. Especially since office farewells are as common these days as inductions.

The first thing to evaluate is whether you want to give an employee a team farewell. And if you do, you do have a responsibility to create a memorable experience for the person leaving your organization and your team. In order to do that, it’s important to understand what a team farewell is in the first place.

A farewell is an opportunity to celebrate an employee’s performance and the good work that you did together. It’s not a performance appraisal and neither is it the place to give employee’s feedback on their working style in a public forum. The need for this feedback to be given at all—on the eve of an employee’s departure—needs to be evaluated. If so, it is best done through a one-on-one meeting and not a farewell.

5 things you never do at an office farewell:

  1. Start by revealing for the first time that you never liked the person initially. It’s a bad opening line and could come as a bit of shock to a person who had “no idea.” In addition, corporate behavior is all about focusing on behavior that is appropriate. Using the term “like” makes it personal.
  2. Tell a person that they are difficult to get along with, and leave it at that. That’s just bad professional etiquette. If you didn’t talk about it when you worked together, a farewell is a bad time to bring it up. It’s wiser to “forever hold your peace.” In these cases, especially if you didn’t work together closely, it’s a better idea to use the following line, “We didn’t work together closely, but I wish you well.”
  3. Use the opportunity to show an employee how you have been imitating them behind their back. Imitating your colleagues behind their backs, just for laughs, is poor professional etiquette and shows a lack of maturity. Period. So if you have been doing it any way, it’s a bad idea to make your revelation now. Also, you have no idea whether the person concerned would actually find it funny.
  4. Tell a person that you hope that they are “happier” in their next company. It’s an admission to the team that the employee wasn’t too happy with you, which may or may not be the case. More importantly, if a farewell is about celebrating the good work you did together, you end up shifting the focus.
  5. Make startling negative revelations about a person. There are so many platforms for that. Why choose a farewell? You end up publically humiliating an employee, and then it’s no longer a farewell.

5 things you could do at an office farewell

  1. Celebrate the good times: All teams and people have them. What were yours? Encourage your employees to remember them.
  2. Remember that the first and last speakers set the tone: So choose them wisely. Make sure that these two speakers actually have something uplifting to say.
  3. Stay positive: If the environment in the room is turning negative, you need to moderate. Interject with a positive comment that lightens the mood.
  4. Include a team lunch: Choose a place where the food is good, but more importantly where you can talk and just enjoy being a team. And finally, in the age of “selfies”, don’t forget a fun team photo 🙂
  5. Choose your farewell gift carefully: At Wipro, my team gave me a quill in a book and a miniature cycle because I was taking a break from work to write. I still have it in my book case, and each time I look at it, I think of my wonderful team. And that’s what a good farewell should also do—leave you and your team with something to smile about.

Gautama Buddha once said, “If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?” That applies to a lot of situations, but it is especially true of an office farewell.

What’s been your best or worst experience at an office farewell? I’d love to hear more about it.


There’ve been many moments in my life that have made me stop and ponder over the meaning of globalisation. One such moment was when I stood before a boat at Kovalam and saw the above sign. My first impulse was to grin, but then the impact of it hit me… Snorkling in Kovalam and Curry in the UK… Even as both countries also borrowed from a foreign tongue.

Many years earlier, I’d had a similar experience as I struck up a friendship with a Spanish colleague Isabella (name changed) at a job fair (who happened to be Buddhist). It was she who pointed out to me that it showed the impact of globalisation when an ‘Isabella’ was Buddhist and a ‘Christina’ was Indian.

But more recently I got back to the working life. How it happened is a long story, and how I fared on my drifter’s bucket list will be the subject of another post. But anyway, here I was joining a leading American IT firm, which happens to be a huge global brand in the hardware space.

Last week, Gartner’s Research VP came over to meet my boss to share his insights on enterprise marketing. His next destination was China. A clear indication of the growing economic significance of both countries to global markets.

Yet as we sat together… An Australian hard selling to Indian clients, who in turn represented an American multinational corporation… I couldn’t help thinking that the global village had truly arrived 🙂

I’m into reading management books right now. Not because any of them are the gospel truth on how you should manage yourself or others. But, I do believe that when you are leading people, it’s important to always expose yourself to different ideas on leadership.

Here are some of the ideas that interested me from The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz…

  1. If you want to live big, you’ve got to think big.
  2. So, if you think you are second class, that’s how you are going to be treated. Believe and treat yourself as if you are important.
  3. Differences in attitude and thought management also determine success. Interest and enthusiasm are critical. Stickability is 95% of ability.
  4. Action cures fear.
  5. An approach to meetings – two important people sitting together to discuss something of mutual importance and benefit.
  6. Stretch your vision. See what can be, not what is.
  7. Ignore the trivial things. Focus on the big issues. Fight the battles that count.
  8. More responsibility is also an opportunity. Don’t blindly say ‘no’.
  9. Big people monopolise the listening. Small people monopolise the talking.
  10. Think right towards people. You will find yourself doing the right thing automatically.
  11. A person is not pulled up to a higher level, but lifted up. So, it’s important to be the kind of person who it is easy to lift.
  12. Salvage something from every setback. Find the lesson and apply it.
  13. Blend persistence with experimentation. Stay with your goal, but try new approaches.
  14. Set goals.
  15. Principles of leadership:
  • Trade minds with the people I want to influence.
  • What is the human way to do this?
  • Think progress, believe in progress, push for progress. This means to think improvement and higher standards.
  • Take time out to confer with yourself.

To do’s…

  1. If there’s something that you feel inadequate about, change it. In other words, develop the qualities that you believe are required for success.
  2. Seek out leaders or people who are a success in their field. There is much to be learned from them. Do not shy away.
  3. Compete with the best.
  4. Speak up.
  5. Jot down my ideas in the course of the week. Every Monday pick up four that I will implement.
  6. Ask myself daily. How can I do things better?
  7. Associate with people who do different things from what I do.
  8. Take the initiative to make friends.
  9. In my interaction with colleagues – recognise that no one is perfect; know that everyone has the right to be different; do not play reformer.
  10. Act on my ideas now.
  11. Volunteer.
  12. Write out my 30-day goals.
  13. Draw out my 10-year plan
  14. Invest in education and idea starters.
  15. Think progressively towards my work, my family, myself and my community.

I know some of these are simple truths. But, it’s important for you to remind yourself of this again and again because sometimes we slip on the simple things, the obvious things.

What will I be?

Posted: April 13, 2006 in The Working life

Today, I find myself thinking about all the professional aspirations I had at different times of my life. Funny, how the things that you start out are finally not the ones that you are left with. But, that which lingers on, albeit by accident, becomes the integral fabric of your life.

An so, here are some of the things that I aspired to when I was a child and then half-woman…

To be a Missionary – Surprise, surprise! Yes, I was very religious as a child. I held on to this one till the time I turned 16 (that equals to standard 10).

To be a Lawyer – I held on to this one till I entered college. I was about 18 at this time.

To be a Journalist – This lasted till I worked in The Hindu during my second year in college.

To make Documentary films – This one still persists.

But in all the different quests for a profession that I could call my own, I have always known that my true calling was to write. Today, my corporate career only supports that.

There are other fields that interest me – photography, film making, theatre, music, dance, media research, academics.

But, I am aware that my true calling is ‘to write’, and to write well. I hope very much that I fulfill this.

It takes all kinds to make up the world. You discover that especially at job interviews. Let me introduce you to some of the kinds who I have met…

Mr/Ms Me, I and myself: This kind of employer will make you stand on your hand to just reach the interview, and won’t bother if you have to loose your current job just attempting to get there. At the end of the interview, you may/may not get job…and you won’t hear from them again if you don’t. If you do get the job, you will probably be expected to join tomorrow without the slightest concern for your current employer/project. And when you read your offer letter, you will notice that your new employer has all kind of intricate clauses worked in that makes it impossible to leave them.

I should know – I work for a company that expected me to join them in 20 days, but has a three month notice period 🙂

The Idiot! This kind of an employer will ask a Writer questions like “How do you write?” or look at the different domains you’ve worked in say, “How do you understand these different domains?”…Not understanding that writing and understanding are abilities… They can only be tested by how it is done… Not by verbose answers.

This kind of interviewer will not accept “I write like how I breathe” (even if it’s true). So, don’t try it, and don’t loose your cool. Just patiently explain as you would to a six-year-old child.

The make up your mind for you type:
This type of employer will decide on your behalf that you are too creative or too experienced for the role on offer.

If you have changed too many jobs, he/she will decide on your behalf that you won’t stick on to your next company as well.

There’s nothing much you can do with this type – except to forget about the interview once you have done it.

Please, please make me feel important: You find these guys at other places besides across the interview desk. They are distinguished by their ability to ask you shockingly irrelevent questions just to demonstrat how much they know.

Another variant of this type is the kind who take pleasure in tearing you apart just to prove their great intellectual prowess.

With this type, it helps to cringe a lot. Also, massage and massage their ego till it really swells. Of course, you need to remember that you need to have the energy to keep doing as long as you want to hold the job.

I pay, so I throw my weight around: This kind will spend the interview session looking away from you with disinterest, rather than at you. You also spend the rest of the interview question fending off questions coated with scepticism.

You need to ask yourself a question – is this the kind of atmosphere you would like to come to for even one month of your working life?

The Flirt: This employer will give you every hint that implies that you have the job… But once you go back home, you will never hear from the company again.

The Open Mind: With this type of employer you have a conversation. You share ideas… You disagree… And instead of fending off sceptism, you find that you are having a discussion.

When you leave, you know that you have met a person you enjoyed talking to. You may not get the job… But it doesn’t really matter… You feel empowered.

The Professional: An open mind…who takes the process even a step further – he/she gives you feedback on your answers at the end of the interview. Finally, the Professional also ensures that you get an acceptance/rejection letter at the end of the process.

Yeah, I know it’s wishful thinking… I met an Open Mind today… But, still have to interview with a company that sends you a Rejection letter when you don’t get the job… But, that stays on my list for the Professional 🙂

And finally, the moral of the story:
1. Have the interview on your own terms. At least that way, you don’t feel when it does not work out.
2. Go prepared to meet the Idiot and pray for all the patience that you will need.
3. The person on the other side does not define you. Be yourself. Otherwise, you will have to play someone else for the rest of your stay at an organisation.
4. An interview is about hearing that click. If either side does not hear it, this combination will not work.
5. Persevere. Persevere. Persevere.
6. When you hear the click, you set the terms for your employment.
7. Later, be the kind of interviewer who you want to meet.