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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.

So, as promised, here it is then, my new blog dedicated to the glorious world of cinmea that will journey with me through my experiences in the movies. Welcome to the “Movies I Can’t Forget”

https://moviesicantforget.wordpress.com/

And if you’re still reading this blog, I look forward to your views and other comments.

A house becomes a home

Posted: October 19, 2014 in Uncategorized
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It’s been more than a year since I moved into my new house… And slowly, but surely, a house has become a home. A view of the world from my writer’s desk.

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As I look back over my blog, I find that two years ago at the same time, I was in the middle of an important exercise—I was house hunting.

It’s taken two years for that journey to reach fruition. But yes, in August 2013, many lifetimes later, I can finally say that the search is over. I do have my own space.

It’s a two-bedroom house in Kammanahalli. Yes, it’s a bit of climb. But I love my two enclosed terrace gardens that go along with this space.

I found the house through the conventional route—a real estate agent. Infact, it was the first house that I saw. But there was something about the house that called to me. Maybe it was those two enclosed terraces that gave me lots of space for experiments in the garden, and so I said ‘yes’.

There was also one moment that did it for me. It was when I stood in the second bedroom, with the sunlight streaming in through the windows, and looked into my neighbour’s terrace garden. That’s when I knew beyond doubt that this was the house for me.

Then came the negotiations with the landlord that saw me exceed my budget by over Rs 2000. But I liked the place, so I gave in again.

After all the agony with my mother and the sense of being stifled when I lived in an extended family when I was married, it feels so good to have my own space. And so, this is another journey that comes to an end 🙂 Another bridge that has been crossed on the road to self-reliance.

The house does have its shortcomings. I hadn’t noticed during my first visit that my street was noisy. It already has two restaurants, and there is a third one coming up! Also, it’s a long climb to the second floor, especially when you are carrying things all the way up many times.

But it’s such a lovely compact house, with space for things like gardens. It’s also a new construction. And once I am in, I do manage to shut the whole world out.

So I get up every morning to the sound of birds chirping in my neighbour’s terrace garden, and the sound of my mother’s nagging voice seems far, far behind. I also look forward to having my friends and family over to visit. I want this to be the open house that I had always intended my home to be, and that my mother never let it become.

Location: Kammanahalli, HRBR Layout

Size: 2 Bedroom 1,200 square feet

Price: Rs 17,000

It’s been 12 years since I last went house hunting on my own, and it’s interesting to see how the market has changed…and I have too.

The first time I went house hunting, I had just turned 21. So I didn’t ask for too much—just a room with a view and my own independence. In a city that had still not got its water supply act together, I also checked about possible water shortages. All other details were happily forgotten.

I ended with a roof that opened out onto a large terrace. It was my own space in the sun (literally!) and I loved it. Till I discovered that a tiny gap between the wall and the ceiling let bats and rain water enter at will. I could deal with the rain, but not the bats. I vacated the house long before my lease expired!

In the next house that I rented, I did examine the ceiling very carefully. But as it turned out, the house was infested with rats. Needless to say, I did not last for even nine months. From here, I moved to my own house, and with that concluded (thankfully!) the never-ending search for a home.  

But the bogey man was back last month. I find myself back in the real estate market, and the game has changed alright!

Like all other things, real estate has also moved online. After running through scores of properties, I finally settled on T’s advertisement. The location and the size seemed right, the price ridiculously low. I clicked the “get number” option on the website, and there was beep on my cellphone. T’s number had reached my cellphone via a text message. Renting a house in Bangalore definitely was not what it used to be!

I gave T a call, and she guided me right to her doorstep over my cellphone. While it had been a long drive, my heart warmed to her house on a lane that still had many trees.

Later T led me through her newly tiled, freshly painted home. She was especially proud of her bathroom. The kitchen was unusual because it had a coconut tree running right through it—her attempt to save every possible tree while building her house. All in all, the quality of construction had definitely improved since the old days.

Like every potential landlord, T had plenty of questions. That at least was one aspect of house hunting that stood unaltered by the intervening decade 🙂 I fielded her off as best as I could, but yet I warmed up to her. She was a cosmopolitan old Bangalorean, who still lived in a world where everything had not yet turned concrete.

So did I end up renting the house? It did have the right price, quality and landlord. Not to mention plenty of green.

As it turns out, the answer is ‘no’.

For one, the long drive off the main road could be slightly scary on a dark lonely night (and that’s when I usually travel). Then, a tree in a kitchen is a cool idea when it’s just in your head, but if you are living with in your home, it’s another story. (Would it bring my old companions ‘the rats’ back—considering that I had open roots and mud in the middle of my kitchen?!) It didn’t help that parking was a mess either.

But more than anything else, when I looked at T’s ‘property for rent’, I did see a roof over my head, but it could not inspire within me a desire to own (or even rent) it.

So I moved on.

This time at least I have decided not to settle for four walls with a roof. My search for a home continues.

Location: Hennur
Size: 1 bedroom house (abt 900 sq feet) with space for a garden
Price: Rs 6500/- only

A couple of days ago, a friend posted an interesting picture on Facebook.

The picture in question showed a Muslim family in Ahmedabad, dropping their son to a fancy dress competition, where he played the role of Lord Krishna. My friend posted that we should take pride in being Indian because these things (that might seem unusual  anywhere else in the world) come so easily to us. There were others who argued that instances like this were few and far in between.

Yet I believe that India is instinctively pluralistic, and that is why inspite of all our problems, this country almost miraculously survives.

I see pluralism in…

  • The symbolism of the Infant Jesus Church that I first visited because Usha (and not me) prayed there every Thursday. Many years later, I thought of Usha when I noticed a statue of Infant Jesus on my cabdriver’s dashboard. He incidentally was Muslim 🙂
  • The small details like thalis and sindoors that have found their way into most South Indian Christian wedding ceremonies.
  • My 18-year-old maid’s spirit when she sets out to shop for both The St Mary’s Feast and Ganesh Chaturthi. 
  • Those days when we wish each other “Eid Mubarak”, “Happy Diwali” or “Merry Christmas”. The instinctive response most times is “same to you”, irrespective of the other’s religious faith 🙂
  • The earthshaking goose bump inducing moment when an Irfan Pathan stood at the University Of Karachi and responded to an audience who had the audacity to ask him if we would consider playing for Pakistan saying, “First of all, let me tell you that I am proud to be Indian”. Especially powerful words as they came from someone whose family was almost burnt to death in the Gujarat riots!
  • The politics that gave us Abdul Kalam as President and Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister–at the same time!
  • The ease with which our names, our cuisine, our music and our dance forms intermingle. So a Mubarak is not necessarily Muslim, a Lakshmi is not always Hindu and an Andy need not be Christian.
  • The incongruity of two commercial establishments–The Sherlock Holmes Pub and The Islamic Boutique–that stand side by side, peacefully running their respective businesses.
  • The way that at the best of times we co-exist– an Iyengar Bakery besides a cold storage or mixed and vibrant mixed neighbourhoods.
  • The composition of the only two interests that have genuinely become national passions–the Indian cricket and Bollywood. Need I say any more?

The examples are all around us. They perhaps are so much a part of us, that we don’t even notice them. The rest is simply politics.

It suddenly occurs to me that I’ve been blogging for as long that I’ve been married. As with many other things, it was my dear friend AM who introduced me to the wonderful world of the blogsphere in November 2005.

Like her, I first began blogging to practice on my craft as a writer. We started off as a close community of writers on Yahoo 360 – there was AM, SB, AW, L and SS. Not only did I write much, but I also get wonderful feedback on my work from fellow writers who I admired.

Yet I am also a very private person. So this blog has always reflected ‘me’, but not the most important events in my personal life (at least not till I am ready to talk about them-and that could be never). In fact, I’ve worked very hard to keep the personal and public spaces very different. So more often this blog has most reflected my interests or the causes that move me.

But then posts petered down as I got busy with my book. Then cinema moved out of my blog to my column on Citizen Matters and Facebook took over. Yet I kept pushing myself every now and then to make the occasional blog post.

But today morning a blog post from AM said that she was considering hanging up her blogger’s boots. The reason? She just didn’t feel like blogging anymore.

That’s when I realized that I haven’t felt like blogging in a long time now. When I do, it’s more an act of discipline than an act of love.

I don’t feel like blogging for a variety of reasons. The most important one perhaps is that my favourite subjects, which is cinema, has moved to Citizen Matters. I’d like to focus on that a lot more. My work on my books also takes up a lot of my time as well. But mostly importantly, I am not very comfortable about talking about ‘me’ right now and important changes in my life on a public space. So I have nothing to say.

The community of writers that I depended upon has also moved away from the blogsphere into various forms of social media. I do have my trusted inner circle in NG and AM… But I don’t need a blog to share my writing with them.

I still see blogging as a tool to create a great community. But I would like this community to be around areas of interest and not ‘me’. So it seems like a good time to retire 101dreams and replace it with multiple blogs around these areas of interest. And then maybe I could take a break for awhile.

So I am thinking about it… And more on that subject when I have a plan. But this time, my head will be in tune with my heart 🙂