Best workplaces

In this first of a two-part article and as I look back on my life and work, I’m reminded of the many times I did things that were detrimental to both my life and career. And it’s amazing how life continues to make us successful despite our best efforts at failure!

STOP TO ASK WHY As a professional services firm, if we didn’t secure sufficient leads through social media, we’d increase the number of posts. We didn’t pause to ask the question: ‘Why?’

We also need to ask: ‘What’s the purpose and how do we know this is worth doing?’ Instead, we’re busy in the activity trap. Spending long hours at work often leads to the next trap we fall into.

MARTYR EFFECT Let’s face it, long hours at work for extended periods usually mean two things: either I’m not as good as I should be at what I do; or the organisation doesn’t have the right business model, processes and resources. Both are true in the case of many startups.

And the inevitable consequence of this is burn out. If you consistently find yourself working long hours at the cost of other priorities, ask yourself whether you’re good at what you are doing – how can you change things?

In my early jobs, I blamed my boss for loading me with extra work. I was in my fourth job when I realised that I was an equal contributor to the problem!

FEAR OF FAILURE A major problem with hiring high achievers is that they can’t handle failure. This usually manifests itself when it comes to not taking up any new challenges where success is uncertain or someone would quit if they believed they’d failed.

While good bosses and organisations help people succeed, it’s only much later that one realises that today’s successes could be tomorrow’s failures; or a failure today can lead to success tomorrow – provided that one learns.

THE SLOW TRACK Are you learning quickly? Make a list of 10 things you learned in college or later that you’ve applied in your current job.

Stuck? No worries; let’s make a list of 10 ideas that you have implemented based on the reading you did over the past year.

Still stuck? No problem; let’s list the names of 10 books you read in the last 12 months. What’s important here is that the relevance of information gathered is more valuable than the quantum of knowledge gained.

SOLID ADVISERS Taking advice is a positive quality. I once had a brilliant colleague whom I had to let go because he wouldn’t take advice from anyone. We all approach people other than our boss for advice. There’s only one thing worse than not taking advice – taking it from the wrong people!

So how would you know whom you should seek advice from?

As a rule, people who are invested in the success of the organisation are good advisers. They may not always be the most engaged but they’re focussed on making an impact and building their careers.

BY Prasenjit Bhattacharya