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Those who happen to know me personally are often deceived by my polite manners. They often wonder as to why I never opted for a diplomatic career.

Allow me to set the record straight. P G Wodehouse played some role in indicating that my Guardian Angels had planned my life much unlike that of Eustace Mulliner, who was a part of the British Embassy in Switzerland.

Jeeves’ psychology-of-an-individual factor has also led me to believe that the diplomatic corps on this planet are better off without me.

My limited intuitive faculties also tell me that life as a career diplomat could not be as glamorous and hunky dory as it might appear to be from the outside of an embassy building.

The Eustace Mulliner saga

Wodehouse fans might recall that the splendid idea of Eustace Mulliner joining the British Embassy in Switzerland was dangled before him by his godfather, Lord Knubble of Knopp. Eustace had stoutly refused to avail himself of the offer.

However, things turned out differently when he was caught misbehaving with Francis, a feline creature which was a favourite of his Aunt Georgina. At the time, two more characters had popped up, taking a jaundiced view of the proceedings. His obduracy evaporated. He decided that Switzerland was a safer country to be in.

Unlike Eustace Mulliner, my Guardian Angels had planned my life along different lines.

One, I never fancied maintaining a ‘Open House’ for pets of all kinds.

Two, Fate never bestowed upon me a girl friend, that too someone like Marcella Tyrrwhitt, who would take the risk of entrusting her favourite Peke and her canary to me while going off to Paris on a brief sojourn.

Three, I have never had the privilege of having a wealthy aunt who might have taken offence at my throwing cucumber sandwiches at her cat.

Four, never have I come across an ardent animal lover like Orlando Wotherspoon, the perennial Vice President of the Dumb Chumbs’ League, who would threaten to thrash me within an inch of my life.

Nor have I had the privilege of coming across a girl friend who had Spanish blood in her; someone who would have liked to whack me with the heaviest parasol she could lay her hands on, the provocation being her discovery that a favourite Peke of hers had been gifted by me to one Beatrice Watterson.Those who have followed the ruminations of Mr Mulliner (Mulliner Nights, Open House) would recall that Eustace, upon joining the British Embassy in Switzerland, had stuck to his duties with unremitting energy.

‘So much so that, he had been awarded the Order of the Crimson Edelweiss, Third Class, with crossed cuckoo-clocks, carrying with it the right to yodel in the presence of the Vice-President.’

One might miss the rights to yodel in the presence of the high and mighty, but life has been kind to me in so many other ways.

The psychology of the individual

Jeeves would have surely approved of my keeping away from a diplomatic career. I am certain that several diplomatic disasters and gaffes have thus been avoided, saving our planet from a more uncertain future. August bodies such as the United Nations surely breathe easier.

The simpleton that I am, a career in diplomacy would have tested my reserves of patience to the hilt. Putting on a plastic smile, when necessary, would have tried my nerves no end. A Bollywood producer, had he cast me as a lead actor for one of his inane movies, would have cried all the way to his bank. Having to make inane conversations with perfect strangers on topics which are alien to the restricted domain of my knowledge would have left my soul in perennial torment.

To a lay person, the life of a career diplomat might sound flashy and exciting. Rubbing shoulders with world leaders. Travelling to exotic locales. Devouring Anatole-ish spreads. Attending conferences and banquets. Making clever speeches which get received with a thunderous applause and, possibly, even a standing ovation.

But it is not too difficult to surmise the harsh realities of a diplomatic life. These pose many challenges of a managerial kind.

Of diplomats and their career blues

Maintaining cordial international relations in our turbulent times would be no mean task. The dignity and the image of the home country needs to be upheld. Culture, heritage and values need to be showcased. Cultural nuances of the land where they happen to be posted to need to be understood and rigorously followed.

Besides negotiating and facilitating treaties, opportunities for trade promotion and closer collaboration have to be exploited to the hilt. An eye has to be kept open for business opportunities between the two countries. Unique strengths of the home country have to be showcased. Stakeholders of diverse hues, shapes, sizes and temperaments have to be kept in a positive frame of mind. Political masters have to be kept in good humour. Business barons snapping at their heels have to be kept at bay.

Meetings, conferences and banquets have to be attended. Impeccable sartorial standards have to be maintained, showcasing their home country while keeping the local sensibilities in mind. Consular services have to be dished out with courtesy, transparency and efficiency.

Morale of the staff has to be upheld at all times. Resistance to change needs to be overcome. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has to be understood and applied in all cases. Career priorities invariably take precedence over personal matters.

The harsh slings and arrows of fate do not stop with such mighty challenges. Once in a blue moon, some odd requests have to be granted. Interviews by a bunch of giggly communication students may need to be granted. Inquisitive media journalists desperately searching for some exciting sound bites may have to be tolerated.

Lay citizens of a distant country could pop up, wanting to present a book authored by them on a subject which sounds like Latin and Greek, simply because the book was launched back home, in the home language.

The last mentioned was the fate suffered recently by two senior members of the international diplomatic corps, when I popped up in flesh and blood to present to them a copy of my book ‘Como Sobreviver Na Selva Empresarial’.

It was kind of them to have granted me an audience. Like many a harsh slings and arrows of Fate coming their way, they took it very sportingly, thereby shoring up the image of their country in the feeble mind of a lesser mortal from one of the emerging economies of the world.

Bertie Wooster would have heartily approved of their chin up attitude. So would have Eustace Mulliner.

As to my not having gravitated towards a diplomatic career myself, Jeeves would have surely approved.

Thank you, Plum!

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/a-meeting-with-the-ambassador-of-portugal-in-norway

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/a-meeting-with-the-minister-counsellor-of-portugal-in-switzerland)

The Patient Satisfaction Quotient

It is well-known that the Patient Satisfaction Quotient is a function of various factors – the time spent with the physician, the quality of interaction had, the seniority of the physician in the system hierarchy, etc.

It follows that the following laws might apply:

Law #1: The more the time spent with a physician, the higher the level of satisfaction of a patient.

Admittedly, this law does not apply to those perched on a dentist chair. Nor does it apply to those facing a minor surgical procedure without the aid of analgesics.

Law #2: The better the quality of interaction, the higher the level of satisfaction of a patient.

This law is a direct derivative of the psychology of the individual. The more a patient is able to off-load her worries and anxieties onto the hapless physician, the happier she is apt to feel.

There are some exceptions here as well. A physician found making an inappropriate remark about the weight of a patient who is a member of the female of our species risks losing the latter’s goodwill.

Law #3: The patient satisfaction level is directly proportional to the seniority of the physician being consulted.

Amongst the well-heeled patients, the respect and admiration for a physician depends upon the amount of fee being charged, the waiting period to get an appointment, the seniority of the physician in the system, and the value as well as the rare availability of the medications being prescribed.

This one surely does not apply to the teeming multitudes who strive to keep their body and soul together day after day.

It follows that most patients using the public hospitals are left dissatisfied. It does not occur to them that the sheer exposure of such physicians is so very wide that the medical advice they dish out is much better. Superfluous investigations are discouraged. Medications recommended are often of a generic kind, saving the patient some precious money.

A Patient Motivation-Hygiene Proposition

Those familiar with Herzberg’s two-factor theory, popular in the realm of organizational behaviour, would notice a striking similarity between the situation envisaged in organizations and the one we are endeavouring to explore here.

In case of organizations, job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction are not part of a continuum. Absence of satisfaction does not necessarily imply presence of dissatisfaction. If the presence of Motivation Factors (respect and recognition on the job, for instance) improves job satisfaction levels, the absence of Hygiene Factors (such as physical working conditions, etc) leads to higher job dissatisfaction levels.

Likewise, satisfaction/dissatisfaction levels of patients perhaps tend to be independent of each other. If the treatment is effective in the long run, the satisfaction level improves. If the time spent by the physician is inadequate, dissatisfaction sets in.
In that sense, Effectiveness of Treatment would be akin to a Motivation Factor in the theory propounded by Herzberg.

However, the set of laws proposed above would be like Hygiene Factors, the absence of which would cause a patient dissatisfaction.

Patients of various hues

Patients obviously come in various body sizes, pocket sizes, shapes and hues. Amongst those who do not face a medical emergency, there are wide variations in temperaments. Here are some which might be of interest.

The Reluctant Ones

These are patients who believe that a doctor should be visited only as a last resort and that medicines need to be stopped as soon as the immediate problem is addressed. They believe that there is no need for any follow-up visit, till, of course, the next crisis strikes.

The Casual Ones

These are the ones who are casual in their approach. They may or may not follow either a doctor’s prescriptions or the food restrictions placed on them. Nevertheless, a medical consultation is akin to a pleasurable outing for the, so they shall keep coming back to see the physician. For a public service doctor, they happen to be a nuisance. For those in the private sector, they are a source of delight.

The Conscientious Ones

In this category fall the hapless and anxious souls who take their illnesses rather seriously. They take medicines regularly, and follow diet-related advice to the best of their ability. They tend to seek guidance at frequent intervals. Those who suffer from lifestyle diseases often end up forging a close bond with the physician, thereby replicating the age-old system of ‘family doctors’.

The Anxious Ones

Then there are the well-heeled hyper-anxious ones who take a magnified view of their afflictions, tend to be jumpy, worry excessively about prognosis, and keep troubling the physician concerned with inane queries from time to time.

Job Labels

Tired of time-worn designations? Try these:

·         Chief Worrying Officer: Normally, the Chief Financial Officer who is worried sick about legal compliance in all areas of business.

·         Chief Listening Officer: A Vice President – Human Resources who is always ready with a bucket and a towel to help employees facing emotional distress.

·         Chief Results Officer: The Chief Executive Officer who believes that ends justify all means.

·         Chief Dreams Officer: The Research & Development head who keeps dreaming of new products and businesses.

·         Chief Conscience Keeper: Keeps a strict eye on fraudulent behaviour anywhere in the organization.

Here are some job labels which appear to be on the horizon:

·         Chief Risk Officer: Ensures corporate governance criteria are met and regulatory frameworks respected.

·         Chief Counselling Officer: A legal eagle who can vet agreements of all sizes and shapes and counsel on a legally safe route to take.

·         Chief Data Crunchers: With big data coming up in a big way, the day is not far off when specialists in data management would be seen occupying corner suites in offices.

·       Chief Merchandising Officers: With organized retail picking up, professionals with a feel of the customers’ pulse move up the organizational hierarchy.

(Excerpt from my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, the English version of which was released recently. The Portuguese version of the excerpt follows.)

TÍTULOS DE CARGOS

Cansado dos títulos muito batidos? Experimente estes:

Diretor de Preocupações: normalmente, o Diretor Financeiro, que está preocupado com a conformidade legal em todas as áreas de negócio.

Diretor Ombro Amigo: um Vice-Presidente de Recursos Humanos sempre pronto com um balde e uma toalha para ajudar os funcionários em sofrimento emocional.

• Diretor-Geral que acredita: que os fins justificam todos os meios.

Diretor de Sonhos: um Responsável por Investigação & Desenvolvimento que está sempre a sonhar com novos produtos e negócios.

Guardião da Consciência: está sempre de olho nos comportamentos fraudulentos onde quer que possam ocorrer na organização.

E eis alguns novos cargos que parecem estar no horizonte:

Diretor de Riscos: assegura que os critérios de gestão são cumpridos e os quadros regulamentares são respeitados.

Diretor de Aconselhamento Jurídico: um ás em direito com poderes para vetar todo o tipo de acordos e dar conselhos sobre os caminhos a seguir que sejam juridicamente seguros.

Diretor de Tratamento de Dados: com cada vez mais dados à disposição das empresas, não estará longe o dia em que os especialistas em tratamento de dados irão ocupar os melhores gabinetes do escritório.

Diretores de Merchandising: à medida que a distribuição organizada ganha terreno, os profissionais capazes de sentir o pulso dos consumidores vão subindo na hierarquia das empresas.

(This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016.)

Recently, while on a trip to Norway, yours truly had the opportunity of calling upon Ms. Clara Nunes dos Santos, the Ambassador of Portugal in Norway.

Despite her busy schedule, she was kind enough to grant an audience to yours truly, who wished to present to her a copy of his book ‘Como Sobreviver Na Selva Empresarial’.

On a day when the skies were a characteristic Norwegian grey, the Embassy of Portugal in Oslo stood out in its dignified glory. Much like the genial and warm people of Portugal, the welcoming interior left one with an inner glow of joy, much akin to a homecoming of sorts.

An informal meeting took place in her exquisitely done up office. She was charm, grace and dignity personified. The frankness with which she spoke and the warmth she exuded was typical of the people of character, resource and rich culture she represents.

She was kind enough to leaf through the book and found that it demystified the art and science of management in a lucid manner. The Portuguese translation came in for some praise. The courtesy extended to an ordinary soul from an emerging economy like India was impeccable.

Ambassadors represent all that their land is and aspires to be. Ms Clara Nunes dos Santos is no exception. Given her keen intelligence, sharp eye, wit and humour, one has no doubt that she handles managerial challenges coming her way with characteristic aplomb.

One wishes her and her country a great innings in the days to come.

(Note:

This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016, courtesy Liberty Seguros and Vida Economica.)

(The English version of the book, entitled ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, was released recently.)

(Related Post:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/03/04/the-book-como-sobreviver-na-selva-empresarial-guia-pratico-1-0)

It makes sense to follow the golden rule, ‘the boss is always right’, even when he is absolutely wrong and is a perfect fool. However, sycophancy has its long-term limitations. Once in a while, if you do not agree with the boss, find the courage and the right time to register your disagreement. This way, you end up becoming a more effective and a healthier manager.

Beware of juniors who are ‘yes men’. They could be pretty dangerous to your career progression in the long run.

(Excerpt from my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, the English version of which was released recently.)

(This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016.)

Finland is a country which has smoothly embraced rapid change from being an agrarian economy to being a knowledge economy. Innovation happens to be a key priority. India, on the other hand, is still grappling with the disruptive changes that the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution bestows on its citizenry. It has earned global acclaim in the realm of “Jugaad”, which could be translated as either Informal Innovation or as Frugal Engineering.

INTERNATIONAL MINDS in FINLAND (IMiF) is a global community of 500 plus inquisitive souls whose IQ (read Intelligence Quotient, also Inquisitiveness Quotient) is rather high. It believes in co-aggregating and creating value in/with/for Finland. The community works with the single purpose of soaking in as much knowledge and wisdom as they possibly can from our vast universe. To this end, the community provides a platform for such persons of universal good will who would not mind sharing their knowledge and experience with them.

And that is how it came about that yours truly recently had an opportunity of interacting with some of the finest minds in Finland. While more than 500 luckier souls comprising the community continued to play the roles assigned to them in life elsewhere, a motley group of 5 singularly unlucky ones had to undergo the trauma of listening to some boring stuff dished out by yours truly. Their risk taking appetite surely deserves kudos.

While Lorena provided administrative support, Ludwig (Mylly´s CEO), Alexey (A professional who has mastered some of the intricacies between Russia and Finland, even in terms of logistics), Roman (IMiF´s Chairman and founder of TPOINT), Olavi (Young at heart, though an officially retired university professor), MARCO (co-initiator of IMiF) and Tim (An international business person), assembled at Mylly, a cultural centre at Kotka, to hear what yours truly from far off India had to convey.

Title of the talk

Surviving in the Corporate Jungle.

Key Takeaways

Analysis Paralysis

The role of intuition in decision-making can never be underestimated.

Meeting bosses half-way through

It is crucial to help one’s boss to keep his blood pressure under control.

Female Power

It pays to have gender parity at the work place.

His Master’s Voice

Avoiding being a Yes-man pays. Senior managers have the responsibility of registering dissent.

Overstaying One’s Welcome

Does the flight of your career appear to have rough weather ahead? Press the EJECT button in the cockpit.

Managing Stress

Build inner resilience. Meditate regularly. Do not allow garbage to get collected in the mind. Carry out a cleaning exercise every single day.

Quotients

Intelligence Quotient and Emotional Quotient are fine. What we also need to develop and use in business is our Spiritual Quotient.

Work Life Harmony

Avoid becoming a slave to technology.

Of Production, People and Ethics

Various leadership styles emerge. Charmless Charlies. Missionary Zealots. Road Rollers. Armchair Revolutionaries. Crazy Conformists. Sponge Comforters. Incumbent Chiefs. Super Chiefs.

Details can be accessed here.

A comment from one of the five wise men

Why is SQ (Spiritual Quotient) so very important in decision-making?

Being spiritual means one takes decisions which create a win-win situation for all stakeholders. Ethics and Values also come into play. In the long run, brand equity grows. So does shareholder wealth.

An example from the Tata-Benz collaboration during World War II was cited. Details can be found here.

(Others skipped discussing any other ideas, so relieved they were that the ordeal of listening to yours truly was finally over!)

The global nature of management thoughts

Managerial thoughts transcend national boundaries. Possibly because the principles of setting up and running an enterprise happen to be universal in nature. The core of the psychology of a manager also does not vary from country to country.

It is great to be able to share some experiential insights with, and also learn from, senior professionals who operate in another business environment and in a distinctly different work culture.

 

(Notes:

IMiF can be found:

In the public presence https://www.facebook.com/internationalmindsinfinland

In the private presence

https://www.facebook.com/groups/INTERNATIONALMINDSinFINLAND

Presentation based on my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, the English version of which was released recently.

This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016.)

Get-togethers

An annual get-together where families also get invited is a good idea to make people feel the humane side of the organization.

Plan entertainment of all kinds– primarily focused on kids–and see how much the parents love their day (or evening) out. Ensure that spouses hog the limelight – it is they who support the company’s operations in a silent but effective manner.

(Excerpt from my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, the English version of which was released recently.)

(This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016.)