Hi Jane,

The HR Digest - - Q&A With Jane -

I have been work­ing in the field of IT for the past 27 years now. Hence it is need­less to say that I have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence in the field and know al­most ev­ery­thing about it. In the vast num­ber of years that I spent in this tech­ni­cal world, I have tried a hand at work­ing in nu­mer­ous com­pa­nies. Be it a bud­ding startup or a well-es­tab­lished multi­na­tional com­pany, I have been ev­ery­where. There have been good and bad ex­pe­ri­ences ev­ery­where and from each of them I have learnt some­thing. But for­tu­nately I have never had to un­dergo the claws of a nag­ging boss.

Around two months back, I joined a tech firm as they of­fered me a higher post than my pre­vi­ous job. I had heard some un­pleas­ant feed­back about the place but I thought there can’t be any­thing which I will be un­able to man­age. Un­for­tu­nately, I was wrong. I did take up the job in the greed for my power and a higher post but now I deeply re­gret it. The work is some­thing I’m al­ready good at but it’s the at­mos­phere and dis­ci­plinary at­ti­tude of the work­place which I can’t han­dle. Here all the man­agers ex­pect peo­ple to blindly fol­low their or­ders just be­cause they have a higher au­thor­ity. Not only this, but ex­tremely strict ac­tions are taken even if some­one reaches five min­utes late or at­tends phone calls at work. Be­cause of such re­peated ac­tions, there is a fear-based en­vi­ron­ment in­stilled at the work­place. It seems like a dic­ta­tor is rul­ing the of­fice in the form of team lead­ers. Even if an em­ployee goes and puts for­ward such a com­plaint to the HR, no­body pays any heed to it and in­stead sim­ply dis­misses the per­son. There­fore there is no sup­port from any­one in my of­fice.

A ma­jor draw­back of such an en­vi­ron­ment is that an in­di­vid­ual does not feel free to go and con­sult his leader in case he has a query. Even

if an em­ployee is gen­uinely un­der­go­ing a cri­sis at the work­place, he is un­able to bring it to his leader’s no­tice. This is re­ally both­er­ing me. It feels like there is a dic­ta­tor­ship in the of­fice and ev­ery­one has to sim­ply fol­low the or­ders with­out ques­tion­ing them. Guide me as to how should I sur­vive in such an en­vi­ron­ment. I am not ea­ger to leave this com­pany as it will have a neg­a­tive im­pact on my re­sume.

An­swer

You aren’t the first per­son who is fac­ing the prob­lem of such a fearin­duced en­vi­ron­ment at the work­place. Lead­ers be­lieve that slight fear among the em­ploy­ees is nec­es­sary as it helps in get­ting the work done on time and peo­ple tend to take in­struc­tions more se­ri­ously due to it. This is a jus­ti­fied thought as if all the lead­ers be­come laid-back with their teams, then the pro­fes­sional at­ti­tude will go out of the win­dow due to which the work will lag be­hind. You might feel that the en­vi­ron­ment at your of­fice is fear-based but it can be so be­cause you may have al­ways worked in a lib­eral cul­ture. Thus be­fore com­ing to any con­clu­sions look around and try to an­a­lyze if the fear in­stilled among the em­ploy­ees is rea­son­able or not. In case you feel that the fear is more than nec­es­sary, then maybe you can make cer­tain sug­ges­tions to rec­tify it.

There are mainly two ways to deal with such a sit­u­a­tion. The first one is to rec­og­nize your fears and own up to them. It has been put into our heads that fear is a sign of weak­ness. This is not ap­pli­ca­ble at a work­place. By ad­mit­ting your fears, you might dis­cover the self-im­posed si­lence which is stop­ping you from speak­ing out. The

si­lence of fear can cause low-grade anx­i­ety along with ag­i­ta­tion by keep­ing it sup­pressed. Try to be more vo­cal about your sug­ges­tions and opin­ions in a meet­ing or any such pro­fes­sional gath­er­ing. The fear of judg­ment is om­nipresent among ev­ery­one but one has to over­come it. The worst that can hap­pen is that your peers will dis­agree with you. But it isn’t the end of the world. At least you can put for­ward your points and who knows some­day it might re­sult in a bril­liant idea.

The sec­ond one is to deal with your fear with courage. I have met em­ploy­ees who used to avoid fac­ing their man­agers due to the fear of dis­ap­proval. At times there are man­agers who are only in­ter­ested in num­bers and are not open to new ideas. If you come across such a man­ager at your work­place, make sure that you raise ques­tions wher­ever nec­es­sary in­stead of liv­ing in doubt. Come up with un­con­ven­tional ways of work­ing which might help in im­prov­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity and sug­gest them to your man­ager as well. When your col­leagues will wit­ness you speak­ing up, they will also over­come their si­lence of fear. Take the first step so that the peo­ple around you will fol­low the same.

I fin­ished my Bach­e­lor’s in Com­merce af­ter which I took an aca­demic drop for a year so that I could at­tain ex­pe­ri­ence by work­ing at var­i­ous places. I re­cently at­tained my Mas­ter’s de­gree in Man­age­ment but I am not look­ing for­ward to my col­lege re­cruit­ment process be­cause I feel that mar­ket­ing is not my cup of tea. I have al­ways been in­trigued in man­ag­ing peo­ple at work hence my first pref­er­ence for a job is in the HR depart­ment. But I am ab­so­lutely clue­less re­gard­ing how to go about it. I have al­ready ap­plied at var­i­ous places in the given field but have not yet re­ceived an in­ter­view call from any of them. When I called them for a fol­low up, they said that there is an open­ing in the mar­ket­ing depart­ment if I was in­ter­ested. But I po­litely de­clined it. I don’t want to com­pro­mise on my field of in­ter­est even if it takes a while be­fore a good op­por­tu­nity walks in.

Also I would like to know that what qual­i­ties an em­ployer looks for be­fore hir­ing HR per­son­nel. In the mean­while, I can try to in­cul­cate some of them so that I come across as a prefer­able can­di­date to the em­ployer. Should I make any changes in my CV ac­cord­ing to the re­quire­ment of the job?

An­swer

The job of an HR man­ager seems quite ap­peal­ing to peo­ple these days but it is not as easy as it is per­ceived to be. This job po­si­tion is no longer just a tac­ti­cal, ad­min­is­tra­tive, and pa­per-push­ing role. The job of HR has evolved over the times and has be­come more sta­tis­ti­cal and skill-based than ever be­fore. Such HR man­agers are con­sid­ered strate­gic part­ners by the em­ploy­ers which help in driving the over­all goals of the com­pany keep­ing in mind the ex­pec­ta­tions of the em­ploy­ees as well. The HR man­ager is a link be­tween the em­ployer and the em­ploy­ees so that the goals of both the sides of the com­pany are worked upon. Con­sid­er­able progress can be achieved with the help of tal­ent man­age­ment skills in or­der to make the most of the em­ployee skills avail­able at the work­place.

Even though ap­proach­ing com­pa­nies through re­cruit­ment agen­cies or other such plat­form like on­line por­tals is con­sid­ered the ideal way, in this so­cial age net­work­ing plays a ma­jor role in know­ing im­por­tant peo­ple of the field you are in­ter­ested in which will keep you up­dated about any such job open­ings in near future. At­tend a pub­lic con­fer­ence re­lated to HR where you will meet peo­ple of the same field and in­ter­act with them about the same. You will have a com­mon topic to strike a conversation on where you can men­tion

your as­pi­ra­tions. You might come across peo­ple who can help you out in the search.

Some peo­ple for­get that to get to the top of the moun­tain, you first have to be­gin from its foothills. Same is the case in any pro­fes­sional goal. If you see your­self as an ef­fi­cient HR man­ager, you need to prove that to your em­ployer first. As a new­bie in the field, it is very rare that some­one will di­rectly of­fer an im­por­tant po­si­tion to you. What I’m try­ing to say is that be open to in­tern­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties as well. By go­ing through an in­tern­ship pro­gram, you will get a clear idea of the du­ties and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the po­si­tion. If you prove your ef­fi­ciency dur­ing your in­tern­ship, the com­pany might hire you. And even if you don’t, you will have some ex­pe­ri­ence in the HR field to show on your CV.

A point of­ten over­looked is that the re­sume of a can­di­date must be up­dated ev­ery time he ap­pears for an in­ter­view. Nec­es­sary changes must be made keep­ing in mind the qual­i­ties needed for the job as well as the ex­pec­ta­tions of the com­pany. While ap­pear­ing for an in­ter­view for the post in the HR depart­ment, try to fo­cus on your man­age­ment skills and how you would deal with a cri­sis. Sim­ple things like these catch the at­ten­tion of the in­ter­viewer. I wish you luck for the same. Hope­fully, soon you’ll grab a job in the field you like and you’ll look for­ward to go­ing to work ev­ery­day.

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