Friday, July 02, 2010

The Dance of Work - Part 2

I first bored you to death with my Life and Dance analogy. Now, I march on regardless of how many bodies I've walked over and promise to bore you to further death with my Work and Dance analogy. If you're the kind of ubiquitous person who likes to be bored to death, get up and - I hope you like the pun - dance. Dance till you drop dead and save me from more blood on my hands. Wait a minute. Any idea what on earth I'm talking? I wonder if I happened to bang a delicate part of my head against something hard, without my own knowledge. Or maybe it was something I ate recently. Here's what I shall do - I'm going to look away and rotate my head vigorously, shut my eyes tight for a few minutes and take a few deep breaths. Once done, I'll come back and explain my profound discovery, "The Dance of Work". Get ready to think like never before.


Taking off from where I left in the previous post, if the Dance Floor is Life, and we choose to focus on just Work (which comprises a significant part of life for many of us) for a moment, there are three kinds of people we'd find (in the way they approach work). 

1. People who like to switch on music of their choice and dance in solitude. In any case, they are oblivious to others who may be dancing with them and an audience who may be watching them dance. Their major intent may be to differentiate themselves, enjoy their work immensely and feel honestly satisfied with their performance and accomplishments.

2. People who insist on company while dancing (music may or may not be chosen by them). They may dance with a crowd or perhaps choose a single partner...but they essentially need more pairs of feet to accompany them. They rarely hear their own tunes and generally stick to a collaborative choice of music. Their major intent is to chug along the river of life and do reasonably well at work while managing their lives outside of work as well.     

3. People who like to dance for an audience and use their feedback to energize themselves further. They might either want to dance alone (more often than not) or dance with a team. They might also choose a tune that the audience prefers rather than choose something that they alone like. Their major intent is to be recognized, rewarded and appreciated for what they do.

Let's leave out the people who are not a wee-bit interested in 'work' and are intent-less wanderers. 

Okay. So what? In the recent corporate annual celebration that I was a part of, I watched a lot of people being awarded/rewarded for their loyalty, performance on the job, values, problem-solving skills, innovation etc. While watching the proceedings inspired me to stretch myself (especially the innovation and values awards) I couldn't help but think about those that belong to the same category/categories but missed out on the awards by a hair's breath for various reasons. Some reasons are pretty obvious and may be wrapped and bundled under a blanket labelled 'Unlucky'. A manager who does not make a special effort to put her worthy team-member in the limelight. The employee's role being a back-stage (non-customer facing or non-sales) one that hardly gets the attention it deserves. Dirty Department, Management or HR politics. And so on. 

But what I have been thinking about are the subtler aspects of such a situation. Many a time, I've observed that the people who belong to the first category deserve to be recognized for their good work but tend to be ignored simply because they are in an isolated spot and are performing in solitude or doing a so-called 'thankless' job (especially when it is not a customer-facing role which, by the way, may by default put the person in the limelight). Also, in a more dangerous scenario, organizations assume that such people will always be happy because they are intrinsically motivated. There will, however, come a time when such a person takes a break and looks around and realizes he has been dedicated and successful but has received no reciprocation whatsoever and begin to feel horribly cheated. The second category will also look for appreciation and recognition but they may be equally happy just getting along with the stream of people, receiving regular pay-hikes and incentives. The third category of people may, arguably, be able to take care of themselves as their focus is anyway on the audience and on gaining appreciation. 

Two twitter moments in this regard for me were:

"The corporate world reserves most of its respect, recognition & rewards for the people who make the money or fight a fire."

"The people who persevere are sometimes forced to do nothing but persevere. But it ought to be better to die persevering rather than give up and live a dead life?" 

Wow. Just realized that this post has actually turned out to be somewhat gloomy! I do feel strongly about such things - Justice, Fair play, Politics, Perfection and what not. Sigh. 

Entrepreneurship is perhaps the closest answer to many of these questions. Be the change you want to see!~

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