Transform Whining Into Winning At Work With These Habits
Self Preservation doesn’t come easily to the Indian woman. She is all sacrificial, puts everyone else’s needs and wants before her’s, and looking out for her own good does not come naturally to her. This attitude and behavior also show up as a barrier at work.
According to research by Catalyst, “Out of 323 total executive directorship positions (generally considered a prerequisite to becoming CEO) on the Bombay Stock Exchange, just eight (2.5%) are held by women; 54% of companies on the Bombay Stock Exchange 100 have no women board directors. Women hold only 7.7% of board seats and just 2.7% of board chairs.”
Lack of self-preservation is one of the causes behind stalled career progression, and the paucity of women leadership in Indian corporations. Bereft of this instinct, it kills their sense of ambition, and confidence to deal with difficulties in their career path.
Finding one’s way through the maze of competition, office politics, performance pressures, gender discrimination, tough appraisals and unequal pay is daunting. The Indian social milieu believes that women are too soft to take all this, and it’s better that they find a husband who provides for them so that they can bask under his protection and security.
The Indian economic and social context will only change when women are able to get to the top leadership list, and when the number of women in the workforce increases manifold. Self-preservation is the foremost skill they need to hone, and here are hacks that help turn whining, into winning:
1. Map a career path: Jobs come and go careers need to be thought through, planned and mapped. They need to be worked upon on a short, and a long-term basis. Career planning has to be an annual event. Taking stock of where one stands in their career currently, analyzing how far one has come, awareness of what one needs, and wants to move ahead and reach new goals. The key is honestly and consciously taking into cognizance one’s own past, actions, mistakes, flaws, and patterns at work; acknowledging the successes and looking at opportunities for further training.
As, Lata Shah*, 40, an entrepreneur, says, “After 18 years in the corporate sector, I wanted to start my own business. I have been a salaried person all my life, and this transition looked extremely scary. I wanted to get into the food business. I was demotivated by the closest people around me. Everyone told me all the problems which I could face, funding, staff, production, storage and transportation-related challenges. Then I went to my mentor and for three months, we brainstormed the way forward, for the next two to three years. We figured out the resources, created a fall-back plan and made a practical monthly blueprint. I now own a specialized catering unit.
2. Breakaway from toxic people: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent’: Eleanor Roosevelt. It is crucial to remember that there is no workplace without toxic people or circumstances. We have no control over such people, but we do have complete control over our own self. Emotionally distance yourself from work, like a protective shield, and don’t self-sabotage. Set boundaries and do not allow anyone to cross them. Doing this politely yet firmly sets and sends the right message across clearly. Spend time with happy and positive people at work, it does wonder and keeps one going forward. There is always someone you can connect with at different levels.
According to Saloni Nath (real name withheld), 37, a teacher, “In my school, there was rampant office politics between the teachers. They were infighting for promotions, and growth and some were vindictive. They alienated me and stopped giving me access to crucial information and gossiped about me. Every day was a living hell, I would cry every day at home.
She continues: “But one day, after a chat with my husband, I decided to only focus on my students and become completely thick-skinned to such things around me. I found new strength, this became my new boundary, I did not react to these people anymore and was firm and cordial. My class was doing so well, their parents started giving feedback and the principal noticed my work. I was promoted and given higher responsibility. I found other people who were suffering like me at work and now we support each other.”
3. Find a mentor: The guidance is motivational and prepares one for success against odds. A mentor is a personal cheerleader, critique, coach, and assessor. They can show you the way forward, and show you the ways to achieving results. This is a priceless and much-needed resource to build and rely on for expertise.
Shreya Jha (real name withheld), 38, a finance manager, says, “In our country, finance is still an arena which is male-dominated. When I was to lead a team which consisted of 15 men and another woman, I met with a lot of resistance. I was kept out of the clique. I was so dejected, I almost quit. One day, I picked up the phone and called a senior ex-colleague. He showed me how to turn the situation around. Today, my team rated me as one of the best bosses they have ever had. That senior ex-colleague has been my professional mentor for the last five years and I keep going back to him to find answers, get motivated and find what I need to improve upon for my own self,” Jha added.
4. Find an outlet outside work: Fretting and worrying at work doesn’t help. A hobby, a sport, a creative outlet or doing something for fun helps remove negative thoughts. Taking care of one’s own self, mentally, physically and spiritually, gives you a vision and direction to move ahead, positively.
5. Be an ace at your work: No matter what is happening around you, being good at your work, is the highest advantage, and leverage. This channelizes one’s focus, energy, and passion in a constructive way, and professional growth is just a matter of time.