How women self sabotage their career and how to deal with it?

Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn’t happen.” – Alyce Cornyn-Selby.   Self-sabotage is when you consciously or unconsciously do things that work against your own best interest. The biggest trigger of self sabotaging behavior is fear, fear of rejection, fear of failure or may be fear of criticism.    Here is my article on- How women self sabotage their career and how to deal with it.   Please share your views in the comments section.   Happy Reading!

Have you ever been self-doubting yourself and thinking you are not able enough to do something? Yes, it is a very common scenario for many women out there. We women are conditioned since our birth to be modest, to not boast about our success, our achievements, to be soft spoken and what not and this conditioning what an ideal women should be like plays a very vital role in our careers.

Because of this conditioning and the environmental pressures women usually self sabotage their career.Self-sabotaging behaviors can be both conscious and unconscious depending on how aware you are of them.

Ways in which women self-sabotage their career

1. The “Good Girl” trap: We as women always try to please everyone, we don’t want to say No and that is why we avoid having difficult conversations or we give up easily when someone doesn’t agree with us and this approach affects our career and work life in a negative manner.

To share an example, your approach towards an assignment might be different from your manager’s but you choose to follow the template provided because you don’t want to upset the apple cart or be labeled as someone who doesn’t accept the norms which are in practice for years.

There are so many instances where capable women work hard on projects, but at the first sign of challenging feedback, they withdraw, all to avoid conflict or confrontation.

2. Seeking perfection all the time:Author Julia Cameron wrote in The Artist’s Way, “Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead. We all get to learn perfectionism from a very young age and if not checked,this tendency to chase perfection in everything starts sabotaging your success.

Attention to detail is one thing, but attempting to polish off every task on your to-do list with pure perfection is not realistic. Setting goals is a good thing, but it’s also important to remember that we’re all fallible. Accepting the imperfection of humanity is a liberating gift, and people will respond to you better once you become comfortable with any perceived flaws.

3. Selling yourself short: Women often sell themselves short in business, playing small to make others feel comfortable rather than acknowledging their strengths. While this may appear as innocent modesty, it can cripple your chances of getting that promotion or landing a dream job. Focus on your strengths and practice self love.

Own your accomplishments just as you celebrate the achievements of others.Even if we get an increment, we wonder if we are worth it. Often women work and deliver more than what is expected and don’t even seek recognition for it.

4. Seeking feedback or permission: Women, in general, tend to seek feedback or ask for ‘permission’ or validation, which is a form of resistance and denotes self-doubt. We do not want to be labelled as overpowering and want to get the approval of everyone concerned so that we fit in, which also results in women not holding leadership positions.

5. Not speaking up: “When we avoid speaking up and expressing how we feel or what we need, we are sabotaging our self-esteem and allowing negative feelings to build up internally,” says Emily Roberts.

Assertiveness and effective communication is the key here. Stop trying to please everyone in each and every situation, if you do not agree, you don’t feel fit in, just say it out loud. Demand the respect you deserve.

7. The imposter syndrome: With imposter syndrome, it’s more than just self-doubt. It’s a condition of such deep-rooted insecurity that we are faking ourselves and we are not good enough. To sum it up you underestimate yourself and don’t understand your worth.

And hence this feeling affects your career, for example not striving for promotions simply because you  don’t believe that you deserve it, or you become intense micromanagers which can make you  susceptible to burning out quickly because you are constantly trying to overcompensate.

8. Not asking for help: “I can do it all”, “I don’t need any help”, these are few thoughts which are always there at our mind lest we be seen as vulnerable. We always try to be a superwomenand hence we do not ask for support.

We stop ourselves from communicating our needs in an authentic and effective manner. Repressing your needs is also another self-sabotage mechanism, that drives you to take on too much, grow resentful and miss out on being the person you’re truly meant to be and focusing on what matters most.

9. Relationship aggression: Relationship aggression is just one of the many ways women sabotage their careers.

A very common scenario is where one female employee gets a promotion and suddenly you see change in the behaviour of other female employees towards her. They start whispering whenever she walks by; they stopped inviting her to gatherings, there is workplace isolation etc.

These actions define relationship aggression at workplace. Sometimes women work against one another instead of working together as a team or allies. Women tend to fight over the throne instead of fixing each other’s crowns.


How to fix this

2 step process to stop self sabotage

1. Reflect and recognize your self-sabotaging habits: To stop this habit of self sabotaging for good, firstly you need to be aware of that, yes you are actually doing this to yourself. You need to understand the need these habits fill in your life and then act accordingly.

As we discussed above these can be very actions or behaviors like procrastination, thinking negative all the time, underselling yourself, being too tough on yourself, not owning your achievements and many more.

2. Work on the path for improvement: Once you recognize your habits you can start working on reversing them and in the way to convert self sabotaging with self empowerment.

You can beat self-sabotage by monitoring your behaviors, feelings, thoughts, and beliefs about yourself, and challenging them when they stand between you and your goals. Consider how failing to overcome certain behaviours could cost you professionally. Start building positive behaviour and create an affirmative, confident voice to guide you to keep you on the right track.

Fortunately none of these self sabotaging habits are chronic and can easily be rectified and even reversed if checked at the right time and the right actions are taken.Making conscious effort and some minor adjustments in your approach will put you back in control and get you on the track.

So if you are still struggling with these self sabotaging issues, start working on it today and don’t let anything keep you away from a positive, successful career.

Read more

The importance of saying NO and how it helps you improve your workplace productivity

“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes”- Tony Blair   As human beings we are hardwired to say “Yes” to each and everything that comes in our way. In a work environment, saying “No” can be hard but we really need to understand the importance of saying No at the right time, in the right way, for the right reasons and how it can help improve one’s productivity at work.   Here is my take on this. Please share your views in the comments section.

The modern workplace and work demands are moving at lightning speed and the fun fact is that we all get only 24 hours a day to match up to this.

Being productive at work is no rocket science but it requires serious hardwork and excellent time management skills. Especially after this COVID situation, as everything turned digital, it is very normal to hear from employees about feeling stressed and unproductive at the end of the day. In fact it is happening with the most productive and skilled professionals.

So let’s try to understand where are we going wrong? What’s the actual pain point? The answer to all of these questions is a single word “No”, yes you need to stop saying“Yes” to each and everything.

A very common scenario: You are up to ears in your assignments/tasks and your manager or colleague comes up with a new task or request and asks you for the assistance, and you will hear yourself saying a Yes immediately knowing very well that you are already packed. And that’s where your entire schedule goes haywire.

There are various reasons behind us fearing to saying No, because we don’t want to come across as non-cooperative, non-responsive, lazy or unprofessional. We’re social creatures that crave approval, and saying no feels like the easiest way to get on someone’s bad side. Also in a work environment, saying no can feel like you’re sabotaging someone else’s hard work.

But we really need to understand the importance of saying No at the right time, in the right way and obviously for the right reasons and how it can help improve one’s productivity at work.

Strategies to increase productivity in the workplace by saying NO

1. Say no to the idea of perfection

As human beings it is in our nature to chase perfection in everything we do. But we usually forget that nobody is perfect and one doesn’t even need to be.

Instead of chasing perfection one should focus on efficacy in each and every task we do. For instance, you have a presentation to submit in an hour, and even though you have revised it multiple times you still feel the need to read it one more time. You’re stressed and want to be on time, yet you want the presentation to be perfect. So, instead of submitting your presentation on time, you miss the deadline. Now not only are you stressed, you might have disappointed your manager/client as well.

Knowing when good enough is good enough, so you quit chasing perfectionand focus on efficacy, you will see results.

2. Clean up the digital clutter and Say No to the digital mess

We all like our workplaces to be clean but are we cleaning the digital office regularly? No, unread emails, spam messages, irrelevant email blasts, heavy unessential files, all of these things create unnecessary stress and distract you from focusing on important things.

Try clearing this digital clutter once in aweek, this will surely result in lower anxiety and higher productivity.

3. Say no to the unproductive/irrelevant meetings

How many times you find yourself stuck in a meeting and complaining about each minute getting wasted? If your answer is very often,that’s where you need to pause and look for a solution.

Arrange your meetings in a manner that it is beneficial and relevant for every participant. If you have the chance and option to opt out from a meeting which is not useful or relevant for you, do not shy away from speaking up and discussing this with your manager.

4. Be honest

Be honest to yourself and your work; don’t use this for your interest or benefits. Don’t make fake excuses.If the reason you are saying no is because you are being asked to do something you are bad at, admit it.If you are saying no because you are swamped or trying to preserve your work-life balance, say so and say what you are doing instead.

5. Be clear and support your approach with data

A “No” now is better than a “No” later.“Instead of saying ‘Yes’ now and disappointing the person later when you fail to fulfill the request, say ‘No’ now.

If you know that you really don’t have the bandwidth to help and hence you need to turn down the request, be honest and share your genuine reasons. Describe your workload and the projects on your plate.Support your ‘No’ with valid data and facts so that others can respect your decision. Letting people down at a later stage can damage your credibility.

6. Say no to unwanted interruptions

If you really want to be productive at your workplace, you will need to limit your distractions. Random chit chat sessions, multiple coffee breaks are small things which if not monitored effectively can impact productivity. In work from home scenarios, setting boundaries with people at home for ‘no interruptions’ during productive hours for mundane tasks will help improve productivity. Say yes to breaks, but be cautious of the frequency and the timings.

7. Be polite and offer a lifeline

While saying no is important, it must be delivered in an effective way for the other person to perceive and receive it well. Being watchful of your body language and tone is important to appear supportive even when you may be refusing the other person.

For refusing or not accepting something, you don’t need to be ruthless. Least you can do is to be polite and offer an alternative if you are not available. Soften your No, even the way you say this will have a great effect on the other person.

For example instead of saying “No, I will not be able to this” if you will convey it like “I really wish I could help but my bandwidth doesn’t allow this for now”, the whole feel of the conversation changes in a positive manner.

Frameworks for saying NO effectively

1. DOC Framework

D: Distraction: Next time you are faced with such a situation, first of all check if the request would be a distraction from your on- the plate tasks. Ask yourself whether the request might be a complement to tasks you’re already doing or a complete detour into another initiative.

O: Objectives: Ask yourself if the new request could fit into one of your objectives. If so, it might be worth taking on, even if it is a potential distraction from the day-to-day activities. If it doesn’t fit with an objective, give it the axe.

C: Consider the upside: If the request doesn’t fit an objective, is there another potential upside for doing it? Perhaps you are looking to transition to new responsibilities, and this new task will help demonstrate your capabilities.

2. BEST Framework

B: Because-Putting because after the No and validating it with facts and data.

E: Empathy- Show empathy. Convey your message softly and help with an alternative if you can.

S: Situation- Describe your situation, explain with genuine reasons.

T: Add timelines- Elaborate about your ongoing demands and the timelines for that.

As humans, we are hardwired to say yes to things. When there is a power dynamic involved, we are even more inclined to agree first and then think about it later.There’s nothing wrong with putting others first and helping those you care about when they need it. The problem comes when you say yes so often that it affects your own productivity.

When you say no, it shows that you understand your priorities and what’s important to you. Say it for the right reasons and in the right way, you’ll be much better off!

Read more

Marching Sheep launches the “21 Marching“ campaign for People with disabilities.

According to WHO, Persons with Disabilities represent 15% of the world’s population. It has been observed that disabled employees working from home during #lockdown were more productive and took lesser number of leaves than when they were doing their jobs in office. In an effort to create and drive awareness about the 21 disabilities as stated in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, Marching Sheep is proud to launch the “21 Marching” campaign.
Marching Sheep will hold a series of candid conversations to help understand lived realitieschallengessocietal biases, dreams and aspirations to live a life of dignity and be independent and self-sufficient. Do join us in this initiative and let us together #make a difference. Stay tuned for more details.
Read more

Self love at work

“You carry so much love in your heart, give some to yourself”

#SelfLove is a wonderful thing and it is great that we are actually thinking and talking about this finally!. Here is an article by Prerna Arora from team Marching Sheep on Self Love.

Please share your views in the comment box if you enjoy reading this article.

“Self-love, self-respect, self-worth: There’s a reason they all start with ‘self.’ You can’t find them in anyone else.”

Self Love is a wonderful thingand it is great that we are actually thinking and talking about this finally!

But what does self love actually mean and are we applying it in our professional lives… and if yes, then how?

Self-care comes in many different forms because each one of us sees care differently. Some may believe self-care is sleeping for the weekend; others may see self-care as a day at the spa or a day painting.

Self love at work can be defined as a series of making your own choices, prioritizing yourself, standing up for yourself, fulfilling your commitments, making a conscious effort for your growth every single day and never fear to share your opinion or ideas.

We usually struggle with sharing our accomplishments with our colleagues and other professional network because we do not want to be seen as boastful, arrogant, or as a person who is in need of praise.Self-love on the contrary makes us proud to share our achievements, our accomplishments, our progress without fear of what other people might think.

Why self love is important in workplace?

There are various benefits associated with the strong sense of self worth.

1. Self love makes you more confident in your abilities. Self love helps you recognize that you are worthy and good enough no matter what. It gives you the confidence to open the doors you were afraid to open earlier, be it starting a new business, taking up a new challenging project or explore a career change.

2.Self love helps reduce workplace stress and also helps us stop procrastinating. People with high self-esteem demonstrate extraordinary perseverance in succeeding in an activity they are passionate about. It helps you to take the failures positively and not give up.It will help you speak up for your needs and taking a stand for yourself whenever it starts affecting you.

3. Recognizing self-worth can increase your engagement at work, leading to higher productivity and improved relationships with coworkers. Employees who value their worth tend to experience better focus and can find work more fulfilling. Your sense of self-worth helps you to trust your own judgment and make better decisions, which are important leadership qualities that can help you advance in your career.

4. Self love makes you less concerned about other’s opinion about you. You will care less about what others think about you and more about what you can contribute and deliver and hence it will help you focus more on your betterment.

How to practice self love at work

1. Speak to yourself and define your value: You first have to recognize your worth. If you’re in a place today where you don’t love yourself, it’s hard to do that instantly. It is like building a muscle, the process will take time so why not start with today. Allow love to flow through you as often as possible. Focus on what you love about yourself. Focus on what you appreciate about yourself. Simply, adjust your body to positive emotions by finding as many things to love about yourself.Each morning, stand in front of the mirror and reinforce your positive qualities to yourself

2Don’t compare yourself: Just remember this; comparison is lethal for self love. We usually compare our flaws with someone else’s qualities and that starts affecting our mental and emotional health negatively. When we focus on other people, we lose the time which we can invest in ourselves. We don’t grow green grass by focusing on our neighbor’s garden; we do it by nurturing our own. So, instead of wasting time comparing your path to someone else’s, spend it investing, creating, and caring for your own.

3. Build positive affirmations: Affirmations are, essentially, self-fulfilling compliments. Others may praise us, but to build genuine self-love, we need to learn to praise ourselves. Daily self love affirmations are an amazing tool to help you on your journey of self love.  Being able to embrace our strengths and goodness without others’ approval is the first step towards fearless self-love, which will contribute to a more confident state of being at work.

The negative self talk has to stop first! If you tell yourself every single day that you are beautiful, strong and worthy, you will eventually start to believe that. 

4. Remember your successes and don’t forget to share it:We all have our own strengths and weakness, our success and failures as well. But I think it is in our nature to remember all the negative things and not the positive one. Choose to forgive yourself when things don’t go as planned. Remember it is ok to not to be perfect, to fail, to get stumped, to not perform well sometimes, it is all OK! And yes do not forget to celebrate your accomplishments.

5. Drop toxic people: There is this famous quote from Jim Rohn: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” This perfectly fits here. You need to be really cautious about the people surrounding you. Be picky about the people you spend time with. You need to check whether they inspire you, encourage you,enable you, and fill you in.

6. Adapt healthy habits: Create habits that cheer up your body emotionally, mentally and physically. Start paying attention to minor details like your eating habits, your workout schedule, how you spend your free time. The way could be different like sleeping for the weekend, shopping, playing your favorite game etc.  Whatever the way is, it is just about the contentment.Keep asking yourself-what makes ‘me’ happy and am I doing enough of it?

Always remember to ‘BE CONFIDENT’:

B: Be your own role model.

E: Express Yourself.

C: Challenge Yourself

O: Only your opinion about you matter.

N: No more negative self talk.

F: Forgive your mistakes.

I: I am awesome.

D: Do not waste your energy in comparison.

E: Excellence not perfection.

N: No part of you should be left behind.

T: Talents: Discover your talents and use them.

You are the incharge of your choices and hence you are solely responsible for the life you make for yourself. So start it today, show some love towards yourself and see the results.

Read more

Upskilling and Reskilling – to stay afloat

COVID brought with it many changes and a lot of learnings. It reiterated what we all always knew but never paid attention to. For any #business to grow, having #skilledmanpower is of utmost importance and in turbulent times like these, #employeeretention has become the need of the hour. #Reskilling and #Upskilling employees is the key to #businesscontinuity in today’s times and companies must plan for it systematically. Here is an article on ‘Reskilling and Upskilling to stay afloat’ by our Operations Head – Delhi, Nandita Krishan. Do read, comment and share your thoughts! Happy Reading!

As businesses gradually turn on the path of business recovery and growth, employers face tough choices regarding shortcomings in skills, knowledge and relevant competencies that were laid bare by the forced virtual way of working following the pandemic lockdown.

A 2018 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study found that 50 percent of jobs ran the risk of greatly changing or becoming obsolete. After COVID-19, that’s even more accentuated. Thanks to all of the workplace adaptations due to the pandemic, the question for many becomes how to re-invent the available workforce to fill the vast void in new digital world.

It is a misconceived notion that during tough times employees need to do what they have to by utilizing their current skills. This is especially not true during the current crisis, as its effects have been extremely uneven across different industries and functions. We’ve already seen the major changes that the Covid-19 pandemic have brought in the economic landscape and, with them, the demand for new approaches to mobilizing your existing talent base.

This pandemic has demonstrated that no one has control over the future — not markets, Governments, institutions, individuals or even the economy as a whole. In order to be future ready, organisations need to be agile, nimble and have skills and competencies that are relevant for now and the future, and this is why the time for employee reskilling and upskilling is now.

Given the economic strain, plenty of industries cannot afford to hire a new workforce or even retain their existing talent. Then would it not make sense to retrain employees to take much-needed positions?

In truth, some of the industry giants have jumped on the upskilling train long before the pandemic. Amazon, for instance, has invested huge sum of money into reskilling and upskilling programs, and Mastercard has been running its own retraining program since 2016.

It would be ignorant, however, to see upskilling just as a way to keep the company afloat in these difficult times. In the long run, upskilling and reskilling programs can improve employee engagement and retention, attract new talent, increase collaboration between departments and speed up the adoption of new trends within the company.

Reskilling and Upskilling are both important tools for closing the skills gap in today’s workforce. Upskilling involves learning new skills or teaching employees new skills in their current role, while Reskilling involves learning new skills to qualify for a different job or teaches employees new skills to help them get a new job in the same company or elsewhere.

As we progress in career, we need to sharpen our skills along with learning new ones. While reskilling focuses on creating new skill sets for individuals to qualify for new role; Upskilling teaches new skills for the same role. Typically, reskilling programs require a degree or certification that individuals complete through corporate learning initiatives or outside education institutes.

Employers who wish to start upskilling/reskilling programs must first identify the skills needed to keep abreast with the ever-evolving competencies needed to succeed at workplace. Here’s an outline of the steps needed to create an upskilling or reskilling strategy for your employees.

  • Define the initiative. To avoid layoffs and redundancy, upgrade the skill set and knowledge that your current workforce has to offer, determine whether you can upskill employees already in similar roles. Given a choice and clear objective, most employees will choose to adapt and learn the new skill.
  • Design a skills plan. By carefully identifying the employees capable of reskilling and matching them to open positions, one can develop a skills plan tailored to your organization’s exact needs.
  • Match jobs and begin reskilling. You can start with open positions that have remained unfilled due to a shortage in the talent pool at large. You can even gain an edge on competitors by teaching your existing employee’s new skills in upcoming technologies and work trends.

By upskilling and reskilling your workforce with collaborative learning opportunities, easily accessible cross training, and mobile learning, you can still achieve ambitious goals with lower headcount. Learning opportunities such as these will identify your most agile and devout learners who you’ll want to keep around after COVID-19 stops wreaking havoc.

Read more

Leadership trends for 2021 and beyond

2020- A year of uncertaintyand reset. The situations in 2020 have exposed our weaknesses, strengths and the need for change in ways few could have predicted.

If we look at the positive side of this global pandemic,it has forced organizations and individuals to pivot and adapt according to the situation we all are in. The leaders are pushed to the point where they must adapt if they want their teams and business to thrive and succeed.

As a direct impact of COVID-19, according to the Society for Human Resource Management survey of 2,000+ members, 2 in 3 employers say maintaining employee morale is a challenge. The same research from SHRM notes 71% of employers say adapting to remote work has been difficult and 83% of employers claim they’re adjusting their business practices in light of the pandemic.

If 2020 was about survival, 2021 will be about fighting back and leadership will play a key role. Let’s understand some leadership key trends that are going to make 2021 a success.

Top Leadership Trends for 2021 and beyond

1. Empathetic leadershipand creating a happy culture in remote teams

No doubt 2020 has been a tough year for all of us and as we step in 2021 all the organizations are trying to be more aggressive and ambitious in their approach and everyone will try to overcome the losses of 2020. In a situation like this, as a leader you will really feel the need to push your team to achieve stretch targets.

But you also need to be aware of the fact the employees have also been through the same difficult phase of uncertainty, ambiguity, social isolation, and you will need to build empathy with your team. And this has become more difficult in remote working, like in earlier times,If you are doing a face-to-face meeting and one of your team members is not participating, you could connect with them and try to understand the issue.We need to follow the same approach in virtual communication. If someone isn’t participating, there’s most likely a reason, so it’s important to check in with them and help them.

On the same front you need to build empathy in your team towards your organization as well. Explain to them the situation your organization is in with complete transparency and let them voluntarily agree to the cause, the larger purpose and be motivated to stretch.

2. Increased need to develop self and other team members

The crisis has forced people to relook at their career path, few were forced to pursue entirely new career paths, or simply re-explore the path they’re on. The employees were pushed to assess their abilities and to figure out what new skills they may need to be relevant to their organization. The positive side of this situation is that it has made all of us a little more accountable for our own development and upskilling. More employees have taken online learning and development courses last year to level up the value they bring to their organization.

A KPMG report found that CEOs view talent risk as the top threat to growth thanks to the pandemic, and “building skills and critical competencies” is the top priority in 2021 for 68% of HR leaders, according to Gartner. What’s more, Deloitte data found that more than half of respondents indicated that anywhere from 50%-100% of employees will need to change their skills over the coming three years.

For this, the organizations need to build a system of continuous learning and skill development within the organization. The leaders would need to the development of their team members and enable them to remain employable and relevant.

3. The remote working trend

Prior to COVID there were many organizations who were really not open to the remote way of working, there were leaders who were reluctant towards the flexible way of working. But 2020 has changed it all, where irrespective of industry or function, every one, overnight, had to work remotely. This created an awareness that remote working is possible without dilution of productivity.Now the home is the new hub or the office for so many employees, irrespective of gender or generation.

Gallup data shows that 65% of workers would prefer to continue working from home post-COVID.

Similarly, IBM found that nearly 85% of respondents surveyed in the middle of 2020 wanted to work at home in some capacity after lockdowns lifted, with 58% saying they wanted their main way of working to be remote.

Also if the organizations want to attract young talent they have to be open about the work from home way of working not as an emergency but as a norm.

Hence it would be prudent for the leaders and the organization to accept this reality and move forward, considering remote working a way of life.

4. Understanding the market and adapting change mindset

If we talk about the economic and social changes that took place, the year 2020 has been tumultuous in that context. There has been a huge shift in consumer behavior across products and sectors. Everyone is more concerned about their safety now.

To stay relevant and to keep your business going, you need to be aware of the evolving consumer trends, and open to innovate. And for that you need to be open for diverse inputs from diverse team members. Inclusive leadership and an open mindset, willing ness to change and evolve will be needed to meet the needs of an evolving market place.

5. Going digital a little more

Digitization has been in trend from quite some time now but last year its demand has taken a huge shift. Because of COVID, we have fast-forwarded 5 years of the adoption of the digital lifestyle. The digital behavior and adoption that has happened because of COVID now would have taken 5 years in a normal course of time.

According to KPMG, 77% of CEOs surveyed will “build on their use of collaboration and communication tools” and 67% are more likely to invest in technology, compared to 33% investment in worker skills.

Similarly, the 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report found that “introducing digital collaboration platforms” is the most important factor in sustaining this new way to work.

Virtual way of working is no longer a supplementary area, it has become the primary driver for most of the businesses nowadays and hence it is very crucial to adapt to this to succeed in the coming years.

6. The remote way of performance management

Performance management in 2021 will be unlike any of the years before.In 2021 it will be one the most crucial aspect of leadership. This year, it will not be just about business results of 2020, but more about resilience demonstrated, upholding of company culture, values demonstrated, and constructive feedback and enabling on how to win 2021.

7. Building Psychological safety in teams

Teams being physically apart have a huge effect on the psychological safety and morale of employeesand hence affecting their productivity. Research shows us time and again that more engaged employees directly translate into higher performing employees. Curiosity, empathy and transparency in every micro-response as a leader, having interactions that are not just work related but also interpersonal will go a long way in strengthening team bonds and psychological safety of team members and make them feel included, safe to contribute, challenge and learn.

Ina virtual environment, regular team meeting, quick check-ins, providing training opportunities or maybe providing a little extra support to those in need of support will really help in driving high performance team culture.

This pandemic has bought on a huge shift in our way of working, opened up a lot of challenges but also on the positive side it has prompted all of us to think out of the box and had provided us with the learning opportunities. As leaders we now have a great opportunity to create a future we want for our organization, and for ourselves. It’s up to us, what path we chart out for ourselves.

Read more

Virtual Onboarding – a different perspective to include

The face of how we work has shifted dramatically in the last few months due to the ever-evolving COVID-19 global pandemic. With timelines remaining indefinite and an undoubtedly “new normal” settled, we are in a space where we need to adopt new tools and strategies to make remote working environments feasible and effective. The pandemic has upended many of our traditional business processes — including employee on-boarding.

The COVID pandemic has pushed many companies to choose remote working as a norm. IT infrastructure is in fact allowing employees to work from home indefinitely. Hence it will be very important for companies to create a structured on-boarding plan specifically for the remote employees to seamlessly integrate them into the organisation.

The first day at a job is overwhelming for most employees with new workspace, new team, new technology and systems. The feeling is more conspicuous in case of a new employee in a virtual work scenario.

As the saying goes, “first impression is the last impression”; what the employee experiences during the first few months plays a big role on the employee’s success and the first tryst with inclusion in the organisation. Here are some of the approaches to an effective on-boarding programme for your remote workforce.

1.    Celebrate new beginnings – While the logistical elements of on-boarding like Laptop, ID card, Email Id, Login ID & passwords are what every company provides, it’s key to start by welcoming new joinees to the team. Kick off a successful remote on-boarding experience by sending a virtual introduction about your new team member to the company, sharing a little bit about who they are, and how they will be contributing. This will help your new employees feel connected to the company and empowered to create effective working relationships with their peers.

2.    Get some Face Time – During remote on-boarding, all meetings with your new employee should be done over video call to establish a face-to-face personal connection. It’s pretty impossible to completely replace in person connections, but it’s worth a shot until your new hires are back in the office again. Do remote team building activities like trivia or a happy hour where everyone joins with their own beverage from home and or just be in their own skin.

3.    Set Clear Expectations – Once you’ve established an interpersonal connection with your new employee and the team, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of remote on-boarding. Create a new-hire checklist that details everything your employee needs to know to be successful within their role. A training schedule should be developed along with time to check-in with your remote team member to see how they’re progressing and answer any questions they might have. It can be tough to know what makes a new boss happy in general, even more so when starting remotely. Clear expectations will help your new hires start off on the right foot. That’s kind of the whole point of on-boarding in the first place, right?

4.    Set 30/60/90 days’ Goals – When on-boarding remote employees, the main difference is that you may have to create a more detailed list of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there, so nothing gets missed. Bear in mind that not being in the same physical space, or even the same time zone, might make new hires feel uncomfortable about asking questions via email or instant messaging. Attempt to be proactive and share a plan in advance with respect to the 30, 60 and 90 days goals.

5.    Virtual Buddy – The main challenges faced by a remote workforce is apart from feeling a sense of isolation & not knowing their team members, they don’t know whom to approach when they have questions. While the manager – employee relationship is still building, they may want to have someone from their peer group who can help them. Have a team buddy to pair up with the new joinee whom they can approach in the first few months for questions regarding the company culture, values, policies, or any other query they might have for which they may be hesitant to approach their manager. This helps immensely in team building and motivating the new hires to work as a part of the team towards common goals.

6.    Feedback – Feedback is very crucial to the entire process. Work out a detailed feedback form that can be filled by the new employees after 1, 3 and 12 months describing their experience with the company and the teams. The feedback received from the new employees provides a fresh perspective and helps you better your on-boarding programme for the future employees.

7.    Manager’s Role in building Psychological safety of the new joinee- The role of the Manager in ensuring that the new joinee settles down in the company, in the team, is comfortable with his deliverables, can approach him/her with concerns is critical. Ensuring all Managers are trained and enabled to build Psychological safety in teams would be key to not only successful new joinee induction but overall team productivity.

According to a study by BCG, companies with an effective on-boarding process for new hires showed 2.5 times more revenue growth and 1.9 times more profit margin. On-boarding cultivates new hires to be “part of the team.” Done well, it can also supercharge new employee productivity by boosting motivation and job satisfaction from day one. Inclusion begins from the first day of Employee Lifecycle; when everyone is included, everyone wins.

Read more

What does it take to reshape the rules, for ourselves, and those around us?

As we explore possibilities while planning our way forward when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion, we often forget the people who put their entire life in making the dream of a diverse and inclusive world a reality in their own ways. In this article, let’s celebrate wins of each and every woman who chose to challenge status quo, chose to speak up, chose to change to rules of the game, and unflinchingly went after what she aspired for and made us all proud.

We have lots of examples- From Indra Nooyi, to Phogat girls, to Mary Kom, to Mithali Raj, to Kiran bedi, Kiran Mzumdar Shaw, Arundhati Roy, and not to forget all the strong successful women who came on our International women’s day Choose to challenge interview series, Riya Dalvi, Kaushiki Srivastava, Pooja Jauhari, Ira Singhal, Megha Mukhija, Bina Pillai, Shauravi Mallik, Tina Vinod, Ruchi Jain and Apoorva Purohit.

Each one of them chose to Challenge and reshaped the rules, and carved a space for themselves, a space they aspired for, a space they dreamt of. Each one of them had a story, faced their own challenges and overcame them. None of them had success served on a platter. They worked for it, even fought for it, struggled for it.

So what does it take to reshape the rules, for ourselves, and those around us? Sharing some insights from the conversation with Apurva Purohit.

It all starts with having the courage to listen to your heart. For each one of us, success can mean different things, and there are no right or wrong answers, but we have the right to choose our own path, unencumbered by societal pressures or expectations.

Next is the perseverance required to stay the course. As we navigate through life, well, life happens. Marriage, children, balancing two careers, elderly care, menopause…and all of these pit stops come up as obstacles. Many women fall off the course at one of these pit stops. Those who are able to navigate have Grit, laser focus on the dream they started with, and the will to ask for help when needed.

Another pertinent question often asked is- can women have it all? Well, the answer is yes, women can have it all. They simply have to define their all and not aim to be perfectionists at everything. Also remember, they will achieve success in different things at different phases in life and that is ok. No one’s life is a straight upward trajectory- whether personal or professional, there are always peaks and troughs.

For women at leadership levels, caught between a wall and a hard rock- on one side if they are tough they are seen as too aggressive and bossy, and if they are empathetic, they are too soft and not leadership material. A simple way to beat this conundrum is to remove the element of gender from leadership and approach each situation on it merit and deal with it the way it deserves. Be tough where it is needed, be empathetic and nurturing where needed, and don’t pay heed to perceptions.

An extremely structured and insightful conversation.

Let’s also look at the journeys of a few women who began to challenge the norms and led to reshaping the rules for not just themselves but for a number of people who shared the same dream. Here I would like to share the names four women whose journeys have inspired other women to pursue their dreams and continue to work towards it (this list isn’t exhaustive as there are many more):

1.      Dr Vina Mazumdar – Dr. Vina Mazumdar was one of the first women to be involved in the ‘twin movements’ of Women’s Studies and Women’s Activism. She spent most of her time understanding the diverse experiences of women in the patriarchal system across India. Through her research, she and her colleagues realized that there wasn’t any widespread knowledge about lived experiences of underprivileged women, thus leading to the advent of the Centre For Women’s Development Studies (CWDS), in 1980. In 1982, Dr Vina Mazumdar became a founding member of the Indian Association of Women’s Studies (IAWS), which conducts national conferences to promote Women’s Studies, even to this day. (R, 2019)


2.      Ela Bhatt – One of the prominent women working for the empowerment of the gender, Ela Bhatt founded SEWA – Self-Employed Women’s Association of India in the year 1972. Not only this, she painstakingly works towards causes of international labor and is a part of several cooperative, women, and micro-finance movements. She is particularly known for her involvement with The Elders’ Initiative which is all about the equality for girls and women. Due to her efforts, she was also honored with the Global Fairness Initiative Award in 2010 and awarded the Radcliffe Medal and the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development in 2011. (De, 2018)


3.      Pooja Goel – Pooja is the founder of Pink Collar Professionals, she has worked at corporates like Infosys and Edgeverve Systems for three years before pursuing an MBA in Sales & Marketing in 2018. During her time at IMT Ghaziabad, she developed an interest in startups and devoted time to understanding and learning about the processes involved in becoming an entrepreneur. Exploring the startup ecosystem and attending multiple women-oriented summits, it became evident to Pooja that women in the startup ecosystem played a very small part in the larger picture. This gap in ideal numbers led her to come with the idea of Pink Collar Professionals – a platform to help women entrepreneurs. Through PCP, Pooja helps women entrepreneurs chart plans for their success, transform their businesses to go digital and scale successfully. In a span of just three months, Pooja has assisted 34 women entrepreneurs to understand their businesses better and has successfully helped 12 women to work on digital transformation. She is currently providing a three-month mentorship to four businesses. She has been working with entrepreneurs from various sectors including edtech, online healthcare, gifting, clothing, and handmade jewelry. (Gowthaman, 2020)


4.      Ragini Das – Ragini Das along with Anand Sinha, both ex-Zomato executives, have launched Leap, a platform helps mid-career women climb the ladder and reach leadership positions. Initially, available to members in the Delhi-NCR region, the powerful private network will later be open to women from all over India. Leap’s target audience is women in the 30-35 age group who are at the mid-career level. While they have currently chosen 30 founding members, there are 2,000 people on its waitlist, from companies like Google, Netflix, McKinsey & Co., Amazon, Uber, Zomato, BCG, and Teach for India. Apart from one-on-one offline connect meets, the membership also offers therapy sessions and the opportunity to be part of a 15-member peer group that meets every two months. It will have a Speaker Series, where it will bring in industry icons for smaller, intimate sessions. (Gowthaman, 2020)

Taking the examples of the lived realities of the above-mentioned women we also learn how women who have stood up for themselves have also become a powerful force in not just reshaping the rules but also have become strong allies and sponsors for many women just like themselves.

Would love to hear more stories from the readers who are reading this, on how the journey and work of a few individuals have helped them in reshaping their ways of thinking about inclusion and diversity.

Read more

Are we willing to truly bite the bullet ?

Is it too difficult to accept that its absolutely fine if “women cannot have it all”? Every individual lives in a unique context within which they operate and make their decisions and choices. Individuals should be able to exercise their agency to choose with dignity and reasonable responsibility. Respecting and understanding their context is a basic sign of humaneness and humanity. When we talk about humans it includes every individual no matter what label or category one may be put in, be it women, men, LGBTQIA+, persons with disability, belonging to a particular ethnic or social background etc. We must not forget a person is a human first.

There is a need to relax, slow down and reflect on where have we reached with our utopian ideas of perfection, idealism and aggression – with the concept of “having it all”?

Is it for the progress of all or is it for the benefit of an agenda or is it just for the gain of a handful of people? Is our fight systemic and sustainable? When it comes to women we often question – How could anyone voluntarily leave the circles of power for the responsibilities of parenthood or elder care or self-care?

Our perception of creating an equal playing field for all is a dream that still needs a lot of on groundwork to be done. There are often major discussions on policies for period leaves and maternity and paternity leaves. The next area we are talking about now is menopause, but are we aware menopause happens for both men and women with varying degrees.

We talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion at workplaces. Protests for equal rights and equal wages for women were started long back and still going on. Men and women are not equal in terms of biological aspects. Women and men face biological challenges in different degrees and levels of their life stages.

Having said this, we often question – do organizations have policies to take care of their women employees? How far the organizations and workplaces are willing to take time to understand the life stages that can impact balancing professional and personal life for women? This is not a matter of generalization but requires a deep understanding when it comes to decision making on policies and career progression for employees, especially for women.

Keeping the above view in mind, there is also a question on whether policies are really accessible to every woman in a fair, just and equitable manner? Or do they have to work forcefully to protect their jobs during these challenging life stages? Every woman faces monthly menstruation cycles and at later stage menopause around the age of 40 to 50 years. During this life stage woman face a series of severe health complications at the physical, mental, emotional and social level, these changes impact self-esteem, energy levels, mental wellbeing for women which can interfere with their productive work. Can a woman take a leave or get some flexible working conditions to manage these situations?

Organisations in countries like the United Kingdom have started making menopause policy then why organisation in India are still skirting around such pertinent issues. For organizations that have not dedicated themselves to the benefit of women in these aspects of their lives such as menstruation, maternity, and menopause etc., then the inclusion of women employees in such organizations will continue to be a challenge. Such organisations will be dealing with the issue of the leaking bucket at a symptomatic level and not at the root level.

Data says:

  • As per research the age at which menopause naturally occurs may reflect nutritional and environmental circumstances as well as genetic factors.
  • There is evidence that a proportion of women also experienced or are experiencing early menopause which may represent an overall indicator of women’s health.
  • In general, natural menopause occurs between 45 and 55 years of age.
  • Concerns have been expressed that rates of premature menopause (before age 40 yrs.) are high in India and maybe increasing in certain sections of the population. For example, the Indian National Family Health Survey (NFHS-2) showed that 3.1 per cent of women in the age group of 30-34 yrs. and 8.0 per cent among 35-39 yrs. age groups were hitting the menopausal stage. (Pallikadavath, 2016)

Every year we celebrate World Menopause Day on 18th October. Yet a number of us fail to understand the need for women to pay attention to their health at this stage of life. This is crucial as its impact is not only on their physical health but also their emotional and mental health.

It is at this age where women are often left with the dilemma to choose between their personal, family and professional responsibilities. At this stage, a number of women are also beginning or preparing themselves for the leadership journey. Such instances are indicators that the challenges for men and women are very different during their different life stages and this must be taken into consideration before judging an individual’s personal and professional choices.

Let’s choose to challenge our judgments when it comes to women taking a stand for their need to pay attention to their health or the need to choose their personal life over professional progress. If we look in deep, the reasons for these choices do not need to be questioned as the answers lie right in front of us.

Read more