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Continued from Previous……
We have seen various aspects of the Seth and Professional employee relationship. Apparently, there is a lot of bad blood, negativity and disconnect between the two. We really do not need to discuss more in this direction; the point is made already. We may proceed to talk about solutions.
I suggest following ways to improve the situation. Yes, both parties have to work toward it, but I expect more coming from Professionals.
Transparency – this is a fundamental requirement. A relationship evolves and thrives on transparency. What exactly is transparency? It is a mix of openness and truthfulness, both components are critical. Openness is about doing public things publicly. Things like Vision and Mission come from the top management; Objectives and Strategy come from the functional team. Objectives and Strategy is not one-sided; it is prepared and proposed by the functional management to the top management. There is a discussion and then consensus is developed.
Openness demands that all factors interplaying for Objectives and Strategy should be put on the table; from both sides. The process towards the buildup, rationale for strategy, execution plan and monitoring metrics should be shown clearly. Timelines, responsibilities and required resources should be described. The discussion should be detailed but focused. Truthfulness demands that entrepreneur should be forthcoming about his confidence level and the available resources. At times, the Seth is not fully confident with what is being proposed. It may be due to general lack of trust, or previous experience with other Professionals, or prior experience with present team. There should be no hesitation in declaring the level of confidence on the plan; confidence in people is another subject. The question of resources should be addressed openly; how and when the financial demand can be met. In order to add to confidence, milestone can be set; means the availability of resources may be linked to achievement of certain targets.
Transparency is a key element in building trust. In everyday life, we build trust early if we can see things through. If we feel there is something behind a curtain and we are not getting full picture, trust does not build. Trust is definitely not built through swearing, taking an oath, repeatedly emphasizing or other such measures.
Empathy – despite the hype around the topic, empathy is less understood; much less practiced. The ability to look at the other person’s position and understand his or her viewpoint is not natural; it needs to be developed.
Historically, we were not a cultured people universally. Being Cultured and Civilized was limited to a small section of society, not the one shown in period movies. Generally, people were less aggressive with each other. Then changes started, including but not limited to partition. The social classes, social norms, values and traditions all got mixed up. Presently in Pakistan, aggression is built into our minds. Stand at an intersection on busy roads and watch traffic. Most bikers are biking as if they are possessed by a supernatural power and are unable to control their movement. They are moving in daze. Rickshaw and Qing Qi (pronounced ching chi) drivers are overloaded with thoughts and passengers. Motorbike loader is the new monster on the road. The driver drives with an expression as if he is driving the world, not his loader. Car drivers are lost in mobile phones and don’t look at the traffic. Road traffic is a reflection of our moods and behaviors; what we see is quite telling. Tempers run high and fights erupt on petty issues quickly.
For us to develop Empathy is a hard effort, but worth doing.
The Professional would do well to understand and appreciate the grueling effort that the Seth has put in to develop the business from scratch. For the largest majority, it is an extremely rough ride. Yes, he can be comfortable now that the business has developed and stabilized, but actually not. Medium sized businesses always have the threat of getting vanished, with changes in regulatory framework or technological changes. Just look at the Nutraceutical business. It was booming, rather raging, without any policy given by government. Entrepreneurs started and made millions quickly and kept doing so for some years. Then came the HOTC policy and killed many of these. It is not under discussion as to what was right or not right; the fact is that business stopped overnight. The Seth therefore mostly lives on the edge. Besides regulations, the regulators are a cause of fear, with their shenanigans. Along with money, the Seth collects hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, paranoia and OCD over the years. Empathy requires that allowance be given for these facts.
The Seth would do well to understand and appreciate the difficulties of Professional. He has worked hard to make a career because it gives him status, money, and lifestyle. For reaching this stage, he has invested his best years and best efforts. He has not collected money, but has collected hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, generalized anxiety disorder and bipolar disorder. For senior professional, the most energetic, young years are gone past and he may be looking for somewhat less exertion. He has however, taken responsible, calculated risks and has proved his dependability. The Professional deserves to be judged on his skills, his wisdom and evidence of performance, not on extraneous factors.
Empathy will bring a lot of positive vibes, pleasant environment, will to work, engagement and high performance.
Patience – Patience is a virtue anywhere and in any situation. Wait a little, and see the scenario changing, may be totally opposite to previous one. The Professional may have a tendency to label the Seth as ‘that someone’ after a few encounters. He adjusts his behavior accordingly and keeps dealing in the same perspective. Every situation is different and should be handled individually. Seeking approvals and resources may take time. The Seth needs to exercise patience in getting things done.
Patience is not equal to negligence or compromise or lowering expectations. It is only about giving adequate time.
The entrepreneur Seth and the employee Professional are integral to business. The quality, congeniality and closeness of their working is directly proportional to the outcome. Let us make efforts to bring more positivity in this relationship.