Even a dog knows when he is kicked or tumbled!


I recall a story narrated by a columnist a decade ago of a man who had given up on life and the metaphysical aspects of it and decides to walk in the direction of a mountain. The weather is extreme and biting cold and he is not adequately clothed with only a muffler, an overcoat and box of matches. When he decided to take this directionless journey, a street dog starts following him. Now this man is involved with his own emotional turmoil and notices the dog following him after a long time when they are in thick of forest and gloom and shoos him away but the dog is relentless and keeps following him regardless of the inclement weather and surroundings. Now to cut the story short, the dog keeps on following him and the man gives up and decides that he cannot live and survive any longer and decides to take a final nap more so due to exhaustion and bitter cold. Please note that meanwhile he has used all matchstick and cannot ignite any fire to keep him warm but the dog is still hanging around at a safe distance with him despite his constant rebuke and orders to go back. At this juncture he goes into a slumber with a thought that he will never wake up alive to see another dawn. In his sleep he dreams of killing an animal in the forest and recalls that a dead animal’s intestine is warm and if applied to the affected portion of human body can cure frost bites and an ultimate cure for numbness in extreme cold conditions. He wakes up with a start and sees the dog still sitting there braving the cold. Now he has a different motive and calls the dog over to him BUT to his surprise the dog does not respond and swiftly trots in the forest. The dog could read his intentions.

Moral of the story: It is the communication of intention and an element of trust which makes the difference. You exhibit intentions and trust not by words alone but your deeds and actions.
This is what happens in corporate life. Intention and trust are two important pillars of any institution. If there is a trust deficit between the management and employees, it can lead to a gradual and then aggressive disengagement. This culminates into strikes, slowdowns and sabotage which can cause severe damage in terms of credibility and loss of profits which has a long term impact. To conclude, it is intention which counts. It is better to be forthright but avoid making commitments which you cannot fulfill.

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Smart Phones vis a vis Smart Employees

About 15 years ago, all the appointment ads look for smart employees and it became quite a fashion in those days talking about smart employees v/s the hardworking employees. It is become quite clichéd now but by the advent of smart phones in the last few years I thought of probing this further and compare the two different sides of the corporate world where both smart phones and smart employees are unavoidable.

Now what are Smart Phones? Simply stated, phones which have computing capability or which can be used like a computer. The gadget is compact but visually appealing. Smart phones also have a definite fun factor. The users enjoy fiddling with the instrument and the more they use it opens out and becomes interesting.
Like all employees, employers are also aspirational in their approach. In fact, almost all employers are looking for those invisible smart employees. Now when you look for smart employees, what is your expectation or what is the trait or skill set you are looking for? At this stage, it would be appropriate to make a well meaning comparison of smart phones with the smart employees. The smart phone users find the operation very interesting and at the same time their work is accomplished with speed and efficiency. Moreover, you can use the instrument even if you are on the move.

Another highlight of the smart phone is that the users more often than not extend their brief and do more than what they intend to do initially. The kinds of Apps which are present in almost all the smart phones are very engaging and compel you to be creative and think out of the box at the same time. You’re constantly unlearning yourself and at the same time learning more than you asked for. And finally, the smart phone users will observe that the Apps are being continuously upgraded and updated and despite the fact that you are in a virtual world, you feel involved and connected 24×7. This is what smart phones do to you.

Let’s compare the two:
1. Like smart phones, smart employees should really enjoy what they do i.e. fun factor.
2. Smart employee should be fast in execution and fairly intelligent to preempt situations and anticipate what can go wrong and right. Here this as a parallel with smart phones which make your job facile.
3. Smart Employees do more than what they are expected to do or asked. I mean they stretch themselves which is a distinct sign of engagement with the company and its policies and what it stands for. If you have all these attributes you also have to be creative or think out of the box which smart phones do.
4. Finally, like smart phones; smart employees are willing to upgrade and update themselves at all time with the new process, technologies, attitudes and skill sets. This is exactly what the smart phones do as you would have noticed that Apps are being continuously updated to match the ever increasing demand of the users.

Now the question which dodges all employers is in what proportion the organization should have smart employees in the task force. Now this is a loaded question, if you have all employees who are smart then what happens to the projects where you need lot of hard work and patience to make the delivery. Therefore, we can have organizations that have smart employees and a mix of not so smart like the ordinary phones you get in the market which have enhanced battery backups and longer span of life than the smart phones. In this corporate world, there is place for everyone but it is the ideal mix which is a challenge for all corporate employers.

So next time when you recruit, know exactly what you want and take the decision accordingly.

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When do you need HR ?

My counter question is “when do you go to the dentist? The answer though clichéd but appropriate in a typical Indian context and mindset is, “when you are unable to eat or chew”. In western countries the population is more aware and besides cosmetic changes, preventive check of teeth is in built in their systems. In India going to dentist for preventive check up is not prevalent. You only go to a dentist when you stop eating or cannot take pain any further. Once sorted, you go around your merry ways & devouring all food which comes your way & wait for the next time the pain emerges or you are unable to eat your favourite food.

So with HR, all companies or organizations resort to HR when either day to day managing your people gets out of bound or when the unions starts calling the shots or when the best employee leaves or you are not able to increase productivity or employees leave at a moment’s notice or you realize the quality of people in the organization is below average and would stifle growth or in a nutshell, things go out of hand. HR is always a last priority; this mindset baffles most the management experts and authors as any top management can read the signals but instead of nipping in the bud they wait for the situation to go out of hand and then there is a rush to set up the HR. Is this mindset OK in the current business scenario? The answer is an emphatic ‘No’ but why the companies procrastinate or defer setting up the HR Department but instead focus more on a make shift Administration department which also caters to personnel functions to fulfil the statutory obligations or vice versa i.e. Personnel department which fulfils the administration duties as well.

This stands true for all SMEs which I have studied in last 10 years.

But why the top management defers the decision despite growing awareness and much talk about the role of HR which includes training and employee development. I think it is the “fear of Unknown” or in most cases; the cost implications. I mean there is always money to diffuse the situations created by unions or recruit new people or placate sections of employees by giving cash incentives but when it comes to investing in HR, there is a great hesitation which more to do with the mindset than anything else. ‘First aid’ is never a cure.

It is due to the role of HR that unions now are on the fringe and battling for survival. HR implies more productivity and more retention. Organizations which have spent on HR are the organizations which have grown and thrived. HR is not an expense but an investment. It is only due to strong HR practices and strategic HR that many regional players are able to successfully compete in the national and global market. Stay with me and think as it is the quality of people which bring about the difference.

It’s high time that the promoters and top management start revisiting their mindset and open to the changes. It is not foolish to make a mistake but it is only foolish when you repeat it.

Do give me your inputs.

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If a dog bites you, do you bite it back?



The answer is of course ‘NO’. It is all about our own attitude and how we deal with situations. In corporate life or for that matter in our own lives, we are provoked to a degree where the outrage can take different forms. There are people who keep a diary or an account like in business of people who have to be dealt with to settle the scores. But my question is whether it is worth it? Just think about it for a while. Suppose a colleague or your immediate boss has been manipulative in your judgement or plain nasty in group situations and you feel that you are being always targeted by him and he is always there to nail you. And you now had enough of it and decide to teach him a lesson and settle scores for good.

How do you go about it as vendettas in professional hemisphere are different than settling personal scores? In personal life you can be physical and may be hire goons to give a beating which he would remember throughout his life but in Corporate environment don’t even think about unless you plan to quit the job for good.

How do you deal with such situations? I know of a colleague who was at a senior level and somehow did not like an individual who was next in line but competent and a threat to him to take his role. He started bad mouthing him and deprecating him in private and in professional gatherings where he was not around. When such an onslaught is being done consistently you as an outsider and not directly connected gets a feeling that there is obviously a clash of egos and a fight between two colleagues over “who is closer to the management and who takes the credit”. This continued for four months and the tirade became aggressive and personal. In this process, his own performance and acceptability suffered. And it is he who resigned and the other person as per my last information was doing quite professionally.

Now when you go for such planned tirade or onslaught what happens is that you deplete your own energy which is mostly negative and stop focusing in your own work. In a nutshell, you forget your core strengths and become a negative person. Is it worth it? Moreover, when you criticize someone all the time, it also reflects on you as a person. With all humility I would suggest all of you whether in senior or junior position is to desist from making any ‘critical’ sound and in worst of situation try and talk to the person concerned. I mean take it ‘head on’ as more often than not there could be miscommunication or misunderstanding but this initiative will keep things in check.

To quote Dale Carnegie, “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding & forgiving” Unquote.

Also when colleagues and senior people talk about you, it means you are creating a flutter and doing something. Have you heard a person talk about anyone who keeps a low profile and just does what is told? He is just there but you are onto something.

I would like to end with this quote from Churchill, “You have enemies? Good. That means you have stood for something, sometime in your life”.

Therefore, take things in a stride. Ignore and grudge nothing. If you know your job and you are delivering, you will get what you want. Do not ever fall into the trap of settling the scores. “Don’t bite back the Dog”.  

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My sincere apologies for the comparison but in a professional environment when you hire a competent professional and pay him rather well, then why do you have to intrude in his domain? It is all about the empowerment and trust you bestow on your Senior Managers and potential Leaders. This message goes out to all promoter CEO’s who despite the lack of their professional expertise and domain knowledge cannot entrust the job to their handpicked senior professionals. I know of a very senior manager who confessed that in the prevailing corporate culture “I don’t think I’ll be allowed to make a single decision in the next two years.” This person left in 6 months. To grow big is an urge which everyone of us is smitten with and we all want to have our hands in every pie. This is true for most promoter driven companies striving to be big. When you are small you sniff at all functions and domains.


Today the small players are emerging and want to share space with Big Ticket enterprises and want to follow the growth chart and organization design and absorb them into their own functioning. But it is so difficult to leave the style of functioning! When you are small, you handle all the verticles viz. finance, accounts, sales, marketing, production, quality control, PR & liasoning and above all HR. Do you recall the ‘Seth’ or Mill Owner of yesteryears who was a perfect HR Manager? He took care of all the needs of his Staff i.e. getting their children educated, getting their daughter married and finally on his retirement (which was not as per age but physical ability) building his house. What more an employee wants from his employer? This is what we call HR now!


But in today’s context, when you are on the threshold of making it Big or entering the Big League, you have to let it go. When you hire a professional let him / her perform his duties and make decisions. S/he may falter but learn & remember the times you made a rank bad decision but since you were a promoter, you could get away and tried a different routemap till you succeeded!


What I want to drive home is that when you hire a competent and professional manager; let him / her take the call. You define the vision and mission & let him/her decide the route map. If you interfere and poke him all the time then it is just like Having the Dog but Barking Yourself! Empower them and give them space. You can always specify the Key Result Areas but give him / her resources to achieve the milestone because you have selected him for his capabilities and experience. Let him do the barking!

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Every Dog is not a Doberman !

From the employer point of view, every employee, existing or potential should be an ace all in all aspects and a clone of Lord Hanuman. Besides being well groomed with a good background, h/she should be loyal, committed and should give in his/her 100% at all times. In fact I’ve run out of adjectives and idioms to further describe the wish list of the management / employers. In other words you need a Doberman who is fiercely loyal and puts himself first in all threatening situations.

But in real life is it that Simple..!
The answer is a categorical ‘NO’ as every employee is different with a different skill set and attitudes. These so called soft skills go through a paradigm shift in terms of approach, passion and ambition.

Now going back to my ‘Doberman’ theory: as you have an option of dogs with different attitudes and inherent attributes to pick one or more as pet depending upon what you want from your dog. For example: If you want a cuddly variety, a doormat looking for attention, you have a different species and if you want a sniffer dog or a hunting dog or a security dog or just a warning dog, you have options. Sometimes you just want a dog as a status symbol in India. You can have your pick from a St. Bernard or a Mastiff but a St. Bernard in Switzerland and now in Germany is used to sniff and find people buried in snow. Therefore the objective can be different for keeping a dog or hiring an employee.

Having said that when we pick an employee we should set our objectives clear in terms i.e. what we want from him/her. And also we must utilise the core strength of the existing employees. You cannot have everything in one individual as you cannot have a pack all Dobermans and all pugs for that matter. As in a game of chess where every chess piece has its own characteristic strong or weak but we cannot have all the Queens and all the Knights. Every piece has its own part to play otherwise the game would lose the excitement. Therefore in a corporate world we have different employees with different attitudes and skill sets. The onus is on us as employers to take the maximum out of them. To take this further, for example in a project situation, you need a person for back office, another person with strong PR to address all external and environment management issues, another person who keeps check on finances and someone who is task oriented and an implementer. Now everyone in the team may not be good communicator or a people person or good with figures or technically competent or someone who knows the legal and procedural side. I remember of a client who had a Recovery Manager with a great personality and an imposing presence but truly a dimwit. And believe me he was great in his job as he rarely opened his mouth (It really did not matter even if he did) but his presence in the customer office had a jarring impact. Moreover he could sit expressionless for hours together without a murmur or any sign of discomfiture, but at the end of the day his recovery target was achieved. And though it might be a revelation but to this date Employers in African continent insist on employees with better physique and a tall frame irrespective of the function more so when you are required to lead a team.

In a nutshell, despite our high expectations as employers, I think we should introduce rationality in our decisions and allocate jobs which suit a particular employee or a profile. In fact we need different skill sets and attitudes for leadership positions and maybe entirely a different skill sets for executive jobs. The success rests on our decisions to put the right person on the job. For example; when we constitute a Project Team, we need Team Players who can work in a group which requires, patience, perseverance, resilience and above all listening and respecting contrary opinions.

So, every dog cannot be a Doberman and every Doberman cannot be a ‘Lap Dog’.

PS: My apologies for the comparisons but it is more so for driving the point home. It implies no disrespect for human species which I am proud to be part of. But all said and done “more I see the man more I love my dog”

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What is Guerrilla HR Tactic?

In guerrilla warfare there are small, very mobile and empowered teams who through unconventional methods achieve the desired results within a stipulated time frame. Time is the key along with commitment and knowledge of local culture and sensitivities. The task force has to be focussed on results. Methods could be different for different regions or territories. This tactic is more prevalent in advertisement and marketing where companies have used disruptive campaigns to engage customer’s big time. The advantage of such tactics is more prevalent in new and upcoming companies which do not have deep pockets and they have no option but to resort to unconventional methods to have a maximum impact i.e. they don’t have to break the bank and the impact is registered at very personal and memorable levels. There could be many examples but which comes to my mind is hoarding of an advertising company depicting a picture of an ugly pot bellied male gradually undressing himself in with a caption “The sooner you advertise here, The better “The idea was that if you want to avoid seeing the ad again place your own advertisement. This had an impact.

Now to transport this concept to human resource and organizations wanting to practice HR, we have come out with an innovative practical approach which is pocket friendly. This approach will provide time bound solutions for small and medium sized organizations which are poised for the next level.

The methodology and execution
In guerrilla tactic, foremost, is the clarity of objective which should be precise and has to be discussed and finalized with the help of Management and Leadership team. A task force of 2-4 people is made to carry out the objective. The consulting team works closely with the task force to design an organizational structure which is simple and transparent . This would be documented for records. Here the key is the ‘Task Force’ which is required to work in tandem with the consulting team to achieve the objectives. It implies the training of task force and absolute clarity of objective. At this point specific and customised HR interventions are planned which are personal and close to the heart of employees.

This task force has to be empowered and should have access to all information required to complete the task. During this formative phase, the top management should be kept in the loop at all stages.

Once the roadmap is in shape, the outsourced consultants withdraw partially and would only intervene if it is deviating from the course.

The Time Frame:
a. From the start to the finish, It should take 90 days to handover the HR Roadmap to the Task Team. This would normally include 7 days for the environmental scan which besides zeroing in on the objective also has the very important task of selecting the task force which would take the HR Processes to its logical end. The speed of execution is the key.

b. After 90 days, the consultants practically withdraw but monitor the progress for the next 90 days for hiccups if any or for any course corrections.

c. After this spell, the option is with the management to continue with the consultants on a retainer ship basis or can decide to go ‘Solo’.

Finally, the success of any HR intervention depends a lot on the management intent for a change and in guerrilla HR it has to be in fifth gear. If you are an emerging organization and have budget constraints, Guerrilla HR is the way out to built a structure and then build on it when the time is right and ripe and the pocket is accommodative.

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Holi with your Boss!

Have you imagined yourself going to your bosses’ house out of courtesy and social etiquette to wish him a colorful HOLI. Maybe yes maybe NO but it would be an interesting decision if you decide to take the plunge. I am suggesting neither but I have very entertaining anecdotes to share with you.

Way back in 80’s when I was junior executive working in a top MNC which had a British Coo who was a great host and celebrated all Indian festival with a big heart. For us junior lot, the draw was nice food and cold beer and off course going to the coos house and the prospect of sharing some informal moments with him . Now my peer group decided to go ahead and take the challenge led by one of one of our senior officer who was professional HOLI player with an experience of playing HOLI with BOSSES.I was jittery and nervous but went on with the flow nevertheless. Now our leader though a family man was enterprising and gave us instructions to be fearless as It is HOLI and on this day hierarchies do not matter. He was specific with his orders “relax and enjoy yourself and don’t be shy and play HOLI as you do”. Now this Coo had a British wife who that fateful day was informally dressed and I would say dressed’ inappropriately’. I distinctly recall it was around 10.30 in the morning and she was wearing her night dress. To cut the story short our leader instructed us junior officers to splash water on her. We were rather hesitant and embarrassed by his audacious request and did not respond and looked the other way. This did not dissuade him and he on his own decided to throw a bucket of water despite the lady trying to stop him from doing so. What followed was a mini mayhem and what he received was a volley of abuses from the lady herself who was exposed like the leading ladies of Rajkapoor movies. But this did not ruffle our senior a bit and he did not give up but an intervention at the right time by another of his senior colleague saved the day and with this we lost out on the good food and the cold beer. But what I know for sure his progress in the organization came to a halt. In fact there was no promotion or increment for next 3 years. A very big prize to pay for playing HOLI !

Next year the same gentleman my not so senior now (as I was getting the promotions but he was not) was involved in another HOLI misadventure. An Indian British CFO had joined and was housed in the company guest house who incidentally was my immediate BOSS. Again the repeat of last year but in this case the new CFO was physically manhandled in pretext of holi and different colours (not the organic ones which you get now) were splashed and smeared on all his exposed body parts. I remember the teeth were sprayed blue. Now this gentlemen who had spent his lifetime in UK was expecting civilized conduct from his subordinate staff like a handshake and maybe a tilak on his forehead and sweet talk befitting the occasion but this attack was unexpected and shocking. All this while I maintained an aloof distance but my professional HOLI player was on a different planet. He was peppy and confidently declared to all of us that ‘he will not make it to the office tomorrow as the colors will not leave him for next 3 days’. Next morning all of us were anxiously waiting for his car to arrive but my senior was confident that he cannot come with his painted red Indian face. Though I am not sure but there were side bets on his arrival. But to our surprise he came dot on time with a flushed face but no traces of paint and summoned me to his office. What he told me should be a lesson to all who want to be naughty with their bosses on holi or any other informal occasions.” I know you were there but you did not attack me as others but convey this message to your senior Mr X that he had his fun for 1 day but I will have it for next 364 days” what followed was on expected lines. Mr X was never promoted and had to leave the organization. Though I have not met him for a long time now but he will never forget his mis adventures.

Though you might find it funny reading this but was he prudent? Not at all. How can you stake your professional career for a momentary fun. I remember an urdu couplet which is apt in the context. Quote “lamho ne khata ki aur sadiyon ne sazaa payee”unquote

In corporate life you are being observed on your soft skills at all times more so at informal occasions. Be yourself but have a balanced shoulder on your head. Have a great holi !

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Hunting for a job? From the eyes of the Employer!

Hunting for a job? From the eyes of the Employer!
Beside the domain knowledge and special skill set required for a specific job, the employers look for people who are reliable. In other words, the employee should have clean records and should not have taken an unfair advantage out of a particular situation. One glaring example is of an MNC who had to recruit a CEO for their operations in South East Asia. The person short listed had excellent credentials with an MBA Degree from Stanford and great experience and reference. The entire interview board was in his favor except for the HRD consultant who gave him a “Big Zero”. The recruitment Board members asked him the reason for his stance. His answer was “This man cannot be relied on”. In fact he left his previous employer when they needed him the most. Moreover he had a track record of leaving organization in a short span before his impact was even registered. In my opinion reliability and strength of character would be on top of my list. Attitude of an employee is another clinching character trait. If a candidate has a better attitude, he would be a better team player and in course of time he would make the organization a comfortable and a great place to work. Attitude is something is intrinsic to the individual and the ‘difference’ between the employees. People with positive attitude are easy to recognize. They are confident, conceptually clear and humble. A person with a positive attitude is like a fruit of all season. It is always welcome. On the other hand, people with negative attitude find it hard to keep up to job associations and relationships. Therefore attitude is the key. Next on my all time priority list is the body language and the manner of speech and voice tone. Remember the decision is taken within 15-20 minutes and if you are not able to inspire confidence in your prospective employer, it is almost curtains for you. You can always speak your mind and be forthright but all this can be done with humility and without being aggressive.
A word about “commitment”. Though literally speaking, commitment implies sacrifice of time and money but it is very important trait. Stick to your words and promises made, come what may. This would differentiate the ordinary from the great. Finally it is your job and subject knowledge and how well you are able to express and communicate your knowledge of the subject. The employees are interested to know your inclination towards the job. Do you really need the job or you have just come to assess yourself. Your attitude should reflect your interest for the job. If you are casual, the Employer can smell it and will not be interested even if you have excellent credentials. Above all, you should have a sense of humor. Smile is infectious and reflects upon your personality and the way you accept challenges. Employers also look for well rounded candidates as any service or manufacturing industry requires team activity. They do not look for extremely bright candidate but for individuals who can work smartly and contribute as a team. Rusi Mody the erstwhile Managing Director of TELCO was very fond of recruiting sportsman who in his opinion had the killer instinct and will to win.
Believe me, I have experienced very average people rising to the top and very intelligent people ending in mediocrity. Therefore it is not your qualification or education or intelligence BUT something beyond all this which will propel you into fame, recognition and Success.

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Warning Signals – your job is no more yours

Your own body, gives you sufficient warning before blacking you out. For e.g. in case of heart patients, the body gives you repeated warnings which is just like a wakeup call, which in turn means “either you improve the way, you live your life or one should expect the worst”. The same parallel can be drawn with the job in hand. Unless it is an extreme case where integrity and financial misappropriation is involved or moral debasement is the issue, the jobs can be lost within a flash. But here we are talking in terms of losing the job bit by bit progressively which could be related to various unexplained factors and one of them could be performance related. For any sensible employee, it does not take much to understand the attitude of your colleagues at work and also of your seniors. Remember, when you are doing good job and you are the blue eyed boy of your immediate boss, there are many things you can get away with. But if you are not in good books, even the routine matters can take a long route that might frustrate you. These are all warning signals.

To extend this argument further, when you are questioned on small payments which otherwise would have been acceptable, your TA/DA bills take unduly long time before they are released for payment, you are ignored in important decision making process and shouted at without any professional provocation; you are definitely in trouble. The warning signals can change from job to job and assignment to assignment. When there is a shift change in the attitude of your senior, which could be either ignoring you or surpassing you or overruling your decisions and may be giving undue importance to your juniors, one should definitely re-think your strategy and my suggestion would be to confront it and talk it out with your Boss. This is Because giving it a cold shoulder or ignoring it will not settle the issue but in course of time , the situation will deteriorate further to your disadvantage. Other situations could be a transfer to a less important assignment or assigned to a job with reduced profile and responsibility and to add fuel to fire, the existing facilities are gradually withdrawn or curtailed. For e.g. in the pretext of cost saving ; air travel is withdrawn, you have to seek approval for every financial decision and other perks are reduced. And this is not all, your daily schedule is monitored rather ruthlessly and your holidays and leave entitlements are deferred ‘SINE DIE’ i.e. indefinitely.

At this point of time, would you still hope for things to change or look for further reprimand or talk to your boss and communicate your anxieties? I strongly feel one should confront and communicate your feelings. More often than not, you will be surprised to know that it was a case of pure and unfiltered misunderstanding or if it could be something related to your conduct or attitude or performance; you would at least know where you stand and whatever may be the outcome, you will be wiser. So go ahead and talk. On the contrary, if you are in good books you can always get away with murder. So is the way of corporate life but if you have a sensible head on your shoulders, keep a low profile when the situation is bad as it is finally your performance which can bounce you back. It is just a matter of time. There are no consistent good days and there are no continuing bad spells. Have faith in yourself and improve on the shortcomings but if it is the case of personal prejudices have a heart and confront the situation or the person head on. Finally don’t take life seriously, as you cannot get out alive anyway.

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