My first exposure to systematic thinking and organizing was during my elder sister's marriage, where I was required to bear the entire responsibility of handling the marriage arrangements, since my elder brother was out of India, and, not in a position to travel. I was very young - had just passed my graduation and thus bore no exposure to organizing such a complex event. And, this was some 44 years ago, a time when contractors had not mastered the art of providing end to end services for such events.
From groceries to wedding cards, everything had to be obtained independently from different sources. The marriage halls were just providing for the decoration and the cooking. Since my parents were fairly old, I had to take the lead in conceiving, planning, purchasing, storing, getting a lot of relatives on board to share the burden, physically inviting guests for the marriage, and, taking charge at the venue of the marriage hall for every petty issue.
There were several crisis situations that had to be managed at the last moment. For instance, the guests arrived for breakfast and neither food nor tea was ready. Some of the guests with a traditional mindset (with the notion that they belonged to the grooms' side and needed prompt service) began losing their temper over the delay and had to be pacified. Or, right in the middle of lunch, the cooks realized that they needed an extra tin of curds to make additional buttermilk - so I had to rush on a bicycle to get a large 15 kg tin of curd. I encountered several learnings - how to provide for during unforeseen circumstances, how to deal with difficult people, how to ensure execution - in fact, there were so many aspects that I cannot even remember now. This eventually influenced me to change my original plan of pursuing M Sc after completing B Sc and I decided to pursue a Post Graduate Business Management Program for two years followed by Post Graduation in Human Resources for another two years.
While management education essentially exposes people to systemic thinking and application of common sense in a planned and an intelligent manner, the real learning happens once you begin working in a live environment. Particularly, in India, professionals are required to deal with complex situations over which they have absolutely no control.
Another occasion that presented me with an opportunity to apply the systematic approach was during the course of deciding my matrimonial choice. Rightly or wrongly a "process" was followed that had all the bearings of a recruitment process. An advertisement was inserted in a matrimonial publication clearly articulating my expectations. My brother and sister-in-law did the initial screening and shortlisted five girls, whom I met over two days, and, further shortlisted two girls with whom I spent about four-five hours each, to understand one another better. After we got done with the process of mutual selection, full disclosure of each other's past, present and future was made before we decided to tie the knot.
People instinctively use many management principles in their professional as well as personal life. However, not too many of us are aware that our family members must be evaluating our performance from time to time, even without saying so.
While at work it is all about achieving goals and objectives, meeting commitments or targets, people management, teamwork, customer / vendor management, alignment with organizational values and so on, these carry different manifestations in the context of your family. At home they are called expectations, and, rarely articulated with clarity since most are unspoken and unexpressed. Unfortunately, most of us ignore this aspect because we feel, as breadwinners, we are all powerful at home, and, nobody can evaluate our performance or hand over the consequences of what we do not do at home.
Let us review a few probable family expectations.
For instance, our first responsibility is towards our parents who grow older with the passage of time and need our help - however, they don't necessarily express or demand the same. And most people, especially the males who are all consumed by their own career ambitions are completely blind to their needs. The realization of self performance happens too late when we get older ourselves and experience our own children handing us the same treatment.
While it is important to speak about spousal relationships, irrespective of the gender, I am going to refer more to the status of a wife - whether a working woman or a homemaker. And this is primarily because of the totally unequal social paradigms that exist in our country.
Some key expectations of your homemaker would be - respect and overtly recognize her contribution to your professional career and value her work as a homemaker. If she is a working woman - don't expect her to take care of the family singlehandedly. You must share the responsibility equitably. Take care of household chores once you are home. Keep your wife informed about the delays at the office, create clarity on how time schedules are going to unfold in the near future, consult her on all home related decisions, and, ensure pleasant breaks for her from time to time to recharge her energy batteries. Probably the most important message to be given to the homemaker is how important, tough and valuable her role is.
The third set of expectations is towards children. If you have kids - interact with them; get involved in their academics and extracurricular activities. Play with them - do and speak things that a mother may not be able to do easily. Be available when they really need you, contribute to their development, partake equal share in attending to their medical issues, and, helping them realize their potential are some of the expectations of the role of a father.
There are other management principles that are equally applicable at home. In the work place, we take utmost care to factor the sensitivities of our team members. Even the negative feedback is well articulated to ensure that motivation is not impacted adversely. However, at home, we are much less sensitive in our word, voice and body language, and are often harsh in our words. We don't strategize sufficiently as to how to communicate at home, which we ought to. We must ask several questions such as - Do we ever seek feedback from our family members as to what they expect from us? Do we explicitly ask them whether they are content with what we provide from time to time? What are their aspirations and ambitions that they expect us to play a significant role in? Do we communicate our own constraints and plans to get their collaborative participation?
People who follow some of the above principles are well regarded by their families.
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