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Careering towards the abyss

STUART WHITE
THE WORLD IN BLACK-N-WHITE


Many of you out there are probably familiar with LinkedIn – the professional networking e-club which specialises in linking up like-minded business people both locally and around the globe.  It also publishes on-line articles on any number of corporate advice, often topical and worth reading.

One such recently posted article was by Alan Cutter, CEO of AC Lion which specialises in recruiting senior management staff for digital and emerging media.  Entitled ‘How To Ruin Your Career in 6 Easy Steps’, the piece lays out some serious DON’Ts which are tantamount to professional suicide and which merit repeating here today.

Number 1, according to Alan:
 
1. Back out of a new job
“Once you make a decision to accept a position, you should stick with it. Be a man/woman of your word. Unless there is an extremely strong reason to jump ship, stop going on interviews and pursuing other options.  You can bet your jilted employer will talk, and word will spread. It is usually a small world in industry circles, and it is wise to always conduct yourself with the utmost professionalism.”


I would temper that by saying if you find yourself in the situation where after some soul-searching you decide the new post you’ve been offered and accepted just isn’t for you, or if indeed their offer has been gazumped and you’ve found a better deal, man, or woman, up.  Call the CEO or the HR manager as soon as you’re sure and let them know what and why – they may not be too happy but they’re all grown-ups and they will understand.

Number 2 is a really common fault hereabouts:


2. Resist change
Remove the “never”s from your vocabulary and be open to alternative ways of thinking or doing things. Keep an open mind! Close-mindedness will only get you so far. Failing to embrace new ideas and perspectives will significantly increase your chances of being left behind or descending into complacency.


The world is changing and so is the world of business.  There are newer and better ways of doing things so be open to them.  Try them out and then and only then if you’re not happy with them or you genuinely believe they’re not working then you should bring it up with management or the Board.

Number 3 should be the byword of every single company in existence:


3. Over-promise and under-deliver
You think you are doing yourself (and others) a favour by talking yourself up, but if you can’t walk the walk, you will surely end up disappointing co-workers and clients. Do not make any promises you can not keep. Manage your time effectively and turn in your projects on or ahead of time. If you feel overwhelmed or know that you may not be able to complete something on schedule, speak up and delegate tasks to others if possible. Keep communication open and ensure everyone is on the same page.


This doesn’t mean lowering your standards – far from it.  It means raise the bar as high as you can but know you and your company’s limitations.  And if a delay or problem arises, let the client know.  Lack of communication will lend the kiss of death to future business.

Number 4 leads right on from 3:


4. Make excuses
Do not make yourself the victim at work. No one likes a martyr, and honestly it gets old fast. It should not be anyone else’s fault that you missed the mark. If you don’t have the answers, ask the right questions. Be a problem solver, not just a problem identifier. Beating yourself up won’t do you any favours either. Learn from your mistakes, and most importantly, take responsibility for your actions.  On the flip side, take responsibility for your successes too! You may see self-deprecation or deflection as humility, but all it really does is negatively alter other people’s perception of you. Don’t attribute your talents or accomplishments to pure luck. Accept credit where credit is due.


In other words, offer solutions, not problems – simple.  And if your good work gets noticed, bask in the glory but only until the next problem arises.

Number 5 is basically shooting your-self in the foot:


5. Send a nasty email
It happens. You are livid and want to send an angry email to tell off a co-worker who threw you under the bus. Or maybe you’re feeling bitter about being turned down for a job unfairly. You believe you will come out on top and really “stick it to ‘em,” but in reality you’re just portraying yourself as immature and hot-headed. That is not who people want to work with. Always allow yourself to cool off before hitting send. You ideally do not want anything in writing that could be distributed around the block. Defend yourself when necessary, but always remain strategic.


To that I would add be very very careful to whom you copy any mail.  And of course in these days of social network sites, remember that Big Brother from work is often monitoring you so be careful mouthing off or venting on Twitter or Facebook.  Have a good old-fashioned moan with your mates in the pub if you must, but don’t commit anything to writing and don’t send it off zipping round Cyberspace unchecked.

Number 6 – you know it’s wrong, so why do it?


6. Tell Lies
Being trustworthy and honest is a fundamental characteristic that will always be valued. When you make a mis-step you should own up to it right away. Getting caught in a lie is more detrimental to your reputation than admitting you are wrong.
I tell my staff this all the time—I’d much rather have someone own up to a mistake than try to cover it up. The cover up always just makes it worse, and makes me doubt them even more. Honesty is always the best policy, even if it’s a hard truth to take. And it is not enough just to tell the truth — be somewhat transparent rather than mysterious. Your credibility will be more stable when others feel they can understand your processes and aren’t left in the dark.


Remember the wise words of Scottish poet Robert Burns: ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive’.  And as the saying goes, ‘Tell the truth and shame the devil’.
So if you ticked any of the above boxes, you know what your New Year work resolution is going to be, don’t you?


STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at www.hrmc.co.bw

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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