Angels at my workplace
This is not about a new Dan Brown best-seller! It’s about a diverse group of heaven-sends. Folks who show up out of nowhere, or somewhere, make work easier and leave us feel happy.
Like when Anita was struggling with her business planning spreadsheet. The formulae were running their own private strategy! The deadline was looming large. It was dark outside. Then Gabby, a senior analyst, showed up. Hearing Anita’s cry of frustration, she diverted from her route to the pantry and helped out. Ten minutes later, Anita’s face lit up in a beatific smile. She blessed her angel – and praises her to this day.
Our corporate environment is teaming with angels! Some we know, while others operate quietly in the background. This is to recognize their presence.
Random angels: Like Gabby, who unexpectedly show up, do their bit and disappear into the crowd. Random angels motivate us to pass on their tradition of doing good. Some of us do…
SME angels: Subject matter experts (SMEs), who come to our rescue when we need direction on subjects outside our area of knowledge. Some organizations publish their chorus of SMEs on the company intranet sites. SMEs often evolve into mentors and gurus, spreading their wisdom to a wider audience.
Function Head angels: Domain professionals, like Human Resources (HR), Legal, Marketing, Communications leaders… always there to provide guidance. There is no policy that prevents anyone from seeking help from them, even if one works in a totally different area of the business. ‘Steering clear’ of HR and Legal is an urban legend. Actually, not seeking their timely advice, could be a crime – or lead to one…
The Archangels: Business Unit Leaders. The creators of the company’s climate, protectors of the company’s value system, and the destroyers of anything that prevents the success of the organization, its products and its people. Contrary to popular belief, angels do fight, if necessary, for the right causes. It’s acceptable. Michael the Archangel is rarely seen without his blazing sword!
The Guardian Angel: Your immediate leader! This angel is always around. Helping in times of need, protecting and standing guard during times of strife. Yet she’s one of the least appreciated. Every good leader’s DNA contains a ‘mother-hen chromosome’ that carries a fierce, fighting streak. One that protects her people. Best seen in action during recessions and re-engineerings. Few leaders will ever let their people directly face flack from ‘above’. Preferring to absorb the pressure themselves. Like Shiva’s locks breaking the force of Ganga, while letting only her beautiful, life-giving waters reach mankind? Except, when partaking of the benefits, people forget the angel who made them happen – their boss!
Unfortunately, we often take our angels for granted. Some, we openly criticize. Through the grapevine, in feedback sessions, on blogs and social media. Though it is a rare angel who vents angst about her wards – except under severe provocation.
Yet, be aware! For every Yin, there’s invariably a Yang. Let’s call them The Fallen Angels. With all the external trappings of an angel but with hearts as black as coal. Blending smoothly with the workplace, Fallen Angels are smart, suave, qualified, intelligent and…possibly work from the cabin right next to yours!
They mingle easily with your peer group. But compete for your next promotion by happily misguiding you, until you trip up and look silly. Luckily, the strategy of ‘misguiding-for-success’ can only be used once – or until you eventually learn your lesson.
Another Fallen Angel is ‘Data’ – it can prove anything! Numbers crunched by analysts to set targets, determine performance and predict the future. Nothing personal, guys, but anything beyond year-2 is hawa-baazi! Data is best used for the here and now! And it had better be real-time. Let the ever-evolving software provide the soothsaying for paper tigers and traditionalists.
However, the hottest Fallen Angel of all is the Internet! Maybe this sounds weird, considering we spend much of our lives in close proximity with this one. Yet, the fact is that everything the internet emotionlessly throws up (in .035 seconds), has half a chance of being incomplete, or incorrect. And since you make the decision, you own the blame!
Sifting out the Yang from the Yin isn’t the easiest thing to do when the primary focus is to get the job done. Besides, majority of the people we work with are actually angels – or the business wouldn’t succeed!
So here’s the Achilles’ heel. Fallen angels thrive on blind faith – yours. Only frequent authentication can keep them in check. It literally crucifies them! But back at the office, let’s recognize, our angels, stay focused on our goals…and watch our backs!