Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Breaking the “Frustration” cycle

Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

Talking about conflict at work, some of us have micromanaging bosses or aggressive colleagues or an unfavorable work environment. We are so done with these things but other than complaining we do nothing about it. This and many other circumstances lead to frustration. And then what happens? Well, nothing really happens to others. We are the ones who suffer. Frustration, to somewhat extent, can be healthy. It can push us towards our goals. But if it becomes an everyday affair, it becomes toxic and stressful. This frustration will eventually feast on our mental health. We will end up venting our anger on people who are not at fault. Remember, if we do not handle our frustration, we will be defensive against anything and everything and will end up having impaired judgment. So, how to handle frustration: 

1) Find out what triggers our frustration: 
a) S: Status: Do we feel that our status is a threat? 
b) C: Certainty: Are we unsure about our future? 
c) A: Autonomy: Do we think we can’t make our own decisions and we feel we are powerless. 
d) R: Relatedness: Does connecting with people make us feel it is a tall task because we feel they are fake? 

2) Once we figure out the trigger/triggers, let us ask ourselves the true story as to what irritates us. Is it the real story or the story that we have made up in our mind or the things that we exaggerate make us upset? By putting up an inquiry pertaining to our frustration, we can differentiate between reality and made up things in our mind, if any. 

3)Let us work on the things that are in our control. For example if we know that pushing ourselves towards some unrealistic goals may hurt us, let us put a full stop on that. Let us not expect too much from others. Just because we worked for 16 hours for a project, if we are expecting a pat on our shoulder from someone who never appreciates us, the problem lies with us. We know that person. We know he/she would never appreciate. All the same, tell ourselves that we did that because it’s a responsibility we have been assigned to and we would learn a lot of things along with being diligent to our duties. 

4) Let us go ahead and face those uncomfortable conversations. Instead of avoiding the conversations, no matter how uncomfortable they are, let us go ahead, keep calm and talk to those people. Let us engage in a productive discussion and come to a solution. 

5) Let us try considering frustration as something new to learn. Maybe we are frustrated with the fact that someone constantly nags us about some shortcomings. It indeed can be frustrating, but maybe we can try and work on our flaws and grow stronger. We are the masters of our lives. Let us not let frustration seep in and suck the life out of us. Meditation, deep breathing and exercise are also some tools which can help in eliminating frustration from our lives. 


Thursday, August 26, 2021

How to prioritize important tasks amidst a plethora of urgent but unimportant tasks....


Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

How to prioritize important tasks amidst a plethora of urgent but unimportant tasks.....

With a long list of ‘To Do’ stuff right in front of you, you might get anxious as to how to complete all of them. Here is what you need to do:

1) Find out the ‘Important Tasks’ and schedule them. Ensure you give yourself more time than you think you will need to finish those. That way, if you complete those tasks before time, you will still have some time in hand. Don’t get distracted when you are working on those. When you are on vacation, you do turn on the automatic message. Similarly, when you are working on an important task, at least for 2 hours or so, turn on the automatic message and let people know that you are working on a priority. Let them know that only in case of emergency, they can reach out to you in a designated way.

2) Now, an ‘Important Task’ may be vast. When you take that up, it might be overwhelming for you. So, break them into little tasks, focusing on the most important first. That way you will be able to achieve one tiny goal at a time and eventually reach the final goal. Sometimes crossing off one tiny item on a to do check list is also very satisfying.

3) Manage your feelings of anxiety. When you are focusing on an important project, and suddenly you receive an email from a colleague regarding another task to be delivered urgently, don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Think about a better way to handle that and get in touch with that colleague to check if that task is indeed ‘very urgent’?

4) Ensure you do not spend a lot of time on unimportant stuff. For example, if a web page has to be made simple, inform the team at the beginning of the project itself that they don’t have to spend a lot of time on elaborate designing.

5) When it comes to urgent but unimportant tasks, follow three simple rules. Automation, Standardization and Elimination. This will help you a lot in time management.

6) Pay attention to the big picture. Sometimes you end up putting a lot of time and effort in tasks which might not play any major role in the final project. Do study the details and do not waste your time on such tasks.


Monday, August 9, 2021

How to make returning to office easier? Tips for leaders.

Photo by Adolfo FĂ©lix on Unsplash


Many employers are contemplating on resuming office, maybe partially or full time. Now, here there would be mixed reaction from employees. Some of them will be willing to resume office while some of them will prefer working from home. There could be multitudinous reasons behind this. Many of the employees out there might have gone through tumultuous emotional turmoil during this pandemic. They might have witnessed poignant scenes and have been in agonizing state of mind. Hence, the fear, the pain might still be prominent.

Here are some tips for leaders to handle this situation:

1) Communication: Communication is the key to many questions. It will be wise to provide detailed information regarding all the necessary steps the organization has taken to ensure safety. That way employees who are somewhat nervous about coming back to work, will feel better. Not just that. Some employees might have developed self-doubts because of this long tenure of working remotely without face-to-face interaction. Hence it is imperative for leaders to make them feel at home. One step to follow here is praise genuinely and let them know that they are valuable assets of this organization. Leaders can talk about the genuine efforts put in by the team members and bring in some examples wherein the members have proved themselves.

2) Discuss concerns: The pandemic has taken a toll on mental health of people. Hence, there could be some employees who are facing issues, be it anxiety, be it fear of the unknown, be it the pain of losing someone close. Encourage them to speak out. Listen to them. There are stories wherein some people are against group therapy and fear people judging them, if they let people know about the panic attacks they get or the fright that has gripped them. Let your team members feel secure when they talk to you. Let them surrender their thoughts to you. If needed, guide them to get counselling.

3) Promote interpersonal connections: With people being away from office environment for so long, some employees may feel disconnected. They may have trouble building fresh new connections in office. Hence, leaders can arrange occasional luncheons, after office happy hours etc. to build that connect.

4) Take care of yourself and your emotions: As a leader responsible for many decisions and handling team members, it is very important for you to take care of yourself. Your mood swings, your physical and mental exhaustion can affect your decisions. Hence, taking care of yourself, physically and mentally is as important as taking care of your team members.



Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Onboarding Employees remotely at Kanaka


We all know that on-boarding calls for a lot of effort because the idea is to welcome new employees with warmth and make them comfortable in the new office environment. Meeting new employees in person, explaining them stuff, helping them adapt to office culture, becomes way easier if that happens in a physical environment.

Due to pandemic, Kanaka like most organizations has had to close offices and hence we are stuck with on-boarding new employees online. When it comes to online on-boarding, things become challenging not only for the HR team, interviewers, but also for the new joiners. Why so? Well, it becomes way easier for them to interact with the team leads, team members and understanding all the product requirements if interaction happens face to face. Explaining things remotely requires a lot more effort is not as smooth as it seems. Also, people miss the lunch time interactions and coffee time gossips.

We at Kanaka, believe in employee first policy. We have always been thriving to make on-boarding experience smooth for our new joiners. Despite the pandemic woes, and more of online / virtual interaction rather than face to face, we have ensured quality and diligence in our process, right from hiring to on-boarding formalities, to providing training and helping our new joiners with all the requisites and guidance.  

I am Niranjan Aradhye and I lead the HR team at Kanaka. My team is always trying to identify the right candidates who will fit our requirements, our culture and have desired attitude.

I feel that establishing a connect with the candidates at the very start is extremely important to the entire process. My HR team takes great effort to establish connect with the candidates and learns all about the candidates expectations, their goals, areas of focus and explain them the job description. Once we feel that we are on the same page with the candidate, we move ahead with the next steps.

In the earlier days, we used to invite candidates for interviews directly, but in the new pandemic regime, it has become very difficult and time consuming to evaluate the candidate remotely. So, we decided to introduce an online test for the candidates. The online test allows the interviewer to quickly judge the strengths of the candidate as far as the technical competency goes thereby reducing the length of the interview.

A couple of rounds of interviews that follow are made as personal as possible by assigning the team member who is going to work with the candidate to interview them. So, the connect with the candidate can start right at the time of the interview. The interviews are conducted in a secured manner and to get a physical feel for the interview, it is done through video calls.

Rutuja Deshmukh, who joined Kanaka during pandemic thought that the process for interviewing was smooth, and the interviewers were quite nice.

While selecting the candidate, I think that it is extremely important to imbibe some of the cultural aspects of the company right at the start. My team has a detailed interaction with the candidate about the company, its culture, the people in company, the engagements, and other any other information.

I believe that the connect with the candidate needs to also continue during the time that the candidate is completing his duties at his earlier employer. We take great pride in making sure that we reach out to candidates occasionally, to ascertain their well-being and their keenness to join Kanaka. Any issues even small are addressed upfront.

As part of the joining process, we make sure that the joining kit which is  provided to the candidates on the day of joining. We need to go lengths to plan on the way we are going to deliver the joining kit. We have had cases where the employees joining Kanaka were based in such a remote location that there was no courier service to get to their native place. We ensure that the employee has Internet infrastructure available at the place of remote working whether it is wired broadband or mobile dongles are available with the employee. The onboarding process involves providing productivity tools to the employees on day one  of their joining.

I strongly have believed in a buddy system in an organization is necessary for successful onboarding of an employee. The pandemic time has proven that that process of buddy system is even more important. My team goes through great lengths to identify the right buddy in the team based on the new employee’s character. Past experience has given me a fair idea on who will bond with whom and so, the buddies are decided on a personalized basis.

Tejas Dhande who joined very recently, expressed his delight at the entire process of joining Kanaka. He said, “Right from the beginning, team Kanaka was in touch with me and followed up for all the formalities. The HR team, the interviewers, the training / learning sessions, the onboarding formalities, everything was wonderful”.

At Kanaka, we practice an open-door policy. With remote working, we no longer have doors, but everyone can reach out to anyone within the organization up to the leadership without any issues or concerns. Employee concerns are handled with the highest priority always.

My goal in Kanaka has been to make sure that the employees feel welcome within the organization from the first day. It has been challenging in the work from home situation, but as we evolve in this, I am trying to make sure that employees feel that they are integral part of Kanaka while they are working from the comfort of their homes.

Friday, May 28, 2021

#Kanaka Hackathon – The First Edition


The pandemic has brought in a lot of changes to the workplace. Prior to the pandemic, people would come to a workplace, talk to each other during lunch or chit chat over coffee. People from other projects would interact on various topics. The folks joining the company either as laterals or fresh from college, would get embedded in the culture as they collaborated with others and formed groups of likeminded people.

Since March 2020, when the pandemic forced us to work from home, this camaraderie seemed to have faded to some extent. It was particularly hard for the new joiners to form relationships beyond their project partners. To address some of these issues, we came up with the idea of a Hackathon.

We asked the people to come together and form a team of maximum 5 people. However, we had one condition. It was, one of the team members would have to be someone who joined in fresh from college in the past 12 months. We were in for a pleasant surprise when we saw participation from 8 teams. It meant 50% participation from the company! And this sure paved the way for more enthusiasm. The best part was, we not only had individuals from Development, QA, DevOps and System Admin teams, but also from the HR and Admin teams.

We ran the Hackathon over 9 days, where the teams had to work on and provide a solution to one of the four problems which were related to the following:

  1. Social Media
  2. Blockchain
  3. Voice Enablement
  4. Fintech

The solutions were judged by an imminent panel including Aniruddha Paranjape, Ujjwal Bhattacharyya and Prasad Rajadnya.

The results were markedly close between four teams. Finally, the team that donned the crown of victory was ‘Quick Fix Daemons’, while the second position was bagged by ‘Free Thinkers’.

We would like to thank all the participants for their enthusiastic participation, and we look forward to an even more exciting Second Edition next year.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Developing Mental Strength at Work

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

Sometimes work is stressful. We tend to get exhausted, break down and suffer. Well, work is an important aspect of life and giving up is never the solution. The solution here is to develop your mental strength. So how do you do it? 

1) Focus on your capabilities and excellence. Do not get disturbed by some one else’s victory. Tell yourself that what the other person achieved was the result of his/her hard work and maybe, in some circumstances, good luck. Nonetheless, it never means that you cannot achieve your goals. There is a saying, ‘If your garden is not as green as theirs, start nourishing and watering your garden instead of comparing.’ 

2) Focus on your long-term goals. Well, you may not have got the ‘Best employee of the month’ award, but you can always win the award for the ‘Best employee of the year’ or maybe get a promotion or a decent hike. You need to tell yourself your ambition and work on that. Little victories might not come your way, but with dedication, you will see yourself achieving your goals. 

3) Feedback helps. Constructive feedback always helps in constantly improving oneself. If you take constructive feedback with an open mindset, you will constantly hone your skill sets and shine. 

4) Remember, challenging situations make you stronger. Do not pity yourself if you happen to find yourself in any challenging situation. Remember, a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. 

5) Adapt to new situations, get new ideas and learn new things. Do not let a new environment bog you down. Let that be an avenue for you to learn new survival tips. 

6) Count your blessings. If you have a job and you can pay your bills, you are blessed. Since we spend a lot of time at work, is it worth being unhappy at work? Face your fears and walk along. The journey might not be smooth, but it is always worth it. 


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Things that can destroy your career

Photo by Lena Kudryavtseva on Unsplash

When it comes to career, we love to grow. However, in this voyage of growth and success, sometimes we forget what is right and what is wrong. Sometimes deliberately and sometimes inadvertently, we end up doing certain things which will end up damaging our career. So, what are those? 

1) Politics: There are two categories of people in an organization. The first category comprises of those who value work relationship and would try and strengthen them. The second category comprises of those who enjoy creating rivalry, clash and contention. This category of people love to bring in confusion and thereby encourage conflicts between team members. For them, the whole idea is to ensure some team members come in the bad books of other team members. Well, although, the second category of people presume that whatever they are doing is cool, they are wrong. Sooner than later, their filthy temperament will come in light and their doors of success and growth will be permanently closed. 

2) Aversion to change: Nothing is permanent but change. Still there are people who dread change. If a new technology comes up, they are scared of learning that because they assume, they may be asked to move to a different team to work on a new project. The question here is, what is there to fear? You are getting an opportunity to learn something new. You try and learn. If you learn, you can add one more skill in you resume. If you are unable to learn despite trying, at least your conscience and your supervisor will be happy that you tried. It’s your positive attitude that will be appreciated. Saying no to learn something new just because you are scared is utterly wrong. 

3) Clock Watching: Deliberately working slow to avoid more work, or not attending calls and meetings or not jumping in to solve a critical problem just because your works hours are over, will end in ruining your career. Your employer, your supervisor, your team members will get the message regarding how sloppy worker you are. 

4) Not taking action: You are aware of a problem and you won’t disclose it to the concerned authorities because you feel too lazy to do that or because you are worried that it might lead to more work or because you feel that is not your duty, is a trait which will roll you downhill in your career. You will stand nowhere, and your skill sets will go down the drain. 

5) Bad-mouthing employers: Posting negative comments about employers on social media, be it with names or anonymously, is immensely hazardous for your career. It is easy for employers and prospective employers to track who posted detrimental comments. 

6) Too much of comfort: Sometimes you are so comfortable in your profile that you don’t want to budge from there and learn something new. This can prove to be poison for your career. Being comfortable is one thing and not wishing to learn new stuff just because you don’t want to bring in some discomfort to your comfort zone is another thing. 

7) Giving away confidential information: The moment you disclose confidential information of an organization, you are doing something unethical and illegal. Also, you are tarnishing your credibility and your scruples. Also, there are chances that your prospective employers may presume that if you can disclose confidential information about one organization, you can disclose confidential information about any organization. Employers will doubt your integrity and where there is doubt, there is no growth. 

8) Not delivering as promised: You promise stuff and you don’t deliver. You miss deadlines, you have no answer for the problems in client meetings and you end up cutting a sorry figure. Be true to yourself and your clients. Give your best but don’t make promises which you cannot fulfill.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Solving Problems at Workplace

Photo by sebastiaan stam on Unsplash

 Problems come in varied forms. While the best way to handle a problem is to stay calm and then work on it, many of us either try to escape, put the blame on someone else or get panic attacks. And why do we want to escape from problems and why do we get panic attacks? Because we are worried that, if we don’t provide the perfect solution, there will be conflicts. And it is human nature to be averse to conflicts. 

Whenever a problem comes up, instead of blame game or panicking, it is always wise to consider this as an opportunity of bettering the system and work relationships. Here are some tips on solving problems the right way: 

1) Accept and understand the fact that you can never come up with a solution immediately then and there. It is neither easy nor feasible. It takes time. 

2) Understand the problem. Listen to people about their views of the problem and then list them. 

3) Interests matter. Every individual will have a different view of the problem based on his/her interest. Hence understand the interests and do not mix those with possible solutions. 

4) Brainstorm and list the options. 

5) Document every aspect of discussions, suggestions and possible solutions. 

6) Involve the right people. If you think someone can else can handle the problem better than you, involve that person. All the same, do not forget that you are the lead here and you must extend support and lend helping hand to that person throughout. 

7) Evaluate and see. You can always see how the solution works for couple of months and then you can take a call. 

Always remember, it takes time and in-depth attention to details to solve a problem. Sometimes you find a solution and go ahead, but you may need to turn around and come back to the starting point as well. Solving a problem may seem uncomfortable initially, but eventually you will be able to handle it well. 


Monday, January 25, 2021

Laughter at work place

Photo by CardMapr on Unsplash

 Well, there are many of us who are against laughter at workplace. Why? Well, because some of us want to continue depicting the image of an overtly serious employee, who is strictly focused only on work and nothing else. While some of us are worried that we will be taken for granted as a ‘manager’, while some of us are apprehensive of offending someone presuming our jokes may be lame. But, did you know, that humor in good taste is one of the keys to success? Well, not just that. There are some pivotal reasons for which you must add good humor in your work life. No, you do not have to be a stand-up comedian. But, if you can make people laugh with funny jokes which do not hurt anyone’s sentiments, then why not spread laughter? So, why is humor important in workplace: 

  1. Creativity: People tend to think better when they are de-stressed. Laughter is one wonderful way to de-stress and calm the mind. 
  2. Approachable: People who laugh and can make others laugh are more approachable than people who are exceedingly serious. Although people with serious mindset tend to believe that humor can make people taken for granted, that is not true. As a matter of fact, outstandingly serious people are sometimes not taken seriously because of their demeanor. Rather, people with good sense of humor are taken more seriously because such people tend to create a beautiful bond. 
  3. People enjoy working: Humor, used positively, is a wonderful way to win friends and make people like you. When people like you, they enjoy working with you as well. 
  4. Humanizing: In this world full of stress, people find solace in humor. The relationship between colleagues become better. People look forward to coming to work, because they know that despite work stress, there will be moments of laughter at work, which will rejuvenate them. 
  5. Trust: Yes, humor helps in building trust. People with positive sense of humor are often viewed as authentic people underneath the professional cloak. 


Monday, January 11, 2021

Speaking the right way in conference calls / telephone meetings


Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

Many of us are more comfortable sending an email or a text message rather than explaining stuff over the telephone, why so? 

Because in emails and text messages, we can proofread, re-read, change the words, sentences and then finally send the message. Whereas, when it comes to speaking on the phone, there are times when we are jittery, we need to grope for words, we are not sure how to explain every little thing with clarity, sometimes doubt engulfs us and sometimes fear. With all the above concerns troubling us we tend to become immensely conscious while speaking with someone over the phone. 

All the same, with the pandemic wreaking havoc in this world and people working from home, telephone meetings, conference calls have become a norm. Hence, the better we are equipped with telephone etiquette, the easier it becomes for us to grow in the realm of our jobs. Here are some tips to better our speaking skills over the telephone: 

  1. Be aware of your tone: Remember, the person/people at the other end of the call cannot see you. They will comprehend your personality and attitude based on your tone. Refrain from speaking in a monotone. Do not sound distracted and impolite. Talk in a pleasant tone. 
  2. Do not Multitask: Since people can’t see us in telephone meetings, there are times when we are tempted to do other tasks while still being on the call. This results in missing important points. Also, when we are distracted, we tend to make awkward pauses while talking. Listeners do feel that tone of distraction. Pay attention when others are talking. Ensure you focus thoroughly on your speech when it is your turn to talk. 
  3. Take care of your pace of talking: Some of us tend to talk very fast and some of us use a lot of fillers like ‘um, uh, like, you know’. This affects the credibility of our speech. Hence use your words carefully and speak in a pace wherein there is clarity. Avoid usage of slangs, jargons. 
  4. Identify yourself: Do not assume that listeners will recognize your voice. Hence, identify your voice for the first couple of times till the listeners recognize your voice. 
  5. Use names when it comes to asking questions or soliciting opinions: Instead of asking, ‘What do you think?’, you can direct the question to someone, who you know, has knowledge and experience in that subject. For example, ‘Arpita and Rohan, you guys have a lot of experience in this sphere. Could you share your views?’ 
  6. Body Language: Although the listeners cannot see you, your posture can depict your confidence in your voice. Sit up straight and don’t forget to smile. The listeners can feel the smile in your voice. 
  7. Use a good quality headset: Talking on the speaker phone tends to muffle the voices. A good headset is always a better option. At the start of the call, do check with the listeners if they can hear you. 
  8. Listen actively: Please listen without interruption. Use verbal nods like, ‘Okay, uh-huh, that’s interesting, so on and so forth.’ That will let the other person know that you are listening. Take notes. Once they are done talking, you can put forth your questions. 
  9. Seek permission before placing anyone on hold: Putting someone on hold without informing them is rude. Never leave anyone on hold for 15 to 20 seconds or more. If you think you may need to put them on hold for some more time, you might as well offer calling them back at a time suitable for them.