Monthly Archives: September 2017

Mastery at Work – Role of Harmony in Success

Not many authors emphasize the role of harmony at work. Harmony at work and at home can be defined as adaption of the human mind to the environment and also to the fellow human beings who work or live with him.

A positive environment between the person and the environment and between the person and people around him results in release of positive chemicals which can increase in will power, energy levels, and performance resulting in stunning achievements. This is typically demonstrated in sports when the team is cheered by supporters, and there is immense team spirit and comradery among the team members.

On the contrary, a negative environment where the culture of the organization is toxic in nature or the person is surrounded by people who are not motivating or discouraging by nature can interfere with hormones to such an extent that the individual might lose his lose confidence and sink into abyss.

This assumes great importance particularly in personal context because spouse has a great influence on state of mind and harmony in general. It is not uncommon to see spouses making or breaking each other’s career.

Similarly in professional setup, lack of harmony is often the most cause, employees leave the organization and business partnerships break. How do we increase harmony at work? It is up the leaders who set up the right culture at work. We should never be lackadaisical about setting up values and culture in the organization. It is important to ensure both management and employees are working towards common goals. Training the employees in culture and values is very helpful.

Hold everyone equally accountable for work expected from them. Define job roles and KPIs very clearly and monitor on regular intervals. Build a strong feedback mechanism. Having well defined processes will avoid a lot of heartburn and rework. Offer support at all times, even if it means dirtying your own hands in case of missed timelines. Establish good work-life balance. Avoid unfair rewards and bonuses at any cost.

Last but not the least, Open door policy helps and employees feel heard in such organizations. There should be consistent effort to hear the employees, keep the ears to the ground.  Socialize outside of work to know your employees better.  Similarly encourage teams to work together.  Training teams on empathy has shown great results in improving harmony.

Interesting Fact: In certain regions in South Africa, when someone does something wrong, he is taken to the centre of the village and surrounded by his tribe for two days while they speak of all the good he has done. They believe each person is good yet sometimes we make mistakes, which is really a cry for help. They unite in this ritual to encourage the person to reconnect with his true nature. The belief is that unity and affirmation have more power to change behaviour than shame and punishment. This is known as Ubuntu-humanity towards others!

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Mastery at Work – Focused Attention

An important component for Mastery at Work is ability to focus attention and concentrate on particular activity or task for a given period of time.  Focused attention is the ability to focus on one activity without being distracted by other stimuli. Attention can be automatic or self-regulated.

Routine and repetitive tasks generally require scant attention; this is where automatic attention comes into play. Automatic attention is relatively inflexible and it cannot cope with the unexpected. A process which is very well defined and laid out for employees generally requires automatic attention. As result of routinely doing the same activity as per process. While this minimizes errors, it gives raise to inability to inability to cope with sudden and unexpected situations.

On the contrary, self-regulated attention requires focusing voluntarily on the present moment, on the task on hand. It requires a person to be open to new learning experiences, accepting of themselves and the situations they are in and also being curious about things around them.

Self-regulated attention or sustained attention is also our ability to avoid distractions which could be both external (noise, light etc.) and internal (thoughts).  It is important to understand that distractions lead to waste of time and reduce productivity, they deeply inhibit our ability to immerse ourselves in learning, creating new ways of working as well as prevent us from getting into flow of things.

Biggest issue with distractions is it has a profound impact on our ability to reflect and gain deeper insights into any subject.

What does focused attention require? Being focused requires will power and self-control.  The will power to maintain focused attention and self-control to get it back the moment you detect your mind drifting from the work you are doing. This kind of awareness is called meta awareness. The key to focused attention is training your mind to realize the drift happening and the ability to get in back to object of focus.

Last but not the least, experts in any subject are great at focused attention and are great planners and executors while novices in any subject generally concentrate on getting routine tasks done and are generally people who execute on the ground without really putting in efforts in planning or understanding the nuances of how it works! Be an expert, be Focused!





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Mastery at Work- Deliberate Practice

One of the important components of attaining Mastery at work is Deliberate Practice. Deliberate practice refers to repetitive practice of important tasks at your job. The practice needs to be systematic, focused, purposeful and done with the end result in mind. The usual end result targeted is improvement in performance.

Deliberate practice consists of the following steps

  1. Planning (setting out work in organized manner, preferably writing down the process for the same).
  2. Focused attention (work with concentration, no distractions)
  3. Continuous Feedback (based on solid measurement of performance, define metrics for the same)
  4. Repetition and rework based on feedback (feedback should be critical and given by an expert/coach)
  5. Reflection (self-Awareness and self-regulated learning based on awareness of one’s own strengths and weaknesses)
  6. Coaching by a mentor/expert ( to track performance based on metrics decided and critical feedback agreed with you).

While we are practicing, it is also very important to remember that you need to like the work you do.

While learning, it is important to embrace criticism and failure and be humble. Be careful not to succumb to insecurities and develop fears when you find a task difficult.

Discipline your mind to face these situations by repeated exposing it to difficult activities which push you outside your comfort zone.

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Mastery at Work – Attaining Mastery at Work

Mastery is not an inborn talent, but needs to be achieved through hard work. To achieve mastery, focus not on money or instant success but on lifelong learning. Mastery is achieved only by determination, perseverance and patience.

Learning could be through either a mentor or self learning.
With a number of rich online resources available, we should be able to draw a map of what do we need to learn to get ahead.

Some apps that I would recommend are Udacity, EdX, Coursera. Latest both on news as well as business via Magzter. Also very resourceful for learning is Facebook by following different pages of your interests.

It is very important to maintain focus despite competing priorities and distractions, we need to earmark time every single day for learning and practice.

Whenever you learn something new, you need to link it with what you have learned previously. This will help you in remembering and applying knowledge.

Secondly, challenge your previous learning too so that you are able to innovate and create new ways of working.

It is highly advisable to maintain a mastery journal to maintain a record of your learnings.

Everytime you learn about a topic it is very important to realise the depth of learning rather than just the breadth.

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Mastery at Work – Developing Craftsman Mind-Set

  1. Craftsman mindset believes in systematically crafting careers by developing our abilities.
  2. Compelling careers do not happen, they are pursued with lot of efforts.
  3. Attaining mastery over your job requires you to perfect your job through learning and repeated practice.
  4. Define your masters, who is your role model.
  5. Observe your masters very closely, find out how he/she reached there
  6. Develop specific vision for yourself and find out what are the rare skills which matter in your field of work. Observe your masters closely on how they developed those skills.
  7. While working, avoid instant results and focus on quality.
  8. Never let yourself plateau when it comes to skills.
  9. Practicing new skills puts you in state of discomfort, put yourself into the same frequently.
  10. Remember Deep Work=Good Life.

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