Asking for help can be traumatic experience!

As humans we are wired to think and believe that we are born equal. It’s the journey which puts us in different contexts or life experiences. It’s therefore not easy for us to come to an acceptance that some of us have less of somethings in life when compared to others. It could be power, authority, money, health, family, relationships, food and many more.

So when someone comes asking for your help, it can be very humiliating or traumatic for the person asking. Remember, the default position for us is that we are all equal. The person seeking help has to deal with his ego and self-esteem. The act in the persons mind is considered as conceding the ground that you have more power or influence or even ability than the seeker.

You find that most misuse this power without even understanding the context of the help seeker. We judge people based on their current state or appearance and start to behave in a way that compounds the sense of trauma or humiliation that person is already suffering.

I have had leaders asking me to teach people in their organizations to seek help when needed. I tell them it is pointless to teach people to seek help as the person giving help or having the power to give help is not going to change. The fact that they are asking me in itself demonstrates that people working in their organization have been humiliated when they sought help. No one likes to be in that state for long and before time people stop asking. Statements like ‘why don’t you figure out for yourselves’; ‘don’t you have brains’; ‘why don’t you grow up’ and so on can be from the many unintentional one’s which would have accentuated the problem.

There is a need for you to be empathetic to people who come seeking help. You have the power not to abuse but to use and help. You are equally a seeker as much as a giver. Do not push people away when they come seeking cause you have a great responsibility.

How many come to you seeking help? It’s a good measure of how you have dealt with seekers in the past.

Unspoken rules reflect your organizations culture…

People observe behaviors; not the written words”

An employee’s first day at job is exciting and at the same time period full of nerves. Several questions arise in their mind – Did I make the right decision?; Will I be able to fit in ?; Will I be welcomed in the team?  ; and so on …

It’s also the day when ‘expectations meets reality’ and a reality check of the promises made during the hiring process. In fact, I always maintain that as much as the leadership is anxious about the new hire meeting their expectations , the employee is also unsure.

The first day and the next few weeks are going to be the period in which the attempt will be to find answers to the above questions. The only way is by observation of behaviors of the leadership and the rest of the team. Most answers come out of the unspoken rules which are prevalent in the organization.

Unspoken rules define your culture

I recall my experience some 28 years ago, when I was hired by this company as a sales rep. based on my track record. The day of my joining, I was told how ‘delivering results’ is all that mattered in the organization and how the organization allows space for employees to experiment and find innovative ways to grow business.

In about 3 months all I observed was to the contrary. I was delivering the results as expected but was confused when my sales manager pulled me up for not making the mandatory 13 cold calls per day as per the requirements of the job. He went on to say that no matter the results, you got to make those cold calls. I was closing more deals than the rest of the team because of my vast network but was being lectured about how making ‘n’ number of calls will lead to ‘x’ number of conversions.

As illogical as it sounded, this company was rewarding people for ‘fitting-in’ than for being extraordinary.

In this case, the unspoken rule seemed to be: “playing by-the-rules matters more than results” or “my boss rewards mediocre employees and fears top performers.”

The behaviours organizations promote and tolerate, determine their real They are more powerful than any written rules. Or that a mission statement, for that matter. Many times it is the unspoken rule that promotes mediocrity in the organization and is reflective of the culture that prevails.

It’s important therefore for organizational leadership to understand the true reflection of the culture. What unspoken rules do is to; erode trust,

I find that even today after almost 30 years of working and consulting with organizations. There is often a gap between what the organizations communicate and their reality.

When the leadership behaviour is different from their spoken word, employees turn cynical and lose faith and trust in the organization’s vision, mission and values. I find that many managers talk about promoting innovation, creativity, collaboration, teamwork, initiatives, openness but their behaviour seems to promote mediocrity, competition, conformance, politics, fear and individualism.

It’s time to conduct an audit of all the unspoken rules in your organization. That’s the only way you can bridge the gap and build a culture of trust and growth.

Here is a list of unspoken rules I have come across in my interviews with several thousand employees across multiple organizations;

  1. Anyone can speak up as long as you are in agreement with your boss
  2. Collaborate but we will reward you for your individualism
  3. Take initiatives but with your bosses approval
  4. We promote creativity and innovation as long as you don’t upset the status-quo
  5. There are two rules in this company; 1 – the boss is always right 2. When he is wrong, refer to rule 1

Which are the funny and whacky ones you have come across? Share in the comments. Will be interesting to know….

Does Your Vision Statement Inspire People? Check it out?

Most vision statements I have seen posted on the walls of organizations truly are not ‘vision’ statements at all. They suffer from being too generalized, bombastic or complex which hardly exude any confidence in the people who are to work towards them. Worst so that employees are not able to ‘visualize’ how the outcome will look like after reading the vision statement. The very purpose of having a vision statement is to help people clearly see how the fruits of their labor will look like. It has to excite them and make them feel they are already there. It should not be something which makes them feel there current state is a long way away from it.


Let me explain this with a few examples of ‘BAD’ vision statements which will hardly inspire people or be in their minds while they work. They are hard to remember as well.

“We aim to provide diverse set of scalable and strategic knowledge management tools to serve our customers, improving the possibility of overall satisfaction among our diverse customer profiles”

How vague and complex is this one? It is very difficult for even the intended customers to visualize how the final outcome will look like.

Let’s look at a vision statement which truly is a ‘vision’ and inspirational. This one from Microsoft

“There will be a personal computer on every desk running Microsoft Software”

“Reliance will help you make phone calls to your loved ones cheaper than a postcard”….famously said by the late Shri. Dhirubhai Ambani.

I’m sure you see the difference. Easy to remember, more importantly, easy to ‘Visualize’. You all know the impact these vision statements had.

Does your vision meet the criteria as I stated above? If not are you willing to relook and change it to be more visionary?