HBR Post: You are rude because your boss is rude. Plus, an apology.

Another on the read-this series. HBR is great, aren’t they?

And while this blog might seem like re-posting way too many HBR articles, the only way we can stop it is if HBR starts posting a lot of trash. Which won’t  happen. So….

Here’s why you are rude at work. Because your boss is rude at work.

Additional reading suggestion would be the book ‘The No – Asshole Rule” by Robert I. Sutton. (Amazon.com link here). I liked the book without being overwhelmed by it.


(Where’s the apology, you ask. Okay, here it is. A colleague complained on reading the previous post that while we have spoken about ‘Death by SEO’, most of the visitors to the blog came here for the metrics. So where are the metrics? Isn’t my anti-SEO rant basically typically SEO-rich fluff?


Okay, here’s what we will do. we will put a post on this blog soon about my adventures with Learning and Development / Competency Management metrics… along with some definite guidelines i.e. some fluff and some meat. How’s that?)



Death by SEO: A rant…

Google is a friend. Google helped me pass through college, helped me do some pretty great analyst magic, and made many consider me to be smart (I actually am, but we shall keep it a secret, shall we?).

But Google these days needs more TLC, it seems.

No, stop. Stop rambling, stop this literary pretension shebang, and just stick to the story, can we? Thanks.


So I was helping this ops manager out with creating some BU-wide metrics. The mandate this manager had was to create some truly relevant metrics, and not the plain vanilla platitude-esque ‘percentage-uptime-99.5%-up-arrow-who-gives-a-damn’ metric. The mandate was to create something quantifiable and measurable (which the current metrics already were), simple (which it could be made into), and relevant (which it sure was not).

So in trying to provide some guidance to this guy on a certain metric area, I reached out to my old friend Google.

And it took me about 2-and-a-half pages i.e. trawling through about 30 or so results, before I could reach an article where there was some decent metrics and guidance. Before that, all that the previous 30 had were what they call ‘SEO-rich content’.

God knows I hate that phrase! Vapid, nebulous articles which consist of words and words and phrases and phrases, without saying a single damn thing!

And Google likes these guys! Oh how my world has changed while I was not looking…

Whatever happened to the first rule of SEO (as they told me), ‘create great content’?

Am I “LIVING” the Life?

This blog is not a ‘TOI Thinking Tree’. However, there are moments in our lives when we often tend to question the basis of our convictions. Today was one such day for one of us. Below is his journal entry for the day.

Around 10:30 am today, my boss at client site asked me to participate in an interview discussion along with two other people. One of the interviewees we happened to meet was Shankar (not the real name). A commerce gold medalist; 8 years of experience; married with 2 kids – A daughter in the 3rd standard and a son who is 2 years old. His wife has a science degree with distinction, and is a housewife. Here is what transpired during the interview (as you will see, the interview went a little bit off track), after the basic work related discussion was over. Do note: they went well. This guy certainly knew his subject fairly well.


Interviewers: Shankar, what is your current salary?

Shankar: 1.8 lacs per annum.


Interviewers: “!” ….. You have said that you have 8 years of experience; didn’t you get salary revisions during this period? 1.8 lacs for a person with 8 years’ experience is bit strange (Note: it is considerably lower than the market. A similarly experienced person is expected to draw at least 6 Lacs per annum); it is not fitting well?

Shankar: Sir, as I mentioned, I worked as a private school teacher for 6 years out of the total 8 years. Due to family circumstances…. my father was sick.. I could not leave my hometown and join the corporate world. Therefore, I joined a private school as a teacher where my salary was very low. After my father passed away, I moved to Hyderabad and joined ABC Inc. The company offered me a packaged based on my last salary i.e. based on my salary as a private school teacher.

Interviewers: But you know the market standards. What are your thoughts about inflation, increasing expenses etc?

Shankar: I don’t think much about these things as they are not in my control. Inflation needs to be looked after by government. Regarding expenses – If my daughter has grown, and she has to go to school, I cannot stop an increase in my expenses by not sending her to school. So I take these things as they come.

Here, out of curiosity and to understand how Shankar does manage his expenses and his life, (or is it just that he is unambitious and lazy?) the panel decided to probe further. We were interested in hiring him; however, we have had multiple experiences in our professional career of people who are super performers in interviews but due to personal idiosyncrasies are unsuitable for the job. We started using diplomatic language, putting in caveats (“you do not have to answer if you don’t want to” etc.) and Probed. Do note, Hyderabad is a fairly expensive city to live in… 1.8 L p.a. by general consensus is too low an amount to survive here.


Interviewers: Shankar, what do you think about life? Also, how do you ensure that you and your family members are enjoying life? It is personal question, but we would really like to know your view point. So you can answer it in a controlled manner as per your discretion.

Shankar: – Sir, Life is beautiful. This is the one and only, limited and finite life we have. So we should enjoy it fully. Every morning, I ensure spending a ½ hour of free time with my wife and kids before I come to office. After going home, I take all the family members out for a ½ to 1 hour walk; irrespective how late I reach home (of course there are sometimes exceptions, such as if it is raining outside). This is the time when all of us share our day’s events with each other. Once a month, I ensure to take them out for a lunch or dinner. Also, once a month, I ensure to take them out for a picnic to any garden or a movie (if there is a good one that has released). Once in six months, we go on a long-trip either to my wife’s parents or to any tourist spot. By doing all these small little things, I try to make their life, and my life enjoyable.

Interviewers: (Wow! With the money at our disposal, even we do not do all of this. If this guy really happier than we are?) – This is great! But, isn’t it difficult to manage all this with limited financial resources? Why we are asking this question is: you have now moved to Hyderabad, and this city is expensive as compared to your hometown. You know this, you have been here for two years. If you will not be able to manage all the stuff that you mentioned with the money that you earn, you may very well leave this job (if we give it to you) and move on. You said your wife is a housewife but is well-educated; can’t she also join a job to share the expenses? It is just a suggestion, please ignore if you didn’t like it.

Shankar: Sir, I don’t think that I am doing too much which is really money dependent. Of course, some amount of money is attached to outings twice a month and trips every six months, but for my family’s happiness, I manage it by cutting corners here and there. Regarding my wife’s job…

Interviewers: No no, you can very well ignore it, we don’t want to enter into your personal domain.

Shankar: No sir, there’s nothing personal in it. I was just saying – My wife is doing the toughest job I can think of, that of taking care of our kids. Believe me, I am not capable of doing it; I may do it for few days, but cannot do it consistently well with the required patience. I need to really appreciate my wife for this rather than cribbing for her not participating in the monthly expenses. Moreover, the duty of managing family expanses lies primarily with me. Of course, if my wife wants to do a job at her will, she can definitely do it; she is an educated woman.

Interviewers: This is a very nice thought, but in this competitive world, don’t you feel this may put you in a lagging situation in the society, say in comparison to you friends or relatives …. these days both husband and wife work to raise the living standards

Shankar: Sir, when my kid cries or when my wife is sad, does any friend or relative come to help me? I definitely need to be nice to all my friends and relatives as per the social norms, but I cannot spoil the peace and happiness of my family by comparing my status against others. In that case, I should have a bigger crib of not being born in the family of a business tycoon, isn’t it? I need to make my comparisons against myself and myself only…I definitely need to ensure that my future status is better than my present. But that is so that there are smiles on the faces of my wife and my kids when I leave home in the morning and when I reach home in the evening. I need to guarantee that…. Just like they are today.

We look at each other, a little sheepishly perhaps. This is quite amazing. This guy is not downwardly mobile. He is not lazy. He is at peace. He is happy. His family is happy.

Interviewers: Great, Shankar. It was nice talking to you, and we will get back to you.

Oh My God! This was thought-provoking. Even though I am blessed with some level of prosperity; am I really living my life?