Sourav Banerjee, Mumbai, India Editor’s note: On 8-10 June, the renowned Esalen Institute will host Judith Katz and Fred Miller as they present Be BIG: Step Up, Step Out, Be Bold—in Leadership and in Life (details and registration here). One of our frequent guest bloggers, Sourav Banerjee, attended the recent Be BIG session in Mumbai, India; here he shares how it has made a difference in his work life over the past few months.
I’ve had changes in work responsibilities in the last few months. I am managing new and different kinds of workgroups and have taken over some responsibilities on a much broader scale. In the midst of all this change, I’ve been trying to consciously apply learnings from the Be BIG workshop I attended several months ago.
Over the last week, I’ve been wondering, “What learnings from the Be BIG workshop have become a part of me—things which I do unconsciously now?” To answer these questions, I had to revisit my experiences at work over the last few months.
Around January, I started handling new workgroups. I laid out a plan to get a pulse of the health of HR processes in these workgroups. My first step was to identify and dialogue with different stakeholders, asking each stakeholder the same set of questions to identify focus areas. After identifying the focus areas, I asked each stakeholder for her or his perspective on the relevant area. In hindsight, I realized I was trying to understand the health of HR processes from “all the four corners.” The Four Corners Breakthrough characterized my approach.
How important can a calendar be? Well, very important! Especially when you start realizing that your calendar always seems to be packed. Recently, I have been getting meeting invites all the time. I spent a month of being in this meeting frenzy. Soon I realized:
- I was allotting no/minimal time to think about things I was doing.
- I was being invited to some meetings it was not “necessary” for me to attend.
- The agenda items for some meetings could have been achieved through emails too.
I have been consciously working on keeping aside thinking time for my job. Till now, I’ve been successful in keeping aside half a day in a week. And now, whenever I get a meeting invite, I ask myself, “Is this meeting required? If yes, am I required for this meeting?” If the answer to either question is a no, I politely decline the meeting request. In doing so, I am asking the questions that are part of Right People, Right Work, Right Time, which eliminates the waste of attending meetings that are outside my purview or expertise.
One of the takeaways I had from reading The Nibble Theory and the Kernel of Power was that all of us can Be BIG together. Usually at the workplace we focus on Being BIG ourselves but don’t consciously enable others to Be BIG too. Well, I’ve consciously worked on how I can make those I work with Be BIG. I feel I have made considerable progress in this area. Frankly, the workplace feels much more fun this way.
It is also very different. I come from a culture where it’s considered a virtue to be “conservative” and “consensus-oriented.” Consequently, in past, I sometimes held myself back from Being BIG at work. Over the last few months, I’ve tried to be humble but yet show up fully at work. This has included putting my point forward respectfully but strongly whenever I have had a differing point of view.
How do I support people to do their best work? Am I ensuring I am not putting others in a box? These two questions have stayed with me perennially since November. I have found a way which helps me to answer both questions successfully: I try “checking in” with people whenever I meet them every day. I try understanding “what’s happening in their part of the world.” When I come across people who are becoming a bottleneck to a project I am working on, I try to understand their current priorities and how I could help them in getting work done. I’m experiencing “checking in” to be a powerful tool for building strong relationships.
Last but not least, I have practiced “go slow to go fast” to build speed in relationships. I remember the Speed, Trust, and Interaction model Judith and Fred talked about in the Be BIG workshop. Speed in relationships is an outcome of trust. Trust in relationships is an outcome of interactions. I have been particular in ensuring regular and quality interactions between my stakeholders and me. Over the last few months, I’ve seen trust levels go up, and subsequently speed in our interactions has picked up too.
These are some important ways I have integrated, over the last half year, concepts I learned at the Be BIG workshop into my life.