The theory of evolution
- 10 Months ago
When gender stereotypes dissolve and sensitivity increases, life becomes better. And everyone's happier.
When I was younger (a lot younger), a large part of my daydreaming about a better, happier life revolved around more money. I knew it couldn't buy me happiness for sure, but it could make my misery a lot lighter. Today, 17 years past, the thought has got revisited and revised. As I write this, with rain tapping on my office window, my daughter pinging me on chat, and my coffee awakening me from late-afternoon slumber, I realise it isn't money, but EQ-a not-so-little word-that makes running our lives easier, especially when we're not at home 80% of the time.
Confused? Let me explain. As women, we're a pretty disciplined lot (except when wine goes down, and whine disappears). We oil our hair without anyone asking us to, take charge of the family problems with a purpose to 'resolve' them, and ensure our children eat greens.
At work, we also ensure all ends are smooth, all deals and paperwork tish, and all communication and reverts flow. Our teams confide in us, and end up working with us longer over the years. Our EQ makes us the coveted choice of companies that seek people who can 'gel' in.
Of course, at home, these qualities, till recently, were called so-big-deal.
Home manager, office maker
And that, my friend, makes me wonder: what would you call a corporate executive who uses management fundas at home and EQ at work? A home-manager? Or an
office-maker? While you struggle with that one, I've realised that transfer of knowledge (read management fundas) is only one part of what's happening around us.
The other part that's changing is that men are becoming a lot like women. And that's probably the best thing that happened to our work and homes. It keeps lifestyle diseases away, and comes without any surprises of 'terms & conditions apply'.
To give you an example of transfer of knowledge, when I need to pull up my team, I do it right there and then, and close the chapter. No references to past misdemeanours, no digging up last-rude-behaviour; only the case in point. It avoids larger flare-ups and showdowns, and prevents attrition. No, I'm not talking about my team at work, but my team at home. My maids, drivers and other on-call support staff-carpenters, electricians, plumbers, masons, upholstery stitchers. They're my life support, and treating them with the right balance of good-work-but-don't-screw-up, let me enjoy my weekends too.
This works in relationships too. Treating the father-in-law and other revered members in family as I treat my boss in office really helps. It's the right balance of respect and leg-pulling rolled into one. So, you laugh at jokes at the right time, serve the preferred choice of hors de oeuvres, and ensure you spend quality time for right communication, not quantity time, which may lead to "familiarity breeds..." well, you know the rest.
In those days when my mother was an employee, using skills that keep a family together to glue a team at work were examples given to non-MBA women. This was for helping the first generation working women understand management without getting into decorative jargons. Managing a home, making it tick efficiently, and repairing consistently to avoid a breakdown of appliances and tools (as opposed to the dictum, if it ain't broken, don't fix it), was used as an example of great admin skills that women naturally possessed.
Today, these qualities are downright sought after. HR heads are looking for something intangible that makes employees stick on. I remember a chat with asenior vice-president of human resources in a large organisation. She asked: "Why do we hire these clever people, who look great on paper, and then we have to let them go shortly after?" When I asked her why she thought they weren't fitting in, she replied: "They lack some key fundamentals like respect, courtesy, treating others with dignity, willingness to return e-mails and phone calls, and, above all, they are arrogant." As I look around, I could find a large number of men, and some women too, who fit her description. But for the majority, who don't want to lose out on either the pleasures of work or home, good sense and EQ step in and make life a lot more enjoyable.
The metrosexual manager
And the smart men are noticing it. Rather than lamenting about privileges that women enjoy-maternity leave, softer stands on home and children issues-many senior managers are actually setting examples by being just that: sensitive to self and the team's family time. These are managers whose teams remain with them longer and perform better too.
Soft skills, as they are called, are referred to the preferred breed of men called metrosexual males. Though Wikipedia describes metrosexual as a neologism generally applied to heterosexual men with a strong concern for their appearance, or whose lifestyles display attributes stereotypically seen among gay men, however, debate surrounds the term's use as a theoretical signifier of gender deconstruction and its associations with consumerism. The word was coined as a tongue-in-cheek play on 'heterosexual'. Today, the result is a man who is more sensitive. A boss who doesn't have BO at work, and cares about his team's "time-out." So, do we really care if it's hetero or metro? As long as he cares?
Being Mr Metrosexual then and gelling into the workplace may not mean winning the Mr Popular award, but it sure means people want to work for you and with you. And that transcends to home as well. Maid problems are less. Drivers stick on longer. And that comes from managing it just right, instead of over- or under-management.
In a world where teams that stay together and win together, the same applies to the home. A family that stays together wins together (may not eat together, though). And you can't have a family together without key ingredients like respect, courtesy and dignity. With each other, and with the support staff that makes it work for you.
It's also just what we women do naturally. And still manage to hide that little glee of pleasure (read gloat) when everything runs smoothly because of our constant behind- the-scenes management. At work. And at home. And it's a glee I'm seeing around in the men I work with, and live with too (dog included). More sensitivity, more personal care. They behave well, look well, smell good. Sometimes, just sometimes, they order the right food for you too. The world is finally changing. For the better. Is this what they call the evolution of the man?
Reproduced from Outlook Business's Wellness Column by Rachna Chhachhi