Artistic Pursuits

I don’t usually digress on this blog, from my main interests, business and feminist writing, but Mr.Picassohead is so much fun, that I just had to put in a link here. Basically, a site where you can try your hand at that work of art which you always knew you could do, just never started on it. I found it through Philobiblon…

Now, why don’t you go have a look at my masterpiece? If you try your hand at it, please paste a link in the comments here!

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Customer Service Indian Style

I believe ATMs in Japan never ever go out of order. Its considered a matter of shame if machines malfunction, and companies go to incredible lengths to ensure that they work round the clock, or repair them immediately, if they ever go out of order. (I read a very interesting article on this some time ago, though I can’t trace it now, maybe readers have some clue?)

In Bangalore ofcourse, ATMs malfunction all the time (apart from the too long queues at key locations). Machines sometimes don’t work, they sometimes run out of cash, and sometimes even swallow your card. And companies seem to take their own sweet time to run repairs — I know some banks where one machine is permanently not working.

So if you can’t ensure that your technology works all the time, and neither can you put it back quickly when it breaks down, whats the next best thing you can do? Why, direct your customers to the nearest alternative ofcourse !

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*(This ATM was working – I guess the notice was up in the event of any breakdowns or maybe just in case of long queues!)

10 reasons why (some) bosses make us hate them!

My friend P sends me this link from the Guardian on the 10 things that bosses hate about their employees. I understand the article is meant as a sort of rejoinder to the usual employee whinings about bosses. But some of it serves to explain just why we hate some bosses !

Some of the points include :

2 .Lack of initiative

“Don’t ask me if you should buy lunch for the client, if the client is coming at noon,” said one infuriated manager. “Call up the client and ask if they want lunch.” Actually that’s not quite what he said: there was a lot more swearing in the original version. Managers absolutely hate being bothered by stuff that really, if you thought about it for even a second, you could work out for yourself. They also hate constant updates and being CCd in on everything. They pay you to do a job – get on with it…

3. Too much initiative

… unless you’re an idiot. A marketing manager for a large educational charity reports that if there’s one thing worse than lack of initiative, it’s completely ignoring instructions to go off and do something else instead. She recently found herself on stage, ready to announce the winner of an award. When the person responsible for counting the votes turned up, he showed off a new, whizzy and completely redundant colour-coded method for counting the votes. Unfortunately, devising the new programme meant he hadn’t actually had time to … count the votes.

This illustrates why you can’t win with certain bosses ! If you don’t do work that they agree with, its basically too less or too much initiative ! Honestly, what this says is that if the results aren’t good, or the boss doesn’t agree with an employee, he/she will trash the person regardless of what actually went wrong. I mean, how many such dolts are there who will actually spend all their time on devising a plan and forget the counting….

5. Disloyalty

Although none of the managers came out and said that they hated their staff for talking over them in meetings, pointing out their errors in public, or preventing the bonus-related project coming in on time, Mann says it’s a major issue. “People used to close ranks, but it doesn’t happen quite as much as it used to,” she says. “Managers usually feel obliged to look after their staff, but if their staff don’t feel the same way, the lack of loyalty is always a problem for the boss.”

I don’t think a boss can demand loyalty. You either command loyalty, or you don’t. You just can’t conjure it up, or make employees think that they “need” to be loyal to you. This reeks of old school mentality where you stayed with a boss for a lifetime and moved up with him. But today, bosses change, subordinates change, companies go through mergers, teams change, roles change. There can be admiration for a mentor, loyalty to a team, but it has to be earned. It is no longer automatic that a person stays loyal to the job or team they are allotted into.

8. Petty lying

Saying that you missed the call because your mobile has run out of power. That you didn’t get the email. That you’ve sent the report but there must be a technical glitch. That the meeting has run over and it’s not worth you coming back to the office. That you’ve lost two big taxi receipts. That you’re working from home today. That you have to go to a funeral, the dentist, the doctor, your mum’s house, your best friend’s cousin’s wedding. Whatever. The biggest insult is that you think they believe you.

Bah. This is precisely why some bosses suck. If you don’t have good measures to track your employee’s performance, you will feel insecure about them going to a funeral, the doctor, their mum’s house or even to their own funeral. And you won’t believe them ofcourse, because, *gawd* they have a life outside work ! How is that possible ! I feel strongly on this – bosses need to evaluate their employees based on what work is being accomplished, not on how else they spend their time, or whether they are working chained to their desk or in their bathrobes at home.

10. Wanting their job

They spend all their time and energy trying to protect you from the higher-uppers, you spend all your energy complaining about them. And then, on top of that, you want their job? Unforgivable.

Ha ! Everyone wants to move up. Thats a fact of life. Bosses – accept it and stop crying. Figure out instead how you can move up yourself. Your name is not inscribed on that chair for eternity.

The rest of it is just about ok, but whoever wrote this expecting to generate sympathy for bosses can rest assured they’re getting none !

Cola Advertising : The big Burrrp

The new Coca-cola ad seems to be eliciting very polarized reactions from people, it’s either love it or hate it. I fall into the first category myself, but it makes me wonder whether ads should use devices that divide opinion so sharply.

First, a bit about this ad for those who haven’t seen it. Aamir Khan plays a waiter on a spruced-up bus, walking down the aisle with a bottle of coca-cola to be served. The bus passes through a tunnel, and comes out leaving the bottle empty. Aamir directs suspicious glances at various passengers who are burping, until – he lets out a good one himself! Everything ends well with waiter and passengers laughing together. There are nice touches here of class/age distinctions falling aside as everyone has a hearty laugh together. Watch the ad here on agencyfaqs.

I liked the ad because it makes the cola a sort of common or bonding factor – the line “Sabka thanda ek” ” is a take-off on the old “Sabka Malik ek”, it’s easily understood and reiterates that Coke is the only choice of cola, the “ek thanda”, so to say. It ties in well with the thanda matlab Coca-cola theme that Coke has been pursuing for some time now. The execution is good – thanks to Aamir, whom, I’ve always felt Coke uses excellently, by placing him not as an endorser directly, but as a fun character who really makes the ad so much more memorable and interesting to watch as a ‘film’, not as an ad. (Yes, how many times can one listen to Shahrukh plugging Pepsi so blatantly?) This ad may not be the best in the series of characters that Aamir has played, but it is not bad either.

Why do people hate it then? *Burp* – much of the humor in the ad comes from this rather socially unacceptable device. I don’t think burping was ever considered impolite in traditional Indian society, but urban Indian circles do find burping offensive and not something to be done loudly. If you do hear someone burping, its considered polite to ignore it. Then comes along this ad, where the main ice breaker is the burping. Burp, burp goes everyone in the bus, and then laugh over it all together. Quite a few people I spoke to, considered this really gross, to the extent that they didn’t want to watch the ad at all.

Now, it’s possible that my sensitivities aren’t very easily offended, and so I didn’t really find the use of such a device yucky – it may be lowbrow humor, but in this case, I thought it worked, since it has a natural association with the category. Cola does induce burping after all, no matter how well you disguise it. On the other hand, is it that most Indians don’t fancy this sort of physical humor any more? Or am I just talking to some finicky souls?