Tag Archives: Office

Motivation v Performance: An honest perspective

I see many professionals, team leaders and managers ask what seems to be a very important question to them: How do we keep our teams motivated? For several years, I kept asking this question myself. I asked this question from my mentors, I asked it from my colleagues, and I even asked this from my team members themselves. But somehow, no answer has convinced me so far in a way that I could witness actual results. It’s probably because in my opinion, I do not consider team motivation and team performance as two independent elements.

Team motivation almost compulsorily needs to reflect in team performance and that sometimes is not the case when motivation is mistaken for ‘always keeping the team happy’. Motivation and happiness without a shade of doubt have a correlation but very honestly put, this connection is only as strong as the results produced. Managers may experiment with the order of sequence in which the two work and may even compliment one with the other simultaneously but the fact of the matter is that performance will always outweigh motivation whenever looked at from a perspective of comparison.


As also mentioned above, motivation may at times be mistaken with the contentment of the team members. I used the term ‘mistaken’ here because for a lot of employees, contentment comes with complacency attached to it. Although these are essentially two different things but this is not how it is generally perceived especially when it comes to setting work-related goals. Average employees like myself are in search for job contentment and what this sometimes means deep down inside is the desire to work in an environment that does not challenge our competence in a critical manner.

The word ‘challenge’ when used in the present tense usually represents a situation or circumstances that we have chosen for ourselves knowingly and intentionally. Take a closer look at the situation and you will realize that there is very little in it that deserves to be called ‘challenging’ but since it was our desire to take it on, no matter how small a task it is, in our minds, it is a ‘challenge’. The same word though, when used in the past tense would usually represent a situation that was imposed upon one with him/ her not really wanting to be part of it. We only proudly call it a challenge once we somehow survive it and look back at it with a grin on the face. Otherwise, it is just a ‘demotivating’ task assigned by the boss with a single point agenda that is to set us up for failure and ruin our careers.

So it all comes down to being motivated in the present and producing results at the same time. For this, the only person with the power to lift you up and prepare you to face any challenge (real one) that comes your way is none other than your very own self. A good boss or leader can only add fuel to your fire. Believe it or not, NO ONE can ignite your passion but you. An exceptional leader will utilize even a single spark in you and turn it into fire but that first spark needs to come from within. A spark that comes from the belief that you have in what you do. And if you don’t have that- you’re probably in the wrong place.

So there’s no single answer or method to keeping your team motivated. It depends on the team as much as on the team leader to create an environment that yields positivity and is free from unnecessary carping. A great lesson (one that hit my right in the face) which I learnt from one of my professional mentors was when he told me, “Your appreciation for work is what you get transferred into your bank account on the first day of every new month. If you want more praise, do more than what you are getting paid for already.”

Although harsh but I guess that sums up pretty much everything.

Hammad A. Mateen


Do you want change?

We all want to make a difference and turn this country around on its head putting it on a path that leads to development, prosperity and overnight success. Some of us want to do it by taking to the streets, some are still exploring avenues and platforms from where they can create ‘impact’, others are thinking why this country isn’t changing despite their utmost efforts put in the drawing room discussions that they so regularly become part of. But have we thought of starting to make a difference by taking small steps instead of huge lunges.

If asked, ‘Do you want change?’ Most of us will say, ‘Yes!’

But if we are asked, ‘Do YOU want to change?’ We will not be so quick in responding in the affirmative.

Do we think about starting from ourselves and mending our own ways by dealing with the minor infractions and habits that we’ve become so accustomed to in our daily lives? Take it from me, a societal change is only possible when all pieces that constitute the society are in place and coherently moving in the right direction. Those pieces are us, the citizens of this country and members of the society.


So, let’s start from ourselves and start making a difference by:

  1. Being punctual to work
  2. Giving way to others on the road
  3. Respecting & following the traffic signals
  4. Accepting your mistake and saying ‘Sorry’
  5. Turning off the water tap while brushing teeth
  6. Carpooling wherever possible
  7. Exchanging gifts with colleagues, friends & family
  8. Praising your spouse
  9. Learning to say ‘Thank you’
  10. Turning off the AC & lights when leaving the room
  11. Doing regular ‘Sadqah’
  12. Spending time with your parents
  13. Appreciating your co-workers
  14. Stop saying ‘this is not my job’
  15. Saying hello to old friends
  16. Stop backbiting other people
  17. Starting to think from the other person’s perspective rather than your own every time
  18. Minding your own business when you’re required to
  19. Keeping your tongue in control and refrain from hurting others
  20. Being honest yet respectful towards others
  21. Accepting others for who they are
  22. Not wasting food
  23. Sending food platters to neighbors
  24. Stop procrastinating, especially at work
  25. Being thankful to ALLAH for all that He’s given you

These are just 25 of the hundreds of small but good deeds that have an impact that spreads like a fission chain reaction. Revolutions start from individuals and unless we become that what we expect our society to become, nothing is going to change.

Think about it!

Hammad A. Mateen

Letter of Resignation

Jobs these days they say are hard to find and once you’ve found one, it is recommended that you hold on to it like you’re holding on for your dear life. People do all kinds of things to keep their jobs. From playing politics to licking the boss’s boots and from lobbying to seduction, there’s a lot that goes on at workplaces.

But what are the factors that lead to someone finally deciding to part ways from an organization or resign from a job?

In the light of my limited professional exposure, I would like to share with you the 3 most important factors that help you decide whether you stay with your current employer or not.

Here they are:

Your Boss:

Your relationship with the person to whom you report to is undoubtedly important. Apart from the fact that this is the person who would eventually be rating you for your performance at the end of the year, this relationship holds immense significance when it comes to you being motivated enough to perform at your best on a daily basis. I’ve seen examples where bosses have led from the front and become inspiration for their teams and team members work towards achieving boss-mugbigger and better results each and every time and even look up to and aspire to be like their boss one day. Examples where bosses become mentors and teachers and train you to take their position. In such cases, bosses and subordinates make vertical progress in organizations together in a clean, productive manner.

I’ve also seen examples where bosses become so insecure of their own team members that they start feeling threatened with respect to their own jobs. This leads to them putting their personal interests in front of organizational goals defying principles of leadership. Such bosses end up pulling down their own team members and exposing them in front of others in order to get rid of them.

Another scenario is when your boss just won’t like you. No matter what you do and how well you perform at work, this person would never be impressed simply because he does not like you. This may be because of your skin color, ethnicity, the neighborhood from where you come from, gender (in many cases), personal, educational or professional background or the car in which you come to work daily. It can be anything. And unless he/ she doesn’t get you replaced by someone of his/ her choice, things are not likely to get better.

Your Team:

Your team comprises of both your peers and your subordinates at the workplace. To say that your team is your 2nd family wouldn’t be wrong by any means as you end up spending more time with them in the week than your people at home. Family harmony here is also as critically important as it is in case of your first family. One needs to be unperturbed mentally in order to perform his/ her duties efficiently at work and the team plays an important role in that. team

Teams can make life both easy and difficult for you and even have an impact on your future at the organization. If all goes well, teams inspire you and help bring out the best in you by moving together and helping each other out enabling both performance and learning at the same time. Good teams comprise of members who are active, positive, passionate and ever ready to support other members.

On the other hand, teams that do not work in a well-coordinated manner often end up getting you in a quagmire, escape from which can become both stressful and challenging. Office politics is to organizations as rice is to biryani. Teams contaminated with politics in excess amounts though result in tense working environments that are hazardous for both individuals and organizations as most of the energies are spent in achieving short term negative goals. The situation at times becomes so bad that stepping into the office feels like entering a swamp where each step needs to be taken while being careful of not being eaten up by crocodiles and alligators.

Your Salary:

Whatever anybody says about their intentions of joining an organization in the capacity of an employee, one cannot deny the importance of their salary. That, at the end of the day is the main reason why people step out of their homes to work in the first place (unless your Dad owns the organization or you are sufficiently rich already and are only looking for a time pass).

Pay checks act as a monthly fuel to your engine and keep you going and if paid well may also serve as a motivation. For some, pay checks are the only reason why they keep sticking to a particular job. This of course requires one to have either succumbed to domestic responsibilities and demands or to have had a severe dip in self-esteem. Whichever way one looks at it, salary is undeniably an important factor. When I talk about salary, I intend to cover the complete perks and benefits also associated with it.


The Combinations:

Considering the above mentioned factors and their significance, the decision to either stay in a job or move on has a lot to do with them. In my humble opinion, a combination of any 2 factors out of the 3 is sufficient enough for one to decide his/ her future with an organization.

Let’s elaborate the combinations:

Boss & Team:

Salary, not matter how good it is, matters the least when both your boss and your team are after your life and every day at work seems like spending 8 hours in hell with a lunch break included. What do you do? Either give your self-esteem a tranquilizer every day and come to work only thinking that you’ve sold it for an amount transferred to your account on a monthly basis called ‘Salary’, or you take a decision and start googling ‘sample resignation letters’.

Boss & Salary:

There’s no good in having a supportive bunch of sub-ordinates and colleagues around when your boss doesn’t appreciate your work and instead keeps pulling you down all the time. The decision to part ways with your current organization may come very easy to you in case you aren’t paid well there either. Of course, your boss won’t be much of an assistance in giving you a raise so there’s no point sticking around hoping that your team will submit a signed petition asking the organization to change your boss and giving you a raise.

Salary & Team:

Any professional boss will only be good with you until you keep producing the desired results. No matter how good your relationship is with your boss, your bonding with the team is something that will eventually get you results. A good boss and a supportive team may help you overcome your woes regarding you being overworked or underpaid. But a bad team and a low salary is not something that a boss can help you out with very effectively. Especially when a raise in salary depends upon the results you produce working along the very team that will do everything it can to make sure you are seen in bad light.


The factors and combinations mentioned in this piece are strictly based on my personal observations and professional experience and does not compel readers to agree with them. These of course are exclusive of factors and circumstances that involve unethical incidents, wrongdoings, misconducts or compromising on principles in either of which case neither of the above mentioned combinations or factors may necessarily be applicable and it will come down to an individual’s values, judgement and the strength to take a decision.

Hammad A. Mateen

Good Boss

Like any other professional who’s worked in different organizations, I have also had my fair share of bosses; both good and bad (I wish I could simplify it like how people stereotype the Taliban by asking, “Taliban are Taliban, what do you mean ‘Good’ Taliban and ‘Bad’ Taliban?”). So Yes, I do believe there are good bosses and bad bosses and based on the little professional experience I have gained so far, I can quite clearly highlight the attributes of a good boss and the reasons why generally all workplaces require at least one good boss around.

Here are a few:

Being Authentic

The most important attribute a good boss can have is authenticity towards his/ her sub-ordinates. This may sting a few times but will keep everyone at the workplace at check and aware of their actual performance as opposed to a self-perceived performance; a reality check if I may call it. I know I’m starting to sound like every authentic feedback coming from a boss towards their sub-ordinates is negative but that’s not the case. An authentic feedback may and should equally be positive whenever required. What a good boss does however is to remain honest to him/herself also and make sure whatever feedback they give out to the sub-ordinate is for the betterment of both the sub-ordinate and the organization for which both of them are working. A good boss is NEVER biased (did you notice the word ‘never’ having all capital letters?)


If there’s anything as important as being authentic to your sub-ordinates, it’s ownership. In fact, it is ownership that drives everything else at a workplace. A good boss owns every little detail related to his area of supervision. From making sure that the quality of work remains excellent at all times till turning off the lights after work if anyone has left them on mistakenly; from ensuring that deadlines are met for all tasks till noticing dust on a sub-ordinate’s desk, good bosses have the quality of ownership in themselves and they practice it effortlessly and tirelessly all the time.

I DIDN’T want it myself, but it’s coming from the top

An important part of ownership displayed from a boss (in case of middle managers especially) is owning the decisions they make. Let’s not talk about what bad bosses do, but good bosses generally have the guts to face the reaction of what is apparently an unpopular decision at first and then explain the reasons behind taking the particular decision to their subordinates in an open and confident manner. Wait a minute, why would a good boss take decisions that are unpopular (even apparently)? Well, that’s why they are called ‘Good’ bosses. It’s easy to take and own decisions that are popular among masses, however taking bold decisions (especially ones that involve change) are difficult to take. And then bringing the whole team on the same page afterwards is also something that ain’t a walk in the park. A good boss never blames it on the higher/ top management. If he/ she doesn’t agree to the decision, they oppose it and defend their teams in front of the top management with all they’ve got but at the end of the day, they either come out convinced themselves or having convinced the top management.

I’m listening

All good bosses are very good listeners and open to suggestions and more importantly change. You can tell if he/ she is a good boss when they close the lid of their laptop and give you their full attention when you go up to them and talk.  It doesn’t end at listening though, good bosses would implement suggestions/ take action immediately if something worth implementing is suggested to them even from a sub-ordinate.

Let me show you how

The part which is THE BEST in every good boss; he/ she knows how it’s done! At times comfort and at times embarrassment for the sub-ordinates, but it is largely comforting having this at the back of their minds that the boss knows the details of what is being done and also understands the complications and problems which may arise in a particular piece of work. A good boss also becomes a role model, mentor and teacher this way for their sub-ordinates.

You can do it! And don’t worry even if you can’t

Confidence is an important feeling to have, especially at work, and the best person to make sure you have that feeling in you is your boss. A good boss will push you to the limits but will also encourage you and give you the confidence that you can do it. Making mistakes is part of the game, but a good boss will make sure they make it clear to you that they understand that. Good bosses always give their sub-ordinates confidence to go through with a task and are also lenient to a reasonable extent.

Team dinner tonight!

A good boss will socialize with his/ her team and make sure informal team meetings become a source of burying hatchets between sub-ordinates who do not go along very well with each other. Socializing and taking out time for the team beyond working hours also motivates team members and helps them understand and come to the same wavelength with their superior.

Why haven’t you gone on vacations yet?

Believe it or not, a good boss would make sure his/ her sub-ordinates avail their vacations on time and they do not get horrified during vacations by seeing “Incoming Call: Boss” on their cell phone screens.

Instilling all good qualities in sub-ordinates

A good boss may have all of the qualities mentioned above, but the cherry on the cake is that the same kind of attitude and qualities become common in all team members/ sub-ordinates and this automatically results in great succession planning if continued for longer durations of time.

A good boss generally has relationships with his sub-ordinates that are beyond professional (in an inspiring manner). A good boss is a good friend, guide, philosopher and an honest critic.

Hammad A. Mateen

The Office Jungle


In the jungle of mistrust known as ‘The office’, species of various kinds dwell. It is truly a miracle of God that coexistence of such contrastingly natured creatures is possible at the same place.

Some characteristics of this jungle and its inhabitants are mentioned below:

The climate: Climate change takes place throughout the week from Mondays to Fridays and in some cases even extending to Saturdays. It’s usually gloomy on Mondays followed by light showers on Tuesdays which lead to heavy thunderstorms on Wednesdays. Thursdays are sunny and humid with the temperatures rising up to about 45 degree Celsius. Fridays are usually windy and dusty.

The Inhabitants: As we take a jungle safari, creatures of various kinds can be seen busy in their rituals which they term as ‘The Office life.’ Descriptions of some of these creatures are given below:

The Hard-workers: These are usually the ones upon whom survival of the jungle depends. They are moderate in nature, mostly subtle in their approach towards life and literally harmless to other living things that are around them. They prefer a calm, silent life without interfering in other individuals’ businesses. They have the ability to survive in all kinds of climatic changes without making much of a hassle.

The Scared ones: This kind is usually not the one which you can observe very easily during your jungle safari. They try to stay in hibernation most of the time. They have an exaggerated sense of smell and the moment they catch the scent of trouble in the air. They hide behind the rocks of files or inside the lair that is at an unknown location.   

The Leg Pullers: These are the chirpy ones. It’s not easy to find them in their dens as they are mostly found sitting around and wasting time in some other parts of the woods. They are generally harmless in nature but they like having a good time by playing pranks on the hard-worker types and specially the scared ones.

The Politicians: These are the only species in the jungle that are blessed with a ‘Brain’ (or at least they think that way.) They are extremely talented for all the wrong reasons. They are utilized by both hunters and the King of the jungle to keep a close eye on the activities of other inhabitants to hunt them down when required.

The Psychos: These are creatures with extraordinary abilities but they use these abilities at their own will. Scientists are still trying to find out about the chemical that runs in the veins of these species and makes them what they are. They aren’t bothered about what’s happening around in the jungle. The climate changes don’t even have a great impact on them. They have their own set of rules and they aren’t worried about anything else.

The Team Leaders: Creatures belonging to this genus mostly rely on the hard-worker and psycho type species. They are either found running behind a psycho trying to convince it to follow the rules of the jungle and passing warnings to it that are coming from the top, or they are mostly busy in disturbing the hard-workers to enhance their performance and efficiency (which does not actually happen very often, and the TL knows that too.)

The Managers: Inhabitants of this kind are usually the ones that attack first and then ask questions. They are predators and they hunt their prey down usually when they are caught napping. They have a great problem with the existence of psychos in the habitat. Managers like to live at a den which is positioned at a height so that they can keep a close eye on what’s happening around the jungle. They are mostly volatile in nature and consider themselves ‘King of the jungle’ (which they actually aren’t.)  

The Big Boss: ‘King of the Jungle’, the big boss isn’t usually seen around the jungle too often. It likes to rest mostly in its cave and comes out only when it feels like coming out. It has a very unpredictable nature. Sometimes at the time of feast, it likes to sit around with the other inhabitants of the jungle to give them a feeling that the King is actually very nice at heart. That is not usually the case though. He is only nice and calm until the affairs of the jungle are running smoothly. The moment something goes wrong, it can become the deadliest of predators. Scientists believe that until the inferior inhabitants of the jungle continue to bring vegetables to serve the King, it’s an herbivore. But if they fail to serve it the way it wants, it’ll come out of its cave and start hunting as a carnivore.

Life is not easy at the jungle. It’s all about survival of the fittest, and to become fit enough, learning the tricks of the trade is inevitable.

Happy Hunting!

Hammad A. Mateen