Lateral Solutions Consultancy

Thinking, Leadership, Career and Performance Management

Anger Management Part 3 of 3

Posted by dtheyagu on June 1, 2007

Become the extinguisher not the fuse!Learning to manage your anger in your lifePart 3 of 3By Daniel Theyagu 

In the last two segments I wrote about how you can manage your anger.  I mentioned that anger can be positive and negative anger.  I shared some ways in which you could effectively channel this powerful emotion so that you do not easily succumb to its control.  Here I am going to share on some techniques on how you can manage the anger of other people in your life.  Your ability to manage the anger of others will alleviate you to a higher level of respect as people in your life will see you as a rational and reasonable person and someone whom they can trust. 


The ‘other people’ here refers to anyone who is of importance to you. These people could be your customers, working colleagues, bosses and family members.  Just like you these ‘other people’ also feel angry from time to time.  The worst thing you could do to them and to yourself is add fuel to that anger and create animosity that would become difficult to rectify later on.  The better alternative is to see what you can do to maintain your inner peace and try to bring the other person to your plain of thought to work things out calmly.  This can only occur if you are able to manage the ‘other people’ anger effectively. 


Here are some reasons why other people get angry and what you can do about it:




If it is your customer, the person may be angry because he or she is feeling frustrated as they are not getting the service or product they were anticipating.  Some common causes of this frustration are being put on hold for a long time in the your company’s telephone answering system; getting pass from one department to another; inadequate information given thus making the customer call back again and again; miscommunication and contradiction of information given and making the customer feel like a fool.  There are other reasons why the customer gets angry and this could be for reasons like: not enough service support; salesperson not having the right knowledge; unable to communicate clearly; trying to sell something the customer is not interested in and having a complicated process for the customer to voice his or her grievance. 


An angry customer is hard to manage.  Sometimes it takes a long while for the customer to cool down and even then you may have lost the customer forever as he or she might not want to do business with you anymore.  When dealing with an angry customer, the first thing you need to do is accept the fact that they are angry at your services and not you.  However, you happen to be the channel through which they can communicate their resentment.  Listen with an open mind to the customer grievance.  Do not show your disinterest as this will only aggravate your situation.  Acknowledge the fact that you understand how they feel and back this up by repeating to them what they went through.  This will reinforce their belief that you are actually listening and you are aware of the root of the problem.  One of the things customers like to see is that you are on their side.  After all that is what customer service is all about.  This might not solve the problem, but at least you might manage to calm down the customer and able to rationalize things better.  Further you managed to keep your own anger in check.



Bosses get angry for the same reasons we get angry.  They do not get what they want, such as a missed dateline, incompetent behaviour of the subordinate, lack of office discipline and lack of respect.  The key to managing the boss’s anger is to first identify what is making him or her angry.  This might not be easy as you may not be in a position to go and ask him directly.  However, when bosses are angry there could be a plausible reason for this.  Perhaps you have let him down in your work and cause him extra work to do to rectify your mistake. Or your behaviour wittingly or unwittingly might have caused your boss some form of embarrassment. 


The best way to resolve this is to speak to your boss when he is feeling calmer.  Find a time where your boss is relatively free to talk to you and make an appointment.  Tell him what you feel about him being angry at you.  Be prepared to admit that you are wrong if you really are in the wrong.  Offer an explanation for the error you made and apologize.  The last thing your boss wants is excuses.  This way your boss will appreciate and most importantly you could work out an agreement that you are happy with. 


Colleagues, Friends and Family

Usually your colleagues, friends and family might feel angry because they may feel that you’ve let them down or that you have a superiority complex that makes them feel irritated by your action.  There is also the possibility that they might be jealous of you or feel that your success is unwarranted and it should have been them.  Whatever the reasons the key to handling their anger is maintaining your sense of humility.  These people might just want to be angry because they feel that they could make you angry as well.  This will give them a slight edge over you.  If you have analysed the situation well, you should be able to handle them by telling them how much they mean to you and that you wish that you could resolve the matter amicably.  If you stay calm in the sight of their anger, sooner or later they will come down to your level. 


Again this might be tougher than you think.  But remember, becoming angry is your choice and not anyone else’s.  If you maintain your inner balance effectively, you will find that you will have a calming effect on the people around you.


Article contributed by:Daniel Theyagu is a keynote speaker and seminar leader for conferences and training programmes. He runs Lateral Solutions Consultancy which designs and conducts competency-based training for organizations  E-mail:; website:


Posted in Office Management | 1 Comment »

Anger Management Part 2 of 3

Posted by dtheyagu on June 1, 2007

Keep your Temper in check!Learning to Manage Anger in your LifePart 2 of 3 

In the last segment I shared with you some causes of anger and how you can distinguish positive anger from the negative one.  There are many things that occurs which triggers anger. If you are unable to channel this psychological reaction effectively it will cause you to take actions or say things that you might regret afterwards.  Mr. Laurence J Peter said: “Speak when you are angry – and you will make the best speech you’ll ever regret.”


When you become angry there is a series of cascading reaction in your body that will make you feel, irritable, frustrated and miserable.  However, all these reactions occur in your mind and the thought processes that make you feel this way affects your physical actions as well.  You need to realize that as long as these feelings occur in your mind you still have the ability to take charge of it and manage it in such a way that you are motivated by the course of action you take.  It’s all about having the choice to do or feel what you want.  Dr Wayne Dyer puts it as: “Be miserable.  Or motivate yourself.  Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.”  

In order to allow you to manage your anger here are some tips:



1.  Analyze the situation that makes you angry

This may sound difficult.  After all when you are feeling angry – then you are angry. Right!  However, sometimes your anger may be a by-product of a wrong response that your brain has perceived.   Analyze the situation to see what and why you feel this sense of anger.  Anger can be caused by an external event like you getting stuck in a traffic jam and being worried that you will be late for an important appointment.  It can also be caused by an internal event like someone said some things about you that are untrue.  You will feel a sense of resentment and anger against this person and might want to rectify the situation.  In both these situation if you are unable to do anything because it is beyond your control you feel furious which affects your thinking and your ability to rationalize.  This is when you should channel away your anger.  Try to resolve the situation if you can, if this is not possible then learn to move on.  Lingering on to the situation only going to make matters worst for you.


2.  Analyze the people you are dealing with

The people in your life can influence you in more ways than you think.  If you are always in the company of people who have the tendency to lose their temper easily, it will also affect your sense of inner balance.  There is an Arabic proverb which says: “A wise man associating with the vicious becomes an idiot; a dog traveling with good man becomes a rational being.”  There is a tendency too that when you mingle with people of this caliber that you might end up feeling angry about things or other people that is not really your problem. 


You may not be able to avoid these kinds of people always, but you can be wary of them and keep in mind that you are in charge of your feelings.  Further try to associate with people who are calm and peaceful.  Observe how they are able to manage their anger and see whether you could emulate this in yourself.  John Maxwell epitomized this ability when he said: “You will acquire the vices and virtues of your closest associates.  The fragrance of their lives will pervade your life.”


3.  Learn to laugh at mistakes you make

Life is never an easy road.  You will face obstacles and sometimes fall.  If every time something bad happens you get angry and fall into the “Why Me!” syndrome you will face difficulties in finding peace with yourself.  The truth of the matter is that whenever you have the “Why Me!” feeling – note that if it not you who else then?  Thomas Fuller said: “None knows the weight of another’s burden”.  This statement reflects that we think that what has happened to us is unfortunate and unfair.  However there are others who might have suffered a worst consequence.  The only way to manage such a feeling of dread that leads to anger is to learn to laugh at yourself and the mistakes that you’ve made.  The more you are able to do this the more inner peace you attain and you become better at handling situations or people who make you angry.


4.  Develop a sense of Self regard

Self regard is your ability to visualize yourself as to who you are and what you are capable of.  If you regard yourself in low esteem then that’s what is going to happen.  On contrary if you hold yourself in high regard then you will receive the kind of respect that you seek.  Having a good sense of self regard will make you a patient, even-tempered and effective person.  You will become the man or woman who mean what you say or say what you mean.  A lack of self-regard often indicates a feeling of insecurity and a morbid fear of the unknown and uncertain.  This will prevent you from making decisions or exercising your right when there is a need to and thus create a latent anger sensation within you.  If not checked this inner feeling will give rise to toxic emotions such as hate, envy and fury that can cause dire consequences.


You can increase your sense of self-regard by having more trust in your abilities and capabilities. Note that the one thing that makes you who you are and what you want to be is faith.  Erich Fromm beautifully puts it: “Only a person who has faith in himself is able to be faithful to others.” 

Article contributed by:Daniel Theyagu is a keynote speaker and seminar leader for conferences and training programmes. He runs Lateral Solutions Consultancy which designs and conducts competency-based training for organizations E-mail:; website:

Posted in Office Management | Leave a Comment »

Anger Management Part 1 of 3

Posted by dtheyagu on June 1, 2007

Don’t Lose It! Learning to manage your anger in your life

Part 1 of 3

By Daniel Theyagu 

Too often in our life, we might succumb to losing our temper and just as we do so we regret our action.  Anger is a powerful emotion. It has both a positive and negative effect in our lives.  More than two thousand years ago, Greek philosopher Aristotle said: Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody’s power, that is not easy.  

Anger management is not about anger control.  When you control your anger you are just delaying the inevitable in that you are already angry and that feeling of anger is being suppressed temporarily.  Sooner or later it will re-surface and when it does the feeling might be magnified and become deadlier.  What you need to do is to learn how to manage your anger.  That way you will have an effective control of this powerful emotion and use it in a more beneficial ways. 

The objective of managing your anger is in your ability to channel both your emotional feelings and the physiological arousal that anger causes towards a more constructive course of action. It is important that you realize that you can’t get rid of or avoid anger. There will be people or events that occur in your life that will enrage you and there is nothing you could do to change these things.  However, if someone is able to make you angry it just goes to show that they can get into your mind and manipulate your reasoning to generate the feeling of anger.  This makes them more powerful and you will feel emotionally inapt.  Such a weakness of the mind might enrage you into taking drastic actions believing that this will compensate for your inability to deal with the feeling of anger.  

The first thing you need to understand in managing anger is that anger can be either positive or negative.  

Positive angerPositive anger can arise in several ways.  If you feel that some thing is being done unfairly or that people in your life have not got their fair share of justice, although it may not concern you directly you feel a sense of anger.  Such anger may trigger you to take action to see what you can do to alleviate the situation.  In this way you will feel energize as you have a cause to live for and this might inspire you to take positive action.  Further such a positive anger will also allow you to communicate your feeling about the issues that are bothering you and perhaps get other people fired up as well to take action.  This might help you release tension in a constructive way.  As you are motivated by this feeling of positive anger you might also be able to resolve hidden conflicts and discover new information about the situation that shed some light on what you can do to change it.   

Negative AngerIf anger is used inappropriately, it may cause other symptoms that give negative results.  When channeled ineffectively, anger will disrupt your life and your relationship with your family, friends and working colleagues.  Negative anger will also control your thought process and leaves a negative impression of the thing or person you are angry at.  This will inevitably disallows you from looking at the situation objectively and you might become biased and opinionated.  Your action or words might hurt others and cause them to lose respect for you which in turn will cause other forms of emotional problems.  This can be epitomized by the quote from Chinese philosopher Confucius who said: When anger rises, think of the consequences.   

There is a saying that healthy body gives a healthy mind.  The reverse is also true in that a healthy mind makes a healthy body. In a journal published by the American Heart Association, a study conducted showed that people who are more prone to getting angry are three times more likely to have a cardiac arrest leading to fatality as compared to people who are less anger prone.  

 Negative anger clouds your rationality and good sense of judgment.  This in turn will make you feel physically and emotionally drained.  Just like you manage the other attributes in your life, like money, time, change and work/life balance it is equally important that you need to manage your anger as well.  Greek thinker Epictetus said: If you do not wish to be prone to anger, do not feed the habit; give it nothing which may tend to its increase.  

This in principle espouses the need for you to manage your anger. The choice to be angry and stay angry is one that only you should be allowed to make. If you want to resolve any matters or conflict with others you first need to be in control of your own feelings.  As the late Indira Gandhi puts it: “You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.”  In the next article, I will share some insights on how you could manage your anger in your life. 


Article contributed by:Daniel Theyagu is a keynote speaker and seminar leader for conferences and training programmes. He runs Lateral Solutions Consultancy which designs and conducts competency-based training for organizations  E-mail:; website:


Posted in Office Management | 1 Comment »

Posted by dtheyagu on February 13, 2007

Developing a Razor Sharp Memory (Part 4) 

By Daniel Theyagu 

 In the last part we learned the Numerical Pegging system up to the first 10 pegs. If you want to go beyond the first 10, all you need to do is to replace the number with a word or thing that looks like the number, sounds like the number or associated with the number.  For instance, my numerical peg for 11 is SOCCER (11 Players in the team).  Number 12 peg would be CLOCK (think this is obvious) and Number 13 is FRIDAY (considered as unlucky).  It is best that you should create your own as that way you will find it easier to use the peg to remember information since you’ve personalized the numerical peg. 


The disadvantage that you might have with this system is that after some time, it would be difficult to find a word association with the number.  You may create a numerical peg perhaps up to the first 20 numbers.  After which it would become increasingly challenging.  This is when you might consider using the Alphanumerical System.


The Alphanumerical System

This system involves the replacing the number with a letter from the alphabet that represents the number either by its pronunciation, shape of number or some form of association.  For instance;

Number 0 is represented by the following:  s, z, ce, se  (this sounds like zero)

Number 1 is  either T or D (both got one line coming down)

Number 2 is N (looks like a two from the side)

Number 3 is M (looks like a 3 from the side)

Number 4 is R (there are four small R in the number 4 if you observe carefully)

Number 5 is L (the top part of 5 looks like L)

Number 6 is represented by: J (upturn six), soft G (as in girl) CH, SH

Number 7 is represented by: hard G (as in garbage), K (there are two 7 in K) and C (sounds like K as in the name Katherine and Catherine)

Number 8 is F (cursive writing of    f  looks like an 8), v (as v sometimes replaces f)

Number 9 is P or B (looks like an upturn nine if observed from another perspective)


Now that you’ve got the letters to represent the numbers note that the vowels (a, e, i, o, u) by themselves have got no meaning.  Further consonants such as (q, w, x, h, y) also have no meaning by themselves.  These letters are used as fillers to help create a word that will represent the number.


For instance, the number 15 can be represented by 1 (T or D) and 5 (L).  What you need to do is come up with a word that has got these two letters in them.  Something like TAIL.  There are two vowels in TAIL and these have no meaning.  Therefore T and L represent the number 15.


Number 16 can be replaced with the word TOUCHT is 1 and CH represent 6. 

Number 17 is DECKD is 1 and K is 7 (in this case the C is silent thus does not represent anything)

Number 18 is DOVE – D is 1 and V represents 8.

Number 19 is TUBE (can you figure this one out)

Number 20 is NOSE


With this system you can continue creating your own peg and using that to remember information as was shown to you in the last part.


In your business and personal life this system can be used to remember many things with a bit of imagination and creativity.  Let’s say that you have a friend call Mary and her phone number is 95404848.  How can you remember this?


I will use what I’ve shared with you in the previous parts and create a journey in my head that will allow me to recall Mary’s number easily.  This is how to do it. 


Every time I think of Mary I visualize (remember the visual association technique) her carrying a bunch of Blue roses and I tell to myself that “Blue Rose Are Very Few”.  If you look at the phrase, you will notice that you could replace some of the words that represent the number of her phone.  Namely:

Blue – B (9) – L (5) – U & E (no meaning since they are vowels)

Rose – R (4) – O (no meaning –vowel) SE (0)

Are – A (vowel) R (4) – E (vowel)

Very – V (8) – E (vowel)- R (4)

Few – F (8) – E (vowel) – W (no meaning)

If you look at it carefully you have 95404848! And that’s how you do it.


This method requires confidence and patience.  As mentioned in the first part, developing a razor sharp memory is not going to occur overnight.  You need conscientious practice and consistency to achieve this.  The important thing is not to over do it such that you lose interest in working out your memory. 


Keep your objective small.  Perhaps for a start you could take out the phone numbers of the 10 most favourite people you know and see whether you could link them in the manner I demonstrated above.  Once you can do this, add another 10 to the list and so forth.  After all, if you have time to work out your physical self, make some time to work out the grey matter in your head.


This conclude the series on Developing a Razor Sharp Memory


Posted in Razor Sharp Memory | Leave a Comment »

Posted by dtheyagu on February 13, 2007

Developing a Razor Sharp Memory (Part 3) 

By Daniel Theyagu

In part II, I showed how to remember a series of items in a linear sequential manner.  However there may be occasions when you may have to recall information in a random order.


If you want to be able to recall information in a random order you need to use a system called the Numerical Pegging System.


The Numerical Pegging SystemLet’s say that you want to remember a list of Food stuff rich in Vitamin A: 

1.         Egg 2.         Milk3.         Green vegetables4.         Banana5.         Pumpkin6.         Sweet Potato7.         Carrot8.         Tomato9.         Papaya10.       Liver  

If you use the Creative sentence system (covered in Part I), you must find a long enough sentence to remember the above items. Further, if I were to ask you what the number 5 item is, you might have a problem giving an instance answer. 

This is where the Numerical Pegging system becomes useful. This system is quite simple to formulate. All you have to do is to replace the number with something, which looks like the number, sounds like the number or associated with the number. The reason why you have to do this is because; your right brain doesn’t understand the concept of numbers or letters.  So by replacing the numbers with something which looks likes, sounds like or associates with the number, you are allowing your right brain to recognize the number and help you remember the word. 

This system is very much like hanging your laundry out to dry.


Imagine that you’ve just done your laundry and are hanging them out to dry on the bamboo stick.  In order to ensure that the clothes do not fly away in the wind, you will put pegs on the cloth.  The purpose of the peg is to keep the clothes in place.  Likewise, the numerical pegging system works in a similar fashion. 


Just imagine that you have ten different pegs each with a number written on it and or a shape, which is associated with the number. And you are hanging the ten items given above.Let us now create the Numerical Peg to help us remember the words given above.1            SUN (sounds like one)2            SHOE (one-two buckle my shoes)3             TREE (sounds like three)4             DOOR (three-four shut the door)5             FINGER  (sounds like five)6             STICK (five-six pick up stick)7             HEAVEN ( sounds like)8             SPIDER (looks like eight and has got eight legs)9            FLAG POLE (a flag fluttering in the wind looks like a nine)10           HEN (as in: nine-ten a big fat hen) 

If you want to remember the items rich in vitamin A as shown earlier this is how you do it. You just have to imagine: 1 is a SUN and visualizes the sun is shaped like an EGG.  

Number 2 is SHOE and imagine that you poured some MILK into your shoe and drank it as you had no glass (I know it sounds disgusting, but you won’t forget what number 2 is now will you?)  

Number 3 is TREE and you look at the tree which was growing GREEN VEGETABLES. See yourself picking these vegetables from the tree. 

Number 4 is DOOR and you open the door and a great piece of BANANA fell on you.  

Number 5 is FINGER and imagine you digging your fingers into a huge PUMPKIN. 

Number 6 is STICK and you were using a stick to dig out the SWEET POTATO from the ground.  

Number 7 is HEAVEN and in heaven you saw a lot of CARROT. Make it big carrots so that you won’t forget it.  

Number 8 is SPIDER  and see a spider building a web inside a TOMATO.  

Number 9 is a FLAGPOLE and see a huge PAPAYAS on top of the flagpole.  

Number 10 is HEN and see the hen running away from a cleaver which sounds like a LIVER.

Now stop reading this article and see whether you can remember the 10 food items rich in vitamin A.


If you were able to do it, Congratulations! If you had difficulty recalling any particular item, this could be because your mental connection for that item was not strong enough to hold the information.  It’s like you pegged your clothes loosely and a strong wind blew it away.  What you need to do is make a stronger connection.


This technique is useful especially when you have to recall things at random.  All you’ve got to do is to link the word you want to remember to the number peg.  It is not necessary that you need to follow what I’ve given above.  You could use other words to represent the numbers as long as you are able to associate the word with the number.


In the office environment you will find this technique useful to remember information that you receive randomly and which you have to arrange in a structure manner.  The important thing is to ensure that your peg is powerful enough to allow you to make an effective mental link so that you could recall the information at ease.  Go ahead and try using this technique.  You might try with your shopping list, or your ‘To-Do’ list.  It is only when you make a concerted effort to unleash the true potential of your brain power that you can develop a razor sharp memory.


This part only covers the numerical pegs for the first 10 numbers.  If you want to remember beyond 10 items you need to add on new pegs.  However, finding words that can ideally replace the number might become more tedious as you go beyond 10.  This is when you need a variation of the numerical pegging system called the alphanumerical pegging system.  I will show you this in the next part of the Developing a Razor Sharp Memory.


Posted in Razor Sharp Memory | Leave a Comment »

Posted by dtheyagu on February 13, 2007


By:  Daniel Theyagu 

We’ve heard about Learning Organization and the fact that Organizations that fail to learn are the ones that will eventually disappear.  However, creating a Learning Organization is only part of the greater equation of organizational survivability quotient.  The question that you need to ask is whether you have a teachable organization.


In order for people to learn they need to be self-directed to the learning process.  However they still need someone to guide and coach them to become effective in what they are doing.  Consider this example.  Peter was appointed as a supervisor in a manufacturing company.  He was well qualified and had all the know-how’s of his work.  Peter’s immediate superior was John who has been with the company for more than 10 years. John has got an effective practical work experience in his line of work.


On the first day of work John tells Peter of all the procedural rules that has to be adhered to.  He also tells Peter on his responsibilities and that’s that.  John then left Peter to his job and did no further coaching.  A workman, approached Peter on a certain issue and Peter using his initiative told the workman what to do.  However it turned out that the instruction that Peter gave the workman was not the supposed way of doing things and this led to a minor disaster.  When an inquiry was made on this matter, John reports to his boss stating that Peter is incompetent. 


This situation also reflects the incompetence of John for failing to teach Peter effectively on what to do.  Too often new recruits in organizations are thrown at the deep end of the pool and expected to learn on their own.  This is one of the reasons why some organization faces a severe attrition rate of new staff as some feel that although they have the motivation and drive to learn they have no one to teach them properly.


One of the true qualities of a leader is to create a teaching culture within his/her organization.  This means that everyone in the organization should be empowered to help others to do their job better.  If one staff goes for training, when he/she returns there must be some form of avenue for that staff to teach others of the training that he/she has received.  Only when there is such a transfer of knowledge through teaching can learning occurs. 


To create a teachable organization there are a few pointers you need to remember:


1.  When you teach you learn

Compared to teaching learning is the easy part.  However, learning in an unstructured and haphazard manner does not quite make the cut.  Whatever your position is in your organization you have to take the initiative to teach others in your organization.  It is only through the process of teaching that you can internalize for yourself what you’ve learnt. 




2.  Knowledge is for sharing

Nothing is gained by keeping knowledge to yourself.  Too often people fail to realize that it takes two hands to clap.  This is parable to the fact that if you know something that your team mate does not, then the whole team fails.  Only when you share the knowledge that you have can you begin to synergize with other people in your organization and through this synergy it would be possible to synthesis with other people’s knowledge and come up with new ideas, innovation and solutions to problems. 


3.  Teaching starts from the top

Unlike learning, teaching starts from the top of the organizational hierarchy.  If you are a leader you have to initiate the process of teaching your staff of your expectations and what you want from them.  Remember that the people who work for you are looking up to you for guidance and directions.  It is easy to tell them to use their initiative or that you’ve empowered them to learn.  Providing a learning environment is only part of the process of creating a perpetual learning culture.  There must be avenues and ways where by all people in your organization have access to someone who could teach them and they must be empowered to teach others as well.


4.  Develop good communication skills to teach effectively

People in the organization who have the ability to help others learn should be trained in their communication skills so that they could teach others effectively.  Sometime people are fearful of their inability to articulate what they want to say.  Good communication skills allow a person to share his/her knowledge in a manner that could be understood. 

When you create a teaching culture, you will notice a positive environment whereby everyone feels alive and energize.  There will be a constant sharing of information across all domains which will boost the productivity of the organization.  Teaching then becomes an integral process which will in turn motivate people to learn other new things so that they can then impart this knowledge to others.  Thus a cycle of teaching and learning is created.

Posted in Office Management | Leave a Comment »

Posted by dtheyagu on February 13, 2007


By Daniel Theyagu 

Inevitably, one of your job requirements might expect you to make decisions for your organization.  When you rise up your career ladder you will find that you will be increasingly tasked to make decisions.  Becoming a good decision maker will make you an asset to your organization.


Some of the decisions that you have to make may have a deep impact on your career as well as the lives of other people working with you.  For instance, your company is suffering a financial crisis and the management team that you head has identified various causes for this crisis.  To arrest this financial crisis you have been proposed with a solution that includes terminating thirty percent of your existing staff strength.  Since you are the key decision maker you have the unenviable task of selecting those staff that you have to let go.  How are you going to make that decision? 


We sometimes pray that we do not find ourselves in such a dilemma.  However, when tough situations arises only those who can make tough decisions will survive.  So here are a few pointers on how you can become a good decision maker in your organization.


1.  Understand the root cause of the situation

In order to make good decisions, it is important that you have a clear understanding of the root cause of the situation.  The decision you make must be based on facts that you have and these facts must be verified and authenticated so that you are certain that the decision you are about to make is a rational and reasoned one.  Remember the acronym CARF which means have you ‘considered all relevant factors’. 


2.   Do not succumb to office politics

Making a good decision entails that you are not motivated by people in your office who may want you to make a decision which might be in their favour.  It is quite common that when people start working together there will be a tendency to form little clicks.  Each click will then begin to have its own sub-culture and its own unique way of doing things in the office.  As a decision maker it is your duty to ensure that you remain apolitical and base your judgement on your effective understanding of the situation. 


3.  Don’t be drawn into the ‘Groupthink’ mentality

‘Groupthink’ mentality is one whereby all the members of a group or team feel that they are invincible and whatever decision and action they take and make will not fail.  Such a ‘groupthink’ situation comes about when the organization has been relatively successful in all their endeavours for a long while and there is an overall sense of well being and that ‘everything is going to be fine’ kind of attitude.  Organization that falls prey to this kind of ‘groupthink’ mentality will find it difficult to make harsh decisions when the need arises and prefer to take a wait and see approach until things become worse. 


You will notice the effect of ‘groupthink’ mentality when you are having meetings or group discussions and everyone seems to agree with everyone else.  There is no dissention and no resistance to the proposal put forward by anyone in the group.  Remember that there is no such thing as a best laid plan.  Any decision that you make will have with it certain inherent flaws.  The important thing is to objectively identify these flaws and if possible to either try to eliminate or at least minimize their effects.   This can only be achieve if you are not drawn into a state of ‘decision making invincibility’ in that you feel that you and your team can make no wrong decision.


4.  Successful Decision are those that can be translated into Action

Decision making is still relatively easier than the ability to translate the decision into action.  To be an excellent decision maker you must also be the kind of person who takes action.  Once you’ve made the decision you must give yourself a timeline for the implementation of the decision.  You also have to engage in a review process to see how the decision has improved the situation.


5.  Viewing failure as feedback for further refinement

There will be times when the decision that you’ve made does not quite turn out the way you want it.  There is no guaranteed success formula in decision making.  When you made a decision that failed what makes you an effective individual is your ability to assess the damage and review the situation to see how you could refine the decision again and put it into action.  This certainly is not going to be an easy road.  You will face obstacles and perhaps it might be a decision of tremendous magnitude that you have no second chance.  However, take heed that if you’ve done your homework and have paid attention to the other pointers above, you most likely might not suffer a massive catastrophe.  You may falter and perhaps sustain a few ‘executive bruises’ that will give you valuable feedback on how you could refine your decision.

Posted in Office Management | Leave a Comment »

Taking Ownership in Your Workplace

Posted by dtheyagu on January 28, 2007

Taking Ownership of what you are doing

Daniel Theyagu 



So you are an employee?  You work for a living.  Your boss is always breathing down your neck.  You wish you had a better job.  There must be something better out there for you. 


These statements must have occasionally passed through your mind.  Especially when you are faced with uncertainty in the job that you are doing and you feel that your effort and the work that you do does not quite justify and satisfy your true ability.  Then again this is where the paradox lies.  What is your true ability? 

The world we live in today has undergone rapid and disruptive changes.  What were accepted norms are being thrown out of the window!  New ideas, new working philosophy and new creed are replacing the old ones.  This means that your employability and survivability in your organization is based on your ability to take ownership of what you are doing.  Even if you are employed by someone else, you are as much the owner of the company as your employer is.  When you take ownership of what you are doing you internalize that part of your job and become energized in what you do. 


It’s like you losing your wallet and wanting to find it very much.  You will notice if this has happened to you, you put a lot of dedication if trying to find that wallet of yours.  However, think what you will do if your colleague or friend comes to you and says that he/she has lost the wallet and ask for your assistance to find it!  You will certainly help, but you might not be that much dedicated in really looking for the wallet.  For a simple reason being that it is not yours. 


This parable is what exactly happens in organizational setting.  People working in organization are sometimes simply running around doing things the right way.  They are efficient but not really effective.  They keep to organizational protocols and practices but do not question their validity or the need to change.  After a period whatever they are doing becomes sort of ‘acceptable practices’ and a general state of inertia sets in.  If you have reach this kind of state, it is about time that you start questioning your values and identify your vision and try to figure out whether you are doing the right thing of staying on or perhaps you should move on. 


Moving on to something else might be a step in the right direction.  The traditional approach of long term employability is being challenged today.  Many organizations are now offering shorter contract terms to their employees so that the organization have the option of selecting and keeping those employees that they feel would be an asset to the organization.  This sometimes might create a sense of dissonance and lack of conviction on your part as you might not be sure whether you are wanted after your contract runs out. 


If you are keen to stay on and you feel that you can be an asset to your organization, what you need to do is to take ownership of your job.  You need to change your paradigm from the traditional “I work for the organization” to one whereby you change your mindset and see as if “the organization is working for me” instead.  You should learn to see yourself as the owner, no matter where you stand in your organization.  Achieving this paradigm shift in you will automatically allow you to start to contribute effectively to your organization.


How can you achieve this new paradigm shift? 


I would like to propose the 4R that will allow you to take ownership of whatever that you are doing in your organization.  Here they are.



Learn to take responsibility for the actions that you undertake.  Responsibility comes from the root word ‘response’. This means you should response to the situation rather than react to it.  Taking responsibility will show you up as a person of high integrity and conviction and that will in turn make others look up to you and value your opinion and the decisions that you’ve got to make. 


You can develop this quality in you by volunteering when you know you can take on a certain task rather than waiting to be asked.  Sometimes, people wait to be ask because they have this feeling in them that they are not wanted and by being asked would alleviate them to a higher level of importance.  This is certainly a quality of a person suffering from inferiority complex.  You don’t have to feel this way.  You can dive yourself into your workload with passion and give it all your best.  When you do this regularly, people in your organization will take notice, one way or another. 


Taking responsibility will also make you a more confident person and boost your self-esteem.   When you feel this way you inevitably develop the next quality that will make you personally successful.



When we buy any item we want to ensure that they are reliable.  For one simple reason – when it is reliable it will not give us problem and will serve our purpose.  Likewise, reliability is a personal quality that you should develop and extrude in your organization.  When you are reliable, you will realize that you become your own boss.  You will also become an indispensable asset of your organization.  You will be someone whom the organization feels can help drive them to



Being resolute ensures that you do not easily get swayed by what others are saying about the organization you are working for and about yourself.  You should learn to be open to constructive criticism that allows you to self-analyze and improve your personal and professional qualities. However, don’t fall prey to those ‘emotional vampires’ in your organization who have the tendency to sap your sense of self-awareness and self-regard and make you feel as if that you are wasting your time with the company.  It is easy to be swayed from what you want to achieve if you are unclear and unsure in your mind what is it you really want.  


You can become more resolute by becoming clear in what your goals are and to synchronize your own personal goals with that of your organization’s goals.  If you are unable to do this, it may mean that you are unable to see what is it that your organization is working towards and this will definitely lead to a clash between you and the organization.  If you feel that you are unable to do this, then perhaps it might be a good idea to move on.  However, if you feel that you can change your mindset and work in-sync with your organization’s vision that you need to develop the next quality in yourself.



Sometimes we lose sight of our goals and purpose in life because we feel that we might be in the rut and just plain unlucky.  There are some who believe that they are plagued by hard luck.  This is nothing more than a negative state of mind.  You may have heard of the saying: ‘When the going gets tough, the tough gets going!’! This is absolutely true.  You can become tough by learning to make your own luck.  How? 


By becoming resourceful!  Learn how to work within limitations and maximize your productivity.  I’ve never heard of any organization that has abundant resources.  One way or other there will be some form of shortages.  If it is not in manpower, it would be in equipment or other things.  What you need to do is to see what you could do to exploit the resources available at your disposal to the maximum benefit of your organization.  This is one area when you can learn to think creatively.  When you become resourceful you make sure that whatever you have works for you.  Much as you might think you are working for your organization, you must also remember the organization is working for you.  The very fact that you are still employed is a testament to the fact that your organization believes in your ability.  It is up to you to drive your organization from wherever you are.  You can achieve this by doing the next thing.




Re-Learn, Re-ThinkThe day we stop learning is the day we die.  Learning is an on-going process.  It starts from the time you were conceived and continues to your dying breath.  Learning also involves re-learning.  You must develop the habit of letting go out-dated visions and work methods and learn to embrace new technology and new ways of doing things.  Also when things do not work as they should do so, you need to re-think the situation and come up with new ways of doing things.  To quote Albert Einstein who said:  “The world we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them.”  We are everyday confronted with problems.  Instead of trying to avoid these problems, see them as opportunities for you to re-learn and re-think what you are doing.  You don’t have to re-invent the wheel but you could certainly improve on the quality of the wheel and make it more durable. 

Make it a point everyday to learn something new or do something different.  Try to re-think of something that you have been doing regularly in your organization to see whether you could refine the process, perhaps cut short the time or possibly change to something more efficient.  Many a time, people only start thinking when things go wrong.  Learn to be proactive and continuously assess your ground and what you are doing.  Creating this sense of self-awareness in you will make what you are doing more efficacious and help you remain self-motivated.   

President John F Kennedy famously once said: “Ask not what the country can do for you, but ask what you can do for the country!” You and your organization must become as one wholesome unit.  Only when you are able to achieve this state can you feel a sense of completeness in what you are doing and come to terms with your obligation to your organization.  Here too, leaders in organization have to play a pivotal role to create the psychological ambience that allows their staff to take ownership of their organization.   

Leaders can achieve this state of consciousness by empowering their staff when they seem fit to take on additional responsibilities.  Leaders should also maintain an open environment that allows all sorts of communication to flourish so that everyone knows their job. They should also develop a habit of emotionally connecting with their staff so that the staff sees them not just as their superior, but someone whom they can trust and rely upon.  

Sometimes it is easy to forget where we are going and end someplace else.  Only to realize that there was no necessity to move at all in the first place.  Embrace the above 4R qualities and take ownership in whatever you are doing and you will feel a sense of personal achievement. 

Posted in Office Management | 21 Comments »

Posted by dtheyagu on January 14, 2007


The phrase “secure future” need not be a contradiction in terms, if you take charge of your career 

By Daniel Theyagu 

In the last segment I spoke about setting short-term, mid-term and long term career plan.  This is important as since the on set of the 21st Century, the world has undergone drastic and unpredictable changes.  We have been afflicted with natural and man-made calamities.  New medical technology is allowing us to live longer and have better health.  We have more empowerment to take control of what we do and what we can do.


 Yet that is the irony of the situation.  With such overwhelming choices that are available to us we sometimes feel a sense of frustration and distortion in our perception of Life. 


There has been a constant shift in the paradigm when it comes to employing people.  Gone are the good old days where the employee is taken care of till his/her retiring days.  Pension payment is slowly becoming extinct.  What you hear now are short-term contract, performance appraisal, multi-tasking and more job responsibility for lesser pay.  The world that once looked familiar, predictable and rational is metamorphosing into a complex web where everything seems to be appearing illogical, irrational and totally chaotic.  If you want to take charge of your career you need to make concrete plans taking into consideration the frenzy whirlpool of change that is swirling before you eyes. 


Even if you wish to continue your career in your intended path the success formula that you derived will not work again in this whirlpool of sudden and catastrophic change.  What you need to do is to learn to ride the waves of uncertainty.




Here are  three pointers!


1.  Create a Sturdy Floating Platform

You cannot be like a tall building standing on a firm foundation.  Not any more.  The foundation might keep the building intact, but it’s still no match for a Tsunami or an Earthquake.  You need to liken yourself as a very study floating platform in a wide uncharted ocean.  The ocean represents the uncertainties in your life.  If your platform is sturdy it might falter but will not break.  It will carry you through these uncertainties and allow you adapt with the changes. 


You can be the floating platform by keeping your senses open to the changes that is occurring around you.  Be wary and learn to adapt quickly when the need arises.  Always assess the situation that you are facing so that you can control the situation rather then succumbing to the situation.  You need to learn to paddle your own canoe so to speak. 
Hollywood actress Katharine Hepburn said: “As you go through life, you learn that if you don’t paddle your own canoe you don’t move.”



2.  Don’t be Afraid to Open the Pandora’s Box

In Greek mythology the Pandora’s box represents all the human frailties that Prometheus took from Man and stashed it away in a box which he sealed and gave his wife, Pandora.  He told her never to open the box without explaining why.  Pandora’s curiosity got the better of her and she opened the box and released many of the hidden frailties of man.  Today when we say, ‘don’t open the Pandora’s box’ it is meant that it is best not to go into areas where angels fear to tread. 


However this is only part of the legend.  Out of fear when Pandora closed back the box, she heard a little voice telling her, “let me out!”  When Pandora asks who the voice was the answer she got was “I am Hope!”


Pandora let everything out but kept HOPE in the box.  This parable suggests that not everything is bad about opening the Pandora’s box.  Because when everything else fails, perhaps there is still hope.


In the career sense, note that the uncertainty that you face might really be an opportunity for you to tap into your latent potentials that you never thought you have.  Sometimes you need such uncertainties to strive effectively in your life.  However you don’t need to wait for a calamity to open you own Pandora’s box.  See how you can maximize your potential by tapping in those weak areas that you thought you possess in your life.




3.  Don’t become the Educated Crook

As a lecturer in the University, I had a professor who oversaw my course module performance.  This professor asked me once: “What do you think is worst than a crook?”  I had to think for a long time not knowing the answer he wanted. Looking at my blank expression he said slowly: “An educated crook!” 


A crook is a person who does something wrong.  He may be driven by circumstances and misled into a life of crooked behaviour.  It is possible to reform a crook by pointing out his mistakes.  What is worst is an educated crook who being fully aware of what he is doing justifies his crooked activity.  The educated crook feels that ethics and integrity are for other people and not him. 


As you go through your career in life, you need to ensure that you do not become the educated crook.  This is an easy trap to fall in especially if you are desperate or in a dilemma. This is the time you need to keep your wits about you.  You can get many new jobs you want until finding one that suits you, but don’t compromise you ethics and above all keep your integrity intact. 


Posted in Career | 1 Comment »

Posted by dtheyagu on January 14, 2007


Before your career hits a plateau, take charge of it and steer it in the direction you want 


By Dr Daniel Theyagu 


You want the job!


You feel that this is the career path for you! 


You go for the interview and impress your interviewer. 

Next you got the job!  You are now at the top of the world. 


Then when the natural ‘high’ of getting the job is over you fall into a rut of things.  Your career seems mundane.  You feel that there is no more challenge in what you are doing.  You feel that perhaps it’s time to change your career. 


But wait!  Can you guarantee that the next career will be an interesting one?  Or is history going to repeat itself all over again?


There is no success formula for your career.  You are your career. Period! It is what you make out of it.  Your career succumbs to the natural law of selection in that if you do not want your career to become extinct than you need to nurture it.  To do that you need to adapt to change.  As naturalist Charles Darwin puts it: “It is not the strongest nor the most intelligent of the species that survive; it is the one most adaptable to change.”  To prevent such a catastrophic extinction of your career you need to create your own personal vision and as management ‘guru’ Stephen R Covey mentions as one of the habits of highly effective people to “begin with the end in mind.” 


 Once you got the career you want you need to create a short-term, mid-term and a long-term career plan.


Short-term Career Plan

A short-term career plan can be from six months to two years.  Here you can maximize your potential by learning everything about your trade, networking and understanding your roles, responsibilities and function in your career.  This is also a volatile period in your career as others might intend to topple you or the challenges you face might seem overwhelming and impossible. 


There is a saying which goes: “Just when you see the light at the end of the tunnel it turns out to be an on-coming train.”  This means that you need to be very clear and focus on what you really want if you are going to come out of the ‘tunnel’.  Otherwise you are going to get run over by the ‘on-coming train’ which represents all the resistance and oppositions that you will face in your career.


Mid-Term Career Plan

Your mid-term career plan can be three to five years.  By now you should be professionally competent in your job.   You might be highly efficient in what you are doing but the question is whether you are highly effective as well. 


Efficiency is basically about doing things right.  Being effective is doing the right things right.  This means that you need to continuously analyse your original career goals to see whether they are still relevant in your industry. Staying relevant and able to respond effectively to the changing environment is crucial to your career success.  Mr Lee Kwan Yew succinctly said: “It’s the ability of a people to respond quickly to the unexpected that decides whether they survive, or they are swept aside by events.” 

This is the period where boredom begins setting in as you start enveloping yourself in a comfort zone.  The original sweet taste of success starts to wither away and you feel that you are in the rut.  Just like an aging car, your need to do a complete overhaul if need be to make sure that your performance is still intact.


Long Term Career Plan 

Your long-term career plan is anything from five years and beyond.  There’s the danger that you might get entrenched in your comfort zone such that it will become difficult to manage your career.  Further you may find yourself having the fear of redundancy.  If you are unable to make the changes necessary and take charge of your career you may very well be writing your own career epitaph.


This is the time you need to “rewire” yourself. Throw out the old school of thoughts if you have to and embrace the new work philosophy.   Accept and adopt new ways of doing things, attend relevant training courses, learn a new skill and keep identifying new business avenues to exploit. 


This might all sound exceedingly insurmountable; however it is easier to make small changes in gradual steps then making one giant leap.  Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh said: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”


This is the time when you can be an inspiration to others. Engage yourself in a transfer of your knowledge.  When you teach you learn.  And most importantly remain teachable.  When you’ve come this far you might be fearful of failure and this kills your entrepreneurial spirit.


Be receptive in trying new things in every aspect of your life. Do not be afraid of failure.  You may not succeed at first but as Lloyd Jones said: “The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try nothing and succeed.” 

In the next segment some tips on how you can take charge of your career.


Article contributed by:D Theyagu is a keynote speaker and seminar leader for many conferences and training program.  He runs Lateral Solutions Consultancy which designs and conduct competency based training for organizations.   To engage his services please;; Fax: 67522160 


Posted in Career | 3 Comments »