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The need to put in long hours at work is a problem for many working women in India. Some help to tackle the ticking clock.
By Aanandika Sood
The number of working women in India has increased significantly. Another thing that has happened, owing to the competitive times, is that long hours at work have come to be the norm, especially in India. Often, employees who leave early are unfairly judged to be slackers who are not serious about their work.
Unfortunately, it is tough for working women in India to stay back beyond work hours regularly as they also shoulder the responsibility of running the household and taking care of kids. This results in a conflict between their professional ambitions and personal responsibilities. The picture becomes gloomier when things like this get to have a say in deciding a promotion or an increase in remuneration.
… it is tough for working women in India to stay back beyond work hours regularly as they also shoulder the responsibility of running the household…
What do you do when you know you can’t be there for 12 hours straight? Networking with your colleagues and creating a good impression on the boss are two major keys to handling such a situation. Let us take a closer look at a few strategies to overcome the ticking clock:
I can’t lay enough stress on this must-have skill at the workplace. Many HR practitioners world over consider it as an important contributor to career growth. Networking is a way of making contacts which will help you in exploring new opportunities within as well as outside the company. Your contacts can help by giving you or sharing with you important information that you might not get to know owing to your early departure from the workplace. There are two important aspects to networking professionally:
a. If you want help, ask for it.
b. Be willing to offer help.
Networking is a symbiotic relationship. Everyone you know at the workplace is a potential contact. Be nice to people and keep in touch with others in various departments at the job. There might be times when help from an expert in another field might help you gain an edge in a project. You never know who might share an important piece of information that you might find useful. Tap your network on a regular basis to be in the know of things. Last but not the least, don’t forget to thank anyone who has been of help to you.
A simple mantra to get into the good books of the boss – work smart and you will get noticed. But how do you do that? Here are some pointers for working women in India:
a. Show up: Be proactive. Make yourself an important member of the team by contributing your thoughts, opinions and taking initiatives. Taking initiative is often rewarded as it is considered to be an ability to act independently and take responsibility. Try to find out what he or she considers to be good performance and try to work around that.
b. Ask questions: Along the way, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It shows that you are thinking on the topic or about the project. It also shows that you have understood the subject. Just make sure you raise a relevant question and not just for the heck of it as it will do you insurmountable harm than any benefit.
c. Professional conduct: Ensure that you are properly dressed for the workplace. Conduct yourself with dignity while in office and while dealing with colleagues. While representing the company outside put in your best effort to project the ethos and values of the company in the right light. If you are talking on behalf of the company make sure you know your stuff well. Word will surely travel up to your boss even if he is not there in person to see you. Keep your attitude positive and disposition cheerful.
d. Manage your time effectively at work: This is a clear indicator of your ability, a cornerstone of your career growth. Managing time well means getting the desired results in less time. This can be achieved by focusing on one task at a time to build momentum until you are producing enviable results; organising things that can be done in parallel and anticipating the demands of a project.
The word mentor refers to a person who gives advice. A mentor is a person who has the edge of experience collected over years of being in the industry and maybe having worked for the same organisation. A mentor can help you deal with your boss and your colleagues. She/ he may be able to help you out in a difficult situation owing to their knowledge and expertise. They might be able to alert you about a new opportunity or help you gain appreciation and attention from your seniors. A mentor might also be able to point out skills that you need to acquire to get ahead and perform well. Try to identify someone who is from your own line of work. Take the initiative of establishing contact with him/ her. A mentor may even put in a good word for you with the bosses.
A mentor is a person who has the edge of experience collected over years of being in the industry and maybe having worked for the same organisation. A mentor can help you…
As a working woman in India, if you want to get ahead at work, don’t shy away from blowing your own trumpet. However, before you do that make sure you have evaluated your own performance with a critical eye. When you do raise the topic with your seniors do it in a professional manner so that your attempts don’t merely seem like attention grabbing tactics.
These tips will stand you in good stead even if long hours at work might have become a staple in your industry. What do you do when you are expected to work late regularly? Do share in the comments below.
*Photo credit: Joye~ (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
Aanandika Sood aspires to be the rolling stone that gathers a lot of moss. After
First, it’s ridiculous that people are expected to work those hours. That work culture was set up when there was a ready unpaid labour holding the fort at home. Capitalism has not evolved enough to take in the situation where this invisible home front workforce doesn’t exist. It’s sad that this work culture has come to India as well, and people are supposed to wear their long work hours as a badge of pride. Part of me wishes people just take a stand against this inhuman and unnecessary practice instead of finding strategies around it.
But the situation being what it is, in addition to the good tips above, how about changing the home dynamic? “Unfortunately, it is tough for working women in India to stay back beyond work hours regularly as they also shoulder the responsibility of running the household and taking care of kids. ” Why is this acceptable? So our unfeeling employers have no understanding, but what about our families? How about a 50-50 split in shouldering the home burden between working parents? I suspect that when more men have to rush home to pick up the kids, help with homework etc., the working hours will get adjusted automatically.
As for me, both my husband (banking) and I (media) refuse to work long hours. We put in equal time with the kids. In the current market, this may mean we are overlooked for promotions. But fortunately, I don’t think that’s actually happened. In both our cases, noone has actually dared question us on leaving on time.
“I suspect that when more men have to rush home to pick up the kids, help with homework etc., the working hours will get adjusted automatically.” – you hit the nail on the head, sister! If everyone had to do their fair share, companies couldn’t assume any longer that some employees (usually men) can devote their lives to work 24*7.
Presentism is a big part of the problem. Certain changes are making way in to the familial set up here in India and we have mother-in-laws who have worked out of doors and empathise with the daughter-in-law but presentism has to be tackled at the workplace by the management to be fair to people, men and women, who work while they are at work within the workhours.
All this is fine, but in a profession like IT (Software Company) , the above factors don’t always work, specially if the client is from a different time zone and one has to stay back and attend calls. It becomes very challenging even if one is working from home, because if the child is very small then she has to attend to him/ her and the divided attention affects work badly. The woman has to compromise on her career advancement and aspirations. It’s very much a fact today.
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