We might know how to code, but if we do not know how to use coding to solve problems, coding will not get us anywhere.

This is something I have learned the hard way! Theoretically, we have always heard, one can teach a dog tricks, but can’t straighten its tail.

Apologies for this analogy, but it holds true for humans as well. Maybe, “A tiger can’t change its stripes” might be more palatable. Though it means the same thing.

In the last seven years, I have had the privilege and good luck to build a reliable team. Great professionals who put in their heart and soul in the company and have stood by me like rocks during this crisis. And this has led me to ponder.

We can learn skills – how to speak, how to dress up, how to code, how to write proposals, how to run a machine, how to use software and so on. But if we lack the confidence to speak, however good our vocabulary might be, it will be of no use. We might have the most fabulous wardrobe, but if we can’t carry it off, we will come across as gauche and awkward. We might know how to code, but if we do not know how to use coding to solve problems, coding will not get us anywhere… and so on.

Likewise, we might go to the best of institutes, come from the most privileged backgrounds, be exceptionally well-read, knowledgeable, creative, but if we lack the following, we will never feature on any talent list.

Professional ethics – This is a term which is fast losing relevance. What does it mean? Keeping your word? Meeting your commitments? Being available for your organisation and team? All of these. Irrespective of whether you are a full-time employee, part-time employee, gig worker, freelancer, if you have committed a delivery or an outcome to a manager, customer, client, it needs to be fulfilled on time.

In case there are exigencies out of your control, keep communication channels open, so that other team members can pick up the dropped balls. We had a team member who was extremely intelligent, from an excellent institute, from a good family, had everything going for her, with complete support from the team. But her lack of professional ethics, tendency to vanish from work without communication for days, in the end, cost the organisation its reputation with clients and loss of business. Eventually, she absconded, leaving the team in a lurch.

Get rid of that sense of entitlement – You cannot walk in with a sense of entitlement. I should earn X because I am so educated, or have completed X years of experience, or come from a premier institute, or even because I am your friend. End of the day, what do you bring to the table? Are you earning your salary….like really- are you contributing enough to earn that salary? I once had a team member who wanted all the benefits of working for a small firm – flexi timings, unlimited leaves, fixed salary irrespective of revenues… but when it came to stretching, learning to deliver the asks, she would raise her hands. And when I finally let go of her, dear me, it was like an avalanche of emotions!

Responsiveness – We all value our personal time, and gadget detoxing is great. But we live, operate and earn in an ecosystem which requires us to be responsive. Imagine how you would feel were you to try and get in touch with your HR SPOC over some leave details clarification of salary clarification, and S/he does not respond or bother to call back. You are quick to judge- My HR is useless.

Now think of a situation when your manager calls you for an update, or a client tries to reach you, but you are indulging in personal time, which is your right….you later see missed calls and being a weekend you don’t bother to call back. Would it be fair to judge you as a non-credible, non-dependable team member? Is that what you want?

Inability to balance between personal and professional – All of us are toggling between personal and professional demands. All of us have family lives, children are born, parents fall sick, some relative needs support and so on. It does not mean that we stop focusing on other elements in our life. Children are born, which is a life-changing event, and new mothers are expected to return to work full guns blazing in 6 months. People lose a spouse/ get divorced, and pickup threads of their life and maintain financial independence. It is not about prioritising work over personal life, but about ensuring that you are not dependent on others in times of need. And this requires you to balance between personal and professional demands.

Integrity and trustworthiness – I hate to say it, but it’s true. When you stay long enough in the industry, you soon realise that it’s a very small world. And issues of integrity are not forgiven easily. You might be able to walk off from one organisation in an unethical manner, but trust me, it will impact your career in the long run, because people don’t forget. And people want high integrity trustworthy people on their team. So whether you are an individual contributor or a manager, your reputation lingers for far longer than you would like.

The purpose of sharing this article is that we are going through difficult times, what we at Marching Sheep have termed as VUCA 2.0. Organisations will seek to strengthen their workforce as the economy stabilises. When it does, we must be seen as a talent worth hiring rather than being ignored. So if we can relate to any of the above 5, or lack off, take the time to pause, self-reflect and act quickly. Let’s be the kind of tiger that can change its stripes! Or we won’t survive!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors’ and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house