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Formal and Informal Learning: Why a balance between the two is required in a workplace?

Learning, as we all know, is part of life. The workplace is considered a legitimate environment for learning new skills and gaining knowledge that enhances an employee’s morale and encourages their participation in work-related activities. One can even say that work and learning are synonymous as when employees invest time in work activities their experiences accumulate. They get a better understanding of their role in the organization and its importance. In today’s fast-moving corporate environment, learning new skills and honing pre-existing capabilities is essential, and without the right tools, an employee may fall behind.  Corporate employees must continuously modify and update their working habits to sustain competitive advantage, remain employable and perform well. To help employees establish themselves better in the work environment and boost performance, companies come up with various opportunities and provide learning platforms. Through these opportunities, employees integrat

Divide & Rule Policy with Two Strategists for one project leads to Conflict of Interests & Demoralizing Effects

I have been working as a digital marketing executive for the last three years and have already served under two team leads who guided me well enough to make me a confident person in the realm of internet marketing. Now I have moved to another city to start a full-fledged career in the same under the guidance of a senior manager. However, after starting my new job I faced a precarious situation that compelled me to ponder over the serious issues of resource management in a detailed way.

When I started my new job I was told that I will be working as a strategist for a single project. Dedicated hiring, which I believed would be suitable for me to observe and understand the functionalities of the market and implement the strategies accordingly, get the results, analyze them and do the needful. I thought this would enhance my career graph a little bit more as I had never worked as a strategist before. Also, I would be under an experienced manager of 15 years in sales and marketing which will definitely be helpful to understand the trade. But to my utter dismay, I found out that I am in the wrong hands. My manager doesn't know whom to assign what task and how.

The situation in brief

In our digital marketing team, we had two strategists to make and implement strategies for one project. The results are obvious:-

  • Conflict of interests regarding what to do, what not to do and how to do
  • Conflict of interests regarding who will implement first and when
  • Showing reluctance in sharing information regarding the project
  • Groupification and work politics both from the manager's end and the employee's end
  • Sounds strange to you? Well, imagine my situation now! A string of incidents followed from the very first week which I carefully observed and noted down to analyze them for taking decisions in the future.

Elaboration of the situation

Divide and Rule policy for increasing competitive atmosphere among the same team members:- After joining the company I observed this strange decision being taken by my manager. The team was instantly divided into two parts - one comprising all the good content writers and designers to be led by my strategist counterpart. Another comprised of only me, a designer-cum-animator who cannot deliver good results and a content writer working from a remote location. I was allowed to use some of the other team members occasionally and according to the discretion of my strategist counterpart. With most of the people willing to work for the other person, I am left with nothing. I still didn't give up. I tried to make the best of what I had only to get results that are not up to the mark.

Rejection of ideas in a swift diplomatic manner:- 

From the very first day my manager set a goal for me - visibility for the brand I am working with. Having knowledge of campaign ideation for several offline and online projects I quickly came up with a few for my project. They were not welcomed much either by my manager or by my strategist counterpart. They were kept aside for future use. I was a bit disappointed but did not lose hope or give up. After two months I found out they were being used by my strategist counterpart for her own benefit and I am not allowed to use them anymore. Another instance of disappointment in my case.

The reluctance in sharing information:-  

Being new to the project I required certain information that would have helped me understand the same and take better strategic decisions. I expected this transparency from my manager's end but once again I was disappointed. Even after continuous verbal pleading, the situation did not improve. I had to send a written request for the same to get the work done.

Moreover, my strategist counterpart hardly ever shares any strategy with me. Obviously, why should the person do that, I have been made her professional enemy. Well, I never wanted this situation to happen. I believe in working together to bring in better results instead of fighting over one little thing.

Which strategy to follow? Whose to follow?  

To a marketing team, strategy-making is one of the most important tasks to do. I often observed that my strategist counterpart is not interested to discuss with me what to do and what not to do. She takes her own decision after discussing it with the manager. Nothing is transparent here. No common agenda is set, and no discussions and decisions are made together. I had to constantly poke the other one for the revelation of her task assignments. Otherwise, a peculiar silence is maintained.

Who will have it first? 

Well, that's a very important question. But why this situation arose? My strategist counterpart has a set of social media marketing jobs to be done every day. I also have the same. I set timings for social media posts according to my observations and calculations. I often found out that my posts are not allowed to be posted on the time slots I choose as my strategist counterpart wants to do so on her own. To resolve the conflict I had to manage and change the slots. Results are obviously not up to the mark and disappointments in my case.

You might be thinking "Ah! This girl is complaining about situations that she can't handle." But you are wrong. An employee will fight for his/her position only when he/she gets the indication that the manager is fair enough to judge his/her suggestions, claims, etc. There should be a fair judgment of the tasks performed by both strategists. But, if one finds that there is too much work politics being involved in the game which is adversely affecting the peace of mind and work process of the employee, he/she might step back from the arena only to safeguard his/her interests and career.

There are some more observations on the part of the manager that might help you understand how demoralizing the situation is:-
  • Not confirming ideas over mail from the manager's end leads to confusion that whether my ideas are accepted or rejected
  • Rejection of ideas after the completion of the task by my team members
  • Unable to visualize what the creature would look like but side by side negating an expert's opinion.
  • Unable to identify the real potentialities of each of the employees under him causing trouble to make a decision regarding which task to be assigned to whom. For example, a quality assessment manager was given the task to do social media marketing and SEO job to do in their spare time.
  • The continuous negation of thoughts and processes on the part of a new employee and sharing the same thoughts with the seniors bypasses the original ideator.
  • Not talking in a clear manner but explaining situations in a roundabout way using broken lingo which is difficult to understand.
  • Refusing to listen properly to someone who is trying to help solve the situation.
  • Unwilling to appoint a lead strategist and marketing head but willing to carry on with his dangerous experiment of divide-and-rule policy
  • Having the wrong notion that people usually don't like working on a single project as it is boring, but failing to identify who really can
  • Having little or no faith in the potentialities of the team members especially the strategists

Even if I consider these as a testing situation for me, a way to judge my potential and mental strength to cope with precarious situations, then I had to say such actions are not creating enough vibes inside me to carry on with the tasks. I believe each and every person is different. They have different backgrounds and different experiences that shaped their thought processes and work processes, etc. A good manager should have the potential to identify the right persons to do the right jobs for him and not just go on doing experiments that disturb the focus of an enthusiastic employee. In my opinion, one should never work for such a confused manager who implements divide-and-rule policies just because he doesn't know whom to use and in what way.


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