I sometimes feel that as human beings, we respect the dead more than the living. One of the customs in any religion is to use rituals and traditions to pay homage to the deceased. But for these rituals and traditions, I wonder how we would have treated the dead. I recently had to attend a couple of funeral services. I saw relatives and friends of the departed soul come forward to deliver the eulogy, to shower praises on the person who laid there inanimate, in the coffin. While those eulogies came with appreciation and good memories about the dead person, the chats and the murmurs also kept coming around:

“He was a good human being, and that’s why God took him early.”

“She is blessed that she had seen many generations before God took her.”

“He was a drunkard but a god-fearing man.” 

“He was rude to his family but a gentleman to the outside world.”

I sat there thinking, why now? Why were those good words not spoken earlier when the person was alive and kicking? 

I like to draw a parallel here; something that happens in organizations during the farewell of an employee. I don’t want to equate farewells to funerals. But you could see team members and friends come forward to share their experiences with this employee and shower praise and appreciation on their last day of work. Many would have felt, why were those good words not spoken earlier while the employee was with the Organization? If this person was so good, why wouldn’t they retain this employee? Why is it that we appreciate and recognize people only during their last days in the Organization? 

 At work, how often do we appreciate the person or the being of our team members? How many times have we said these to a fellow worker?

“You are a good person.”

” I am happy that you are in my team.”

” You seem to be good with people and looks like they love being with you.”

Not many times. Isn’t it? We mostly appreciate and criticize the work done or the behaviour of the team members and may have said the following:

“The report you made is great.” 

“I loved your presentation. You made us proud.”

“You could have structured the report in a better way.”

“I see you not collaborating with our team.”  

Providing positive or negative feedback on a task or behaviour is always recommended. However, appreciation or criticism directed towards a person or being is even more powerful and can build or break relationships, respectively.  

Many managers find the skill of providing negative feedback difficult during appraisal discussions. They would shy away and may not engage in those difficult conversations, leading to assumptions and serious repercussions during communication of performance ratings. The reason could be that managers consider giving feedback to their team members as a one-time affair during appraisals. They should realize that feedback and recognition should always be a continuous process running throughout the year. Nowadays, most HR management systems come with the Continuous Feedback feature to manage performance. To effectively use this feature, leaders should focus on training their managers on giving feedback and the rest of the employees on receiving feedback. 

The onus is on the leaders to create an environment that helps in articulating transparent and open feedback within teams. Appreciations directed towards a person and positive or negative feedback on tasks and behaviours would help transform any workplace into a harmonious and performance-driven environment. 

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Venkatarama krishnan B · September 7, 2021 at 11:06 am

Very useful message for our current leaders. It is rightly said that feedback to be provided continuously in an organisation, not as a one time process. This process will aid to improve employee’s engagement and also encourage them to improve/enhance their performance. And also regarding funeral & farewell, human always have a tendency to realize the value of human/any thing, when it is not available. Need to change their practice & start to appreciate small things/ share good moments/thoughts as & when available.

A Daniel Vasanth · September 7, 2021 at 7:58 pm

Nicely articulated….its the hard reality… can take clue to make more positive outcomes….Good one

Lt ColR Ravindra (Retd) · September 7, 2021 at 9:08 pm

I agree with you totally George! Appreciation of work or at home is so rarely done. At work the supervisor feels as if he is giving away money from his bank account if he genuinely praises his colleagues or team members. Even if people are made aware (as I had tried to by conducting many Workshops on ” One Minute Manager” ) people refuse to incorporate it in their work life and probably in their personal lives too! We Indians are so miserly in appreciating! Nice blog George!

Sudha Naresh · September 8, 2021 at 7:03 am

Very genuinely expressed. It’s indeed a nice topic,
useful enough for organisations and households too. It’s very much important to educate people and the younger generation to handle both sides of appreciation and criticism. Need of the hour. A good leader and inspirer is one who can handle them well to build a better society 👍

Hari · September 8, 2021 at 7:55 am

I think most people say good things about a dead person/ or person leaving the team/organization, as they thinks it would be bad manners or rude to do so.

As to why most managers/ leaders do not create a open environment for open and transparent feedback is not because they do not know or can’t.
But because they don’t want to. The reason is they do not want to hear negative feedback/ criticisms about themselves. They mostly want Yes men/women.

Samuel · September 8, 2021 at 10:29 am

Wonderful write up George! It is so appreciated. You always have good humor in your posts. So much to think and easy to read. We live in a world full of hypocrites, and we have no choice but to learn to live with them, for now atleast. “The strongest will is the will that knows how to bend.”

Bindu GR · September 8, 2021 at 9:28 pm

Really touching George. Kudos to you for penning this topic – for the deceased and living…
Yes the hypocrisy is hard to digest.. especially for the departed souls ….
Why are we so reticent to compliment or do a pat on the back? Is it our ego or insecurity?

Ramya · September 15, 2021 at 12:49 pm

I like the way you’ve drawn a parallel. Most often, managers shy away from recognising a good job done by an emp. What they fail to understand is that even an acknowledgement will get them to work brilliantly well. No point talking about how great an emp was on the farewell day. While, it could be a memory I doubt it could be cherished.

Manigandan R · September 19, 2021 at 9:23 am

Thought provoking George. Funeral Farewell Comparison is good. Keep Writing.


Deepa Prabhakaran · October 3, 2021 at 7:08 pm

Aptly put George! I myself find farewells mostly fake and forced. Add all the fake components and it’s almost unbearable. I wonder if people think that the recipient will not be able to discern the False flattery and worse be offended by it! Funerals are not behind, they are just as bad. Even if the family is relieved that the deceased has indeed ceased to exist, at that moment they are all praise spouting kind words for the departed. Maybe it is kindness to leave the end a little better than it actually is. 🙂

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