In today’s collaborative economy the two major challenges that the Indian managers face are adapting to a new environment quickly and ability to work in a team to collaborate.
Last year, I was at IIT Madras, supporting final year students in developing their soft skills and interview techniques. One of the students I met was shortlisted by Lehman brothers for a final interview and he wanted to know from me how to prepare for this interview. I understood he already learnt the basics of finance just for the interview and wanted to know if he needed to pick up more concepts from strategy and financial management perspective. I said to him Lehman brothers will not expect an IIT engineer to have the knowledge of reading financial statements when they join. Instead such consulting firms look for fresh, creative and analytical mind that can be shaped in any way very rapidly. It is somewhat similar to those in IAS cadres who keep moving from one department to another like from finance to IT to home and so on, where basically their ability to quickly learn the nuances of the game are put to test.
Nowadays, I understand that many of the universities in US have criteria to select students for admission, on their ability to work in a team. This necessitates a shift in the role of today’s manager from KRA driven hierarchical instruction based management to the role of a coach where the manager needs to look at the overall development of the associates for them to get into the role quickly and perform the task most effectively. I recently faced a situation where the unit HR manager came and reported on basic hygiene practice of an associate. His boss in turn came to me and sought my views on how to address such personal and sensitive issue that does not have direct connection to KRAa. I guided the person by saying that while addressing such issues, it is advisable to go deep into the problem and see the cause for it. The reasons could be anything from a mere lack of knowledge, awareness, cultural milieu he is from or a personal problem the person might be facing. Whatever be the issue the same should be addressed, not by issuing a mere instruction with an outside in perspective. Instead one needs to empathize with the person, encourage and embrace him first with an inside out perspective for the desired transformation to happen. The manager should remember that he is going to bring a change in someone’s life.
When you attempt to bring a change in someone’s life you need to be in a higher life condition to create the desired impact. High life condition is our ability to manifest in ourself the positive aspects of all other life conditions we may be in, be it our being in a hellish state or anger state or in state of learning or realization. High life condition does not come automatically with our hierarchical or social positions. It comes through our spirituality, character, and ability. Also this high life condition is something that doesn’t exist in an individual all the time and it is true for everyone. What this essentially means is that before counseling a person you must pray and meditate for the person’s welfare and happiness, and bring out your genuine compassion for this person seeking to bring a change in his life. This makes the person more receptive towards you and you can definitely touch his heart. Your encouragements and compassion will help him to develop his life who in turn can encourage many others in similar situation sharing his own experiences.
The role of a manager never stops at just making someone work effectively or meet their key result areas. Instead it marks the beginning of a journey where they should learn to transform themselves first as mentor or a coach before they desire to bring a change in the people they are leading.