The True Measure of Career Success

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 As is the way the work society is, as is the way we seek and give recognition in families and friends, as is the way we mark our milestones in our career – so much skewed it truly is, as a measure of Success of Career.

Navigating the career journey with pseudo and cosmetic milestones decorates only the appearance of the career rather than long term endurance of the career. This treading on an unreal hollow path, puts a lot of pressure on one’s aspiration and the person ultimately reaches nowhere or grows up to be a Bonsai. Bonsai is the art of being ornamental, artificially decorated varieties of big trees in smaller pots. Bonsai’s are characterized by ‘Dwarfness in being Big’. Learn more about this from Dr. R. Gopalakrishnan’s book “The Bonsai Manager”.

Career can be defined as the progress by learning and practice of an occupation that a person undertakes for a long period of his life and continuously improve upon it, so as to offer it at a reciprocal value. Indeed, there can’t be a career where there has not been any ‘progress by learning’. However, and sadly so, the modern societal practice of career measurement ignores the ‘substance’ of career and celebrates the ‘artificial’ beauty tags. Thus, in most cases what we celebrate is our dwarfism in being a Bonsai. Bonsai’s rarely fruit, are mostly appreciated for beauty but a Bonsai Banyan can never give true shade and shelter.

Of all the things that make us a true Bonsai executive, the three most disguised and dangerous are the traps of Power, Title and Money. When Power, Title and Money happens to a professional on a career journey at wrong times, Bonsaism is guaranteed. The ‘look and feel’ is are there but the substance is missing in the inner layers. Nonetheless, how many Managers on the other side of the table truly has the courage and conviction to call a spade a spade. Which Manager would like to bear the perils of making a fast tracker on a societal race, realize that untimely stops at the PTM stations underscore no real achievement. This isn’t to say that aspirations and ambitions are bad traits to have. In practice, however, very few can back them with sensibility and logic.

It’s time to review how to measure the success of your career beyond Power, Title and Money, so as to have a real Career Growth and not a Bonsai.

 Dr. Marla Gottschalk offers interesting perspectives.

  • If, in your organization, you are in a role by which you are ‘Developing a Voice’ in the organization that impacts the organization as well as your professional practice positively… that’s priceless, go for it.
  • Learning and mastering something new – Whether your organization is small, medium or big – look for and get into roles that helps you to learn and master new things in your own professional domain or any other allied domain… you are making meaningful investments towards a long and endurable Career.
  • Find the challenge – In organizations, we exist in stages of “plates are full” and “can double hat”… periodically, depending upon a range of factors. Whatever they may be and wherever you are, look for challenges. It’s simple to find them. Whatever interferes with your ‘sense of comfort’ is a challenge and you would never regret welcoming a challenge now, to build a strong career base for future. Challenges on the first appearance seems to break us but they do give a tremendous high… a great feeling of satisfaction.
  • Create something. In every organization either small or big there do exist numerous chances of creating something new. Often invisible.Look for them. Try and give the organization a Practice, a Process, a Benchmark, a System, new Product, a new Line of Business, a new way of doing Something. This sounds impossible to many, yet, it’s both interesting and elementary. This is an experience which becomes so unique in our career that no traditional matrix can measure them.

As Kidambi Srikanth said after he clinched his fourth Super Series Badminton Title with an incredible straight-game triumph over reigning Olympic and World Champion Chen Long – “It’s just that I’m not thinking of winning or losing. I missed competitive badminton and wanted to enjoy the match. It’s like it happened because I missed that period of competitive badminton. It’s like I wanted to hand in and play as many matches as possible.”

Career success isn’t something you chase. It’s something you put forth with effort constantly and then it comes when you least expect it. Most people don’t understand that and only later realizes that they have become a Bonsai.

 

 

 

The Meaning of Executive Presence

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Young Guns, New Bees or Veterans! Startups or Vintage! Culturally Progressive or Old School! Do take a note. The phenomenon of executive presence is gaining more prominence and permanence. Interesting though elementary, it is notable that what matters much ahead of how you conduct yourselves, is how your presence is perceived in the organization. Should you be the one who sets the tone in meetings, get on-board with confidence, has a sense of balance, composure and dignity of manners, is functionally assertive to constructive conflict, can take a call upon and decide – you could be having it in you what the ‘Selectors’ are looking for in players to ‘play the big match’ and that’s Executive Presence.

Should you be one who knowingly or unknowingly is feeding to your cravings for control, dominance and popularity and realise too late that the bridges are being burnt before they are built – you would rather be perceived as the ringmaster. So good luck on any transformations that you attempt either people wise or process wise.

Executive presence is subtle yet strong. Complex to define and measure but simple to feel and perceive. The best of the competency models and the most of the validated and reliable psychometrics, not sure, if they can make an empirical presentation of executive presence.

A rather significant determinant of your executive presence is your appearance and attire. It is not only about what you wear. It’s also about the way you wear it, the way you appear to others is what others see you as carrying yourselves and that casts the impression and judgements that people form about you. Can’t help! Organizations are made up of human beings and here it is needless to say the rest.

Additionally important is what Daymond John says – “Good grooming is integral and impeccable style is a must. If you don’t look the part, no one will want to give you time or money.”

So, is there a way to increase the Executive Presence Quotient? Researches by Human Processes Scientists and Organizational Development Professionals reveal that executive presence is associated with deeply held values, increased self-awareness to acknowledge one’s own needs and willingly working to manage those needs, seems to help.

© Satyakki Bhattacharjee

Learning Managers of Today – Victims of the Buzz or True Champions of OD?

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Human beings, being social creatures, get easily attracted to often intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something. The buzzword in corporate now is OD. In a refreshing though gradual departure from the ‘Training is Time Pass’ to ‘Learning is Business’ mindset, executives are missing the forest for the trees. But where does that leave the Learning Manager? Indications are that there is a lot happening around the execution of training initiatives – unlike sometime back when classrooms were seen as safe houses for poor performers and Trainers as their guards, playing the second-fiddle in the organization, if not anything else.

Technology’s arrogance that it alone can deliver the demands of Cost, Quality, Service & Speed in business have proved to be a tall claim that business managers could not finally settle. Business pressures led to realizations in chorus that Process cannot be seen in isolation of People. And so came the holy consciousness that Companies doing business has to be seen and treated as Organizations run by People.

Organization Development (OD) is undoubtedly a welcome idea to the Leaders and Managers, particularly of those entities who are keen to strengthen their resolve – never to become a Texaco, Enron or even for that matter the Indian watch maker, HMT. Yet, what is happening in the name of OD? Where is the Strategy? If learning is an integral part of business – for the people, by the people and of the people, can it continue to stay alive and breathe life into the mainstream organization without a systemic approach and a Learning Management Vision & Strategy? Unfortunately that’s what is happening. Adhocism in the area of OD is giving feeble or no results. Organizations are often seen to be investing a lot of money in the so-called Training & Development activities, in peace-meals, focusing acutely on the accomplishment of targeted learning man-days! That’s exactly the scenario when they are counting trees but have no idea of how the forest looks like. The hyper-focused approach on the training deliveries have taken the eye off the larger goals of the organization, which OD was supposed to help accomplish as an enabler. Learning professionals are falling prey to this. When happiness of accomplishments exists around adhocisms in learning – a Learning Manager must wake up to the clarion call.

Learning managers must ensure that training and development activities in the organization are the subset of the overall OD strategy. They do disservice to the organization, should they miss to integrate the training calendar to the larger OD Strategy and the disservice is not only to the organization but to themselves too, in their professional practice. It may be pertinent to note that the OD strategy is the mother of all the training and development related activities and that the calendar cannot be emerging from nowhere. The mandate here is to draw together the strategic objectives, priorities by way of a meticulous diagnosis of the business challenges in the organization and how OD can aid the fulfillment of those, as its own goals. T&D is one of the means to fulfill the OD strategy and not an integrative strategy in itself. Significantly important is to note that all training and development in the organization, as a subset of OD, must cater to address the challenges ever emerging due to the constant changes that the organization is going through. Needless to mention that change being the only constant – is a common ecosystem for every kind of business and thus dedicated strategic focus on OD becomes less of a choice for any organization and its learning manager, irrespective of its size and business that it is in.

This refers to a broad key responsibility area of the Learning Manager. To follow the diagnosis and deliberately plan and embark upon enterprise wide endeavors, with training activities only as one of the initiatives, to increase the organization’s effectiveness, efficiency and overall readiness to battle the weathers of change. The Learning Manager must have a long range, long term holistic and multi faceted approach to help the organization achieve transformational change through its people. Being sensitive to the above responsibilities helps the Learning Manager fall prey to the deceptive trap of adhocism.

The Learning Manager’s plate is still not full… The lack of a robust measurement system could be his potential derailment factor. Having measuring systems, processes, benchmarks and controlling through a PERT gives handles to measure OD efforts and helps cover some distance on measuring otherwise debatable aspect of ‘effectiveness’. An organized, scientific and empirical approach taken by Learning Managers for all OD efforts helps him or her to co-relate the OD interventions to business results, highlight areas for future investments, and also to justify budget allocations. If learning is business, the Learning Managers better be more accountable for how the booty is spent within their organizations.

Lets all not lose the forest for the trees…the traps are many.

© Copyright Satyakki Bhattacharjee 2014

Are Organizations also in a way “Beings”?

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Organizations are also in a way ‘Beings’.  The elements of Individuals, Groups and their Commonness of Purpose at the core of the organization go to indicate that Experiences, Feelings, Needs, Beliefs and Desires are very integral to an organization.  Almost every organization is a harbor where feelings, experiences, needs beliefs and desires are generated and exchanged.  These co-exist along with the central philosophy of dispassionate objectivity with which these organizations are governed.Practitioners involved with organizations and their development would agree that behind every objective process, there is a human process that has considerable influence mutually.  The technical processes are often measured and audited.  However, not many organizations pay enough attention or take notice of the unseen under-currents of human processes that impact the organization.

In a way an organization though is not analyzable as a single entity having its independent psyche; it has a unified psyche as a resultant of the collective exchange of human processes and patterns of perceptions of the several members in several roles.

It is the presence of this objectivity and the features of unseen but covertly present human processes – an organization entitles to be recognized as a Being.

Effective organizations are ones where operational leaders are not a bunch of numerous bewildered seekers, erroneously seeking organizational excellence only through objective processes but are the ones where the Leaders and the Managers pay heed to the unseen dynamics and parallel processes that are present in their organization but are not available to them for a ready surface level introspection.

Often, they are trained themselves or are aided by hired OD consultants to unearth these processes.  Unearthed because, the primary characteristic of these dynamic and parallel processes is that it is not Conscious and therefore, lies outside the purview of conscious awareness.  Organizations become effective when such Leaders and Managers heed to the Unconscious Processes as warning signals.  That they should work upon or as motivators that they should drive upon.

© Satyakki Bhattacharjee 2014