Management is not just a professional discipline. It’s a real life situation, as well, given that we have to manage our individual life and that of our family.
Of course, there are some who also have to manage their organisations. Ironically, irrespective of whether it is financial or human resources one has to manage, the governing principles are one and the same.
I cite an instance that I am witness to. Once we had to decide on the scale of organising a family function. There were suggestions to celebrate it on a grand scale. But, I preferred it to be low-key affair. My nephew in his chat with my son described me as parsimonious. My son retorted, ‘Let me tell you a parallel.
Even before I landed in United States for my higher studies, the financial requirements were more immense than organising a function. Yet, my father accomplished it because he had a flair for financial management. You should have no hesitation in spending where it is required. But, you should also know where not to spend.
Management is all about prioritising. It may be money, work or people. A good manager should perfectly know his priorities in life and work.’ One day my wife asked for a costly refrigerator. It was much higher than what I had budgeted. She was very particular while I was inclined to resist. When we were still discussing I got a phone call.
It was an invitation to deliver a lecture in Tirupati. The organisers of the meet were ready to finance my travel, including making it pilgrimage tour for my entire family. The idea that struck at that precise point was that I could balance between my wife’s interest and my caution. The solution was simple. I travelled by bus rather than by air.
Duly informing the organisers, I spent the savings on purchasing a costly refrigerator. Perhaps few hours of inconvenience could provide us with few years of comfort. That was a simple cost management exercise that I embarked upon.
Quite often suggestions pour in. A wise manager should keep his eyes and ears open. But, the decision should be conscious and near-unilateral because you are responsible for the outcome, good or bad.
People’s perceptions vary. The human character is to function more effectively when provided with freedom to think and work. More often in the name of management, we stifle others’ thinking. Management is not supervision alone.
It is coaching, mentoring and training. This applies to every situation that needs to be effectively managed. In an interesting article, ‘Management Behaviours’ business development expert, Bill Bartlett, says, “The majority by default devote time solely to supervision.”
People confuse management as an extension of directing them. In such a situation, there will not be an appreciation of the concrete challenges. Consequently, one tends to impose one’s thoughts and preferences on others.
Management experts call this as “learned helplessness”. This phenomenon occurs, Bill Bartlett argues, when subordinates wait to be told how to perform their duties instead of strategically thinking them through.
This phenomenon can only be overcome if one believes in people and makes them feel comfortable and confident to realise their full potential. But, seniors sometimes tend to do otherwise. That is not all. When the team member succeeds, they would be first to claim authorship to guidance.
I faced many such situations in the early part of my teaching career. I wrote an article on ‘Autonomy for Electronic Media’. I showed the draft to a couple of my professors. They simply dismissed it as ‘not fit for publication’.
No mentoring, only running down. Yet, I was not disillusioned. It was published in a reputed journal, Mainstream.Still, there was no recognition or words of praise. But, distinguished editor, N Ram quoted this article in his column in The Economic Times. Now, none can question the credentials of either N Ram or The Economic Times. Obviously the reaction of the same professors was, ‘I knew it all along.’
Every professional comes across such situations quite often. People try to undermine you. Perhaps, they may be wary of your growth or might be feeling insecure. Do not always go by someone else’s assessment of your work. Manage yourself for that is the safest bet to your success.
Sometimes, there may not be bad intentions too. The assessment may differ. Let me recall my childhood experience. I was studying in eighth standard. For the first time in life, I got an opportunity to participate in an elocution competition. I also gave my name.
One of my seniors mocked at me. People around him orchestrated the same message. But, it could not dissuade me. In fact, I was more determined to prove my mettle. Finally, I won the prize in the competition defeating those who ridiculed me. From then, I never looked back and evolved into a public speaker. If I had opted out of the competition then, I would not have been what I am today.
Never go by someone’s assessment. You are the best judge of your own capabilities. There is a world around to discourage you for a world of reasons. You have to manage your personality yourself.