Recent Management Learnings!

Posted: December 14, 2008 in Business, Leadership, Management
Tags: ,

A summary of few recent management learnings, unfortunately out of experience!

  1. An IIT tag does not assure a good manager or a good technologist or a good leader. Sad but true.
  2. An IIM tag does not assure a good manager or a good leader or a good business head. Sadder but true again.
  3. A good project manager does not necessarily graduate to becoming a good business head. Its truly shocking how clueless about business realities, cost heads, urgency on revenues, urgency on cash flow management, even a good project manager can be!
  4. A good sales and marketing person does not necessarily become a good business head. Here too, there may be an understanding of how to go and get new business. But managing P&L, managing a larger team, managing timelines.. all of these can be alien concepts to the person. Unbelievable, right? But it happens! Ask me!
  5. Boom times have generated some slick talkers, who are otherwise shallow in capabilities, to have added a lot of corporate tags on their CVs. Can you believe that one such person who had worked in some heavyweight corporations in India and outside India, and headed business development efforts in these organizations, could not put together a page of formal correspondence, lacked email etiquette, did not know how to create a decent spreadsheet?!
  6. Can someone with 20+ years of experience, including a few years in the Internet business, someone with management education background, not know how to use Excel? How in the world are you expected to evaluate this? Would you subject senior management candidates to such fundamental testing?? Okay, by the way, the Excel part was the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in the larger problem statement!
  7. That niceties are not guaranteed in this world, so don’t expect them. Someone with 5+ years of association, being treated as extended family, part of the innermost circle, can also walk out with 3 days notice and not feel an inch of guilt in doing so! That is the state of affairs of the day.

So there are the problems. Do I have any solutions? Any real answers? I guess, no easy ones.

Apart from the fact that I now appreciate the words of a couple of VCs. One of them had said that between the time that they meet an entrepreneur to the point when they actually make the investment, could be as long as a year’s time. And the other one had said that they would meet an entrepreneur, in formal and informal settings at least 15-20 times, before they take a call on investment.

I am seeing that hiring senior management is almost as critical for a company, as an investment is for a VC. Much as we are pressed with our growth ambitions and schedules, and which tempt us to go for a candidate over a few interactions, that is really not a good thing to do. The potential gain that we could get in getting a senior manager into the company sooner, is far offset by the risk of hiring a wrong person. The damage that a decision of that kind can do, takes up so much time and money for the company, to recover, not to speak of the opportunity cost that is lost! A senior hiring MUST go through long and extended interactions, whether the candidate likes it or not. That is the only way. Formally and informally, figure out if the person is really the one you want to take up a critical responsibility in your organization.

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Comments
  1. Joe says:

    Sanjay

    Very interesting insights. Thanks for sharing.

    Joe

  2. Joe says:

    Sanjay

    Very interesting insights. Shocking and surprising. How do these people get so far in life ?

    Joe

  3. Mani says:

    Boss… this one is a really hard hitting….

  4. Ajit says:

    How many are active on any one of the popular social networking sites? Not talking about just having an account open, but being actively involved, for a continuous period of time, even if a sudden lull happens every now and then, due to time constraints.

    If they are not active, then probably it indicates a lack of interest in internet world or business. It may also be indicative of having a friend, family or professional circle that is yet to connect with the internet world. Either ways it indicates a disconnect with a rapidly evolving web world.

    Another sure shot way to assess is to search on Google using the person’s name (use of double quotes will help). If no relevant results are thrown up, then again it shows lack of interest for the internet world. A few relevant results may also help in assessing attitudes and background details.

    Do let me know if this idea works for you..!

  5. Ashwin says:

    Your insights 1, 2 and 3 are very true. The disappointment comes from what we expect education or branding of education to do. The difference lies in knowing and doing. Experience helps people to know by doing (learning on the job). Education should help by knowing how to think and execute. However that takes a bit of time. Speed comes by practice. Ram Charan’s book called Execution list some of the qualities of effective managers. May be a good reference for recruiting people.

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