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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why can't professionals use career advice?

I met Ajit last week who has a 5 year experience with software firm. He was seeking a job in a new company and wanted to know 'what is the right job he should find'. When i inquired with him, i found that he was working only for last 6 months in his current job. When i asked him the reason for leaving job, he replied that he was having problem with his current boss. I told him that his problem is not 'finding the right job', but learning 'how to deal with difficult boss'. He responded ' I will learn that later' and further asked me if i will help him now in finding the right job now?

This is a typical way in which corporate professionals approach career-making. They wait for 'important' problem to convert into 'urgent' problem. They do not address the problem when it is 'important'.So when the problem becomes urgent, they neither have the time to address the problem symptom; nor the requisite freedom to use different options.
This is why professional players approach their game in a different manner. If Roger Federer or Nadal used this approach in their career, they will solve their problem only after they have lost the match. Instead professional players employ coaches. Coaches help them identify their 'important' problems in advance and prepare them before they become 'urgent'. This is what helps them consistently win games over a long period of time.

This is what a coach can do for corporate professionals. A coach can convince Ajit in using the available situation to solve the problem, instead of bypassing the problem. A coach can therefore help Ajit to develop his skill of managing difficult bosses, so that Ajit's career does not get blocked in the future due to difficult bosses. A coach can help Ajit to solve his 'important' problems before they become 'urgent'.

Without a coach, a corporate professional , like a professional player, will only react to situations and problems. A coach, by proactively identifying 'important' problems that one is likely to anticipate in a career, helps a corporate professional develop the necessary skills in advance. A corporate professional, with a helpful coach, can build his career on his chosen path , instead of changing the path to avoid the roadblocks.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Is marriage relationship an indicator of career success?

In a recent survey of about 3000 couples it was discovered that an average couple ( bickers 7 times a day. Of course, this is a survey of western couples. In India, i guess this number could be less in older generation couples, but in the young generation this could be a representative number. How is marriage relationship related to career-intelligence?

Researchers have found that biggest single reason for a tiff in a marriage is not listening to what the other half is saying. In other words, people tend to 'advocate' more than 'listen and inquire'. Surprisingly, this is also the most common bottleneck faced by a professional who is wanting to enter the ' top most core group' of an organisation.

As a professional grows in an organisation, he or she has to learn to 'advocate' less and 'listen' more to bring together the diverse viewpoints on a subject, problem or a decision. Without bringing these diverse points, the decisions are suboptimal and root causes of a problem remain unresolved. Where is a playground to learn this skill?

In an organisation, this skill is difficult to learn, because there is no playground to learn this skill. As one grows and acquires seniority in an organisation, because of power, juniors tend to listen to seniors. Even when juniors are 'told' to 'speak' their mind, juniors often make mistakes in stating 'irrelevant' points or highlighting 'narrow issues'. Senior executives soon lose their patience and revert to become 'advocates' of their viewpoints. A senior executive therefore does not get to practice the skill of listening and inquiring.

For an executive, marriage relationship is surprisingly one of the best playground to develop this skill of listening and inquiring. One other playground is in his/her relationship with same-age friends, where his viewpoints are questioned and deliberated.

Without learning this skill of 'listening and inquiring', one cannot cross the invisible glass barrier of entering the 'core group of team' in an organisation. Apart from other benefits of marriage relationship, this is how marriage directly helps an individual in building one's career.