Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ancient Wisdom - LBO Coverage

Ancient Wisdom
28 September 2007 11:48:03
Sri Lanka's business community explores links between religion and management techniques

Sept 28, 2007 (LBO) – Five traits described in Buddhism which do not help achieve goals in life are also well suited for business and management, a top Sri Lankan management professional said.
Restlessness, arrogance, procrastination, indulgence and doubt are traits that cloud one's mind and judgment when trying to achieve goals.
"These five are described in a very advanced spiritual development context in Buddhism. These are five design defects in human beings," Deepal Sooriyaarachchi, managing director of Eagle Insurance said in what was seen as an unconventional presentation at the LBR-LBO CEO forum.

The case study which Sooriyaarachchi described was his own and how he failed his Advance Level examination owing to the five traits.
"I can see I bring these five reasons to my management life," he said.
"We are not focused sometimes, we do not want to hear the bad story, we kill the messenger and we always look for evidence to convince ourselves of what we know." These, Sooriyaarachchi said, are traits of restlessness and arrogance.
Postponing meetings or work schedules at a business shows procrastination.
Low productivity in organization because too many people are employed than needed to complete a task is indulgence.
"Doubt means you do not have confidence in the strategy."
He said there are roughly four ways - ethical, prescriptive, interpretative and intra personal view (spiritual) - to approach religious or ancient wisdom to use with business.
In the ethical view, you are told not to do something bad, mainly due to fear of the consequences which is quite popular and widely practiced, Sooriyaarachchi said.
The prescriptive approach is the way religion can be used in a regulatory view in business.
The interpretative view, Sooriyaarachchi said, is how wisdom in Buddhism that was not mentioned in the context of business situations can be used in organizations.
The definition of prosperity in Buddhism is called atthi sukha (happiness of ownership), bhoga sukha (happiness of having wealth) anana sukha (happiness of freedom from debt) and anavajja sukha (happiness of blamelessness).
"This was not for business people. This was written for lay (normal) people and we use this definition when we motivate our sales agents," Sooriyaarachchi said.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Direct Report Wants To Resign

So what? One might wonder! But wait, What if the person is a star performer of yours? How should you react?

Well, at least I've been a witness to the 'many' nasty handling of the same. Most bosses think it is the ultimate in betrayal! They take it very personally. People go to great lengths to stop the person from moving, tries make life miserable for him/her and some times tries to talk to the party whom the person is trying to join and tries to bad mouth them.

What is the fuss all about? I know it very difficult to stomach the departure of a star performer. After all if you played any role in grooming that person. But I feel that's exactly where you can be happy sincerely.

There is one school of thought which says most of the time people leave bosses and not their companies. While agreeing with the argument on most instances, must say there are many instances where it is not the case.

What if from a company point of view you've treated them well and as a boss you groomed the individual to a greater extent. What could be the reasons for him to leave? Obviously he would have got a better break with better prospects. Then what would you do?

Well this is what I did.

When I first heard of the notice, I was completely shocked! Wasn't expecting it in my wildest of dreams. But then again it was real. Gave some time for things to sink in and then had a chat with the guy. It was evident that he had applied for this position long time ago. Perks were better and the position was better according to him. He had already made up his mind and decided to take up the position. I wished him good luck and went on to help him arrive at a plan for him to exit our company.

My rationale is simple. While his departure will create great havoc for me, this is in this person's best interest and as boss I should not be in his way. In fact I believe I should help him out to the fullest for him make swift transfer. Afterall we might be able to attract the same person at a later date who is much more enriched.

Well he will leave during the course of next two weeks. I'm happy that one of my colleagues are moving ahead in life and I wish him all the very best!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

When Career Choices are Many

Many would have come across a situation where you are doing well (in many ways, except remuneration may be!) in your current job and there you go you are offered another opportunity. What if the other opportunity was in a completely different field than what you are doing now? Situation makes even worse if the new opportunity gives much quicker career growth prospects! What would you do?

Well, it's lot easier said than done. How do you sum up your situation? I suppose each situation is unique and there are many facets that needs to be looked at. Let me summarise few as it crossed my mind.

Any new opportunity should be looked primarily in three angles.

Firstly, How does it impact your career progression? What opportunities does it bring to the table? While the new opportunity may not necessarily be in the same area that you are working currently, it must be realised that particular experience you are expected to gain could be valuable in the bigger picture. This is more suitable for those with generalist ambitions(People who would want to run companies). There are many who aspire to go up in a particular field and they should at all cost must avoid shifting fields even for greener pastures. However if you aspire to run companies like me, it's best that you gain overall exposure in areas such a sales and marketing, HR, operations etc.

Secondly you need to look at how it impacts you personal life. You might come across the best of career breaks sometimes which comes in the collision path with you personal interests or life style. Some would require you to change your way of doing to a greater extent. Well for some it works. They adapt themselves successfully to the work requirements while other find greater stress levels in their new found work. Thus far I've picked what was appropriate to my lifestyle all the time.

Thirdly, one needs to look at how it impacts your family life. Most people tend to miss this point. There are instances where I myself tend to do a reality check on this subject. Well you might have the best of career, best on personal interest but it might be conflicting with your family priorities in terms of wife and kids. I'm quite happy that I made the right choice in this regard on several occasions. On two occasions I was offered a job which required regular overseas travel which would have had a impact on my relationship with my wife and children at critical stage in their development. Salary mind you was triple than the little what I am even getting now. I decided not to take any of the options. Don't regret the decision I made.

I think should one carefully weighs pros and cons on all three aspects one might ended up with a decision one would rarely regret

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Avoiding new boss syndrome

When you take over a new function there is a tendency among your team mates clarify everything from you. While it gives you an opportunity to understand your scope of job better, it essentially is a time killer.

One needs to quickly sum up the capacities and capabilities of your team members and start delegating most of these tasks other than real things which require your intervention / attention. This is a tricky one. Most of the time you would find they are not up to your ideal standard. (They don't do exactly what you want!). Thus you might get in to micro management. One needs to avoid this at all cost.

Once you assess the capability of different individuals, you need to start working with them to help them achieve what you want them to achieve. You need to give confidence to those people that completely believe in them to deliver! That is a powerful way of motivating staff. Only thing is you cannot just pay lip service to it. You really need to subscribe to it. Whole heartedly.

It's important to understand that people will make mistakes or do things which are not up to your standard. You need to convince them that they are on the correct track and more importantly appreciate their efforts. Then and only then you should talk about improvements and again you need to give candid feedback.