Unless blessed with natural entrepreneurial spirit or even being heir to family business; the journey of every person, passing out with a good degree, either Bachelor’s or Masters is to step into the job market. In this quest, obviously it is to look for a job of choice, one that may have been an aspiration of long, for which the wait may have been longer; but if the hunt for a job is for dire economic and social reasons, the luxury to wait for the necessary opportunity, may be a distant option.
To begin with very few students are fortunate to get any sane or reasonable advice, whilst they are selecting the subjects they wish to graduate or post-graduate with. I had in a financial institution a young officer working with me, in the Treasury function, with a Masters in Geography! More about him later.
Most seekers go for a deeply inquisitive process of judging and selecting which organizations to work for. There are those, with business degrees who focusedly look only at FMCG’s- that’s usually the first choice for most MBA’s, followed by looking at local corporates - those with degrees in subjects like English & other Literature, History, Sociology, Psychology, Chemistry , Physics, Etc are limited by the available range of companies/organizations, that can offer a career job. Then there is that cluster of students who try for CSS examinations and end up being part of the government. This, I have noticed is done, with mostly getting the sense of power, pelf and financial benefit (which can only be attained through corruption; otherwise no government officer can be financially self-sufficient ever!). This also explains why so many government officers have an MBBS degree, but you find them working in the revenue collection section of government. To give weightage to this argument just look around the many politicians, who have abandoned their medical education and degree.
Reverting back to the “Geographist in Treasury”, when I asked, why he chose “Geography” as majors, he merely said, that’s the only department that offered me a placement. Trapped! When he left the university with his unique masters, he admitted he was clueless, where to apply to find gainful employment. A financial institution that thought he could be trained, hired him on an entry position. He did acquire some banking knowledge on the job. When I picked him up to work for “money markets” section, he excelled; was a keen and fast learner… and today, he heads the treasury function of a financial institution. Here, my role as supervisor was to identify talent; his success is the result of his hard work, dedication and perseverance.
Fine, regardless of the discipline of study pursued, the second most important thing after a job, is to find a “supervisor” of your choice. Albeit beggars can’t be choosers. So a new joiner gets clubbed with a supervisor of a unit/division, he is hired for or posted to.
It is critically important for youngsters on the job to realize that it is the quality of the supervisor that would have a major influence on their career’s growth and progress. So the question to ask oneself, at all times should be, am I working with the supervisor, who meets the criteria or should I look for a new one?
Now, if the answer is in the affirmative for a change of supervisor; it is a task, easier said than done. Staffing is done in organizations as per needs of business considerations, not on what a constituent may desire for, in his/her interest or even alongside the organizations interest.
In assessing a supervisor, there is an imperative need to find answers to few fundamental questions like:
—Does he/she have my “interest” as his/her “interest”?
— Do I get challenging assignments, beyond regular call of duty?
— Is creativity and newness appreciated?
— Is informality to ask questions, enquire, encouraged or stifled?
— Following a conversation, do I feel satisfied internally?
— Does he/she value talent or is at ease to let go of it?
— Is he/she competent with attending confidence?
— Do insecurities hound his / her work?
— Gives flexibility and initiative while preparing tasks?
— Encourages follow up meetings.
If even forty percent answers to these basic questions are against the supervisor, then it sure is a time for changing the supervisor. It is no point to work in an environment where personal growth, initiative, creativity together with non recognition of accomplishments, is the order of things. If the hunt is within the organization, the supervisor has damaged himself but not the organization; however if the person seeks opportunity outside the organization, then it is a classic case of an employee leaving his manager, and not the organization. A major reason for attrition even in renowned institutions is this aspect. The good bye is to the manager but not the institution. This happens when supervisors chides at the drop of the hat. To confront such an attitude requires courage and confidence.
No employee should ever suffer from the feeling that he/she cannot change their supervisor- they can. The choice is with them. Just as no employee should consider intoxicatingly to think about own indispensability; so also no organization can pursue a policy of, since we are the best, we can dispense with anybody. Although Saul Bellow says in ‘Dangling Man’, “Alternative, particularly desirable alternatives, grow only on imaginary trees”. Still, you must carry within you, as the seeker, a hermetic resolve; of between two evils, choose the less. If bad is the best, bad must be the choice. In the “Taming of the Shrew”, Shakespeare wrote, “There’s small choice in rotten apples”. But exercise choice to get the least rotten as your supervisor!
Just think, how an organization will look like when there are supervisors who possess such negative qualities; obvious and ostensible will be demoralization and a very high rate of attrition. A supervisor demonstrating hideous behavior must be dumped quickest. Any encumbrance to an individual’s sense of creativity must be forcefully replaced and resisted.
Like men, organizations also acquire the arrogance syndrome. A collection of arrogant pack will ultimately render the most humblest of institution towards arrogance. We can see from corporate history that arrogant institutions, do decay and die faster. Do a comparison between the top 500 fortune companies of say the 1980’s with Today’s - watch the inclusion and exclusion.
In your search for the new supervisor, go for the non-conformist and the non-traditionalist, atleast to the extent of creativity and not for any negative motives. Such allow fresh flow of ideas, open to listen to dissenting opinions ; they are always inspiring, pro-active, brave, courageous and are continuously in pursuit of doing more than business as usual.
In the judgment for the right supervisor, seek guidance from Emerson’s quote, “A man finds room in the few square inches of his face for the traits of all his ancestors; for the expression of all his history, and his wants”. Face is undoubtedly the index of mind. Read your supervisor’s face with keen attention. Beauty does fade but it leaves its imprint upon the face forever. Bawdy, indecent, impolite, indelicate behavior with feelings of antipathy mustn’t be tolerated. At first of such signs, the “Choice” program should begin. Any attitude to learn about geology after an earthquake or understand the nature and power of water currents after a tsunami, is a tad bit late, response. Preempt your choice between alternatives prior to the occurrence of a prompting event.
Act boldly but avert any action of insubordination. You must respect your supervisor, good or bad. Never forget that you have to enter the Tiger’s den, to get the Cubs. Adopt tact in audacity.
A well trained and mentally emancipated supervisor would energize, delegate authority, challenge with new and fresh tasks; takes feedback and acts upon it; provides direction, without breathing down the neck; hold hands; gives both private and public recognition; would encourage interaction with other managers to give inter-disciplinary experience and above all would never feel threatened by the progress and success of his reports.
As it is said, in different words and different constructions in literature, as you think, you are and as you choose, so you are.
The writer is a senior banker and a freelance contributor