Career FAQ


Frequently Asked Questions

I am searching for a job, how should I go about it?

I am a manager, how do I become effective in my role?

As a manager, how do I ensure my reports have a good career growth?

I am an individual contributor, how do I become effective in my role?

As an individual contributor, how can I best work with my manager?

Individual Contributor or Management Track: which one should I choose?

Performance Review: how does it impact me?

I think I am working in a dysfunctional team, what should I do now?

I understand it is important for me to manage my career, but how do I do it?

Career Path and Goals: how do I create them and measure my progress to make sure my career is growing?

I am a student, can you help me in figuring out what career should I choose?

 

 

I am searching for a job, how should I go about it?


It is very important to be very deliberate about a job search, otherwise it can be a very time consuming, energy sapping and worthless exercise, which you may have to repeat again. It is extremely important to select right targets, leverage all the technology and media resources to do research about prospective companies and roles, be clear about the expectations from the new job, and define the criteria for selection if you get multiple job offers. Following posts describe some strategies that you can employ to get the best results out of a job search.

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I am a manager, how do I become effective in my role?


A manager needs to handle a number of challenges around managing people, performance and career. A good manager understands his team, his peers and his organization very well and allocates right amount of time in managing each of them. A manager contributes to the organization by delivering results through his team members and by growing his team members to be managers and leaders in the long term. As a manager, you should be aware of the challenges you face and skills you need to overcome them. People are your biggest asset and you need to use and groom them well. Following posts focus on management challenges, and skills required by managers to overcome them. See Good Career Growth for my reports for discussion on growing careers of your reports.

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As a manager, how do I ensure my reports have a good career growth?


Managing and growing careers of your direct report is one of the most important responsibilities you have as a manager. Key to growing employees is to develop a good trust relationship so that communication can be open and transparent. Once trust is developed, manager needs to utilize 1-1 opportunities very judiciously to coach the employee by giving and receiving clear, honest and actionable feedback (positive as well as negative). Another aspect of career development is to make sure employees are assigned to right jobs so that their career goals are aligned with organizational goals. Performance management of employees is key to successful career management practice, this is discussed more in Performance Review Impacts. Following posts discuss a few skills that are required to be successful in managing employees’ career growth.

 

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I am an individual contributor, how do I become effective in my role?


As an individual contributor, you are responsible for delivering high quality results and contributing to organization’s success by growing professionally and taking up more complex tasks in future. Effectiveness comes from active learning, taking initiatives, collaborating with others, and being able to prioritize the tasks assigned to you. Your effectiveness is also heavily dependent on your relationship with your manager, which is discussed in more detail in working best with my manager.

 

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As an individual contributor, how can I best work with my manager?


To work best with your manager, you need to understand your manager, his style of work and his expectations from you. Once you achieve this, you also need to set up a clear communication channel with your manager so that you can give and receive feedback. Your manager wants to take active interest in your career growth, so help him do that; this is discussed more in As a manager, how do I ensure my reports have a good career growth?.

 

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Individual Contributor or Management Track: which one should I choose?


Choosing whether to stay in an individual contributor (IC) track or a management track is a very hard question, especially in India. This is because of many reasons: most companies do not have IC track well-defined, so opportunities and performance review parity may not exist; culturally, Indians think managing people is a symbol of power and hence growth indicator, so everyone wants to be a manager. However, it is important to choose the path based on what you want and what you can be good at, rather than choose because everyone else expects you to be a manager. Following posts discuss this dilemma and offers some suggestions on solving these problems.

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Performance Review: how does it impact me?


Performance review is the most important tool for measuring performance and administering rewards to employees. Performance reviews demonstrate the ability of an employee as well as his future potential and therefore are critical indicators of career growth. However, most organizations suffer from problems in figuring out right ways of measuring performance and assigning rewards. Given this problem, it is important for individuals and managers to think about the importance they need to give to this process, and whether they need to come up with different measures for performance measurements.

 

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I think I am working in a dysfunctional team, what should I do now?


Almost everyone works in a team when they work for an organization. Most of the time, people are assigned to a team for long term (for example, the team of people reporting to same manager). There has been large number of research that suggest that there is a huge gap in the performance of a high performance team and an average team. As an individual in an organization, it is important for you to understand whether you are part of a high-performance team or a bad team (called dysfunctional team in my posts since I absolutely love Patrick Lancioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a team). Unfortunately, if you find yourself in a dysfunctional team, you need to be able to figure out best way forward (which most of the times will be to get out of the team, unless you are the team leader and have the power to change the team). Also, when you join a new team, your effectiveness will be dramatically impacted by how you approach your joining, and what you do in first few months. These posts talk about various problems associated with teams and offer suggestions and anecdotal evidences.

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I understand it is important for me to manage my career, but how do I do it?


As Indians, traditionally we have taken very algorithmic approach to careers: our marks determine the college we are supposed to pick, family and friends determine the current hot areas of careers that should be pursued and externally controlled parameters (like performance reviews, what does my manager think, etc.) tend to shape our view of our career growth. There is a need to change this approach and be more proactive in managing your career. Very few managers these days have expertise and time to manage your career for you; and even when they do, they are not in the best position to do so since they don’t know you as much as you know yourself. So it is important that you manage your own career. There are various skills required to manage your career proactively and following posts touch on various aspects of career management activities that should be performed.

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Career Path and Goals: how do I create them and measure my progress to make sure my career is growing?


A successful career requires developing a clear set of goals for the career, and then crafting a career map or path that helps you move from where you are today to where you want to be. This is done by discovering your life goals, identifying your strengths, weaknesses, interests, and then creating intermediate career milestones. Once these are created, you must create a set of metrics that you can use to measure your career growth and if there isn’t enough growth, goals, paths and metrics should be revisited. This is a very critical for sustained career growth and must be actively done.

 

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I am a student, can you help me in figuring out what career should I choose?


If you are a student, it is great that you want to go through this material. The earlier you can start planning your career, the better return on your talent investment you will get. As a student, it is important for you to understand how career choices are made in India and why they don’t work anymore. You also need to understand why career management is important; this is discussed more in managing my career effectively. It is important for you to understand pros and cons of relying on family and friends as your career counselors and be ready to be different. Remember that it is your career and you know the best about yourself.

 

One comment

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