Managing the boss for better career management

I have had my fair share of good and not-so-good bosses, and everyone I know of has a boss story to tell! Whether you like it or not, ability to manage your relationship with your boss is critical skill for anyone serious in managing their careers. In Managing your boss, Julie Poland lists a number of things to keep in mind when managing this relationship. I especially like the one about ‘tending to the relationship’:

Tend to the relationship. Your boss is more than her job description – she is a person. People tend to work best with people who are likable, and you can become more likable by managing your own emotions and seeking to find common ground with her. Talk about shared interests, and if you don’t think you have any, find out what the boss’s are and learn something about them. Build the boss’s trust in you by doing what you say you’re going to do, and by being straightforward with her.

I call it ‘knowing your boss’, which is the best way to know how to build a good relationship with your boss. I have written on this topic on my other blog (see Managing your boss and Trust in manager-employee relationship) based on my experience in India and US, and I must say that relationship building is best done by knowing the person, in this case the boss. Especially in a place like India where we do not tend to be confrontational and direct, it can be hard to know your boss well (and I can tell from my experience as a boss that I would like to be understood!).

What has been your experience in the matter?

Social Networking and leadership

In the blog ‘Social Leadership‘, Lois Kelly has more sobering view of the role of social media in any career management, unlike my yesterday’s post. Here is how she starts:

Some days I get so sick about talking and reading about social media. Here’s why: most of the fundamentals of  marketing and leadership are the same as they always have been.  The social tools are merely enablers.  You can be a social media wizard at using Twitter, YouTube, blogs, communities and the like and still be a marketing or management dud.

 She goes on to talk about how communication competencies are important, and other aspects of leadership development. A good read for everyone who wish to be leaders in their organizations.

Leveraging social network in career management

I went through an interesting blog ‘The pros of social networking and career management‘, which talks about leveraging social networking for enhancing and managing your career well. The case study in the blog gives the advantage of using social networking (in this case, LinkedIn) to find a suitable job. Here is a sample of the approach in the case study:

Person A diligently carved out time to spend networking online – typically in the early mornings and late afternoons so that time during business hours could be spent focusing on “live” meetings. All of these activities ensured that Person A’s name and profile appeared in the LinkedIn homepage network updates frequently, grew their network substantially, increased their visibility and credibility, and helped to solidify the professional brand that Person A had created.

I do not necessarily agree to this approach to career management, though this is certainly one approach. Notice that the attempt to network socially in this case is squarely to enhance the ‘online reputation’ and ‘sellability’ rather than networking. Getting a good job is a by-product of networking, not the primary goal. And if it becomes primary goal, very soon you will be exposed as a scheming person, and an unreliable one. So if you want to use it, use it with care.

On the other hand, using social networking techniques to cultivate new networks and friendships which are otherwise hard to maintain (friends you met in industry forums, long-lost classmates, ex-collegues), is a great tool for staying connected with the industry and with opportunities.

Knowing yourself

This Wall Street Journal Article talks about knowing yourself via self-assessment tests before changing your career. This is important, because many assessment tests point to your profile in terms of your interests, personality, strengths, etc. There are a large number of such tests available online and offline, a quick google query brings up about 300K results. However, some of them are pretty expensive. Here are a some that the article recommends:

  1. Coach Compass Assessment : coachcompass.com
  2. CareerLink Inventory:(www.mpcfaculty.net/CL/cl.htm
  3. O*NET(online.onetcenter.org)
  4. Rutgers University (careerservices.rutgers.edu/OCAmain.html)

As you will notice if you choose to go to these sites, some are very vague while others are specific to US environment.

While going for these tests is useful, it is important to pick ones that fit your need, and that is a very hard thing to do. So the problem still remains: how do we know ourself to be able to change our career (or do well in the current one)? You can try reviewing some of my posts on my other blog for some ideas. What has worked for you?

Career Astrology or Career Management?

Recently I came across ‘Career Astrology’ section of MonsterIndia, the leading job portal in India. Some site indeed! If you are willing to shell out Rs. 500-1000, it will tell you how your stars can predict good time for changing your job, or things which are likely to go wrong in your career.Here is the description of one such service from Monster:

Career SWOT Analysis is an unique service that harnesses the power of Vedic Astrology to show you the path to success in your career or profession.

The Report, written by a group of renowned Astrologers includes the following:

  1. Your personality and your attitude towards work (karma);
  2. Your strengths in detail and a strategy to utilize the same;
  3. Your areas of weaknesses and simple ways to surmount them;
  4. Opportunities in the next 12 months that you are most likely to encounter, with tips on how to make the best of them;
  5. Threats that you are currently facing and are most likely to face in the next 12 months and strategies to overcome them;
  6. Auspicious times during the next 12 months to make the big career move you have been waiting for;
  7. Counseling Tips and Vedic Remedies to help you achieve great success with limited effort.

This is so ridiculous, hoping that stars (and astrologers) can predict a career move and recommend changes!

However, then I set out to search for other, more sane, sources of career advice for working professionals in India, and I was equally surprised to see that I couldn’t find even a single source of traditional career advisors (counselors, coaches, ) which could help someone. No wonder people turn to astrology!

This site is an attempt to create a place where Indian working professionals can discuss some of the career issues, share tips and advices around career growth. I am constantly on the lookout for good career guidance resources for India and I will try to post them here as I find them (with my opinions about them of course!). I will also share my own experience at managing my own career and those of others which may prove to be useful for at least some folks out there.

Stay tuned!

Completed a month working in Shanghai!

I completed a month working now, and it has been a good experience so far. Working in a country where native language is not the language you know is interesting, for techies (and everyone else I guess) have a tendency to break into passionate discussions in their mother tongue once in a while, and I have to watch and read the emotions sans language to understand what is being said. But my Chinese lessons are progressing and I hope to be able to understand more in due course of time. At office, it is interesting to observer that issues in building a group in China are very similar to doing the same in India (something I was part of); this shows clearly that culture is a much bigger part of the problem (and solution) in any such endeavor, rather than process and people. More on this topic later.

I have been spending some time in looking through various career guidance/counseling/management sites that have come up in India in recent times. I was hoping to find some good career management sites that I could recommend on this blog, but my search continues. Given that I did spend time looking through them and comparing them, I thought maybe it will be useful to share those comments with you. I will do that in some subsequent posts. Let me know if there are specific sites you have in mind. I will post a list of sites in a day or two which I plan to review.

Administrivia: Back from hibernation

As you would have noticed, I haven’t been posting on this site for couple of months now. Things have been hectic on personal and professional front. Big news is that I will be relocating to Shanghai, China; a new company, a new country awaits me, and I am excited about the opportunity to learn and experience so much. I am in US till end of the month (July), will be on vacation in India (Aug) and then join in China (Sep). I will be start posting in couple of days, there are lots of topics I have been holding off on! Thanks for being patient.