How to handle undeserved high positions

The world is surely biased, you will see politician’s sons becoming ministers, boss’s brothers/sisters/relatives becoming bosses/managers, superstar’s son is gets a better break and someone’s friend jumping high in position. All this is a part of the game. Also in corporate world this happens that family members are joining to a very undeserving position. Some of the companies are very strict about it, eg: Infy

On the broader blood relations issue Nilekani says that “family members of the founders can’t work here.” Murthy told me that neither his son nor daughter, now both in their 20s, will join the company.


The case with wipro is different

That must be a relief, given the dynasty that is beginning to emerge at Wipro, one of India’s other top IT giants. Azim Premji, the 62-year old chairman, controls over 80% of the stock and his 30-year old son, Rishad, is joining at the end of this month from the London consultancy office of Bain & Co, to work initially on financial services.


getting an undeserved high position
(getting a undeserved position is ok, if one knows how to handle it)

That is a part of game and many of the relatives study really hard to take care of their responsibilities but sometimes you are made the leader without enough skill sets and knowledge. Company can take a very different turn if you don’t know how to drive it properly. This post will help you handle undeserved high positions. This post is for me as well as I get (and got) many undeserving positions because of various reasons. (I need to push to office and need to finalize somethings before 12 noon, will complete it from office 🙂 , so keep reading)

Update (6 June, 2008) – Continues …..

As promised, I am going to continue my post, couldn’t do that yesterday (and a day before yesterday). It’s true that all of us can get into an undeserved high positions but how do we handle it will decide our success. So here are some of the tips:

  1. It’s ok to be wrong. Nobody is expecting you to be correct all the time but they certainly expect you to realize the mistake when it happens and will appreciate your loud confession.
  2. Being in a high position doesn’t necessarily mean your involvement at work level. You generally have to get involve in decision making and (generalized) directing. Even I will suggest you getting away from making strategy yourself (read Why CEOs Shouldn’t Set Strategy, just remember that they assumed that CEO doesn’t know the subject well. If CEO knows the subject, do get involve) , you can just be a critics to strategies and offer you suggestions. Let’s take an example: Say I am head of operations for web marketing department and we have a PPC department and link department, one day both the PPC head and Link head leaves the department. What should I do here? I will try to see if someone else fit into the position. Assuming that no one fits in the position (which is horrible situation as you alway keep building backups for every team member), what will you do? I have good knowledge about Links and very less knowledge about PPC. I will ask both the teams to prepare a strategy. Though I will help the link team in building one. With PPC team, I will listen to their suggestions and strategies, will try to understand as much as possible. If that seems logical to me, I will ring the go bell. Also I will let the team know that I don’t have much knowledge about PPC, so they need to be on their toes to run it properly.

    The core of the point is that being on a high position doesn’t mean you need to get involve in day to day work, just build people who will do that for you. You deal with heads, and direct them to direct the work force.

I have another interesting topic (Web – Personal branding Vs Corporate branding) in mind, so want to abort this one here :). Some of the qualities that will help you handle any position, be it deserved or undeserved:

  1. Good learning ability: If you can learn any field with ease, it helps you fit into various positions. As our professors used to say, “Stay student as long as possible, if possible forever”.
  2. Good upbringing or adopting good values: I remember the guy from aditya birla group (he was some head, one of the top, I forgot his name), he emphasized a lot on kitchen learning. There are few things that you learn from your families. I call them life values, like respecting others, setting right priorities in life, being honest etc. It is very difficult to learn these values later in life.
  3. Ability to change: You can’t play baseball with cricket bat. You are uniquely designed and you may fit into something but in order to help other sections you will have to bend a little, you will have to take a lower/back seat. The Ability to change is a very handy one in handling high positions.
  4. Keep an open door policy: “What the %^%$$ is it?” should be allowed for both the parties to build a good team. If the senior never allows criticisms then better he himself don’t criticize anyone. Let people express their viewpoint and assure them an honest ear. You being approachable is a great strength.
  5. Understanding your team: They are not like you, don’t expect them to be like you. Understand their strength and weakness and use them accordingly.
  6. Being Candor: Oh! How much I loved it and Oh! How much some of them hated it. I always tried to say the truth and feeling as it is, so that we can remain on equal terms. No hidden policies. Many had tough time accepting it and had all the bad words against me. Many did improve and they still thank me for that. Being Candor is not enough, you also need to make sure that you don’t develop perception towards anything or anyone.
  7. Good speaking/writing abilities: One needs to give pep up talks, one will have to write and respond to mails to keep the things moving in high energetic zones.

Wait for my next post, will be up very soon!

How to decide your new employer?

After I wrote “Questions for your employer (Hiring Manager)“, many people have asked me various questions like what about salary, career and so on. I will cover some more important questions that you should ask your prospective employee.

NOTE: Don’t ask these questions during your first rounds. Wait till you impress the company. Remember that these questions will always be appreciated. It is your right to interview the company as the company interviews you. It’s a mutual relationship. I suspect people who don’t scrutinize a company prior to joining it. I remember a time when after few rounds in a company I had several meetings with their founders, management and staffs, then I decided not to join them for the time being.

Join good company
(Does your company understands you?)

Try hard to join Good companies

There are only few good companies (where you enjoy work and create great things), try hard to join them. Good companies always want good people. Make a good relationship with them even before joining them. It’s not that tough to win competition with good teammates. “Hiring is the key” – Says Jack Welch of GE. Next section will help you answer, whether to join a company or not. It’s not a perfect formula but worked 80% of the time for me.

  1. What is their mission statement? – This reflects a lot about how the company is organized. Ideally people from the top management to the peon should know the mission statement and work accordingly . Many companies work on different things but everything is done without a proper mission statement. I have seen some small companies with great mission statements, it was so clear that you could sense their direction with just one single sentence. For a bigger company, the name brand name covers up the mission statement. For a bigger company, ask your prospective team about its mission. and then Match it with your profile/choice.
  2. Who manages the company? – Different departments should be managed by different people. If the company is a new startup, assume it to be a little messy but they should have a plan to delegate powers to departments. Ask this, “Who manages your HR policies?”, “How are the appraisals done?”, “Who decides the salary increment?”, “If someone is performing extremely well for the company, then ask the concerned person whether the company treats them same way as they treat other employees or do they have a special provision for them?”. You will be surprised to know that many big companies are struggling with these questions. A good company will always try to answer these questions as clearly as possible.
  3. How do you earn money? Who invests in the company? See if they are open about it. If company is not making good money then don’t expect goodies for yourself. Not earning at present is not a big issue but the outline of business plan can be shared (to an impressive level).

Questions about the company?

  1. Five day week: MY SUGGESTION is NOT TO JOIN any company that works 6 day a week. 6 days a week is almost impossible for hard working people. Sometimes people do work 7 days a week if needed but the company that wants its employees to work more than 5 days a week on a regular basis is certainly not a people focused company. One doesn’t need to work XXX hours to complete a task but they surely need to work YYY fresh hours to make it successful, where YYY < XXX for sure. One day off a week keeps employees fresh. The company that doesn’t understand this doesn’t deserve good heads, lend them your hands and legs, brains doesn’t work for 6 days. I seriously mean it.
  2. How many leaves? Compare it with the industry standards. This is also a big factor that you should consider.
  3. Salary break up and Incentives Ask for a clear break up. Promises made is of no use, get it written in black and white. “You will get so and so when so and so happens”, better get it written.
  4. Increments This needs a clear guidelines. I know many who say, “I will get an increment only if my boss feels so“. This needs to change, one should get one deserves. If companies don’t have such policies they certainly needs to come up with one. Also see if promotions are performance based.

Ideal companies rarely exists, so one needs to get some of the mix and keep working towards a company that respects its people. See some of the stories that speaks about its culture (basically some viewpoints 🙂 )