Saturday, July 11, 2009

Shift in Work Values..

Success at the next level is not always a given thing, even if you've been a star in your last role. It needs more than a change of gears

Within 18 months of starting his career with a respected MNC in the consumer goods industry as a sales representative, Ravi became an area sales manager. Handing over the promotion letter, the divisional vice president said, "Ravi, you have earned this based upon your outstanding sales track record, commitment and drive. You are the youngest ASM in the country! Congratulations!"

Six months into his new role, Ravi was summoned by the divisional vice president, who said: "Sales for your territories have been steadily dropping. Three reps under your charge have quit, citing you as the prime reason. The reps also say you lose your temper, quite often these days. Is there something I can do to help, Ravi? "  Ravi broke down and  requested "I don't enjoy this work at all and am deeply stressed. Please let me go back to being a sales rep."
What causes someone like Ravi, so successful at one level, to falter at the next level? An obvious, yet often overlooked reason is that promotion decisions are invariably based on past "track record halo", disregarding requirements at the next level.

Is there something one can do to improve chances of success at the next level or, are we doomed to learn the about "level of incompetence" hard way?
An expected answer is "added relevant skills", either by oneself or with organisational input. This is, by no
means, adequate.

A promotion, where a change in role is involved, places you at a critical career crossroad to the next level. Key to success here is to change direction at this crossroad with a change in work values.

Let me elaborate: change in work values is not about changing core values like integrity or dignity. Simply
put, work values determine what you value at work.
Ravi had spent so much time mastering the art of selling and experienced success as a crack salesman. He valued selling more than managing a team of sales reps, with its attendant operational tasks. Whenever a sales rep experienced a difficult sale, Ravi would jump in to close the sale. Soon the sales reps started resenting this "interference" and Ravi was not able to devote time to the non-sales aspects of his position.

Change in work values is necessary as we take higher level responsibilities across levels. A marketing
professional, who becomes a head of the business, may value marketing as the most important part of the job. Having achieved success in marketing, it becomes very difficult to value something else as more important. So he does not apply himself with skill and energy to the non-marketing parts of the new role like business strategy and appreciating the contribution of other functions. Inevitably, as business head, he continues to think and act like a marketing head.

As this Critical Career Crossroads approach, the shift in work values is key to success at the next level.
Management skills and capabilities are developed by activity at the workplace. If you internalise enough of those activities, you actually get good at them, and they give you a sustainable advantage for a certain period of time.

"To start doing something new, you have to stop doing something old."

1 comment:

SJ said...

This is a good case. It is not just about work values. Take the case of Sachin Tendulkar. He was a star cricketer, best in the capacity of an individual player, but was he a succesful captain? He faltered as a captain (when responsibility came in so soon in his career). Certain skills come thru experience and maturity thru age. Ravi may be an excellent sales person but he lacked the experienced and people skills to lead a large team.