Guru Purnima

The word management has several connotations. It is said that each person in an office, managing a particular activity or a desk, is a manager in his or her own right. A group of such managers form a team that is managed by a team leader. Several teams form a department, which is managed by a departmental head. A few departments combine to form a part of the bank – corporate relationship management, credit appraisal, credit risk, credit operations are essentially part of the corporate bank while retail relationship managers, retail operations etc. constitute retail bank. Each bank has a head of corporate bank, corporate centre and retail bank, which can be board level positions. Above them is CEO and MD.

If each of the above is a manager, how are their roles and responsibilities different? MD’s role is to give direction by laying down the vision that the bank or company is supposed to follow. In addition, the values such as ethics, culture, transparency etc. are also outcomes of the vision. Rest all the roles are about managing work and people. However, both these viz. work and people require different skills. While managing work requires domain knowledge, knowledge of the operating ecosystem and building team comprising best of the talents, managing people is more complex as it mainly entails softer skills, difficult to codify.

Over the last 35 years or so that I have been working (across roles, verticals, organizations), I have seen it all – the bosses who have been feared, respected, idolized, adored, hated, emulated and fully replicated. While not much has changed over the years and bosses still continue to either fascinate or frustrate their subjects, the new generation of managers seem to be better skilled to meet the aspirations of millennial. I worked with managers who were sticklers for quality of drafting (to the extent that each comma should be in the right place) and would approve a letter or communication finally after number of corrections till the best text emerged. Today in the age of Whatsapp and other social media, forget comma/full stop, the spellings are auto corrected to American English and slangs and acronyms are used freely. As the communication is mostly on e-mails, Dear, Mr., Respectfully at the beginning and Thanks, Sincerely, Obediently, Truly are all but forgotten. Some of my bosses of the erstwhile expected you to be in Office (with or without work) till they were there or seek their permission if you intended leaving ahead of them. I see today’s bosses themselves more worried about life beyond work and leaving in time to be with family and pursuing other hobbies. And one of the biggest changes can be seen in the interpersonal relations. We used to address even one batch senior guy “Sir”, leave apart senior functionaries. Today, calling all your colleagues, immediate seniors, department heads and even CEOs by their first names is the in thing and Sirs and Madams are a big time passe.

Management styles have indeed undergone big time changes. There is no point in lamenting about the past (office decorum, respect for seniors, formal behaviour) as these disruptive changes are irreversible. But is something missed from the old time? I think those lifelong relationships and  bonds,  that gratefulness-  when you learnt something good you treated that senior like a “Guru”, that family feeling are some of the good things of the past that are amiss today. However, there are several good things in the changed scenario also. But let me pay my obeisance to all my seniors from whom I learnt so much and to whom I owe what I am today on this auspicious day of “Guru Purnima”. I am not sure whether I will be eligible for similar gratitude from my subjects! But I have decided to move ahead with the change.


2 thoughts on “Guru Purnima

  1. I suppose the corporate culture you are talking about is of private sector’s. In PSBs nothing much has changed over the years. Yes, of course, with one big exception. Language skill is practically none existent now, WhatsApp has taken care of that!

    Liked by 1 person

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