Where it all Started
Pursuing a management course was always a dream for me and I was lucky to do two. Let me rewind back to a decade. The first one was in to general management covering Marketing, Sales, HR and Finance curriculum. As part of the master’s program, I had signed up for an internship that opened my doors to the corporate world for the first time. The internship focused on corporate social responsibility activities and related reporting. This experience set the stage for my future job and I knew what I wanted to become: “A human resources professional”. That is how I zeroed in on an international human resources management course thereafter.
The internet usage was booming and completing a project work meant that we take the Avtar of a data aggregator. Things were very structured and we could copy the successful models available on the internet and complete the project on time. While we were able to present the project results academically, we were not sure about the applications in the real world. The academic world does teach many things including independence, camaraderie and teamwork. However, there are so many things that we are unprepared for when we enter the practical world. I have chalked down some of the attributes that are quintessential for our survival in the real world, through my experiences.
Feedback is Feedback
I joined a multinational organization and within no time, others started having perceptions about me. People would come forward and give feedback about how I did in the last presentation. When you hear good things, you are elated and on cloud number nine. You head back home happy faced and pamper yourself with a party. It does not take much time for you to bury your head in the netherworld if a presentation goes awry resulting in negative feedback. It took me a while to realize that feedback is feedback. What we need to appreciate in both cases is that people take time to observe you and provide feedback so that you can do better than today. The type of feedback I received over the years also depended on the company culture. In some, I got a sandwiched feedback (good-bad-good) and in few, it was rather blunt and to the point. The day I realized that the feedback is about the situation and not me, is the day I started treating both positive and negative feedback in the same measure. It was important for me to move the needle from ‘good’ to ‘great’ in case of positive reviews and ‘bad’ to ‘good’ for the negative feedback reviews.
The Power of Paraphrasing
I was working on a firm wide recruitment project and it required a lot of collaboration and coordination with colleagues from different teams. My manager was reviewing my work and asked me a question related to another department and how it could affect my project launch. Then, I spoke with the third person from another team, sought information and closed the loop with my manager. Apparently, my manager and the third person bumped in to each other and realized that I misquoted the latter. I was accused of quoting her out of context and it was a bit of an embarrassment. This was more of “my word against yours” situation. Few best practices that I learnt after this fiasco remain in my armory for the rest of my professional life. The first, I started paraphrasing at the end of each meeting to seek consent and greater clarity from the other party. This ensured that there was no communication gap, assumptions between the giver and seeker of information. The second, I would always involve the person I quote in the meeting. This ensured that everyone would be on the same page, had the highest level of clarity and avoid a potential communication catastrophe.
I am yet to come across a single manager who told me not to loop him or her in my updates or reports. The urge to stay posted about the latest happenings in the recruitment world and the industry at large were always high. During my stint at one of the MNC’s, I came across a global study about the “candidate experience” by a reputed technology firm. I really liked the study and I thought it could help my colleagues in the hiring team and shared the snippets with them. Much to my surprise, everyone liked it. The head of the recruitment team walked up to me and said; we should leverage these learnings for one of the business units and even post it to the leadership team. In addition, I learnt that keeping your peers and your junior’s in the loop is also very important. Voila, there was no turning back from then onwards. Moral of the story: keep sharing your knowledge, work, information and trends with your team regularly. When you share relevant information, people will always appreciate the value of your work and look up to you for guidance. The by-product of this activity is that your ‘recall value’ goes up and quickly your name is linked to an expertise.
The Art of Presentation
I was required to do many presentations during my professional career over a decade and each presentation was a unique one. First, I was shy, and then I was nervous and finally was very obsessive when it comes to the preparation. I would literally write down all the points that I wanted to speak at least a day before the presentation. In the initial days, the audience used to focus on my legs, as most of the action was happening there. I used to move my legs too much out of nervousness and my colleagues would exchange friendly banter saying I was dancing on the stage. Jokes apart, it was very important for me to research the audience every time I made a presentation. The demographics of the audience helped me to customize the content that I was presenting. For example, when it comes to new employee orientation, I used to keep it very detailed with an assumption that they know very little. On the other hand, if the audience were executive leadership, then I would restrict the presentation to one or two slides and keep it crisp. I realized that the ‘attention span’ of the audience also varied from person to person, group to group and I would use mild humour, impromptu quiz to keep them engaged.
We need to appreciate that everyone is unique in his or her own way: one size does not fit all. You need to figure out what your strength is and make a conscious effort to leverage it in your professional endeavors. My personal advice would be to stay open to ideas, be agile to adopt to new situations and think beyond your comfort zone. Ready for a growth mindset?
Samarender Komaragiri is a talent acquisition professional with a decade of experience covering a wide range of industries like Manufacturing, Pharma, Consulting, Banking and IT. His specialties are technology, diversity and leadership hiring. He has completed his masters from Paris University and currently leading the BFSI and Diversity hiring functions at Birlasoft.