I was recently reading a question on Quora, “What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned in the corporate world.
There are few interesting reasons I got greatly intrigued by the question, as follows:
- The question had garnered 26 Million views and 7K public following.
- There were 100s of answers with each of them garnering good no of upvotes
- People across the spectrum, from < 5 years experience to those representing the top management had scribed their views and opinions.
As I have personally attended many career counselling & guidance programs and am someone who knows the importance of career management, this question was holding my attention for unusually a longer time.
I was feeling the urge to shift my focus back to work, reading Quora answers during working hours was sort of making me feel guilty. Even as I minimized the Quora tab, I couldn’t help but continue to ponder on that question for what profound truth it was attempting to extract.
Soon I was reflecting on my own 15 year career term and how it has culminated into what it is now at present. What are those key things that played an important role in shaping my career and as well as me as a professional.
I started to wonder what if I am not a seasoned professional with 15 years of experience in seeing various facets of a typical corporate environment and instead someone who is a college fresher, if so then would these 100 + answers give me a structured outline of those important lessons that I have to learn? And how will these lessons help me in career path planning?
If I have to summarise the 100 + answers into broad and general themes they touch upon, it will be like this:
- Stay away from office politics
- Love your job but not your company
- Be satisfied with your pay
- Performance linked remuneration is the only way out
- Over deliver on responsibilities
- Create a demeanor around you
- Focus on health
These aren’t necessarily incorrect or irrelevant but what I found in them (and what I found missing in them) is that all answers rush to depict the corporate environment and how one should approach it.
All answers, at some level, were relating to the lessons the environment teaches and how to keep them in mind for managing the environment better.
What was missing in them is are they applicable to all the stages of one’s career planning or career management process, by being a guiding factor to help maneuver ourselves better?
If you ever wondered how much a career counsellor makes, in providing services to create someone’s career path? And by end of all those sessions, what would be his ultimate piece of advice?
If we keep aside the environment (people, hierarchy, culture, money, etc.,) for time being and just focus on what’s needed for one’s own development as a professional, then we are moving into an entirely new dimension – Personal Growth & Development.
When we master our self-growth, then any environment can be handled with relative ease. Or to put it the other way, the environment around you is an omnipresent force that can’t be tinkered with, but you can mould yourself in such a way that external forces won’t pull you down and instead become a platform for you to succeed.
Do you agree with that?
So if I have to answer the question as the 101th person, then I will do it this way.
I will segregate the answers into 3 parts – I call them the 3 essential lessons that one must practice and inculcate into their lives.
They’re as follows:
Alignment with the manager
One of the most common reasons people quit a job or fall out in career growth is caused by the strained relationship with the reporting manager.
What happens is, with experience we tend to develop an outgrown ego that goes out to have direct confrontation with the reporting manager. It is not something that’s healthy for both the parties.
Manager or Bosses play a very important role in our lives, they get us access to resources, opportunities and rewards. It is they who form a bridge between where we are and where we desire to be.
Why would you want to burn the bridge that gets you access to those crucial supplies?
Managers are end of the day people like us with their own goals and aspirations; looking for means to achieve that through the team they are managing. If their aspirations are aligned to that of the organisations’, then their success is directly proportional to the organisation’s way of rewarding it’s employees.
One thing you must always do is find out what your reporting manager’s goals are and be aligned to that. There can be a difference in approach, execution, thinking, et all but beyond that if you exhibit time and again that you are interested in his goals and willing to align yourself to that, it will go a long way in building confidence.
And when we develop such kind of foundation, with trust and confidence, then managers turn out to be the rock solid bridges that connect us to the future positions in the corporate world.
Showing genuine interest in learning from others
Everyone is unique. But the bedrock of achieving that uniqueness is to learn things from others and still craft our own story. Those who sheerly mimic others or those who shun others completely are both not going to build great relationship at work. Those who genuinely aim to learn other’s way of doing things or thinking, are the ones to ultimately become a people’s person in the organisation.
And in this process there’s a great deal of new learning that happens, also giving you a great edge in this competitive world.
When we start out, we join an organisation for a specific role such as a designer or marketing executive. When we cloak 5 – 6 years, we step up to manage people in the same role/function. However, after 10 years of experience, when we are ready for leadership roles in an organisation, then what is critical is our holistic understanding of how businesses work.
The foundation of this understanding comes from learning from others, right from the initial days. If we build a cocoon around ourselves and just keep lingering within our demarcated space, then it becomes a unidirectional trait that doesn’t tally with that of a leader who has to demonstrate dynamic perspectives on all aspects of a business.
Another common mistake people do is trying to put a mask on them to please others. But trust me, if it is not natural, people will instantly spot it. And when someone is perceived as fake, then there’s no scope for either confidence or relationship developing.
There’s a very fine line of difference in being yourself, in not judging or nudging others for being different and in not letting others influence your natural persona. It’s a great art, if practiced regularly then people will start loving you as a person.
Being yourself adds immense strength to your intrinsic character that it will make you stand apart from the rest of the crowd.
And if you can demonstrate these traits with concrete examples to a potential employer, trust me they are going to like you instantly. Having interviewed a whole lot of people in my entire career, I can tell you that spotting such traits (with concrete examples) means I spotted an absolute gem to add in my organisation.
What are your views on this? Please comment here as I am curious to know your perspectives.