A career lesson from my ex boss!!

This is a bit personal – a simple but highly relevant piece of “gyan” I received from one of my bosses in my first job. I feel this wonderful piece of “gyan” helped me work better, manage my career expectations, successes and failures better.

In my present role, as a consultant and facilitator, it has helped me advise industry professionals at all levels and counsel them at times on career issues. Now the “gyan” is available to you and I hope some of you will find this relevant and useful.

The story: I had joined a leading telecom company as a part of its campus hire program, I was fortunate enough to be assigned to the corporate director’s office within 3 months of my joining. My boss happened to be a high flier and was a corporate director of a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate at a relatively young age – his early forties. In last few years, we have seen professionals in early forties and late thirties taking on leadership roles, but the practice was relatively uncommon about a decade back). My boss had some of the industry veterans reporting to him and some of them were much more senior to him in age and experience and some other had better educational credentials.

One Saturday morning, he called me for a informal chit-chat session and feedback on my progress and learning as a Management Trainee. Since it was a Saturday and a weekly off, we were in office to close some pendency and prepare for some review meetings, we had more time for casual chit chat. The chat session digressed to discussions related to career growth, career aspirations, managing ones career expectations etc.

He then added on to the conversation on a serious and thoughtful note:

“I want you to be aware of one reality that you will face during your career.

As your career progress over the years, and you grow as a professional in corporate hierarchy – you should mentally be prepared for the day when you may need to hire your batch mate or a junior at twice your salary, or you may also need to hire your seniors at less than half your salary. Similarly you may encounter situations where in professionals with lesser experience and relatively poor academic credentials take over as your boss.

 

Over the years, while observing the industry – I have actually seen the above “gyan” proving itself right and valid time and again. I remember an incident about one senior professional – a vice president from a manufacturing and engineering company who was finding it difficult to land up his next job – stating about another company’s business head – “ that guy had done his internship with me 15 years back”. The other person being referred to was drawing a compensation which was at least 3 times of his ex-boss.

How do you handle feelings of success , failure or stagnation relative to your friends & peers?

One fine day, you are heading a business and the next day you are nowhere. It does not matter if you are a great performer or a hot shot graduate from a big business school. You may be a graduate from an A or B Grade School and may have joined a company from campus at one of the top salaries. It may still be possible that one of your friends from school, who was not “smart” enough to graduate from a top grade B-school or start his career in a top brand, moves ahead of you career-wise in a couple of years or a decade.

    • In such scenarios, you should not feel disheartened or disappointed.
    • Similarly, no need to feel great about yourself having moved ahead – career-wise or compensation-wise as compared to your friends and peers.
    • Let your success not get on to your head.
    • Every one has a career track, every one gets different opportunities and different learning. You never know when someone’s career move is in a direction for the better or the worse.
    • One’s aspiration at all the stages has to be on – personal satisfaction and personal growth.
    • Feeling of competition, feeling of greatness or feeling or having “succeeded” or feeling of having “failed” by looking at others around can bring in real disaster for your own satisfaction, happiness, personal life, relationships as well as career.

Apart from ones own competence, there are external factors which directly or indirectly influence your career a lot. There are factors that we can’t control and can’t influence. Some career moves and industry factors that may seem to be negative in the short run, may actually be responsible for your success and growth in the long run.

Enjoy your career – your learning – your life.

Praveen Mishra

Praveen is the Founder and Principal Consultant at Khedge Business Consulting Pvt Ltd. He works with organisations in areas of business strategy and human-resource management. Over the last 15 years he has helped various organisations with their HR processes, structure, alignment and effectiveness; and talent strategy and processes. You can connect with him at praveen@khedge.com. 

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