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Issue of February 2006 
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Mentoring your team

Parthasarathy Rangarajan, Assistant Vice-president, Operations & Systems, Birla Sun Life Distribution, talks about the importance of team management in an organisation and the CIO as a team leader.

Team management is one of the driving factors in an organisation and with the expanding size of teams; it has become one of the major tasks of a CIO. Mentoring one’s team in modern management is considered one of the most important processes in team building.

A CIO should be a mentor who can empathise, create trust among his team members, be a good listener and influence his team members. He has to be a role model for them: only then will he be able to prove himself as a true team leader.

IN TIMES OF CRISIS

A CIO should be a mentor who can empathise, create trust among his team members, be a good listener, and influence his team members. He has to be a role model for them—only then will he be able to prove himself as a true team leader

A CIO should play the role of a leader in times of crisis, being able to set an example to his team members.

He can use different methods for confidence building. He should also lead by example, which will be a motivating factor in itself, as actions speak louder than words and will boost the entire team spirit.

He should be a team player and model team behaviour himself, which plays a major step in creating a healthy team atmosphere during crises.

OFFSITE INTERACTION

Conducting offsites is one of the most recommended techniques for team building as it facilitates bonding between team members in an organisation. Offsites enable team members to interact with each other in a much more relaxed environment, and it is during such interactions that tacit knowledge sharing occurs.

Usually during such interactions, onsite problems and differences of opinion among team members are automatically resolved. This helps to create a strong bond between team members. There are companies who arrange such off-sites frequently.

STRATEGY AT BIRLA

At Birla Sun Life Distribution, strategic issues are discussed by the senior management team and operational issues are handled by the operations team head with his subordinates in conjunction with the HR head and team.

Business strategies are usually discussed among the business heads and CEO; the details of the strategy are discussed with the operations head who in turn briefs his team.

Any issues related to operations are directly escalated to the HR head, as it is his function to resolve any operational issues which will cause a hurdle in the implementation of a project.

VIEW ON INDIAN SYSTEMS

Many managers in the Indian industry are young, which adds to their dynamism and decision-making ability. The disadvantage of the Indian system is that it is yet to adopt a process-driven environment. If organisations implement their strategies in a simulated environment, projects will be implemented more professionally

In the service and finance sectors, the compensation for top management in India is on par with the US or any other countries. The concept of high risk, high pay is entering these sectors.

The Indian system has an advantage of age. Many managers in the Indian industry are young, which adds to their dynamism and decision-making ability. The disadvantage of the Indian system is that it is yet to adopt a process-driven environment. If organisations implement their strategies in a simulated environment, the project will be implemented more professionally.

Another major disadvantage in the Indian system, in my observation, is that often users are not clear in their requirements, which affects project implementation.

MANAGING MANAGERS

Some management theorists believe that the gap between the top management and middle management pay scales should not be too large. Large inequality in the compensation package might lead to discontent in an organisation as the success of top management is dependent on the performance of subordinates.

The top management devises strategies, but it is implemented by subordinates (middle management) and further down the line. If there is unequal distribution of pay scales, the motivation levels of subordinates tend to fall and it has a ripple effect on the performance of the entire team.

Leader Vs Manager
Current management theories emphasise leadership qualities rather than managerial qualities in team management. In the present scenario, the CIO needs to be a leader-manager, not just a manager.

The differences in the roles, approaches and theories of a leader and a manager are:

  • A manager uses his authority while a leader uses his power.
  • A manager does things right while a leader does right things.
  • A manager works well in peaceful conditions while a leader gives his best during a crisis.
  • A manager is an administrator while a leader is an innovator.
  • A manager accepts the status quo while a leader challenges it.

As told to Sneha Khanna

 
     
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