Management, for the parents of today’s youth of India is the buzz word which sounds money and status. Barring a few who are more inclined to make the wards go for the noble profession of medicine or military services, most parents now-a-days openly display their hidden urge that their children become management graduates. Their mission is a management or business administration degree and through it a high profile job, irrespective of their ward’s academic keenness.
We do not find engineering students wishing to join a job soon after becoming engineers. Gone are the days when graduates in literature subjects willingly opt for post graduation. Everyone seems to be aiming for a management degree. The height of it is that even medical doctors can be seen pursing an MBA degree. One can find dentists sitting in MBA classes, chartered accountants sharing the classrooms of a business management course with boys & girls who are not even graduates at that time.
The serpentine queue for MBA courses is lengthening day by day. The institutes teaching business have themselves become profitable business centers and perhaps good case studies itself in the business management courses. The ‘Coaching classes’ for entry into Management courses have gained prominence as fast as the Twenty 20 of cricket.
Students, who by all efforts (or rather lack of them) rarely managed to cross the passing percentage marks line in, hold their heads high at the gates of the management institutes. They might not have been able to carve a niche for themselves in their entire schooling days, but with management books in hands, they are considered highly scholarly.
A degree or diploma in management, no matter from which academy it is procured, greatly enhances the ‘marriage value’ of the candidate. Not surprisingly this is the motive of doing MBA for quite a few of them. It becomes a matter of great pride for the parents searching for spouses for their children, who then conveniently forget that neither business management is life nor life can be tackled through a masters degree in management. In the race hordes of young persons who get left out, generally are made to feel lowly.
Is it that people who could not go to the management institutes or people who opted for practical experience than for extended education, are not capable of managing the business?
Majority of people will move their heads sideways when asked this question, silently confirming that management has still not become the bread & butter and perhaps will never become. But intellectuals will not forget to add that a management education is better in the prevailing competition and fulfills the requirements, comparatively quickly, of the fast globally expanding modern business scenario.
True, management education is both important as well as necessary and it is always beneficial to get more educated by which ever means.
There is no confusion about the importance of learning how to manage. This knowledge is perhaps required in all fields. The doctors have to manage their departmental administrative issues, technical work, and patient’s recovery in the same way as teachers have to manage the education of the bunch of students handed over to them. Engineers manage the projects just as chartered accountants manage other people’s money. Technical skills apart, the management capabilities add gravy to the curry and make it more relishing.
The argument is never about the benefits coming from formal management education. It is on the manner by which the youth and their parents make a bee-line for it and then getting quickly de-motivated when most of them are not able to reach where they thought they would in their career, just by getting the management degree. The problem arises due to their fixed attitude that unless armed with a management degree their career would be poised for a zero and that if they have MBA under their belt then the money & status ought to be within their grasp.
Obviously the realities are far from such dreams. The business owners or the HR Heads may be advocating the necessity of having a management degree through their advertisements even for small positions but the fact of the matter is that all business establishments want profits at the end of the day. If you can deliver the same to your employers then it does not matter much if your CV boosts of a management qualification.
A bare management degree can help in obtaining a plum job but it alone won’t support in keeping the job for long. Results are mandatory for businesses to survive and mere classroom management education is not sufficient in giving the desired output, consistently at the higher levels in organizations. An experience of climbing atop a hill by foot helps more in staying over there for longer period than landing there by some other mechanized means.
This brings us to a very pertinent question that what really is essential for a candidate aspiring for in a managerial job, irrespective of whether s/he has a formal management qualification or not.
The strength of any tree lies in its roots. The roots try to gather and absorb as much water possible, from beneath the earth even if it is not watered externally.
If your job requires you to manage then you have to learn how to manage in context to the type of business your organization is dealing with. All management theories cannot be applied to all kinds of problems. Apples cannot be compared to oranges. Each organization has to implement a different strategy at different times. And in reality such management cannot be taught in the class rooms. Its theories cannot be successfully implemented at the shop floor without understanding the behavioral pattern of the problem which would certainly vary from location to location, time to time. A crisis in business cannot be solved just by reading the book detailing a similar example. All business problems are linked to human issues in some way or the other.
The literal meaning of the word ‘management’ is extremely simple. It is to ‘manage’ a thing to the best of its utility. It is the ability to judge a situation, understand the nuances of it, think of the best possible alternative solutions, understand the repercussions of those solutions on implementation, choose the best solution under the prevailing circumstances and execute it so subtly that some mileage is drawn even if the solution backfires. Management is making people adapt to situations beneficial to the concerned business, molding them according to the business plan requirements, which in short is developing the ‘Human skill’. It is as important as developing the ‘Conceptual skills’. And if these two skills are combined with good ‘Technical skills’ then one is on the track of becoming a complete manager.
These three kinds of skills make a person an efficient manager, much more than what a formal degree generally makes.
Technical skills, yes, one has to get a formal education in the related field. It is obtained from the basic education one acquires in the chosen subjects till the graduation level.
Conceptual skills develop with the intricate knowledge of the business one is working for. Logic, commonsense and effective experience plays a big role in securing such skills.
But the most important among the three skills, in context to management, is the Human skill. For attaining the human skills one does not have to necessarily go as far as the management institute from your area of dwelling. We have just to look around our own abode and observe keenly. We can find plenty of examples which teach us management theories with live practical. On several occasions, the solutions that we observe in our daily life would fit in perfectly as solution to the complex scenarios we see in our offices.
Observe the risk taking abilities of small time business persons with whom we deal in the day to day life. The shopkeepers often convince us easily why the same product is better of their shops and what their counterparts do to drain the pocket of the consumers. They exhibit the technicalities with consummate ease. Discover how they deal with customers of varying background. Their spontaneous replies make many a client return to them.
Observe how an efficient housewife manages the activities in the kitchen. She is involved in all domestic activities and yet conveys a ‘detached’ impression. Small examples, which do not generally catch your eyes, are actually a miniature form of the larger business issues. Observe the diversity of the jobs accomplished by them in a home. The raw food material is obtained timely and most economically, the follow up is relentless for replacing the empty gas cylinder with a filled one, the domestic servants (employees) are dealt tactfully and yet sternly & motivated to continue, fresh recruitments of domestic help is through a fast process, the children are managed concurrently. She still finds substantial time for several other household things and at the same time manages to view fixed time programs on television. They don’t have a bar chart for each day but still some clue can be drawn by people aspiring to be good managers.
Try to notice how well a Sullivan nod is executed at a bakers shop. Observe how the working ladies manage the home and their profession simultaneously, observe how your newspaper agency manages delivery dot on time, how your milk man honkers the horn of his bike around a fixed time, day in and day out. How he smilingly manages you as one of his regular clients even when you know he adulterates the milk. Pay a bit of an attention to your maid servant, how she manages to accomplish work of several households belonging to persons of varied temperaments. None of the above mentioned people had been to the management schools or as a matter of fact none of them even read the A,B,C of management. They all learnt it practically, understood the situations they got exposed to, flirted with different set of solutions, got themselves acclimatized to the different situations and most importantly kept themselves prepared for any change, ready to face the moods of different people.
We really do not have to go very far to learn management. Logical approach with little common sense, quick adaptability to changing environment and a will to accomplish the mission is all what is required to learn managing the situations. These are not exclusively taught in the management schools. If one is willing to learn the tricks the teachers are available around us all the time. We just need to recognize them, observe keenly and adapt the solutions in the businesses we are engrossed in.
It won’t be justified if I fail to mention that this article is not meant to advocate against formal management education. It is to communicate that not getting a formal management degree is not the end of the world. A management degree is not indispensable to succeed as a manager. We must look around to locate management experts. It is not that you find good teachers only inside academic campuses.