Monday, July 9, 2012

Making Managers More Effective through Reading

Indian Managers Lack Reading Habits

I have been working with Indian managers for the last 40 years. I must have met and interacted easily with over a lakh of them across the last forty years. About ten thousand of them have gone through my Leadership development programs in the last 15 years itself. From my observation I conclude the following:
1.      Most Indian managers (easily about 80% of them) don’t read and do not have any reading habits.
2.       Those who read seem to be better managers as they are more wise and possess intellectual capital and tend to add to the intellectual capital of their organization.
The observation is further supported when you see the number of passengers visiting the book stores in airports and railways stations. At airports be it cross word, or land mark, or India today book store, you will hardly find at any given point of time five or six of the hundreds of passengers taking  time to browse through he books and very few of them buy books and carry to read into he aircraft. Contrast this with foreign visitors. Most often they carry a book with them and can be seen preoccupied reading the same on the aircraft.

In most of my Executive development programs either at IIMA earlier or at TVRLS now, I have observed that getting them to read is a difficult t task. Time has to be provided and a clear assignment given for discussion followed by presentation in the class. Then it works. For example in most of our 360 degree feedback based leadership development programs, we give Robin Sharma’s book “Leadership Wisdom’ or HBR articles and allot time for the participants to summarise their reading. I have seen how beautifully it works. There are cases where managers continued this practice in their departments after the program as they found the book useful,  and the methodology of reading and sharing summary with others does some magic. In recent times many many books have come into the market. Most of them are written in simple language and have very informative as well as inspiring content. Whether it is Govindarajan’s  'Reverse Innovations' or Rekha Shetty’s "Innovate Happily", or Robin Sharma’s “Monk who sold his Fereire" or Gopalakrishnan’s "Bonsai manager",  all give some wisdom for managing self or managing one’s role as a manger. I am sure everyone who read any of these books picks of a point or two to enhance their effectiveness as people or as managers.

However, this is possible only when they read. There is therefore a need for inculcating reading habit in managers. 

We have successfully induced the internet browsing habits in managers in the last one decade or so. How did we do that? By giving them the net connection. Every manager now a day’s has a net connection on his/her table. A few years ago when net connections were given, several managers did not know how to switch on their computers. They needed their secretaries to type and send e-mails from their computers. From then to now, the situation has changed. Most managers have learnt to operate and use the internet on their desk top by themselves.

The same may trick may help any organization that is convinced that reading habits will enhance their managerial effectiveness.

The solution is for the organization to subscribe to books or magazines or journals on their behalf. Encourage the culture of gifting books, gift subscribing to business magazines and exchanging of books within an  organization. Like the internet, make the books available every nook and corner of managers so that they can read. Flip cart is easiest way to order for books.

Perfect Professional

TVRLS team at Bangalore have started bringing out a new Magazine for managers called as “Perfect Professional”. The fist issue dealt with leadership and the second one is on entrepreneurship. Both the issues have very interesting articles. For example the first issue has an article that says your personal financial habits are good reflections of your job behaviour.  Anyone who read this (Sumit Verghese) will start thinking about his on the job behaviour or personal spending habits. Similarly when you read an article on leadership lessons from films (by Kandaswamy Bharatan) and discover the way film industry works, you get ideas to transform your own work place and work culture. Or when your read the article that you can be an entrepreneur even when you are employed by someone ( Ajoy Chawla) and the innumerable instances quoted by the author, it can’t but influence your thought.

In psychology it is said, thought influences action, and language influences thought and good books give you the language to think rightly and act rightly. Perfect Professional, as a magazine has come up with a scheme of promoting managerial reading habits by getting the organization to begin with by subscribing to the magazine. Any interested corporate house can decide to reward a group of their employees by gift ordering the magazine for them. For example it costs a mere Rupees 3000 for a corporate house to order the magazine for one year for ten of its employees. The ten chosen mangers will get 4 issues each of the magazine across a one year period. That means each manager get the magazine copy with different themes every three months. Perfect professional team believes that this sure will boost up at least some reading habit among managers. The magazine has different kinds of content like those tips to manage one’s life better or stress better etc. It is bound to attract managers to read. What needs be done is to get the manager to subscribe or subscribe on their behalf.  If an organization wants to make this facility available for 50 of their op employees it just costs them 15,000 rupees per annum. The benefits can be immense. Your can evaluate the benefits after a year.

Why wait? Introduce this innovation of creating a "Magazine Connect" to your managers like Internet connection.

For on line subscription to Perfect Professional contact:

1 comment:

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