People from all over the industry have the impression that we, the chartered accountants, lack the industry required managerial skills and the MBAs score over us in this aspect. Well to some extent I do agree with the industry, as our curriculum itself is prepared in such a manner that it does not involve classroom teaching like B Schools or IIMs. Moreover, we do not have any subject on management in our syllabus, as our core area of expertise is accountancy/tax and not general management.
3 months residential GMCS course is a welcome step from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, but I am sure most of us would not join the course due to whatever reasons. I am a chartered accountancy student and have been working in an environment where I have to constantly use my managerial skills. I would like to share how one can be a good manager without actually being a manager and without having a management degree.
A lot of people think that leaders/managers are BORN leaders/managers and these skills cannot be developed. Well my experience says absolutely otherwise. By managers I mean not only the people at managerial post in an organization but people you deal with in your day to day life also.
Managers are everywhere, if you observe carefully, your mother (if she is a housewife) is an excellent manager at home, the planning she has to do in the morning for making the food in time or for finishing the other house work on time or making sure all the bills are paid on time or have you ever noticed the amazing manner in which she gets the house work done from the house maid.
I shall give you another example. Have you ever wondered why is it that most of the decisions in your friend circle are taken by only one or two of them? Decisions like which movie to go to, which destination to go to for the trip, how to arrange the transportation, which food to order in the restaurant etc are all, most of the times, taken by certain someone in your group. This happens because we are not good at making decisions or do not want to take decisions because we know that this friend of ours will make the decision for us, so why should we use our brains? This lethargic behaviour is the biggest enemy of us CAs. We just do not want to use our brains. A precise example would be that we always want someone to set the entire standard operating procedures/audit programme for us and then we shall merrily follow the same, mechanically, without using our brain. As and when a new situation (not in the audit programme) comes into picture, we simply give up and do not think twice before calling your boss/senior for consulting. If you inculcate this habit from the beginning of your articleship then let me guarantee you that you can never be successful in life. You will definitely become a Chartered Accountant but never be a leader or never get a managerial position in an organization. You will throughout your life be following someone else’s orders.
Always remember that we are CHARTERED Accountants and not “only accountants”. ‘Chartered’ word is considered a status of professional competency and I would never call someone professionally competent until he/she has managerial skills. In my opinion all Chartered Accountants should become good managers and should not remain at the operating level. We must prove to the world that we not only excel at preparing the balance sheets but can also equally contribute in increasing those profit margins with our managerial qualities.
I have prepared some of the situations that we have to encounter in our day to day office that requires/ involves managerial skills. The following situations are universally applicable to all and are definitely the most basic areas that all managers have to handle in his/her routine work. I have arrived at these basic steps by systematically breaking down the work of a manager and condensed it into the following five steps:
a) Planning: No one else can understand the significance of planning more than financial professionals like us. We all are well aware of the catastrophic consequences of inaccurate budgeting in any organization. Planning is the foundation of any assignment/ project and the stronger the foundation the stronger shall be the results. It is said that proper planning is a job half done. So never hesitate to take time out for planning and realize that it is not a waste of time but optimum utilization of time. Give yourself targets, visualize and write down each and every step that you intend to follow. Utilize your power of thinking in this initial stage to the fullest.
b) Decision making: This is the most common area that we have to deal with every day. With my experience I have laid down the following steps that one must follow in making any decision in your office:
i) Identify the problem: Literally define it in your own words.
ii) Find out the intensity of the problem: Is the problem small or big, severe or trivial, routine or extra ordinary. This shall help in deciding the priority of the problem.
iii) Prioritize of the problem: Whether there are other problems which are more important that should be given priority?
iv) Does the decision require some consultancy/reference material: One should be very careful to answer this question as many people would be inclined to answer this question as YES. This option shall be used only if the solution is genuinely way out of your league. If there is a legitimate requirement then arrange for various consultants/reference materials.
v) Identification of the alternative solutions: Solutions may be many but you need to filter out the most appropriate one. Most appropriate solution is a subjective sentence and you may need to use your discretion, intuition and most importantly your past experience, if the problem is a routine one.
vi) Cost benefit analysis: Perform a cost benefit analysis to decide which alternative should be selected. One can write down the pros and cons on a piece of paper and the ones with more pros (Benefits) and fewer cons (Costs) must be selected. Arrange them in order of suitability.
vii) Finalize the solution: After performing cost benefit analysis, the best solution must be selected and implemented.
viii) Revise the solution: A lot of times it happens that the solution chosen by us is not appropriate due to various practical difficulties, but one should not panic in such a situation and realize that is not the end of the world, in such a case the 2nd best solution in the cost benefit analysis may be applied and so on.
The above mentioned steps should be followed in the same sequence. Many other steps can be inserted in between but these are the most basic steps that any decision making problem involves. Once your way of making decision becomes systematic as stated above, you shall realize that none of the problems are impossible to solve.
c) Allocation of work: We all at some point of time work in a team or a group. Improper allocation of work is the main problem in managing the work of a team. The manager/team leader must clearly know which team member is good at which work. The leader must recognise that it is highly probable that he may have to periodically rotate the work to avoid stagnancy and boredom in the work. One must know there are two kinds of people in this world:
i) Who like challenges or new work and
Manager must know his team members fall in which category and rotate the work scope only of persons falling in the first category.
d) Motivating sub ordinates/team members: This is something which I feel is one of the core activities that need to be performed by any manager. A good manager must understand that the workers/team members have the desire to be recognized or appreciated of the work performed by them. An oral appreciation of work is a very effective motivation tool in the hands of the managers. The management view, which says that workers are paid for the work to be performed and there is no need to thank them for it, is inappropriate. I don’t buy this argument as in my experience I have seen only a normal oral appreciation like ‘well done’ do wonders in the work efficiency of the team members. An email thanking the team members or employees is also very effective. How many times have you received an e-mail thanking you for your efficient work and you have reread the same several times? I don’t want to get into various well known motivation techniques of management as I believe we don’t need to study so many complicated approaches when a small ‘thank you’ can do wonders.
Following are few other trivial motivation techniques which, in my opinion, are extremely important in the long run:
i) Be interested in them: Know their personal background, where they went to school, any job experiences they had, their hobbies, their future plans etc. Even the minor things like what movies or books they prefer. This gives a personal touch to the employee employer relationship.
ii) Be trustworthy and respectable: If you said you're going to do something for them, fulfill it at all cost. Nothing can ruin their trust and respect for you more than broken promises and empty words.
iii) Recognise that motivation itself isn’t always the answer: This is applicable only for such sloppy employees who behave like a dog’s tail! For such people management can use carrot and stick approach in order to get the work done.
e) Getting the work done: Getting the work done from the sub-ordinates is the main job profile of a manager. Managers must ensure that their team members understand and appreciate the fact that you have been appointed as manager/leader of the team and now your main task is to think, plan, organize, co-ordinate things and not do the actual spade work. This is particularly applicable in cases where a co worker has been promoted and now he/she has to lead his/her ex-colleagues. This creates ego clashes within the team/group. Ego clashes like this is the main culprit in the disaster of many big projects. A manager, to avoid such circumstances, must constantly maintain good relations with the sub ordinates and handle such situations very diplomatically. Such promoted manager must recognize the fact that if he wants to get the work done properly and harmoniously, he cannot suddenly act like any other senior manager and has to ensure that he doesn’t end up hurting the ego of his ex-colleagues in the process.
There are several other situations that one has to handle being a manager, but the above ones are the most basic ones and ensuring that the above steps are meticulously followed should fetch you the desired results. You must realize the fact that every person has a manger hidden inside him/her and it has to be brought out by conscious efforts.
My simple definition of a manager is as follows: A manager is a person who makes decisions for himself and on behalf of others, who can get the work done from others and believes that he should not depend on others to solve the day to day problems.
You all must be wondering who is this person giving us lessons on how to be a manager. Well let me tell you all I am not a manger in a company nor am I a political leader nor do I have enough experience of working as a manager but I know one thing clearly that I don’t need to depend on others for making decisions, for handling my work, for dealing with unseen circumstances etc.
These skills can be developed consciously by observing good managers in your daily surroundings and extracting the relevant part and applying the same in your behaviour, always be open to learning new things from experienced people and never bring your in the field of learning and you shall see how easy it is to be a good and efficient manager. Believe me you do not need an MBA degree, by spending lakhs of rupees, to possess such qualities.