With People Management, Comes Responsibility

Date:   Wednesday , January 30, 2013

Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo & Company(NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.4 trillion in assets.

All of 28-32, dynamic and climbing steps two at a time! There is your front line manager of today. Barely a few years into a job, she is promoted to a new role. A role that demands more time, better comprehension, and most importantly, inherent people skills to tackle the everyday challenges of being a manager in the off shoring industry; an industry that is getting older by the day and the managers, younger.

What I convey here is from experience; or I should say lack of experience in handling a team in my twenties. Back in the 90s when I began my work life, although I had similar credentials as todayís youngsters, neither I nor my company could imagine me in the role of managing people at the age of 25. Today, technology has enabled as well as transformed our thoughts significantly. Signing off on promotions of managers in their twenties and early thirties is a common enough occurrence.

What technology has not been able to change though is human nature. The fact that it continues to rule the management art and science is indisputable. It would not be an exaggeration to equate a managerís responsibility to that of raising a family. Thus, the primary art we equip our first time leaders at Wells Fargo India Solutions with, is that of dealing with the complexities and the sheer accountability of being responsible for another person. During a comprehensive leadership program designed for first time managers, we coach young leaders, to show the way like a parent with a child.

Transition from individual team member to a team leader poses formidable challenges. People managers are responsible for not only planning, conducting and supervising all kinds of business operations but also coordinating the whole group into one productive unit. The sooner they realize that that people management is their responsibility, not that of the human resource department, the better.

Of course, there are new sets of deliverables but people management supersedes all. Its nuances also lie in actions of building trust, managing time, becoming a fair and firm manager, and most of all becoming a role model. While trust building comes with time, the build-up to the trust begins with little actions of guidance, establishing credibility, exhibiting fairness in dealing with situations, support and problem-solving from initial days.

Handling pressure and managing time are two of the next-in-line arts which define performance ability of a manager; especially of a young entrant overwhelmed with the sudden advent of responsibilities and pressures. And above all of this; while it continues to be a significant part of the job to douse fires and handle crisis, a good manager needs to make time to strategize and plan ahead.

Another critical behavioral pitfall we caution our first time as well as senior level managers against is the fears of losing stature and feeling redundant. While a hundred eyes look up for support and guidance at the manager, contrary to these expectations, the manager tends to hesitate in delegation.

The science of management, I would say involves the tools and techniques designed in a company, while the art is all about the nuances around building trust, valuing team members and being respected as a fair manager. For example, the learning and development team at Wells Fargo India Solutions collaborates with the lines of businesses to design robust leadership programs catering to different levels of managers. Starting with first time people managers who are trained under the PM 101 programs; middle-level managers with 4-5 year experience go through PM 201 programs; while senior leadership members undergo executive coaching programs.

Let me end with a note to the Gen Y, the millennial born in the 80s or 90s. You have been witness to a phenomenal growth in technology, trends, and have experienced a world where knowledge is accessible at the click of a button or, more recently, with a slide of a finger. Climbing the ladder to reach the top, and at a two-step speed, has been and will be easy. But it is only when you understand basic people principles and skills, and perfect them with the right mix of talent and skill that will help you continue to scale heights, give you a firm grip on the rung you are on, and prevent you from falling off!