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July - 2006 - issue > Tricks of a Good Manager
Harmonizing Mechanisms
Keerthana Venkatesh
Saturday, July 1, 2006
Speak about Boby Joseph, and his team looks at you with reverential eyes. Into the 10th year at Honeywell, Joseph stands tall as the manager of Sensing and Control— the group he nurtured since its birth three years ago.

When diverse people join, sensitive situations arise. And Joseph was not spared from it either. He was heading a new group with a small knowledge base and diverse team members who were pooled in from within Honeywell, other companies and U.S. returnees. It was a trying time for he had to deal with people coming in from different backgrounds, with different attitudes, different management styles and different combinations which challenged him to espouse informal mechanisms to bring them all onto a single attitudinal platform.

“Project goals and an individual’s objectives are formally defined. But there is a need for connectivity in the team and in the organization which has to be built by a manager,” says Joseph who spends his luncheons and coffees with his direct reports. This keeps him abreast with the pulse of daily issues and helps him plug loopholes, all the while building the trust between his employees and himself. “Trust between managers and individuals is the primary factor,” says Joseph who convened his sundry team into weekly open-house sessions and let them air their views and resolve their differences. Within four months of the group’s inception, the team tightened into a fist. “Once a team becomes competent its easy for the manager to take them higher, but for competency to arise you need the right people,” says Joseph.

Hiring people better than him has always helped his team grow. Learning, for him, improves with every new generation. He realized the potential interest a delivery-team member had in the tech—area he was heading. Joseph pulled him out of delivery and empowered him to form a budding team of experts. “The entire team was built through knowledge consolidation and knowledge sharing,” says he triumphantly.

For Joseph, technical skills, passion for work and commitment towards goals are important parameters to gauge a good employee. “But if you cannot communicate well and network with others in the organization, the work treads on rough paths,” he eulogizes. Washing off the black paint from the white sheep is how Joseph deals with laggards in his team. He muses over the time when had to contend with a manager who was shrouded by the fear of disapproval and hence refused to communicate the progress of his work with his higher-ups. Sessions of mentoring and reassuring his rostrum in the company found the manager back on track, recalls Joseph enthusiastically. “But,” he reflects, “giving feedbacks is what I learnt the hard way.”

Meticulous in his work, Jospeh had the habit of giving instant feedbacks through one-on-ones. While the positive criticism was accepted well, his direct censures found him in a soup of opposition. That was an inflexion point in his managerial style. “I make a conscious effort to learn and improve myself, both as a manager and as an individual, which has saved me from becoming complacent,” expresses this electronic-savvy techie who finds this trait reflected in his team members too.

With a decade of experience advocating his balancing act in the formal and informal methods of his managerial style, Joseph has infused value into his team’s performance.

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