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August - 2006 - issue > Tricks of a Good Manager
One-minute + 360º = Vijay Prasad
Keerthana Venkatesh
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Annoyance sets in easily. But learning to enfeeble it and roll up your sleeves to confront such emotions head on, and in the right manner, is what Vijay Prasad imbibed during his journey through his career. Heading the Enterprise Applications and Business Intelligence Solutions at Satyam Computer Services Limited as the Director and Senior Vice President, Prasad holds his managers, Ramalinga Raju and Rama Raju as his gurus and fine examples of stability and calmness!

Upset over a shabbily documented proposal by a team member, Prasad berated him and hung up the phone. On introspection, he realized his annoyance was disapproving. At once he called him back to reason the cause of the dismal work. Reflecting on this situation, Prasad says, “Anger is always there, but it has to be used sparingly. Therein lies the emotional quotient of a leader.” Quoting his manager A.S. Murthy, Prasad says that an important lesson of management is to understand that management boils down to “people, people and people”. With a calm and collected mind Prasad reasons that it becomes easier to assess an issue and raise it above the predicament.

An adherent of John T. Molloy’s “Dress for Success”, Prasad engages his cavalier in his management as well. Patting the back of an achiever at his desk is a common scenario, but spicing the commendation with the complement, “I would be worried if you didn’t do it” is where he stands nonpareil.

And if he knows when to say it, he knows who’s worth the commendation as well. “It’s not the positional power that appeals but the expertise,” articulates Prasad. He asserts a manager’s need to have an edge in his avocation. Formulation of the work is not all that matters if the delegated work isn’t executed appropriately, he adds.
“Work can be executed well when there is collaboration within the team and the organization,” says he. With people becoming more computer-friendly and personal interfacing lying on the decreasing trend, Prasad emphasizes that success can be achieved only through team effort. And team effort is an inherent piece in the game of collaboration. For him, a manager must gain synonymity with this collaboration. “However, just as you can’t light a match with a wet stick, you can’t kindle the fire of enthusiasm in your team if your own enthusiasm is hanging low,” Prasad exudes his philosophy of managership.

Canonizing Jack Welch’s four Es of a managerial style – Edge, Energy, Execution and Exciting oneself and others, Prasad adds two more to it – ‘Stand as an Example and Empower your team members’. “Treating a team member one level ahead of where they are excites them to perform better.” Lauding their good points and pointing out the strategies for improvement after empowering the team member is where a manager can pave the success path.

By and large floating as a technology persona, Prasad orients himself towards a 360º management that includes people, processes and technology. “A manager needs to understand all the aspects of management only to the degree required,” explains Prasad about the variation in the degree of knowledge requirement at different levels of the organization. With the market dynamics in constant flux, a 360º manager, according to Prasad, remains agile and moulds himself accordingly. Every manager has a development part and a management part to balance. Identifying the degree of importance for either of these key elements is his key challenge.

Good communication can be as stimulating as good coffee. Prasad propounds the art of walking the talk to the computer-friendly non-communicative employees. “With lot of work offshored to India, it’s very important for a manager to train his team to communicate appropriately with the customer,” he points out. Knowledge of the customer’s environment and certain business behavioral patterns go a long way in gelling with the customer.

When minutes are taken care of well, the hours take care of themselves. Espousing this philosophy as the ABC of his managership, Prasad propounds the one-minute management tricks. “Making quick decisions and executing them is necessary in today’s time-bound world. But this is an art that comes only with prior and thorough preparation and thorough understanding of the subject in focus,” adds Prasad.

While these are important strategies for a manager to bear in mind, Prasad extols, “Certain small things go a long way, like the au courant style of exchanging business cards and carrying a good pen.” He propounds the reverential Japanese style of exchanging neat business cards with both hands. As for pens, he has an interesting paradigm to share. On arriving at the Mumbai airport from the U.S., Prasad was asked to sign a couple of documents. Exhausted by the journey, he started rummaging into his wife’s bag for a pen. The customs officer looked on for a while and queried him downright, “Padhe likhe aadmi nazar aate ho; kalam nahin rakhte kya?” (You look like an educated man; don’t you keep a pen with you?)

“He taught me two lessons – one, that carrying a pen may be insignificant but an essential ritual and that direct communication is respected, but indirect yet positive communication works wonders at times,” says Prasad. Certain things, he fathoms, need to be done more subtly to be more assertive.

For Prasad, learning makes a man befitting for him as well as for others. Sharing anecdotes from his experiences in life has helped him nurture a progressive career. He reminisces a grave moment as a student at IIT- Bombay. Having accidentally erased a portion of the information on the disk drive, he had jeopardized the work of other students there. “ Thank God, right at the beginning of my career, it was a critical lesson that taught me to look into and review every critical facet minutely,” he says. Attention to detail is the foremost aspect that a manager must look into, he advices managers in India and explains that superficiality in assessing details of a particular work can jeopardize the efforts of the organization.

In today’s challenging world, the most important skill to acquire is learning how to learn! And Prasad seems to be practicing it ardently each day. “You may understand something, that you always knew, in a new way from anyone around you – friends or others.” Learning things with an open mind, doing away with the I-problem (or the eye-problem?) has worked wonders for him in his personal and professional growth.

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