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Times change because these have to change. Life is not a constant entity; it is an ever-evolving, ever-changing landscape. Human beings also keep changing in so many different ways with time.
Four factors determine the quality and extent of evolution. Though these are applicable to life in general, but these are applied in more controlled manner on the professional life. Our focus in this discussion will be professional or work life. The four factors are Mentoring, Motivating, Coaching and Grooming. I would like to keep the same order due to a certain logic.
Mentoring starts from the beginning of life. The first mentoring is done by the parents, is continued by the teachers and then further continued by professional seniors. Motivating is a running theme which keeps the mentee willing to keep learning. After we enter practical, professional life, Coaching for skills is done by seniors. Grooming is another running theme which requires us to continuously refine ourselves, round-off our sharp edges, improve social skills and become a ‘better person’. We shall look at each of these in some detail, see what is happening now and what should be done.
Mentoring is defined as giving someone in the care of a senior or more experienced person who would assist him in learning and upgrading his/her career. Mentoring is alternatively defined as coaching, instructing, advising, counseling and more, of which it really is a combination of. Mentoring is essential for learning; we may learn in the absence of a mentor, but the quality and pace of learning may not be the same. Mentoring is a comprehensive, all-involving process which is aimed at correcting the deficiencies and developing on the right track.
If I look back, mentoring used to be part of our social and professional fabric. All elders, sometimes even those who were not related to us, took it upon themselves to mentor the younger ones. They would keep on advising at least, if nothing else. During the professional life, the same sentiment continued. Reporting officers considered it their duty to mentor their juniors. No one had to put it on the KPIs list or anything of the sort, it was just there by default. In fact, line managers did all four things we shall be discussing in more detail. For now, we focus on mentoring.
The reporting officer/manager was taken in high regard. It was uncommon to see dissent with him in the team. If at all it happened, the onus was usually on the manager, not on the team.
The managers also made every effort to maintain their respect among the juniors. The respect was not limited to immediate subordinates, it ran across teams. The senior of one team was senior for all teams. The mentoring started right after joining, as the new hire was admitted into the team. The first effort was to make him a part of team, the gelling-in with the team so that the new hire does not stay isolated. The accepted norm was that the team performed as a team. Individual heroism and achievement were accepted but not regarded very well. The team had to get acknowledged as a team. Due to this factor, the team members usually supported each other. In fact, the difference between a good and a bad team was how united as a team they were. Not all teams were equal, but if we look at the history of development of all those companies which have grown big, we see a united team working for several years to bring the company to where it is today. It was true for both Multinational Companies (MNCs) as well as Local Pharma. MNCs had the advantage of developed systems and processes due to their age internationally. MNCs also followed strictly hiring at the entry level and then developing to take up higher and higher positions. It was rare to see lateral entries. Mentoring was required at all stages and was provided as a corporate value. Local Pharma also followed the same principles for a long time.
Things started changing when the people found themselves stuck due to lack of opportunities in MNCs (Mergers, rollbacks etc.). Meanwhile, the Local Pharma was also waking up to new realities. The time was ripe and several seniors from MNCs shifted to Local Pharma and caused significant business growth, organizational development and image building. The race then began in earnest to grow bigger and bigger. The Local Pharma started with seriously competing with and later outcompeting the MNCs. The pace of growth was so mind boggling in some cases that all other things became secondary.
Mentoring was the first casualty of ambition for growth at all costs. A new generation of pharma professionals came into being which was brought up in the absence of mentoring. The process reversed. Rather than the seniors mentoring juniors, the juniors rode on the back of seniors for quick personal growth. The process continues and has now become an accepted norm.
To be Continued.
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