Management talks – What do you do?

I was a huge conference with attendees from the Top 50 IT companies. Speakers were mostly CXOs from different fields.

Attendees were the top few high-potentials from high-performing organizations. The crowd was highly intellectual and spread across management trainees to function heads. One of the CEOs was leading a topic on Process improvement and the importance of the Process department (Quality Assurance, Process Groups etc) from different organizations and how their work was important. One of the team leads from some organization raised his hand for a question that drew everyone’s attention.

He asked “You are talking about processes and organizations, how can one position themselves etc. But to me, following processes and getting my teams to do the mundane work is quite frustrating. Why would anyone performing the work want to see the benefit?”

He had put the CEO in a tight spot. While there are multiple ways one could have addressed it (am sure whoever reads this will come up with their own version of their response), however, the response given by the CEO whom the question was posed got etched in my mind.

When the crowd went silent, waiting to hear his response, he smiled at the one asking the question and said “It all depends on how you see what work you do! Let’s say you are working at a car manufacturing company and are responsible to fix the tires and your job description is to tighten the nuts and bolts. All of us who drive understand the importance of this job. If you continue to see your job as fixing nuts & bolts – you will never grow. If you see yourself as being part of a team that builds-cars, you will have a growth mindset and grow. So, think about what car you are building in your work front! If you only focus on the nuts & bolts, you will get frustrated, but when you realize the car you are building, you will see the importance of what you do and how your work fits into the bigger picture.”

There was a HUGE applause in the crowd. Irrespective of whether one was a trainee, team leader, project leader, function head, or was running an organization – it resonated with every one who was there.

How we see our work and how it connects to the bigger picture, helps us understand how we fit into the broader scope of work. We tend to think of how our work impacts the rest of the areas and are able to better adapt ourselves and focus on how to be a team player in a broader sense. As our perspectives expand, our scope of work expands as well – as we start understanding the rest of the pieces needed to build-the-overall-car in our work front.

So, when you look at what work you do? Think about how you look at yourself and your work. Are you fixing nuts & bolts or are you building a car 🙂

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