Introduction The book "Catalyst" by Chandamouli Venkatesan, who has held senior positions in various companies, is very good for drawing lessons in career planning. His book has been published in 2018, by Penguin Random House India. From the paperback edition, this author attempts to pick up significant lessons and discuss them in the context of career planning.
Mr. Venkatesan draws a simple analogy of walking. We all walk, but we do not have any objective. We simply walk because we feel that it is healthy. But an athlete who prepares for the Olympics would convert the same walking into an experience and would have a learning model. According to him, "the presence of a learning model as a catalyst determines whether the activity becomes experience or not". In other words, the athlete would obviously count, review and then take remedial action on the time taken to complete the task. He or she would also reflect on what he or she could have done better. Hence, says the author, the athlete would actually be following the "Target, Measure, Review and Reflect (TMRR) model for learning a lot in our careers.
Be that as it may, in this article, we will discuss a) the Concept of "Catalyst" of Mr. Venkatesan b) Understanding TMRR model in different functional areas c) Growing through the TMRR model in careers and d) Making the TMRR work for family members too.
The Concept of "Catalyst" of Mr. VenkatesanIt is very simple. According to the author, real individual growth is the single most important variable in career growth.
Take this very profound quote. " Simply put, your career will grow only as much as you are able to grow as an individual and as a professional -- what I call real individual growth. If you manage to grow your skills, your knowledge, your decision-making ability, your judgement, your influence on others, your communication skills, etc., then you will experience career growth. Career growth is directly proportional to, and is a function of, real individual growth. If you stop pushing yourself at any stage, your career growth also comes to a screeching halt."(page 5)
What the author essentially means is that one should not merely add years to his life, but life to his years. At work, the quality and depth of learning is far more important than doing the same job again and again. This is indeed an eye-opener, and we will examine this in the context of real-world experiences.
Understanding TMRR model in different functional areasPicture this situation. How do you manage to grow your skills, your knowledge, your decision-making ability, and your judgement, if you are an HR executive in a manufacturing unit? Say, you are posted in the time office and the job is mere time office management, that is, monitoring of attendance records?
Fine. Can you prepare statistics on habitual absentees based on hard data? Can you prepare an actual plan to counsel them either yourself or through your bosses? Can you prepare an action plan to make the work environment very interesting, if you find out that some young engineers tend to often take leave to escape from the monotony of shop floor work? Can you, for example, take the lead in implementing Kaizen practices? If there is an expert in your Corporate Office at Bangalore, can you immediately request him to train your engineers?
The answers to each of the aforesaid questions is a resounding YES. Doing all the actions is your real experience. Now fit the TMRR model and see the difference. For example, keep a count on the number of hours spent on counseling of habitual absentees, by anyone. Yes, not only you but by all, including line managers. What is the deliverable? Lesser absenteeism, measured over a period of one hundred days. The review will through up points for "reflection" that is, things that could have been done better. The TMRR model can work wonders, if only we notice how we spend our time and also know to anchor the TMRR model in our work lives, on a daily basis. The author calls for a fifteen-minute review. This should become a routine.
Growing through the TMRR model in careers The use of the TMRR model is context-specific, but it should be used in all functional areas. Let us take another example. You are posted as a bank manager, in a small town. Your bank is known for the quality of customer service. And jewel loans have been taking just twenty minutes to be disbursed. Here is the vital question: can be it made shorter? Even within the twenty minutes, you could quiz the customer about his real need, his background, his family and so on. This will enable you to mobilize deposits through the same person. "This-manager-is-different" message will spread by word of mouth, as in a small town, relationships are very much personal and your personal rapport can help in a big way. Now, check if you can re-organize the work a little bit and make the process of jewel loan disbursement, the teamwork of two people. Such small things will help you to make a big difference and when the TMRR model is used, the time taken on different tasks can be easily managed better. The same applies to every stage of your growth in careers. For example, based on a good record of service, you have been posted in a city branch. Your TMRR model would now center on the accurate reading of the situation at hand and you would need to anchor your activities using the TMRR model in a different context. For example, if the ATM does not work, the customers will be angry. You need to spend a little time to manage this activity and not delegate that to any subordinate. Credit appraisal is a delicate task. You need to concentrate on the integrity and honesty of traders, who could by your borrowers. How you collect data on their past records, build relationships and so on, are the key variables.
Now, look for the variables in the external environment, as a bank manager. You notice five very big gated communities in the same area. Your branch is key to serving them. Do you have any data on how many of these residents are your customers? Have you ever called on them? The answers might have been "no" till now. However, you can make a crucial difference. On the 31st of December, call on each of the one hundred residents in the nearest gated community, and wish them a happy New Year. Now, reflect on your experience. Maybe, you had a cold experience in some houses. While you should not mind that at all, reflect on how you could have done it better.
Learning for career growth is a continuous process and there is no full stop at all. The TMRR model can positively help us add value, if only we try.
Making the TMRR work for family members too If your child is already in the eighth standard, make him understand the value of time. He may not understand the TMRR model, but you could use the model to measure his effectiveness and grow. For example, you could examine the time taken by him to do his homework. Does he learn anything new, or does he mechanically do his homework? If your wife often assists him, she can be taught this simple TMRR model too. When she becomes clear about the concept, she will be able to add value to the education of your son.
Better still, if your wife is herself a teacher, the use of the TMRR model can indeed help her to understand that she can indeed improve her teaching process. For example, if she reviews her own behavior, she would notice that she had spent a full fifteen minutes of her precious time trying to discipline an errant child in the sixth standard. Well, this is very important, but it should be done in private and not in public. And the quality of her time is also wasted on an unproductive task, given the complexities of teaching by teachers today. The scope of learning in such contexts is really very good.
Conclusion The TMRR model can be very useful in all careers. As explained by the author, real individual growth is the catalyst for career growth. The sooner we understand this reality, the better for each one of us.