Introduction The key to success in becoming a multi-tasker is a multi-dimensional one. It is not a straight single solution at all. It requires a deep understanding of some fundamental issues involved. In the overall scheme of things, it does mean a) Focussing on all aspects of the work b) Qualifying through a higher world-class degree c) Making efforts to constantly update oneself d) Looking for several aspects of experience and e) Trying to be unique in terms of achievements.
Focussing on all aspects of the workWe need to understand that focussing on all aspects of the work is so important. To give a simple example, even as a management trainee in say marketing, if the individual wants to become a multi-tasker, apart from the routine sales role, the individual has to probe deeper and learn all the aspects of supply-chain management and come up with suggestions on how things can be done better. Through such value addition, the appreciation and rewards, more so, in the FMCG companies, will be much faster. When people learn to be different, the bosses will immediately notice the same and give all higher responsibilities. And when this happens, the individual would have already taken a few steps into the multi-tasking domain. And then that itself becomes a habit. Any higher responsibility comes with a multi-functional role and this can always add value to one's resume in a big way. Similarly, an HR executive needs to know everything about statutory aspects of PF, ESI, and other applicable labor legislation. Further learning should be concentrated around cost-cutting, HR practices such as performance appraisal, progressive HR practices such as mentoring and so on. If the individual does not get a big chance to learn some of these in the present organization, he could even quit to a better environment where learning in this respect is very good.
Qualifying through a higher world-class degreeIt is not without reason that many executives, after some four years of experience, are opting to do the PGDM at the prestigious Indian School of Business( (ISB). The need for this kind of specialization is the fountainhead of knowledge and practical global exposure that comes to the person. He or she becomes aligned with global best management practices. The global eco-system becomes the arena of learning and practical experience thereafter. Engineers, for example, have had solid experience on the shop floor, do the effortless transition to operations and marketing roles in start-ups and then the global majors like Amazon.com. Their multi-tasking responsibilities take them to different parts of the world and then comes the biggest advantage: they are streets ahead of all other competitors as their resume would have track records of excellence, even before they are 30 years old.
The facilities for doing the Executive MBA degree are now far better and are available in most Indian metro cities. Those who want to quickly become multi-taskers need to compulsorily do this MBA course and then move ahead; for a General Management responsibility at the age of 45, it is vital that the individual has had solid experience in Operations, HR, Finance and Marketing and even if the individual has worked in four or five companies, if the value-addition happened in each, the individual is in the safe zone. If not, given current trends, at the age of 45, the Manager would be labelled as an also-ran kind of individual.
Making efforts to constantly update oneselfEven those without an MBA degree should learn the theories of motivation and become skilled in basic HR roles, which are part and parcel of their jobs. For example, if there is a personal problem that is seriously affecting the performance of some subordinate, gone are the days when the line manager can give a call to the HR executive, asking him to sort out the problem. This never happens. Today, the multi-tasking role dictates that the line manager develops listening capabilities, displays appropriate body language and so on. Most companies provide some basic Management training in this direction and it is up to the executives to learn a lot in this direction and practice the same. If not, he or she will be outdated.
There are short-term courses like Finance for Non-Finance Executives, now being conducted by several private B schools and even professional organizations like the CII. If the organization does not sponsor the individual to such courses, the individual should simply spend money to do it. The name of the game is value-addition and it can never happen if the individual is not prepared. There is now no choice anymore and this needs to be noted.
Looking for several aspects of experience Picture this situation. You are a highly successful Chartered Accountant with a good record of proven experience. In one of your experiences, you had handled two Initial Public Offers as well. You were also involved in two mergers and acquisitions, as part of a big team. The head hunters are after you. Since you are now 44, you have several offers. However, you want to go further and become a Fund Manager with a famous Mutual Fund, belonging to a huge conglomerate, having highly successful commodities businesses for decades.
You get a chance to be trained further and are offered a chance. However, the pay is not too good, as your experience is zero. Now, what do you do? This is the classic case of what we call as short term loss, but long term gain. Your pay is protected, but since the portfolio is new, you need at least five years of solid experience before you can be recognized as some good Fund Manger, in the entire ecosystem.
Your wife, who is a banker says, " go for it". Your parents support you too. This is exactly what you should do. You have just a few boxes to tick in your career. You just need to go ahead and get that done. If you stick to your present senior management role in Corporate Finance, you will not have the experience. Having a vital experience might even mean that you could even turn an entrepreneur at a later stage. The choice is yours but the risk is worth it. Take it and then go ahead. Also, realize that this is more or less what is true of several others who had taken the risk. Once you prove yourself, the entire world is yours. Opportunities to do the Fund Manager's job is now world-wide and is not restricted to India.
Trying to be unique in terms of achievements A Senior HR executive, who has signed three successful long-term settlements with the recognized trade unions, on a bipartite basis, will be very much respected, only if he had done something very solid for the Management. This simply means that the advantage should have been in favor of Management and not otherwise. If the three settlements were identical and the same benefits were reflected, the entire world will not recognize him at all. The thrill in Manufacturing comes when HR comes up with innovation. The most successful HR Managers are those who have combined the carrots dangled with some solid cost-cutting clauses like provisions for increased productivity and reduced absenteeism. It should be noted that such innovations do not happen just like that. A good deal of data collection on the cost-benefit equations have to be worked out in conjunction with the finance professionals. Once this is done, the Management approval will be easy to work out. The crucial negotiations with the trade unions, with all the sweetness of honey, has to be perfected by the HR team. It calls for a lot of tact and skill. It may require a bit of cunningness too. This is part and parcel of the job.
The aforesaid results do apply to other specializations too. If the individual is in Marketing, a mere meeting of targets is just not enough. Coming up with innovative suggestions on new products and even the basic work in this regard will be really appreciated by many Managements at this point in time.
ConclusionThe entire world is becoming very competitive and the Corporate Sector is one important part of it. There is no room for complacency of any kind. Multi-tasking is the name of the game and one needs to understand the basic aspects of it. The aforesaid discussion sought to highlight what can be done in this regard, in some detail.
These days are for people who can perform multiple tasks at one time. For this planning of works and spacing of works is the key, which work is to be started first and what next while the first one is in progress.
The best example of multitasking is a lady in the kitchen. She makes perfect planning and completes the work as scheduled. She will start with cooking one item. While one item is in progress she will be going for another work. The same system if we follow in our works we will be successful.
Similarly, if you take an example of a chemical laboratory, start a reaction first and where you have to wait for getting the required temperature or for maintaining the temperature., start another reaction. In such a situation what you will experience is that more than one work can be completed at the same time.