Friday, July 19, 2013

The Desk Top Manager

The Desk – Top Manager

Who is a manager? Hmm…someone who has studied management, someone who has gathered enough experience in the same organization to be escalated as a manager, someone who looks after managing work of an organization, someone who manages many things even though they are not his direct functions…Phew! And there could be more, I am sure.

My subject (manager) or this blog is not on finding the right definition of a manager. So don’t jump to answer the question.

I am trying to find what ‘makes a manager’. How can I say that he/she is a good manager?

I was recently at a board meeting (monthly review of one of our client) and was shocked to see something on the big projection screen just before the meeting commenced. The manager who was leading the presentation opened his laptop and I was taken aback to see the number of files and folders on his desktop (screen). For a moment I was short of breath while he was panting heavily as he could not locate his presentation which he had saved on the desktop for the meeting. “Nothing to worry…it will take 2 mins please, I have it here saved”, he remarked.
I sat back and took a sip of my Masala tea (indulgence in board meetings) trying to focus on something other than the big screen in front of us.

But, What was this that I just saw? I wonder what to call it. Maybe I will try to figure out later, but at that moment I partially made up my perception about the manager who was leading the show. How could he be so unorganized? How does he find what he is looking for in such a mess? What if his laptop crashes or something, how will he or any IT geek retrieve what was not stored in d drive/ c drive etc (I am the least tech savvy person and I have very strict instructions where to save, how to be safe).

Later that day on my way back I thought I will test this on my managers in office. I will purposely go to their desk and ask them to close the screens and have a glance of their desktop (screen). I know what you are thinking…J But no, I was almost going to get a heart attack. My project manager’s desktop was a look alike of what I had seen earlier in the day.

I was completely lost for words and came back to my designated seat scratching my head in disbelief. Who are these people? And why are they the way they are? Why do they do something like that and live with it organically? I was not worried of losing important data from my managers laptop but I was more worried about what kind of a manager is he. And he was right there in front of me, in my office, under my nose.

Should I take away his business cards that say Project Manager and reprint them as ….I don’t know what?

This one incident has disturbed me so much that every time I go for a meeting, I am very anxious to see the desktop of the presenter (if something is being projected).

A day later, I spoke to my project manager in my designated area, about his work, work pressures, deadlines and how is he feeling on the job. He seemed to be very sure of his tasks at hand and satisfied. I finally had to ask him, “why do you keep your files on the desktop, why can’t you save them in respective folders in d drive /c drive so that it is better organized”. Naturally, he did not have an answer as he was least expecting this question. He was hoping that I would ask him for some project data, billing figures, collections etc. I did leave him with this question only to return and tell me the answer.

A day later he came back to me and said that he had learnt a very important lesson and that he would not save files on the desktop.

Was that all? Was the problem solved? Was this going to end my hopelessness?
I comforted him and replied that cleaning up his desktop and saving files inside was not my intent. I was trying to make him realize the importance of organizing work, planning work and performing better as a result. But some other day maybe..

I am sure there are many such managers in our corporate world. While they may be unchallenged in the work they do, but this is something which speaks a lot about them as persons.  I asked my project manager’s colleagues and peers about his work and from what I came to know, I was proven right.

There were instances he had mailed wrong presentations to clients, he had chewed on the IT department executive to fix his slow performing laptop, he had not been able to open a presentation saved properly on his desktop during a client meeting as it was heavy and his system was not responding and many more.

I have a sense that this is a serious personality problem which cannot be taught or rectified by anyone other than the person himself. Personality because it shows how careless a person can be with important work, which goes to reflect how that person would be handling life’s important decisions and circumstances (outside office). Is he a stereotype who when fails blames others for his own mistakes? Did my project manager blame the admin department for issuing a low cost laptop, or the IT executive for not increasing his RAM or installing a better anti-virus? What excuse he would have made in the meeting when the presentation didn't open?

It is also a reflection of how one treats their own valuables (in this case work). If, what we do to earn a living & have a better life is treated so disrespectfully, I doubt how these people value intangibles. What about their relationships, their family, their friends? Do they keep them at lose end too? Don’t they feel for them when they go away or blame something to get excused?   

I will crash if I sit down to answer this myself.

The other interesting aspect to this whole episode was Microsoft Office. What has Bill Gates to do with this, you will ask. Have I seen his desktop also? No my friend.
Like I said earlier I am probably the least tech savvy in my office, only knowing what needs to be done when handling computers.

Microsoft office for me is not software or an operating system (see how naive I am in defining one of the world’s largest computer companies). It is a lifeline. It is what makes me do things the way I wish to see them happening, save things the way in which they can be protected and many more such miracles. 

Wikipedia defines Microsoft office as “office suite of desktop applications, servers and services for the Microsoft Windows and OS X operating systems”. Once in the Microsoft OS you are blessed by a suite of magical applications that are designed meticulously by geniuses and master minds over months and years of hard work so that we organize date, share data, use tools to synchronize data and overall improve our performance or for an organization as a whole.

So even after installing this OS in every computer of my company I have people who are completely disrespectful of the wonder in their hands.

And I thought I was the least savvy person of all when handling computers.

All those who read this, please minimize all your screens for a second and come back.
You will find the answer to what makes a manager!

Good Day & Happy working.