Article: New world managers: Srinivasa Addepalli

Life @ Work

New world managers: Srinivasa Addepalli

When managing virtual teams across different cultures and time zones, new world managers have to manage by outcomes rather than by observation

With virtual teams and stakeholders working across time zones, ‘9 to 5' workday is a thing of the past


Let’s face it; the world we live in today is a lot different from the one we grew up in. Things like HAL 9000 that we grew up reading about in science fiction are becoming a reality – Siri anyone? We have changed as being mere ‘consumers’ to ‘creators or collaborators’. The desire for ownership has changed to that of the need for instant access – anytime and anywhere, giving rise to the trend of collaborative consumption. Augmented by device proliferation in multiple form factors, ubiquitous connectivity and ingenious applications, are making work and play more different than ever before.

The workplace is shifting dramatically as well. Businesses are moving their IT and infrastructure requirements to the cloud. No longer do employees have to punch in their cards and be tied in to fixed workspaces. As a result of consumerization of IT, these changes have had a significant impact on the enterprise as well. The proportion of mobile workers continues to grow and technology (i.e., telepresence, BlackBerry messenger, iPhone apps, etc.) is enabling increasingly productive remote interaction. Most technology evolutions in the past have occurred in the military, academia or industry, before trickling on to retail consumers. In recent times, we have seen a reversal of this trend. Ideas such as social networking and micro-blogging, which originated in the consumer space, have found their way into the enterprise. As have devices such as the iPhone and iPad. However, the prime reason for this reversal is not technology, but the people accessing technology. And though this consumerization of IT has created several challenges for the traditional IT infrastructure and the IT department, it has created an even bigger challenge for the HR personnel. In this digitally connected world, what are the skills required for the new world manager and where does one find such managers?

A ‘New World Manager’ will need to possess skills more diverse than the stereotypical desk manager. Working with and managing virtual teams across different cultures and time zones, requires them to have the maturity to manage their team by outcomes rather than by observation. Also, working across different cultures will require them to be citizens of the world and have the ability to work in different cultural environments. Needless to say, the virtual workplace will require the new world managers to be innovators and early adopters of technology. They will have to be open in trying out and experimenting with technology to help increase team productivity. With virtual teams and stakeholders working across time zones, ‘9 to 5’ workday is a thing of the past. New world managers will have to be ‘on’ all the time. They will also need to be smart workers and should have the ability to switch off and go in for a digital detoxify once in a while to recuperate from the information overload and maintain work-life balance.

Integrity is another important value the new age managers will need to live by, as the workforce is getting mobile and increasingly work without a supervisor. New world managers will be expected to work with high levels of integrity and commitment.

A recent study by S&P 500 companies on the top CEOs, found more Indian CEOs than any other nationality except American. There are certain characteristics about India that have made it the ideal breeding ground for the current generation of managers and leaders. Resource constraints, technology leap-frogging, the diversity within the country, fierce competition, a relatively strict educational curriculum, the hunger to make it to the IITs or IIMs, and the fact that Indians can speak English (often better than any other language) are some of the contributing factors that give India the distinct advantage. However, advancements in unified communications and collaboration technology have opened up the playing field and made organizations location agnostic. The leadership team at Tata Communications itself is based across four continents in nine cities. The next new world manager can now be found almost anywhere.


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Topics: Life @ Work, Learning & Development

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