Challenges: A nine-letter word that can throw a monkey wrench in your plans, irrespective of your experience. I can abbreviate this unique word using a three-character acronym, ‘PPT.’ No, this is not the short form of Power Point, though that can also be a challenge. Instead, I am referring to People, Process, and Technology (P.P.T.). Let us talk about each of these areas separately.
Once, one of my clients gave us a piece of good news, mentioning a new project was about to start. But unfortunately, the bad news was the client requested ten people to be added to the team in the next two weeks. In this case, the challenge was finding the right people at the right time. If you work in a small organization, you might have no option but to hire folks or get people on contract. However, in a large organization, one has the luxury of maintaining a bench. So you will find people for sure but are they the right talent, as the client wants someone who knows Java while you have someone on Dot-Net. There are many permutations and combinations, but there isn’t one solution to this problem.
My team and I worked with one of our esteemed clients a few years ago. The uniqueness of this customer was the level of micro-management prevalent from the client’s point of contact since the project started. We worked in an Onsite – Offshore model with the client in the U.S. and my team in India. Unfortunately, my team members were at their wit’s end because the client contact would call them at odd times, including two or three in the morning. My team was small, consisting of five members. On a pleasant Monday, in a span of four hours, I received an email from each team member asking to be released from the project. Now, what could we do in such a situation? We had no option but to confront the client manager, obviously politely highlighting that the current way of working would not work.
In most cases, the primary solution to any people problem is constant communication; even in the first example, if we have a good rapport with the client, we could get an idea about upcoming projects, and we can definitely plan better.
The corporate world is filled with tons of processes. For example, if you want to take leave, you need to apply it in the system, and if you are working in a client-facing role, it’s a double whammy since you need additional approval from your client. But this is not the problem of concern, the challenge is awareness regarding the gamut of processes. One such essential but painful exercise is the annual appraisal cycle. At the end of this process, one could be elated, which might be a rarity because there is always a disparity in employee expectations vs. corporate benchmarks. Comparisons regarding ratings/increments run high between employees, even though Human resources will emphasize, don’t compare. As a manager, one has to diligently follow the process of giving regular feedback to your direct reportees else it will blow out of proportion in the end. But as an employee, I have realized that even if I did not get a promotion in the current cycle, over time, somewhere or the other, things do pan.
If you work in an IT company, this aspect shouldn’t be much of an issue, though there are nooks and corners in the supporting functions, which can be challenging. But what if you are working in a hospital? I have worked in the Healthcare IT space for nearly twenty years and one such challenge was highlighted by a client. Nurses and doctors were supposed to start using recently digitized systems/applications. The obvious solution would be to provide employees with training, which should help them get up to speed. It sounds elementary, but that isn’t the reality. The success of such a regulation depends on physicians accepting technology as an enabler, not a hindrance. Change management is a key to technology enablement.
Though the above areas are three broad categories where one faces challenges, ultimately, everything ties back to the People aspect.