The changing face of managers

N.Purnima Srikrishna
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With changing times the roles and responsibilities of managers have changed too. Today, organisations expect much more from their managers. They want them to innovate and excel rather than merely plan and execute.

Earlier it was enough if managers organised and managed things efficiently but not any longer. Now they are expected to also exhibit a strong passion and ownership to place the organisation on a higher plane of success much like the entrepreneurs! What prompted this paradigm shift? Let us hear from our HR experts on the reasons behind the changing face of the managers:

Today, the economy is not only highly competitive but also becoming increasingly knowledge based.

In this backdrop the traditional organisational structure based on the hierarchy pyramid is failing to deliver. Hence, organisations are experimenting with newer organisational structures that are flatter and flexible enough to adopt changes. Arun Athiappan, Co-Founder and CEO, says, “The old economy organisations are increasingly finding it difficult to compete as they have reached a saturation point in leveraging the efficiencies of the existing processes. The cost of increased efficiencies is now beginning to be more than the gains from such efficiencies. The time is now for organisations to think new and innovate. Hence the biggest reason for this transition to the entrepreneurial model is the need to innovate which in turn drives the basic objectives of organisations like maximising value for their stake holders and staying relevant in the new economy.”

It is not just the economy but people have changed too, over the generations. The present day workforce is more dynamic, agile and success hungry. They think and act more like entrepreneurs. Kamal Karanth, Managing Director, Kelly Services India, observes, “The mix of the workforce is changing and there is a larger percentage of GenY entering the labour market which is used to the here and now. They like a fast paced life which means speed in decision making, risk appetite, trying something new, flexibility, personal care, innovation and timely rewards and recognition. All these qualities are best found in entrepreneurs and hence the new dimension for managerial roles.”

With innovation becoming the key to success in every sphere, management education too shifted its focus to entrepreneurship. Management graduates are increasingly being trained to quickly adapt to changes, think strategically and look for new opportunities around them. Tanvi Saxena-HR Head of CapitalVia Global Research Limited, says, “In the last couple of years, there has been a drastic change in the management education. The focus is now shifted on entrepreneurial management than management. With the advent of these trends we expect our managers to be entrepreneurial managers. For small and mid sized companies this change has been a blessing in disguise. Managers are now using their entrepreneurial knowledge in day-to-day operations. Even for big industries, when we talk about venturing into new businesses, this has proved to be an asset.” Thus, for employers this has come as a boon.

Functioning as they are in extremely competitive conditions, they are only too happy to utilise the expertise of this new breed of managers.

The older generation of managers with their conservative attitude and risk aversion, naturally find the transition to the entrepreneurial model a bit difficult. However, to succeed in the current set up they have to learn and acquire the entrepreneurial skills. Rajesh Rai Director – HR Expedia India insists, “It’s a given today. Managers have to be entrepreneurial enough to ensure that they do not lose out on opportunities. It’s an inherent part of the job today. They aren’t two different roles anymore, one of the biggest competencies required for being a successful manager today, is the entrepreneurial spirit.”

Managers as such play a crucial role in the organisation and shoulder several responsibilities. They plan, organise and execute work and also efficiently manage all the resources. In the changed scenario they are expected to play an even more versatile part. They must learn and master the characteristic traits of an entrepreneur as well! Speaking on the additional qualities that a manager must display in the entrepreneurial model, Niharika Jain, SVP-HR and Alliances at, advises, “The essential traits are patience, ability to constantly innovate and learn new things, never fear failure, respect yourself and your team, believe in the idea and work hard to make it come true. A firm belief in yourself and your team helps in taking the right decision.”

The million dollar question however is, can managers play both the roles successfully? Yogesh Bansal, Founder and CEO,, says, “Being successful at both the functions would require them to be a follower and a leader simultaneously, and knowing which hat to wear when maybe.” Rajesh Padmanabhan, HR Head, Capgemini India, points out, “There are numerous examples of how managers, who are purely entrepreneurial at the outset, have failed to build a proper management team below them. They often sideline the task of building an effective pipeline as they tend to neglect delegation. They should recognise that they can no longer do everything by themselves and should pre-emptively prepare to let go. Similarly those managers who do not learn to change or evolve, run the risk of being left behind and this could hit the organisations’ bottom-line.”

Thus, managers today, have to work extra hard to strike the right balance between their managerial and entrepreneurial roles.

N.Purnima Srikrishna




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