Saturday, August 31, 2013

Spot the animal in your boss!

Most professionals today spend their waking hours at work or in activities related to work. Invariably, your relation with the boss is a critical factor in defining the work experience, says Manjiri Gokhale Joshi. In her third book, Bosses of the Wild, Manjiri has likened boss personality types to 10 animals, providing insights into their behaviour. Ambika Shaligram finds out more

Why did you choose to write about boss-employee relationship and use the analogy of animals to explain personality traits?
Well, I have worked in different fields. I began my career as a print journalist, then moved on to e-learning and IT. What I have learnt is that even if the workplace has a good system, the technology used is advanced, state-of-the art, all this comes to naught if there is people conflict. The boss types are similar in almost all fields and so are the employees. There is conflict if both the parties have different expectations from each other. The key is to manage the expectations, know what your boss wants from you, while the boss should know what to expect from his team.
I chose 10 personality types and matched them with commonly known animals. I don’t mean to humiliate anyone or portray anyone in a derogatory light. I just intend the book, which I’ve written in a lighter vein, to help reduce and resolve conflict.
What kind of research was involved in writing this book?
I began with the basic species like lion and elephant. At the same time, I was also identifying business processes, and organisations requiring specific skills. I also picked names which were easy to remember and had fascinating stories about them. When I identified my boss types — animal and humans — I got in touch with the animal experts to glean more information about their behavioural traits. I have featured 11 animal boss (including male and female) in the book.
In the human workplace scenario, it’s assumed that the male and female boss operate differently. Does this apply to the animal world too?
Yes, of course it does. Take the case of lion and lioness. Lion is this majestic beast, whom everyone is in awe of. No one can really be pally with him. The lion is focused and protects his team. Lioness, on the other hand, is good at multi-tasking. She will hear out her team member, even when she has got pressing tasks to finish.
Similarly, the female rabbit cannot be a good leader, whereas the male is over-enthusiastic about his work. He feels the need to justify his presence in the work place — sending mails late into the night, holding meetings. The male is extremely susceptible to changes, alerts in the work zone. Remember a rabbit’s ears are always standing!
A male hyena is good with the team, but isn’t really helpful when things aren’t going too great. The female of this species makes no bones about the fact that she expects obeisance. If her team members want it in any other way, then they are in trouble!
This actually sounds like a work place Sun Signs book. Should the HR team refer to it when it comes to hiring employees?
Sure! Hiring the right person for the right job will make the workplace much better.
Who is the best/perfect boss according to you?
Well, someone who is secure and mentors his team and allows them to grow. If you ask me, which is the best animal personality boss, I would say that all the species have something to offer. Right from the frogs, to the dolphins, to sloth bears and of course the lions and elephants. Pick the right skills and traits from all of them.

A boss on the book!
“A good CEO cannot afford to have a single style of leadership. So it’s best that an owl from Manjiri’s book also adapts traits of the eagle or lion. Bosses of the Wild will help the employee’s identify their boss’s traits and their own too. I would also like to add that to become a boss, you have to like people, and realise that no two persons are going to be the same. If you accept this, then you cannot lose sight of your objective.”
— Dr Ganesh Natarajan,
Vice-Chairman and CEO,
Zensar Technologies

About the author
Manjiri Gokhale Joshi has earlier co-authored Inspired with Dr Ganesh Natarajan. Her second book Crushes, Careers and Cellphone was for teenagers and parents. Its Marathi translation along with Bosses of the Wild, Lessons from Corporate Jungle, was released by Dr Mohan Agashe and Dr Ganesh Nataranjan on August 1