In which format did you receive an Advice, of late?

By Sanjil Garg

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How often have you been labelled as ‘being slow’ in taking a decision? Or, let me put it straight- have you felt at times that you know all the points being mooted over in a discussion, but somehow cannot present your thoughts in acceptable words?

So many of us, in our professional lives, battle with this idea everyday- on how to be efficient and effective at workplace; be it taking small day-to-day life based decisions or making a project pitch. While prompting is regularly rewarded as an issue of “decision making ability”; bigger decisions affecting the fate of the organizations cannot rely on prompting. This eventually leads to people looking for corporate guidance and professional moulding. While seeking corporate grooming may sound alright to many working professionals, accepting direction is frequently observed as the inactive utilization of astuteness.

Delving deeper on “What are the different formats of advice?

The individuals who offer guidance viably use delicate impact—they shape significant choices while enabling others to act. While the subjects on which guidance can be sought may range from academic/work performance, financial management and planning to as real as family matters and relationship management. Collating my personal experiences, we can have 3 distinct types of advice formats:

  1. DISCRETE ADVICE: In the last few years amidst my professional circles, I have witnessed lot of people seeking Discrete Advice from their friends, peer groups, and entities in which they confide in. On being approached for how to fill appraisals, to being asked which mutual funds/shares to invest upon, or even whether engagement with a certain project will prove beneficial to one’s career in long term, I have too many anecdotes from office. In all these situations, there stood a common underlying theme- that of exploring options pertaining to a single decision. In case of performance appraisal my colleagues wanted to know, how can they showcase and highlight the significant features of their work that would give a boost to their professional endeavours. Whereas in case of investing their money on financial products they seek a prudent acumen which I have developed over years of studying the market. Meanwhile, in case of selecting a project they are keen on exploring the future outcomes that would come associated with it- such as on-site postings.
  • COUNSEL: It was in January where my development team got stuck in an intermediary project stage, which they were trying to bridge from the past couple quarters. They were trying so strenuously to complete the work before the deadline, but somehow nothing was working. Imagine a situation where the project billing is running in full meter and you are being pressurized more after every client call. What would you do next?

I will share with you what the team did. They looked out for some advice from round the corner. The team worked on several simultaneous weekends, back to back. They attended a crash training program from the client itself and were able to deliver the product extension from scratch. Do you know whose advice ultimately worked out? It was of a team of 4 shadow interns who were with the team just to get some hands-on experience on the tool, the team was known to be an expert of.

Cut to point, the main narrative remains that it doesn’t matter whose advice we follow. If the idea being shared is attainable and implementable, just go for it. It may be from someone very experienced in handling the projects or someone with just the theory basics; in this case the college interns. Though the counsel came from college students, the most remarkable aspect of it was that it dealt holistically with the entire issue- right from the way to approach it to develop Key Performance Indicators out of it.  Counsel format of advice has its own advantages, through detailed subject analyses and exploration of the reasons associated to certain problems. It can be over a single point of issue, say hiring recruits to a project team, and carving out a whole solution set of do-able actions; or it may be as big as a project implementation. That said, with the guidance and insight received from the third party, viewing the entire episode objectively, advice seems fruitful, enabling the person to take decisions confidently.

  • COACHING & MENTORING: To begin with, this next type of advice, let me tell you the difference between the two. A coaching program is a session base, short term program which is good for specific skill development and performance improvement. On the other hand, mentoring is a long-term perspective based program typically based on developing informal relationship & connect amidst a formal setting. This category of advice may cover the broad tenets of peer to peer discourse or can even be a senior to junior discussion.

Exemplifying from my professional experiences, at different points of time people approach their colleagues, mostly higher up the echelons, or their faculty/distinguished professors for seeking advices over issues which they deem as critical in their career development. At this time of crisis when an individual is in a duel between a constant stream of thoughts and hence unable to take an objective decision, approaching a person who has already treaded that path seems helpful in taking decisions based on need of hour.

Way Forward

In general, despite the fact that individuals commonly centre around the substance of guidance, it’s an error to consider guidance as a one-and-done exchange. It is in-fact an act of moulding and hand-holding, a community-oriented procedure towards readily getting issues defined with a solution and way forward. That said, while seeking for a bit of advice, keep your goals, desired outcomes and your alternatives handy and align the action points originating from the received advice with them. This will not only serve helpful in taking effective decisions but also efficiently build your decision making ability.

The author is an MBA student from the Great Lakes Institute of Management

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