by April 15, 1998 0 comments

There is this traditional concept of growth in the
software industry where companies start with software development by deputing
professionals on site, then gain the confidence of developing projects offshore, and
subsequently move closer to customers by posting a techno-commercial manager in the
country they are targeting.

This is an all-too-familiar evolutionary
scenario. But what happens after they depute the manager overseas? That”s the phase which
is of great consequence to the industry, since a large number of companies have still not
tailored a suitable package to take care of their very important but loosely-held asset.
And as they say, the strength of a chain lies in its weakest link.

Firstly, the manager”s role and scope of
responsibility is quite ill-defined and he is expected to do everything that comes his way
without having the right to refuse. Companies need to understand the return on investment
on deputing managers overseas and also the expectations from them has to be realistic.
Because of resource crunch and lean budgets, the manager is expected to perform all
functions, right from licking envelops to standing in the post-office queue for sending
his mail. There is nothing wrong in this, since many well-dressed senior people can be
seen in post-office ques etc. But the question is, does our man have the luxury of this
time? In addition, he has to locate a suitable place to settle down with his family, check
out schools for his children, ensure that his wife can adjust to the new surroundings etc.
He also has to explore office locations from where he will operate. And then comes the
administration role, with all the commercial issues to be handled apart from the HR role
to be performed to alleviate his onsite boys” perceived problems.

Normally, the manager either lacks the
necessary skills or is ill-trained to handle all these issues. While in India, HR is
handled by the HR chief, for accounts he goes to his accountant or full-fledged finance
department etc. Thus all the miscellaneous activities, which have no direct bearing on
business, become major deterrents for him preventing him from focusing on his key
objectives. Organizations normally do not budget for this unproductive time and
accordingly need to rationalize the results expected.

Now, what about the training requirements
of the manager? Usually, had the manager been in India, he would have spent at least 15
days in a year being trained on different aspects of management, outsourcing, subordinate
development, new technologies etc. But when abroad, organizations altogether sideline
these essential personal development requirements.

And motivation? Often this is the toughest
part of the psychological aspect to handle, because motivation is dependent on a complex
mixture of factors. He needs motivation because of the stress that is induced for a
variety of reasons such as, operating in unfamiliar environments, difficulty in
understanding language, food and cultural acclimatization, no peers to discuss issues and
brainstorm, isolation, technical knowledge insufficiency, business pressures to perform,
and meet expectations etc. In addition, whenever he visits clients he has the added
problem of always being outnumbered-he has to play all the roles… of marketing and
sales, quality, technical, HR, PR…etc. Finally, he realizes that there are no crutches
available for his psychological problems and he has to rely on his own mechanisms of
self-motivation…and so each manager develops his own or succumbs to failure.

We have progressed considerably in terms of
telecommunications. Companies need to communicate face-to-face with their resident
managers more frequently to avoid the sense of insulation that develops and the loss in
understanding of the Indian environment at large and the software industry in particular.
Many companies have a rigid policy of allowing their managers to return home annually.
This is a very despairing and depressing fact. There has to be a regular interaction with
various departmental groups in India and the resident manager, in order for him to develop
the evolving perspective of the organization to which he belongs. In addition, there has
to be a thorough debriefing session.

Internationally, the phenomenon is quite
different when people are deputed to different parts of the globe. Managers have several
briefing sessions before their departure to understand the new environments in which they
will operate. In addition, even the family of the manager which will accompany him is
briefed and training programs arranged for them. Such awareness and proactivity helps
considerably in reducing the culture shocks and constant complexes that develop at various
points of time, due to lack of awareness and preparation.

It is essential that our resident managers
are allowed to develop in a broad social and technological framework with a sharp focus on
the business dynamics of the country in which they reside. This will lead to a new breed
of global managers from India, who though possibly Indian at heart and in values, will
have the right balance of the global elements in them.

SUNIT JILLA

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