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B-school to real world: Secret tips for MBAs
R S S Mani
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April 13, 2007

Those of you who have an MBA degree under your belt are among the most in-demand group of professionals today.

Top notch companies woo you in campus recruitments with fancy salaries and nurture you with well-designed induction programmes post-hiring, contributing to your growth.

While companies do their best to retain you, the high flyers, here are a few tips to help you settle down and contribute to the company you join.

Keep your feet firmly on the ground  

MBAs are often accused of being people in a great hurry and carrying a chip on their shoulders. It is true that MBAs are trained and groomed in their institutes, but this does not make them perfect.

A sensible MBA should bide his time and learn as much as he can on the first job. The sooner he settles down, the lesser is the impact of the ground realities. I say this because an MBA tends to get disillusioned when as a new employee he experiences deviations in his profile or company from his expectation.

As new entrants to the corporate world, MBAs should respect their seniors and listen actively; not show off their theories and concepts. Let us accept that indifference, resistance and resentment will get you nowhere; in fact, some humility will help you cross several hurdles. 

Be patient, persistent  

Patience is one virtue that can help MBAs do a lot better in their organisations.

Very often, MBAs who join as management trainees complain the training appears to be an extension of their MBA education. This may be true to some extent but organisations have their own complexities and specific characteristics; a sound awareness of these would help you a great deal.

An old file you want or an appointment you seek with a senior manager may not be available at first attempt but, try, try, try, until you succeed. Your patience would also send positive signals to the seniors about your sincerity and dedication.

If you still think that you are still doing an extended MBA, do it; don't forget you are now being paid a salary to do so. So, don't complain! 

Focus on performance, not preaching 

For the initial few months the best strategy to follow is to learn as much as you can, complete allocated tasks on time and display a high level of enthusiasm. No task should be perceived as mundane or routine and must be completed meticulously. As is often said, be seen not heard.

Till you settle down in the organisation and gain the acceptance of peers and seniors, it is advisable not to shoot off your mouth on sensitive issues like policies, procedures and practices of the organisation. Criticism, being judgemental and bragging should also be completely avoided.

The 'I know more' arrogance should be judiciously avoided. Do not try to prove yourself right by proving others wrong. This very often leads to situations where you end up digging your own grave. Remember that seniors/colleagues too have their competencies and are capable of doing things as well as you or even better. 

Prove your mettle  

If you think you are great; prove it.

This should be the sole objective of the new incumbent MBA in the organisation.

Take up projects and assignments and complete them successfully. Ensure deadlines are met and the quality is of the highest standards. Prepare for every meeting you attend; this can increase your own confidence and also impress your superiors.

Let us realise that the blue chip company you have joined has been running successfully without you. Concentrate on how to add value, not fault-finding.

Conciseness, brevity and enthusiasm can go a long way in fuelling a positive impression about you in the minds of seniors.

Yet another important aspect to be remembered is that WORK COMES FIRST; picnics, fun, dates, films and surfing the Net can wait. 

Review and feedback meetings 

Ensure a continuous communication channel with your immediate superior. The normal tendency of many superiors is giving negative feedback when things go wrong. Continuously solicit feedback from your boss about your performance and develop on your strengths and eliminate the weaknesses.

Take your boss into confidence; never bluff.

It is this continuous interaction which would often fetch you objective appraisals at the end of your probation than a subjective one.

It is also important to realise that in life you can choose your spouse, but not your boss. Hence, the best strategy is to maintain the best of relations with him/her.

Draw inspiration from his/her strengths and ignore his/her weaknesses. Make him/her aware of your competencies and see how the synergy between you both could help improve your performance and that of the department and the company. 

Survive, stay on, succeed

If you are a true MBA then have the guts to stay on and contribute to the organisation.

It is very easy to show off by boasting that you have another job offer within three months of joining, but the real challenge lies in your ability to combat the odds and contribute. You must prove your loyalty and commitment to your current organisation first, lest you are accused of being a job hopper.

By loyalty, I am not referring to the number of years you have spent in an organisation but to the contribution you have made to that organisation.

Job hoppers grow faster in the short run but disappear in the long run. I would say a period of about one-and-a-half to two years is optimum time to prove yourself and contribute to the organisation that hires you. 

To conclude, follow the good old adage: Well begun is half done.

At the campus, choose your company with care. Do not be carried away by the hype or glamour or salary/perks. It is best to choose a job where you have a fair degree of independence and responsibility in a professionally managed organisation.

Once you settle in and start contributing, you will enjoy your job and succeed too. Consider the real acid test passed when years down the line, your resignation is accepted with a heavy heart, not gladly.

-- R S S Mani is promoter and CEO, R S S Mani and Associates, a human resource development consultancy. He is also on the Board of Studies for SIESCOMS. He can be reached at

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