27 March 2016 13:48:39 IST

Good news about the future is you can create it!

This year, work on yourself, define what success is to you and use your strength

Well, that is what management guru Peter Drucker said many years ago! Professionals who achieve anything significant in their life and career have been in charge of what they do managed their future quite well. The new year is already here with its promises, predictions, opportunities and challenges. While no one can predict the future with absolute accuracy, one can only take a positive but pragmatic view of how it may unfold.

The Centre is doing its best with plans and programmes for reforms. But due to political reasons, there has been a significant slowdown. Good news is that the Centre still has the mojo to do a good job. Foreign direct investments are estimated to improve this year as many investors are keen to be a part of the booming start-up ecosystem in the country. The Centre, for its part, has relaxed investment limits in nearly 15 sectors. Foreign institutional investors were net sellers in Indian equities in 2015. However, this is expected to change this year.

This year’s budget is also expected to be a reform-oriented one. Industry leaders across sectors seem to have noticeable confidence in the Centre’s commitment to progress, including in initiatives such as Make in India. Although the global economy is still not buoyant, India is expected to lead the pack in terms of GDP growth and on other vital economic parameters.

While the economic conditions and outlook will continue to be a matter of concern and impact, what is important is to take a look at our “circle of influence” rather than the “larger circle of concern.”

As a visiting professor at many leading B-schools, I have been taking stock of the placement situation and it has been positive and promising. Of the five B-schools from where I gathered data through discussions with placement teams, I found that the lowest placement percentage was at 95 per cent! This is a good sign and in a sense also reflects the “growth mind-set” the corporates. Interactions with students also confirm that many of them have more than one good job offer. They, in fact, have an interesting challenge: the “problem” of what to choose.

The story seems similar in lateral hiring (people with experience keen on changing jobs). Search firms and placement consultants seem to be doing brisk business. The talent war continues to rage and ravage. The focus with which companies are investing to build competencies and to transform their workplaces into more inspiring ones, is a marker of how keen they are to keep the talent from leaving for other opportunities.

So, as a management student or professional, what can we do to make our New Year very productive and professionally rewarding? As I see, the following stand out as a non negotiable.

Update resume regularly: Far from encouraging people to become job-hoppers, I say this with a different intent. It is key to write your resume once a quarter and see if you have learnt anything new. Continuous learning and unlearning will assume even greater importance in the months and years to come.

Be selective and active in your network: Many of us believe that being present on Linkedin or Facebook is networking. I have a vast circle of Linkedin contacts who get in touch with me only when they need a job! I do not know them, have no clue about what they are good at, what they have achieved, and what their aspirations are. Moreover, I am not into the placement business at all. So it is imperative to understand that networking is more than a one-time connection, and then reconnecting when you need a job. What is important is to cultivate meaningful relationships with an appropriate number of professionals and staying in touch with them throughout.

Clearly define what success means for you: You need a definition of what success means to you. Otherwise, you will be groping in the dark looking for a black cat in a dark room! When you have a definition, you do not fritter your energy in chasing things you do not need. I distinctly remember what one of our professors told us when we finished our MBA. “Money and happiness are like butterflies; the more you chase them, the farther they go away. If you ignore it, they comes back and sits gently on your shoulder!

Increase your appetite for feedback: This quality can save your day, face and future. Many careers have fallen through the cracks because the person’s ego prevailed over accepting feedback. This is because the person considered feedback an ugly side that needed fixing. As Jim Collins says, we all need a strong ego (self-esteem) and not a big ego. Knowing the difference is key to improving ourselves continuously.

Use your strengths to strengthen others: Make a resolution for the New Year that you will focus on how you can use your strengths to strengthen people you are working with. Then you see wonderful results from your relationships. I happened to watch a clip in which Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico spoke about a few key learnings. One of the learnings was: you focus on yourself as long as you are an individual contributor. But once you become a manager, your focus should be on empowering and developing the capabilities of people working for you. This is a simple, yet very powerful message for many of us who are obsessed only with our growth, our welfare and our development!

May the New Year bring plenty of career success and satisfaction to all of us.

To read more from the From the Coach section, click here .