Career in NGO's
Career in Development Sector

Becoming a Manager in 21st Century

‘Hari Sadhu’ an ad character couple of years back on Television screen gained lot of popularity and drew the attention of many professionals. The ad was not only entertaining but also it had coined few fundamental questions on the work culture in contemporary society and the image of so called “Manager or Boss”. Now, with the passage of time and emerging working trend in 21st century the position of “Manager or Boss” is becoming more and more challenging, crucial and complicated. As a result many B-Schools have revised their curriculum focusing more and more on practical problems rather than confining to theoretical approach and train their students to face the upcoming challenges of 21st century. Similarly the recruiting agencies and HR units of different organisations/corporate have also changed their recruitment or selection process. Where along with the knowledge aspect the understanding and problem solving ability of a candidate, translating her/his experience into execution is the key of success. So to say, Managing the people / work is no longer the definition of a Manager. Now it has expanded too many more dimensions and requires a set of skills, which is unfortunately is not taught in normal classroom. Lists of such attributes are as follows.

  • Be with your People: Being a manager you should know your people (staff), their professional background, strength, areas to improve and the culture to which they belong. This helps you to reach at them more easily and extract the desired output.


  • Call them by Name (if acceptable give a nickname).
  • Appreciate and recognise their effort.

Be in their Position: Remember the days when you were fresher and committing mistakes. It is understood that due to mounting pressure and the position you holds, you also need to perform but for that you need to understand her or his problem, if genuine. Also you need to map the individual strengthens and weakness before assigning any task. Also you must know that these people are at their formative stage of career and may not match your wave length. Tips:

  • Plan properly and if required create a deliverable matrix with timeline to avoid any last minute rush or crisis.
  • Ready with plan A / B / C. It means you should have alternates and options to meet or mange the immediate crisis.
  • Be open: This is one of the most difficult skills and often not available with many Managers. As a result there is a huge communication gap with their front line workers or reporters. Hence give them space and time for sharing their ideas, discuss with them if you are not agreed. Last but not the least give them constructive feedback as well.


  • Listen them and do not be judgemental.
  • Avoid ‘Hi-effect’.
  • Be Empathetic or Humanistic: It is observed that at times people by virtue of their position and power do forget the basic etiquette. And behave abnormally or in-humanistically. This shows their mental states as well as worthiness to hold the position. Hence follow the principle of give respect and take respect. Tips:
  • Reach out to people and enquire them about their problem.
  • Take welfare measures as and when required.
  • Be updated: To be a successful manager you need to update your stock of knowledge and latest developments in the field. In couple of occasions it is seen that the subordinates are more comfortable and smart in managing the latest gadgets, applications and so on. In such case you stand out to be a mock and feel disappointed. Hence you need to constantly and correctly update your knowledge and skill with the latest developments. Tips:
  • Make a note of database, latest information etc.
  • Be a role model: It calls for a bigger role of you as a “Role Model”. Recall the days, when someone asks, whom do you consider your role model? Your answer would be definitely someone whom you love, observes closely and one who has inspired you profoundly. In the early years of career unknowing or knowingly you also became the first point person for freshers or newcomers. So the way you acts, behaves, performs it will have a same impact or impression over them. Hence you need to organize your thoughts and actions. Tips:
  • Be on time, dress neatly and smartly, adhere to the organization’s philosophy and principles and be a performer.
  • Be trustworthy and trust them: Now days, due to rapid value crisis and technology replacing human presence there is sheer absence of trust among / over people. Think of a situation where you are being doubt by your authority despite you have sacrificed your all happiness, comfort and energy to end the task perfectly but not being credited for the same. So, avoid the practice of doubt and build trust over your subordinates. Tips:
  • Frequently asks them the progress and develop an atmosphere of mutual respect, fellow feeling and believe.
  • Establish a healthy mechanism of monitoring and review. Do not go by rumors or whisperings from third party.
  • Be careful of the laws, policies: As we know, No one is above the law of the land. And every individual has a right to express her/ his ideas and right to life / live with dignity. Further with the recent development of policies and Acts like: Sexual Harassment in Work place, Violation of Human Rights provision you need to be careful and avoid any unpleasant situations in the work place. Tips:
  • Choose your words correctly while communicating with your colleagues.
  • Read and aware of the organisational HR policies and constitutional provisions as well.

To conclude, there are many examples and successful stories in the past where people might not have a managerial degree or diploma but they have developed them continuously and consistently with the changing needs of the society.



Sraban, is a development consultant professional having around 12 years of progressive and rich experience of working in the development sector with thematic expertise in the area of educational planning, monitoring, project designing and training. Over the years he has worked with many International and National Organisations of repute along with Government at different capacities. His key skill areas are : Project Management, Capacity building, Training & Monitoring, Partnership building, Campaigning, Advocacy, Donor Management services and Appropriate Technology. His Interest Area are Research, writing developmental and Educational Articles, Organizing Intellectual discourse, travelling rural and remote areas.