December 2014

We live in a world of JDs, KRAs and score cards. Every individual has her own role to play in the massive intermeshed machinery of the corporate. Whoever does this really well gets the tag of ‘key contributor’ or ‘exceptional contributor’ and the hike in emoluments or promotions associated with this rating.

In my twenty-odd years of experience working at times for some of the largest companies of the world and at times for the smallest companies of the world, at times for companies which have rigid structures; at time for companies which feel like a bunch of cowboys running riot, the one thing I have realized is the inadequacy of JDs and KRAs.

JDs and KRAs tend to restrict individuals and compartmentalize them into small boxes of activity. Every single individual I have rated as exceptional is the one that went beyond the KRA and took on and did what she thought was important for the organization.

These are individuals who possess the following competencies in abundance

  1. Systems thinking – the ability to understand the intermeshing of different processes within the organization to deliver the goals on shareholder, employee and customer front.
  2. Self starter – the ability to take on initiatives without being told specifically.
  3. Achievement orientation – a hunger to contribute and stand out.

Besides these, the individual should ideally also possess a high degree of interpersonal skills, since going beyond one’s KRA requires the ability to adroitly navigate through the organizational hierarchies and influence people.

For me, personally, the most successful stints were when I stretched the boundaries of my KRA and each of these times I was richly rewarded. The first was when I joined Compaq as a sales manager in 1997. I pushed myself to take on operational tasks and marketing tasks. I was rewarded with four salary hikes in two years. Another instance was when I decided to act as a telecom circle head when I was actually the sales and marketing head- I got confirmed as a Circle Head within a year. I had many other such instances in my career.

So how does one fill the organization with individuals who go beyond the listed KRA?

  1. Keep aside at least 20% weightage in the individual’s scorecard for demonstrating the ability to go beyond KRA.
  2. Encourage, facilitate and channelize these excursions outside the KRA.
  3. Communicate organizational imperatives clearly to every individual.
  4. When hiring, specifically look for the ability to go beyond specified instructions.

JDs and KRAs are important and crucial, but those who have the understanding that this is just an indicator of what is minimum expected and believe that the boundaries of one’s job are limited only by one’s imagination are the ones who take organizations forward and who are a sheer pleasure to work with.

This management lesson and many other such real life lessons are highlighted in RamG Vallath’s latest bestseller book, ‘From Ouch to Oops’. To learn from RamG’s transformational real life experiences, you can buy ‘From Ouch to Oops’ from Amazon – http://bit.ly/ZYih4l as paperback or as eBook http://bit.ly/1zGgHjZ