The What and The How

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In our last Corporate Strategy class, one of the presenting teams could not agree on their approach to critiquing a business case. They consequently split and presented differing views to the case. This got me thinking about how important is “the how” or the behaviours that one exhibits in order to achieve their objectives or “the what”. Are the antics that are encouraged and rewarded in reality shows such as The Celebrity Apprentice the ones that really define success in “the real world”?

I work in a corporate HR function and this is something we often struggle with philosophically. If an employee achieves their objectives or even over-achieves on their objectives, does it matter how they got it done? If our best employee is a complete you-know-what and cannot work well with others but he generates the most revenue, do we reward him for those behaviours? Should an employee’s behaviours be included in their performance evaluations which is linked to their annual bonus payouts? What about employees who exhibit desired behaviours very well but cannot execute well on their objectives. Should they be rewarded for their performance?

I don’t have the answers to these questions but I was wondering what we are being taught here at Rotman. While there aren’t any specific courses on these “soft” skills there is a lot of group work involved. And while this may be the most trying of experiences during your MBA program, I think that we often undervalue the importance of working with others. Group work at Rotman is actually a safe environment to go through the ups and downs, challenges and failures of working in a team that will help prepare you for what you face outside these walls. In elective courses, you often have to choose a new group that is different from the assigned ones in our core courses so each elective course can bring their own unique challenge depending on the group that you are working with. An although quite trying at times, this might be the best education we are getting from this program.

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