MBAs and communication skills!

It is generally believed that all the MBAs that you recruit come with great communication skills – but may lack in depth knowledge.

Experience has taught me one thing. You cannot draw conclusions based on one or two students or colleagues. To draw a conclusion, you need a huge, huge database across genders, medium of schooling, communities, geographies..and with that data you MAY be able to draw some conclusions….

Once in a MBA school (long time ago when I thought teaching was a noble profession) one HoD said – these kids are from the Hindi belt, they know the subject, but do not know English, hence they are not getting jobs.

I asked him what he was doing to rectify the situation. He said “Oh we are planning to give them Communication skills Workshop. Here we will teach them English, and some techniques on presentation, etc..”

I said let us pick up a 2-3 students and check out what is the problem (luckily he agreed – teachers are the worst when it comes to listening – ask me I am one!!!).

I asked 3 students to speak on ‘Why invest in equities’ – and they struggled speaking in English. I ‘saw’ a ‘I told you’ on the HoD’s face. I said “Now speak in Hindi…on the same subject”.

FUNNILY, they still struggled.

I said speak in English about India’s performance in the 2003 world cup – THEY ALL COULD SPEAK IN ENGLISH (reasonable English, yes there sere mistakes). Then I asked them to speak in Hindi, they were fluent.

I told the HoD – they needed to understand the subject better, far far better than what they currently do. Their syllabus was too long and big. They COULD NOT do justice to the SUBJECT – not enough time, so they choose to do selective studying (this serves the exam purpose)…and in real life flounder.

Same thing is happening in India about financial education. Many people know – spend less than you earn, create an emergency fund, start early, compounding, do your SIP – these have been written about ad nauseum. I think we need some basic behavioural finance classes! Identifying the problem is more important – preaching is not working!

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7 Responses to “MBAs and communication skills!”

  1. Dear Subra Sir,

    I can’t agree more. If you ask an aspirant management graduate 3 qs,

    1.What is MBA?
    2. How am I Goind to do it?
    3. Why am I doing MBA in the 1st place.

    Invariably we get answers from myriad students as :
    1. MBA is Master of Business Administration. (LOL, Everyone knows that)
    2. I will take admission into TOP RANKED(?) b-school to get my MBA done.
    3. WHY – well most of them are clueless, so they figure out just one answer, this will give me great(read highly paid) job.

    No one even management institutes pay attention to this issue. They bump their breast with 100% placement figures. In the end corporates often speak about unemployabuility of Indian MBAs or engineers.

    Thank you for bringing an article on this.

    Warm Regards,
    Aditya

  2. I agree. I guess that is true in any field.
    Self-realisation and application of the acquired knowledge/skill sets form the key!

  3. Subra,

    A very much perfect analysis ‘As always’…

    Am planning to share this particular article with my MBA college HOD :) with your permission of course!!!!

    Regards,
    Jitendra

  4. How true. I once had the opportunity of observing a communication skills workshop of 1st year MBA – International business students. Half of them did not return after lunch though the trainer was a reasonably good IIM grad. Even those present there fully had poor skills but that is understandable and they at least had the interest.

    But at the end of the session, all of them surrounded the trainer and asked him – which specialization they should pick – mktg or fin “based on the current economic condition”! Pity that even when nearing the end of their education, they have no clarity on what they want from life. Do not blame them, but our system. Because education is all about scoring marks and landing a good job. Forget your interest, long term growth opportunities in career etc.

  5. Yes. You are right.

    I am experimenting on same lines.

    I am providing 10 minutes presentation for a group of 5 students and only one slide per student. So with each student required to speak only 2 minutes they take interest and study at least the part which they have to speak. Confidence goes up and results are much better.

    Also I conduct one class on communication itself giving them tips how to prepare and make themselves comfortable.

    However more important point is communication on one to one basis or one to
    many (to a committee of 5 guys) so here I am trying with one to one role play and multi role play.

    I am only six years in to this profession and keep trying new techniques. Hope this works.

    Best Regards

  6. Subra Sir

    It is not just the case in MBA’s or the professional cources. It’s the common problem in our educational system in general.

    Basic Skills development, Communication development and the most importantly the Thought process development are expected from any institution. But most of the courses and institution concentrate just on the first part, few induct the second too but hardly any will give importance for the third part.

    Those teachers who give importance for the third point will always be remembered by any students and i defenitely feel you belong to that class :). Thanks and keep going.

  7. Why blame MBA’s. It’s the same even in Engineering. As shown in 3 Idiots movie students doesn’t know why they are taking Engineering and particular branch. We can’t blame them to take right decisions at that young age. So they trust their lecturer who too doesn’t know ANYTHING OUTSIDE THEIR DOMAIN.

    I still remember some long time some Statistics lecturers in Degree colleges suggesting students not to go for Computers (it’s just the starting of IT revolution in India) and take Statistics!!!! (Stat is an good subject, but nobody at that time knows where & how to use it) The students done Stat in Graduation but again came to Computers in their PG.

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