CAREER GUIDE Friday, September 13, 2002, Chandigarh, India

How well do you know your boss?
o matter what your position in the organisation (unless you own it, of course), you will always have a boss. And bosses come in a mind-boggling assortment of temperament and personality types — ranging from the downright bossy and bully variety to the petulant and grudgingly supportive ones. But all said and done, it helps to remember that bosses are human beings. Just like the rest of us.

I want to have a shot at the Indian Forest Service. Please advise.


How well do you know your boss?

No matter what your position in the organisation (unless you own it, of course), you will always have a boss. And bosses come in a mind-boggling assortment of temperament and personality types — ranging from the downright bossy and bully variety to the petulant and grudgingly supportive ones. But all said and done, it helps to remember that bosses are human beings. Just like the rest of us.

So do take some time out to find out what makes your boss tick. Understanding how she/he handles emotions and work pressure will give you valuable insights into the ticking of their personality. Assessing their individual strengths and weaknesses, will show you the key to make your relationship work better for you. Besides, if you are smart enough, you just might win an important ally.

The angry boss

Some bosses use anger as a means of controlling others — especially their employees. To this person, the advantages of bullying tactics far outweigh the disadvantages that may result from losing control.

Obviously, no one wants to bring an angry boss bad news. Inappropriate anger on his part can shut down communication channels and transform employees from supportive to subversive overnight. When your boss is extremely frustrated, an angry outburst may be justified and can even be healthy. But the key is: does he express anger appropriately and constructively? Does he play fair? Ask yourself the following questions:

* Does he keep his remarks impersonal: focused on an action and not on personal characteristics?

* Does he refer only to the situation at hand and not dwell on the past, reciting old lapses and mistakes?

* How does he react to an angry employee?

* Does he check his facts to make sure his anger is directed at the right person?

* Does he give someone a chance to explain before he gets angry?

* Does he make it clear why he is angry?

* Does he issue threats?

* Does he provide alternatives or solutions?

* Does he tick-off employees in private or in front of their co-workers?

Being the object of another person’s wrath — especially when it is your boss — can be upsetting and frightening. Try to stay objective and see if your boss has a valid reason to be upset.

Some tough, over-aggressive bosses allow no room for error. If this is your boss’s style (which is to say he treats everyone this way), it is important not to take his outburst personally. It helps to try and ascertain the underlying motive for his behavior. Some possibilities are:

* He believes in the “drill sergeant” approach to motivating others.

* He has a strong need to control and intimidate others.

* He is a highly emotional person. In other words, his enthusiasm is as intense as his negativism.

To see if you are reading your boss right, watch how he interacts with other employees and his superiors. Once you have gauged the kind of personality-type he conforms to, you will have a better feel of how to navigate unscathed through the stormy outbursts without letting it affect you overly.

The effective boss

The effective boss has his emotions under control but is not afraid to display them when appropriate. He knows that without emotions, a corporate environment is dull and sterile. Emotions can be used positively to motivate employees, build empathy and foster team spirit.

Effective bosses are willing and able to coordinate plans, programmes and people with intelligence and understanding. They let employees know where they stand and guide the department to meet its goals and get the job done within the limitations of budget, staff or policy decisions.

* To find out if you are working for an effective boss, ask yourself:

* Does his success outnumber his mistakes?

* Does he handle failure realistically and move on to the next project with confidence?

* Is he truly concerned with his employees’ happiness?

* Does his department make money?

* Does he expect the same high-level performance from himself that he expects from his employees?

* Does he recognise and reward employees who have performed well?

Effective managers are good psychologists. They capitalise on the varied emotional make-up of their employees to enhance their department. They know when to support employees who lack confidence, when to bend the rules for employees going through a difficult family crisis, when to give ambitious employees a chance to show what they can do. An effective boss prizes, above all, individual talents and abilities. He knows that a happy staff will require less direct supervision, allowing him to explore and develop his own strengths.

The fearful boss

Weak bosses often fear their own bosses and envy employees who appear more confident than themselves. A weak boss can sabotage you just as easily as an overly-aggressive boss. Rather than ignoring weak and fearful bosses and hoping they just fade away, it is best to take the initiative and work with them. Try to find out why they are the way they are. Maybe they have just cause. Your slightly insecure boss could have been beaten down over the years by a bullying superior. Maybe all your boss lacks is confidence. You can help him become more emotionally secure by giving him positive feedback and encouragement.

Ask yourself if your boss has problems with any of the following:

* Working well with his immediate superior (fearful of not pleasing his boss)

* Working well with employees (fearful they are going to steal his job).

* Not a good team leader.

* Lacking in management training; promoted because of his expertise.

* Handling a new position that has duties he is unfamiliar with.

* Learning form past mistakes and not dwelling on them.

* Willing to take risks.

A fearful boss may want to minimise conflict at any cost, not realising that incompetence can undermine employees as quickly as bullying tactics.

So where exactly does your boss fit in? Once you have figured that one out, you will be better placed to ‘handle’ him and his outbursts. And while you are at it, three vital pieces of advice (ignore them at your own peril):

* Never confront the boss in the presence of a higher authority.

* Never make the boss look stupid or inept (even if she/he is).

* Never, never underestimate your boss. It is too expensive an error to make (even if you are convinced that she/he is totally incompetent).

Pervin Malhotra

I want to have a shot at the Indian Forest Service. Please advise.

Q I am a nature freak and would love to contribute to the growth of our environment and forests, so I have decided that I would take a shot at the Indian Forest Service. I would like to know more about the job profile when I complete my training and the kind of responsibilities I will be assigned.

Rakesh Mittal

A If you are fond of the outdoors and interested in protecting the environment and wildlife, the Indian Forest Service offers a challenging and adventurous career.

To be eligible for this service, you have to appear for the Indian Forest Service Examination, which is conducted annually by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

Selected candidates undergo training for two years at the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, Dehra Dun. Further training of four months is given at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie. On successful completion of training, you will receive a diploma of associateship of the Indian Forest Research Institute and recruited in the junior grade of the IFS.

An IFS officer’s job combines both desk work as well as extensive field monitoring and is concerned with the management, maintenance and protection of forest flora and fauna, afforestation, wildlife, revenue collection, etc.

Forest officers have a variety of roles to perform depending on the level they reach in their career. In lower grades, they work as technical supervisors who are responsible for planning and controlling operations. As your career advances, you will be required to perform a variety of management functions as well as plan, control and implement policies and operations.

It includes supervising forest workers, organising the training of existing staff, and being directly involved with the training of new forest officers. You may even be required to act as advisers for private estates in the area, administer grants and liaise with local authorities and countryside groups. Experienced forest officers may have specialist duties such as research, education and training, or technical development. They are also responsible for overseeing the fire protection arrangements within the area. They also help in prevention of unlawful poaching and tree felling.

The job content of a forest officer has changed considerably over the years. Now his job is not merely confined to preserving and protecting forests and wildlife: it also extends to new areas like maintenance of the whole eco-system, social forestry and afforestation.

His responsibility is therefore immense, especially when even local farmers sometimes fail to appreciate the role of forests in the conservation of the environment. Carried away by popular crazes that promise greater prosperity they do not hesitate to replace forested areas with orchards or commercial plantations in the hills.


Q I have just completed my MCA. This year’s on-campus placement turned out to be a damp squib. So I have to look for a job on my own. As I am a fresher, I desperately need some guidance.

Surinder Lakhotia

A The job market in the IT industry has been in a pretty bad shape. However, the good news is that things have begun to look up. What this means is that while the demand for manpower has begun to pick up, companies are still choosy. They hire only when they cannot do without a new person. Then too, they prefer to hire people on a temporary basis. Besides, they have a vast pool of trained and experienced manpower to choose from.

In these circumstances, you cannot afford to be as choosy as your counterparts may have been in the past. Your first priority is to acquire some work experience — it does not matter whether this is on a temporary basis, on contract, etc, and at what salary. Try to position yourself in an IT area that you enjoy working in and specialise in a set of skills that are currently in demand — e.g. multimedia services.

Carefully prepare your CV to highlight these skill areas. Identify companies in your town (or towns within easy reach). Visit these to understand the manpower needs and if there is a job drop in your CV. As I have advised in this column earlier, try getting together with a bunch of classmates and offer to design or work on a project for these — even if its for free.

Also approach as many placement consultants you can and leave your CV with them — particularly those that specialise in IT. Also try posting your CV on jobsites on the Net for good measure.

Flight stewards

QCould you please tell me about the eligibility criteria and also the institutions conducting training programmes for flight stewards?

Ankush Pandey

A A Flight Steward/Purser’s job is quite similar to that of an airhostess. Starting as an Assistant Flight Steward, you will work alongside the airhostess, while as a senior Steward you will check the cargo, keep an account of occupancy, handle the duty-free items, serve alcoholic drinks on board, collect the money for in-flight purchases and help the hostess perform her duties efficiently.

Personal attributes like a friendly and helpful nature, ability to communicate, patience and good humour will hold you in good stead. You also need loads of stamina to walk up and down the aisle pushing trolleys and serving the passengers on board.

The typical eligibility criteria for a flight steward are as follows:

Male candidates below 26 years

Minimum height - 165 cm (barefoot)

Weight - in proportion to height

Education - Bachelor’s degree or Class XII with 3-yr diploma in hotel management and catering technology

Physically fit with a pleasing personality

Fluency in English and Hindi, knowledge of a foreign language is desirable.

Vision - normal without glasses. Total power of contact lenses for correcting distance vision should not exceed -2D (minus two dioptres)

Ability to communicate easily with people.

Assistant Flight Stewards are selected on the basis of performance in an objective-type written test to assess your general awareness and mental flexibility. Those who qualify in the written test are called for group discussion and interview to assess mental alertness and communication skills.

Training, similar to that for airhostesses, is provided but with less emphasis on personal grooming. With experience, a steward can rise to become the senior or chief steward. Your flying career can happily continue up to retirement unlike your female counterparts.

Candidates are taken in as Assistant Flight Stewards in government carriers as trainees on a monthly stipend. On confirmation, the remuneration package is fairly decent. Typically, private airlines tend to pay higher salaries. Flying allowances and other benefits like free travel, etc. are additional in both cases. However, international carriers have begun to recruit flight pursers from India only recently.

It is not necessary to join a training programme to become a flight steward as most airlines provide extensive training upon recruitment.

Indian Airlines had recently issued a recruitment advertisement for Cabin Crew (male/female) for each of its four regions (Eastern, Western, Northern & Southern). The application deadline is September 14, 2002.

Please send in your query preferably on a postcard along with your name, complete address and academic qualifications to:
Editor, Career Hotline, The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh-160020, or at