Younger workers starting out in their careers often and widely believe that an MBA is a ticket to business riches. Well I hate to burst your bubble, but it isn’t. The old adage of “it’s who you know not what you know” still holds true today.
Sure an MBA looks good on a resume but at the end of the day it’s all about your performance on the job and how you relate to your colleagues and management team. When was the last time your MBA designation got you a better score/rating on your performance review? Never.
What an MBA gets you is more self-esteem and ability to apply a more disciplined process to challenging business problems. If the brightest people in an organization, and I’ve seen my share of them, with multiple degrees can’t get things done effectively they don’t get promoted.
There is an axiom in business that says that “people do business with people they like”. This applies both internally and externally for a company. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a CEO of a large company, you make decisions about all aspects of your business based on the type of people you do business with. You promote the ones you like a little more and you give key assignments to the people in your organization that can engage people and build support for projects. You give business to the companies that have good sales people and that you like to spend time with.
MBA’s don’t help you with social skills or the soft skills that are so critical in business. In today’s hyper competitive business environment these soft skills are even more important because you’re dealing with colleagues and management teams that are under more pressure to deliver results. And these situations cause a lot of stress and people do crazy things when under stress. You need to be able to manage delicate situations and be able to get the support you need for key projects at difficult times. Writing a brilliant business plan is only part of the process, it’s not the end point.
They don’t teach you how to sell your ideas in business/MBA school. They teach you how to analyse financials and evaluate performance. These are good skills to have but if you’re ambitious and want to move up the organization you need to be street smart and get what you need to put your agenda forward. That two minute ride in the morning with the CEO or VP Marketing on the elevator is where you make impressions and build relationships that help you more than your ability to cite industry statistics.
Working for a company in a dog eat dog environment is where people need soft skills and the ability to think clearly under pressure. MBA schools don’t teach you how to perform under fire, real world business experience does. An MBA won’t get you in the door faster but being able to make a connection with the person interviewing you will. People hire people they like….don’t forget that.
The the key to long-term employment and financial success is the relationships you establish along the way. 70% of jobs come from your business contacts not from applying on a website or a executive search firm. Success comes from being able to pick up the phone and call a colleague who can connect you with other people to help you in your search.
Save your money on an MBA and polish your social skills. These will serve you better in your working career and longer in life than an MBA ever will. And yes, I have an MBA.