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25 September 2012

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Written by Rita Aggarwal
Friday, 05 October 2012 17:41

When Kishor joined the company as Office Manager, his task was well laid out: Establish discipline in the staff and step up overall productivity. He started going abut the task systematically. He had worked in similar capacity in his previous company (which he had left in favour of better prospects). And in the previous organisation, he had won good acclaim for his performance. With that background, Kishor launched the new assignment with confidence and started making the difference almost immediately. All appreciated his work.

However, at lunch, Kishor would not join others and preferred sitting at a corner table and eat alone while reading from a book which he would take out from his office table. If somebody tried to talk to him, Kishor would close the book and talk amiably. But after a few minutes, he would excuse himself from the conversation and delve once again into the book. Kishor never joined his colleagues at the club where most of his management colleagues patronised. If at all he went to the club, he would proceed straight to the library and immersed himself in books.
Soon, others started wondering what had happened to him. They also felt that Kishor was being rude to all of them. Yet, minus this aloofness, Kishor was amiable, and was willing to talk to anybody and everybody. Yet, he never participated in gossip sessions and did not indulge in any loose talk, And that angered the colleagues who started cooking stories involving Kishor.
One evening, some colleagues surrounded Kishor and started making fun of him. For a while, he tolerated the nonsense but soon decided to withdraw from the group. But as he was about to leave, one colleague teased him and Kishor was rattled. Then and there, he decided to stay put and explain to his colleagues why he behaved in certain manner. He said,”I realise what you expect from me. But I am running short on time and have to finish certain tasks in a limited period. So, I don’t spend much time with you guys. The task before me is to take examinations in Law besides working on this job assignment. I wish to be a lawyer. My exams are drawing near and I must finish my course before I appear for the tests.
“Also friends, I come from a financially deprived class. My Father has left loads of debt on my head. And today, if I happen to fail in exams, I will have nowhere to go. I have an old and ailing mother at home, and two sisters to be married off. So, I am a man in hurry. I hope, you understand my predicament. I like to be around with all of you, but am running against time,” Kishor concluded, his face serious and eyes rather misty.
Immediately, the group’s mood changed. Atul extended his hand and patted Kishor on the shoulder. Others followed suit and wished Kishor all the best.
Such stories are found in any workplace. On most occasions, others do not understand why a person behaves in a particular manner. They jump to conclusions. They poke fun at the guy. They indulge in loose talk about him. And all this spoils the atmosphere so much that the fellow’s mind turns bitter.
In such cases, management cannot do anything, since the issue does not affect the overall work per se. Yet, in Kishor’s case, seniors watched carefully how Kishor handled the situation. They realised how successfully he could communicate his situation to his colleagues. That went in Kishor’s favour. For, the moment Kishor passed his final year law examination, the company appointed him to take care of the legal department, a definite promotion that came with a decent hike in pay. However, the guy in such situations has to toughen himself and keep doing the right thing, and wait for the right moment to take colleagues into confidence. And when to take that step depends upon the guy’s ability to tackle the challenge well.

“Gamble worth taking”- 4 September 2012

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Written by Rita Aggarwal
Friday, 05 October 2012 17:39

The fellow was a pain in the neck for everyone. That he was a good-looking man with considerable experience did not come as any solace to anyone. On the contrary, he used his experience to shirk work, to shove workload smartly to colleagues, claim credit for the work done by others, remain absent at will and without informing office...! He was a bad employee and managers were all the time worried about in what mess he would land the office by his shenanigans. They tried to counsel him on their own initiative. Then they also sent him to counsellors, and even threatened him with negative consequences in job. Yet, the fellow remained a big problem, a terribly negative enigma.

It is at this juncture that the company had a brand new MBA as General Manager. Not only was the fellow young but he was also very sure of himself and felt that no problem was big enough for a solution. When Nimish, the new GM, came on board, he introduced himself to all and said, “Look fellows, together, we can solve all the problems. But the condition is that we should be together”. Everybody felt that he was talking a language that previous bosses did not speak. Yet, there was scepticism and some people made snide remarks and cut savage jokes about him trying to tackle Swastik, the problem-employee, and getting red-faced in the process.
But Nimish had other ideas. He read all the notes in Swastik’s HR file and also talked in details with other managers. Everything sounded negative. Nimish, then, made a silent resolve to sort out the problem once and for all -- not by sacking Swastik, but by making him see reason by some “direct action”, as he called it. Yet, he gave no clue to anybody what direct action could be like. All guessed and gossiped and gulped spicy predictions about how the encounter between Nimish and Swastik would take place. Yet, General Manager Nimish did not react. He smiled and kept quiet.
And one Sunday, which was Swastik’s weekly holiday, Nimish rang the bell at Swastik’s door. Swastik was almost shocked to see the General Manager at his door. He welcomed the boss in and offered him a cup of tea. Then what followed was good enough for a story book.
Nimish came straight to the point. He said, “Sir, you are many years my senior, and so allow me to call you ‘Sir’. For the past few weeks after I took over, I studied all your documents and also talked to some people about you. Most had bad things to say about you. But I have come with no baggage of biases. I have an open mind. When I watched your work, I found that you have inculcated some bad habits, and I want you to change those. I am sure, beneath those bad work-habits, there is a good man. I am looking forward to working with him, the good man. Will you not give me that opportunity? If that happens, I am sure, life will change for you, too, for the better.”
Having said this calmly and without a trace of anger in his voice, Nimish waited patiently for Swastik to say something. For a long time, Swastik said nothing. He sat with his head down and shoulders drooping. Nimish did not stir. He waited. And then Swastik raised his head, and said, “Thank you, Sir.”
Even though there was no verbal assurance of good behaviour, Nimish rose and left.
What happened later was, again, a story-book thing. Swastik’s behaviour improved remarkably over the next few weeks.
Talking to his senior colleagues, Nimish, however, was cautious. He said, “Look fellows, this may be a deceptive goodness. So, let us not derive any conclusions at this time. Let us wait and watch. If he improves, well and good. If he does not, then the fellow will have to go.”
The point is simple. A good manager often takes a calculated risk, with readiness to accept the blame of failure, but also openness to reform. The risk is fifty-fifty, but a good manager takes it. For, frankly speaking, he has not many options in such cases. But when he takes that risk, chances are that his gamble might pay off. And that makes the gamble worth the name.

“Aditya's tough decision”-28 August 2012

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Written by Rita Aggarwal
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 17:05

Seven years ago, Aditya faced a problem which many young people do. As he passed out of a B-school, Aditya got a job in a start up company launched by three friends. The company was just two years old and was doing well in the marketplace. The pay packet was decent and opportunities quite good. Yet, some of Aditya’s friends got jobs in some more reputed companies with better pay packets. They all started tempting Aditya to refuse the job in the start-up and look for opportunities in bigger companies. Aditya was getting pulled in two opposite directions. Torn and tormented, one night, he got out for an after-dinner stroll and thought hard. And then he made up his mind: Accept the offer in the start-up and make a smart beginning of a career even at what was called a smaller pay packet.

That night, Aditya slept well. The next morning, he called his friends and conveyed to them his decision, which surprised all. Yet, Aditya was firm, and took out his bike and went to the start-up company’s office. There, not only did he confirm his acceptance of the job, but also discussed with the HR manager what he proposed to do when he starts his assignment.
The HR Manager was pleasantly surprised and took Aditya to one of the partners-entrepreneurs recommending the boy for a higher consideration. After a little discussion, Aditya realised that his project-idea was gaining an increasing acceptance. Of course, the pay packet had, by then, become a little fatter.
Once his exams were over, Aditya did not head for home in other town. He headed straight to the start-up’s office. The company allowed him to join since the partners were sure that he would pass with good grades. That very moment, despite Mother’s protest, Aditya realised that life had changed for better. For, what he experienced at the company was a very friendly atmosphere where everybody encouraged the youngsters. In fact, even the partners were quite young and very passionate about the work.
What flourished subsequently was a wonderful range of work-opportunities that took Aditya higher and higher on the ladder. Today, just seven years later, the point where Aditya stood in his company was much higher than did his friends in other companies. Today, he has a bigger pay packet and better offers of growth as a leader of a fairly big team which he helped the management develop for a specialised project.
The moral of the story is simple: At the beginning of the career, youngsters need not look only at the pay packet, but also care for other soft areas like possible opportunities to grow and explore their potential in a more challenging manner. For, a career is not just a job with good pay. A career is, on the contrary, a continuous opportunity to grow and do things that one likes to do most. Career, also, is something that offers one a scope to utilise one’s creative energies in a positive manner. For, full and proper use of those energies makes one’s life more meaningful.
That is exactly why many smart young men and women prefer working with young companies rather than going for jobs in bigger companies where bureaucracy is huge and works in a steel frame that refuses to budge to accommodate young aspirations.
Aditya guessed it all correctly and made the decision. In past seven years, he has had only moments of growth, and none of regret.
Of course, that night when he was faced with the dilemma to make choice between the young and the ‘old’ and big companies, Aditya felt miserable. On the one hand was the firm offer of the job at the start-up, and on the other was only a thin possibility of a job in a bigger company with a better pay packet. But in order to appear for the campus interview of any other company, Aditya had to decline in writing the firm offer of the start-up. And if he says ‘no’ here and does not get a job there, then Aditya would be a soup.
That was a tough decision to make, and fortunately, Aditya opted for the start-up with a firm offer. For that correct decision, Aditya thanks his grandfather who used to say, “A bird in hand is equal to two in the bush”.
For Aditya, the bird in hand proved to be far, far better in every aspect.

A welcome, positive change- 14 August 2012

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Written by Rita Aggarwal
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 17:02

Anagha and her husband Sudip had a quick choice to make: Sudip had got an offer for a job far better than his present one but had to move to Mumbai. In that case, Anagha (with their two-year-old daughter back in Raipur) would have to continue in her job in the company where the two of them had started working seven years ago. So, should they make the move or stay put and stay together? Of course, Anagha could try for another job in Mumbai and the family could re-united after a while. But that would be the thing of the future.

The choice was difficult to make. The job on offer was really good -- much more money by way of remuneration and perks. Sudip and Anagha got tormented. They had to make a quick decision -- in the next two-three days.
Tired of the mental torment, Anagha phoned her father, a retired corporate boss who had made it big in his career. Papa heard the whole thing and asked the daughter to put the decision on hold for one day. The next morning, he and Anagha’s mother drove 200 kilometers to meet the daughter and son-in-law and of course the grand-daughter. Anagha was surprised to see her parents at the doorstep next evening. She and Sudip had just returned from office, and felt extremely assured with Papa’s presence.
The old man gave his well-reasoned verdict: Don’t go to Mumbai. Stay here, and together. Here, money may not be big, but “you have enough for yourselves. You can also save a good deal of money even now. So, when you are young and enjoying a fantastic life together, don’t invite an unnecessary break in your present life-style. Stay here and new opportunities will walk in through the front door. Believe me.”
So, the couple made the decision to reject the Mumbai offer and life continued in wonderful togetherness.
The word about this choice did not remain secret. In due course of time, many knew about the choice Sudip and Anagha had made. And one Sunday morning, the Director of their company stood at the doorstep of their house, pushing Sudip and Anagha into a pool of surprise.
The Director was in his late fifties and was a man of substance. He said, “Look, I have come to know about the choice you made. This puts me under a little pressure now to stand up to the choice you have made in favour of our company, your company. Here is my plan: We will promote both of you to head two different sections. That will be a bigger responsibility, but it will come with a fatter pay-packet. If you accept this, then you will become part of middle-management level of the company. This is the reward we wish to give you for your choice.”
Anagha realised how prophetic her father was. Of course, the promotions would mean harder work. But then, who is bothered about hard work when one is young and energetic? The new status brought money plus status plus lots of work which both enjoyed.
Beyond the smudged personal details, this story is true and many people are making such choices in favour of togetherness. They have begun realising that togetherness in young age and new marriage is more important than just the money separate job location would bring. A few years ago, decision to stay in different places in favour of more money was a regular thing to happen. Today, a change is coming over, and it is welcome. For, the change indicates how life’s considerations are changing and become more humane.
I am aware of a lot of young couples making such choices most willingly. I, for one, would always support such choices. For, they indicate a positive development in our society.

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