“Change: An act of courage”- 31 July 2012

For the employees of the company in which Suresh worked as a senior executive, the news brought with it tremendous pressure and confusion. ‘This is really a bad news’, said almost all the employees at various levels in unison. And the news was, ‘Another company is taking over our company in the next three months.’ Everybody felt shocked and rather let down. For, the management had never taken the workforce into confidence about its proposed move. And even as the news began to sink in, another piece of news hit them: ‘The new management is going to retain only 75% of the old staff and only on the basis of performance assessment’.

If the first one was shocking, the second one was disturbing. Ram also took the news with a sense of shock and upset. He remembered how he was planning to get married and how he and his fiancée were going to build a nice house for themselves. But with the sad and bad news, his dreams seemed shattered. He did not know how to tackle the new situation.
Of course, Ram was not alone. All the employees felt a similar threat to their respective careers. The panic on the premises was palpable. And in that condition, most missed the important point that only 25% of the workforce would be sacked while 75% would be retained. All felt that they would get counted in the 25% workforce which the new management may sack.
It is at this point that Ram confided with his fiancée the intricacies of the situation. Abha, the fiancée, felt surprised at his reaction. ‘Why are you so afraid? Aren’t you ready to face the challenge? Look dear, only 25 out of every hundred people stand to lose jobs. The remaining 75 will stay on. So, all you have to do is to make efforts to stay in the 75% category. So start making efforts right from today. You have a few weeks still to go. You can build safeguards for yourself in this period.’
This talk opened Ram’s eyes. That also helped him to see things more clearly. Wasn’t he an executive who had won plaudits from the management from time to time? Wasn’t he the one who had won many truly big orders in bad days for the company? Wasn’t he rewarded for his hard work and presence of mind on several occasions?
If this is all true, then why should I be afraid of the challenge? – Ram asked himself. With this thought, Ram felt assured and started going about his work as usual, as if he had never heard of the news of company hive-off. In fact, his calmness earned him more plaudits from his seniors in those days of utter confusion.
Something else was happening on the positive side. The outgoing management was discussing seriously with the new management the issue of staff-retention. It succeeded in extracting an assurance that only those with proven bad track record would be sacked and the rest retained. And it is at this point that the outgoing management appointed Ram as an agent who would guide employees how to keep doing their respective tasks with diligence. In that position, Ram could help many an employee to improve individual performance and make significant contribution to the company.
All these efforts did not go in vain. For, even through the transition, the company kept doing well in the marketplace. And so, when the actual time came for handover, the new management opted to retain all the staff.
The story has a critical message: Whatever the situation, don’t panic. Don’t fall prey to herd-mentality. For, there may be a hidden possibility of a good omen. So, watch things carefully, and keep doing one’s own work diligently. Who knows, things may improve and may even take a dramatic turn (as happened in Ram’s company). So, have courage. Change yourself suitably for the changing situation. Keep looking for your drawbacks and keep making efforts to remove those. After all, isn’t changing yourself as per the situation an act of courage? So, be courageous, and solutions to most bad situations may emerge. Grab them!

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