“How a living organisation work”-25 December 2012
Things were not proceeding in the right direction for Amitabh. He was a young entrepreneur and had made a name for himself and his fledgling company in a matter of just 4-5 years. But of late, things seemed to be some sort of a mess whose origin Amitabh would not understand. Everything was all right — the product, the working conditions, the people. Yet, things were getting messed up. The atmosphere in the small company was silently hostile. Amitabh would sense the hostile undercurrent, but would not know why and how.
One day, tired of this hidden hostility growing on his premises, Amitabh opted to make the move. He stood outside the door of one of his senior colleagues, Gangadhar. He had joined the company on the very first day after having worked elsewhere for nearly thirty years. He was mature and never left his limits while conducting himself in professional life. So, when Amitabh presented his apprehensions to Gangadhar, the senior executive nodded slowly and asked his wife for coffee. And then he started speaking slowly:
“Look Sir, the matters are both, serious and not serious. If we take proper steps, we can sort out things quickly. But if we delay, then no one would promise much positive outcome.
“Our company is already 5 years old and is doing well in the marketplace. Our profits have soared and everybody knows this. But the problem is that everybody has a will to grow and do better. This desire is not being fulfilled in our company,” Gangadhar said and waited for Amitabh’s response.
“Why do they feel like this?”, asked Amitabh exasperatedly. “In fact, I have offered them the best of salaries when they came in at the start of the enterprise. In fact, our working conditions are the best in the industry. Then, why should they feel that they are being rewarded inadequately? I know them all personally. I talk to each every day personally. And still they feel that they are not growing! I am surprised!,” he added.
Gangadhar nodded in agreement. He said, “Sir, I understand what you feel. But there is something you must know. I am not talking about myself, but about everybody. You may exclude me when you give a thought to what I am going to say, but please take me seriously.”
Amitabh gave Gangadhar the nod and the senior man started: “Sir, all of us have been earning the same salaries for the past five years. No raise. No additional income. Things are getting more expensive. For what we could manage in Rs. 100 five years ago now needs Rs. 500. So, everybody faces a crunch. Moreover, when the income grows, one gets a sense of growth. That is not coming to us in our company with which most of us are linked from the start. We are not looking for exactly more money, but we are looking for signals of growth. Please understand this, Sir.”
Amitabh really understood. He did not have any intention of squeezing more work from anybody for less money. But in the rush of things and managing a growing company, he had missed the critical point. He felt sad.
In a few days, Amitabh called a general meeting of staff. And to that gathering he said, “Friends, I have called all of you together for an important announcement. But before I do that, I want to apologise to all of you. I am sorry that I did not give a thought to enhancing your incomes even when our company was growing. That happened not because I did not wish to do that, but because the adrenaline of working made me forget certain fine things of life as an organisation. But today, I am announcing a new salary structure that would promise everyone a common raised basic salary, and subsequent corresponding increases. This is only a beginning. From now, every year, every employee of our company would get certain bonuses linked to our growth. These bonuses would be different from the annual increment. I want all of you to understand that we are part of the same large family and I want everybody to be happy.”
For a moment, the meeting got clad in silence after Amitabh finished. hen all exploded into a big applause.
And then Amitabh did something none had imagined. He called Gangadhar up front, and touched his feet. He then said, “This man opened my eyes. I thank him. And, I also elevate him as General manager in addition to the incumbent GM who is doing a great job.”
This real-life story, with names changed, offers a good example how a living organisation works.