When Urmila joined the company, she was fresh graduate from a B-school and brimming with ideas. She seemed to know accurately what she wanted from the job. “Self actualisation is my goal”, she had written in the application she wrote for the job. The people on the interview board were amused. They liked her statement, but wanted to know more. How would she achieve that? – they asked. And she said simply, “I would achieve my goal by doing everything ‘in time’. No dilly-dally, and no delays.” She got the job, and also a respectable position of a section-head. She had twenty people working with her.
Right on the first day before she sat down at her table, she went to everybody’s work station and spent a few minutes with each member of the team. Then she returned to her desk, sat down, and took out from her bag a small poster on a stand. She placed that stand on her table and smiled. The poster was hand-made and home-made, and on it she had written in her own hand just two words: ‘In time’. Then Urmila started her work. For the next 8-9 hours, she was doing something or the other and rarely lifted her head, except at lunch time. At 6 p.m., she left for home. During the day, she did talk to others for a few minutes, but got back to work quickly.
“She is new here and does not have many friends. So, with whom would she talk? In a few days, she would fall in line and mix with all of us. She seems to be a happy person and smiles all the time. But I did not understand what the two words on the poster meant – In Time. Funny!,’ a young woman in her section said. Everybody agreed.
But everybody was wrong.
For, Urmila kept a busy schedule. She led the section with aplomb. She set goals for the sections and every individual member. She motivated them on and on to do not just well but better than just well. She mixed with colleagues. She joined them during lunch time or coffee breaks. She even went to picnic with her colleagues. And wherever she went, Urmila created an atmosphere of goodness. When some people tended to gossip, indulged in loose talk, Urmila would smile and then get back to work.
And she did a lot of work. Every evening, she drew up her work plan for the next day, and stuck to that plan no matter what. For, being on time would mean a lot to her. “When I fulfil my task in time and well, then I get that early sensation,” Urmila told her colleagues once.
Soon, Urmila became famous in the company for her ‘In time’ conduct at work. Because she managed her time well, she could do things ‘In time’. Her strike rate was high and yet she seemed to have a lot of free time to do things that would enhance her abilities or her friendships.
Slowly, others in the company realised the importance of being ‘In time’. And they also realised that what Urmila did was not just time-management, but also management of her attitudes. ‘In time’ also represented her overall approach to work and life. For, her section got the ‘Best Section’ award for the first time. Her projects also got various awards and citations. And as achievements poured in, the members of Urmila’s team felt proud of themselves.
“This was what I was talking about when I joined – self-actualisation,” Urmila told the company President at an annual gathering. That phrase has a simple yet complex meaning. When I love the work I do and I take the work as a reward, I am only actualising myself,” she added.
The President agreed. And then he did something that surprised all, and made Urmila happy. He declared in his speech, “Look friends, I am declaring our company’s motto: ‘In Time’. We are going to follow it to the hilt. Cheers.”