Let’s learn to make do without them – June 15 2010

Here is a real-life story about work behaviour told by the chief of a very large Government organisation in control of a city. He was a frustrated man for obvious reasons. When will they be serious about their work, he asked in sheer disgust as he narrated the story:

The Government had transferred to his area of jurisdiction as many as seven senior officials to take charge of their respective divisions. The persons in charge of those divisions had been sent out to other areas, and the new persons were awaited to take over one day around noon.

This chief of the organisation waited for them so that he could induct them into the system, introduce them to other officials, and then move on to assign their specific areas of work. The guys did not turn up until evening, and there was no word about their arrival. And when the frustrated chief was about to leave, two of them sauntered into his office around seven in the evening, greeted him, sat down casually in the chair opposite his, and looked at him expectantly to know what their new assignments were. Not word of apology, no remorse, no regret that there was something amiss on their part.

Of course, other five guys, too, arrived, but the next day. Again, not a word of apology, no remorse, no regret.

The chief was askance, not knowing how to react or respond to such behaviour at work. He decided not to make an issue out of this because he is an experienced man; he knows by now that in the Government, such things do happen and one cannot do anything about them.

Here is another similar story, but from a private sector organisation. In this very large organisation, three guys were hired to assist him in a high-profile project. They were supposed to join duty on specific day at a specific hour so that the chief could brief them about the task.

One came, and two did not. They came the next day, apologised duly, but their faces showed no remorse. The project got started and the two ‘Late Latifs’ started demonstrating casualness at every step of the way.

The project started getting bogged down due to their approach, and the chief did not know what to do with the two guys. He tried to counsel them, treat them to small reprimands, but to no avail.

‘They are not serious about their work’, he said sadly one day, and advised his HR department to show them the door.

Why does this happen in the first place? Research shows that such guys are really not serious about their life, let alone their careers. They do not apply themselves seriously to anything in life, let alone the tasks in the workplace.

Such patterns of behaviour are acquired in one’s early years of life. Perhaps, such persons come from homes that do not have the culture of attaching seriousness to anything in life – habits, studies, dressing, eating, exercising, social behaviour, personal conduct, sense of grace and dignity…!

I can also assume that such persons go to schools that attach not much importance to seriousness to things in life. Because this is the case, one cannot much do about such persons – counselling helps marginally if they can be motivated to improve, but no amount of reprimand makes any difference. HR professionals, therefore, are eternally worried about such lots. So, to cut the story short, the HR sections then suggest their sack: Let them go. Let them look for some place that will accept them and whose work culture will suit them. Very few companies work with a dedicated spirit of excellence anyway, the rest are mediocre in nature and work culture.

Most good CEOs will agree with me that the major burden of any organisation is borne by only ten to fifteen percent of the dedicated employees on whose steam it runs and the rest are passengers who are no better than dead weight! What a pity.

Published in The Hitavada Future – 15 June 2010

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