“Beyond job-specification” – 02 April 2013
An inevitable family situation forced Kapil to abandon a lucrative career in a metro and return to his home town and seek a job in a fairly large local manufacturing company. His pay was good and job- description comfortable, in the sense Kapil did not have to stretch himself too much to achieve daily or weekly or monthly goals. Having worked in a leading corporate in a totally professional set-up, Kapil found things rather different, and therefore difficult, in the new place. In his old company, job- description was a sacred contract which nobody violated. Here, nobody, including the bosses, seemed to be bothered about job-description or specification. Anybody could do anybody’s job, and there were many small fights every day in the whole workplace. Yet, the company was highly successful and was way ahead of the competition in the regional market. Despite this, Kapil found things rather difficult, thanks to his old corporate habits and culture.
The difficulty was compounded when Kapil complained to the big boss that one guy was indulging regularly in poaching on his tasks. “He does a lot of my work, and I do not know how to stop him,” he complained. The big boss smiled and said, “In that case, you should thank the guy; he is making your work easier.”
This philosophy was beyond Kapil’s comprehension. How can that be? – he wondered, to himself and aloud. Others only smiled, and got going about their respective tasks. But one day, Kapil got fed up and sought the advice of a Senior General Manager who had been with the company for over three decades. On the verge of retirement, the old man said, “Look young man, the culture here is different. This is a very large family where everybody is entitled to do anybody’s task. We do not mind somebody doing things for us. You also will have to get used to this style.”
“How can that be?”, Kapil asked in righteous indignation. “After all, if someone else does my work, what will I do? And by the way, why should he want to do my job?”, he asked in complete irritation. The old man smiled again. “Look Kapil, you should realise that here, there would be many people who would want to help you because may be they love you, or maybe they feel that you are doing a good job and they should help you, or maybe they like the task you are assigned and hate their own! There could be umpteen reasons, but this is how this place works.”
This conversation explained things to Kapil somewhat. He realised that the company was far away from corporate influences and still was doing well because it had created a management culture of its own. This thought helped Kapil to calm down and start looking positively at what was happening around him in the company. He realised that that was a happy place. People joked about one another, even had bitter fights, or even complained to the management how someone was playing foul etc. Yet, it was a happy place, and Kapil started liking it. What followed was simply amazing. Kapil took a head-long plunge into the work and started leaving behind his influence almost everywhere. He was barely a year old in the company and the bosses recognised his contribution as important and promoted him. There were one or two grimaced faces upon knowing about Kapil’s promotion, but most others were happy. Kapil was already on his way up.
And then came an opportunity to visit Mumbai for a trade conference. There, Kapil met some of his old colleagues who were pleasantly surprised to see Kapil’s progress. The fellow’s face was shining with success and he seemed a happier guy. One or two of Kapil’s old colleagues criticised his new company when he told them how things worked. But Kapil was not bothered; he knew, he was doing well for himself in a happy place.
At the conference, a nationally known management guru gave a lecture on different management styles. He said, “Every style has its own plus points. There is a big world of business beyond the corporate parameters. Corporate India could learn a thing or two about fine points of great management from those companies…”
Kapil knew. He had learnt the right things in a right manner in his new company.