Sunday, November 3, 2013

Workplace Wisdom VII..When the rot starts from the top

 CONTRARY to popular belief, most people don’t look for just a job and a salary. They look for something beyond that – growth and perhaps one day, the pinnacle of the pyramid.  Each morning is a step closer to the realization of this dream.  “I will do something for my organization today”.  Is the resolve of an employee as he mops his forehead and enters the portals of the office.  Many office workers even humbly prostrate at the threshold and it is common to see employees, be they workers or managers – put up a picture of their favorite deity in their work place.  All this affirms the fact that people go to work with a sense of purpose which goes beyond just eking out a living.
 The tragedy of it is how many retain this attitude?  How long does this enthusiasm last?  How far does their patience stretch?  Why are there so many disgruntled employees and dissatisfied employees and dissatisfied employers?  Where does the cream sour and why?  Somewhere, sometime, the employee changes gears and toes into neutral from top. Who is to be blamed for this?  The rot sets in from above. Someone at the top does not care and this trickles down all the way.  In many cases, there is a tremendous gap between the Big Boss (BB) and the underlings.  The BB operates from an ivory tower, surrounded by his caucus – people who play his tune – thus putting a barrier between what actually happens in his office and himself.  He gets a filtered version of the activities of the people outside his sanctorum from his chosen men and this very often is peppered with personal biases and prejudices.
Having alienated himself, BB gets busy planning the organization’s growth five years hence, totally ignoring the erosion occurring at present. The style is soon adopted by the smaller bosses too.  They are more interested in tuning up their instruments to please the BB, leaving the staff under them to ‘use their own initiative’ and work.  Fair enough, if in practice this is allowed.  But what happens is that at every step, to show his clout, the immediate boss wants to have a say and above him, the BB wants to keep all the reins to himself.
 There is no delegation of authority – only an ad-hoc dispersal of responsibility.  ‘The BB wants it this way’ is the motto of the organization and everyone is supposed to come to heel.  As for the BB, he has so many things on his plate that he has no time to concentrate on any one item. So sanctions are delayed, decisions are kept pending and the frustrations continue to pile up.  ‘Give the BB what he wants’ is the indifferent approach that creeps in and gradually, initiative is laid to rest.  Cynicism takes over and the rot spreads.  Setting the organization right is not the solution to this problem.  Only one person needs to change his ways – the BB.
He must come down to earth, take his eyes off the balance sheet and look around. He must mix with the people working with him he must have time for their professional growth. He must not become insular to their aspirations.  Once he shows he cares, his attitude will travel via the company conveyor belt to everyone – even the office peons.  Just because the company is totting up its profit figures, the BB cannot get away with ignoring the people whose combined work has

generated those figures in the first place.  In the long run, the motivated tea boy is more of an asset to the organization than money -minded BB who saps the enthusiasm of his juniors.