Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Slice of Work #2 — Of All the Things You Build, You Build People

She was a confident lady, if I have seen one—this AK. Articulate and professional. She had everything in her to be successful. I met her after she joined, and this was many years ago.

AK worked for a tough boss who was on my team, a no non-sense kind of guy. Rough around the edges, result oriented. On and off I used to tell him to relax and smell the roses, when he found time, that is. He was a bit of a maverick and his clients loved him. Am not sure if he made a good boss though. AK was not his favorite. She was all at sea with this guy. Time passed and it was time for the Year-end performance Reviews.

I opened my inbox early morning and was surprised to see the resignation mail of AK. This was a bolt from the blue! I pushed aside all things and asked for her to see me. She was adamant about quitting. She was rated as ‘Unsatisfactory,’ and that had hurt her to the quick. She was leaving as she felt unappreciated and this rating bothered her considerably. I gently asked if she had a job given that it was difficult times of the downturn. The ego in her response startled me. I approached my neighbor VG, a colleague and a wise man and sought his help to talk her out of her resignation. I would feel sad to see such a person leave us.

VG was a good man. He said it was an uphill task to retrieve the situation. He then started a long conversation with her. Somewhere in the discussions, he asked if she wished to be successful and be a ‘top rater’ again and her eyes shone. I knew that the ice was broken. VG said that it would be great to prove to us that she was indeed of such mettle and that she should take up the challenge. She relented. VG then took it upon himself to build her confidence back. He spent hours with her over many months. Listening to her, coaching her, mentoring her. A year passed and it was time for the dreaded Year-Ends again. VG and I excused ourselves from the process of evaluation as we would have undue influence over it.

When the results were at my desk, I was not surprised. AK stood tall as a top rater. It was a unanimous choice of the elders who did the consensus meetings on rating of performance. She had an outstanding year. A week later she came to meet us. I could see that she was in tears—tears of joy. She had found her edge and her confidence. And her life. It is then I learnt that: Of the many things you build, the one of lasting value, is building people. And I hugged VG, her coach and mentor.