Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Slice of Work #6 — A Rejected Job Offer & Integrity

This was many years ago, when I was a recruiting manager and I was asked to find a leader for a function based out of Delhi for an MNC that I was working for. It was a difficult assignment and I was really at my wits end, for the skills were rare in those days and my boss was looking for a strong-willed person. Finally, I found someone from Bangalore. He was an interesting person and warm and genuine.

The rounds of interviews grew longer and this was a good sign as any recruiter would know. We all loved him. Next, a job offer was to be made. And it was on terms that he did not have to argue about as it was a very generous one and he knew it. In those days, if you throw in a big car and a house it was a big deal. We also offered him admissions to the school of his choice for his children.

His wife and children went school hunting and things were settled. He was on, and life was good. He had resigned from his company and I was “keeping him warm” – an expression for making sure that we did not lose him to any other company after he resigned. Suddenly, out of the blue, the phone rang and my boss called me to his room. It was urgent, he said.

When I went to his room he showed me a letter. It was from the potential hire. He thanked us profusely and said that he was regretful that he would not take up our offer. Said that he decided to rescind our offer for family reasons. His father was unwell. He was most apologetic and said, he could never repay us for our efforts and for enormous goodness that he experienced. He added that he was enclosing a check for Rs. 30,000 to partly compensate for all our expenses incurred with his recruitment. And that it would never be a restitution for all what we have done for him.

My boss was a fine man. He wrote back to the person to say that he was most taken in with his uprightness and that he would wait for another three months, and of course not encash his cheque, etc. As expected, the man did not show up. But what showed up was his integrity and character. I could never forget the man. And he did give us some leads on who could be a suitable and ‘better’ person for the job. He stayed in touch with me, and each time he would start the conversation with an apology for wasting our time and energy. And I would wish there were more like him in this world.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Slice of Life #10 — Mother’s Pickle & Bottled-Up Emotions

This happened a long time ago. I always loved mother’s pickles, the lemon ones were just finger-licking good. My mother had packed a small bottle all packed and was in my cabin luggage, a small satchel. The airlines had introduced some serious checking at the airports, something new in those days. And I was not aware of it. In all ignorance I placed my bag on the scanner and the security guard at the other end stopped me and asked me what I had in the bag.

"My mother’s home made pickle," I said with a sense of pride. He looked at me and said in a rather rude way that I could not take it in my handbag. And I asked him what a pickle bottle could possibly do, and tried all my ways of persuasion. He did not budge. 'Put this into the checked in bag' he said. And I had nothing to check it in I pleaded. He was adamant, as he should be. The queue was getting backed up.

And then I started pleading with him, and did I look like a person who could do any harm. My words fell on deaf ears and he was getting irritated. Finally, in a rather sentimental way I gifted the bottle to him asking him not throw it into the waste bin. It was my mother’s gift to him I said. And quickly added that he would thank mother if he tasted it. He gave me a blank stare. Just then a smart young man in a white shirt asked me where I was going, walked to the guard said a few words, and took the carefully packed bottle.

It was the commander of the flight I was taking to Hyderabad and he said that he would take it with him for safekeeping. And would give it to me on landing. Upon landing, I was called out and the captain gave me the bottle. He had gone out of his way to do something extraordinary for me. I was touched. I looked into his kind eyes and thanked him profusely and asked him why he stepped out to do this for me. His eyes moistened and he said that he had lost his mother a week ago. ‘I know the value of love packed in a bottle of pickles’ he said. I hugged him, took the bottle and walked away, my eyes welling up with tears.

Happy Mothers Day!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Slice of Work #5 — Appraisals: Year-Ends and New Beginnings

It was one of those dreaded meetings. The very thought of getting to discuss appraisals with his new reporting manager was daunting. It had been not been the best of years, and Vasu knew it. But did not want to acknowledge it. The previous year was a great one for him. It was a long walk to the manager's cabin.

VG his manager shook hands with him and asked him to “take the chair.” It sounded ominous already. VG was gentle and invited him to speak about the high points of the year and what played to his strengths. VG kept nodding his head and was encouraging, And playing back his strengths to him. Not a trace of the dreaded word “but…”

VG summarized his accomplishments and asked him as to what he thought were things that could have been done better and asked, “How can I be of support to you? Vasu was in full flow now and held back nothing. He blurted out his failings. And VG said 'it is okay to have a setback and important to look ahead'.” And then the questions about what he wanted to do in his career and what he was good at. This was getting better!

VG, a well-respected man and had a sterling career of over 25 years. He broke into a monologue. Said that there would be some great years and some not so good ones. Difficult for anyone to have an outstanding year, year on year he said. Some ups and some downs were part of the journey.

It was most important to focus on becoming a better professional. And the years that were the down years, were the ones that taught him the most. Focus on the upward trajectory of personal growth. And as for compensation, it would follow you like your shadow, he added smilingly.
Made sense. Vasu felt much better and accepted that he had had a ‘modest’ year. And VG was not even focused on that. Vasu was looking at his mirror, but this mirror told him what he was capable of as well. His focus was clear, he would play to his strengths. He would be a better professional. The best. The ‘chair’ was only a seat after all. He walked out with a hope, an agenda and a smile spreading on his face.