In an organizational setup, one gets an opportunity to see and interact with all kinds of people.
Some are attention seekers and will do anything to be visible (sometimes even an irritating and ridiculous act);
Some are rebels (they always do what they are told not to do);
Some are hardworking and some are hardly the working kind of people;
Some are calm and many are very vocal about everything that they see, hear and feel;
Some always share their problems with whoever they meet in the office, and the rest are the frontrunners in giving free advice; so on and so forth.
And then there is this category of employees who do not miss any opportunity to flaunt their proximity with their bosses. Every time they start a discussion; it begins with one of the following:
“Boss has told me,”
“I have spoken to the manager.”
“I had a conversation with the boss.”
“Boss has asked me to get ______ from you.”
The first time I came across such scenario was during the time when I was working as Assistant Manager, having around six years of experience, and Vikram was my reporting manager. Vikram had a good rapport with many senior managers in the organization, better rapport than the Functional Head of our department. Primarily because he was associated with the organization for more than seven years while all others in the team, including the functional Head, were very new to the organization, less than three years. Whenever there was a discussion on any subject, he always used to begin with, “I had discussed this with the Boss” or “CEO Sir has asked me to get this done” or “VP Operations want you to do this.” Initially, I never countered or cross-checked but on many occasions, during our weekly meetings he reversed his stand and put the blame on the others. Later on, I began to cross-checking his every instruction with the concerned person or department head, and I realized that on many occasions, there was a huge communication gap. His conversation with theother person would always be different from his communication with me and the vice-versa. What the other person would like him to get done and what he communicated to me would always be different. Probably, by being working in the organization for so long, he was not able to connect with new team members in his department. To his team members he would feed with the wrong precedence; while to other department heads, he would feed about weaknesses of new team members in his team, including his reporting manager. He was well aware that he couldn’t be fired by his reporting manager due to his proximity to the CEO, CFO, and other functional heads.
On observing his behavior more closely, I realized that he had a sense of insecurity. He was of the opinion that if he wouldn’t do what he was doing and if he didn’t behave the way he did, he might lose his image. Probably he wasn’t aware that in his absence, people cribbed about him, bad mouth him and most gravely, used him as a tool to divide the team and the department for their benefit. He wasn’t trusted by anyone. He was used by everyone. And he lived in an illusion that department heads care for him and support him. If you don’t belong to your department, then you don’t belong to any other department. Loyalty starts from your house. When your seniors know that you are not a performer, they begin to use you as an informer to get information from other departments or to spread a rumour.
Four years later I came across another such person, Divya. However, this time, I was more prepared because of previous encounter. She was my colleague, heading another department. On the first occasion, someone from her department applied for leave, and she directed that person to me. I said to that individual that as per the company and HR policies, he could take the leave; however, HR was not authorised to approve his leave. His leave needed to be approved by the concerned department head, responsible for his deliverables and project deadlines. Later on, Divya came to me to tell that she didn’t want to approve the leave of this person. However, she did not want to communicate it to the concerned person but rather wanted HR to deliver it to him. The reason that she gave was she didnot want to spoil her relations with her team-members. She was planning to build her own team and inculcating team spirit at the cost of HR. Maybe that was her way of working and that’s how she might have worked in the past. However, sometimes we happen to meet someone who is able to push us back. After this case, every time she would approach me, her communication began with, “I have already spoken to the CEO and CTO” or “CEO has asked me to inform you that”, etc. I informed our CEO that this lady is using his name to get the work done. The CEO asked to cross-check with him every time Divya approaches me for any work. It helped me a lot.
As I grew in my career, I realized that the best way to handle such people was to make them accountable for everything that they say. In pre-economic reform era, companies had used memos to ensure proper flow of information and to enforce accountability. In an age when emails are primary mode of communication, it becomes a norm to not to accept any verbal or oral instructions or directions. If anyone comes and says that XYZ has asked him or her to get something from you or to direct you to do some work for him or her, just ask that person to drop-in an email with a copy to the concerned person. It has been observed that whenever you ask someone to send an email or ask them to give it in writing and make them answerable, many of them change their mind. Very often, people want to take a free bite and use the name of a senior and an influential person to get their work done. They want you to do the job for them and they take the credit for the work done by you.
It has been observed that those who use the name of their influential and fearsome seniors to get their jobs done are usually incompetent and indecisive people. They are non-performers, and they have a sense of insecurity. They feel insecure about their job, and losing their reputation. They do not want to be held accountable and answerable for any of their decision or act; however, if the action gets a favourable response, they want to take credit for their initiatives, foresight, and the success. Such people do not grow in their career and definitely, cannot be an Entrepreneur or SBU Head or Member of Board. Boards need performers with a track record of outstanding performance, decision makers and risk takers to head major business units and profit centres.
As a Principal Consultant, Sanjeev is credited with pioneering best practice HR systems and processes for clients. As a Talent Strategist, Sanjeev partners with organizations hiring managers to find, select, and hire top talent which provides a foundation for organization’s future growth
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