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Some secrets of management

A colonel went round the regimental lines after taking charge. A subedar major accompanied him. When he came to the open area, he saw a few brinjal plants. He was quite impressed by the kitchen garden. He told the junior commissioned officer, “The brinjals look good. Must be quite tasty.”

“Excellent, sir. We eat them in the JCOs’ mess; they are very tasty.”

“Please send some to the Officers’ Mess.”

The following day, the colonel, who was the regiment commander, told the JCO the brinjals tasted no good. Upon which the JCO responded: “They are not good at all, sir; nobody eats them.”

The colonel laughed and asked him why he had told him the previous day that they were quite tasty and that everybody ate them.

The JCO stood to attention, saluted and stated in all earnestness: “Sir, as a soldier with more than 20 years of service, I am trained to respect and obey the commander. My personal views are not important. Your views only count. I serve you sir, not the brinjals.”

Not only in the Army but in virtually all professions and services, public or private, employees know which side of the bread is buttered. One of my colleagues had a sheet of paper on his table in front of him under the glass top, with three golden principles printed in big letters on it. 1. The Boss is right. 2. The Boss is always right. 3. In case of doubt, refer the first principle.

‘Bright’ persons who climb up the ladder fast, not only comply with what the boss says, but try to guess and act in accordance with what the boss may have in his mind. They ascertain the mood and thinking of the boss from those close to him and then make their submissions. Still brighter people go a step further and cultivate the hobbies and tastes of the boss. If the boss is interested in Carnatic music, they discuss ragas and talas with him, even if they consider classical music to be boring. If he plays Sudoku in office, they give a tip or two when needed. If he is interested in yoga, they narrate the benefits accruing from sheershasana.

There was an interesting cartoon in an Indian language daily. A politician stocks in his house, the caps, shirts, upper cloth and flags of all the main parties. He shifts his loyalty to the winning party, donning the appropriate gear. That is the surest way to protect all his possessions, acquired legitimately or otherwise, and cover up his acts of omission and commission. Apart from securing his own interests, it will help his kith and kin too to climb up the political and social ladder. After all, the quid pro quo system operates in all spheres. Naive adherence to bookish principles and values is of no use in the real world.

The politicians survive on power and their gymnastics are quite understandable. But even well-paid employees in all careers and professions tend to bend and mend the rules, regulations and even their conscience to please the higher-ups. Particularly those appointed to serve in high positions by the government of the day, feel beholden to the party or individual responsible for his or her elevated position. They go a step or two beyond what the boss wants them to take. When asked to bend they crawl, as one political leader said. After all, who is not interested in promotions, recognition, upward movement of family and friends, and post-retirement benefits? Most important of all, a few more bucks are always welcome.

Sometimes even otherwise deserving people have to resort to such methods when the competition is severe. It is necessary for everyone to master the skills of ‘managing’. Some have shown a very high level of expertise in methods of buttering up the boss. They take care of ‘small things’ like dropping the boss’ children at school or college, sometimes even helping with homework, getting certificates, licences and so on, without the boss having to spend his time on such mundane tasks. Some others take care of bigger things like getting the boss his choice evening drink and inviting him to parties at home or at the club. Some even go a step further and keep a direct link with madam, replenish stocks in the kitchen and help her in other ways. Invariably the news reaches the boss and their efforts will be rewarded. After all, it is believed that even the gods favour those who make offerings to them.

Here is just a glimpse of what can be achieved through proper management of the bosses — call it ‘yesmanship’, ‘toadyism’ or whatever. There are beyond doubt several ‘talented’ people with higher knowledge in these techniques. People brand them as ‘go-getters’ and they are capable of achieving what ordinary people consider to be impossible.

It is high time some enterprising business school, management institute or university took up a project to study, research and codify all the skills and techniques adopted by the highly ‘successful’ people in various fields. It will help many ‘ignoramuses’ who waste time and money consulting astrologers and performing special pujas to ward off the ‘malefic’ grahas. They do not have to curse their fate or god if they miss the bus because of the lack of appropriate skills.

d.h.rao38@gmail.com


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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 2:20:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/some-secrets-of-management/article26967986.ece

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