Selection rites

Head of Operations to Head of HR : We have a Senior Manager position vacant that we need to fill. It has become available because of the retirement of Peter, who was in that role for a long time. Traditionally, whenever the position of a Senior Manager becomes available, the longest-serving Manager, subject to meeting a minimum performance standard in the last annual appraisal, gets the job and a promotion to Senior Manager.

Head of HR : OK. So we can follow the same process again.

Head of Operations : I would obviously want to follow the process, as it saves me the headache of going through a full round of assessments. But there is a problem.

HR Head : Problem ? I am not quite sure I understand. Can you please elaborate.

Head of Operations : The person eligible on this occasion is Tim. Unfortunately I am facing some serious performance issues with him.

Head of HR : You are again talking in riddles. If there was a performance issue he should have been part of the list of employees who we have placed on the watch-list and are closely performance-managing.

Head of Operations, scratching his head and speaking in a lowered tone : The problem with him is that he is an outstanding performer. If he keeps performing this way he will soon overtake us and become our boss.

Head of HR, with face lighting up as the realisation dawns : Ah ! I think I get the drift now. In fact, now that I think back, I have heard murmurs about his performance in the past.

Head of Operations : You see what I mean.

Head of HR : It will be a shame, if we ever let it happen. So very different from Peter, who was as fine an example of a dedicated employee as one could hope to get in one’s team, and who we were never scared will make rapid strides in his career, leaving us behind. You could trust him. Yes sir, trust him blindly. Not a word would come out of him if his boss told him to do something, even if it was blatantly against company policy or interest. And he never had the brains to think about issues like fairness, equality, justice, etc. They don’t make them like Peter any more, do they ?

Head of Operations : I agree. And do you know that despite being repeatedly thwarted and passed over, blatantly unfairly at times in favour of less deserving people, he remained committed as ever till the end.

Head of HR : Not qualities today’s generation can boast of. To tell you a secret, I am looking forward to my own retirement. I just cannot handle working with these smart, aggressive, knowledgeable youngsters you get these days. They are not scared of taking decisions. They do not hesitate a moment while talking to seniors. On most occasions they can work independently. It is becoming difficult to run a business.

Head of Operations : You are right. By the way, you said you have heard some murmurs about Tim’s performance. Can you tell me what you meant.

Head of HR : That he will not obey orders unless he is convinced about the usefulness of the task. That he will work for the good of the company and not his boss.

Head of Operations : That is quite true.

Head of HR : And that he carries opinions on issues like working conditions, equality and fairness. He took up cudgels on behalf of his team-members when we were trying to increase work-hours without prior information. 

Head of Operations : How will we be able to run business in this manner if team-members keep thinking and taking views on decisions ?

Head of HR : I see your point.

Head of Operations : So what do we do then ?

Head of HR : I think it is fair to conclude that he is mature, responsible, competent, and hence thoroughly unfit for the position. We need to look at other candidates.

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12 thoughts on “Selection rites

    • Thanks for commenting Vaibhav. I am trying to highlight the fears and insecurities of people in decision-making roles that can lead to sub-optimal decision making. Hopefully, for people best with such fears, realisation might dawn while reading these pieces.

  1. Although I am positive your scenario does in deed take place often, my own experience is the opposite.
    I have hired new engineers straight from college who have gone on the become my superiors. In one case the man became the President of the company. In each case the company advanced.
    People with talent become recognized within an organization regardless of the attitudes of others working around them. Eventually they prevail and move up, or they move out and move up.
    Thanks for a good thought provoking post.

    • Thanks Grumpa. Some people, at least in my experience, do have these insecurities. However, as you rightly pointed out, a deserving person will get his due, regardless of insecure decision-makers out to prevent him from getting it.

  2. Feel a sense of Deja Vu if thats the word when i read quote “That he will not obey orders unless he is convinced about the usefulness of the task. That he will work for the good of the company and not his boss.”
    apologies to my boss including EX’s

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