Logical argument wins the day, and ends the discussion


Department Manager to his boss, the Senior Manager : Sir, I have studied the financial statement in detail. Our biggest cost is employee cost, which is obvious as we are in the services business. Almost all the employee cost is committed cost, which is written into the hiring contract of employees. The only discretionary expense, if I can call it that, is that of Transport, which we provide to everyone. That is not a part of the contractual terms. However, to save cost, if we take away the Transport facility, it could result in a huge backlash from employees as providing Transport is the norm in our industry. I don’t think there is any opportunity of reducing the employee cost.

Senior Manager to Department Manager : But we are one of the leaders in this industry (even though there are twenty other companies larger than us and growing faster we will ignore that fact). We have to set the pace for the industry. Others look up to us (I don’t believe this but am saying it for effect) to set standards and introduce the revolutionary new ideas that they can follow. Rest assured, what we do today will be replicated across the industry tomorrow. Have no fear. Implement the decision to withdraw Transport.

A few weeks later

Department Manager to the Senior Manager : Sir, our operations are seriously jeopardised on account of staff shortage. People are resigning and leaving in droves. And those who have not left are not turning up for work. We have no choice but to reinstate the Transport facility.

Senior Manager to Department Manager : This is total mismanagement. Why did you withdraw the facility without taking employee feedback ?

Department Manager to the Senior Manager : But, sir, you…

Senior Manager to Department Manager : No ifs and buts. Reinstate the facility immediately and apologise to them for your hasty and ill-timed action.

Two months later

Department Manager to Senior Manager : Sir, while the high attrition of two months back is coming down, it is still quite high. I have a suggestion for cost reduction. Instead of hiring graduates, we should hire under-graduates. They will be available for a lower salary. We can provide a little bit of training to make them ready. The additional cost of providing training will be more than offset by the saving on salary within three months.

Senior Manager to Department Manager : Hmmm. Worth considering. What are the attrition trends from this group in the industry ?

Department Manager to Senior Manager : No data available sir. This is a revolutionary new idea. Nobody in the industry has implemented it.

Senior Manager to Department Manager : Don’t be foolish, if it was such a good idea someone would surely have tried it by now.

Department Manager to Senior Manager : But sir, you said we are the leaders in the industry and….

Senior Manager to Department Manager : Shut up and go away.

For Your Own Good – Withdrawal of Transport Facility

Keeping your welfare in mind, the company has decided to withdraw the Transport facility of pick-up from home in the morning and drop back home in the evening that has so far been provided to all employees.

It has been noticed that obesity amongst employees is on the increase and has been causing intermittent health issues with a resultant impact on productivity.

Upon withdrawal of the Transport facility it is expected that employees will now have to walk to the nearest metro station, or stand in the sun and sweat while flagging down a Taxi, or drive to work. It is expected that these exertions will create a salutary impact on employee health. This will, at once, translate into less time off and improved productivity, allowing you to put yourself in a better position for taking on higher responsibilities when the time comes.

Not only that, lesser ailments means lesser strain on the nation’s medical infrastructure which, if you connect the dots, will indirectly benefit you through a lower requirement of tax contribution (there was an additional phrase after “tax contribution” in the original draft of the Circular but later deleted from the final version : “which is likely to happen only in the next generation”).

Hence, as you can see, we have only your welfare at heart in taking this decision. Not only are you more likely to get promoted, your tax contribution is also likely to come down. This has not been done either to reduce costs or increase the Bonus payout for the Directors because of improved profitability.

We are certain you will support the company’s policies, as you have always done in the past. As such, we have not wasted time in trying to get feedback, and instead have implemented it with immediate effect so that you can start reaping the benefits right away.

Important Jobs in the World

If someone runs about helter-skelter as if in a daze, is often rude to his colleagues and disrespectful to juniors, is unable to give time to or fulfil commitments towards near and dear ones, has no personal interests, has no identity other than as an employee of the company he works for, repeatedly stresses on how important his job is, it is highly likely that he does one of the following important jobs :

1. He sells coloured, sugar-water, often low on nutrition and high on calories.

2. He trades in third-world debt or some other arcane financial product that 99.99% of the world’s population has neither heard about nor cares about.

3. He conceptualises, develops and markets a new, super, improved quality of washing powder every three months which replaces what was new, super, improved three months back.

4. He “consults”; that is to say, he tells other people how they should be doing their business, without having any experience in that line of business, and without any responsibility for the consequences of implementing his recommendations.

It is almost certain that he is not one to waste his life engaged in any of the following :

1. Growing food for the teeming, hungry billions.

2. Educating the downtrodden and underprivileged and giving them a chance to get out of debilitating poverty and deprivation.

3. Curing people of their crippling and often fatal diseases.

4. Inventing and creating new technologies to improve the lot of fellow humans.

My Way or the highway

Morning conversation

HR Manager to New Employee : Welcome to The Fictitious Company Ltd. We are glad to have you on board. We hope that we have a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship. Here is your Employment Letter. You will need to sign a copy and return as an acknowledgement of acceptance of the Job Offer.

New Employee : Thank you. I look forward to working here. I assure you I will put in my best. Please give me a few minutes to read the letter and sign and return a copy.

HR Manager : What a strange young man you are ! You want to read the letter before you sign and accept the terms. This is a standard letter which we issue to all new hires. Are you suggesting that I, the HR Manager of the company, have the time to make changes to individual letters ? Nobody else has had a problem signing it. You think you are special ?

New Employee : Not at all sir. But I would still like to understand all the terms and conditions so that I can ensure that I can abide by them.

HR Manager : Suit yourself. As you know I am a very important person with very important things to do. If you want to read the letter you can take it with you and come back and see me in the evening.

Evening Conversation

New Employee : Sir, there is a mention about a “scope of work” and the letter says it is attached. I don’t find it attached. Can I please have a copy of the “scope of work”.

HR Manager : We don’t give out copies of “scope of work”. Your “scope of work” will be briefed to you by your Manager.

New Employee : Very well sir. In that case, I request you to remove this line from the letter since, by signing it, it would mean that I have seen it and accepted it.

HR Manager : Now listen young fellow! You are being unreasonable. We cannot take it out of the letter as it is a Corporate Policy that has been laid down by the top management. I have no authority to take it out. If I take it out I will be violating Corporate Policy.

New Employee : I assume that putting this line in the letter and not actually giving it out does not violate Corporate Policy. In any case, if you cannot take the line out, please give me a copy of the “scope of work”.

HR Manager : But I don’t have a “scope of work” to give you.

New Employee : Then please remove this line from the letter.

This “endless loop” continued endlessly. Finally, exasperated, the HR Manager said : Leave this with me. Let me see what I can do. I will call you soon.

Next day

Of course we all know that the HR Manager never made that call. Instead, the company hired another young individual who was willing to accept the letter stating “scope of work enclosed” without it actually being.

Demonstration of commitment

Faced with a choice between “demonstrating” commitment to my job and leading a healthy and balanced life, I have chosen the former, i.e.
I am ready to sacrifice health in service of employer and work. In order that my supreme sacrifice does not go waste, I am making an effort to get my employer to notice this by complaining about late nights, insomnia and work-pressure. That way, I can expect recognition from my employer and also a suitable reward for the same (ignoring health in the line of duty). I can do this through one or more of the following ruses :

  • Keeping a packet of harmless placebos in my pocket at all times and popping one each time my boss is watching, followed by a slight lurch
    to one side and grasping the nearest piece of furniture for support. When the boss asks what the matter is, I can mysteriously say “work pressure” and zip up. On further prodding I will only say “don’t worry boss, I can handle it” in the manner of the strong, silent cowboy who manfully bears all burdens of his boss.
  • Each time I need to see my boss I must be chewing vigorously on a strong smelling candy, especially one which smokers are known to use to suppress the tobacco smell. I must proceed to offer him one, out of courtesy of course, and then, as if a realisation has dawned, pull back the offered candy just as his hand was reaching out for one, and apologise for not remembering that he does not smoke. This must be followed by a comment to the effect “I wish I had your will-power sir. Because of the pressure of work I end up smoking more than a pack a day. But you, with even greater responsibility and pressure, are able to resist the temptation. I wish I could learn from you”.
  • Making sure that I send out an inconsequential mail to my boss just before I leave office, even if it is to forward stale jokes. It would help to keep handy a bunch of stale motivational emails that get forwarded from time to time. Better a stale motivational email than a stale joke email for your boss. This mail should ideally be sent after he has left for the day. My consistent late departure from office will thus be imprinted on my boss’ mind.