Posts Tagged ‘Performance’

Source: Subramanian Krishnamurthy


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vide Subramanian Krishnamurthy and Ranganathan Narasimhan


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Don’t miss the last few seconds – relate to it?



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quotes-910 (1)


Source: dumpaday.com

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On reaching the airport he completed the check-in formalities and had an hour on hand before boarding announcement. He headed for the club, a special lounge offered by the airlines. As a frequent traveler, he was entitled to free admittance to the lounge.

He freshened himself up and settled down comfortably. A rack on the far side held newspapers of the day and some magazines. He picked up a magazine – he had already read the papers at home. The weekly was two-weeks old. A trifle irritated, he went for the monthly magazine on current affairs. Here again he had seen a more recent new issue with a magazine vendor.

He was not one of those guys to let the sleeping dogs sleep. He went up to the hostess in the lounge and drew her attention to the stack of dated magazines lying on the side-table.


The lady made a quick check and found it so.

She apologized to him and withdrew to her desk promising to take up the matter with the organizational function responsible for timely replenishment.

That was that. He resigned himself to reading advertisements, obituaries and reviews of some art shows.

In less than five minutes the hostess stood before him.

As he looked up, she handed him a stack of fresh magazines.

When his eye-brows arched up, she volunteered: ‘I bought them now, Sir.’

The magazines would have cost at least fifty rupees. He was certain she did not have the time to take it up with her back-office.

He was overcome with a sense of guilt: ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…you didn’t have to buy them out of your pocket.’

‘Don’t give it a thought, Sir. My company pays for it.’

Seeing a quizzical look on his face, she explained: ‘Sir, I’m allowed to spend up to fifty rupees a day for right reasons. This was one.’

This is a simple yet powerful story on enabling the (wo)man on the job to respond to unanticipated situations in the field towards an endearing outcome. It was shared with us as his personal experience by a senior executive – I cannot recall who it was – in an internal training program.

It is easy to imagine any number of scenes of a similar kind:

A staff in a shopping mall gives out a candy to distract a child throwing tantrums.

A cabbie takes a cut in the fare because of a detour made that his customer did not need.

A stores clerk taking in a return of goods when it could be argued both ways.

Etc. etc.

These acts are more commonly observed in operations that are not encumbered by thick policy books. This is not an argument against policy books. It’s just that a policy book must allow room for an employee to respond appropriately if the situation merits.

What about some corporate examples?

Lack of empowerment manifests in different flavors and is usually much more debilitating. That’s a story for another day.


Credit: openclipart.com(j4p4n)

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On a weekend a mirasdar (a big land-owner) went to his mango orchard accompanied by his son. The resident guard received them and conducted them around the numerous fruit-bearing trees in the orchard. At the end of it, the visitors rested in a hut and called on the guard to fetch some mangoes.

When the mangoes came, the mirasdar and his son feasted on the ripe, juicy and sweet fruits. Verily food of the gods.

They happily took leave and made to the second orchard nearby also owned by the mirasdar.

Here again, he ordered the guard working in this orchard to get some mangoes.

When the mangoes came, the mirasdar took one bite and rejected them: ‘These taste sour, get some sweet ones.’

The guard brought a second lot.

These too were set aside by the visitors as not sweet.

A few more rounds happened of the guard fetching the fruits and their rejection by the mirasdar.

Finally the mirasdar and his son got up to leave disappointed at not having had good mangoes.

The mirasdar pulled up the guard: ‘You’ve been working here now for over a year. Don’t you enough to identify trees with sweet fruits?’

The guard politely told him: ‘Sir, frankly, I’ve not tasted these fruits myself. I see you paying me to guard the orchard against pilferage of fruits and not for tasting them.’

The son drew himself up to admonish the guard, but was restrained by the mirasdar.

On their way back, the mirasdar asked the son who of the two guards should be given charge of the new orchard the mirasdar was buying.

The son’s choice was for the first guard who knew about his trees.

The mirasdar had a different view: ‘You see, the first guard knew which of those fruits were good. How do we know if he hasn’t taken bags of them for himself? Only a step away from tasting the fruits. On the other hand second guy was doing an honest job. We need people like him to work for us.’

OpenCA thinkingboy ryanlerch

This is an old story of wisdom that may not hold in present times.

Today the first guy would be the man of choice. He had knowledge of his trees. He would use it to take extra care of those trees bearing sweet fruits. Who knows – he might even hold those fruits separate from the other produce and recommend they be priced with a premium. Clearly he has enlarged his job for the mirasdar’s profit and hopefully his too. The gains of his empowerment and initiative far outweigh loss due to pilferage if any.

Admittedly a possibility, pilferage – the downside of empowerment, a far less problem, could be addressed by other means.

Winners secret sauce today is to find imaginatively newer ways of empowering those who are on the job, and the latter seizing the initiative to enlarge and enrich their jobs, of course with checks and balances against possible abuses.

This is an obvious corollary emerging from today’s reality – it is neither feasible nor wise to comprehensively anticipate every possible situation faced by one on the job and specify in advance responses for the same.

How often we forget every pair of hands comes with a head of their own! And unfortunately, more often than not, so do the hands.


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Credits: ryanlerch at openclipart.com

PS: This post was originally written for madgigs, a company implementing an interesting concept for both the professionals and the prospective employers. For more information, visit their site at madgigs.com/

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