T’s campaign against the HR head found an excellent avenue.
The HR head had embarked on a “job evaluation” exercise.
As anyone with any sense knows, if you do such an exercise the following will happen:
- 80% of the staff will remain in their current job grades, and they won’t care.
- 10% of the staff will be unhappy because their jobs will be down-graded.
- 10% of the Staff will be happy because their jobs would be up-graded.
Alas, with T in action, a few amongst the “happy” 10% became unhappy!!
There was a harmless middle-aged Sri Lankan fellow who had been working for over a decade in the bank. He had joined in Grade 5, and had remained in Grade 5 throughout. He was content with his mundane job and with his family - wife and two children.
This poor fellow was delighted to find that his job had been up-graded from Grade 5 to Grade 7, as a result of which his salary had shot up by 80%. In the resultant euphoria he sent a message to T to thank him for the up-gradation.
T terminated him immediately.
His “clear” logic was: I know this chap. He is not Grade 7 material. If the job is really Grade 7, I will find a person with Grade 7 ability. In any case, I must terminate him.
In vain did this poor employee plead to have his up-gradation cancelled, and his job reverted to Grade 5 where he could continue instead of being terminated.
T did have a covert logic, too.
Terminating this employee was a show-piece of the failure of the “job evaluation” exercise carried out by the HR head.
T did achieve his objective – terminating the HR head.
On the way to achieving this purpose T also terminated an innocent employee and did great harm to his family.
Did T care?
Taking on T
Dinesh was senior to me, both in age and rank. He was the head of investments reporting to the MD, not to T. However, being a corporate survivor and skilled at boss management, he made sure that he kept himself on the right side of T. He had seen what T had done to other direct reports of the MD whom he hadn’t liked.
I had very little to do with Dinesh as far as work was concerned. Our interaction was limited to a hello and a smile. So it was a bit of a surprise to me when one morning, about two months after I had begun to work directly under T, Dinesh suddenly walked into my office.
After some preliminary niceties he came to the point.
“I hear some good news is coming your way,” he said.
“T had a chat with me yesterday. He asked me about you. Of course, I spoke of you in glowing terms and said that you seemed to be doing a great job filling in for poor RK after he passed away.”
“I think you might be promoted. Everyone hopes it will happen. All the best to you.”
It clicked. Two days earlier T had been very genial and had told me “My lad (the first time he had used that term), I am very pleased with your work. I think you deserve to be upgraded to senior manager. I will speak to the MD.”
I realised that T must have mentioned this to Dinesh.
But I didn’t trust Dinesh one bit. The grapevine had whispered to me that he had made disparaging remarks about me, viz.: trying to grab a dead man’s chair etc. I knew Dinesh didn’t mean what he said.
So I nonchalantly shrugged off the “good news” and remarked “Let it happen when it happens.”
The next day T called me. “I am sorry, my lad. The MD thinks it is too early to promote you – we must watch your performance for a while longer. It seems someone has advised him to wait.”
Immediately I figured out what had happened. That slimy Dinesh must have whispered to the MD after he heard T’s plan to promote me. Dinesh was the only Indian in the management, and he wanted to keep it that way. My promotion galled him, and he had neatly spiked it.
With friends like Dinesh, who needed enemies?
Another four months passed. I continued to do my ex-boss’s job, bearing T’s intense scrutiny and fending off his machinations and manipulations. Eventually I felt I had endured enough. I was not going to do a bigger, and tougher, job without bigger pay.
I went to T and announced “I am fed up. I want a promotion, now, or I am quitting”.
T was taken aback by my blunt pronouncement. He looked at me, nodded and looked down. I walked out.
Three days later I got my promotion.
(Deserting engineering after a year in a factory, Amitabha Banerjee
did an MBA in the US and returned to India. Choosing work-to-live over live-to-work, he joined banking and worked for various banks in India and the Middle East. Post retirement, he returned to his hometown Kolkata and is now spending his golden years travelling the world (until Covid, that is), playing bridge, befriending Netflix & Prime Video and writing in his wife’s travel blog.)