Saturday, 13 February 2016

Momentary Unpleasantness Vs Bigger heartbreaks....

This happened around the year 1999- 2000. I was working in the corporate office of a PSU in Bangalore.A young man had come to meet me from KGF (Kolar Gold Fields) along with his uncle and a local political lightweight.Initially, there was some belligerence in their approach. However, from the moment of greeting them, I put the visitors  at ease, smiling and encouraging them to speak.The youngster was mostly silent and a major part of the talking was done by the politician.

They  related the purpose of their visit thus:-  The youngster's father was an employee of the company's KGF unit.He expired while in service a few years back. The boy had requested for employment under the scheme for 'compassionate employment' which is extended  to any one of the family members of an employee dying while in service.It appears that the HR at the KGF unit had  told the candidate that there were some  pending cases which needed to be attended to  first and that his case would be considered on  a later date.Quite a few years had lapsed since then and nothing had happened, in spite of the family frequently following up the matter. Now, they were fed up and had come to the corporate office for resolving the matter.

After listening to them patiently, I told the visitors that the department of public enterprises, Government of India had issued guidelines withdrawing the scheme of employment on 'compassionate grounds' and that the scheme was presently not in vogue.I checked the date of the death of the employee to find that the death had occured after the discontinuation of the said scheme. When I explained the position to them, initially they were very  upset, considering the number of wasted years during which period  they were waiting in anticipation and had  put in a lot of efforts on follow up.

I empathised with the candidate and enquired about his qualification.On learning that it was certification from  ITI ( Industrial training institute), I asked him as to why he did not try for a job all this while when job opportunities were available in the  nearby city of Bangalore.Even if he was waiting for the PSU job, experience in the intervening period would have been very valuable for molding him as a confident employee.After a fairly long conversation, the visitors appreciated my frankness and said that "atleast now we know the actual position and can move on in life and look out for other job opportunities."They further said  "Had this been told to us earlier,we could have avoided so many years of anxiety and  heart burn" and left for  KGF.

The incident was indeed sad and painful.There are occasions when those of us working in administrative positions put off unpleasant actions or decisions in order to avoid momentary discomfort but this actually leads to more complicated situations and heartburns on a later date.

Some managers also have the habit of evasiveness and avoid meeting people who come to them with grievances.When I was transferred as Head- HR of the company's Mysore unit, my personal secretary initially used to ask me "Sir, there is this employee who says he wants to meet you on some issue, shall I tell him you are busy and send him away? ". Later however, when he understood that  my style of working was to invariably meet the employee, he began to only ask "Sir, would you like to meet him now or what other time or day would be convenient? "

Evasiveness does not solve problems.On the other hand, open and free communication clears the air and misunderstanding; even if we cannot meet all the expectations of the employee.


  1. The concluding para of this narrative should be printed, framed and put up on all private and public sector offices and workplaces. Indeed, clear and unambiguous communication can not only ensure quick resolution of issues but also saves a lot of heart burns and heart breaks. Many thanks dear Rajeev for sharing this slice from your vast experience as a HR professional, that has lessons both for personal and professional transactions. Kudos and respects.

  2. Many thanks dear Padmaja for our appreciation and feedback!

  3. Very rightly said, Rajeev.. This attitude truly helps many Employees who are not exactly conversant with the Rules.. A timely Revelation!

  4. Thank ou so much Sreedharji for sharing your thoughts on the subject!