8 hours and 30 minutes – that’s the duration I am required to spend in the office. I have always been curious to know how this duration is spent by all corporate executives on an average – how much percentage of real work, work related thinking, personal chores, reading news papers, browsing entertaining websites, following cricket scores, idle chat with colleagues, etc.,
Admission of not using the working time productively is something rare to come across. Usually the norm is to show off eloquently on shallow things that were accomplished during the day.
Many years ago, I had a colleague who was responsible for Insurance matters and I was sharing work place with him. Before leaving office for the day, he called his superior on intercom and said that he could not do much work that day as he was fully tied up on a circular for an increased demand of premium by a particular Insurance company. He further boastfully suggested to the superior that he was not very clear about the circular received and would like to discuss about it in detail. If he had to seek more clarity with his superior, he could have done on that day itself. May be, Wednesdays are more suitable for such discussions, because on the whole of Tuesday, he just read that particular letter once and filed it into one of his files as if it was insignificant. He was fully busy listening to radio commentary of India – Australia cricket match which India later won.
I had met some superiors who would pretend being busy just to avoid facing some issues. I had once received a big quality claim from one of the clients in Europe. The original email sent by the customer was copied to my superior also. So I was sure that he was aware of this development. When I was about to discuss on this claim, he said over the intercom that he is too busy now and any matter has to wait for the next day. The next day he summoned me briefly on some other subject. Before I could say anything of this quality claim, he said he has to rush for an urgent meeting with the banker and avoided discussing. Actually he went out for the meeting only after spending 3-4 hours in the office. In fact, I had even received copy of some mails which he sent to some other customers on not so important and not so serious issues, before him leaving for the important meeting.
I always wanted to understand the psychology behind this behaviour. Number one could be that it is an unpleasant development, so it can wait. Number two, the boss would have waited for me to respond first and be on the line of fire. After 2-3 days, he would come to this matter and will even call the customer hoping that my holding the fort for first 2-3 days would have cooled off the customer. While I would have been trying my best to avoid paying or lessening the quality claim amount, the boss would agree virtually for everything that the customer would be saying on the quality claim. Bosses are always Heroes.
The time management skills of the Cartel must be very interesting. This is reflected in their variety of excuses over my pressing for some replies or assistance or actions.
“was busy in a funeral last two days and so will reply you tomorrow” (The word “Funeral” made me go silent – usage of a small word to the fullest effect)
‘Costing will have to wait as I am expecting a client visiting us at 4.00 pm” (what will he do until 4.00 PM? That I did not ask)
“did you send the mail? No I did not receive it” (Their email client application seem to have been fitted with invisible sieves to filter out only my messages)
“I called you to tell you that Internet is not working….but I could never get your line” (Blame it on telecommunication company!)
“I am coming to head office on Thursday…let us discuss about it personally” (You will receive personal attention, never mind the time delays!)
More than others, I am more worried about myself losing cool when I hear the above creative excuses and do something drastic. So far, I could keep my emotions under check. Because I see a benefit in this– I will learn how to creatively invent reasons for not attending to things immediately. “See things can wait…who knows, they may sort out themselves without us doing anything?” I am becoming creative!
I have almost given up on CEO doing anything constructively to ease me from this cold-shoulder attitude from the factory team, on whom I depend a great deal to reply to my customers’ enquiries and questions. The moment I open this topic, he would go on a non-stop lecture about how I need to sharpen my inter-personal skills to get close to the Cartel. Wish he follows what he preaches so that his words can command obedience from the Cartel.