A close look at The Cartel

I spent relatively long time with the Cartel members when I got a chance to visit factory on the occasion of XYZ rep’s visit.

The Cartel comprises of 4 members – B, Finance Manager, Production Manager and QA Manager.  While the Cartel members have their own personality traits, they are united by common causes – to perpetuate their stay in the company and make them immune from changes happening at the higher levels of the company.

They all hail from the nearest town close by and have started working with the company around the same time. In all they have spent more than 15 years to-gether ; have not worked with any other company.

These managers, I observed, were not too ambitious. In a way, they are very content about their life (unlike me?). They get to live in their home town and be with all their relatives and child-hood friends. Their respective jobs did not carry much burden as they have mastered their respective role expectation (which I believe have never been too high) from the company. In a way, the company’s systems have started depending on these people very much.

B joined the company as dispatch clerk, but stuck to the company despite changes happening in the top. Many work managers and Vice presidents came and went. The customers saw different men at the helm of affairs, but B, QA Manager and Production Manager were always around. So these 6 customers have found it safer dealing with the known faces of the Cartel. B became the Dispatch Manager in a few years, hence had been the key contact for these customers for so long. The then business manager who developed these businesses met with a tragic road accident when he was on an overseas trip. There was a vacuüm till a new manager could be recruited. B used the vacuüm wisely and assumed the role of Export Business Manager.

The Director found it convenient then as he need not have to deal a new power structure in the office as he would have found it safe to elevate B whom he viewed to be loyal and long-serving. Moreover B had complete understanding of the operations and so he could envisage problems and issues well.

The Director did not feel the need appoint a new exports manager until the CEO (who entered the scene only about 10 months back) saw the need to have one more Exports Manager and hence I was recruited.

I have started developing self-doubt on seeing the Cartel Members and their complete control of things on factory and operations’ side. Would I ever be able to acquire such a self-assured attitude leaving my vulnerability aside!

Are they viewing my joining as a threat? I could not get any clue from the members, as the talks were at superficial level only. While they sounded nice to me, I could sense an invisible wall wherein the deliberations were never free and open.

I did observe during  my interactions that  out of 4 members of the Cartel, the 3, with the exception of B, were not very fond of VP.  The Finance manager was loud about it. I also observed that while production and QA managers too did not like VP much, they sounded hesitant to be viewed as disobedient to VP. So that explains the delays or no replies to my various emails. They expected to be told by VP to reply to each emails.

When compared to the other three, B is totally different. The closeness and camaraderie he has developed with the 6 overseas-customers must have given him the enormous sense of command over the scenario. The VP (who is a complete new-comer from a different industry all-together) has to be dependant on B and Like-wise CEO also (whom, as we have seen in many episodes before, has no grip on the proceedings except raw usage of positional authority).

They both perhaps might have intended to please B as their survival depends on him indirectly, and denied me any interface to the existing customers. Is it a good place to be in personally? – As I have to work from scratch to develop all new customers with no handle on what’s happening on the current business front.  B will run so smoothly with the well-set business. I must admit B is in an enviable position – reward for staying with the company for Long? Is there a lesson here?