Monday, 15 October 2012

October 16th 2012 - BOSS DAY!!

I am sure the title by now must have turned many heads around in dismay and popped up many eyeballs in surprise. Some of you might be thinking, “is this guy nuts or what? Couldn’t he find a better topic to write about? Who needs to even know about such an occasion in the first place, leave alone reminding about it with the same urgency accompanying Valentine’s Day, when its protagonist is the source of all our workplace woes?” While others might be wondering, “what’s wrong with the world that is so hell bent on rewarding this ubiquitous Hitler-like figure with global recognition for tormenting the employees worldwide?”

Yes, no matter how surprising or disapproving it might sound, but the fact is that October 16th this year would be celebrated in the U.S. as the National Boss Day - a very special day dedicated to all the bosses (read employers) that is celebrated every year by the employees together. We can think of it as another initiative to galvanize the employer-employee liaison through such things like official outings, lunches etc., only aimed at improving mutual workplace relationships between both the parties through open communication. On the surface it looks quite rosy, but the question is, do we really need it or to put it more bluntly is this the only way to achieve workplace harmony, when the HR department itself keeps on coming up with more innovative and frequently implemented employee welfare programs? After all, securing open workplace communication has been an age-old challenge the corporate world has been wrestling with for quite some time now, then would this one day annual celebration really help the situation improve?

The answer I think is both Yes & No, because it is a matter of both personal and professional choice and the extent to which one is able to prevent both the experiences from mingling with each other. Let us try delving more deeply into each of the answers. However, before attempting this analysis, we need to understand one thing; whom do you refer to as your ‘boss’? Is it your organization (employer) or your manager/immediate supervisor, for that matter? In common parlance ‘boss’ is used to refer to anyone who is senior to us and to whom we report, and normally in day-to-day conversations finds reference to both the organization and one’s immediate manager. Though, what keeps on changing is the context in which he is addressed, that can be both positive and negative, and often dictates our choice of the entity (employer or manager). For example, if you bag a plum job at one of the Fortune 2000 technology giants., and are on cloud nine, then at the back of your mind you know that you are fortunate enough to get an opportunity to work with such an employer or boss of choice.
However, if in the same company your immediate manager is after your life 24*7, others would often find you saying, my boss is a big pain in the ***. However, what we do forget is that a manager’s behavior despite being a by-product of his own personality make-up is also to a larger extent governed by the organization for which both you and he are working. For example, if your company actively practices nepotism in recruitment, making it lose heavily on talented prospect hires, then the company’s recruitment policy designed by the owners is at fault, instead of the hiring manager, who like others is only complying with the same. Similarly, an organization famous for being miserly in payment of salaries, does not share the blame with the person handling payroll, since he again is acting in sheer compliance of the compensation policy instead of any personal vendetta against the employees. Thus, for the purpose of this discussion we will restrict our usage of the term “boss” to the employing organization only.                

Coming back to our analysis, we find that those against such a celebration are not difficult to understand why, because of an endless list of reasons including a shoddy recruitment policy, low pay according to market standards, subjective performance appraisal systems, delayed and partial promotion systems, nepotism, etc. etc…. There is no rocket science involved in guessing the reason for such a huge pile of grievances, which can mostly be attributed to the basic human nature or psyche of not getting satisfied easily or always complaining about one thing or the other. After all, when man is often seen being at loggerheads with his creator (God) for most part of his life, constantly blaming him for all his woes and worries; so don’t you think expecting him to accept his fellow creations, be it other human beings like him or the organizations built by them as perfect, would actually mean demanding too much?

But as they say, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. So despite much furor surrounding this event, there are always a bunch of souls (very few though) who possess the insight to look beyond the apparent and are ready to give their verdict in favor of the boss, each with their own sets of reasons; some personal, others professional while a few reflecting shades of both, thereby, putting a smile on his face.

Though the professional explanations for making this day a memorable one are many, often attached to the multiple facets of human psychology, most of which revolve around ambitiousness or over-ambitiousness, as reflected in the need to quickly rise up the ranks through a sheer display of smart work that would soon help in winning the coveted title of “the company’s blue-eyed boy”, thereby, making possible achieving more in lesser amount of time. Though, I doubt the contributory potential of just this one-day gala event in realization of such “larger than life dreams”, but still….there’s no harm in wishful thinking.

But what about the personal front? Are there people who share an emotional bond with their employers and admire them so much that they are willing to dedicate one special day for them only? In today’s fast pace world, where all of us, especially the younger generation is quickly falling prey to the “success bug”, making it impatient enough to grab opportunities at the “drop of a hat”, finding such brand loyalist employees, though is a daunting task, but still, not an impossible one. This emotional attachment is usually is dependent upon experiences found in two kinds of employees; firstly, the older lot of senior employees, who have been with the company for a long time, have witnessed it pass through “thick and thin” and now identify with it, and secondly, a fresh breed of employees, who during their student days, were “have-nots” i.e. either belonged to a family with pecuniary constraints or came from a college with no campus placements or both. When the same employees due to their academic caliber are able to crack the selection rounds of blue-chip corporations, they consider themselves blessed and fortunate enough, at least for the initial part, for getting a chance to work for an employer who dared to challenge the status quo and gave them “a much needed break” in the industry, of course, before succumbing to the corporate glitterati like everyone else. Still, they are better off than those who were born with a silver spoon in their mouths and got everything effortlessly in life. But another important question here is “why need a strong emotional attachment to make a one day celebration successful”? Though a logical thought my friend, but my take on this is that when we are talking about the strength of the emotional bonding between both the parties as a potent driver of such a celebration and that too from the bottom of an employee’s heart, logic has no business to lurk around. Try using a mystery audit to unravel the pain of the disgruntled employees of organizations with a notorious reputation of harassing them. Similarly, what about someone who has often seen a less deserving co-worker bag a coveted project due to his personal proximity to the “who’s who” of the company, leaving him behind, thanks to the organizational policy of preferring those who kiss the senior management’s *** over sincere hard-workers? What level of emotional ties can you expect between the boss and employees in such workplaces, and if at all they exist, are they strong enough to persuade you to give your devil (read boss) his due this October 16, 2012?

Do let me know by leaving behind your comments. Thank you!!

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