Search This Blog

Monday, November 26, 2012


Today I am writing about a subject that most of you would be able to relate to it as it involves the workplace.

It is important to understand that workplace is a mini picture of the society that we live in and what happens at the work place is in some way a reflection of us as part of a larger society. What we do? How we behave? Is in some way a reflection of the norms of the society at a given point in time? When we join a new organization we all expect the rules to be very clear and transparent. However, it is the same very people who would like the rules to be tampered with when it comes to their own individual cases. Sometimes it looks like everybody wants the rules to apply to all except to themselves.

In my experience in managing people for the last 16 years in India, I have come across a variety of samples and have used them in my writings on this blog without using their names. Today, I am using one such case to drive my point but with a sense of caution that not everyone is the same and it should not be generalized. It only shows one type of employee within an organization and how their personal goal is so much in conflict with the organizational objectives.

The employee in question was a very different type of employee and I have always been very cautious of such people. This type of person at the workplace is one that will make you feel very good by following the not so important rules as long as they are with you. They will say good things to be on your side but inside their heart they have a very devious design waiting to be put in place. They will bend 90 degrees to say hello to you at the first sight but in their heart they are thinking something else. They are always trying to show you how important they are to the organization and how they can make the system so good and appealing. However, they can never take a responsibility and carry it through. The best part is that they will have a thousand reasons why it cannot be done. They like to give advice and act like a consultant but they cannot do anything worthwhile to add value to the organization. Having seen a number of such cases I now understand how they operate and how you can identify them so that you don’t waste time on such people. Many of these types of employees also play on the concept of I know such and such a person, or I am very close to so and so individual. This is their mean of creating a place for themselves in the social order. I call it as trying to be someone by climbing on the shoulders of some known people.

If you look around within your own organization you can find them. They are always very visible figures although most other employees know the reality; they just hang on with the person. These are the type of people for whom it is not too long that they begin to get exposed and they begin to look for other options to move on and that is when the real person begins to come alive. Such individual have a very short work life in any place of work. Thus the first thing that you will notice about such people is that their CV has a lot of job changes with a lot of them not lasting for over a year. That is the amount of time it takes an employer to understand the reality of the person and begin the process of letting them go. But we have to remember that these are very cunning people, they can sense that their end is coming and they will begin their search process and make a move before being fired. It is at this point that they want all the rules of the organization to be changed to accommodate their exit. Now the very rules that they had felt were great suddenly become bad as they don’t give them the flexibility that is desired.

Remember these are very dangerous people and are a drain on any system. In order to get their way they will tell you all the rules and the laws as per their convenience. The real person begins to appear, they will tell you things about you or others in the organization about whom they always talked very highly. What is going on here is the thought that comes to your mind? Well remember that they are now done with you and they don’t have to bend 90 degrees anymore because that was just a show to start with.  They did not do that because they respected you but just that they wanted to be in your good books. Such employees are there in every organization but they are there for a very short time.

One other impact of such people leaving the organization is on what they plan to do next. They will always try and tarnish your image and the make sure that all efforts are made to disrupt the whole system once they leave. These would include writing mails to your superiors, spreading rumors within the organization as to how bad things are in the place. There is nothing new in this pattern of behavior. In fact it is expected from such employees who have a short-term life. Remember that they cannot do any damage to you or to the organization as they are completely exposed and slowly the market catches up with them and they become “a don’t touch him” personality and it is then that they realize that their deeds are now known in the market place.

The most important rule of the game in such a case is to just ignore them and don’t let them bother you or the organization. They have a natural tendency of decay and destruction. Paying too much attention does not help in making the workplace a healthy and creating an environment for focused achievement. It is important to remember that all rules are made to serve the larger interest of the workplace. They are not intended to fulfill the individual desires of the employees.


Sunday, November 25, 2012


If you are in the field of education you would be very familiar with the term academic freedom. It was designed to give teachers the freedom to differ in their ideology, in their thought process and to challenge the existing wisdom without fear of persecutions by administrators and repercussions on their careers. This indeed was how it was till the 1960s even in India and teachers at that time were held in very high esteem both by students and the society at large.

Over time teachers started falling from grace and their credibility started to be questioned by one and all. To some extent we can blame the high level of governmental interference in educational institution as being the driver for this shift. But the teachers themselves have to take some of the blame for drifting away from their mission as teachers.

So what is academic freedom in the modern world?

Today, the term academic freedom has been used, misused, and abused to the extent that it has never been done before in the history of Higher Education in India. Teachers have used it to not be in the work place, to not teach, to have the freedom to abuse the system. How does having freedom to be in office or not being in office relate to academic freedom? When questions are asked about their teaching they say my academic freedom is being questioned. I know of a lot of teachers in higher Education who will not prepare for their class, they just go and teach what they know; they are unfair to their students and are not able to get over the ego. They will even tell students that don’t you want good grades to make them fall in line as per their requirements. These are all instances of those kinds of people who should not be in the field of higher education. These are teachers by default and not by design. They are destroying the whole system and they need to be controlled to ensure that our higher education system begins to gradually move a higher level of achievement. Having said that, I know that the shortage of teachers in higher education is also a reason for such a shift. Coupled with this is the fact that we have a lot of people who have not been successful in industry getting into teaching. I call this as the residual impact. We also have a lot of people who want to become teachers after they have completed their innings in the industry.

If we look at the public sector, we find a more alarming situation. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that 20 percent of the University teachers are making the system function and it is on their shoulders that the whole system rests and they are the real teachers. The rest of them are politicians with a face of the teacher.

The academic freedom has not produced any break through research nor has it created any new knowledge. Yes in some of the centers of excellence like the IIC, BARC, TIFR there have been great levels of contribution but they are only exceptions to the rule. So what has the academic freedom given to us, how has it improved the condition of our universities and colleges. I will argue that it has resulted in decline in our educational standards because it has lost its true meaning. Today we have reached a point where if there is any move to put in place a system which demands accountability from the teachers, it is opposed by the teachers unions.

I believe that India Higher Education will continue to suffer setbacks till the teachers in Universities and colleges begin to understand that a job of a teacher is not just teach, but it is the task of making of a Nation. I consider this task more important than the task of a CEO of a large company. In a large company the job of the CEO is to enhance the interest of the stakeholders of the company. In case of education it is the interest of a Nation by training the next generation.

Once teachers understand their role in the larger context of Nation Building, we will begin to see a major transformation that will take place in Higher Education in India. I believe that only teachers have the capacity to change the direction of the decline in our standards in higher education. If we don’t rise, we will regret this as our children will not be ready for the world that they will live in. I do hope that the task of Nation Building has to be entrusted to the teachers and they have to take the task seriously.

Let me know my thoughts on this piece of work. I look forward to your comments.