Money Matters

Indifferent managers

By Sirajuddin Aziz
Mon, 05, 24

Many people do not care about others. They are not interested in knowing about the perspective of others. They cannot see beyond their narrow and long Pinnochio’s nose. On display is their pathetic attitude of showing no interest towards all colleagues. They remain indifferent to both people and the environment. Nothing shakes them up, unless it is something that has value for them personally.

Indifferent managers

Many people do not care about others. They are not interested in knowing about the perspective of others. They cannot see beyond their narrow and long Pinnochio’s nose. On display is their pathetic attitude of showing no interest towards all colleagues. They remain indifferent to both people and the environment. Nothing shakes them up, unless it is something that has value for them personally.

A situation of betrayal or injustice demands attention. The failure to show reaction constitutes indifference. An unknown Author writes that, “the opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugly; it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy; it’s indifference . More hurtful than obliviousness,dismissiveness and insouciance, is “Indifference".

Dame Fortune has always been extremely kind towards me. Without even deserving, she has continued to lay her smiles upon my existence, covering both, personal and professional life.

I joined and grew in a corporate environment and a society, where, generally, people around (workmates to teachers, professors to neighbourhood) were interested in the welfare of each other. Without raising or making an invoice, they collectively and severally provided good guidance, covering several facets of life.

The interest in the growth and development of people around a manager/supervisor was unrelenting. The ’interest’ stemmed from inner goodness. These supervisors wished through direct efforts to create teammates, who had to be trained by them, to be ultimately better than their own selves. The progress of team members wasn’t viewed as a potential threat, instead, it was celebrated with fervour, for even greater success down the road.

This attitude wasn’t designed to undermine the necessary presence of the spirit of competition; rather all efforts were directed and deployed, towards garnering a higher spirit of cooperative competition. The centrality of this approach was to let there be competition to let others grow and progress, faster than their own selves. The edifice of this construct of thought was based on the powerful and pristine human spirit of selflessness. The President would often remark, we have to produce better managers than ourselves.

Looking back at my career, I find, on the streets of progress, so many people, who had willingly lined up, to help, guide, train, monitor and direct me, towards positive thinking and higher productivity. Some were direct supervisors, while some were colleagues spread over the institution that landscaped over 73 countries. Geographical distance didn’t deter them to guide, they refused to be indifferent towards me. Together they showed deep interest in my professional growth and development. If this blessing from Mother Nature was to be taken away, I may have languished in the solitary cells of forgotten memories of the various institutions I was associated with. The opportunity to learn was made available to all; takers were expected to avail and perform.

Interaction with senior management helps create an environment and culture of learning and acquiring new skill sets. Every few years, a new challenge was thrown, to undertake. This resulted in the development of a pool of talent with diversified skills, abilities and experience. To produce this type of culture, the senior management has to be courageous and forward looking to embark upon such ventures.

The rise and growth of younger colleagues must not send tremors in the ranks of senior management … it is a natural law that will take its course, where the new and young will replace the old and the outdated. Any refusal to accept this continuum of human progress can seriously impair the longevity of the institution.

In present day corporate and business environment, to my personal anguish, it is seen vividly that Newton’s 1st Law of Motion, which states, “An object at rest remains at rest or if in motion remains in motion at a constant velocity unless acted on by a net external force”, is suitably applicable upon the youth of this blessed country. They are either at complete rest or in motion with no variations in velocity. Hence, suffer from stagnancy in relation to their knowledge and skills. They are wobbling vessels , rudderless and directionless. They are victims of “Indifference" from their parents, teachers, neighbourhood, organisations and the state. They together continue to ignore their presence and requirements. There is no meaningful conversation that is taking place between the various constituents of the society. The consequence is general waywardness.

It may be safe, but extremely dangerous to sink the neck in the sand, just as Ostriches do, and pretend that the abuse of drugs and substances is prevalent amongst the youth, especially in schools, colleges and universities; and that it is explicitly and excessively rampant in the elitist institutions. If the society will not engage with the younger section of the community, it is no wonder that they are most susceptible to falling into bad company. If social and moral standards are under threat of a challenge, a floundering economy, with little or none, employment opportunities, the problem acquires Himalayan proportions.

Let me exclude all other elements of influence, upon an individual, and focus only on how an entity can contribute effectively and significantly in improving the lot of the people associated with it.

First and foremost, all organisations, whether in the private or public sector, must embrace by action, the rule of meritocracy --- only the competent must be hired... Competence and only competence should prevail, no other considerations of the demeaning nature must be allowed to prevail upon the hiring process.

This must be followed by an infusion of newer skill sets that will facilitate growth and better productivity. In doing so, there must be engagement with seniors, who must willingly provide the opportunity, by sharing their knowledge and experience.

Immediate managers and supervisors should take a keen interest in their colleagues. Without having to compromise the necessary aloofness, which is critical for effective management, all managers must endeavour to endear themselves to their staff, by thought and action, that he/she considers them as “close” members of their respective teams, or more appropriately as part of their family.

Success of a colleague must be viewed by Supervisors as their own success. I have witnessed those who were confident and competent were never scared with the outstanding performance of their reports. They owned and adopted, both the success and failure of a colleague. They were liberal in giving credit for good work of their teammates, but in taking responsibility for any lapses or failures, they stood in support as Rock of Gibraltar. Dag Hammarskjold, the Secretary General of United Nations, who died in an air crash had aptly remarked, “To reach perfection, we must all pass, one by one, through the death of self effacement”.

To perform without seeking centre stage or spotlight requires a different mind set; a possession of amazing self confidence that requires no endorsements.

The ensuing engagement must lead to the discovery of what aims and ambitions, an individual has; what are the unique strengths (sometimes, we remain unaware of our naturally blessed traits and do not seem to know of it, until, someone points them out); how to make the most of them; what are the gaps in knowledge base or inadequacies in practical application, etc. This requires time --- and this is exactly where all functionaries at senior and senior most level, both within the government and the private sector, behave as die- hard adherents and descendants of Shylock … the miser, in The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare’s play). They refuse to allocate time for this noble task; and even if they reluctantly do so, their attention span does not exceed a few milliseconds. We can no longer afford to be indifferent to the needs of our young populace.

As a nation, we have to pledge the investment of our time, in directing the efforts of our younger colleagues. That’s the area where my generation was lucky; our seniors gave us unalloyed and undiluted time and attention .

The youth bulge that our politicians love to talk of as a potential force can easily become a nuclear fallout, with all its related devastation, if they are not quickly absorbed into the economy, either by way of facilitating their skills of entrepreneurship or by creating employment opportunities. The youthful population is both a threat and a potential…let’s not make them into explosive powder kegs, by being Indifferent. Take interest in your colleagues and the youth.

– The writer is a senior banker and freelance columnist