Conversations: Managing Change

Jill, my Siamese cat, jumped down from steps and surveyed the garden carefully. I was sitting in the garden where she walked up to and parked herself on a chair nearby. She looked scornfully at Jack, my Great Dane who was sitting under the table.

Jack looked up, raised his ears, and stared at Jill. It was obvious that he did not like her.
“You are lost in your thoughts! What are you worried about? How is your flagship company doing? Surely you must be thinking about people there.” Jack asked me.
“Well, my company is doing well. Superlative actually. It beats competitors hands down.” I replied.
“What’s worrying you?” Jack asked me.
“It’s Vijay I am thinking about. He is a very charismatic leader. But many managers are complaining – he is very arrogant they say.” I replied.
“That is true. He has offended every department other than his own, Sales and Marketing. He is arrogant and abusive. Please do not allow him to behave in that manner.” Jack said. He was obviously well informed.
“But he is not rough with those who perform. After all performance matters. And those who don’t perform deserve a hard good kick.” Jill disagreed. She gave Jack a very condescending look.
“He has created fear psychosis, his juniors are afraid of him. People deserve to be treated well; no matter what is their performance level.” Jack shot back. “Even if you wish to sack them, you must treat them respectfully.”
“You have made a good point Jack,” I said. “But my concern was that this organization has been very change averse! Don’t you think I must allow more time for Vijay to implement changes which he has proposed?”
“Expect some managers to quit then. He is also rather close to his secretary which has made everybody uncomfortable.” Jack said getting up. He shook his head flipping his long ears. Jack looked visibly uncomfortable.
“Don’t get sentimental! Think rationally. Exit of some managers is desirable if you wish to have high performing organisation. Why don’t you see the point that Vijay must be allowed a free hand?” Jill spoke with a sharp tone as she stood on her four legs and waived her tail. “He has brought about drastic changes, increased effectiveness and made some old horses run! This can only do well to organization. And there is a cost you must pay for everything. Nothing comes free.” Jill continued.
“And what about his relationship with his Secretary?” Jack asked angrily. “Someday you will land in Phanish Murthy type of muddle.”
“That is what you think, Jack,” Jill raised her voice.
I intervened. “We do not know what the true story is – in any case she has not complained. Not so far for sure. People devise ingenious ways to settle scores.”
“I agree” Jill said emphatically. “Anybody who changes ‘status quo’ will create enemies.”
“Boss, you are far removed from reality. And yes, what about the work culture he is damaging? We have had such an excellent work culture - the real reason why your companies are successful.” Jack said. He felt very concerned. He looked at me for my views.
“I see your point Jack. We should be people oriented. And I see your point too, Jill. We should be task focused. We have not been task focused for a long time. So I must ignore what Vijay is doing for the time being. Let him bring about those changes here, they are much wanted. Let him complete his mission.”
“And then?” Jack and Jill both asked.
“Well, everything and everybody comes with a shelf life and expiry date, you know!” I said.

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