Thursday, June 25, 2015

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Do Multi Generations at Work Lead to Chaos?

Harishchandra, a senior executive from a technical field, was appointed by an MNC as an associate in its outsourcing operations. His pay packet was very conservative. He had worked for 15 years plus in a technical field and had held managerial positions in some of the organizations. However, his qualifications and experience could not get him what he was worth. The consultant who was going to get him the job, asked him to hide his technical qualifications and technical experience on the pretext that the MNC did not hire technically qualified people. Harishchandra agreed, as he wanted to work for an MNC. He cleared the interview with distinction and got the job. 

He was given a letter of intent after the interview and was asked to report for work on an appointed date, when he would be inducted into the company formally. He was told that he will be given training in the company’s business for a period of 3 months, after which he would be put on the job. His probation would be for a period of 6 months after which he would be confirmed by a letter subject to his clearing the assessments that will be taken at various intervals during the training period.

On the appointed date, Harishchandra reported for work to the company offices. He was very excited because his dream was fulfilled. When he entered his office, he was directed to a room where a number of new joinees were being inducted into the company. On preliminary introductions with them, he came to know that all of them were going to join the company with him in the same batch. Further, on inquiring with them, he found that all of them were half his age. What is more, even the executive who had come to open their salary accounts was also half his age. He was the most senior person in the room. He started looking for someone his age. 

He could not relate to the youngsters. They were an ebullient lot who were cracking jokes and bullying each other. Harishchandra was not comfortable with them. That was when he saw another new joinee waiting patiently in a corner seat. He seemed to be of the same age as himself. He decided to approach him and get familiar with him. When Harishchandra introduced himself to this person, he came to know that he too had come through a consultant and he too had hidden his qualifications and experience because he wanted the job desperately. He was an MBA from a reputed institute who did not have a job. Therefore, he had come to work for this MNC.

When his turn came, he was asked to submit his documents by the HR person and was given a form to be filled up. The form would help open his salary account. It took one full day to complete the induction. He had reported for work at 10:00 a m and the induction formalities were completed by 4:00 p m in the evening. They were all asked to leave and were told to report to the same room at 10:30 a m the next day. Their date of joining would be from the next day and their salaries would start from that date. When he came to work the next day, he conducted further research on the people who were going to be his colleagues very soon. 

He found that some were fresh graduates or some others had 1-3 years of experience. Some of them started addressing him as uncle looking at his white hair. However, he remained patient. He tried to look for that MBA graduate who had met him yesterday, but, he could not be seen anywhere. On looking around the room, he found that the person had not come yet. He started feeling lonely even in that crowd. His colleagues were discussing the latest movie running in their favorite theatres, while he wanted to discuss the rising vegetable prices in the market.

On the next day, they were required to play a game while in training. /For this game, candidates were required to purchase housie tickets. Harishchandra, who had come from a very different culture, did not like this turn of events and he declined to purchase the ticket saying he did not like paying to play games. This was when one of his younger colleagues goaded him into buying a ticket and joining the game. He went to the extent of paying for his ticket. Finally, Harishchandra felt that he had found a true friend in the crowd of youngsters. The new friend’s name was Nilesh and he was very warn towards him. He had finally found someone he could talk to, in the batch of youngsters. He decided to further explore his new friendship with Nilesh in the days to come.

Traditionally, India has been a country, with patriarchal values. Here, there is respect for both seniority and the male gender. Before 1990, the country was full of family managed businesses which were run in an anarchical fashion by their promoters. Organizations during this time had an intricate hierarchical structure with several layers of decision makers. These organizations were run in a protectionist regime. All this changed after 1991, when our then Prime Minister brought in liberalization. Strategic tie-ups of Indian companies with multinationals brought in superior technical expertise to India. 

Along with this, they also brought their culture and way of doing business. In order to understand this new technology and way of doing business, promoters started recruiting younger and qualified talent. This brought in a younger lot of workers who had a relatively senior lot of people. as their subordinates. Democratic management styles became a vogue in post 1991 India.

This brought in interplay among people of different generations. Ego clashes became common. Experienced executives who were open to the idea of reporting to a younger boss, successfully negotiated this change, however, those who had ego issues, changed jobs. The first lot of executives began working in a team with the younger executives, exchanging their experience with the latter’s knowledge. Slowly and gradually, this new way of doing business was accepted by organizations around the country. The role of the HR person became very important, as he had to moderate the interaction between comparatively experienced older employees with the qualified younger lot. Organizations, which made the change in their business methods forged ahead, while those who could not change fell by the way-side.