Getting to Know The Boss

Jan 12 2014, 14:00 IST
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Forget about top management team dynamics assessment studies with expensive consultants. Forget about top management team dynamics assessment studies with expensive consultants.
SummaryPeople-watching is an art for the modern workplace.

plane back to Delhi, since most people on it were from there, and the day would be pretty much wasted after all this detouring. He said he would be happy to talk to the captain himself, and did not comprehend the standard “sorry sir, that’s not allowed” reply.

Thinking about this on a diverted flight yesterday, I also remembered the time I went to Kathmandu for a conference, as a rookie branch manager in a market research firm, and watched my three head office bosses in action at the casino. I used to report to all three. The company being a start-up, everyone did everything, and together they functioned as the Holy Trinity. One of them, the most difficult to deal with, gave me a clue on

why it was so hard to argue with him over business plans. He favoured roulette and his strategy was to bet large sums on odds-or-evens and blacks-or-reds, for no apparent reason other than his gut. And the more he lost, the more stubborn he became. Another was the best researcher there ever was, but was not particularly interested in whether your branch’s cash flows could pay your salaries that month and whether you needed help. He stayed away from games of chance and played what he thought were games of skill like pontoon or black jack. Even when gambling, he was an intellectual first and a gambler later. And the third one, whom I found most reasonable to do business with, also favoured roulette. But his system was very different from the odds-and-evens boss. He would start small and put increasing amounts of money on the same number over time, and actually be disappointed if the number he was betting on came too early. After that, I knew who to go to for what, and it worked quite well!

Of course, not everyone is that predictable or in an identifiable mould. Some are, what a friend of mine describes as, “perfect random variables”. But fortunately, most people aren’t that way. So it’s worth watching people at work.

Rama Bijapurkar is the author of We Are Like That Only and A Never-Before World: Tracking the evolution of Consumer India

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