How to wreck a career with great praise

bikram

Bikram Vohra | July 9, 2014



This is the recording of a meeting between a corporate boss and two of his lieutenants held to discuss the probable promotion of a manager to their level. The boss is very much in favour of upgrading the wunderkind but the two top executives are evidently not keen on getting the fellow as an equal. But they have to tread warily. Just in case the chief gets all toffee-nosed about it and makes it an issue.

The tape begins:
So, gentleman, I believe Jay has been making his mark.
Good man there, Sir.
Very solid chap.
I am glad you feel that way because I have it in mind to give him a boost, I believe in encouraging young blood.
That’s why we are a progressive company, Sir.
People say that about us, Sir, which is why we mustn’t do anything to jeopardise our reputation.
Are you trying to tell me something?
No, Sir, far be it for me to speak out of turn, one finds loose tongues everywhere, if we paid attention to everything we hear, where would we be.
Both minions laugh dryly, as if sharing a secret. The boss sounds irate. What are you getting at?
Nothing, Sir, nothing at all, please promote whom you like.
Yessir, we are with you on this decision.
Yes, but what is this loose-tongued gossip you mentioned?
Just that, Sir, it’s not worthy of your attention, bite my lip, I shouldn’t have mentioned it.
Please, Sir, forget it was even mentioned, we shouldn’t let it stand in the way of someone’s career, especially since it cannot be substantiated.
You are talking in riddles. Speak up, what is the problem?
I am sorry, Sir, it would be prejudicial, my recommendation is to give him what he deserves, announce his leg up, I think it will go down well, people like young Jay, he has gusto and vigour.
Very enthusiastic young man, full of ideas, Sir, it would be a pity not to encourage him, we need youngsters with drive, so far as they don’t drive off the road, hahahaha.
The other executive also lets off a hoot.
What do you mean by that? (The boss is now getting a little unsure.) You think it is too soon, he asks, shuffling the papers in the file.
What do you think, the first executive asks the second. The second, says, uhmmmmm. The first says, actually, if you want my honest opinion we shouldn’t hesitate, yes, Sir, let’s go ahead, if we are all that sure and there is no doubt in our minds, then there is no reason why he should be penalised.
No doubt at all, it would be unfair to make him the scapegoat, I say, let’s give it to him along with a hefty raise.
And if the others complain, that’s just too bad, they will have to learn to live with it, the boy is the best of the bunch.
Not that we expect trouble, Sir, after all, it is known all over the office that the top cadre has a high regard for him, so there won’t be any surprise, actually they will be happy for him.
I don’t know, says the boss, perhaps we should put it on hold, wait a while, he is a little young.
That’s not a crime, Sir, we were all young once, shall I pour another coffee, Sir?
What, oh, yes, please, thank you.
Sugar?
Only one, no, I think it would be more sensible to wait, no point in hurrying things, after all, he’s got time on his side.
True, Sir, very true, let us give him a letter of appreciation.
Splendid idea, Sir, we must acknowledge good work and learn to rise above the indiscretions of the upwardly mobile, we all learn from our mistakes, there is an age when everyone is rash and impetuous and it is up to us old fogies to apply the brakes.
Hmmm, says the boss, you are right, let’s leave it for now, okay what about this fellow you brought three years ago, hasn’t made much of a mark, I daresay.
Low profile, Sir, he is one of those undersold chaps who makes up in diligence what he lacks in flair, very reliable and methodical, they get the work done. Yes, says his counterpart, he is in line for a promotion, very industrious and disciplined, a little responsibility will pull him out of his shell…

The tape runs out at this moment but we all know who will get that promotion.

(This was first published in July 1-15, 2014 issue of Governance Now.)
 

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