Monday, August 17, 2009

The ties that bind

‘Here, take this tie.”

I paled. It was one of those days when we had no meetings scheduled and I thought that the strangling neckgear in the heat could be done away with. But here was my boss handing me a tie.

“But…” I stammered.

He cut me off. “You have an appointment at 2. I will speak about it later. Come back to my office in about 30 minutes. I have some important calls to make.”

That was Mr. Rao, my immediate senior for you. Curt, to-the-point, no-nonsense. I, of course, knew him as a man with a heart of gold. This was my first job and over the past three years I had come to, silently of course, regarding him as my mentor. He had in his own brusque, business-like manner taught me everything I needed to know to ensure a smooth transition from college to career. A bit like ‘what they don’t teach you at Harvard’. I really appreciated that.

One promotion down the line and I thought I was settled. This was the job that I wanted all my life. I was doing well. Life was good. And I saw opportunity for growth within the organisation provided I worked hard. Mr. Rao, of course, believed in working smart. Well, ok, I thought I was smart enough to stay here without jeopardising my career prospects in this small but growing organisation.

At times Mr. Rao in his subtle manner talked about complacency and the need for change to ensure growth. I was not so sure. We always had an argument about the comfort zone at work. He felt true growth came from change. Words, just words, I thought. But then, they lingered at the back of my mind.

Half hour up, and I gently knocked on Mr. Rao’s door. The tie definitely needed an explanation. He looked up from his desktop, over his gold-rimmed reading glasses and said casually, “It’s an interview. I’ve instructed Janice to update and print out two copies of your resume. Your application was already sent last week.”
Stunned, I stammered, the second time in the day, “But…”

He continued, “You need the change. And this is as good an opportunity as it gets. I don’t think the interview should be a problem. Provided of course, you reach there on time.”

I stood there speechless. Interview? But I had not asked for it. Then why had he done it? What did I know about interviews. My last one was when I joined this place. Of course, I had grown since then. I stayed in touch with current market trends and knew my work well. Hard work. Constant updates. A finger on the pulse of the market. And of course, my boss.

Mr. Rao looked up again. “Oh yes, remember in any interview once if you really are what they are looking for, the final clincher is honesty..."

I continued gawping. Speechless.

Mr. Rao looked down at his papers, summarily dismissing me. "Now if you will allow me, I have this report for the CFO that I need to concentrate on.”

I stumbled out. The rest of the day went in a blur. Janice handed me my cv on an alabaster sheet. Along with that was a glowing recommendation letter from Mr. Rao. I knew all the right things to say at the interview. Till they asked me what was the one thing I would miss about my earlier workplace if I chose to join them.
Honesty. The word popped up in my mind again.

“My boss.” I said, “He has been my friend, philosopher and guide and I appreciate all that I have learnt from him over these years”.

I got the job.

Now I was excited about the change. I was taking one more step towards growing in my career. When I called Mr. Rao, I thanked him profusely. “Sir” I said tentatively, “how can I ever thank you for what you’ve done?“

He simply said, “ Could I have my tie back?”

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  1. Enjoyed it! Thank you.

  2. Thanks Yvette! Did it remind you at all of Jal? :-)