Ali joined CVS Caremark project at TCS-Noida in November after a successful stint at Aviva in TCS-Bangalore, where he had worked as a trainee. He had always wanted to go back to his hometown and live with his parents and when he got a transfer to Delhi he didn’t waste a single moment in saying yes to the new project and heading towards Delhi. Many of his friends were also moving out from Bangalore at the same time which only made his decision easier.
He felt that Caremark offered better career prospects, as it was a new project and they were offered to work on the current technologies that were in demand in the market. Ali was sure he would excel in his new position at Caremark, just as he had done in his old job at Aviva.
He joined as Assistant Systems Engineer at Caremark, with a handsome pay hike for becoming a confirmed employee of the company. Caremark also had international operations and there was more than a slim chance that he would be sent to USA or the UK on a project. Knowing that this would give him a lot of exposure, besides looking good on his resume, he was quite excited about the new job. He joined Ashish Mehta’s five-member team at Caremark. He had met Ashish during the interview sessions, and was looking forward to working under him.
His team members seemed warm and friendly, and comfortable with their work. Ali introduced myself to the team members and got to know more about each of them. Wanting to know more about my boss, Ali casually asked Shobha, one of the team members, about Ashish. Shobha said, “Ashish does not interfere with our work. In fact, you could even say that he tries to ignore us as much as he can.” Ali was surprised by the comment but decided that Ashish was probably leaving them alone to do their work without any guidance, in order to allow them to realize their full potential.
At Aviva, he had worked under Sudhir Reddy and had looked up to him as a guide and mentor – always guiding, but never interfering. Sudhir had let him make his own mistakes and learn from them. Sudhir had always encouraged individual ideas, and let the team discover the flaws, if any, through discussion and experience. Sudhir rarely held an individual member of his team responsible if the team as a whole failed to deliver – for him the responsibility for any failure was collective.
Ali remembered telling his colleagues at Aviva that the ideal boss would be someone who did not interfere with his/her subordinate’s work. Ali wanted to believe that Ashish too was the non-interfering type. If that was the case, surely his non-interference would only help Ali to grow. In Ali’s first week at work, he found the atmosphere at the office a bit dull. However, he was quite excited.
The team had been assigned a new project and was facing a few glitches with the new software. He thought about the problem till late in the night and had come up with several possible solutions. Ali could not wait to discuss them with the team and Ashish. Ali smiled to himself when he thought of how Ashish would react when he told him that he had come up with several possible solutions to the problem.
He was sure he would be happy with him having put in so much effort into the project, right from day one. Ali was daydreaming about all the praise that he was going to get when Ashish walked into the office. Ali waited for him to go into his workplace, and after five minutes, called him up, asking to see him. He asked Ali to come in after ten minutes. When Ali went in, Ashish looked at him blankly and asked, “Yes?” Not sure whether he had recognized him, Ali introduced himself.
He said, “Ok, but why did you want to meet me?” I started to tell him about the problems they were having with the software. But before he could even finish, he told Ali that he was busy with other things, and that he would send an email with the solution to all the members of the team by the end of the day, and that we could then implement it immediately. Ali was somewhat taken aback.
However, ever the optimist, Ali thought that he had perhaps already discussed the matter with the team. Ali came out of Ashish’s cabin and went straight to where his team members sat. He thought it would still be nice to bounce ideas off them and also to see what solutions others might come up with.
He told them of all the solutions he had in mind. Ali waited for the others to come up with their suggestions but not one of them spoke up. He was surprised, and asked them point-blank why they were so disinterested. Sanjay, one of the team members, said, “What is the point in our discussing these things? Ashish is not going to have time to listen to us or discuss anything. He will just give us the solution he thinks is the best, and we will just do what he tells us to do; why waste everyone’s time?” Ali felt his heart sink. Was this the way things worked over here? However, he refused to lose heart and thought that maybe, he could change things a little.
But as the days went by, he realized that Ashish was the complete opposite of his old boss. While he was efficient at what he did and extremely intelligent, he had neither the time nor the inclination to groom his subordinates. His solutions to problems were always correct, but he was not willing to discuss or debate the merits of any other ideas that his team might have. He did not hold the team down to their deadlines nor did he ever interfere. In fact, he rarely said anything at all! If work did not get finished on time, he would just blame the team, and totally disassociate himself from them.
Time and again, Ali found himself thinking of Sudhir, his old boss, and of how he had been such a positive influence. Ashish, on the other hand, even without actively doing anything, had managed to significantly lower his motivation levels. Ali gradually began to lose interest in the work – it had become too mechanical for his taste.
Ali didn’t really need to think; his boss had all the answers. Ali was learning nothing new, and felt his career was going nowhere. As he became more and more discouraged, his performance suffered. From being someone with immense promise and potential, he was now in danger of becoming just another mediocre techie. Questions for Discussion
1. What, according to you, were the reasons for Ali’s disillusionment? Answer the question using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. 2. What should Ali do to resolve his situation? The solution should be realistic keeping in mind the personality of Aashish (his boss). 3. What can a team leader like Ali can do to ensure high levels of motivation among his/her team members?
4. Was the leadership style of Ashish wrong, although his solutions were always correct and the overall performance never suffers? Justify in yes or no with reasoning 5. For Ali if continuous learning is a source of motivation then what could be some other source of motivation for you apart from learning and good pay?give reasoning and justify your answer