“Vishal, Now I am convinced that you favor some members in the team. Undoubtedly. I know, saying this to you directly may cause loss of job but I am not scared like others in the team who speak in other’s back but do not dare to speak up front.” Karnik was sweating in an Air Conditioned room while telling this during one to one conversation with Vishal. This is a monthly meeting and most of the times it used to be goody goody talks meeting. But this one is special because it was the first meeting after performance appraisal.
Vishal was not shaken by Karnik’s words. He listened it carefully and took some time before responding to understand the issue better. He asked maintaining his calmness (Rather more than normal), “Thank you so much for sharing your concerns Karnik but would you be able to tell me what all observations made you come to this conclusion. I assure you, you will not be in any kind of trouble for speaking this inside this room. I would also encourage you to speak to higher management without hesitation if you do not get satisfactory answer from me. I will support you through out. But, would you be able to share your observations, so that we can be in same page in order to see the problem from same angle.”.
Karnik’s anger, anxiousness and fear had some down drastically but he was not able to trust Vishal by his words. He thought, “When the ice is already broken, saying anything more will not do any harm. Why fear?”. He said, “You appreciated Satpal saying that his analytical skills are excellent. He got the award for that. We too do great analysis, you never appreciated us. Satpal is your buddy, he goes with you to play tennis, so it is obvious to believe that you are favoring him. He got a better rating and salary raise this year. I know salary and ratings should not be discussed among employees but the truth is everybody knows.”. Vishal was smiling while listening to Karnik carefully. He asked, “You said, ‘We’. Who are these we? Is the above observation and inference is solely yours or some of it you have heard from others. It will be helpful if you can speak for yourself only, This will help me know the truth. So, can you tell me which all points you mentioned above are your own observations. I will understand the rest is what you have heard from others.”. This scared Karnik to some extent but as he had jumped into it, he did not want to step back. “I have seen your publicly appreciating him for his analysis and you announced that he got one award for it. I have see him going with you to play tennis. “ Karnik said and paused, “But others I heard from very very trusted sources. I believe in that.” he defended his statement.
Vishal said, “Karnik, can you do me favor? I want to understand this situation better so that I can correct the mistake what I have done. This will help all of us a lot. So, just answer my few questions honestly. Is it possible for you?”. Calm and composed response from Vishal after making one accusation has irritated Karnik to some extent. He said, “Yes” like an angry baby. “Forget what you have heard from others, Based on your own observation, if you would not have seen me going with Satpal to play tennis, would this have affected your belief that I am favoring him? “ Vishal asked making one expression which clearly says, he is honestly curious to know the answer. “May not, that is your personal choice. I have no problem you playing tennis or whatever with anybody but you must not favor him undeservingly.” Karnik explained. Karnik started believing that Vishal’s intentions are not lethal. “Okay, so out of 3 observations, verbal appreciation, award and tennis, I will take tennis out. I consider award and verbal appreciation as appreciation. So, if he would not have got the appreciation, would this have mattered?”. “Yes!!” Karnik said instantly,”I have done great analysis and many others have done too. We did not get any appreciation for that.”. Vishal questioned, “But you got the award 3 months back. You have been very well appreciated when you did something great. Isn’t it?”. Karnik defended, “But Satpal asks questions to me to do his task, always, how can he become better than me? You did not rate me appropriately”. Vishal was very clear about the real problem. He said, “Karnik, you are doing very good job. You are now feeling demotivated and suffering from lack of confidence, this is making you believe many things which are not true. You felt bad because Satpal got the award for his analytical skills which you do not believe as truth. Then other thoughts you built or gathered from various sources to create the reasoning why he got the award. You have made your own story and started believing on it. I can not give much details about other supporting points because we can not discuss about other’s performance, salary and appraisal rating. But, I will help you getting an award by working with you. I will help you to earn it and get it. Not through favors but through work and attitude. “So, you think Satpal earned it through work and attitude. I don’t think so.”. “Let us work hard on work and attitude and grab the next award so that he will also think that I favored you. ‘Saaley ko maja chakhhayenge, award leta hai? huh!!!’” Vishal said and got up laughing on his own joke. Fortunately Karnik also understood that as a joke and got up. Vishal excused himself as he had to leave for another meeting.
It is the appreciation in public which makes one person more happy and they expect all their mistakes to be discussed in private. No doubt this helps the individual’s morale but it sometimes affects the morale of others pretty badly. Others do not see a guilty getting punished as that is done in private but they see the appreciation in public. This creates trust deficit for the leader. Trust deficit with very little fact can create a great horror story. Unfortunately in that horror story both hero and villain die at the end. It is very important to break the story at the inception stage. If there is trust then the statement , “Award in public and punish in private” is true. Else, do the opposite. Most of the leaders follow the opposite model but advocate the former, because it is difficult to avoid trust deficit in this competitive world. This needs honesty, patience and courage to get rid of trust deficit.
– Stray Dog