Climbing up the 14 floors of the Discoverer building in IT Park Bangalore was not a regular practice. But this day was not a regular day as well. I had to make the most challenging decision about my best buddy cum team member.
I know that Sarad has poorly performed for the last three months and received various complaints about his careless and unmindful blunders, but in other hand, I know he is suffering from something. Almost 4 times in the last 3 months, I had to apologize to clients for Sarad’s misdeeds.
Last night’s incidence was the 4th blunder. Technically he should not be given another chance, and this situation calls for immediate termination. My professional hat is giving me instructions to let him go out of the organization. If I do not do that, then the next blunder will put my job at risk. There is no professional justification to retain Sarad for one more day also.
My one email will get this done, and there will be no difficulty in justifying to anybody why I took that decision because it is so apparent. But I am still thinking. There is something within me that is stopping me from making the decision.
3 years back, I interviewed Sarad as a fresh out of college student. He was a very energetic, enthusiastic, and smart candidate. There was no second thought in deciding that he should be selected for the developer position. When he was asked about his goal in 5 years, he answered, “I want to be the developer whom the entire Bangalore would like to hire in the next 5 years. And in the next 10 years, the entire world would like to hire me. But trust me, I will not ditch you even then.”.
He proved it right in the first 3 months. He was the developer who was assigned the most challenging projects, and there was absolutely no monitoring required. He would talk to everybody in the office, joke with everybody, even the general manager, spend time socializing but do his task before 6:00 PM in the evening and go home.
He became a senior software engineer when he had just 2 years of experience. I had no difficulty in explaining the reason he should be given double promotion. He was the example of meritocracy in the company. General Manager used to cite his example to say that we do not believe in the number of years of experience but true merit. He was doing his job in a senior software engineer role magnificently well. Excellent communication and presentation skills, along with his amazingly logical skills. I had pressure on me to get promoted to become the project lead by next year. My performance was okay but not good enough to be promoted as a manager. So, he had become my competitor in just 2 years.
He had become a very good friend of mine by then. We both used to share lots of ideas outside work regarding social and cultural activities. He one day disclosed that he is in love with Rupa, who works in the QA department. I was the happiest person to know this. They both started going out on weekends, and they both were very close to each other’s family. He never delays in taking any decision that his heart says. They got engaged in no time. He bought one flat near Kagdaspura and was paying 60% of his salary as EMI. He had bought a high-power bike, on loan, of course.
Work going good, romance going good, luxury going good, so overall life is going great. Other girls in the office were a bit jealous of Rupa for her luck.
On a Monday morning, I came to the office at the usual time and found him sitting on his chair and putting his head on the desk. I went near him immediately because it is so unlike him. He is the jolliest and happy-go-lucky guy I know. I sat beside him and asked what happened. He said nothing. I insisted but had no luck. Then I went to Rupa to get the details and found that he is not talking to Rupa since he returned from a bike trip that he went on Saturday. Rupa started crying and asking me to help her. I was not sure what would have caused this fine gentleman to go into extreme depression suddenly. I called his parents and told them that I called them casually to see how are they doing. It was not strange for them because I used to meet them frequently. They asked me if I know what happened to Sarad because, since Saturday evening, he is not talking to anybody at home and has not taken food properly.
This became a very strange problem. Nobody knows what happened and Sarad is not sharing anything despite all efforts.
Since then, his performance went down drastically. He was unmindful almost always. Everybody complained about him and especially clients. I stopped assigning him any critical work, but he was making blunders even out of nothing. He had stopped talking to Rupa, and their engagement was at risk. Rupa once tried to threaten her that she would break the engagement if he did not share his mind, but Sarad returned the engagement ring without uttering a single word. Rupa was so disappointed that she was crying almost every time we meet.
Today I have to make a decision about him. If he loses his job, it will put him into more depression, but he will be financially devastated by his home loan and bike loan. Due to the global financial slowdown, nobody is buying houses, so there were no chances for him to sell the house and repay the money. This worry prevented me from taking any drastic decision but not taking this decision will put my job into trouble. I already spoke to him once officially and was unsuccessful as he walked out of the meeting room. I was not sure whether to give him a second chance to talk or take the decision. Somehow I felt like giving a second chance to speak.
I called him for one on one. In the meeting room, he was looking at me without any trace of emotion on his face. I told him, “Sarad, this is the last opportunity in this organization for you to share your worries and save your job. Otherwise, you will be jobless from this moment. You have to make the decision right now. No organization can suffer for an employee suffering from a problem and does not want to resolve the problem. You have made many blunders, and this is the last opportunity. Saving you will put my job at risk, and I have many responsibilities upon me. I can’t save you anymore.”. “Who are we to save anybody? We are nothing. We have no power. I will resign so that you can save your job. Good bye” Sarad said.
“How can you be so insensitive Sarad? To gain the courage to tell you this, I climbed up and down 14 floors of this building 5 times today. I have not had food since Yesterday night thinking about you and your family. You are saying ‘Good Bye’. You are disgusting. You are hopeless and extremely insensitive. You better kill yourself than killing everybody associated with you. Your life is giving pain to many who love you.”. I shouted in the closed meeting room. “I lost all my sense the day I killed that boy on the road. I am hopeless since I left him dying in fear of getting beaten by villagers. I am inhuman and a beast. Do not show any sympathy on me.” and he burst into tears in the meeting room and started crying loudly so much that it was audible from outside.
I immediately took off for the rest of the day and took Sarad with me. On the way, he told me the entire incident. While returning from the bike trip, he had stopped at one location to take snaps. Then while coming alone, he received a call on his mobile phone and talked over the phone using his Bluetooth while driving the bike. It was a deserted road, and he was driving at a very good speed. Suddenly a kid came running on the road from nowhere. By the time he realized he had hit the kid who was fell on the roadside because of the impact and was severely bleeding. He was unsure what to do, and suddenly he saw some people coming running towards the accident spot. He was terrified and did not know what to do. Fearing that he will be beaten to death, he sped his bike and left the spot. He is guessing that the kid died on the spot as he was bleeding badly. I was terribly shocked to hear this, and after a couple of minutes of thought, I suggested going to the same place and enquiring. He said it is since 3 months since this happened, and going there will not be of any use. But I insisted on going there because if we don’t go, we can’t do anything, but if we go, we can at least do something. If the kid has really died, then at least we can provide some assistance to the family. He somehow agreed after long persuasion, and we both went to the village nearby the accident spot. We told that we are from one NGO and working on giving justice to families who have suffered due to hit and run cases. When we asked about the accident that happened on that specific day, villagers showed us the house of that kid. We found that that kid was very much alive and healthy. He not only survived but also his speech problem since his birth got cured after the accident miraculously. His parents were thankful for the incident that happened. Sarad hugged the kid tightly and cried there loudly for some time. His parents were surprised to see this but did not say anything. We provided some money to buy study material for that kid and left the village. On the way, I found my old friend Sarad coming back to his normal form. The burden of guilt that he was carrying vanished. Gradually he started showing his best performance as he used to demonstrate earlier. He and Rupa got together once again. Everything came to normal instead became better than before.
Second chance in life can sometimes do wonders. Nobody is a failure forever. Giving a second chance or taking a second chance may give you miraculous results. Think of the situations where you were given a second chance or given others a second chance. There are possibilities that it may be a failure, but you may miss the possible success if you do not give it a second chance.