Life is a brutal teacher. And I’ve learned my lessons the hard way, both in my professional life and in my personal life. Just as there are some people you should not allow into your personal life, there are certain specimens you should not permit in your work-place. And if you’re an entrepreneur like me, who has staked everything he has, you need to be extra careful.
These are the mistakes I made, as a senior manager in the days when I was an employee and as a business owner later in life. I’m sharing my blunders with you, so that you don’t make the same mistakes and pay a heavy price – as I did.
Think twice before you hire any of these:
1) Personal friends. Never make this mistake. Your langoti yaar is great company for evening drinks and weekend outings or a shoulder to cry on. He knows everything about you and your family. And that is exactly why you should keep him out of your work-place. He or she may be well qualified for the job, but so are many other people who are not your friends.
History is replete with real stories of treacherous friends. Not for nothing does Chanakya say, “Beware the friend who knows your deepest secrets.”
If he’s a friend who’s in trouble and looking for a job, by all means get him a job elsewhere. Just not in your office. I speak from bitter experience, people.
2) Relatives. Especially your spouse’s relatives! This is an obvious mistake, but people make it all the time. What will you do if that relative proves to be worthless as a worker? You can’t retain him, you can’t fire him. And you’re the one who gets screwed by the management.
Of course, traditional family firms do hire their relatives. Some of them are successful, but many of them are not. After all, if India’s biggest company can split in two because of a family feud, then what about a small-timer like me?
If you don’t want your blood relatives to become your bloody relatives, keep them out of your work-place.
3) Religious bigots. No one can spoil the work-place more than a bigot. He or she will refuse to follow the official dress code, waste official hours in heated religious debates with co-workers, festoon his work-space with over-size religious icons, and regularly skip work for various esoteric religious reasons.
In a democracy, religion is a personal choice. And it should be practised in one’s personal time.
It is usually easy to spot a religious bigot during the job interview. It’s not too difficult to see the difference between a person who is not a zealot – and one who is.
4) Social media addicts. Such types will spend more time on the Internet than on actual work. Even if your company blocks out certain websites on the corporate network, these Net-heads will still find a way to indulge in their addiction.
The larger the company, the more the amount of valuable corporate time that is wasted by such net-freaks. And these are the people who can do a lot of damage to your personal and corporate reputation, when they use social media to express themselves against you.
Freedom of expression is just great, and I’m a strong supporter. But there’s a right time, a right place and a right way to enjoy that freedom.
Spend all the time you want in the cyber-world, but not at your employer’s expense. I live in the real world, and the real world has real bills that need to be paid in real money.
5) “Premier” institute hot-shots. Through my career, the employees who gave me and my employers the most trouble were the alumni of the “premier” institute that I hail from.
Yeah. That’s right. Our good old UDCT. Now known as the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai.
It is something that seems to be unique to the alumni of “premier” institutes in India, my institute included. That belief that they are higher forms of human life, that swagger, that body language, that attitude. And rarely, if ever, is that attitude supported by real technical expertise or professional prowess.
And rarely, if ever, have I seen a significant difference between the graduates of my “premier” institute and their humbler counterparts from other institutes – especially in the pharmacy discipline that I belong to.
Where does this attitude come from, I wonder? Is it part of the syllabus? Or do students imbibe this attitude from those who teach them?
I worked with some big MNC’s when I was a corporate citizen. And each of my employers discovered that it was preferable to hire from local, non-premier institutes. And each of those employers made me miserable for forcing them to hire from my “premier” alma mater.
That is a mistake I will never commit again.
“The employer generally gets the employees he deserves.” … J Paul Getty (1892-1996), founder of Getty Oil Company and billionaire.
Cheers … Srini.