Working in any hierarchical and structured organisation, one always had a boss, someone to whom one is answerable and someone who always gauged your performance and guided you to achieve the best. I too had my bosses and one always had subordinates, for whom one was the boss. After retirement, I realised that I was not my own boss as one had to be answerable for the actions to someone or the other.
I would classify the bosses under whom I worked as :-
- Category 1. “I know most of it and I know that I know most of it”. The best boss to work under, who will only give you a few directions and believes in delegation. The boss knows the team well and capability of each one in the team and assigns tasks accordingly.
- Category 2. “I know bit of it and I know that I know only a bit of it”. Depends heavily on the subordinates and accepts inputs from them. The subordinates while providing inputs need to be well aware that it may be implemented at times in full.
- Category 3. “Knows nothing, but presumes that he knows everything”. Most difficult to work with as a subordinate and does not seem to have any faith in the subordinates. You will always keep getting orders and not directions as to how to execute a task and for sure, it will keep changing from hour to hour and at times from minute to minute.
One can never select one’s boss, especially in the army and one got to accept them ‘As Is’. I had been lucky during my service that I got a good lot of the Category 1 bosses as mentioned above. The distribution of the bosses were:-
- Category 1. 52%
- Category 2. 8%
- Category 3. 40%
How they will perform in a given scenario is an interesting study. Let us take the case of a senior executive (a General or a CEO) flying in from the head office or the higher headquarters and need to be briefed for about 10 minutes by the boss under consideration.
- Category 1. Will call the subordinates concerned, give out clear directions as to the slides to be made (at times makes it himself) and ask for any inputs from others. The slides only if must, may undergo a few changes. He may conduct one rehearsal and accept most inputs from the subordinates.
- Category 2. Will call the immediate subordinates and explain to them the task in hand and accept inputs from them. The subordinates will have to provide the slides and the script and at times explain all that is written too. The boss puts in extra effort to understand the contents. There will be a few rehearsals and hardly any changes except for those where the boss finds difficulty in explaining.
- Category 3. You and the entire sundry in the organisation, whether connected with the briefing or not, will be summoned for a conference, which will last for at least an hour. Some orders would be given out regarding the number of slides to be made, who will provide the data, etc. The most important aspect covered would be the tea and snacks to be served to the executive and at times even the flower arrangements to be placed in the office. The number of slides to be made would be around 40 and everyone knows that there would not be sufficient time, even to flash all the slides. The slides will undergo umpteen changes and will never be finalised till the eleventh hour. There may be many a rehearsals, but the number of changes the slides would undergo would make them meaningless. Always save your initial draft, at the end of the day, with modifications and corrections, you will find the end product almost similar to your initial draft.
The final result you all can guess, but ultimately it is the subordinates who suffer, especially in doing unproductive work.