Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Decision Making in The Hindu: Managing Increased Work Load Without Additional Workers


       In my post dated January 22, 2012, I wrote extensively about the dispatch work. I wrote in that post that apart from the parcels of the daily edition of the newspaper, the parcels of supplements printed and packed separately earlier are also sent to the news agents along with the daily newspaper parcels.

       On Saturdays and Sundays, the pages of supplements are usually more than that of the main newspaper. On those days, the time taken for packing of parcels may not be than any other days. But, the supplement parcels that are to be sent along with the daily newspaper parcels are kept ready at appropriate places for loading in each car/van, and to load all these parcels, the drivers of each transport need more time to check and load the parcels in the car/van.

       The dispatch section was spacious enough to work on the days when the supplement was 4 or 8 or even 12 pages.  But on Saturdays and Sundays, usually there were two or three or even four supplements and the supplement pages were more than 12 and even up to 20, the dispatch section was like a cramped place.

       The supplement parcels sent separately along with the daily parcels were kept outside the dispatch section in an open place.  During rainy days, the dispatch section looked like a real mess.


       If there had been rain before the start of printing, the supplements parcels could not be kept outside and were accommodated inside the dispatch section, and that led to the packers working in a very cramped environment, and also there was confusion while loading the parcels because the supplements parcels could not be kept separately for each transport because of lack of space, and also for each transport, the supplements loaded in the front seat, the back seat, and the bonnet could not be kept separately for easy loading of parcels along with the main newspaper parcels as a consequence of this severe space restriction.

       When there was rain during the printing of the daily paper, but not before, the confusion became even more pronounced as the workers had to bring the parcels from the open space into the dispatch section besides continuing their work of packing, and the confusion continued while loading of parcels in the car/van as the parcels of different transports got mixed, and as a result, there was delay in the departure of the transports. Imagine when there was rain before the start of main newspaper printing, and it continued while the printing and packing of parcels were going on!

       During the winter months, I had to work under constant worry about the rain and the necessity of the additional work of bringing the parcels inside the dispatch section from the open place to keep the parcels not getting damaged in the rain.


       I explained this situation to the manager many times, and I wanted him to make some arrangements for safe keeping of parcels such as putting a shelter in front of the dispatch section so that parcels could be kept safely, and the drives of the car/van could load the parcels without any problem even when there was rain during the loading of parcels.  Whenever I brought the subject to his attention, he promised me that some arrangements would be made in this regard very soon.

       One day, I saw some workers doing some renovation work in some part of the building. I learnt that they had come from the head office to do the work and that the work would go on for nearly a month.

    I went to see the branch manager and told him about my long pending request for some sort of roofing or some other type of arrangement that would help me to keep the supplement parcels outside safely without being damaged in the rain.


       But, what he told me shocked me and made me realize that what he had been telling me all these days about his desire to do something to solve the problem in this regard was just a tactic to postpone the issue and he had no intention of doing anything to solve the problem.  He told me that he could not tell the architect, who was in charge of the work, to put a roof in front of the dispatch section because the architect would tell him that it would spoil the beauty of the building.


       What he was talking about was what architects would call the façade and the ornamentation of the building.  I knew even then that he did not know about anything about architecture beyond that one sentence and that he used that as a popular bromide rather than out any conviction about the truthfulness of such a statement.


       Being an admirer of Ayn Rand, I knew that I could argue against that statement, and I was tempted to explain to him the most fundamental principle of architecture attributed to the great American architect Louis H. Sullivan that “Form (façade which expresses the beauty of the building) follows function” to him, which means that the form or the façade of a building must follow the function for which it is built, and a good architect must be able to design a building in such a way that it fulfills its function and acquires its form (beauty) by expressing that function.

       But I did not say anything at that time and left it at that.  His idea of management was that a manager in one department should not question another manager’s decision even if he knows that is a wrong decision, which if one considers superficially may look perfectly all right.


      But consider the situation that I have explained above.  Here, the dispatch section, which comes directly under him, needs something to be done, the responsibility of which comes under another manager.


      In such circumstances, won’t he ask that manger to do that work so as to improve the efficiency of the work done in the company? How can a company perform efficiently if one department’s decision adversely affects the other department’s work and the manager of the concerned department does not bring it to the attention of the manager of the other department? These are the questions that never occurred to him, or he was not bothered by such things even if it adversely affects his department’s work. What kind of management principle is this?

        His decision was based on the idea that if he does not involve himself in any way with other departments - even if those decisions adversely affects his department’s work and his involvement will make a favorable impact on his department’s work and also the overall performance of the company – then other department staff would not involve themselves in his decisions concerning his department.


        He did not want anyone from other departments to tell him when there was a need to appoint any news agent. He was mainly concerned with news agent appointments as I wrote earlier. This was the work he cherished most in his job.  On the occasions when a new appointment was being made, he looked like a man who got a promotion or a huge salary increase, and he moved as if there was a halo over his head, and he looked like one of the happiest man on earth. I will write about those instances in my future posts as I was a candidate many times for agency for various centers before I got the Ramanathapuram agency.

       I realized at that time that he was using that statement merely as a means of convenience and he was the kind of a manger who does not work but just keep his job.


       This was an instance which was concerned just with the branch manager and the staff of another department dealing with facilities and their function which could only be termed deplorable.


       But in another instance, along with the branch manager, the top management of the company including the circulation manager, and even the deputy managing director of the company, were unwilling the make decisions that severely affected my work, and their attitude were much more deplorable than this. I will write about that in my next posting.

3 comments:

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AmitAag said...

Hi Nand! I have been to your blog as promised, and really liked it! Am now following you and will keep coming here often...thanks:)

Paul Haney said...

This is really a refresher. It is like I am reading and learning new ideas at the same time. Thanks for the post.
llc