Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Motive of the Branch Manager Offering the Dispatch Work to Me

       I underwent a major operation – implantation of a pacemaker due to extreme bradycardia - some nine months ago and since then I have been recuperating from that operation, so I could not publish any further posts in my blog. Now that I have recovered completely from that surgery, and back to my normal health and doing well, I thought of continuing to post further articles in my blog.

       In my last post, I wrote about one of the many attempts made by the branch manager to get rid of me from the dispatch work.  Before elucidating further on the matter, I would like to give the names of the Branch Manager and the sales representative, who was kind of his right hand man, who were working for my ouster from the dispatch work after their purpose have been accomplished (myself writing a letter to the head office asking for a news agency at Ramanathapuram, Coimbatore) and the motive behind their attempt for doing the same.  The name of the Branch Manager was Mr. N.S.Gobalakrishnan, and the name of the sales representative was T.R.Ravichandran.

N.S. Gobalakrishnan (Branch Manager, later Regional Manager, The Hindu, Coimbatore -1980s and 1990s) 
(Mr. Gobalakrishnan once told me that, "If I am affected by paralysis in future, people would say that I am suffering this fate because I had cheated people in my life while working, but I don't care about that." This was told by him to me when there was talk of bifurcating Ramanathapuram area from Coimbatore Agency and appointing a new agent for Ramanathapuram area.  What kind of man would he be who talks like this? You decide yourself.)
 In any company or organization, when there are bad managers, they are usually surrounded by some staff who are sycophants.  That sales representative was one such man.  He would always behave in such a way that he was a loyal worker for the company and that the other staff are working against the company's interest.  He would like to display his royalty to the company in any action that he takes, even to the point of faking reality.  I will write more about him in future posts, here it will suffice to bear in mind that he was the darling of the branch manager. 

       As I had written in my first post, within a few months of taking over the dispatch work, I wrote a letter to the head office asking for a news agency at Ramanathapuram area in Coimbatore on the advice of the sales representative who was very close to the branch manager, and who was obviously taking instructions from him in asking me to do so.

       I thought while writing that letter that he was thinking of offering me that news agency as it was near the Coimbatore office and it would help me run the dispatch work more efficiently by helping me to recruit boys for the dispatch work.  Also, I thought that this was in keeping with his promise of offering a News Agency to me when I accepted the dispatch work as the dispatch work itself was not a rewarding one financially but involved enormous responsibility.

       But the branch manager, while he had asked me through this sales representative to write a letter asking for the agency to the head office, had some others in his mind to offer that agency, which I came to know only much later, by which time I had settled in this work and could not return to my earlier job as a computer operator in an accounting cum share broking office in Coimbatore, which I regret leaving to this day, to take the responsibility of running the dispatch work.  I was asked to write that letter so that he can bargain with the head office that if the Ramanathapuram agency was bifurcated then only he can have a contractor for the dispatch work, and after a decision was made to bifurcate the agency by the head office, he can find some excuse for not offering the agency to me and offer it to the person he had in mind for some personal gain for him.

       I have already written about the benefits and advantages for The Hindu having a contractor run the dispatch work than the office itself taking the responsibility, which it had been doing earlier before my joining as dispatch contractor.  The manager used these benefits and advantages to the company as bargaining points with the higher management and tried to bifurcate the Coimbatore agency.  Besides, the Coimbatore agent was a close relative of one of the owners, and he had to state strong reasons for bifurcation, and this makes my work in the dispatch section as that much more important and significant.

       One would wonder why I was asked to write a letter asking for the agency at Ramanathapuram instead of he himself asking the head office to bifurcate the Coimbatore Agency stating the reasons for the necessity of such a move.  First of all, he did not want anyone in the management to know that he was interested in such a move because he was the sole authority who looked after the process of appointing the new agent, and he did not want anyone in the management (above his level in the hierarchy of management) think that he has some personal motives in asking for such a decision.

       If I write a letter to the head office, then he would be asked, as the Branch Manager concerned, whether there was a need for such a bifurcation, and whether it would serve any purpose that would be beneficial for the company, then he would reply that "everyone" wants the bifurcation and that it would certainly lead to increase in circulation and better service being offered to the readers such as early delivery of the newspaper, etc., if a new agent is appointed for the area "who can run a news agency efficiently."  This would make the top management believe that he did not have any personal motive in this matter and that he would only bring to their attention when issues are raised by others and that he would not come into picture only when asked by the top management.  This was what made him ask me to write the letter asking for Ramanathapuram agency through the sales representative.

       The Branch Manager has the confidence and support of the top management of the company, but he had some problems with the middle management of the company, who knew that he has been making some gain in the appointment of new agents, particularly agencies having more than 500 copies.  When an agency change comes in centers served by the Coimbatore office, there would be great activity going on in the Branch Manager's room with that sales representative moving in and out of his room and if there is going to be some monumental changes are being discussed that is going to change the whole office beyond recognition with some veiled secrecy behind the whole episode known only to those two persons.

         Usually when such a change is being considered for an agency of around 500 copies or more, only that sales representative would be sent to make that change.  During my working as a dispatch contractor there, I had witnessed such agency changes in centers like Udumalpet, Karur, Tirupur, and centers in the suburban areas of Coimbatore like Madukkarai.  That sales was sent to collect applications from prospective agents in that area - usually sub agents of various newspapers working in that area - but everyone in the branch office knew that the agent had already been selected before the collection of those applications, and whenever any one of such applicant visited the office, he would be looked by the staff with such a pity that I wondered if that applicant knew the fate of his application from the atmosphere that he observed in the office.

       But when I was asked to write that letter, I did not know his motives or his intentions.  I came to understand them only much latter.  I realized much later that I was offered the dispatch work in the first place not with the intention of the move being helpful to the office in running the dispatch work efficiently nor with any intention to help me but specifically for a man to write a letter to the head office asking for the Ramanathapuram agency and thus bifurcate the Coimbatore agency and offer to someone he had in mind for his personal gain.
       When I wrote that letter, Mr. Vasudva Rao was the circulation manager, but unfortunately for the branch manager, Mr. Vasudeva Rao left the company at that time, and Mr. M.R. Sivakumar took over as the circulation manager.

       I say it was an unfortunate event for the branch manager because Mr. Vasudeva Rao was kind of a pliable man and was not a strong manager, and the branch manager could have easily convinced him of the need for the bifurcation of the Coimbatore agency, and on bifurcation, he would have given it to somebody else, which I did not know at that time. But, I did not know whether that change of guard was fortunate for me or not because my struggle with the branch manger did not end with that event.  The new circulation manager, unlike his predecessor, was a strong manager, and he realized the motives of the Branch Manger, and he could have known that the Branch Manager was asking for bifurcation not with any intention of offering the agency to me for running the dispatch work and that the agency would go to someone else.

       I explained in my last post the modus operandi by which he was trying to accomplish this.  I preempted his move by writing a letter to the circulation manager about this. Within a few days, the circulation manager visited the Coimbatore office and I was asked to meet him in the office.

       When I met the circulation manger in the Coimbatore office, the branch manager was also present. The circulation manager showed me the letter I wrote to him about the Managing Director’s application for the dog shows to be held at Ootacamund and told me that I should have informed the branch manager if a mistake had happened and he chided me for writing a letter to him instead, and he asked, “Am I a post man to you.”

       This was like what the branch manager once told me while there was delay in the dispatch work after a new machine was commissioned and the press people were complaining about the delay to the branch manager: I will act as if I am beating you and you act as if you were crying, only in this case the circulation manager did not say like that to me.  He informed me then that if there is any problem in the dispatch work then I should not write letters to him but inform the branch manager about it and that I would not be punished because mistakes do happen while doing any kind of work.

       I expected the circulation manger to ask the branch manger why I was not informed about the letter or my friend who attended the dispatch work on that day, but that did not happen. Instead the circulation manager used that letter and began to give the branch manager a torrid time and the branch manager became a very frustrated man.  I will write in my future posts how the Circulation Manager handled this issue.
       On the day I met the circulation manager, that sales representative was called for a meeting with the circulation manager with the branch present. I later learned what happened in that meeting from other staff members. These are some of things that I usually hate to do. They are staff members who usually indulge in gossip in which I never involved myself.  But here my fate was involved, so I had to know what was going on and what I learned was disgusting.  I did not expect these things to happen in a good company, and the issue of the dispatch work became a tool for the Branch Manger and the Circulation Manager to involve themselves in politics and score points against each other.

        The way in which the Circulation Manager handled the issue raised a question in my mind whether he was using me to hurt the Branch Manger in every way possible - as he was a favorite of the top management and he had his own grudge against him - and I began to wonder,"Is the Circulation Manager also a Jerk?"  I will write about those things in my future posts.

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