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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Like Sachin, love the job

Cricket Star Breaks an 'Impossible' Record (Time)
Tendulkar's Latest Record Emphasizes His Greatness (IHT)
India's Sachin Tendulkar proves you can be a sporting icon without turning into a monster (Telegraph)
A once in a lifetime cricketer (Hindu)
The ODI Zenith (Indian Express)

Only Sachin was worthy of double ton milestone (TOI)

sachin tendulkar

Like Sachin, love the job
By G S Vasu
At one of the meetings I had with a group of associates, I asked if they loved watching a movie in a theatre. The response was a ‘yes’. Turning to the smokers, I asked if they loved every puff they took. ‘Yes’, they replied. The same was the response from those who loved every sip of whisky or beer. The young replied in the affirmative when asked if they loved dating their girlfriend (it is a different matter that they may hate her after marriage and find the girl next door more impressive).
On all these, they spend money — for cinema tickets, cigarettes, liquor and a cup of coffee or a favourite dish for the girlfriend. Then, I asked why they don’t love the work they do, though they get paid for it. The small gathering just remained silent.
Many greats paid glowing tributes to Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar on his completing 20 years of international cricket, but the one fundamental reason that has kept him going for two decades is the simple fact that he loves doing what he does, an aspect the legend himself has emphasised more than once. Being just one among his millions of fans, I am not qualified to write about his exploits on the field, but I began wondering how a case-study of his success, rather his traits, applied to almost every organisation or company — those that do exceedingly well and emerge leaders, those that keep trying to do better but never manage to reach the goal and those that just fall apart.
How many of us actually love what we do at the work place? Many don’t, whether they admit it or not. It could be true of a carpenter, a journalist, a manager or a marketing person. But the fact is most of us spend 70 per cent of our active life at work and if we don’t enjoy that time, life itself becomes meaningless. Making employees love what they are supposed to do is the key to the success of any organisation. Otherwise, it is like a husband and wife living together (for a variety of reasons) but not exactly loving each other. Just as my boss makes it a point to emphasise that in respect of journalists, there is no alternative to good writing. But it is possible only when one does it with passion.
‘You’re only as good as you are today’. It is true of everyone, Tendulkar included. How many times have we heard or read people saying it was time he quit, until the maestro kept proving himself again and again, just as he did in Hyderabad recently when he played one of the finest one-day innings the game has seen? Sachin is under scrutiny all the time but lesser mortals like us can often get away with non-performance. I had a colleague who always told me how he had exposed some scandal two decades ago. But, in the last decade of his service, I never saw him write and he could get away with it. Even today, the one remark that I keep hearing from employees in various organisations is: “We have worked very hard in the initial years of our service. But, we are no longer interested.”
The reasons could vary: one hasn’t got a promotion for years, another hasn’t received a decent increment and yet another has no faith in the future of the organisation he works for. Creating effective mechanisms — money and recognition — is the key to motivating people, the two factors that had a role to play even in Tendulkar’s success, just as they had a negative impact in the case of other equally talented sportspersons who did not have the same kind of money or recognition in a cricket-crazy nation.
One manager was confronted with a similar situation in a department — a bunch of disheartened staffers, more than required, and all of them doing things in the most routine fashion. Some of them were capable, a few others incorrigible or ‘resisters to change’ as I would like to put it. The latter group was slowly weeded out and a part of the money saved used to reward those who remained. They are much better off today than a few months ago; five of them doing what eight did earlier. After all, as Jack Welch said in his Winning, plaques and public fanfare have their place. But without money rewards lose a lot of their sheen. Equally important is a non-bureaucratic and meaningful evaluation system so that the right people are rewarded. I am reminded of the CEO of a company who spent all his time in the office in engaging low-level employees to spy on the seniors. Over the years, it wrecked the careers of many and in the process the organisation itself. Just as Indian selectors often kill promising sportspersons because the consideration is not based on talent but something else.
For one last time, I shall return to Sachin and this time it is about the lack of ego despite all the success he has achieved, and his commitment and integrity. Good and great people never think they have reached the top of their game and they never allow their integrity to be questioned. Today, he is praised as much for his commitment and integrity as for his batting. But, how many companies have heads with a similar attitude? On the contrary, many of them are saddled with leaders, smart and capable, but who believe they are so indispensable that they should not be bound by anything, including the company’s values, which are written in boldface and kept on the table to draw everyone’s attention except their own.
They can never be in a team, just as a friend narrated the episode in a company where one head kept fingering another till the latter left, totally frustrated and dejected. There is this story of another senior manager who used all his creativity to violate a rule and claim refund of a certain expenditure that is not allowed. The accountant knew passing the bill was a mistake and yet could not muster the guts to say ‘no’ because the claim was made by the boss. More often not, ethics apply more to the heads than those under them because it is the former who has to set an example and also has a greater opportunity to steal, lie or cheat.
Sachin might have walked on to the cricket field hundreds of times so far and yet each time all of us cheer every minute that he spends at the crease and feel terrible when he walks back. The reverse is perhaps true of most heads — employees hate the moment the boss enters office and feel relieved when he/she leaves. That’s why I would say the life of Sachin Tendulkar can be a good lesson for any corporation that is required to manage a large workforce as it would be, in any case, to every aspiring cricketer.
About the author:
G S Vasu is the resident editor of ‘The New Indian Express’, Andhra Pradesh and is based in Hyderabad

Gritty Aussies hail 'outstanding' Tendulkar (AFP)
Tendulkar turns back the clock (brisbanetimes)
Tendulkar hits 175, goes well past 17,000 runs (sify)
Tendulkar: 17,168... and counting (asian age)
Sachin keeps raising the bar (telegraphindia)
Greek tragedy for Tendulkar as India lose thriller (cricbuzz)

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