By Vinod Bidwaik
“You should be tough, ruthless and very assertive when you are in business. If managers are not tough, then their subordinate will not be tough and it is very difficult to sustain in the competitive world.” So-called tough manager was preaching the junior managers in the meeting. He then declared that there would be one sharing session where all managers would share their experiences on how they were tough in their personal life. It was year 2008. The indications of slow down were prominent. The business was down. All new projects and businesses were not doing well. The reasons for the failure were different, but the slowdown was the opportunity to conceal their failure.
“You should be empathetic with people.” Was his another preaching topic. He read it somewhere about empathy and started to preach people. If you are empathetic, you can achieve desired results. However he was literally spoiling the career of good employees by doing experiments about their profiles.
“There is a clause of termination in appointment letter, one month notice period. Ask employees to resign without any severance packages. You do not have any obligations. You should be empathetic; still you should be tough and ruthless.” He ordered in another meeting.
Empathy means understanding other’s feeling, putting yourself in their shoes and deciding your strategy to deal with them. Excellent fundamental! I personally use this tactic while dealing with different people.
CEO of the company decided to close one office at one location. So- called tough and empathetic manager was given the responsibility of this project. But this whole project was handled very unprofessionally where high profile and critical talent were treated like a contract and casual workmen. They started agitation against the management. The matter was referred to media and political leaders including ministers. Adverse reports and comments spoiled the reputation of the company. CEO had to take the control of the situation to salvage where management had to agree to pay them heavy severance package.
So-called empathic and tough manager failed in his strategies. He actually did not know the real meaning of empathy. He tried to be tough; but at wrong situation with wrong people.
After some days, management decided to be tough with him without being empathetic.
Being tough does not mean you miss the human dimension. Good companies focus log term goals. The hiring of talent is supposed to be for achieving long term goals. Good companies touch the talent cost at last when all the resorts fail; however bad companies focus cost reduction by reducing the talent at first site. You can be tough with situation. You also can be tough with people but before that you also need to understand the consequences and your capability to handle the consequences.