Saturday, 30 June 2012

The bigot Manager

I'm telling you, as a manager your work ethic and behavior are totally unacceptable.

Bernard Chan strolled into his office with sluggish steps as usual at 9.45am, way past the time he set upon his team of sales staff for the daily meeting at 9am. As usual he smoked nonchalantly like there was no tomorrow and ignored all the staff’s glare as his office was a non-smoking zone with the air-conditioning running. This morning he had something else that caught everybody’s eyes: he had a large bottle of root beer tugged under his right armpit as he staggered into his office, a modern show room of 4 wheels drive trucks. He ignored the greetings of the janitors who were mopping the floor and did not respond to the ‘Good morning’ accosting of his female clerical staff. As he sat down senior sales executive Robert got into his room and told him: "Hey Bernard, you’ve got hypertension in your blood system and you’re diabetic too; you still dare to drink this stuff?" pointing at the Sales Manager’s bottle of root beer. The sickly, foul tempered manager struggled to stand up and released a fusillade of unprintable words at the well-intention staff and continued: “You think that you won’t die? You probably die earlier than me!” Poor Robert felt that it was not his desirable way to begin a day of tough field work with a hot argument with his boss. “This boss will never learn to redress his problems.” He left the sales manager’s room as quickly as he could.

Boring, no one is willing to get close enough for a chat
Steve Job was known to be a harsh and overbearing boss to his staff; he was excessively demanding and sometimes irrational.

Bernard Chan lit up another cigarette and stared at the stack of files atop his table waiting for his approval and signature. He shouted loudly: CK Tee, are you there? One minute later senior sales consultant CK Tee walked into Bernard’s room. “What’s breakfast this morning?” The manger asked shamelessly as he knew well Tee would be too willing to buy him the first meal of the day. Two other sales consultants joined them for breakfast at a coffee shop (known as Kopitiam locally). With cigarette in hand Bernard kept talking about his English wife whom he had divorced before his return to his home country. He had flunked his examinations while in his 2nd year university studies. The sales personnel had all fed up with his super bragging of his hedonic and salacious lifestyle when he was living in the United Kingdom as a student. “What a shameless geek!” The cursed silently, “An overbearing scumbag too!” Most of them had encountered his outburst of insensitive words, therefore they bore acrimony against their manager.

Kopitiams a.k.a. as coffe shops of the early days used to be a melting pot for all races in the country to dine and drink low-priced fare together for friendly gatherings. Unfortunately due to the awakening on the emphasis of islamic values, the scenes of the harmony had gone.  Nowadays the so-called Kopitiams are the expensive bistros that attract the chic and hic, affluent customers. The old styled kopitiams have gone with the wind in major cities.

An hour after Bernard Chan returned to his office after his breakfast, he still had not laid his hands on those sales order files waiting for his attention. An irate and impatient sales consultant Aaron Sham approached him regarding a sales order he closed for the final procedure, viz. registration of a 4wheel drive vehicle.

 Let's fight it out under the hot sun to see who's the tougher one!

Bernard Chan: What do you want?

Aaron Sham: Bernard, please sign the document quickly so that I can register    the vehicle and subsequently I can proceed to deliver the truck to the customer. All documents are complete, and full down payment has been collected. The application for the loan has been approved. The undertaking letter from the bank is attached with the sales order.

Bernard Chan: Why in the world you hurry me? There is a standard procedure; things go through its course before my approval.

Aaron Sham: But that file had been on your table for the past three days.
Bernard Chan: Are you trying to tell me how to do my job?

Aaron Sham: I don’t mean to. But for heaven’s sake, I’ve a dateline for the delivery; it’s a promise to my client.

Bernard shrugged his shoulder: That’s between you and your customer. It’s not my promise, nor my business.

Aaron Sham: How could you be so irresponsible as a departmental head, you’ve no sense of urgency, defying the principle of customer relation come first.

Bernard Chan lost his head: You idiot, you dare to challenge my authority!

He stood close to Aaron and pushed him with his bare hands, gesturing for a fight. Smart and alert Aaron backed few step away and declared:

“No problem! It’s a fist fight and close body combat with bare hands and no weapon needed. Before we proceed to that, I want you to ponder your chance of immediate death fallen upon you when you have high blood pressure and you’re an incurable diabetic. I'll just aim my punches at your left chest; that'll will do. For me I’m okay even we’re about the same age. I played tennis every week and I can skip the ropes 60 times at a single effort. I’ve no known sickness. But since you challenged me for a fight, I obliged. Before we begin I want the guard of the office Mr. Rashid Rahman to be our witness, confirming that you’re the challenger, not me. And if death comes quickly to you, as expected, it’s wholly your own doing, nothing of my fault at all! Wait a minute, you and I will sign a declaration first too, certifying that you agree to all my terms; and Mr. Tee and Robert will sign as witness for us. Okay?” It looked like Aaron’s psychological warfare worked well.

Pandemonium broke up in a fight between two sales personnel over sales order.

Almost immediately Bernard retreated to become a shrinking worm to remain silent. He could not display any more of his belligerent attitude but sat down to his chair, sulked like an over grown child, then he took out his pen. Very shortly Aaron’s sales order file was approved and he left the office to register the vehicle at the registry of transport. Though he seemed to have an upper hand as a victor, he felt the need to report the incident to the human resource department. Aaron called the HR manager Mohd Ayeop and told him that his egregious branch manager challenged him for a fist fight. “Oh, that’s serious! You sure it’s not an insubordinate matter?” After taking down all the details over the phone, the HR manager called the general manager.

The great outdoor outings to the difficult terrains of  hilly roads and jungle tracks, and with many river crossings, making 4x4 expeditions through tropical rain forest of Malaysia an unforgettable experience.

The following month Bernard Chan had no choice but to report for duty to a totally new location 1,370km away. He arrived at the company’s branch office at Miri, an East Malaysian city at the northern part of the Borneo Island. With his despicable ability to administrate the branch he met with much resistance from his new team of sales staff. The head office in Kuala Lumpur only was interested in optimum sales figures, and for that matter Bernard Chan was in blue heaven again. His branch excelled in selling 4 wheels drive trucks as it possessed a team of old timed, experienced, and capable sales consultants. The rough terrain and not so modern labyrinth of country roads warranted the use of 4wheels drive trucks much more than the Peninsula Malaysia counterparts. Bernard Chan continued his unhealthy way of life in consuming alcohol and chained smoking. One night after a heavy outing of drinking with his bunch of new friends, he suffered a stroke and collapsed there and then unconscious. For a good 15 minutes, his heart stopped beating. Two diligent paramedics arrived on time in an ambulance helped to resuscitate him back to life. He was lucky; the hospital was just 1km away from the scene.

Has one got to be in such critical state only to realise what a foolish man
he has been? Or will he just lament that life had been unfair to him.

Eventually he was brought back to Kuala Lumpur like a terminally ill patient for medical treatment. He enjoyed 6 months of medical leave with pay and another 6 months without pay. A years passed he was more or less alright, thank his lucky star that his company also owned a 5 star-rated medical centre. He had to foot most of the medical bills as his company paid only a certain percentage. He was in dire strait as he had little saving due to his lavish life style. He had a school going teenage son and a non-working wife. They lived in an apartment he bought with 90% loan; he needed to pay a hefty sum every month just to service the loan. Right now Bernard Chan was penniless. He had few friends as he had offended their good intention with his foul language and mannerism. Most of them kept a safe distance from him like avoiding an intimidating leech. The head office deemed him a pain in the ass and a source of embarrassment so they were happy to see him go as just 3 months after his discharge from the hospital, (without settling the medical bills fully) he was due for retirement at his 55th birthday. There was a farewell lunch thrown for his departure alright and that was about it. The head office was too glad to rid of a nitwit manager who had a history of dereliction of duties.

        The bigot manager needed to be kicked for a wake-up call.
While he was still alive, able to walk albeit with shaky footing, and slurred speech handicap, he sought help from his former associates, begging them to offer him any post of a manager. None of them obliged as they saw him a valueless man in his dying remaining days. When all effort failed, Bernard Chan became a junior sales representative at 55 yrs old, the lowest post of a sales position. His days were numbered, he told himself and when confiding in CK Tee, the only person on earth willing to listen to his plight. “It’s tough being in the sales industry.” He lamented lamely with an inaudible sigh. Bernard Chan had his right leg amputated two years after his retirement, as ganglion infected his foot so severely due to chronic diabetic.

Good managers are popular and able to win respect and support from their staff so as to make the office a better and congenial place to work.

Alan CY Kok

1 comment:

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