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haunted,ghosts,believe,corporate,down the drain

Thursday, 28 January, 2010

Rajit Nair

“Do you believe in Ghosts?” this question was asked by a group of students to me in an open-house session in one of the prestigious colleges in the city. “Well! Yes, I do believe in “Corporate Ghosts’” I replied. The inquisitive minds could not comprehend my answer and they started quizzing me. My reply to them was elaborate and following is the reproduction of that conversation.

As we witnessed many companies and businesses going down the drain recently, may be or may not be due to the economic tsunami that hit the business harbors of many countries. Those companies shuttered not because of the crisis or those companies locked out in the recent past or those which are getting ready to be closed may have other ‘hidden’ or ‘invisible’ factors behind them is what I am trying to summarize.

I would say that many of these companies or businesses actually are/were haunted by the different variants of the ‘corporate ghost’. These ghosts not necessarily are possessed individuals, but could be a group of people that contribute to the cause the saga.

In addition, ghosts may not always be possessed ‘living beings’, but sometimes, certain corporate policies, company culture. Even the location of the business would act as a ghost and contribute to the downfall of the business. Let us explore few examples of such ‘corporate poltergeists’.

I had mentioned in many of my previous articles about immaturity or immature minds. This would be one of the important reasons that would qualify an individual as a great candidate for possession. Frenzied emotions or hysterical feelings like hunger for fame, hankering for exposure and illogical competition would easily possess such immature minds and control them. Such possessed at the expense of the company’s coffers would try to reach out to the masses, against the will of supporters and sometimes even their own inner voice. Accordingly, they execute superfluous marketing initiatives, without even calculating or understanding what would be the return or benefit for the company, either in the form of business or goodwill. The possessed would seek the feedback from such ‘events’ just to quench their ego. Any negative remark would trigger retaliation from such manifestations.

‘Challenger Ghosts’ will try to reach out by entering into unhealthy challenges or competitions. While in business competition, as a general rule, to script a victory, these ghosts would try to pick on someone inferior in position and status, rather challenging someone superior or equal. In cases where the ‘challenger ghost’ underestimates the might of the ‘opponent’ it is seen that the possessed may stoop to all levels to tarnish the public image of the challenger, be in business or in personal life.

‘Love ghosts’ that possess some executives, would trap both the clients and partners in romantic charades. As the relationship prospers, such ghosts will definitely bring in conditions for both the parties that would jeopardize the company’s resources, policies, and sometimes money. The employees wedged in the love web will be tormented if they try to raise red flags regarding the limitations, risks and the issues that would affect the company if such eerie promises were upheld.

Many who may get possessed with control ghost are capable of sabotaging a business. The employees will be the major victims for such ghosts. Instead of being a participative and understanding executive or manager or leader, such ghosts will ravish the employees’ individuality just to show the repugnant face of power. They destroy the very fabric of trust, honesty and integrity of the employees and devour the good spirit in the Company, i.e. the team spirit. Slowly, the ‘control ghost’ will attenuate the human capital of the company itself. The ‘control ghost is seen active in family-owned businesses. They express their ‘nazi’ traits not only towards the employees but also towards their own family members.

Another ‘corporate ghost’ that haunts many of our neighborhood companies is the ‘complicating ghost’. Such ghosts complicates each and every issue or ideas or initiatives faced by the company, its’ employees, or sometimes even their clients. This may be through nonsense policies, procedures or even in combination with any of the ghosts mentioned above. These negative fellows would also destroy the relationships, enthusiasms and make life difficult for the employees and many times embarrass the investors too.

‘Impossible ghost’ is a dormant variant of ‘complicating ghost’. This ghost will always strive to dump all good ideas at the primordial stage itself stating that it is impossible or tag anything and everything “not possible”. They are the sticks in the wheel that slow down progress.

The ‘big daddy or uncle ghost’ dominates all other family members and always resists change. In fact, this ghost is a hybrid of ‘control ghost’, ‘complicating ghost’ and ‘impossible ghost’. If they are at the helm of business, they will create havoc for the second generation and always try to find fault with those coming up with alternate or diversification plans. The ‘triumph card’ of these ghosts is their acting skills. They play well with the emotions and always win at family discussions.

Another ghost that is seen mostly in Gulf companies, especially, where Indians or Egyptians dominate the workforce and at higher positions is the ‘yes boss ghost’. This ghost in their appearances pretends to be innocent and harmless, but when in combination of a ‘control ghost’ or a ‘complicating ghost’ or a ‘big daddy or uncle ghost’ or a ‘impossible ghost’ becomes deadly. Such ‘yes boss ghost’ without grunt always nods in agreement with what the other dominant ghost dictates and in the long run, would manipulate employees’ genuine entitlements (per diems, end of service, vacations, promotions, training), manipulates the financials and thereby deceive investors and shareholders.

Watch out for the type of Ghost or Ghosts that haunt you or your department or your company and be a Ghost buster to expertly ‘exorcise’ them! May God Bless you and such haunted companies!

Your thoughts are welcome!

Please keep visiting (every week) for more on the series “Fearless or Shameless”.

Do feel free to post your comments.

Monday 1 February 2010

Mr. Ramakrishnan writes from a GCC state.

Very interesting reading observation. Thank you.

This invisible corporate ghost is prevailing in Gulf countries, including multinational companies. Here, most of the management style is "top-down" and inefficient employees are picked up as managers to serve their own vested interests. Ideas are not freely flowing in order to serve the whole team and customers, which ultimately benefit all.

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