We used to study in management classes that there are formal channels of communication, and then there are informal channels of communication. Informal channels is said to be used for rumour-mongering and for getting a pulse of the organisation.
But most often I have seen that seniors use the informal channel for making their staff informers. So they are more interested in what others are saying, doing and talking. They are least bothered if it invades the privacy of other individuals, they want info and juicy bits. One of my seniors had this habit of asking-So, what’s happening. This he did every time he came to our seat or he called up. I adjusted for some time, but when he overdid it, I one day replied-I am in toilet. After that his inquisitive nature was subdued a little bit. At times, they are so blatant that they ask pointedly, what was she saying about me. What is the gossip about this event or that happening. This senior supposedly learnt this habit from his senior but perhaps forgot that not everybody likes to be an informer.
I was reminded of this fact when I watched ‘The scent of a woman’starring Al Pacino last night. There a student was asked to spill beans about an incident he witnessed and name his mates who were involved. He did not, even though his scholarship was at risk. His act was described as deciding not to sell his soul, to get some material benefit.
So how it is awkward if I think so and don’t tell things to my seniors. Some seniors treat this as part and parcel of a junior’s duty. What has the world come to.
I get so fed up with such questions that I end up giving funny looks and responses. But there are people who enjoy this gossip-sharing. They feel that by being informers, they are getting closer to the boss. But I hope that smart bosses realize, if that person is bitching about others, he will bitch about boss sometime too.
At times, the notes-sharing session are so obvious, when you enter boss’s room and suddenly the discussion stops, or you are asked to come after some time. Even my young team members can guess what is going on.
My happy friend and other team members also told bad things that have been said about me. But they made their intentions clear, that they wanted me to be aware what is being thought and said about me, so that I could take corrective actions. And initially it was voluntary on their part, and mostly later also.
And I have seen people in the past, who will say bad things about a person, and if by mistake you nod, they will quote you as saying all those things to that person. One guy even admitted using this as a technique.
I have been told by a well-wisher that a recent award I got has resulted in most of the people in my department got envious since they thought that they could have won that award. So the award has proved an alienating thing for me. I never thought on those lines. But now that I see many people bitching about me to seniors, I think that the well-wisher may be right.
Such is life.