Musings for a responsible society

Amidst the dark and grey shades increasingly engulfing, invading and piercing deeper and deeper, let me try to enjoy the little smiles, genuine greens, and the gentle breeze. Oh! Creator! If you don't exist, my vain!
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Where there is a will, there is a load!

Many of you would agree with me on this. The more you are willing, the more load you are dumped with. This is a common grievance from many of those sincere workers in any organization. Bosses prefer such donkeys who won’t grumble when more work is put on them. Some bosses would have the audacity to say that, ‘I hope you enjoy doing this’.

By being a favourite of the boss, don’t think they will get any special privileges as compared to those who shirk work. Not at all! The hardworking persons who do not object to any additional workload are denied leave even for emergency reasons. Bosses make them indispensable in work and they would feel insecure themselves when these hardworking persons are away from work even for a few hours.

Shyam’s petty boss

Read one of the bitter experiences of a sincere person. Shyam was a middle level manager.  He was very enterprising and systematic. He always exceeded his targets. His boss depended on him to realize the overall target. Shyam used to come very early to office and sat late hours to complete the work. Even on holidays he voluntarily went to office to help his boss in clearing the pending tasks. One day, he had to leave urgently on a Friday afternoon to visit his family who was staying in his native place. The next day was a family ceremony on the occasion of the birth of his son. Since the bus would leave his hometown around 3.30 pm, he took permission and left the office at 2 pm to occupy the seat from the originating station. But when he came back on Monday, the Administrative Officer of the section handed over him a noting of the boss on the file. He had written, ‘Since the officer had left before 2 pm, ask him to apply for half day leave’. The officer was in a shock. He had plenty of leaves at his credit. That was not an issue. What worried him was the attitude of his boss. He recalled how many late hours he had worked in that office in the past several months? How many weekends he had come to office to help out the boss to clear the pending workload of the entire office? Why should his boss be so petty and wrote such a remark on the file?

The above incident is a classic example of how intelligent donkeys are exploited by their bosses. However, in due course, this trend has taught lessons to those who are sincere and hardworking but shrewd, not to demonstrate their potential before exploitative bosses. When they were asked to do a job, they would plead ignorance even when they were experts in that. They knew that where there is a will there is a load. Only way they could express their unwillingness was by pleading ignorance. Ultimately the organization is the loser.

The free-riders and loafers

In an exploitative environment led by inefficient bosses, really intelligent people fail to contribute their best fearing excessive extraction of their time and energy. Had the boss been efficient, he would have ensured that everyone in the team is properly equipped equitably to contribute their best in the most optimum manner possible. This is not to deny the fact that there would be people of differing capability and potential in an organization.  Both the practices viz. putting the entire load on the willing team members or allowing the unwilling team members to continue in their laziness are hallmarks of inefficient and easy going bosses. They want to get the results with minimum efforts, even if it was at the cost of burdening a handful of sincere, obedient and loyal team members.

Organizations in government and in the public sector are notorious for a ‘behavioural pattern’ that results in continuous loading of work on sincere employees. This is because there is nothing they can do in respect of the free riders, loafers and the inefficient lot that constitute major workforce. These organizations can neither reduce their pay nor send them out due to the archaic, impractical and unfair job contracts. Ultimately the sufferers are those who are committed to update their skills and contribute their best for the bosses and the organization. For some of them it is not just commitment, but certain values such as respect, loyalty and obedience that are ingrained in their personality that make them work. They keep working irrespective of their bosses in spite of various personal and familial inconveniences. In fact, many government organizations engaged in the public service still get going, though not as efficient as some of the private sector organizations, only because of a handful of sincere souls at various levels.

Though equitable work allocation is unrealistic in any organization due to disparities in expertise, potential for innovation, and aptitude, there need to be proper distribution of workload at every level. Even in new generation organizations where there are scientific screening and allocation of work at entry level, same get diluted at subsequent levels. In a competitive and fast business environment, organizations need to depend on those who deliver quickly and efficiently. They also take care to compensate them for their extra efforts. But, in terms of overall and enduring productivity for the organization, one should bear in mind the fact that monetary incentives alone would not necessarily provide much needed motivation. Ultimately, faced with health hazards, family expectations and relationship strains, the executives would not enjoy even challenging tasks and opportunities given to them. Many would leave the organizations just to escape from the exploitative bosses.

What is the solution? Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg

The bosses need to understand that there are wiser donkeys around them. If they throw their loads in frustration, there would not be anyone to pick up those loads, since the bosses have not prepared a standby team. They should bear this in mind: Utilize the sincere ones; but don’t squeeze them. At the same time, if there are more loafers and free-riders, that shows how inefficient the boss is. A true leader is the one who creates meaningful tasks in an environment where people would compete to shoulder the responsibilities assigned. 

Equitable allocation of workload, distribution of meaningful tasks as per interest and potential and realistic targets at every level would result in organizational well-being. Putting excessive strain on the willing team members would not contribute to enduring overall productivity of the organization and of the concerned individuals. Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Organizations need them at challenging times.

The employees need to understand that pleading ignorance to an exploitative boss is not a solution. That would make them not only unwanted but also unutilized which would harm their creativity. They need to be receptive to the extent the organization needs and also to the extent they can demonstrate their potential. Remember, opportunities are gateways to great accomplishments. 

© Views are personal.    Share your views and comments. Post by clicking ‘comments’ below (it will appear after a while). Or email your experiences to sibi5555 (gmail). 


  1. Very interesting, helpful and true insight.

  2. now that a new pay commission is announced , they could think of some mandatory ordering on efficiency of workforce.say the least efficient 5% could be sent out periodically on transparent scale.nobody will be able to escape a strict review as one cannot say that there is no least efficient fellow! an organisatio that doesnt punish inefficiency cannot deliver.
    k madhavan nair

    1. Sir, the point which Sibichen sir, is highlighting is how the efficiency of workforce is aggravated by the force of bosses and how a section of free riders and loafers is created by indifference of the bosses . Bosses need to change: riders and loafers need to learn. It is not a just a simple question of firing workforce alone ignoring the other side of the coin.

    2. Yes, one should examine why there are so many free-riders? There are certain public sector companies that spent more than 50 % of the salaries to 70% of its employees who do not contribute substantially to the productivity. Has anyone thought of motivating them through adequate training? There should be a political and bureaucratic will to 'fire' the loafers.

  3. Efficient Private organizations have a different problem. The continuous sniping of inefficient people away makes the teams full of competent people. But still HR forces bell curve. So even if bosses don't force, people have to compete against each other to stay ahead of the pack. When everyone is of high intelligence, one can only compete on time. Organization benefits by the compensation but employees burn out. And companies are fine with this because they have a continuous supply engine going from freshers in college to top position. So naturally people will burn out and drop off while those who survive move to the next level till they reach a position where it becomes too hard to cope and they have to drop off.

    1. When the sole aim of the companies are to make profits (of course, that is justified), they consider employees just cogs in their system. As far as steady supply is ensured, they are happy. In countries like India, there is not shortage for fresh blood.

  4. Few would have the audacity to write this post. You have said it--there way too many people who force others to make up for their own inefficiency. The importance of balancing work and life is crucial for maintaining continue personal and professional health. We forget that we spent most of our daylight hours in offices and sometimes our precious sleep times at work. Long back I read this book where the author spoke of the need of workplaces to become nurseries of human growth. Today I am reminded of it again. Great post! Totally loved it!


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