Management Case Studies: The Perfect Recruit

The Perfect Recruit

Keshav Tharur was quite upbeat this morning. He was humming and whistling the tunes of his favorite songs all the morning and was utterly jubilant. This did not go un-noticed by his wife.

For past few weeks Tharur was quite downtrodden and downcast. His wife had noticed that also. So, she was a quite surprised at the dramatic change of mood of her husband. His wife knew about why her husband was upset for the past few weeks. Keshav Tharur had told the reason himself to his wife. Wife was quite an understanding type of woman. She appreciated Keshav Tharur’s view point in getting upset after his recent transfer from his original department to the new department. It was a matter of loss of identity and substantial earnings for her husband. While she was not particularly concerned about the possible loss of identity of her husband, she surely did worry about the loss of earnings.

It was not a case of transfer from one department of the factory to other department on demotion resulting in loss of salary or designation or grade. But, after Tharur was transferred from civil engineering department of the biggest factory of High Tech Specialty Products Limited (HTPSL) to its internal audit department, he was quite worried whether it would adversely affect his established practice of palmistry and horoscope reading. His clients for palmistry and horoscope consultations ranged from the workers and supervisors to middle and senior managers of the HTPSL’s biggest factory employing more than 10,000 employees. And he used to carry out this practice from his cubicle (his office) in the factory. With 10,000 employees in the factory, he had a very large captive client base. And he was doing it for nearly more than fifteen years now.

Tharur was a well qualified civil engineer and had pretty good experience in palmistry and horoscope reading and much less in civil engineering. Now, you will definitely ask a question, “If Tharur is a well qualified civil engineer, how come he has more experience in anything other than civil engineering and particularly in something like palmistry and horoscopes that has no connection with civil engineering?” For that we will have to trace back the history.

Tharur was recruited in the company from a fairly reputed engineering college campus through a campus recruitment procedure. On his curriculum vitae, Tharur had proclaimed his grasp over palmistry and horoscopes in the “hobbies and interest” section of his bio-data form.

The chairman of the recruitment committee and head of the civil engineering department of the largest unit of HTPSL, Shankit Sarma was a god fearing man and used to take every step of his personal, family and professional life based on the predictions based on palmistry and horoscopes. For that, he was constantly in touch of a palmist here and a horoscope specialist there and that was a quite a drain on his pocket since these professional palmists and horoscope experts would charge pretty good amount as their professional fees.

When he read on the resume of Keshav Tharur that he was quite adept at palmistry and horoscopes, it injected a kind of respect in the heart of Shankit Sarma towards this boy Tharur. He manipulated in his mind, “If Keshav Tharur was worth his salt in palmistry and horoscopes, I will recruit him and that will save me the trouble of going to other palmists and horoscope readers and more than that I will save the drain of lots of money that I spend in hiring them. Tharur will be at my beck and call being my assistant and I will not have to pay him (after all salary paid by HTPSL to Tharur will be quite decent).”

Other than Shankit Sarma, the recruitment committee consisted of one technical expert and one HR expert, both junior to Shankit Sarma in status. Shankit Sarma had almost decided to select Tharur and since he was senior to the other two members of the interview committee, he was confident of bulldozing them in case they objected to the selection of Keshav Tharur on technical grounds. But before all that he wanted to be sure of the expertise of Tharur in palmistry and horoscopes and so he asked the engineering college’s placement office to send Tharur to his room in the guesthouse of the college where he was staying. He thought that he would not get a chance to ask many questions pertaining to palmistry and horoscopes during the interview in presence of his two junior colleagues- it would not look nice.

And Shankit Sarma was privately and confidentially interviewing Keshav Tharur in his room that evening on palmistry and horoscopes. During the course of the interview, Tharur took the palm of Sarma in his hand and asked Sarma to keep silence. Tharur had brought with him a magnifying glass which he used to read Sarma’s palm. Then examining his palm from various angles and after brooding over it for a considerable period (during which Sarma got very anxious), Tharur gave a broad smile.

Sarma was quite jittery. He said, “Tell me Tharur, what you saw in my palm? Is it something that I should worry about?”

Tharur felt that he had an upper hand over Sarma in this interview, “No sir. Nothing to worry about at all. It says that you will recruit a bright engineer as your assistant shortly and you will get a promotion soon. However, the two events seem to reflect on each other. Sir, please do inform me about your promotion as soon as you get it so that I will get some confidence in my prediction capabilities.”

Shankit Sarma was pleased with himself as well as with Keshav Tharur.

Next day the interview committee interviewed several candidates from the engineering college campus who could answer the technical questions far better than Keshav Tharur. But Sarma was sure that he must recruit Keshav Tharur since his own promotion depended on it- after all Tharur had predicted that. As per the prediction made by Tharur, the two events were interdependent- only if he recruited Tharur, he had a chance of getting promoted. And also, he wanted a palmist and horoscope consultant on 24 X 7 basis free of cost.

Sarma’s two junior colleagues in the interview committee showed some initial resistance in the selection of Keshav Tharur but finally yielded to Shankit Sarma. They thought, “After all its Sarma’s funeral if he wanted to select a duffer like Keshav Tharur. How does it matter to us?”

Sarma selected Tharur provisionally to satisfy his other interview committee members because of their initial objections. He thought that he should not be seen as favoring some particular person. However, his real reason for the selection to be kept as provisional was different and only known to himself. He thought to himself, “I would firm up Tharur’s selection only if his prediction about my promotion comes true.”

And as luck would have it, the much awaited promotion came to Sarma (Sarma had missed this promotion on last two occasions). Sarma’s respect for the boy Tharur took a high jump and he signed Tharur’s appointment letter.

Since then, Tharur has been using his cubicle (his office) in the biggest factory of HTPSL to practice palmistry and horoscopes with a prospective captive client base of more than 10,000 people.

Initially Sarma used Tharur’s expertise of predictions based on palmistry and horoscopes solely for himself and his family members but soon he thought of favoring his two immediate bosses (for obvious reasons). He mentioned to them about the Tharur’s gifted talent in palmistry and horoscopes and then they invited Tharur through Sarma to their cabins from time to time for palm and horoscope reading and consultations.

And all of us are aware that word of mouth publicity spreads like wild fire. In a very secretive manner, the numbers of managers consulting Tharur went up astronomically. Sarma took a lot of credit for this phenomenon. People who knew about Tharur being Sarma’s find, were grateful to him to install a palmist and horoscope consultant within the very premises of the organization who charged very reasonable consultation fee. And this whole business was conducted during the office hours. They did not have to use their personal and private time for this.

A few weeks ago, Shankit Sarma retired from the services of the company. A new boss, Prashna Prakhar took over. He was a no nonsense boss, a hard task master and a rationalist. He was intelligent and soon found that Keshav Tharur was the most popular person among many of the top bosses of the organization though he was almost a zero in civil engineering work. He hardly found Tharur on his seat in the cubicle. Most of the time he was on his prediction consultation rounds throughout the factory. If at all he was found on his seat in his cubicle, he was always consulting with one of his clients.

For quite a few days, Prashna Prakhar just could not make out as to what to do with Keshav Tharur. Keshav Tharur was not only not doing anything worthwhile for his department; he had even spoiled the work discipline of the entire department. Other members of civil engineering department had started whiling away their time too taking clue from the honorary treatment Keshav Tharur was enjoying in the organization for doing nothing. Prashna Prakhar wanted to get rid of Keshav Tharur from his department.

And the right occasion came up. The internal audit department wanted to speedily fill up a position of an experienced civil engineering expert who could perform pre-audit of all the construction activities of the company. Lots of scams were uncovered lately by the external auditors of the company in the construction activities undertaken in the organization and so, they had recommended a tight internal control by way of having an internal civil engineering auditor to prevent such scams in the future.

Due to embargo in recruitment from external sources, it was necessary to find out an able person to fill up this position from internal resources. The civil engineering department was the obvious hunting ground. Prashna Prakhar wasted not even a day and recommended Keshav Tharur’s name. Since Tharur was in the good books of many of the important senior members of the factory’s local management team (due to excellent palmistry and horoscope services provided by him), they seconded Prashna Prakhar’s recommendation for Keshav Tharur’s transfer to the internal audit department on promotion.

Though it is a normal sentiment of ordinary human beings to rejoice over a promotion in the organization, Keshav Tharur proved to be an exception. He did not look at the promotion part seriously but he looked at the transfer part seriously and became very sad. He was getting transferred on promotion to a department called internal audit department which was outside the ambit of the factory’s local management. This department was called the head office department or corporate department and its head of the department used to report directly to the CEO of the company in the corporate office. And these gentlemen and ladies of the corporate departments were least aware of the exciting talents of Keshav Tharur. Plus, his existing clients in the factory would be very apprehensive in contacting a corporate official, that too from the internal audit department for consultations in palmistry and horoscope reading. Thus the whole clientele of Keshav Tharur crumbled right in front of him due to this transfer and equally bad, he lost his total identity.

And after being barely a week in the new head office department, yesterday evening, he got a call from the private confidential secretary of the CEO of the company. Tharur was quite nervous to start with as he listened to the voice of the confidential secretary of the CEO over the phone. After all, private confidential secretaries are almost treated on par with the CEOs in most of the companies.

She said, “Is that Tharur I am speaking with?”

Tharur said, “Yes madam.”

She said, “I understand that you have recently been appointed as the civil engineering auditor. The boss (CEO) will like to brief you personally. As you are aware, you are now holding a critical position and you should not let down the boss in front of the external auditors. So come prepared. I am telling your head of the department to depute you to the corporate office for a couple of days. It will be your first official visit to the corporate office.”

Tharur said, “OK madam, I will be there.” And before he could complete his sentence the phone connection was snap cut from the other end.

Even before Tharur could settle down, the telephone rang again. He lifted the receiver. It was the personal confidential secretary again. This time she was reasonably polite and sweet, “Hey Tharur, I understand from a friend of mine working in the factory site that you are a palmist and a horoscope reader. So when you come here for the meeting with the boss (CEO), please bring along with you all your horoscope charts and your lap top with the necessary horoscope software. I have recommended your name to the boss who was looking out for a horoscope specialist in the city. He is getting his daughter married and he wants to match her horoscope with the possible bride groom. I told him that you are the new recruit in the audit department and you are pretty good at horoscope matching etc and that you have already made an impression on the factory’s managers. Boss was happy and expressed that a known devil from inside the company is always better than outsider particularly for such a critical business. So come prepared to spend an extra day with the boss. And promise, you will not let me down in the eyes of the boss. And you must keep some time aside to read my palm too, but free of any charge- I am already telling you.”

And before Tharur could complete his sentence, “Thank you madam, I will not let you down and I will……..”, the other side snap cut the telephone connection.

So, this morning Keshav Tharur was humming and whistling the tunes of his favorite songs not for no reason. He had a solid reason. He was once again reinstated on his prestigious seat of power; no less than the CEO of the company had sponsored him. He did not tell about it to his wife yet. He decided to surprise his wife with this great news after the mission was completed successfully and he was home from his corporate office sojourn.

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About Shyam Bhatawdekar

35 years’ industrial/business experience as a top executive & 35 years’ parallel academic/consultancy experience in general management, behavioral sciences & technology. Areas: general management, production, human resources, industrial engineering, systems, MIS, computers, corporate planning, audit, sales/marketing. Penchant for information technology & behavioral sciences; integrated with conventional technology makes him unique thought leader. Conversant with academic theories & realities of business, fuses the two into practical approaches. Was associated with Tata Motors, Hindustan Motors, Hindustan Aeronautics & ThyssenKrupp; held top positions as highflier executive. Presently Chairman & Managing Director, Prodcons Group associating with 250 organizations; providing management & I T consultations & conducting seminars/workshops. Been a faculty for IIM’s, TMTC, Railway & HAL Staff Colleges, Symbiosis. Speaker with 35000 hours’ experience benefitting more than 100,000 people. Published 35 articles in Economic Times, Indian Management & Computers Today. Authored 27 books. Invited as key speaker in seminars by AIMA, HRD Network, NIPM, QCFI, CSI, NPC. Widely traveled. Education: Engineering & Management.
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One Response to Management Case Studies: The Perfect Recruit

  1. numerology says:

    Very well written and really interesting. I am thankful you took the time to publish this since it was really useful.

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