A field day at work

I have always been chary about HR initiatives in any company.

Written by Sandipan Deb | Published:February 8, 2009 1:20 am

I have always been chary about HR initiatives in any company. You know,those team-building exercises like a bunch of executives going rock-climbing,or managers asked to fall backwards from a height into the arms of his colleagues to establish trust and confidence. So when I learned that our young HR manager had scheduled an intra-company 20:20 match,I was,well,sceptical.

The only time I have been in an HR exercise was at the beginning of my career,when I was bundled off by an employer to attend a three-day workshop. The aim: to get in touch with yourself. To my growing horror,I learnt that everyone else attending had had severe childhood traumas,suffered from unfathomable insecurities,and had considered suicide at least twice. People wept,and grown men broke down,and I realised that I was a total loser. Here were all these MBA-types whose success had been shaped by all the tragedy they had gone through,and here was I,fathered by totally average parents and who had led a totally average life. No ups and downs,crests and troughs,no trauma,no nothing. I was disgusted with my parents. Could not at least one of them been an alcoholic?

At which point,the conductor of the workshop fixed me with an eagle eye and asked: “Have you ever thought how your obituary would read?” Before I could reply in the negative,all the others clamoured yes yes. I hastily agreed. The in-charge then said to me: “You have been singularly uncooperative through this course,and I am going to give you an F,and you will have to come back again next year.” That was it. The obituary I then recited was such a moving piece of work that a Dostoevsky,if he had been present,would have paid me a fortune for exclusive rights to the story of my life.

Bowing to popular demand,I decided to be umpire in the match. There was much chaos. No one seemed to agree on where the boundaries actually were,what constituted a wide ball,are balls above shoulder-height which are hit by the batsman still a no-ball,do we allow free hits for no balls. The game started with the negotiations far from conclusive. After a few overs,it was discovered that the fielders numbered 12. The publisher’s chauffeur,who had already bowled an over,was then sent off the field. Yuvraj Singh’s record of 36 off an over was equaled when an enthusiastic cricketer grabbed the ball from a fellow-fielder and started bowling. His captain was livid. After conceding 36,but the over not yet complete (there were several no-balls),it was decided that enough was enough and he was taken off. At the roughly midway stage,everyone decided that 20 overs were too damn much,and the game was reduced to 15 overs a side. But the scorer had lost track of how many overs had been bowled,and how many remained.

The game was well-attended,by most of the office,and a good number of unknowns who were passing through the park or were hanging around with nothing much to do. The cheers were lusty. When batsmen in their 40s (age,not runs) looked like they would bust an artery from all the running they were doing,they were freely offered runners,though this is not allowed under the rules of the game. Our Finance Head scored a hundred with help of 12 sixes,which was very reassuring in more ways than just cricketing. Both sides fielded pathetically,though the lumpy pothole-ridden outfield would have made even Jonty Rhodes look a bit of an ass. And a family of peaceful pigs which resides at the square leg fence was disturbed beyond all acceptable standards with lofted balls dropping on their heads every few minutes. But they were lovers of the greatest game on earth; they took it all with equanimity.

Towards the end (the game lasted two hours),my legs got tired from standing and I got a chair brought in so I could sit and decide on players’ fates. Whenever my cellphone rang,I informed the caller that I was in a meeting and would call back later. It was a great game,with a tight finish,and everyone playing absolutely fairly. I am thinking there might after all be something in all these HR theories and practices.

Sandipan Deb is the editor of RPG Enterprises’ forthcoming weekly features and current affairs magazine,Open (sandipandeb@yahoo.co.uk )

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