There are two types of people in this world....One - the government officials a.k.a. public servants, fondly called ‘babus’ and second - the people who have to deal with the first kind :-). I, unfortunately like most of you come in the second category
I had the privilege of working in a government office and having a feel of it from close quarters this summer. Yes...my first experience of a Public Sector Unit (PSU) as part of my MBA summers and it really turned out to be something more than just a learning curve....!
Some of the points that struck me about this whole affair are....
• Their Obsession - Stacks of files on every table...wrapped in green or red strips and tied with white thread...and each one seem to be a clone of the other. That is what you will see first as soon as you land here. These files seems omnipresent….on desks, chairs, at the reception and at every nook and corner of the office (thank goodness the lifts and restrooms were spared :-)). So obsessed are these people with files that they even bring books to your table wrapped in these.
• A Concept hitherto unknown - “You are working here for free???” - a question that followed me where ever I went (somehow bought a smile on my face every time I heard this :-)). They could hardly believe that I was working without a stipend. Probably a concept that they are not used to (recession or no recession....doesn’t matter..!!!) and is unfathomable to their working culture.
• Proponents of Adam Smith’s Theory - If there is one place where Smith’s ‘Division of Labour’ Theory has found its application it is certainly this one :-). Everyone here is assigned a certain set of jobs and they are not expected to perform anything other than that...not even a little extra. The best part is that.... you won’t find a peon here delivering files to a table which he is not supposed to....even if it falls along his way.
• The 80-20 Formula - Pareto certainly must have propounded his 80-20 Rule on observing this office setup. You will see 20% of the staff doing 80% of the work while the rest seem to be busy in other high priority tasks like gossiping, loitering,..:-)
• The biggest virtue it teaches - Patience - You will see contractors and other officials running from pillar to post just to find their files and promote it to the bade sahebs’ table. People waiting from 10 in the morning to collect their cheque (for the work that they have completed)....finally getting lucky to have a look at their cheque at 5 in the evening and then realizing they won’t be able to get their hands on it today as they do not have some crap authority letter with them.
But I must frankly admit I have had the privilege of interacting with some of the most brilliant people during my project stint. Some of the MNC’s would surely be envious of such talent.
We all know how easy (or how difficult:-)) it is to get work done in a government office and what needs to done to improve the situation. If there is one word we generally tend to associate with them is “Change”. Change is what they badly need..!! But have we ever thought whether the employees here need things to be ruffled and changed around them? I think the answer will be a negative..!