(2 posts ago, I mentioned the god’s way of disbursing bonuses. This week, it is a humble effort to show that even human way is no better. Bottom-line? – No Hope! J)
The day you have signed on the dotted line endowing a substantial part of your pay packet to performance linked incentive (PLI) you are doomed. Take it from me. I am not talking about increment – a chunk of your future denied but incentive – a part of your past robbed.
Most of us would have had the wool pulled over our eyes. There is no shame in admitting it, for our ilk has the strength in numbers, if nothing else. At the last straw poll, the head count stood at a comfortable 99.87%.
When we got appointment letter with the last (and least important) page coyly mumbling “salary break-up” and loudly screaming PLI – 20%, we did not wince. We grinned sheepishly, when the HR hinted how employees who do not “put their stake in the ground” or “do not wish to grow with the company” rank a shade below thugs and many notches above petty thieves. We believed naively that the company is merely holding it for safe-keep for we know not, how to manage our finances. And behold the joy in the eyes of the starving souls at home, when they see 240% at one go, than 20% every month! Wow, these guys are good with numbers!
A year later, the sheepish grin gives way to quivering lips. Belief turns into bewilderment when we sit holding the last salary check. Figures in front of us get blurred. Suddenly we hear things that are completely different from what we were feeding to the investors and announcing in public domain. “Company is in bad shape”. “”You did well, but your team/function on the whole slipped”. “We have invested more in you than we got in return” “None in the company is paid a dime”.
“Where is the harvest?”, you wonder. But frankly, did you not see it coming?
You would have, if you had heard this fabulous fable at the knees of your elders. If not, lose no more time and deep-dive into the narrative.
Once upon a time, a young bloke walked into the court of a king seeking a suitable position. The king was in an indulgent mood, so he directed the administrative officer to take him on rolls as a palace guard and pay him “10 gold coins every month”, a princely sum. The young man’s joy knew no bounds and he profusely thanked the kind king. The kind king, then directed the young man to do a small task to prove his worth and mettle before he could join the duty.
“Your wish is my command, dear lord; please let me know what I have to do?” cried the lad.
“Stand over-night, neck-deep in the river flowing by the palace clad only in your loin cloth and report to duty tomorrow. Or off with your head”. The jolly king ordered thus and retired to his harem.
It was the month of December. The cold wave was at its strongest. It is the time of the year when even a rhinoceros would prefer few blankets and a cozy corner, just inches away from the crackling fire place.
The youth ventured forth jauntily. With a song on his near-blue lips he dipped his toes in the waters. Inch by freezing inch, he waded through the liquid ice and settled down in a place where he could comfortably have his head above the waters. He stood there all night, stark naked, save his loin cloth. His eyes, full of life and zest, wandered hither and thither and rested upon one of the brightly lit torches shimmering through the palace windows. He meditated upon the golden words of the king and the thoughts on the impending job. The remuneration it carried eased the cold current cutting through to his bones.
Next day morning the happy soul made his way to the king’s court and stood there quivering and expectantly. The king lifted an enquiring eyebrow at him and asked what he wanted. The youth, though taken aback a bit, narrated what transpired the previous evening and asked him for his reward. The king still groggy from the bacchanalia of the previous night and the sweet but hazy memory of a night well spent, inquired “how did you manage to walk here, without passing out”?. The youth answered that he was a happy and sturdy soul and the thought of the bounty that the morning would bring kept him from freezing to death. He also mentioned spending time looking at the brightly lit torch. “Aah, there you are now I know how you managed to stay warm and alive even in the freezing cold. The warmth from the torch of the palace! And to think that the precious oil and the high grade cotton is wasted on a vagabond like you doing meaningless chores of standing stark naked in neck-deep waters! What if you had died? They would have blamed me and not you! Glad I kept the window open, so you didn’t meet an untimely death. Now off you go, and do not ever set foot on this soil again. Else…”
Now I have heard varying versions of the same, where a wise and unwavering minister comes to the rescue of the stricken lad and gets the king to see reason and make good his promise. But I think, it’s pure fiction and humbug. Which king drunk with power ever saw reason? Or which coterie feeding off the fat of the land merrily would stake it’s all for the sake of a naïve aspirant?
I am a smart man, if not a wise being. I have a year-long supply of thermal loin clothes handy for I know winters here are much worse. And the only favor I ask my king is to ensure it’s water that he sends me to stand neck-deep into and no stinking swamp. Thank god, I indeed am blessed with a kind king.