Sanju ji was a senior lady associate in the branch where I was posted as the Branch Manager (BM) for the first time.
She was assigned the job of preparing monthly performance report of the branch along with monthly statements for submission to higher authorities by 5th of the succeeding month.
Those were manual days, and Sanju ji had developed an expertise by working on the same desk for the last four years.
But within two months of my joining, she proceeded on long leave, that too in the beginning of the month, when monthly statements had to be prepared and submitted. My colleagues said to me,
“Whenever she gets annoyed, she takes leave. When BM or someone from the branch requests her, she comes back.”
It was a surprise for me. Grievance is okay for any reason whatsoever, but duty is paramount. In a bank or any organisation, every individual is important, but not indispensable. I thought for a while, and decided not to call her back.
It was my first test as the BM. I had never worked as an accountant or a field officer in any branch, but I was confident to handle any situation based on what I had learnt during my on-the-job training for two years by working at various desks in five different branches.
I decided to go for job rotation of all employees and issued an office order to that effect. Surprisingly no job rotation had been done in that branch for the last two years. All were experts in their respective areas, but totally ignorant about other areas.
Job rotation is the periodical movement of employees from one job to another to orient and train employees for enhancing their career development and to prevent their monotony and burnout, as also to check malpractices and frauds. This also helps employees get job satisfaction and motivation for job enrichment.
But I have seen that this important tool is not used or used sparingly by BMs to show that instructions have been followed. They want to pass their tenures of two to three years as smoothly as possible.
The instructions were to rotate jobs every six months, but I decided to do it every three months. To start with, I myself trained another employee how to compile reports and statements. In the process, I also detected anomalies in earlier statements, as nobody had checked her work.
When she resumed duties, Sanju ji was taken aback by the change in her seat, but she also reconciled with the fact that the change was for all, and she had not been singled out.
Within one year, all employees had started working on every other desk, and I never bothered for relief arrangement thereafter. All had become important, but none indispensable.
I conclude with an interesting episode. In the process of job rotation, it was the turn of Ranjeet, a promotee employee to write General Ledger (GL) and Day Book (DB). It was a manual process in those days, but it was important task of maintaining and posting daily transactions, head-wise.
Normally, an employee with good handwiting and intellect used to be assigned this task in order to keep GL and DB neat and clean.
My officer colleagues came to me and complained of his shabby writing and several cuttings in such important books. I coolly said,
“This is the cost of training. I can’t allow an employee to remain deficient simply because of cuttings in books.”
I called Ranjeet and asked to be more cautious. He started writing first on a rough sheet and then copying the same on DB and GL. Within a month, he came up to our expectations.