Communication with Farm Staff
One of the biggest lessons of my life was learnt by me recently. Obviously as usual it was taught by my own staff at the farm – Subbu and Kandan.
It all started with weeks and months of absolute silence without even a single phone call attended. NO communication whatsoever from Subbu who otherwise deemed duty bound to blah blah even if they are white lies. And for my part as a thorough corporate bred, consultant trained, master in communication capable of negotiation, hard talk etc failed on my part to somehow convince him into talking.
The usual daily ring that never got answered. Frustration mounted. Tried to reach through alternate phones and failed. Finally got hold of a known common friend and asked him to meet Subbu in person to enquire his health and why he is not talking.
No use. Dead silence. I went to the end of my wit because it may not be necessary that I am calling to take a feedback, it could be an emergency too or someone visiting the farm or even i myself……
But nothing worked.
Finally one day he called to say he was shy to call me because he has not done such and such work. I had mixed feeling, one of anger and another of pity. Counseled him not to fear to disclose anything. In my mind I wanted him to feel free to the extent he will open up and attend calls. I was expecting worst. But the matter is very simple. Sometimes human mind gets hangover on trivial issue and can never get out of gult and agony.
But I never knew that it is going to be his special call to say that he will not call me hereafter before once again dissloving into silence. He said he will not call till he finishes the work i had given***. That work never got finished for years now. But still…… He must have felt huge embarresment (which he told me) to attend my calls with pending work.
[*** The unfinished work is nothing but connecting borewell pump to the windmill. That was a trivial work we used to do very often few years back. Now there is huge labor shortage. Perhaps no one is listening to him. This work however must be done as it is dear to me and I had invested several years into it. Especially I can save on electricity bills. I make it a point to text the bill value to embarrass him. The fact that he is unable to organise manpower to lift the pump from borewell and connect it is weighing him down.]
He calls it Zeal (வைராக்கியம்), I call it bull#@!$. But anyway there is a subtle message that a worker gives you. This is very common in villages. For years they will not speak with neighbours or relatives till somethings are settled. Life is not jet speed like in city.
I have no choice but to wait. I give a ring occasionally. Sometimes he sends photo of some finished work, like he sent snaps of having put manure around each plant and created water holes. The work gets done somehow. But not anything new.
I want to respect his zeal holding down my frustration. I have selfish interest too in fanning his zeal. Because that should translate into quality work whenever it is done.
We also do this in corporate world, ain’t we ? I have refrained from sending any mail or call to boss for several months. Why unnecessarily kindle his memory and turn it on us especially when our performance is not so spectacular. ?