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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Honesty is ? policy

Four incidents in a month. Some are small, others not, but they definitely made an impression. Sometimes life throws you a hint. Should you take it, learn, change yourself and move on? Or should you stick by your principles?

When I was waiting to join my current firm, I started teaching high school students in Mayo College in Ajmer. I was appointed to be a all-purpose-teacher who could teach students Mathematics, Science an English and also guide them in career counselling, personality development, resume writing, group discussions, interview skills, and public speaking. Principal thought that my MBA background and eclectic career could be useful in ways mentioned above. It was fine for first two weeks, then things started going out of control. To be honest, I am not very good teacher to reluctant students, which is what bunch of teenagers in their 10th and 12th grades are. I do have a passion for teaching and can be extremely useful for those who genuinely want to learn, as I found out in another teaching opportunity I had. So, while personality development and public speaking are extremely essential for success in personal and corporate life, these are things no one appreciates least of all at the age when girls are the number one topic in mind and gay jokes are the most funniest ones (in this particular school). My notion of being friendly to students, to mentor them like a friend and elder brother rather than hardcore disciplinarian was also shattered when soon students started taking advantage of me. So what did I do? I tried to create interest among students but when it didn’t happen I talked to Principal and declared that my usefulness was now very marginal with this group and I should do few other things that I had proposed. Honest thing to do, right? Right, so he said, why don’t you stop coming from tomorrow. Who got fired? It wasn’t bad money either. I could’ve just wasted time in class and none would’ve been wiser.

After I was let go, to use an condescending euphemism, Vice-Principal provided me lead to Principal of sister school, Mayoor, which was also quite good school in the area. I wasn’t even spoken to properly and just thrown out, let alone hired, when other Principal learnt that, surprise of surprise, my views on coaching classes didn’t match his own. Having claimed that I wasted my IIT degree by doing an MBA later, he goes on to state that he wouldn’t let anyone who held views such as mine near ‘his’ children. Now, I agree that views don’t have to match, but is it too much to expect patient hearing or open mind, specially from a person of his class and education? If I had known he only wanted yes-man in his staff, I’d have behaved otherwise. Speaking honestly didn’t help me, even when it was on topic much irrelevant to primary discussion. Perhaps part blame lies with me, not because of speaking my mind, but because of wrong timing. It appears to me that not trying to differ from others is a good way to make relationship work, even if it is not honest.

When I started teaching students for CAT examination for a coaching class, I received another opportunity at other institution. Since I was merely spending two hours at the first, I thought I had time to work on second too. Apparently, they don’t hire you if you are working with competitor. Fair enough, I guess, from their point of view. They would’ve given me if I had not mentioned that and they couldn’t have found out anyway. Self-infliction once again?

The biggest and most remarkable story remains to be told. Before I had offer for my current job, I had offer for another job. First job was to start in April and second was to start four months later in August. Overall, I wanted to second one from long term career point of view. I could have, either, joined first in April and quit in July and joined second later, or, refused first and waited for four months and then joined second. First option seemed unfair to me. To join a job knowing you’ll quit after three months was deceitful. Yes, their was substantial money on the way, but it felt wrong. So I did the right thing and chose second option. I also requested them to convert my full time position into internship for three months. Not only was I refused offer of internship but I was also not even thanked for it, even though I had made it explicit in the rejection letter. Apparently, they could afford me for the same role at full pay but not at nominal one. Was I right or not. I am not so sure. When companies fire their employees without compunctions, and they have right to do so, without bothering about their families or career, is it worth trying to save some money and time to big corporation by taking personal loss by choosing the right path?

Is there thing called too much honesty? Do you think I made wrong decision in any of above incidents? Do you think I should stop doing so at personal cost? Do you think I am over reacting and perhaps seeking sympathy with this post?