Work Stories: Managing expectations is not easy
My mentor recommended me to promoters of a sales outsourcing company in Delhi. I joined as a finance guy but was to work on strategic agendas. It looked like a force-fit role since they already had a CA working as a finance controller.
For the first month, I stayed at the guest house of the Company and opened up with a couple of colleagues in the evening. A week later, one of my colleagues who stayed at the guest house with me shared an instance with the CEO about sharing a drink with me at the guest house. “Don’t spoil the guy.” As weeks passed, it was like a family away from my own family.
Not much to work on during the day, I approach the CEO asking for some project. I delivered the project in a month by raising alternate sources of working capital financing. My involvement extended beyond my assigned role. I joined board meetings, sharing insights on growing business. I was working on refining the business plan, engaging with consultants to raise investment, improve internal MIS reports, monitor and validate the commercial proposals, and join critical customer meetings to lead negotiations.
Expectations were high from me and were rising. I felt overwhelmed and did share my concern with the CEO. “You don’t worry. You are doing great.” In one such instance, I was asked to front end the role as a sales guy for two main clients where the business was negligible. For the last 14 odd months, since joining, I had put my head down and focused on delivering the results on every assignment given to me. At times, I felt overwhelmed.
I was suffering from high expectations. I decided to quit till I had a frank discussion with the CEO. “See, Jaspal as a nos guy it is easiest for you and we are struggling and betting on you to turnaround. You can build a good impression with the two customers, and business will follow. We are not giving you any sales targets.”
I said, “Isn’t this too big a dilution in my role and specialization?” I have to plan my career and have responsibilities towards family. I cannot end up doing anything that comes my way. I believe staying put to finance domain alone will be the most sensible choice for me.”
He said, “Denave is your responsibility. Your family and your financial commitments of any kind is the Company’s responsibility. I am saying this as CEO and owner of the Company.” I agreed to take the role.
Yeah, it was tough for me to cold outreach contacts. I had no clue where to begin. I just kept iterating but did not find success immediately. I was not questioned on what I was doing. I was given a free hand. My expectations from the Company too rose.
Unfortunately, I had a medical exigency in the family. The night my wife was operated on, the HR and my colleague were next to me. In the morning, the CEO was there at the hospital along with 10 other colleagues who volunteered to donate blood as needed. Without asking for any money, I had 3 times of my then salary transferred to my bank account.
“Why did you transfer this money?” I asked the Finance Controller. She said, “Keep it as a backup. If you do not use it, return it else do not worry.”
My Company fulfilled my expectations without even making them explicit. I hope I could do more for them.
PS: Connecting dots from the past subjectively