Parting on good terms

Shalini [name changed], a software developer who reported to me, put in her resignation one morning. This took me completely by surprise because we had just returned that morning from another city where we had gone to demo the prototype of a new project that was underway. Anyway, because I was only her functional supervisor, she handed over her resignation to Ashok [name changed] who headed the Bangalore office. She was moving to a big-name software firm.


Ashok was furious; he called her names and told her she was ungrateful because they had hired her when she did not have another job [she was related to the chairman], and that they had done her a favor by sending her abroad on assignment! [Sure, they may have hired her when she was unemployed, but why did they keep her for three years — out of sympathy? And why did they send her abroad on assignment? Because, for every penny they paid her during that stint, they were billing the customer three cents! And if they really thought she was bad and they retained her out of sympathy, did they have no qualms about sending such a person to a paying customer? Clearly, it had not been as altruistic a gesture as they made it sound.]

The company had a notice period of three months, or salary in lieu thereof. [Now, a three-month notice period is something I find really cheap about organizations, but anyway…] Because Shalini wanted to be relieved in 2 weeks, she was asked to cough up 2 1/2 months’ pay, which she did. Despite that, Ashok told her he would not issue a relieving letter until 3 months later — a problem for Shalini, because her new employer needed it immediately. Ashok even insisted that she come in and work over the weekend and finish the work on my project! To me, this seemed unfair, but I was unable to placate Ashok.

The weekend after she quit, Shalini came in for a few hours to work on my project. [And now, I had to sit at the office for her sake!] She promised to return the following week. Meanwhile, Ashok had handed me the relieving letter, instructing me to give it to her after three months.

When Shalini arrived the following week as promised, after she had worked about an hour, I gave her the letter and asked her to go. She could not believe it; tears of joy streamed down her face. My reason was this: how could I expect her to be committed to this cause and this organization when she was now on someone else’s payroll? Besides, it was even a security risk — she would have three months to take backups of the project in a more advanced state! And more than anything else, once Ashok had exercised the “salary in lieu thereof” right, I thought it was grossly unfair on his part to keep her dangling like this.

The following Monday, I told Ashok that I had given the relieving letter to Shalini. He was furious with me; he said I should have harassed her and made her run around for three months for that letter! He added that if he had known I would do something so ‘irresponsible’, he would never have given me the letter!

Well, you never know — Shalini is younger and prettier than Ashok is — she may well go up the ladder and become Ashok’s boss one day…:-)

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