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Toast to railway babu

The carrot, it seems, works better than the stick when it comes to babudom.

At least, that’s what an enterprising bureaucrat at Ranchi railway division discovered when he started to publicise the performance of his subordinates who worked hard.

Praveen Kumar, head of engineering section, Ranchi railway division, has been felicitating one “best-performing” employee every month.

As “the man of the month” — his department is “male-dominated” as per his admission — the chosen employee becomes a celebrity of sorts. He gets to see his photograph on the notice board with a small edifying snippet glorifying his performance.

The legendary American visual artist Andy Warhol had coined the term “15 minutes of fame”. Kumar has stretched it for a whole month. “I was surfing the Internet when I stumbled across an idea to encourage my team and then I developed it to its present form. Every month, I pick up an employee or officer whose work stands. I put up a small note on him with his picture on the notice board,” Kumar said, adding that he joined the department in August 2008 and had been ‘rewarding’ performing in this novel manner since the past 14 months.

The monetary boost is minor. A “man of the month” gets Rs 500. The bigger award, “man of the year” gets Rs 2,000. What is priceless is the honour and the boost to the chosen employee’s morale.

This month has put engineer Dinesh Kumar under the limelight.

The snippet on him praises his skill in making project proposals for development initiatives of the railway division.

The Kodak moment — actually of a much longer duration than a mere moment — builds momentum to work better, feels Kumar.

“I could have chosen the stick, but I thought it wiser to choose the carrot. The best thing is that even other employees try to do better to get their photographs and names on the notice board. This creates a healthy and proactive work atmosphere,” Kumar, who holds an MTech from IIT-Roorkee, said.

“Man of the year” Ishwar Rao agreed. “I felt really happy that my contributions were recognised. My dedication towards my work has increased,” he said, adding he had taken the initiative to prepare an exhaustive profile of Ranchi railway division afresh.

“I will also give a citation to selected employees, recognising their contributions,” added Kumar. Clearly, a fatter carrot is a more effective one.

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