Letting go of talent

Business 9 Comments

Published in Corporate Dossier, ET, March 25, 2011

In the 12th century, a great revolution took place in India. A poet called Jayadeva wrote a song called Gita Govinda in Sanskrit, expressing ideas and sentiments that were until then whispered in folk songs. He referred to a lady called Radha, whose love for Krishna was deep and passionate. Together they danced and made music in joyous abandon in the gardens of Madhuvan on the banks of the Yamuna under the autumn moon. Eventually, however, we are informed by the scriptures that Krishna leaves Madhuvan in pursuit of his destiny. Radha stays back, like a flower that was once loved by the bee.

While the magical love of Radha and Krishna, especially as expressed in the Gita Govinda, fired the imagination of people, Radha images were restricted to temples of the Gangetic plains. In Krishna’s major temples, be it Nathdvara in Gujarat, Pandharpur in Maharashtra, Udupi in Karnataka, Guruvayur in Kerala or Puri in Orissa, there is no image of Radha, despite continuous reference to their dance, Rasa Lila. She is but a slip of memory, potent in the worship of Krishna.

Often in small companies emerge great talent. They help the small companies grow but they are destined for greater things. These talented individuals yearn to move on but feel guilty about leaving the company that gave them an early opportunity to prove their mettle. It is in these moments, that the bosses of such talented individuals have to think of Radha and understand the importance of letting go, for the benefit of the talent. Krishna has to leave Madhuvan to fulfill his destiny in the cities of Mathura, Dwaraka, Indraprastha and Hastinapur, but Radha has to stay behind in the village of cowherds and milkmaids. The separation is full of affection not bitterness. One has to keep the larger picture in mind, and the talent of the talented one. In wisdom, one has to not hold on, but let go.

It was clear to Mr. Rodrigues that the young boy, Praful, who he hired straight out of college, was brilliant. Mr. Rodrigues had a small printing establishment and business had been good so he needed a client-servicing executive, someone to run between the client and the studio and the press with the printouts and corrections and ensure everything gets done. Mr. Rodrigues supervised the operations in the studio and the press. In no time, Praful managed to charm the customers and get more business. He just had the uncanny ability to satisfy the customers’ needs. He could even predict what they wanted. In four years, Mr. Rodrigues knew that his business depended on Praful but Praful did not depend on him. He could get a job anywhere for twice the salary. In fact, competitors had already approached him. When Praful came to Mr. Rodrigues with his resignation letter, Mr. Rodrigues was not upset. This was an eventuality that he had come to accept. He blessed Praful with great success and let him go without any strings attached.

Today Praful is a very senior Marketing Manager in the corporate world. He got his break into the big league because of his experience at Mr. Rodrigues’ press. He cannot forget those early days. He is eternally grateful for Mr. Rodrigues’ maturity and support. He can never forget the Madhuvan of his career.

  • Interesting way to see things, but what about Mr. Rodrigues ?

    Though he knew this eventuality, shouldn’t he do something about it?
    May be he should mentor more people under Praful & him, so that when Praful leaves, his business is not affected much.

    Your example talks of letting go, which is right but it leaves so many questions on Mr. Rodrigues unanswered.

    What do you think?


    • Prabal

      Mr Rodrigues can do a lot of things as you suggested. But letting Praful go is independent of all that I feel.

    • Thrinath Jalamadugu

      Mr. Rodrigues has done the rite thing to let go Praful. The more time praful is retained back the more dependency is injected between Praful & oraganization. This is indeed very dangerous to the organization keeping the long term growth in view. Come what may be, Praful can’t be retained for ever. One day or the other he has to leave.

  • C.Rajavel

    Fairness should be from both side.It should be little more on the employee side than the employer.Because even before Praful the organisation was existing.

  • Anjan

    Hi DD,
    This would be the everlasting issue in corporate of employee retention and letting go of talent. How do you grow a person and then, may be, hand him/her over to competition? The story of Radha and Krishna is a long shot analogy and may not be the exact one. Even in Mahabharata, which is not my forte, I know to eliminate competition, for own beloved students, teachers like Dronacharya did not hesitate to do not the right thing but did things right.So organisations, instead of letting go of talent likes to keep them thru any means. It is a conflict between individual benefit vs organisational benefit.

  • uppili c

    When the call comes you have to take. Here it is for both. For one to go and, for the other to let go. Both will grow that way and will explore options beyond their gaze. There is a delicate line between ‘holding’ and ‘clinging on’.

  • Nirmala Singh

    Its really inspiring for both employer and employees of any organization.
    It apply in personal and professional life as well….nice one..!!

  • sanjay

    It is great article. Show two sides of picture.Very interesting way relate Radha,s importance in Krishna Life. Love and karma combination.

  • Star_007

    Nice article SIR ! This is the situation I’m going through just now in my career & life. It show me the way. Thanks a lot for such a nice article !