JournalismPakistan.com February 20, 2018
In every office, there is a ‘go to’ person. He is like a genii in the lamp. The moment some extra work has to be done they call upon him and he appears magically and unquestioningly and takes on the extra load with a smile on his lips.
This volunteer is worth his weight in precious stones and since his profile is sculpted by the bosses the chiseled dependability that is him is often praised (when there is a crisis) and totally taken for granted. The rest of the time no one even knows he exists.
We all know this guy and we have no respect for him whatsoever. ‘Go to guy’ is never at the top level meeting or invited to the think tank get together but someone will say oh, let’s pass it on to ‘Go to’ to create the rough draft and we can then fine tune it.
Right, good idea, the boss will add, he’s reliable, he will get it done by tonight, tell him to stay in late.
And Mr. G will then be called in and given instructions and he will nod like a celluloid doll and get down to an all-nighter while the others swan off home.
To add insult to injury everyone else will then take credit for the final report and ‘Go to guy’s’ effort will be erased entirely. His name will not even be in the document.
‘Go tos’ are never part of the delegation going to London or sitting in the front row or invited to represent the company at the big dinner but they do all the scut work and more.
They also clean up the mess that the high profile movers and shakers make and they pave the path for that lot to climb the rungs while they hold the ladder.
What makes a ‘Go to guy’ such a wimp? Generally, a decent fellow his ambition is made of putty and he is a naturally shy and retiring person. His social skills do not match his intelligence or his capability and his need to be needed is so overwhelming that he does not mind being trampled upon.
He sees others shamelessly take credit for his efforts and he does not object. Amazingly, he is pleased that he can be of help. If it wasn’t for this lot, efficiency in any company would drop drastically. He discovers his increment is not even half of some of the others who are always running to him for help and he does not feel done down.
Instead, the odds are that he is grateful that he has a job and there is a defined role for him…people approach him for help. He is often not promoted because the fact is a ‘Go to guy’ is invisible until he is needed. So, it is easy to pass him by. You will often hear the top man say, hey, give it to that chap, whatsisname, the one who rewrote the last report, that guy with the lisp or the funny way of walking, he will do a good job.
A good job, yes, a very good job for which he will not be recognized as the author.
If this tribe does feel a stab of resentment at being taken for granted they seldom have the courage to show it. They can go through years of service being co-opted and blamed for errors and are frequently made into convenient scapegoats in case something smelly hits the fan.
The slightly elevated version of the ‘Go to guy’ is always in line for a promotion but never gets it. The incredible part is he is indispensable because being reduced to the office coolie he carries the entire luggage for the corporate trek but always at the rear. At the same time, he is not taken seriously. You will see him in that extra chair off the main table furiously and sincerely taking notes but never opening his mouth.
No one wants his opinion only his hard work.
Everyone talks well of him if they see him, that is and that often isn’t.
Life goes on like this and these people blend with the walls and continue to function in comparative anonymity, never asking, never getting.
Now and again ‘Go to guy’ rebels. Tired of being used like he was a tissue paper one day he just ups and quits. Everyone is horrified. What cheek, what ingratitude. You have a perfectly good job, you are secure, you are so liked, we trust you.
Yes sure you do, but I am tired of being the office dogsbody, the person who is alive only when you need him, I am going.
And he goes and now there is this big hole in the hierarchy and executives with high profiles and corner offices and all the perks are suddenly exposed and there is a rush of panic.
Fortunately for them, ‘Go to guys’ are not in shortage. Someone else with great ability and low self-esteem will volunteer and life will pick up again and the anointed ones can go happily to their long expense account lunches.
Sure, you know your ‘Go to guy’ in your workplace. You may not have thought about them but you do know who they are. They are the ones who save your bacon when it’s in the fire and never get a word of thanks.
Keep them happy before you lose them.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
The News, March 30, 2018