ONGC promotion mechanism a complete sham

Vol 20, PW 13 (23 Mar 17) People & Policy

A culture of 'yes men' does not make a great company.

Disgruntled ONGC officers complain the company only promotes middle and senior level employees who flatter the egos of directors and the chairman. Many are grumbling after ONGC carried out its annual corporate promotion exercise for 2017 last month (February).

A list of deputy general managers, general managers and group general managers who have been promoted is expected soon. Some say the whole thing is a sham, designed to "weed out those not in the good books of the chairman and directors and reward sycophants." What is needed, they say, is transparency and consistency.

In reality, claim ONGC sources, most chairmen since the late Subir Raha (2001 to 2006) have whimsically and repeatedly changed the corporate promotion policy to reward favourites and punish detractors. One of the most astonishing changes happened during Sudhir Vasudeva's tenure in 2012 when the company introduced a system under which employees at the same level but from different departments like exploration, drilling, or geophysics faced different eligibility criteria in terms of the number of years spent in a particular role.

This was undone under DK Sarraf but different eligibility cut off years were introduced in 2014 for promotions from GGM to ED. This was extended in 2015 to promotions from GM to GGM.