Tag: Office

Encounters with Security Guards

Somehow I have found myself entering into conversations with security guards at work, now and then, where topics have varied from their job to my job, the company I worked for, weather and a lot more 🙂

I would recount two occurrences out of those – 

When I was in my previous company, I remember a guard who was always a lil too courteous to me. Maybe, coz I always returned his Good Mornings and Good Nights with a smile. He was a young guy, may not have been more than 24-25. During that time (back in 2009), he was planning to leave the job as a security guard, and join some other company in some other capacity (don’t exactly remember, what position he mentioned to me). I remember that since he wanted my advice. He told me his current salary and his future salary (at the new place), work timings and what he wanted from his future. I asked him to go ahead and make that switch. And he did! Nonetheless, to my surprise I saw him back on my floor 2 weeks later. When I asked him what went wrong, he said that the job which was promised to him, was not there, and he was being asked to do something else, which he did not want, and so he left to come back here! Thankfully, his contractor took him back here without much ado. He told me that he is planning to learn basic computer operations so that he can apply for other small positions, which open in companies. After some time, I was shifted to another building and I never knew what became of him, as to where he is now, did he get his dream job

Today, it was my last working day at my current company. In the evening, as I was leaving, I got locked out of the ODC (Offshore Dev Center, it’s kind of restricted area for project specific folks), with my bag inside. I told the floor guard to help me get my bag outside, and explained him that it’s my last working day here, and somehow my access has been revoked before 5 PM. He asked me to wait for some other employee to enter the ODC, and then to ask him/her to get my bag out.

While I was waiting, he asked me where I was going, as in which company. I told him that I am going to HCL Technologies (not that I am joining this company, but its more known among common people, than the company I would be joining). What then happened came as a little surprise to me, since this gentleman was very well informed about the state of affairs of my current company. He told me that things are not going good with this company for quite some time, and there is a pay cut for employees, and all that’s visible from outside due to the brand name and all, is not at all present, once you enter this company. I was stupefied for a moment, since he took words out of my mouth! I told him that, this is the reason I am leaving the company and I know that since last 4 years, the company has lost track. Why I said that he was very well informed, because he knew the name of a board member, who left the company back in 2011, when it was widely reported in media that he left the company since he was denied promotion to CEO, even though he was most deserving at that time. I am not saying that this was the truth, but then this is what was the first thing every one thought about, when that board member left, and also reported initially. Anyways, after a few more words, he bid me good bye and I left.

Why some people micromanage?

In my last company, I had quite a few experiences of micro-management. At times, I was being micro-managed and at others, I closely saw my colleagues and friends at the receiving end.

My personal experience tells me that, there are few reasons why some managers believe in micro-managing their teams, even though it most certainly hampers the personal productivity and somewhat damages the confidence of new people starting a job. For me, it was not these two, but I used to get irritated which obviously damaged my productivity.

Reason 1 # Feeling of “I am the BOSS here”: A person has been newly promoted to the role of a manager without being formally trained at any concept of people management
Such employees, who have been passed on the baton of managerial responsibilities recently, tend to think that it’s part of their job to keep riding on the back of their team members. This happens, at times, just due to the fact that the newly promoted guy needs to show the importance of his designation. He wants his subordinates to recognize the fact that they(subordinates) have to listen to him now, and ask of his permission/advice in everything they do. Now, if a team was performing without being micro-managed, it will feel irritated by the constant questioning. It gets worse in case of a team of high-performers, who have been doing their job very well and are very clear about the overall goals. Believe me, none of us like someone to be standing behind our back while we do something. Someone who has been at a job, knows how to get things done, and if he/she will get stuck, they will definitely not be sitting quiet about it, they will ask for the manager’s help. But, the managers need to give SPACE. Unfortunately, from my personal experience, I can tell you that, not being trained in any project management concepts or the most important of all – people management, spells doom in most of the cases like this.

Reason 2: You do the work and tell me what you did so that I can update my manager and show that I too am working
Pretty interesting. I have seen some technical managers, who, in big projects, tend to hide very efficiently. Hide – from work. I have seen a few guys, who don’t believe in owning and actually doing tasks, and are just waiting for the subordinates to finish up, and then they get on their backs asking details about everything, so that they can send a mail to the client, or to the senior managers. These guys are the most shameless of all. They do it every day and you would stop caring about it, but two things will happen, especially to those who started new on a job – they will loose confidence that they cannot execute a task till its end AND slowly they will feel cheated of the opportunity to show it to the senior managers and clients, that it is actually someone else who is doing the work.
I don’t buy the arguments of people, who say that sending a mail to client needs some caution or experience and so only someone experienced should do it. My counterpoint to this is – First, you can always ask the superior to sit with the guy and help him/her in writing the mail, cross check it, tell him/her right there about the mistakes, how to write, what to write, and all. Wouldn’t this be smarter? And just think, what good it will do the morale of the new guy? He will feel confident and learn faster than just reading a mail for which he/she might have spent the entire day, just to see it being sent by someone else. Second, everyone learns by mistakes, until and unless you let someone do something, one can never learn!

One roll, ten rooms…

Back in 2008, when recession started, many companies had waged cost-cutting initiatives all over the world (at least the countries affected by recession). Back in India, in IT companies, these initiatives ranged from cutting the free cab rides, keeping a tab on free stationery (rationing the stationery or completely doing away with it).

One thing, which irked me most was the removal of paper tissues (not from the stalls, but paper napkins for drying your hand) from the restrooms. Obviously being environment friendly was one of the reasons which was given at the same time for taking that decision. Well played, I would say!

My personal take on that “go green initiative” was that it was nothing but a cost cutting initiative which was to stay forever. Many a times, you need a napkin in the restroom – maybe to blow your nose, to wipe your face when you’re in a city where dust touches your face before wind. You can not blow your face dry by putting it under the hand-dryer! Well, technically you can, if you torment yourself by bending your neck and making a fool of yourself before others.

What I have noted in my current premise is, there are five floors, 2 restrooms on each floor, 10 in all (for men). At times, I have been surprised to find a roll to pat my hands dry but when I visit the same restroom again after few hours, it’s gone! I used to curiously think – “Where did all that paper go? Did others use it in excess, just coz it was there today, a fair surprise for all?” That curiosity was answered today, when I saw the janitor taking out the roll, putting it in a plastic bag, and telling the other janitor who entered behind him, that he has been ordered to take it on the second floor! Well, there was my answer for days when I was thinking how the hell the paper roll finished so fast?

Managers with Benefits

This summer a movie featuring Justin Timberlake and adorable Mila Kunis is going to hit the screen. The movie is titled Friends With Benefits.

I am not going to talk about the movie, even give you the plot. You can check all that on the IMDb link, embedded above. I referred the movie, just to let you guys know the inspiration for the title of this post.

In every parlance of life, you have some relationships which give you benefits. Sometimes, they come without you asking for them, at others you have to actually ask for it, but not fight for it. The same holds true in the official circuits, specifically for the scope of this post – IT industry.

Now, I do not want to use terms like bootlicking, buttering and all related jargons or better say slang to explore how some managers become managers with benefits. Let that remain aside, since we all know how they become what they become (actually are).

Sadly, the IT industry, again limiting my scope to the company I worked for and few others I closely know about, have skewed the concept of managers. Managers in these IT corporates are no longer managers, who are managing projects and resources – with the skill or extensive training for that field. All you need for getting to the post of manager – skills for socializing (well, this is sarcastic remark, if you’re intelligent, you know what I am pointing to), number of years (successful executions does not matter) and passing PMP examinations (which is the standard certification for managers worldwide).

The ingredients of becoming manager, might have given you the hint as to why the concept of manager is skewed. No longer you’re needed to show the skills of people management, grooming talent, showing negotiation skills  (now you need intimidation skills), charting a growth part for your subordinates and being proactive in tracking it periodically (not waiting for half-yearly and yearly goal-setting and appraisal cycles).

All a manager needs is play around with these terms, intimidate when it is needed (and in case of some talented people, its use if recommended often), obfuscate the HR process completely (refer the employee to vicious circle of HR to Reporting manager to Delivery Unit head when necessary).

Constructive criticism is a big No. Well, out of 100, only 10 will actually know this concept, and out of those only 5 will even have the courage to actually say it. And what happens to those lucky (or better say unlucky few)? In almost all cases, you get screwed, screwed by the system.

If your reporting manager was goofing around, playing around, abusing the system, showing complete disrespect for your tasks, positively giving negative vibes about the outcome of the task you’re working on, goes to such a distance to say on say 1  “your project is doomed, it will come to us again” and gives illogical analogies on top of it all to irk you, to make you think how and why he is where he is, and also to sympathetically think about “is something wrong with him?” – You gather courage (actually you think something is wrong and it needs to be brought back on track), you actually discuss this all through your super manager (manager’s manager). Your super manager tried to be friendly with you, says all rosy things, which actually encouraged you to bring this little something to his notice. What happens? Yeah, you get screwed! You’ll say, WTF, how, why? Well, the answer is simple, your manager is the manager with benefits. Not only your super manager, tells your manager, what you said about him, they also discuss to screw you better.

Now your petty manager (even thugs have some conscience) stoops to his lowest and starts doing little something for which he is actually spending time (and seriously wasting it) painstakingly like a little kid who will not tell you what was the homework yesterday, when you’re absent, all due to the reason that you told on him to the class teacher, coz he was peeing in the classroom (you’re concerned as his act is detrimental for rest of the mortals around him)

Well, enough said. Some things eventually die on their own course. What’s the better word – yeah Implosion!

The Other Side of IT (as in Frustration)

When I look back, I recall that my first aim was to be an Air Force Fighter pilot. I was somehow very much hooked on to fighter planes and air force. That was way back in third grade. See, I had an aim long long back. My younger brother wanted to be in navy. Later as I was growing up, and IT was catching up with us, I started thinking of being a software engineer.

I was hell inquisitive from my early days and I knew about Microsoft when I was in 9th grade. I used to daydream about passing from IIT and then working for Microsoft. Another thing which almost sealed my fate that I was going to study Computer Science and Engineering, was when my mausi got married to a software engineer who was stationed in London and was going to States after marriage. Now, what bigger fantasy can a school going guy back in 1996/97 have about future job. And that’s how it was sealed.

A long time back I asked my dad, why he chose civil engineering during his engineering, when he could have got computers and electronics. He told me about his childhood days, when he used to see the engineers constructing roads and bridges near the village and that was how he fascinated himself as a civil engineer. More than that, there was no one actually to guide him, since he came from an agrarian family background. So, that is how he got his inspiration or aim for life.

Well, I never made it to the IITs and neither to Microsoft (at least so far). And anyways, I would prefer Google now (this time I am not daydreaming). By the way, I did try to get in Air Force after my 12th, passed NDA written (a lot of us do) and then was rejected at SSB. That was my first and last attempt at that. Skip all that happened in between and in my grad college, eventually I was a CSE graduate.

It will be 5 years on 19th June in IT industry and sadly, yes sadly the same company I joined as fresher. Seeing the title, you know I am going to talk about the frustration I have endured and keep on enduring in IT (at least with the services companies, I guess).

Many of us, who are outside IT will think that frustration is normal in any job when it becomes mundane and (yes please take a note of it) if you’re ambitious enough. Nevertheless, the story of frustration starts in first week (or second week), when the day of drafting comes. Drafting is the day when you are assigned a track – as in Databases, Java, Dot Net, Testing, C/C++. These stand at the basic categories as far as I know about IT industry. Figments of frustration starts in a lot of us that day. You were an expert at Java at college but you’re put in Database. Someone loved databases and was put on Java, Dot Net guy gets testing.  Are you getting a picture now? It hits you in the face on day 1. Remember always that this post has a pre-requisite – you have to be ambitious! I have seen people who have whatsoever no concerns about anything. And by saying that, I am not entering a debate of what is a cakewalk and what is a tightrope walk. I am talking about the ebbing of frustration.

You crib about it, discuss it with HR, with friends, trying to find some jack which you can use, but not everyone is lucky enough. The question I raise here is, is it ok for companies to randomly draft freshers in different trades? Why can’t they use a better interview process which can be used later for filtration? Why the IT companies can complain about the lack of adequate talent at graduate level, but show no concern in devising a process for bringing things to a better order? Is it asking for too much to spend some time and resources on restructuring the entire selection process?

The answer can be Yes or No. Some of you will feel that since the usual hirings are in large numbers (volume can be more suited here), a process for preference cannot be implemented. But, has someone really tried anything on that lines? A few companies have.  Many, I think don’t care ( I maybe wrong here though, and would like to see the points in comments)

Then, once you’re assimilated in the system, you start questioning things, finding problems with the processes, getting irked with what everyone else feels so comfortable. As for me, meetings used to make me irritable and still they have their charm. It’s not that I don’t like any meeting. I totally like the meeting in the current project. Brisk, to-the-point and end of the meeting. I used to be irritated when people started buttering managers by asking about their kids, about their vacation and blah blah blah. If a project status meeting or team meeting needs you and the team to waste more than 30 minutes at any time in the steady phase, it simply means everyone just loves to waste time and that frustrates me. A lot of times, the manager wasted 30 minutes telling that “we should keep meeting udner 30 minutes”. Well, you moron, if you would have resisted from saying that again and again, at least we would have saved 30 minutes!

Third, when you know that there is a price to pay for being very good. I learned it very hard way. As per written policies, you can change your project after 18 months. Nevertheless, that’s like the metaphor for white elephant. You wish that they would release you at that. If you were planning to talk to HR, better you save your efforts and most importantly time. Since you are performing well, your manager will not let you go. They will cite innumerable things, which make your stay with the team and project essential for company’s future and growth. They will show you everything which you would know then and there, that they have not an iota of truth in that, subject to application of reason by yourself. The same project will frustrate you, at times drive you crazy and you’ll start looking out for options.

So far, so good?

You will show the talent for a lot of things, but it all depends on the managers and their bosses on what they want to see. They might not want you to give what you want and still show you that they know what’s best for you! You will be shown how exciting your mundane job is. You will be given examples of what others could not but you have achieved (as if you achievements are alimony and not due to your talent, hard work, brilliance).

Wrapping it up with the biggest frustration which I faced. The superiors you’re working with in your team are good for nothing but they are there since they are good friends with the managers. Getting me, what I mean by Good Friends? I am not touching or referencing politics as that’s virtually everywhere. What I am pointing at it, when incapable and incompetent people are sitting above you and giving you directions. When a person is manager – managing a project, multiple projects and entire business unit – not due to his actual managerial skills but due to the reason that he has number of years with him. It does not matter whether he has any people skills or not, it does not matter whether he has technical skills or not.

In the end, it’s a pitiful job, at least what I felt. If you have potential and you know it in you, don’t stay back in the service industry as a developer or better say doing operations support

Disclaimer: The experiences here are my own with the service industry in IT sector. I can only guess that the scene is a lot better in product companies. You might be in service industry and you had a totally different experience. Depends on the outlook, depends on what you want, depends on interest and somewhat capability.

My worst day of 2009

4th Dec 2009 was simply the worst day for me in 2009. Oh well, it could be the worst day for me in a long time.

I missed my CAT examination, which is the most freaking and upsetting thing to happen. The numbers shit let me down. Somehow I remembered that my exam is on Saturday and so for the past one week, I never bothered to check my admit card and was feeling confident that the exam is indeed on Saturday. I planned accordingly and thought to take the printout on Friday evening before leaving the office. In the evening, it turns out that I was the biggest jerk who was not attentive enough and the exam on Friday morning. Could it have been worse? No way! I mean what kind of a jerk is so careless that he plays with this chances of getting into some premier management institutes.

What upsets me most is that, was it me? What am I doing to myself? How can such a silly and stupid thing happen to me? I have always been up to the mark when it comes to being prompt, fast, punctual and every other crap associated to being a nice disciplined (not in literal sense) attentive guy! How can I let me be like this?

Another thing which wrecked me yesterday was that I had to do something which I always loathed and hated in office. No it’s not that I start licking someone’s boot. It was that I had to take back my resignation. Poor me.

It was simply the worst day and I felt like my brain will explode. I am still restless and not back to my calm self due to all this which happened since yesterday.

Now, to those who say that whatever happens happens for good crap, what is the good in missing my CAT examination? What is the good in doing something which you always hated? What is the crap not visible to me, and supposedly good that I am wasting my day being a wreck? What can be good in this that my mid is going all shit.

Seriously!