Tag: Work

Workplace and Managers

At work, at times you get a manager who is so difficult to get along with that you find it’s painful even to smile to him/her. You actually change your path, whenever you can. I am not sure about everyone else, but that’s what has happened to me at my current workplace.

I always thought that the manager(s) I had in my first company, were the most lousy of the lot. But, when I reflect back, I can definitely say that they were a lot better than the ones I have to currently deal with.

Over the time, I have realized that there’s a wider problem with the current crop of managers or people who are just sitting above you due to the number of years they have spent in the industry. Many of them – the ones I am lambasting here – are good for nothing, be it – technical, functional, communication, or the most expected trait of them – managerial. I know quite a few of them, who’ve reached there by shining the boots. I also realized that such people are hard to get along with, as they take you as a threat, since they see you as more talented, and as someone who questions. They hate our guts. They hate that we don’t follow their shitty whims, or that we don’t want to leave the chair for them when playing musical chair (well, I never had this scenario, but am just painting a picture for the sake of it).

Funny, it may seem, but I was told at my current company, that “there are people who get up from their seat, when a senior is talking to him/her”. This was in reference to the fact that I was comfortable in my chair, when my manager came to my desk to ask me something. I wanted so badly to hit that schmuck in his face and tell him that he is not living in a sarkaari daftar and I am not his peon or clerk, that he expects me to get up from my seat. I get up from my seat for people I respect, or I care about. And respect is earned, not asked for. And as far as professionalism is concerned, I was under the bounds and not violating any shit. Well, that was one part of a whole bunch of shit.

Recently, it’s getting increasingly difficult to pass another day at this worthless, and thankless job. It has reduced to a way to pay my bills and EMIs, rather than the enjoyment I had from working. I don’t know, when and how I can get out of this enormous crapload of job.

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.

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?

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.