Saturday, May 31, 2014

Monday Musings 203 -That time of the year

Monday Musings 203 -That time of the year

Every corporate wallah will tell you it is that time of the year, when the mercury outside will be competing with the mercurial inside - both will hover at extremes and will vie for the reason for human insanity. It is the rating season. 

Every office goer knows that it is the decision time, the time when his labor will bear fruits, or at least it is expected to bear fruits. The employee will search for the evidence of the fruit, while the boss will search for the evidence of labor. The general trend is to overestimate fruit on the back of overestimation of labor or under-allocation of fruit on the back of underassessment of labor - and between the boss and the bossed, it is not very difficult to guess who does what!

Actually the preparation to this season begins from somewhere January itself, for the month not only heralds a new year but also a nice inflection point for those who were in slumber for the rest of the year, They wake up and that too with a vengeance, and try to work hard and portray the work harder than it is, to nullify the lack of both in the previous period. They rely on what is called 'recency effect' - in the hope that their boss will remember the proximate hyperactivity camouflaged as work and will forget the usual somnolence that was passed as work for most part of the year. The boss however is not the boss without a reason. He understands the trick because he himself indulged in it not very long ago.   

The employee behaves like an expectant parent - for the effort must be rewarded, and must be healthy. The boss behaves like sentry, who has the power of holding you off from the sanctum sanctorum till he derives his own sense of pleasure and power. Technically the reward is for work and is independent of who is guarding it - but sometimes the guard becomes more powerful than the guarded. The priests sometimes start believing that they can actually regulate your access to God, and the worshipper starts focusing on the priest more than the divine. 

The canteen, the cooler, the corridor is abuzz with who will get what. Everyone overestimates the ratings for the friend and underplays his own chances - both sides knowing that this is not what each other really believes in. In his own mind each is listing down all the reasons why he has far far far far.....exceeded expectations (not of the organization alone but also the industry, the country and often the civilization itself). The boss may also be preparing a similar script but towards a very different outcome.  

Cometh the day cometh the havoc. Faces will tell the story. Those who miss the bus obviously curse the boss, his aunt and her dog - but those who get rewarded also curse the boss, his aunt and her dog - because they either got less than what they thought they deserved or because someone else got more that what they thought that someone else deserved. How unfair!! Rarely does one find a really happy man walking through the organizational corridors. Everyone is in mourning. 

I am a boss and an employee. I know I, my aunt and her dog will be cursed. I also know most likely I will pass on the favor. 

I need a drink. 


Monday, May 12, 2014

Monday Musings 202 - Pearls in unusual places

I met an old B school friend of mine the other evening and some interesting conversation happened apart from the customary banter that so characterizes such get together. Insights come from strange people and under strange circumstances.
My friend, who spent a decade in the corporate world, quit one day the Nine-to-no-time routine and decided he had enough of the formal work schedule. I recount 3 great moments of epiphany from the catch up – who says only the wise hold the keys to wisdom!
1.       On the purpose of work
“I have decided to keep ‘happiness’ at the centre of my life and let everything else take its place…… the trick was not only to decide what I want to do but also what not to do……finally it was also about the courage to hold on to this decision when everyone else expected me to behave in a certain manner….the courage to live life on my terms and not because I was expected to live it in a certain manner….”
2.       On office politics
His wife, who also happens to be a college friend, was perturbed about some office intrigue with potential impact on growth prospects. His advice on the subject will put sages to shame. “ never has sword been picked up in the fight to become the wazeer (the minister) – sword always gets picked up to be the king……why lose sleep over something that is not the fight for the throne….if a 10% increase in money increases work by 100% and tension by 200, then it is obviously a bad bargain….”
3.       On Anonymity
I shared that I was hoping that I will soon get a publisher for my impending book and commented that ‘I don’t want to die in anonymity’……to which he immediately commented….” That is something that I am working hard to be continue to remain…anonymous!”
“….as times elapses the world elapses there are only two kinds of people in the world, good and not good…in the short run, there are many kinds, but the longer the time elapses, the world remembers only the really good one – rest all remain anonymous.”
I think what he left unsaid, graciously – that I should be a little more realistic about my own genius. Working hard is good, having aspirations is fine, ambitions are normal – but a bit of reality check will put things in perspective.
I am sure these are not the last words on the subject, but good places to begin a conversation.