Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Appraisal hangovers...

This post contains some Hindi, which has been translated  at the end of the paragraph.

"Yaar, appraisals ka kya chal raha hai?" ( It's the appraisal season, huh? )

"Suna hai ki bohot companies have given single digit increments !!" ( Heard its pretty bad..)

" Haan, my husband also told me that his company had ......"

Random voices I hear, as I am awoken from my short doze by a sudden jerk and mindless honking of horns - I just push the sliding window to assess the situation - not that I can help anything anyway. As though angered by my intrusion, a wave of hot air, loaded with dust is fired back at me. I am quick to shut the window. I look at the time, sigh and rest my head backwards on the seat.It would be easily another hour before I reach home which is hardly three kilometres from here. I helplessly resort to what the past few years in Bangalore have taught me - enjoy the FM radio playing in the company bus, oblivious to the sound outside.

I generally sit amidst the first few seats in the bus, no particular reason, just the habit. I've nevermade any friends in the bus, I've never felt the need to... I drift off to sleep effortlessly in less than 10 minutes - consistently...

There are some days when I ruminate about something in office or when a random conversation gets a little interesting, though not informative. Sometimes it is some whine about someone's mother-in-law and how meanly she treated somebody.. or the latest slimming centre in Bangalore.. or about the latest movie at the multiplex - the experience is similar to having read a newspaper supplement of filmy gossips, stupid and useless, nevertheless amusing.

Anyway, today the gossips are far from filmy. It is the appraisal season and news from here and there and everywhere has not been any consolation.

Well, in my not-so-humble opinion, the concept of appraisals are sadder than exams. Atleast one's potential had some say in the exams. In an appraisal, anything can get you anything.. If you dont have the WQ in you, you wont get anything. Well, WQ = Whining Quotient... One needs to throw a tantrum or keep on whining whenever you get a chance to talk to your manager and brainwash him or her that you are just the best and that every manager who appraised you before this one was a villian of the worst order who wanted to rip your career apart! Yes, I am exaggerating - but I guess thats alright... May be not, I chose not to care! But, I cant help wondering at people who establish themselves as critical resources and then demand just about anything... Well, these people are generally very good at work, no doubt, but their attitude!!!Whew... Whatever.....

Anyway,the bit of advice I got from my senior when I filled up my first appraisal was this... "Arre, sab mein self rating 5 out of 5 kardo... agar khud kam daala toh, kuch bhi nahi milega tumko... Aur haan... chota mota cheez ko bhi bada bada karke likhna..." It was quite a shock to me who believed I should not be blowing my own trumpet, and that my manager who had sent me so many appreciation mails will definitely know that I am a good resource. Anyway I filled out 5 out of 5 for all my tasks and submitted it to see what my manager thought. The outcome of that appraisal is better not discussed.... never dig out a buried corpse.  ( Hey, when asked to self evaluate, always exaggerate. Never admit any failings. Highlight every little thing that you did )

Anyway, I learnt my lesson well and I still fill out 5 out of 5 knowing fully well that I will not deserve that rating in all the tasks assigned to me - But then, the manager is anyway there to make sure you dont deserve things, so why bother?

Then, as it happens in any Indian IT company, I sadly became the manager of a team in sometime- and then I was having to make sure people dont deserve things.. Well this was very difficult for me, not because I am a saint or samaritan, but just because I could not get myself to rate anyone low just because of some stupid rule across the company that did not allow a good rating for many..... Well, I like those typical meetings, they are very funny - I was once called by a senior because I had rated 2 people equally well - This senior person clearly thought I was stupid and he was trying to help me make a decision.

"See, we cannot give an excellent rating for both X and Y this year.. You have to take a call on one..." - He.

"Er.. but they both have done excellently this year". - me.

"Ha ha ha.... Do you think we can give excellent to every one in the company? Everyone does well.. ha ha ha " - He.

Nothing was funny to me.. "What??... " This my provoked mind thought, but my sensible tongue censored. Silence was golden...

"You should know whom to give what.... This person X does not have very good communication skills... He never speaks in meetings." - he.

"But the support he has provided for the application this year has been really commendable"... me.

"See.. that is different... you are getting confused...No no, this is not the way".. He looked in exasperation at another couple of managers who were sitting grim faced in the room...

Nothing was different... I was not confused, but I saw there was no way..

I am, by nature and choice, quite impatient and this was clearly not fitting my temperament.. The decisions were made, they just wanted me to agree, perhaps..... this knowledge was setting me a little uneasy.... A year's dedication, work and dream... all at this person's disposal...

I was looking at him blankly - that was the closest to diplomacy I could get myself to.

"Sundar, I think X is not at all communicative and never flags any issue to us..The other day he forgot to inform the client that a meeting was cancelled. What do you think?"

"Er.. well... yeah you are right.. I think he could be more communicative..yeah.. yeah..." - Sundar mumbled and avoided looking at anyone..

"Well, there is this email problem between our server and the client's... We later found that he had in fact sent a cancellation".. me

"No, nothing... We all send out cancellations all the time" - I was quipped...The e-mail server problem was the talk of the day... Now, I chose to shut up.

"Ah.. do you see now? Appraisals are not simple, my dear... ha ha... you will learn with experience... So, let us cut out X's name from the list...." - he.

"Yeah, with a bunch of people like you, nothing can be simple" - this thought of mine manifested itself as a forced awkward smile. I wanted to leave the room, but just stiffened up a bit.

"Well, then thats that... We have finalised the excellent rating list... Thank you very much for your time and valuable inputs"

"Er.. valuable what, sorry?" - this I chose not to vocalize. And I wish he did not smile like this. It was like a vicious vampire trying to smile in all benevolence... I just left the room, mumbling a thanks, though I didn't mean it a bit.

I walked up to my seat.. A tea could do me good.. It was easier to gulp down unpleasant things with a hot cup. As I was walking over to the coffee lounge, I couldnt help glancing at X's desk and the poor guy was sorting out a burning issue in the production environment, oblivious of the time. It didnt make me feel any better. I decided to forget my tea and head home instead.... Now as I sit in the bus am reminded of a little prayer that goes like "Lord, give me the courage to change the things that can, to accept the things that can't and the wisdom to know the difference." ....Wisdom seems to have dawned and yes, somethings can never change - morale breaking managers.... and the mindless honking on Bangalore roads...

Disclaimer : Any resemblance to any person living (or dead!!:-) ) is purely co-incidental. This is a piece of imagination and is not inspired(!!) by anyone...
Am innocent, please!