Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Work culture in the IT sector

All characters are imaginary. Any resemblance is purely coincidental.

Over years of observation, like any other sector in the professional world, the IT sector too boasts of a chameleon of cultures in different companies. It varies so much across the different companies, across different projects in the same company, and even across different teams in the same project that often colleagues are astounded as to how such diversity can exist at one place. Yet it happens, and like always, we have to adjust to it, or for the luckier ones, pray that it lasts like this forever!
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If you are into one of the biggies like IBM, TCS, Infosys etc, you are already amongst the luckier lot, well, apparently. It gets interesting as you get exposed to this big (not bad, but I prefer to call it rather interesting) corporate world and get to see (I don’t expect you to learn anything, until unless you have spent more than a year here) the rules of the game.

Let’s look at it from the perspective of a game we all love, cricket. There are the coaches (leads) in the team who are really an important part and who gets to drive the team towards its goal. Now how many types of coaches have we recently seen, John Wright and Greg Chappell (come on, we don’t know Duncan Fletcher yet!). The perfect examples to provide us an insight into a generic lead in this sector. We see the leads who take a stern istockphoto_15415482-businessman-using-megaphone-to-talk-to-female-colleague look at you when you enter office at 10.01am and raise her eyebrows as high as her receding hairline when you say you are leaving after 9 hours of strenuous work. We see the calm-faced well-dressed Mr. X give you a thrashing personally after calling you into one of the meeting rooms (oh how I wish one of these rooms writes an autobiography, even Ram Gopal Varma would have got some new plot for his next film!) when he felt you might not be able to meet a deadline, using words and phrases you never knew he could use them (or still better, you don’t know them yourself!). Recollect Chappell showing you the middle finger and tossing the players in and out? Well, there couldn’t be a better comparison, you are the scapegoat and you are in as long as you are worth some codes! 

Well, not to say everyone is a Mr. X, there is Mr. Y and Mr. Z as well. Mr. Y is the perfect example of Hitler in a different form. Work is a different interpretation to him. He istockphoto_11086631-young-businessman-has-stress-and-screams-in-telephone interprets work as something divine. Those who are showing 99.99% efficiency must die immediately. I wonder how the extensions phones and the desktops remain intact around him. His anger knows no bounds. He is angry if it is raining during monsoon or the AC has been switched off for 5 minutes or if it is too cold. He is angry if he doesn’t get to go onsite. There’s one particular case when all hell breaks loose, it is when he is assigned some work to be done (talking of module leads here, if you are not aware of the hierarchy, it is fellow worker->module lead->project lead and so on). His eyes are fire. Remember saint Durbasha in the Mahabharata? Well, that Mr. Y for you here! When nice, he is the best help you’ve got around, technically sound and working non-stop until your problem gets resolved. But well, it all comes down to ‘when nice’.


Now coming to Mr. Z or Mrs. Z, he comes early in the morning before everyone and goes deep down the throat of his monitor (I would rather give my wife a 5lac worth Tanishq istockphoto_1320879-frustration-at-work necklace rather than let her be a Mrs. Z!). Yes, you heard right, early in the morning when all the lights of the quadrant are still off. He sits like a zombie checking his mails and doesn’t notice when people enters or leaves, only thing he is concerned is work and work and work and work. When he looks at you, he doesn’t see ‘you’, he sees the ‘work assigned to you’! Such is the height, if you wish him ‘Happy Birthday’, he replies back ‘Hi! Did you complete the work assigned to you before you left yesterday?’. You start thinking ‘Did the #@$% hear me just now!!!! x-( ‘. But you keep a calm face and answer, ‘Yes Z (#@$%), I am looking into it’. Management is something to him as golf is to Sachin Tendulkar. Technically immensely sound with decades of expertise under the belt, but that had come for a price, null value for management skill!

I will try to share some more experiences I have heard from my friends across different IT companies. This is not to undermine anybody but just a critical presentation to give a glimpse of what might await thousands in the coming days.

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