Sunday, January 22, 2012

Team work and the odd ones out in IT sector

The IT sector boasts of team work and team spirit at the very core of its values. It comes as no surprise that the kind of work that is being done inevitably demands absolute team work. A perfect mixture of the experienced and freshers in the team is the ideal scenario when it comes to effectively cost-planning a team. All experienced professionals in the team would throw the profit out of the organization. All freshers will be an obvious disaster.

istockphoto_6103831-hands-togetherNow coming to team work, people are really considered lucky here if they are in a good    team. That is because there are many teams where people suffocate into and are forced to look for other options. A nice team to start with in your professional career is truly a boon. You get to learn a lot of things which will help you in your career in the long run. Things you learn not only helps in you current job role, but also to grow as a working professional. People get less tired mentally and even physically when they are into a good team. Productivity of an employee increases by leaps and bounds when colleagues around him are always ready to help and cooperative. The productivity of the team as a whole rises inevitably amidst such positive atmosphere.

According to popular studies of human psychology, people tend to feel stress a lot less when they know there are people around him whom he can rely upon in times of distress. Your  body would thus respond more positively in case such a stress situation arises. Working in a istockphoto_16748991-cheering-hispanic-business-people-in-officegood team also teaches you interpersonal skills which are vital in the service sector.

Getting to know people from all sorts of backgrounds is another advantage in a team. Sometimes we need to adjust ourselves just a bit to move along with the team. These all are lessons in their own way. It seldom happens that all the team members are from the same region or have the same tastes and values. It is pretty normal for them to differ and that's why individuals are individuals. Your team member might get stuck in a tricky assignment which you are pretty aware how to overcome. It becomes your moral obligation and duty to help him out. Well, if you are selfish, then also you need to help him out. Guess, why? Here comes the tricky part.

We human beings always perceive of others as a neutral being from the beginning. Even if


we converse, and seem to be friends, it’s what in the subconscious mind that defines what we do and when we do. Your helping hand to your colleague in the time of distress will etch a mark in his subconscious mind about the supporting hand you lent out. When your time of stress comes, he will not hesitate to go beyond the usual limits to help you out (just in case he is not too generous, in which case he will help you out even if he doesn’t know you and you should consider yourself superbly lucky to have such a gem of a team member in your team).

Also, another trick of the trade is it always helps to share your knowledge with others. Who know, who might come handy when you are on a holiday or vacation! This is not the intended reason, but it always help because knowledge sharing always enhances one’s knowledge and acts as a superb value addition to the team.

istockphoto_704547-bad-day-at-the-officeNow coming to the odd ones who find it difficult to cope in a team. Their stress level undoubtedly rises. If he’s the good guy finding himself or herself surrounded by a sea of politics and work is being extracted out of him and passed on as other’s work and his visibility to his bosses is being reduced to the minimum so that everyone else gets the credit for his work, it is indeed a nightmare for him. He is the sole person working. He cannot raise his voice. This is when it gets out of hand. Because we cannot keep on accepting injustice forever. Everything has an end to it. The higher management would be informed about this sooner or later and actions are bound to be taken. If that is not the case, unfortunately and inevitably, the person will try to move someplace else.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Small mistakes get hyped, no mistakes (read work) get hyped too!

In the professional world of the corporates, there is an invisible network of thoughts that is spread all across. The wavelengths from different individuals, each uniquely different from the other, cater to it’s ever-growing richness and complexity. You ought to be smart enough to get a feel and sense of the wavelengths that are invisibly travelling right under your nose. Sounds familiar? Well, it won’t if you are a newbie or you remain always focused in your machine all the time. It’s the sixth sense that prevails.

The sole reason you were hired is for accomplishing the work assigned to you. This is the basic activity which must be performed. Your supervisor will see your work, and accordingly gather an impression of you with time. This is the after activity when you finish your work. The tricks of the trade lies from the end of the basic activity till the end of the after activity. Let’s say you are a brilliant coder, your other team member is a brilliant photographer. He sees creativity and art in everything, and loves to stay updated with the latest cricket scores. When Sehwag hit 200, he was the first one to update everyone.

You tried to get the message across to him many times, but failed. So you get back to work, glued to your monitor. But your friend continues to keep a shadow update of the progress of the assigned task. The smallest of your mistakes, is blown out so much out of proportion, that everyone suddenly feels “What the hell are you doing! Your friend is so much more better at doing the same stuffs! Why don’t you just damn hand him over the responsibility?? Are you nuts?” You start to feel guilty. And try reassessing yourself.

This scenario to an observant onlooker, will become clear as crystal. You should be reassessing your surroundings instead of yourself. The sad part is, your supervisor isn’t always an observant onlooker, since he has lot of responsibilities on his shoulders, and can hear only the louder of the noises a team or different teams. Your friend has successfully played his game which he is best at. With one shot, he down-played you, as well as up-played himself. You are left to ponder over your shortcomings like a needle in a haystack.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Achieving and performing without working in the IT sector: Tribute to the ‘a class apart’

There are no end to deadlines in the IT sector. If you are working on a development project, you have deliverables and codes to complete within the timeline. If you are working on a support project, you have to provide support as and when it is required to meet the demand of the hour. It is always a race with time. You always feel you do not have enough of it to complete all your tasks. Same is with your supervisors as well, in fact it is so for most people in the IT industry except few lucky ones who only need to spend the stipulated 9 hours daily and leave without any pressure of deadlines.
But there is an elite group of people who are a class apart and who can achieve he impossible, defying the law of conservation of energy. They get to accomplish tasks that require lots of effort by not giving any effort, well, almost.

istockphoto_362114-hatching-the-idea For them, work is just a wastage of effort and time. As some of them claim, they love to be ‘around’ work, not ‘doing’ the work.

Let’s get it straight now. They act as the coach of the team even though they are the captain of the team! He wants his team members to do the job for him as he lazes around. Occasionally, and let me put that very rarely, he acts to provides moral support to his team members! Not that he is bad at that though. If required he can pour his heart out at help his team members out of the trickiest most troublesome situation, that’s his best side. He might spend hours until he achieves what he wants to do, be it in his own work, or helping out his own team members or members of a different team. But, as you already might have guessed, that happens very rarely. It will be a very big day and almost everyone (yes, everyone including PLs and GLs!) is going to raise their eyebrows seeing him work, or being sincere (seemingly trying to be).

It seems a pretty useless and unwanted person he is in the team. Isn’t it? Apparently, he is. But that’s not the whole story. In fact, it’s only a part.istockphoto_14428635-heroic-man-in-city There’s a lot more to him than meets the eye. He can read you inside out when you are talking with him. His brain collects signals of your likes, dislikes, hobbies, your close ones, their food preferences, holiday preferences, your shopping habits and what not. The cumulative data is used to process out some vital information that is required to make the best impression on you. Something that will make him appear to you so close that you can share anything with him (don’t take in the wrong sense!).

This is a gift. Really lucky are those who possess such innate quality of impressing people. It can range from your immediate boss, your group leader, your onsite client whom you met at a party. It helps to have this great impression which gives you an edge over the others even when you underperform (well, that doesn’t mean you deliberately underperform and roam around). It makes you appear really an efficient resource. It helps you bag a greater points in the eyes of your boss, hence a nice perk. It favors you on having onsite opportunities.

Well, it does pay off you see! But there are a number of cases when such larger than life images backfires. You can well imagine any scenario when an apparent Jason Bourne, is send on a mission when actually, he is, Adam Sandler!

Did you have any such experience or know someone with such gifted qualities? Feel free to comment and share below.

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!
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.

Good looks pay off in the outsourcing world?

The popular concept that hard work is the main key behind success might take a small backfoot in this discussion. True that there is no alternative to hard work, but apart from that, there are some X-factors that come into play when you are looking for success in the outsourcing world. It comes more into play when you are directly interacting with some of the people whom you need to convince and get a deal or something done.

One of the many factors that come into play is how you look, your overall appearance. Apparently a less prioritized concept, but believe me, it helps a long way in quite

a number of circumstances that you might well believe it to be unnecessary

in. A good-looking associate, male or female, is always one step ahead when it comes to deal making and in the marketing and sales area. A nice looking face and figure will always be a pleasing presence in front of the opposite party. If you know the tricks of the trade and is already experienced, then you will know how to utilize it by smiling and talking with gestures to make the situation even more warm. It is always beneficial and most people know to put the best face forward when the priority is to put up a nice image and get the job done. It is not that the good looking guy or girl is best fit for the job, but he or she is the need of the hour.

It is not a biased opinion. Skill and success can never be measured by looks. But in the outsourcing world, when grooming and cut throat competition looms large, these factors are coming into play. It does not mean clothes which betray the official dress codes, but it strongly means the more than perfect official dress code and perhaps some more improvisations which will take you a notch apart from the rest. As you might have guessed already, it has a lot to do with the attitude as well. Because, as Desmond Morris puts it, you will always be talking more by your body than your mouth, and your body talks what you think, your attitude speaks through your body.

It’s always a tricky niche to discuss on. Yet this is how it is. Do you have any insightful opinion on this?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

‘Onsite’ and the ghost in the IT industry

The term ‘onsite’ is a favorite in the IT industry. Everyone wants to go onsite. Such is the madness, people start dreaming of onsite even before entering the company. It has cast a mysterious spell on the IT sector. It was not meant to be this way in the beginning. But it has happened starting from way back in 2007.

For beginners, here is what the scenario is like. The client is generally from outside India. They have outsourced their work to an IT company in India. It is allotted to a particular istockphoto_3826600-airplane-above-the-clouds branch of the company in a particular city. But this distance factor often comes in the way of smooth communication between the client and the Indian company. For reason, someone from India is sent to reside at the client’s location until the job is done. The salary at the client’s location is normally 3-5 times of what you would be getting at ‘offshore’ (term used to denote the location where the work is outsourced to). It depends a lot on what your job role is, where you are going, and most importantly, what your designation is. The factor that decides who will go and what effect it has on others is the most interesting part to be discussed now.

Normally, it happens such that there is an experienced professional at offshore, or a pretty capable team at offshore. The other person with generally more than 2 years of experience leaves for onsite. He might be having a relevant skill set required to the job done, or might have handled such projects very well in the past, or belongs to an elite team in the organization which handles such onsite positions, or have been waiting for onsite for quite some time. This is what happens in most cases.

The excitement, hype and happiness that comes with the first onsite travel is pretty obvious. It’s as if you have found the real meaning of your existence at last. You have found the real meaning of your getting a job at last. I don’t believe in it. But people seem to give the priority to money and wealth even above their own happiness. It is good no doubt, but not worth so much celebrations. Anyways, it apparently came down as a God’s blessing on him and he leaves happily for his new task feeling lucky and blessed. People at offshore feel confident with him at onsite and are sure about getting the job done.

The scenario gets a bit cloudy when people at offshore do not feel confident enough about the efficiency about the person who just left for onsite.istockphoto_14455683-eye It might as well happen that the person truly lacks the credibility to go for onsite. Well, then, there must be something which led him there, right?

The first and foremost things that comes to mind are contacts with higher management. Such contacts can prove very much useful and more so if you know actually how to make contacts. Secondly, in many companies, there is an elite section of reserved associates for such special roles. Once you enter them, it’s always a cakewalk to get such opportunities.

Not that he will be unable to deliver, but that will be far below expectations. But that won’t be noticed by anyone as the offshore team delivers slightly more than expectations and that compensates more than enough for the total effort by offshore and onsite. But the discontent and grudge that is created amongst the offshore team members is something vital and it affects the team a lot. People will constantly curse and hope he is being thrown out. Well, that seldom happens truly, as you might be guessing by now.

A different aspect that needs to be reflected upon is what happens to many people when they do not get to visit onsite.istockphoto_736395-stress It doesn’t happen generally, but there are cases where people simply lose their mind when it comes down to not getting an onsite opportunity. They would get angry easily. They would blame their onsite counterparts (even if the guy or gal at onsite is capable and deserved the opportunity) for every possible opportunity. Frankly speaking, this person have sacrificed his inner peace for the sake of not getting an onsite opportunity. Not to mention, the team spirit (if it exists at all in such a scenario) suffers. The situation turns worse if this person has been sent back from onsite for some issues and then someone else has been sent in his place.

Well, we all got to learn from such situations we continue to face in our lives or hear from others. Had any such experience? Feel free to share below.