Saturday, December 18, 2010

[Yet Another] Love Story

"The first time you asked me to listen to this song, I didn't like it, but I just told I liked it to make you happy. But after listening to it some more times, I really like it... Thanks for sharing the heavy metal song. If not for you, I wouldn't have gotten to know the song!", she told him enthusiastically, kissing him on his forehead and ruffled his hair. The fact is, she was still lying.

She hated the song and when he asked her to listen to it the first time, she couldn't even act, and thought he might have suspected that she lied. Accepting an earlier lie, and lying affirmatively is the best way to lie. She knew that. It was not just about the song. She would do anything in her power to keep him happy. After all, he didn't know why she was "super nice" to him.

He also did not take her for granted. He also loved her very much, more than anything or anyone in the world. He would strongly disagree to the old fashioned habits which treat women lowly, for example, wife should eat after husband, etc., and he would always eat with her even if she tried to give some fake excuse to eat afterward, but, I don't know why he would expect her to remove his shoes and socks after he returns home every day.

Eventually, he came to know why she treated him so special and the reason for her to be "super nice" to him no matter how sad or disappointed she was. It is after around thirty years, when his eight year old son played a heavy metal song he got from his friend, to his wife and asked 'how is this song, mom?', and when she told, "I don't like heavy metal songs, but after listening to this, I started liking them. Thanks for sharing. If not for you, I wouldn't have known about these kind of songs" and kissed him on his forehead and ruffled his hair.

[PS: Could this be a better alternative ending for this story? After the son asks 'how is this song, mom?': Start reading from the beginning of the post.]

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Skip Level Meeting : A Completely Imaginary Story

[Disclaimer : This post is completely an imaginary incidence. I am working in one of the "Great Places to Work" and my employer has nothing to do with this and any opinion expressed here is solely my imagination.]

'Skip level meeting', in an abstract sense, means a meeting with your boss's boss (manager's manager). It is very uncommon and will only happen if there is a 'special' need for it. Only in a few companies this 'skip level meeting' is part of the process. You know, generally, managers have the ability to screw up the life of his team members and this skip level meetings give a slight chance for the employees to screw up the life of their manager :) by complaining about the manager to the manager's manager.

[Jumping to the story. I don't know what names I can give the characters as it has to be the names which has nothing to do with any of my colleagues/manager in my career. So, let me go with my school mates names. Lets say, Kumar is the employee (the hero), Venkat is Kumar's manager and Sekar is the Venkat's manager.]

"Come on in Kumar. Please sit down.", Sekar invited cordially with a smile. Since this meeting was not requested by Kumar, and since Sekar's attitude was very pleasant, Kumar got some confidence that is not going to be a 'you screwed... bla bla bla' kind of a meeting. At least, he thought like that at that moment. "Thanks Sekar", told Kumar and sat on the chair meant for him.

[Lets skip all the parts where Sekar tells Kumar that he is doing an excellent job and he is a valuable addition but he needs to be more proactive and improve his communication skill. I think in all the meetings with the managers, the sentences 'you needs to be more proactive' and 'you can improve your presentation skills a bit more' will invariably be present.]

"So, Kumar, are you happy with the team?"
"Yes Sekar, I am very happy with my team. I have no complaints."
"I sensed that your relationship with Venkat is not smooth. Is there anything you want to tell me about that?"
"I don't know how and where you got such a wrong information, Sekar. I am having a good relationship with Venkat."
"It is completely okay Kumar. You can tell me. Think of this as a 360 degree feedback. Your name will not be used in any of the assessments."
"But the 360 degree feedback was over couple of months back right? I have been honest in filling that. I am happy with my team and my manager"
"It is okay even if you haven't been honest in your feedback. I wont use that against you. I want everyone working in my team to be happy"
"Well... I am happy here."
Sekar's cordial smile faded away. The smoothness in his speech was gone now. He looked more serious and continued...
"You know what? This is the problem of IT industry. Manager's can screw the employee life. They are given a great responsibility, but most of the managers think of the responsibility as mere power. Having personal favorite employees and screwing others even though they are good. I don't want such things happen in my team. I heard that Venkat openly insulted you when you missed a tough deadline. So, if you want to discuss anything, or if you have any complaints, please let me know. I will protect you."
"Sekar, I agree with what you told about managers and their responsibilities. I agree that Venkat scolded me in front of everyone when I missed a deadline. But I have no grudge against him. I can't let one simple incidence to judge him. Also..." 
"But...", Kumar stopped talking when Sekar started to say something. There was a moment of awkward silence and Kumar continued, but this time, Kumar was not very polite. He maintained a strong eye contact and told every word of it heavily, so that Sekar understands that Kumar has understood what was happening.

"I understand that even though managers have the power to screw the employees, they need a reason, at least a dummy reason, to screw their life. I am pretty sure Venkat wouldn't have done anything to me because of the incidence. He is a good person and a good manager, whether I like him personally or not. I don't want to...", Kumar's voice trailed off. He didn't want to continue and he didn't need to continue as Sekar is smart enough to understand what he was about to tell. Which is...

"I don't want to give you a reason to use such a trivial incidence to screw with Venkat's life. You are his manager and you have the POWER to screw him even if you get a simple negative feedback about him."