Its appraisal time and you gear up with your proofs to talk to your supervisor about what all you have done the whole year. The call with your supervisor starts and you generously talk about the projects, appreciations, accolades etc. Supervisor listens patiently and finally he chips in with a statement “You should ensure you create visibility” and you immediately know what your rating would look like now. Does that statement “You should ensure you create visibility” sound very familiar to you? If yes, then we are on the same page.
Wondering why you got a poor rating after performing well? Well, it is because of lack of visibility
Wondering why you did not get promoted? Well, it is because of lack of visibility
For non-IT people reading this and trying to comprehend what visibility means,
- Visibility is not testing if you are able to see things clearly on the computer screen
- Visibility is not sitting near your manager
- Visibility is not showing your face to your manager or top management each day and wishing them good morning
- Visibility is something that boils down to “Making yourself known to influential people in the organization”
To put it short – People who can influence decisions should know you.
Visibility in IT industry is defined as a strong pressure inducing keyword that has the capability to dent an individual’s confidence however good he/she might be.
In very colloquial terms, Visibility is the most abstract, ambiguous word yet commonly used to screw one’s life.
Let me give you a background. An IT employee is required to not only work in his project but also is expected to do some extra tasks to earn brownie points.
Definition of these extra tasks are “Tasks that add value to the practice/vertical/horizontal/specialization you are in”
People who aspire for the highest rating push hard and do most of the below things or all of them,
- Mail to as many influential people as possible to get their work known
- They research on trends posted by X, Y and Z magazines and update it in Newsletter
- They try to take information available on the internet and make study materials
- They try to represent existing documentation as workflows/flowcharts just to enhance readability
- And many more junks
But do these extra tasks add any value to the practice/vertical/horizontal?
A question arises deep inside – Honestly how is an employee judged these days?
No more are you judged,
- By your integrity towards your work
- By your commitment that you put in striving to achieve perfection in the deliverables you send
- By your honesty in saying ‘No’ when you are not aware of something
- By your excellence in work.
But you are judged,
- By your ability to network
- By your ability to talk (even if it doesn’t make sense) (Being quiet/silent doesn’t mean anything bad. Little do people know that being silent makes you listen more and saves enough energy for you to work in a much more effective way)
- By your ability to create additional documents (apart from project) that are of no value to the business but look adorable (eg: newsletters, case studies – jargons in case studies would be copied from 100 sources and there is nothing original in it)
- By your ability to drink socially with the management
Wow!!!! Amazing isn’t it??
Networking is individual’s wish, drinking socially is individual’s wish, being talkative is individual’s wish, creating junk documents is absolutely individual’s wish. It is sad state of affairs that what is to be considered as one’s inherent nature is being tagged to visibility and rating.
Commitment towards work, integrity towards work, striving to attain perfection at work, being a good team player – These are mandatory for an organization to move ahead and these are the things that should create visibility. Why don’t you judge and rate based on these?
When talking about extra tasks, if you do a white paper, if you innovate, if you fine tune the processes, then that is adding value. But how many do this? Or how many are given a platform to do this? To add value to a topic say ‘X’ or to innovate beyond ‘X’, one should have had at least some basic exposure to ‘X’. How many employees in the organization are given exposure to products/solutions beyond the major documentation work that drives IT now. Then where will innovation jump from?
Also, a person can contribute to extra tasks only if his project is relatively less complicated or takes less time to complete. There are projects that are very complex, very demanding, there could be tough customers to deal with, project might demand new skillset to be acquired quickly etc. But none of these parameters are taken into account. Rather the projects irrespective of its parameters are considered as equal while rating an individual and everyone is expected to do extra tasks irrespective of what kind of project they were involved in.
Now having said all this, I don’t blame the employees who go the extra mile to gain visibility and the highest rating. They do it because it is part of the system.
There is something called “Leadership” (Most abused word in IT) in many big IT companies. Leadership constitutes the Middle level and Top Management or in some places it is only the top management. This leadership is the one that voices its views/opinions stating what is apt when HR policies come out.
But this leadership in IT has nothing to do with ‘Real Leadership’. They don’t even come 2% closer to it. Their thought like most other employees is to survive. I personally am not ok with giving the term leadership to a specific set of people (People at the middle/top management) given the fact that they are also the same as every other person in the organization i.e. fighting for their own survival. The truth is that a lot of them who hold the tag ‘leadership’ didn’t ask for it. It was just pushed based on designation. A true leader can even be in the bottom rung of the pyramid. Leadership and designation just don’t go together.
Finally, if ever there is a day change will come in the way IT operates, then it is when the Leadership assumes responsibility for the name it has and the HRs don’t initiate policies for the heck of it.