Visibility

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.

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Look out for Dustbins

Every time I am outside and I don’t find a dustbin, I ensure that I carry the trash with me till I find one. It doesn’t matter if I am walking or travelling by bike/car/bus/train. I ensure that that I drop my trash in the dustbin.

I stopped dropping trash outside when I was travelling to Cochin in Feb 2010. From then on till now, I have never thrown anything outside.

Last week, I was travelling by train with my family to Aluva, Kochi. We had many baggages. And on top of it, I was collecting trash (Our used paper plates, cups, etc.) and putting them in a separate cover. I couldn’t find any dustbin in the first few stops and hence I decided I will drop it in Aluva Railway Station which was our destination. (I do agree that the railway authorities should act swiftly and place a dustbin in the train. But when they don’t do it, don’t we have that moral responsibility to not litter outside)

My dad was furious “We already have so many baggages. Why do you want to carry one more with trash in it? Can’t you dispose it then and there? Do you think the whole nation will get cleaned if you do this?” and then the argument went on and on between us.

This isn’t the first time I am hearing these questions. When I do this, I am not appreciated by people around me. But in fact they mock at me. They ask me this standard question – “Everyone litters and throws things outside. What difference is it going to make if you don’t throw it?”, “Will the city become clean if you stop throwing?”

I also have some questions to ask,

  • Why do you pray for peace? Do you think your one prayer will impact the entire world?
  • Why do we crib that the city/nation is not well maintained when there is no effort from our end?
  • Why do most of us believe in this quote “Every drop makes an ocean”?
  • When we saw someone spit from the bus, we said “Oh Shit!” because we are little more sophisticated. But we never wore any such expressions on our faces when we threw something like papers/eatables (Probably spitting makes a city unclean and throwing papers/eatables doesn’t)

But anyway people mocking at me doesn’t make me give up. When you stand up for something, then be the change you wish to see. When I teach my kid not to litter, I wish to be consistent without giving any excuses. If I start saying that there is no dustbin, there is no this and no that, then my kid will also find 100 excuses to tell me.

I am so sure that I can’t change whole of India. I can influence some and on seeing them, others could get influenced. It is just like chain reaction. People do this with the hope that someday someone would say “Hey this place is clean or has far improved in terms of cleanliness”. We do things out of hope that things will get better.

I once saw 2 French people eating Chicken Roll in a small shop in Bangalore. Rolls are usually wrapped in a tissue paper. There wasn’t any dustbin nearby. After they finished eating, they carried the papers with them in their hands and threw it in a dustbin that was 200 meters away.

They could have thought “Hey this is India! Who cares?? Let us drop it somewhere”. Their discipline was evident.

A person who litters in India will not do it in foreign countries. They abide by external law and not by the internal one. To put it in layman’s terms, people lack discipline. When there is discipline, there is no need for law to enforce something on you.

To stop littering, you don’t need law. All that you need is discipline.

PS: What to do if you have trash and you don’t find a dustbin when you are walking? – Carry a cover, use your pockets till you find a dustbin. Am sure you will find one within 500 meters distance. And am sure you will find some solution to carry your trash with you (You might have a bag pack or you might request for a cover from a nearby shop or whatever. But there is some solution around)

What to do if you are travelling by bike/car/bus/train? – Collect the trash, place it in any area where there is space and put them in a dustbin when you get down in any of the stops or when you find a dustbin somewhere.

I have encountered different situations in the last 7 years to dispose my trash – right from papers to diapers. And I found a way to do it. Can you?

 

Marks – They are just numbers and not life..

With the 12th results coming out and with the 10th results to come out, there is so much talk around about marks, State 1st rank, what the toppers spoke when they were interviewed, whether boys scored higher or girls scored higher, which city has the highest pass percentage etc.

Oh God! Why is there such obsession with marks? 

After the 12th results have come, I have heard 4 instances of students committing suicide and that is precisely the reason why I am writing this. There could be more instances as well. Seriously why is this happening every year? Are marks so important than ones life? I plead to parents to place less emphasis on marks as they really aren’t the deciding factor of ones life. 

Swami Vivekanada says “We want the education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet”. 

I am sure you will be able to answer these questions,

  • How much did your son/daughter score in Maths and Science?
  • How much do you want your son/daughter to score?
  • What/Where does your son/daughter aspire to study? 
  • Do you think he/she takes enough efforts to achieve his/her goals?

Can you answer these questions,

  • Does your son/daughter know to fix basic electrical/plumbing faults?
  • Does your son/daughter know to correlate the concepts learnt with the outside world?
  • Does your son/daughter know what is good for the environment?
  • Does your son/daughter know how to plant a tree and nurture it?
  • Do you know what kind of attitude towards life your son/daughter has?

If you can answer at least half of the questions like these, then hats off.

Why are we stressing so much on marks? What benefits does it give you? It only leaves your kid with health problems/mental stress after 17 years of education.

People see education as a way to make money. If you believe great marks will give you great jobs, yes it might happen. Am not denying it. That is how our stupid society is built and they trust marks, marks and marks. Someday say the economy is in shambles and people are thrown out of their jobs. What will people do? How many will have the guts to face life? They never learnt life skills as part of their mark oriented education. 

But if you educate your kid with life skills and with sound knowledge like how Swami Vivekanada says, then you leave your kid with the abilities to handle challenges effectively, abilities to lead a company, abilities to scale greater heights soon as the foundation is strong, abilities to venture into ’n’ number of things and a lot more.

My kind request to all parents is when you get to know the marks of your children..

  • Whatever the mark might be, appreciate your child for the effort that he/she has taken
  • Don’t compare his/her marks with someone else’s. Each child is unique. 
  • Everyone makes mistakes and mistakes occur at any moment even without our knowing. For some students, such mistakes might occur in board exams as well. All this is part and parcel of life.
  • Don’t pull their self esteem down by criticising them

My kind request to students..

World is full of opportunities and you can create a niche one for yourself as well. So please don’t quit life or lose your hope. Just stay positive. You are the future of the country. Jai Hind!

Life or Luxury?

When I was a kid, I heard these time and again from my parents and people around me.

  1. Let us see who eats and finishes first – I would gulp the food and say “Yayyyy I am firsttttt”
  2. Let us see who runs and touches the wall first – I would run with all my heart and say “yayyyy I am firstttt”
  3. Let us see who comes first in this game – I would take shortcuts to finish the game first and would shout in sheer joyyy

These basic expressions/statements place emphasis on the word “FIRST” and kids start presuming that coming first is something unbelievably awesome. This concept of FIRSTTT doesn’t end at home. It continues even after the kid joins school.

When I was in 1st standard, I took part in the running race held for kids. School decided to shortlist good runners from that large pool of little ones and conducted a race for them. Finally they selected the top 3. I ran hard and came 3rd.

Post the race, the winners’ announcement was about to happen. The MC (Master of Ceremony) was all set. She calls the 3rd place winner – “The 3rd place goes to Anand”. I calmly came and stood on the podium. Claps come in from the audience.

Now she calls the 2nd place winner. The 2nd place goes to Ashwin. The kid calmly comes and stands on the podium. Claps come in a little louder from the audience.

And now she calls the 1st place winner. With all the stress that she could manage with her tongue, she says “The Firsssssttttttt Placeeeeee Goesssss ttttttoooooooooo – Anishhh”.. And the audience without their knowing clap hard and loud for a long time.

You should have looked at my face and the other kid’s face on the podium. We felt that the attention given to first prize winner was much more than our prize itself.

Look at the stress that is being placed upon Firstttt. It might sound great for the comperer but it doesn’t sound great for the kids’ future.

Now from smallest of games, let us move into education and here the environment just doesn’t spare a kid. Everyone wants to grow toppers and rankers in their homes.

I grew up scoring good marks and I came first almost in all the classes till college but ultimately I wasn’t educated for 19 long years. I mean I couldn’t apply what I learnt. It was all about racing ahead of others.

Racing.. Racing… and Racing ahead in life…

It doesn’t stop here. This attitude grows up with us. Once we start working, we start comparing ourselves with our peers and we evaluate our standing. Be it in terms of designation, salary or whatever.

I sometimes crave to go abroad after seeing my friends in different parts of the world. But why is that craving there in me to go abroad? If I think why I am in India and why my friends are living abroad, I have only one answer. I chose to study in India and they chose to study abroad or they got a chance to go abroad or they decided to go abroad to make a living. I don’t find any other difference. But still why do I crave? It is because of what I have heard till now.

From when I was a kid, I have heard tons of statements like these from my parents, relatives, friends.

  • Rahul is in a very nice company. He is earning Twentyyy Lakhs..
  • This girl Neha grew quickly and is with the designation “Director”. She must be minting money
  • Wow he is in the US. Wow he is in UK.. He is earning so much there. He went onsite and he bought a house. Great!

Wow factor is in the LUXURY is what we are conditioned to believe. And that is why most of us go towards it.

We start comparing ourselves with others, we begin to compete fiercely with just the motive of earning more, living abroad etc, we get stressed because that is not what we want to do and finally we lose our happiness. Some go into depression as well by getting way too stressed about the situation they are in.

Is all this worth it?? You get a chance to live your life just once. Just F*** the luxury.

Coming first, earning more, living abroad – What is the obsession with all this? The core purpose of life is being happy with what we do. But when that happiness is lost, then what is the purpose of having such obsessions.

Kids come with a fresh mind always and they always see things equally. It is we who do slow poisoning in their mind. And this poison starts killing the kid’s happiness in different ways when it goes to school, college and work.

Let us not emote in awe when we talk about luxury. Appreciate the man who earns Rs.5000 a month and also appreciate the man who earns Rs.100000 a month. Let us not emote in awe when we here the term ‘first’. Appreciate everyone who has attempted/tried whole heartedly. Let us not emote in awe when we see someone go abroad. Appreciate every country and its positives.

17 promises to my son

Hey Ishu Kutty,

On your first birthday, we promise you certain things in life and these promises are blurted out straight from the heart.

  1. We would try our very best to give you exposure to many things around to the maximum possible extent which would help you find out what you love to do in life. It could be anything. We mean it. It could be anything.
  2. We wouldn’t care about marks but we would care about your practical/real life understanding of what you read.
  3. We wouldn’t let you down in times of crisis or when you are at fault. We will be by your side and give you the space to learn from your experiences
  4. We shall instill ethics in you not by preaching but by behaving.
  5. We wouldn’t degrade you however silly a question you ask or however silly an act you do. Everyone is silly at times and everyone doesn’t know everything.
  6. We wouldn’t get influenced by what others say about you or we wouldn’t compare you with others. We will always trust you and your abilities.
  7. We will raise you without any caste/community influence. Probably we will request you to be a part of one community which is humanity.
  8. We would give you more experiences than materials.
  9. Your mom and I might have small fights but it doesn’t mean end of the world. We will still love each other. Like you and your friends will fight and patch up in sometime, so will we. But we promise we wouldn’t fight in a way that disturbs your mental peace. We know the best gift a child can get is ‘parents loving each other’ as this helps in creating a conducive atmosphere for the child to grow up well in life.
  10. We will be a kid when you are a kid, we will be teens when you are a teen (Just talking about the mindset. Our body will not be as flexible as yours but we shall try to keep ourselves fit :)) and we will stay away when you feel you want to have a life of your own.
  11. We will keep ourselves updated to be in sync with you and your environment when you grow up
  12. We wouldn’t trouble you by expecting much
  13. We promise to react by putting ourselves in your shoes whenever you narrate an incident and not react based on how we would have reacted to the situation
  14. Just because we are elder to you, it doesn’t mean we will be right in our views and we won’t listen to your perspectives. You can voice out your perspectives at all times. We will accept your perspectives whole heartedly in anything that we discuss 🙂
  15. We will involve you in every decision that we make as a family. We wouldn’t separate you thinking you are too young. Young minds have great ideas is what we believe.
  16. We will give you loads of hugs in the years to come 🙂 We feel a hug can heal your internal wounds, give you emotional contentment, boost your self-esteem and many more 🙂
  17. Last but not the least. Just because you were born to us, it doesn’t mean we own you. You can be who you are.

Now that we have made many promises, we might slip away a few times from them not intentionally but by mistake due to the circumstances that surround on that particular day. To err is human. 🙂

Happie birthdayyy in advance Ishaan. We love you so much. Loads of hugs and kisses from dad and mom 🙂 As I end this, tears roll down my eyes for you brought in so much happiness in our lives 🙂

 

‘Sorry’ – Relationship Strengthener

Few days back I saw a mom asking her little son (about 4 years old) to say Sorry to his friend. Conversation went this way..

Mom: Amog, you pinched Samat. Say sorry to him

Amog: No I won’t..

Mom: Amogg, mistake is yours. Say sorry..

Amog: <Remains silent>

Mom gets angry and keeps insisting Amog to say Sorry and finally ‘Sorry’ pops out of Amog’s mouth.

This incident left me pondering for sometime on what could be the possible reasons for the kid fussing to say a simple sorry. Array of thoughts ran through my mind and I have jotted them here.

Children emulate parents. Don’t they?

When parents fight, most of the times I don’t see the word “Sorry” pop out from either of them. Their fingers pop out immediately pointing towards the other. They have their egos intact and keep their faces as stern as possible in different directions. Kids see them and learn from them. When kids fight with someone, they emulate the same behavior. There is no point in insisting the kid to ask sorry when parents don’t do it. We are great at giving gyan to others especially kids but not at giving gyan to ourselves.

Some people say I don’t like to say sorry in relationships. Is this a fashion statement? Probably yes.

Be it a fight with your spouse or with your kid, with your friend or with your relative, ask sorry to them. When you ask sorry to your kid, your kid will automatically say sorry to you and to its friends. Most importantly it sees ‘Sorry’ as something that helps strengthen a relationship

Certain beliefs are held by people when it comes to asking sorry and these beliefs stop them from asking it.

  • “People feel they would be punished/abused even after asking sorry”. Eg: You committed a mistake in your organization which resulted in 2 weeks delay in delivering a project but the management does not know whose fault it was. If you ask sorry, you are trapped and probably it will reflect in your rating.
  • “If people ask sorry, they feel their self worth goes down” when actually it doesn’t
  • “Sorry means people are exposed and they are a shame”

Sorry doesn’t mean we are a shame. It means we have introspected, have had self-realization and have learnt from our mistake. It is ok if people get to know that we made a mistake. What is the big deal?  Everyone does mistakes. ‘Sorry’ infact has lot of benefits

Benefits of asking sorry:

  • It makes you feel light and at ease
  • Your self-worth goes up because you are transforming to a better human being
  • It tells people around that you are a nice person
  • It tells people around that you are learning from your mistakes
  • It tells people around that you take responsibility for your actions
  • It makes you a far more approachable person

If “sorry” would have been uttered then and there all over the world,

  • World would have seen lesser number of divorces
  • World would have seen lesser number of hospitals
  • World would have seen lesser number of counseling centers
  • World would have seen lesser number of prisoners
  • World would have seen lesser attrition in organizations 🙂

Just do 2 things for sorry to work well in life,

  1. Accept responsibility and ask sorry without any hesitation (Push yourself to say the 5 letter word)
  2. When someone says sorry, appreciate it and just accept it as a sign of realization and not as a starting point to criticize the individual

Let us strive towards creating a value rich generation and not a wallet rich generation

Happy Birthday Wifyyy

3 years back, I used to walk alone in the Anna Tower Park early in the morning. There would be greeneries around, trees swaying like pendulum, cool breeze greeting me with warmth, birds chirping around and singing for me and no one on the pathway. When I was walking in this serene environment, out of the blue a thought struck my mind – Wouldn’t it be nice to walk early in the morning with another hand clasped with mine?

Ah I was lucky. Probably my thought was loud enough that a cupid’s arrow struck me. It just took few months to clasp my hands with the cupid’s hand.

  • Her eyes defined expressiveness
  • Her voice defined sweetness
  • Her thoughts defined clarity
  • Her actions defined purity

Now life looks more beautiful. And now during the morning walk, the same serene environment looks pristine.

She was there as a friend,

Whenever I needed support

She was were there as a candle,

Whenever I was in the dark

She was there as a Chef,

Whenever I preferred home food

She was there as a reminder,

Whenever I forgot something

She was there as a competitor,

Whenever I fought with her

She was there as an ATM,

Whenever I needed money

She was there as a Financial advisor,

Whenever I messed up with money

She was there as Google,

Whenever I needed ideas

She was there as a teddy bear,

Whenever I needed a hug

For all that you have done, a thanks wouldn’t suffice. 🙂

Love you loads… Wishing you a very very happy birthday and loads and loads of happiness in life 🙂

Your smile is contagious. Keep smiling and am sure it will spread throughout 🙂