Penned down somewhere in 2012 and I feel it’s still so relevant.

I was recently invited by a friend of mine for a reunion with my college mates at his home. When I went there, I casually joined my old mates and we started discussing how is everybody doing with their lives and where do they work and so on.

Few got married, few were finding jobs, and few were pursuing higher studies. Majority of them are working and we all workaholics started talking about the work culture, shifts, weekend offs, and of course regarding the salaries too! But the discussion turned out to be serious for a while with quite a few complaints and the stressful targets.

As we all are new to the corporate world, everyone had their own issues but still seemed to be a “normal-in-corporate-life”. When we all were making fun of our weird experiences, my friend’s dad who is a well-experienced fellow was silently listening to all our conversations and finally joined to give us the solution to all our big list of complaints.

Here is the conversation that was all about that I thought worth sharing on my blog as a first post. I’m pretty sure everybody would have gone through these kinds of situations in their career. So enjoy reading my experience J

Sumanth works as an engineer in a reputed company was the first guy to get a job amongst us. When we all were talking about our work-life, he was silent. I asked him the reason, he opened up his story. “My manager asks me to stay back at the office late nights to complete the project and meet the deadlines. I have started to even work on weekends and compromised to work from home as well. I hardly sleep every day and have become a workaholic”. I was surprised and asked him “Why don’t you tell him that you’ll be stressed and need not put in extra work for what you are not paid for?” He desperately answered “It’s a corporate life, my friend. You need to work dedicating your life to make sure you are not fired. The performance scale rips you apart.  When you are appointed, in the initial days, you’ll enjoy the coffee that is available in the coffee vending machine.  You’ll enjoy sitting in a separate cubicle with a laptop provided. With enthusiasm, you’ll do a fantastic job for the first three months and your trainer or the manager will start appreciating your youthful achievements. You’ll also enjoy the team outings, weekend fun and the goodies, a cake party for birthdays or any small achievements.

He continued, “But, the real story is here……”

“I would call it corporate exploitation. You’ll be given a fake appreciation telling you have done an amazing job and given an extra work telling “you have talent, you should take this challenge up” or “You are the only one to solve or meet the deadlines, so the responsibility is yours”. “If you work this extra job, this will help you to step up in your career growth, I would recommend you for a promotion in the coming appraisal”. You’ll be in an excitement hearing the word appraisal and promotion and you’ll put your heart and soul to accomplish the task given to you. You’ll start adding some extra hours and your working time will increase from 9-15 hours.  Yes, with fake appreciation, you’ll be made to put in extra hours for the same salary. You’ll work twice the money you are paid.

You are now been identified by your team lead/manager that you are a dedicated working animal and you are flexible to put on extra hours. So now the expectation scale is set high and every time you get the project, you are now supposed to work 100% efficient and even more than that. If you don’t, there you are. Your manager starts complaining you telling your energy are going low and you are not like the way you were initially.  By then it would have been more than 3-4 months and you are no happier with your own cubicle and coffee becomes tasteless.  You’ll start taking frequent breaks and people start observing your attitude.  Your manager calls you and tells you the deadline is a high and short time and you have to reach them. You’ll start carrying your laptop to your home and start working at the office and home as well. Yes, you’ll start working really hard to meet the deadlines and stop going out on weekends. You’ll stop meeting your friends and family and put your time on work. By then your performance scale would be set evenly high. Although you know it’s an imaginary deadline, you can’t still question your manager fearing you would lose a job or your most favourite word “promotion and appraisal”.  So you are caught now.

You’ll start getting saturated with the work and start losing focus. But it’s time for your self esteem and status among your colleagues. Initially you’ll be the rock-star flying with appreciation words and now your manager starts shouting at you. So it’s important for you to retain the prestige and there would be no way to escape other than meeting the targets. So you’ll not worry with stress but be worried on retaining your presence at office. Because you’d start getting warning letters saying your performance graph is going down and you’re given few weeks of time and need to improve yourself or else you would be thrown out of the company.

You’ll think there is no point in impressing your manager every day, so you better quit and look out for a good fortune in any other company. But, that’s impossible. Because, you’ve already signed the agreements for some couple of years and you’re suppose to follow the company policies and rules. You were initially working with full of energy for your handsome salary. But the real tragedy is, the company would start deducting some amount of money saying some reasons and would say you’ll get the amount at the end of the year. So you’ll have to wait for your own hard earned money that would be given in the end of the year.  You would also have surrendered your educational proofs such as marks cards, certificates. So you cannot quit without serving notice period.

So you are in a critical situation, that you cannot please your manager every day, you cannot quit job as well. By then you have already boasted in your family and friends telling you are working with the most reputed company and you also have visited many places as team outing and also gone for foreign trips. So you cannot share your emotions. It would be your high social status with a personal and emotional tragedy

We were speechless to his story and most of them nodding their heads thinking they’re also on the same scenario. Next came the question, how do we surmount this?

There came a voice saying “Not to worry folks, we do have solution for this.” Famous entrepreneur Mr.Sharma uncle joined us. He continued to speak.

“It is very essential you do a basic research about the Company, job roles and responsibilities, company policies, work culture flexibility and so on.  Just because you desperately need a job, don’t jump into a hasty conclusion compromising to any extent.  If you think a job is a need for you, also remember, the organization equally needs its workers.  So always think the other way round. Create the necessity for them to hire you.  Prepare yourself a lot so that they offer things to make sure you work for them. Do not accept any kind of agreements; lock in periods for a longer time.  If it is mandatory to submit your educational documents, get acknowledgements and ask them to return back after the verification process is complete.

It’s very essential for you to have your self control, self motivation and confidence. Don’t panic at any point of time.  At your workplace, if any of your colleagues or team members is un-occasionally flattering about you, without reason appreciating for your work, you need to be cautious and attentive. You need to be smart in judging that they are trying to get some work done for you.

After your interview, try talking to the manager/reporting person whom you are going to work in future. Talk to him/her about all the topics that are work related. Spend some time and analyze what type of person he/she is. So that you can mentally prepare before you join the company.  If you feel secure and confident to work with them, you can make a decision of joining that company. Remember, it is not important to know about the founder or a Director of the company but it is certainly important to know more about the manager whom you are going to deal with.

Learn diplomacy. Your colleagues are not your best friends or family members to tolerate. No matter how good they are, or how well they match your wavelength. Let there be a distance with them. Do not get attached to them personally.  Strictly avoid sharing your personal things with them. Deal with them only when you need the office work to be done.  Avoid people, who backstab, never on time, not meeting their deadlines, one who doesn’t have a presence of mind, aren’t sincere to the work and so on. They are very dangerous to your success. Your esteem will be calculated on your environment and people around you!

The initial days of your joining are very important and crucial to you. People around you, will be observing your nature and behavior. Especially your high end management. They judge you if you are sincere to work, loyal, punctual or are you a lazy animal, backstabber and so on. So it’s in your hand how you showcase yourself in the first few days. Remember, your first few days will decide on your next two years and people whom you’ll be developing the contacts with.  Neither impress too much nor do you disappoint them. Work only on what is assigned to you.

Managers or the bosses are definitely smart animals and they will have a knack  on getting the work done from you. So it is up to your smartness how you build the rapport with them right from day one. If you are completely desperate about the work culture and cannot change at all, I suggest, you change the job. After all it’s your happiness and satisfaction at work that matters to you and not the performance grade or the numbers, my friend”

His advice was making sense to everyone of us as we have also seen one or the other problem at our work place. His suggestions were worth taking it. We and especially Sumanth was feeling better taking uncle’s advice and all of enjoyed the re union party with delicious food and happily ended the day.