Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Art of Appraisal

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. All events and characters are fictional. It does not represent anyone living or dead. It does not represent any company or corporation or any other entity. It is written with a sense of humour, and is not intended to criticize or insult or defame anyone or any entity.

Appraisals are a time when all emotions are on the loose and a frenzy atomosphere builds up in cubicles. There is excitement, happiness, sadness, disappointment, envy, hatred, revenge - and everything that can make up a typical Bollywood movie. The whole process goes to show how subjective human perspectives are, and how difficult it is to bring objectivity into the whole thing. Maybe a day will come when appraisals are fully automated with no human intervention - and *bang* - the computer pops your appraisal score exactly at midnight on Dec 31st (and probably spoils your mood on New Year's eve).

The style and narration of the below post is largely inspired by the style used by Scott Adams in "Dilbert". He is one of the best in "business satire". He has written some wonderful humorous books like "The Joy of Work", "The Dilbert Principle", etc. Please read them if you get a chance. They are a good way to relax your mind and laugh at the irony of things.

("Big Boss" and "Kumar" are imaginary characters in an imaginary organization in an imaginary world. If you think they resemble anyone living or dead, it is purely coincidental)

Big Boss: This year your performance was good, excellent and outstanding. So, your rating is "average".

Kumar: What? How come 'average'?

Big Boss: Because...err...uhh...you lack domain knowledge.

Kumar: But last year you said I am a domain expert and you put me in this project as a domain consultant.

Big Boss: Oh is it? Well, in that case, I think your domain knowledge has eroded this year.

Kumar: What???

Big Boss: Yes, I didn't see you sharing knowledge on Purchasing domain.

Kumar: Why would I? Because I am not in Purchasing, I am in Manufacturing. 

Big Boss: This is what I don't like about you. You give excuse for everything.

Kumar: Huh? *Confused*

Big Boss: Next, you need to improve your communication skills.

Kumar: Like what? I am the one who trained the team on "Business Communication", you sat in the audience and took notes, you remember?

Big Boss: Oh is it? Errr...well..I mean, you need to improve your Social Pragmatic Affirmative Communication.

Kumar: Huh? What the hell is that? *Confused*

Big Boss: See! That's why you need to learn about it.

Kumar: *head spinning*

Big Boss: Next, you need to sharpen your recruiting skills. All the guys you recruited left within 2 months.

Kumar: Well, not my mistake. You told them you will sit beside them and review their code, and most resigned the next day itself. Couple of them even attempted suicide.

Big Boss:*stunned* (recovers from shock) Err...anyway, I tried to give you a better rating, but our Normalization process gave you only 'average'.

Kumar: Last year that process gave me 'excellent'. This year just 'average'? Why is this process pushing me up and down every year?

Big Boss: That's a complicated process. You don't want to hear.

Kumar: I'll try to understand. Go ahead.

Big Boss: Well, we gather in a large room, write down the names of sub-ordinates in bits of paper, and throw them up in the air. Whichever lands on the floor gets 'average', whichever lands on table gets 'good', whichever we manage to catch gets 'excellent' and whichever gets stuck to ceiling gets 'outstanding'.

Kumar: (eyes popping out) What? Ridiculous! So who gets 'poor' rating?

Big Boss: Those are the ones we forget to write down.

Kumar: What the hell! And how can paper bits stick to ceiling for 'outstanding'?

Big Boss: Oh no, now you have started questioning our 20 year old organizational process!

Kumar: *faints*

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Rear View Mirror

When I am driving, my greatest fear has always been about the car that is coming behind me and the honorable soul sitting in its driver-seat. I fear that they might bump on my car (Maybe out of too much affection!). So, whenever I hit the brakes in a traffic signal, I keep seeing the rear-view mirror holding my breath - seeing if they are gonna bump on me or come to a screeeeching halt. 

Observing people through the rear-view mirror has helped me write a thesis on "Psychology of the Driver Following Your Car", which I might publish very soon and get a honorary doctor's degree from some internationally renowned university like "Kallikuppam Periya Siriya Chettiar Mudaliar Nadar Devar University (near Kallikuppam bus stand, opposite to water tank)".

Given below are some excerpts from my thesis, just for the benefit of the millions of readers who read my blog everyday (*cough*cough*).

The Cell Phoners

When seen through the rear-view mirror, this is the most frequent category of peope you can see. They are the people who might live for a month without water, but will die if separated from their cell phones for a minute. If ever they get admitted in hospitals, doctors hang their cell phones next to the bottle of blood - to keep their hearts from stopping. (Now, you got an idea about these people). They are the most dangerous of all drivers.

While talking on cell phone, some even scratch the back of their heads with their other hand. I've no idea which one of their hands controls the steering wheel. Some would be laughing out loud looking up at the sky - without any clue about my car going in the front.

By default, most women fall under this category. With a twisted head they hold the cell phone against their shoulders, and speak with lots of gestures, and it always appears to be some emotional topic they're discussing. Why do people use gestures while talking on cell? And why do women always have to discuss emotional matters while driving! *phew*

Let's agree on a well known universal fact. There are only 2 types of drivers, "Good Drivers" and "Women Drivers". Women and driving are mutally exclusive. You might argue that many women drive today. Well, just because Vijaykanth dances in many films, it doesn't make him a dancer! It is just one of those things we've learnt to tolerate over a period of time. Same thing with women drivers. Be on high alert if you see one. (Update on Apr 15, 2015: over the years, several women have crashed their cars on mine - protesting the above statement. Since my survival is at stake, above statement has been struck out!) :)

Jean Twisters

Then, there are these male drivers - who search something in their jean's pocket every time they drive (Note: it is always a tight jean). They do this almost standing up from the driver's seat - and some talk on mobile also simultaneously while doing this twist dance. They twist their body in all directions to take that thing out of the pocket (and it usually never comes out that easily). If you see such "Jean Twisters", it is better to shift lanes asap.

The Caravan

In this category, the car will be filled with children. They are everywhere. Three on the back-seat, two on the floor, one popping its head from behind, and few others not visible but present somewhere. And the car is usually driven by a brave Mom. 

She would be watching the whole gang through the mirror and shouting out commands, "Hey, sit down!", "Put your feet down", "Where is your brother? Why is he not in his seat?", "Don't spill the soda!", "You spilled already? Ok, don't spill the next one!", and so on. 

Some Moms are too brave that they turn their heads around to look at the kids, and still keep driving. Well, you can't blame them. They have to answer questions from all little ones. "Mom, where is my candy?", "Mom, can you tie my shoe?", "Mom, my bubble gum got stuck between the seats!", "Mom, why are you driving too slow?", "Mom, Joey is missing, I think we left him behind", and so on.

The Make-Up Vehicle

This car has all the necessary ingredients for make-up: lipsticks, hair combs of all sizes, face coloring powder, face blackening powder, eye-brow trimmer, and a million other things. The "pretty" lady driver in this car uses her rear-view mirror as a dressing-table mirror. So, the mirror is usually turned around 90 degrees to face her at an angle suitable for make-up. Please note that, the whole functionality of rear-view mirror is modified in this car (Toyota! Please note this! This could be the root cause!). 

At every stop light, she nevers forgets to do a quick make-up. At other times while driving, she would keep bending sideways - this side and that side - looking at the mirror to ensure that her make-up stays fine.

If you are followed by this vehicle, you can start calling your auto-insurance helpline immediately. By the time, you go through all the menu options and reach the Customer Care Representative, you can hear your rear bumper falling down.

The Jurassic Park Chase

These cars were probably made when our grandmothers were in LKG. They are pretty long like a boat, and they make all kinds of creepy sounds while they go - and occasionally few spare parts drop from underneath. When these cars follow me, I get reminded of the dinosaur chase in Jurassic Park - when the Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur chases those guys behind their car and they see its face in the rear-view mirror. That's exactly how this is! Never apply sudden brakes when these cars follow you. They might actually climb over you and keep going as if nothing happened.

Believe me, if these cars bump on you, it is going to make absolutely no difference to them. So, always stay 2 or 3 lanes away from them.

The Hitler Faced Couple

This car will have a couple, and one of them would be driving. I don't know why - but their faces would have that Hitler look (a mixture of anger, fear and constipation)- as if they're going to stab each other any moment. Maybe they are going to get divorced the following week, or maybe they are on their way to sign divorce papers, or maybe it is simply because they're driving a Toyota car, who knows! They neither speak nor see each other. It would look as if they are frozen in time (like those Egyptian Mummies).

But, good news is, they are the safest category. They hardly ever bump on you  (because they have enough problems in life already).

Since my thesis is still in progress, I would like to stop here for now. For the safety of all car drivers, I will try to publish it very soon.