Friday, January 31, 2014

Masks From The Corporate World

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My decade long career in IT was a fairly interesting ride. Yes, at times it was grueling and the workaholic in me worked 24X7 without any idea of time. There were days when it frustrated beyond measure, making me question the time and effort I had invested in the field. And then there were times when I felt simply ridiculous about the work I would do. But there were also moments that would make me smile… a simple presentation that went well or the immense faith the boss would place in me, sometimes beyond rationale… but most precious were those moments spent with friends who emerged from colleagues over cups and cups of coffee, Maggi and late night presentation making sessions.

The waters were turbulent at times, making my boat rock through confusion, ambiguity, monotony, frustration and ridicule but then they would turn calm, making it sail smoothly through eureka moments, appreciations, recognition and glorious moments of fun and friendship.  Yes, it was an adventurous ride, no doubt.

But today, almost a year after I decided to take a break from the corporate world, what makes me miss that journey is not just those moments, but the personalities I came across through the sojourn. Sometimes perfect but more often than not tilted, the scale tried to maintain a balance between sense and sensibility on one end and the complete lack of it on the other. No guesses for which side it would mostly tilt towards.

If there was anything I learnt beyond presentation, excel and Visio skills, it was the different shades each person brought into the organization through their behaviour and persona. So here it is; my learning beyond the job description, the one I probably cherish the most from ten years of being just another brick in the corporate wall.

Mr. or Miss Sensible –Always looks for logic and rationale, be it to execute an allotted task or come up with a solution/idea. This one does not believe in working for the heck of it and questions initiatives that do not make sense. The only one of its kind, this is a personality that is usually scattered around the organization and never found in abundance.

The Obedient – “Yes”, “Sure”, “Right now”, “Anytime”, only these words and their synonyms exists in their dictionary. The boss’s word is their command. Whether it makes sense or not is a different matter. If the Boss says it has to be done, it has to be done. Period. No questions asked. Almost every Manager has one following them around. In fact, many managers go out of the way to identify such personalities to be a part of their team.

The Trumpet– As the name suggests, this personality loves to brag. Whether they are really good at their work or not, brag they will. For every small task done, they will ensure the entire office hears about it. It might have been something as trivial as formatting a document. Hell, who cares, I’ll blow my trumpet for anything and everything- That’s the motto.

The Free Rider – You thought you saw the last of them in school? You couldn't be any more mistaken. They swarm around in offices looking extremely busy. Always on the prowl for preys who can do their work, so they can scoot off for a game or two of table tennis. Sometimes it could be arriving for a meeting just as it was closed or feigning excuses of other deliverable's to get away. They work hard to not work and almost always manage to get away with it.

The Chameleon –Sometimes you feel they are your closest friends at work, who understand you and sympathize. The next day you find them contradicting themselves behind your back. They might be good natured and friendly otherwise but in pressing times will resort to anything to avoid a conflict. Backstabbing is a term they are all familiar with. Both, having them as a colleague or as a Boss can be equally daunting. If it is the latter, my best wishes are with you.

Mr. or Miss Gullible - They believe everything they are told. Whoever the source might be, however wrong they may be it doesn't matter. Every word they hear is carved in stone, of course until they hear something else next. Perceptions are formed and firmed based on this acquired knowledge and can go a long way… as far as performance management and R&R as well. Now that’s far isn't it?

The Femme Fatale – Don’t go by the looks, she spells danger wherever she goes. A smooth talker who always knows how to get her way around. Gossip and more gossip is her modus operandi; many a times you will find her seeking out Gullibles to cause maximum damage and create juicer gossip.  Mind you, not all carry the beware sign, the art lies in figuring out the ones who do.

The Whiners–Usually frustrated with almost everything, their work, their boss, their team… name it and you will be greeted with a frown and thousands of lines etched on their forehead. They can crib continuously about their problems, but you will never see them do anything about it. Yes, whining seems to be the preferred solution for all their problems.

The Lazy bums–Smartness and a sound grasping power is their forte but they need a lot more than just that to sit up straight and take notice of what is going on. Unless a challenging situation is thrown at them, they will just laze around. But when you have their attention, work gets done in the blink of an eye.

The Jingoists –Probably a strong term to use but no other word could describe this lot. Always sticking to their own clan, they befriend only those who speak their language; quite literally. Work and abilities really do not matter. Patriotism redefined I say.

The Jargon Guru- They really know it, they really know it not. Nobody really knows. But they sure do know how to create an impression that they do. Using words that will make you run to the management section of the library and weaving “gyaan” around every topic under the Sun, they sure do seem to know it all.Really.

The Directionless Beacons- This lot is confused. They do not know what they are doing in the organization – completely clueless about their work, communication skills and their abilities in general. Despite the naivety, they manage their way up the ladder. I am still figuring out how.

The Postman- This type is found in abundance esp. in the managerial roles. Regardless of what the work is, they forward it to the first name that comes to mind and then conveniently forget about it until the bosses start breathing down their necks. In junior roles, you will find this category overlapping with the free riders.

The Paranoid- Firm believers in Andrew Grove’s philosophy, so much so that they tweak it to meet their needs, these folks are engulfed with suspicion and insecurity; about their jobs and perceptions about them. Often you will find them either busy comparing themselves with every other in the team or worrying about what rating they would get in their appraisals.

The Innocent – Usually the newbies in the team, who are yet to learn the tricks of the trade. They come in eager to learn, only to get confused by the various personalities around them. Some filter well and fit into the shoes of Mr. Sensible while the rest choose the garbs based on the personality they prefer. Nonetheless, none stay innocent for long.

The Adapters- The most versatile of all personalities, this group knows how to not only survive but also grow. Depending on whom they interact, they adapt thus getting along with almost all at the workplace. Street smartness is the trump card hidden up their sleeve. They are quick to recognize different types and work their way around them.

This list is an ever growing one, the more you spend time at your workplace, the more categories you will identify. Often times you will be frustrated; esp. when you see how Mr. Sensible finally gives up when Mr. Gullible and the Femme Fatale get the better of him. Or when the Free riders and Directionless Beacons climb up the ladder faster than you do. Yes, frustrating it shall be.

But years down, when you look back at those days, you will realize that all of them were much needed. To give you those lifelong experiences which would mould your being and help you make the right choices. To learn and to adapt to what is best for you. After all it takes all sorts to make the world.


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63 comments:

  1. You have categorized almost all of them. I dread The Chameleon. You never know what to expect! :)

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    1. Totally :) The Chameleon is the one which scared me the most!

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  2. Ha!! You have nailed it!! :D
    I took a break almost 3 yrs ago and yes, I miss the interactions and the people!!!

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    1. They frustrated me when i worked and now I miss them too :)

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  3. That's quite an exhaustive list you've got there. And as Pixie and Alka mentioned, I think you've got almost all of the ones I can think of. So the question to you would be, which one were you? I think I relate more closely to the "Adapter", the occasional jargon guru and sprinkle of Mr.Sensible :)

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    1. A healthy mix of Miss Sensible and The Adapter I think :)

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  4. nice one .. Yu missed da VaGaBoNd /road bound wanderer /Nomad . Maybe you haven't come across .. or maybe u have.

    The categories , in different compositions apply to almost all sectors of "waark" .. its the same people u see . I wonder if you'd find them in the army too .. zzz ( shivers ..)

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    1. There will be a lot more personalities, variety just ups the spice :)

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  5. First things first, Seeta - you write really well. It is nothing short of delightful to see a well-written post which carries not just writing skill but great content too. I am sure this will take you a long way.
    This "the scale tried to maintain a balance between sense and sensibility on one end and the complete lack of it on the other" had me grinning. And let me also say, the personalities you list are not confined to IT. IT is a world I have never inhabited, but have I met each and every one of the 'types'? Yes. Why, look close, even FB may fit the bill.. :D
    Wonderful post!

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    1. Sakshi, any comment or feedback from you means a lot to me. You know how much I love and respect your writing. So that I fly off to cloud nine when you appreciate my work shouldn't come as a surprise. Thanks a ton for that :)

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  6. Fabulous list, Seeta! I was ticking off people against them. I also hate the leeches who change the host as per convenience and position of power. They are extra pally with the boss and next day you find them sucking up to an influential GM.

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    1. They are everywhere aren't they.. but recognizing them makes the experience quite amusing no :)

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  7. Great Post, you have nailed it right on the head. In my 8 years of IT career I have come across most of them and I must tell you that a kind of weariness has settled in within me. I don't have many friends in my current company but the first IT company that I worked for was a real great one. I made a lot of friends there. As for me, I think I have become the Lazy Bum :) I usually wade through my work until something that challenges me comes my way :)

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    1. I so know what you mean Prasanna or should I say Lazy Bum? :)

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  8. My! What a variety of co workers. I was in defence some time back and not from IT background, didn't see so many varieties there. I guess tackling them would be more challenging than the actual job unless you decide to ignore them, no?

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    1. This is just not IT, applies to every Industry.. I am so glad Defense doesn't fall in this category though.. :) and Yup, does get tough, when you are out of it you can sit back and laugh but when you are there, it frustrates the hell out of you.

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  9. Replies
    1. Long time! Where have you been? As to you.... you tell me dude ;-)

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  10. bang on! i had a face in my head for almost all categories... infact, some people have spill overs from more than one category, and that's more tricky to handle :)

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    1. NoopS, if you are the person I think you are, you would know how I came up with each category ;-)

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    2. i do know :) i would ping you separately to know the specifics :D

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    3. Hehehe :) def., we can discuss where I got my inspiration from ;-)

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  11. I guess they are not only found in IT but they are more widespread!

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    1. Absolutely hence did not mention IT in the title or elsewhere in the post.. save the part about my experience... and that is where all the learning stemmed from :)

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  12. The list covers the most commonly found species called colleagues. Good analysis and very well written post.
    "Both, having them as a colleague or as a Boss can be equally daunting. If it is the latter, my best wishes are with you." Amen to this.

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    1. Hehehe. true isn't it? wondering now if I should be passing those wishes to you as well??? ;-)

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  13. So many categories and yet each one is very specific.I can see many of these types in my circle too.
    Great post!

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    1. Thanks Indu! Glad it resonated with you :)

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  14. Great post!! Wonderful categorization.

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  15. There are so many that used to scared the living daylights out of me cos i never knew what to expect from them!! sigh..

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    1. Hehehe true... but dont you miss them now :)

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  16. I liked this particular line especially - "The Femme Fatale – Don’t go by the looks, she spells danger wherever she goes"

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    1. Where do you think I got the inspiration for it from?? ;-) Thanks for that Fool!

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  17. By any chance, did you happen to visit my office? Every single category mentioned here is available. I was nodding all along. Loved your style of writing. Keeps one engaged. :-)

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    1. Hehehe! I guess its the story of every workplace :) Thanks for the appreciation Rekha, coming from you folks it overwhelms me.

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  18. Wonderful categorization Seeta.. I've met almost all of them :-( ..unfortunately..

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    1. No that's fortunate.. I firmly believe that we should come across all of them, its an experience that teaches a lot.

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  19. I've been in the industry for quite some time now and I've met them all and then there are some people who switches categories every now and then! I guess you missed one kind - The Genuine Hardworker - The victim of the chameleon, the female fatale, the free riders and the postman.

    Knew a guy like that back in the day, extremely talented but never amounted to anything because he wouldn't play the game, ended up quiting his job and three years later formed a very succesful startup!

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    1. I actually thought of that one today morning, but then it was too late to update :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  20. Glad i never worked in a corpo office

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  21. Aha! That belongs in management texts :) From THE ultimate lazy bum :P

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    1. Lazy bum! Why am I not surprised?? ;-)

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  22. Spot on. Have come across almost all of them at some or the other time in the corporate world. Femme fatale and the chameleons are the ones that I like to stay clear of!

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    1. Same here! Just cant stand them! But they were the ones who taught me a lot too...

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  23. Nice categorization. Meet most of these types at work. I always used to believe the right attitude scores over aptitude and surprisingly that's what is hard to find in lots of people.

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    1. Well said Ash! It is indeed hard to find... :|

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  24. What an exhaustive list seeta I am still in that world and I can assure you they exist funny how more blacks and whites than grey there no?

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    1. Very true.. I really admire the fact that despite the frustrations you must be going through at work with such personalities around you still find the time to write and that too so well!

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  25. Oh my! What an exhaustive list.

    I had a simple classification that I adhered to all my "working" life - People who I liked, tolerated and disliked.

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    1. Hehehe, I am sure most made it to the latter two categories :)

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  26. Being a lawyer....a litigation one, I dont have a corporate ladder...or even a ladder.
    This was amusing!!!

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  27. Superb.
    Gives an "outsider" a bird's eye view into the world of IT Nerds and Geeks
    Keep Writing such wonderful stuff
    Regards
    Vikram Karve
    Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve

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    1. not just IT Vikram, applies to all :)

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  28. This is brilliantly written, Seeta :) Kudos :)
    We get to encounter these kinds- not only at office, but in life also :)

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  29. A combination of Obedient, Whiner, Lazy bum & Adapter I am...

    Btw, most of the identified traits are negative.
    I am sure there must be a few positive ones that you missed.

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    1. Well, these are the ones I came across predominantly in my career :) if there are any other positive ones than the ones I mentioned drop me a note, since we know where both of us come from, it would be a rather interesting conversation ;-)

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  30. perfect categorization! I tried to be sensible but was the obedient in the end :)

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