My God, I have an agenda against corporates, don’t I? :p Forgive the amateurish image up top, I use paint, and I’m really bad at it.
We’ve all had experiences with the corporate world, both as customers, and as employees, and most of us have experienced their idiotic ways in doing something one way, when plain old common sense would suggest doing the opposite. WHY you ask? I don’t know, and I’m sure THEY don’t know either. “This is how we do things around here, that’s our corporate culture”… hmm… I don’t blame you actually. “Sense is the first casualty in corporate warfare,” a wise friend put. Lets move on to some of my little observations that serve to elaborate the point.
CC / BCC : The WORST part about emails, and probably the biggest example of corporate idiocy. You have to CC / BCC hordes of people, many of whom have no connection to the issue being discussed. They have fancy terms for this action, its called ‘keeping them in the loop’ or ‘for the records’. Wait, there’s more, you’ve got to write people’s names in the correct ORDER of seniority, and if God forbid you act like a human and FORGET someone, or don’t order them correctly, expect a nasty remark coming your way. Things are so idiotic, people spend more time looking at the list of people CCed than focus on the content of the mail. …. In my previous place, we had actual lists of people who are to be kept in CC and BCC, and HOW they are to be kept. This is the ‘culture’ they like to promote, and then wonder why their mailbox capacity is always extinguished. I have routinely gotten emails telling me that someone in the accounts team is taking an emergency leave today, regretting that the admin department has ordered 500 pens instead of 400, requesting the HR department to have a handy list of employees who are serving their notice, or telling the sales team to have the presentation ready for the meeting at 4.00, only one little glitch… I’M IN THE I.T. DEPARTMENT!! I don’t even know where these departments sit! HOW am I in any way connected to the matters being discussed?
Emails : Moving one level up from the CC, lets look at emails; more specifically, how they’re worded and how they’re sent. They begin with the most endearing terms, and proceed to leave such a bitter after-taste in your mouth, it ruins the remainder of your day. Sample this –
It has been found that you have arrived over fifteen minutes late for work on five occasions in the past month. Please note that timely attendance is expected of you for this position. Kindly adhere to your shift timings going forward, or the matter will have to be taken up for discussion with the appropriate authority. Have a nice day.
I’m laughing so hard at this, I can’t even think of what to write. You start an email with ‘Dear’ like he’s your long time buddy, proceed to hammer his image in an email also sent to his boss, his boss’ boss, all his coworkers, that cute girl from sales, the janitor, the foreman, the security, the neighbour’s dog, EVERYBODY, and then with ‘warm regards’ you wish him a nice day?! Really?! This is how it works? If this isn’t idiotic, I don’t know what is.
Another thing I’ve noticed is the extremely long ‘trail mail’ chains of people, all of whom have huge signatures in their emails. Not only is it an
inconvenience to have your phone beep every 5 seconds because of an email that doesn’t concern you, but also you’re forced to be witness to the long chain going back and forth between the participants. It’s worse when the email DOES concern you, because you have to sift through 50 odd emails in that haystack trying to find out the needle of information that’s material to you. I can bet half the productivity of an individual gets wasted keeping up with these emails!
Inter-Department Interaction : I was probably in a very juvenile workplace, full of insecure people, and I hope this point isn’t valid across all organizations… Because if the same thing happens in other companies, I don’t want to work for another day in my life! Your interactions with people from the other departments are coloured by the department you belong to, and how your boss’ relations are to their boss. Picture Age of Empires in real life. If your boss is on friendly terms with the other department head, you’re ok there, else there will be a lot of bad vibes in the air, and you can forget about the list of sales orders from the previous month you requested from the sales team earlier today. It takes a lot of effort to get the other department to see you as an individual, and not the emissary from the IT kingdom beyond the water cooler. Seriously, how juvenile can you get! We’re all there doing work that none of us likes. Can you atleast be a little civil about it?
Colleagues : Ah yes, how can we miss colleagues, for they are the ones that make up the organization. I’ve been told by friends in better organizations that your colleagues are human (well, almost human in my case) and they can even be, hold your breath, FRIENDLY and NICE to you! Wow! That’s my definition of Utopia right there! In my previous place, when employees weren’t busy playing ‘Clash of Clans’ with the other department, they used their venom on their own team mates. Samples include sending emails telling them that they haven’t yet sent you the info you requested, keeping the boss ‘in the loop’ ofcourse. Lady! He’s sitting 2 chairs away from you! Smack him in the head with a folder if you want, why drag your boss in it and make everyone look like squabbling children unable to work out their issues amongst themselves?
There’s also the more ‘fortified’ colleagues. I call them fortified because I imagine them high up in a tower, ever vigilant lest someone attacks them, or drags them unnecessarily in a matter. Such a person’s characteristics include talking with you either personally or on the phone, and then 5 seconds later sending you an ‘As per our telephonic conversation….’ email with the exact same thing discussed verbally. I’m confused. How do they manage to send that email in 5 seconds! Do they write the mail before calling, or are they doing it while having the conversation with you? I would’ve asked them, but then there would be an ‘As per our conversation’ email with my name in it. I’d rather avoid anything that puts me in the defensive.
New Recruit Pedigree : No matter how toxic a company’s environment is, they will always act like an elitist club, and you have to prove yourself worthy to be ‘one of them’. Companies want the best product at the cheapest price when out shopping for candidates, and hence have ridiculous observations and questions to determine a candidate’s ‘quality’. Why did you graduate in IT and then pursue your post graduation in Finance? Coz I didn’t get admission! The college trustee’s kid got the last seat! Why did you leave your previous place in such a short time? Coz the environment was so toxic my brain was beginning to mutate! Why did your percentage in the second year of your graduation drop? Because I lost interest in studies, and didn’t imagine I’d ever be answerable to an uptight dimwit like you!… Ofcourse, honesty is NOT the best policy in an interview, so you have to construct answers that are farthest from the truth and feel good to hear. Bottom line is that companies expect employees to have a clear understanding of life since a young age, and make their life, and resumes coherent to the company’s expectations both in terms of academic and extra curricular activities.
Formal Clothes : This is a weak point, but one that I personally have an interest in. We ‘borrowed’ the culture of wearing formal clothes from the
British, and its stuck ever since. If you know anything about the weather here, it’s hot and humid. Not the best climate to be wearing tight trousers and full sleeved, tucked in shirts with closed formal shoes. If the weather wasn’t bad enough, we have our public transport system that should attract attention from the UN for being in violation of a person’s right to life and safety. ‘A Can of Sardines’ isn’t even an understatement here. Yet, we are forced to use these trains for lack of alternatives, and these sort of clothes only add to the heat and frustration. My point is simply this – would something a little more comfortable, on the lines of what our ancestors wore earlier, that was conducive to our weather be a deterrent to the productivity of a person? In fact, if he feels more comfortable, he will be a little more relaxed, and will be able to concentrate on his work rather than feel suffocated in clothes your ‘culture’ demands him to wear.
Wow, this became a long one, didn’t it? :p I’m pretty sure even if someone in the position to make a cultural change reads this, absolutely no change will be brought here. Its an Indian culture thing…. ‘please adjust’ 😐
I just got a new job offer today by the way, and I reluctantly begin Monday. I’m not too excited about it because of the location and travel involved in our delightful public transport, but I have to ‘please adjust’ with the plans of some higher being and hope I don’t get any more mental disorders than the ones I already have!