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Archive for the ‘Appraisal’ Category

Waiting List

In Appraisal, Office humor, SlavesInc, Wage Slaves on May 1, 2013 at 23:28

Waiting…is the easiest thing in the world. It may be boring but it is passive. Waiting for a call, a bus, a discount, a letter. Waiting for a sign, a smile, for inspiration,  for the right time, the right girl and the right opportunity. And if it never comes it ain’t your fault. You were right there. You didn’t make a scene. You were polite. You just waited. And it never came.

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The past few weeks have turned this past time into somewhat of a mild and lasting anxiety attack. It is not so much the ‘what if it never comes,’ it is more of the ‘what after it doesn’t’ bit that has been keeping you up. We are; off course,  still talking of the appraisal letter. And it is imminent,  not by the look of things or via grapevine but by the sheer date on the calendar.

Rumors about the company selling off and half the work force being laid off have stopped amusing people. Latest word out on the street is that this year there won’t be no letters at all. Not in the historical sense of the word anyway. The future has arrived and in the future there are no fits and fights, only bits and bytes. So the condensation of a year’s drudgery, of twelve month’s labour, of four seasons of farming will be a 10 kb pdf file that will quietly pop in to your inbox and set you up for another twelve months of the same.

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They will take away from you the one thing you always thought you would have; cribbing. You know cribbing won’t change what is already in print. You know the maths of it only allows a few lucky slaves to beat inflation every year. You know in the larger scheme of things, everyone is expendable. You know the house always wins. But when all else fails, atleast you had the consolation of crying your heart out to Head Slave. Of verbalizing your dissatisfaction. Call it the human touch, if you will. And with Head Slave you can use the word human only lightly.

When you least expect it, HS calls you into his cabin and asks you to have a seat. You are trying to stifle the remainder of hope still bubbling in your gut. What follows is another round of ‘It’s been a tough year for all of us,’ and ‘I really tried…’

At least they did not sink to the new low of sterile e-mail exchange. Even HS is expecting some outburst from you, bracing himself in fact for the one time in the year when you can let unbridled emotion take over forced etiquette.  But you just don’t’ feel up for the dance.

The-Shawshank-Redemption-Parole-Letter

You collect your much-awaited letter, say, ‘Whatever. ..’ to HS and walk out. You do look at the letter afterwards.  You sit down with a calculator hoping the numbers will add up to something that justifies your earthly existence. They don’t, not in this economy. Logic is a stranger to hope. But the two have to catch up sometime. Sometime before you are too old to dream and too young to give up. Sometime before you have more yesterdays to look back upon then tomorrows to look forward to.

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And if that time never comes it ain’t your fault. It never is. There is always a market slowdown, office politics or even Karma to blame it on. And if all else fails there is always plain old bad luck. But the loss is only yours.

– J.

B Positive

In Appraisal, humor, Office humor on March 17, 2013 at 19:26

You always dreaded results, right from school. Who didn’t? Apart from carrying the combined anxiety of parents, teachers and counselors/parole officers, you always found the grading discriminatory, if not downright derogation. But what is one soul’s revulsion in an ocean of woe…?

Bart Grades

So you toiled on, in a race you didn’t want to finish and a match you didn’t want to win. And they graded you, year after year, till you grew indifferent to it. It is all theory you said. In reality, in practical terms, in the outside world, you will do well or well enough.

Well, you are in the outside world now. And guess what, you still get graded. Only now it is called performance appraisal. The same people still seem to win, the nerds, the surds and the herds. And instead of candy, you get money, or less of it.

The Office Appraisal

It is no one’s fault really. Mediocrity exists to serve a very important function, that of highlighting what is superior. And it’s all good, nice, clean and impartial through the cold logic of mathematics.

As you know by now, it is that time of the year again. It is that time of the year when all the trials, tribulations and turmoil of the past 365 days will be rewarded. They will be rewarded in full with a single letter. In most cases, this single letter will be B+. Coz you are not slave enough to be awarded an A and not defiant enough to be relieved of your burden.

Grades Meme

The rumors have started already. They range from ‘everyone is going to get the best damn increment of their life’ to ‘the company is going to shut shop’. The same people who always threaten to leave if they are not adjudged above average are still around and they are threatening to leave again. The same people who always walk away with the cherry are also around. And there are some new fish who still have a glint of something you may call hope.

Then there is you. Right outside Head Slave‘s cabin, trying to ascertain if that flutter in your stomach is a butterfly or reluctance to comply. Walking both worlds, committing to none. Spurned on most counts, hanging by on some. But you tell yourself, this is it! If you know you are meant to do something or rather; something else, then there is no day like today and no time like right now!

HS: Come in sport, it’s been a tough year eh?

You: (an expression that says, ‘Let’s get on with it.’)

HS: (an expression that says, ‘I will ignore that.’)

A couple of measured exchanges later HS leaves you with an A+ in your hand and a dilemma on your mind!

Bizarro Desired Destination

Looks like it is going to be another year’s purgatory before you can think of salvation. But what is one soul’s revulsion in an ocean of woe?

…Only a drop, that is what it is.

– J.

That Blonde Moment

In Appraisal, Boss, Office humor on February 25, 2013 at 12:23

You have always felt a pressing need, almost a compulsion to think before you act, look before you leap and aim before you shoot. There are no points for improvisation, much less for spontaneity. It does not sound like happy camping but that is the way the world goes around. At least the part that makes money anyway.

Kantha Langot

And these are only ordinary Mondays. Special days require an even greater effort at formality. You thought with the appraisal filed away, such days were gone along with best and worst they had to offer. But you had conveniently forgotten that while in employment there is always next year to plan for, to yearn for and earn for.

And this begins with goal setting. You may continue to be as misguided and random in your personal life as possible. But during office hours, everything is planned to manicured perfection. It has taken you five hours already to draft five areas that will serve as your goals. You have weighed your words more painstakingly than a miserly jeweler.  You have redone your script more times than a reclusive author with a drug problem. And you are still not sure.

The sun is about to set now. It is almost time for your alter-ego, Non-Formal Man to moonlight.

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You would really like to let go, let your hair down, put your windows down and your speakers up.  But you can’t. Not as a slave. Not during office hours. Not under video surveillance. Not yet.

You have got to get this out of the way. A check with Head Slave’s Sec reveals that he will be leaving in half an hour only to return after a week.

It is now or never. With one last spell check, you are about to hit print when you realize you missed one section altogether:

Personal Goals: ­­­________________________________________________________

You stare at it for some time. Then you tilt your head and stare at it some more. Could this be a joke? Personal? Here? In the galley? Why would they possibly want to know the awfully pedestrian goals of your suburban existence?

These are tough questions. Given the paucity of time, you scribble out the first thing that comes to your mind and head for the HS’ den.

He has almost made it through the printout without as much as a batted eyelid or raised eyebrow. All the obsessing over the wordsmiting seems to have been worth it. Then, HS suddenly stops right at the end and looks up at you in bewilderment. You return the favor.

He reads out:

‘My personal goals are to put the punching bag I bought last X’mas to good use and stay off the carbs.’

SpongeBob Boxing Bag and glovesSpongeBob Yoga

And he bursts out laughing. A hideous all absorbing guffaw the likes of which you have never heard before. On several occasions he tries to explain: ‘When we say personal goals we mean…’ but he is too cracked up to finish the sentence.

Legally Blonde Frigid Bitch

To think all the obsessive compulsion that lead to that blonde moment is in the least bit, bemusing, if not an outright daze. There is a little blonde in all of us. She refuses to go down no matter how hard we try to wise up. And we are all the more human for it.

– J.

KRA

In Appraisal, Boss, nine to five, Office humor, SlavesInc on February 21, 2013 at 23:21

Whoever said fate is in our hands never had an appraisal. He never had the good fortune of knowing Head Slave either. It is almost a religious experience as the Maker’s hand randomly does and undoes your exploits of the past 12 months, 4 quarters and 3 seasons on a single A4 printout.

Creation of Adam

You stopped putting up a fight some five minutes ago. But HS seems especially spirited today. You don’t recall having ever had as much face time with him during your entire tenure.

The third time HS asks, you are moved out of your trance.

“What about this Kaizen project sport? I haven’t heard anything about it.”

Neither have you. In fact, the last you heard about it was in last year’s appraisal. You try desperately to remember what your answer was back then. It couldn’t have been anything convincing.

Since you are already two strikes down, you shoot out the following:

“You know boss, the Kaizen project was always on my radar. But looking at our priorities, I had to let it go. I knew it would mess up my KRAs, but it was the right thing to do for the company.”

A few moments of silence follows as HS looks at you with his glasses lowered. That was some inspired hooplah!

“Tell you what sport, we still have a week to go before closing the appraisals. Why don’t you do a quick pilot on Kaizen and we will discuss again?”

Dilbert Kaizen

Now you look at him with your glasses lowered. This is not exactly a SlavesInc. moment but you decide to go for it for the novelty of it.

The next week is spent looking high and low for anything that can pass off as Kaizen and more importantly, for something that can be rounded up in one working week. You settle for an area you know most about: attendance rolls.

Login sessions reveal that an average Slave spends three to five percent of his official time on checking, plotting and in general obsessing over his attendance records. This is more than the time expected to be allotted to real work including ‘generating new ideas’.

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Being a clone of the system yourself, you know that correcting the names of the slaves on payroll can cut down much of this time. It would also mean fewer loop holes for clock-watching colleagues. But you can’t please them all.

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Project in bag, it is now time for another appraisal session with HS. For once he likes what he sees:

“Nicely done sport. We are through for this year. What was that line you said…’the right thing to do for the company?’ – Brilliant! I used it myself with the man upstairs. Kaizen was part of my KRAs too you know…”

Ghost Rider Contract

HS walks out with a pat on your shoulder and a wink in his eye. He leaves you with a higher KRA score and fewer friends than you have ever had before. Whoever said we make our own destiny was never bound by KRAs.

– J.

Too Late, too Less

In Appraisal, humor, Salary, Wage Slaves on May 20, 2012 at 04:55

What do you work for? To keep busy? To feel useful? For recognition? For the greater good of mankind?

Anything but money, right? Yeah, tell yourself that. Tell yourself your motivations are on a much higher plane than…daily bread. But with runaway inflation and a bunch of show-offs for Facebook friends, daily bread is the least of your worries. Yes, everyone and his cousin seem to be taking a world tour and buying i-Pads. And you are sitting there ruing over your daily commuting cost.

You are face to face with…FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out.

For the wage slave, opportunity to progress in life comes but once a year, on a pre-ordained date. This year, the date has come and gone. There is no word about the letter, that single printout which will set the tone for the next 12 months of your mortal existence. And tilt the trajectory of your fiscal fate down towards poverty.

Working for money is a tacit setting, like a conditional friendship. It is well understood but impolite when expressed openly. So you can’t ask or express your displeasure, not about the money.

Week 2 into no-letter land, you have already received your salary slip. Try as you may, you can’t resist calculating against last month’s salary slip to find out the difference.

…there isn’t any! In fact, you have actually received fewer quid in hand than last year. The story of your appraisal has gone from drama to suspense to tragedy and now, an anti-climax. ‘Is this current month’s salary or last month’s salary?’ a similarly ill-fated colleague yells out. 

As other teams receive and rejoice, you feel like a special needs kid on sport’s day awards.

More than a week later, HS finally summons you into his cabin with a smile. You return the smile with ‘whatever’ expression. He finally found the time from his ultra-busy schedule. If only HS could clone himself so his mini-me could get around to unenviable tasks such as smiling through difficult increment sessions.

‘So, how are we doing today?’ is his uninspired opener. You want to convey your choicest opinions. But you manage to just grind your teeth and narrow your brow instead. With your carrot turning to peanuts, you don’t have much to lose.

 

 Without fear, niceties and formality go out of the window. HS is leaning forward resting his forearms on the table in what looks like mild anxiety. You are slouching in your chair in mild exasperation.

‘As you know, it has been a difficult year for all of us…’

‘We already know the salary. Just hand over the damn letter and be done with it.’

HS has no come back. You take the letter and walk out. The coolness of what you just did only sinks in after a couple of minutes. So that is what inspiration feels like. You ought to feel it more often.

Whoever said they don’t work for money probably had a large inheritance.

–          J.

The Letter of Your Dreams

In Appraisal, HR, humor, Office humor on April 24, 2012 at 01:52

‘If you don’t act on life, life has a habit of acting on you.’

That is just the kind of misnomer of an insight you want to start your day with. The new vendor for your intranet sites is still in his show-off stage. Hence, a daily dose of dumb-down wisdom (‘Quote of the day’) greets you every time you sign in to view your salary slip (a depressing exercise in itself).

But it does get your attention. There are bald guys out there making a killing with the verbal equivalents of stick figure stock photos and you are just sitting there in your cube…reading them! What is with this inertia?

You put it down to lack of motivation/provocation.

With appraisal season upon you, the creature that is your loyalty is getting wings again. ‘Once the letter in my hands, this little birdie will fly, fly away!’ said Mr. Anders, a fellow slave and 10 year veteran.

‘Didn’t he say that last year?’

‘I think so, but in a less delirious way.’

You don’t know whether to laugh at a grown man doing a birdie flutter motion or to be scared by the wild glee in his eyes. You choose to take the scissor out of his reach when he is not looking.

One by one, nine to fivers are being called into the fateful glass cabin of Head Slave. The whole thing has a very Big Boss feel to it. One healthy year of your mortal existence condensed in a couple of pages of type…the letter of your dreams. Much of the type, off course; is legal spells. Just in case any of the laborers get any bright ideas. You are surprised HS does not have security, a Rottweiler perhaps, to stand by him in case the letter triggers a slave to go Spartacus on his ass!

It has all gone uneventfully, if not amicably till now. Mr. Anders is up next. Slaves awaiting their turn line up at an angle to the cabin to get a peek of the silent drama across the glass, much against the secretary’s assertions. It is like seeing a silent movie without the subtitles and a background music that is only playing in your head.

Into the third minute, Anders has not done his birdie dance yet. You expect the worse. He comes out a couple of minutes later, walks slowly to his desk and goes about randomly clicking icons. You walk up to him, more out of solidarity than wanting to know.

‘What is one more year huh?’ he says not looking up from his screen. An implosion can be a dangerous thing. Good thing you took the scissors away.

You strike lack of motivation/provocation off your list of reasons to stay back.

No one stopped smoking overnight. And Mr. Taleb has said: ‘The three most dangerous addictions in the world are heroin, carbohydrates and a monthly salary.’

Now that is your kind of quote.

–          J.