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Boss 3 : Bad BOSS can make you quit!

Posted by sureshkrishna on February 22, 2010

I resisted to write such an article for a long time (almost 3 years). I thought it is best written now. In the previous article about “How to be a good BOSS” few desirable characteristics are mentioned. What is not mentioned in that article is “How to be a BAD BOSS”. While i do want to write about the BAD BOSS, for this article i want to restrict the scope to few experiences that made one of my friend to quit his organization.

My friend (i call him “GoodFriend” in this article) joined this corporate in Mid of 2008 in Bay Area. He is a great quality assurance engineer with eight years of experience in Financial and Medical domains. GoodFriend joined this organization as this corporate “seems” to have good work culture. The hiring manager is same as his BOSS in the work too. So, at least the expectations of the candidate and the skill sets are known to the BOSS.

This BOSS seems to have a very bad mouth when it comes to employees and he had 4 tem-members for him self including my GoodFriend. The BOSS is an authoritative machine and wants to know each and everything that team-members do. Following are some of the questions that BOSS asks all the team members…

  • You look so relaxed, don’t you have work ?
  • BOSS sees the GoodFriend in cafeteria and starts asking about the work, results and deadlines.
  • If the GoodFriend turns up to office later than 9.00am, he asks “Why were you late and why did you not call me”.
  • If the GoodFriend needs a leave (even if it for 1 or 2 days), he needs to approach the BOSS at least 2 weeks earlier. Else, the BOSS is very angry and rebuke in front of the team.
  • It’s been almost 2 years this GoodFriend has joined but till now he could work from home only 17 days. He is afraid that the BOSS would ask the details of each and every hour at home.

While the above are only some of the other non-technical stuff. Following are the sarcastic and insulting comments that this BOSS does. Some times GoodFriend feels that the BOSS nay be feeling that he is in a race with him (Boss).

  • How many tests did you execute today and how much time each of them took ? And what did you do during the execution time.
  • “Hay… GoodFriend, just listen to me. Don’t use your brain.”
  • During the meetings, if the GoodFriend suggests some process or technical aspects, the BOSS would say, “Just follow what i say”.
  • You are a good Quality Engineer but you should also learn Java and C# coding. You should be flexible. When the GoodFriend says that he has no interest in programming. He is labelled as “Rigid” , “non-cooperative” and “Non-obedient” employee.

Once the GoodFriend has gone thorough all this humiliation and workplace sarcasm, he finally decided to QUIT the job and joined another small company that he worked previously. He could not take this any more and everyone else in his department seems to believe the BOSS than him. Anyway, he joined his previous company and feels GREAT about the move. He says, he feels so relieved, relaxed and works with high enthusiasm.

Lessons Learnt :

The BOSS is the window to any Organization. If that window is bad, your doors to the Organization are almost shut.

You can not give your best, if you are not satisfied with Work and Morale at work place.

Your BOSS’s attitude can ruin your years of expertise and may make you feel devastated.

Posted in communication, management, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 87 Comments »

Boss 1 : What not to do as a Boss !

Posted by sureshkrishna on November 3, 2009

Some of my random observations and rants about BAD managers and bosses…

Motivation : Manager thinks that every employee has the motivation and he need not do anything. This is a typical problem i see in the managers who grow up the ladder from the technical streams. These manager’s seldom believe that employees need to be motivated to do their best and not all “jobs” are interesting.

Don’t assume that  employees have Motivation because you are paying for their work.

Right Job : At the time of recruiting, you have a set of job responsibilities and tasks that you want an employee to fulfill. Things change in time and so are  the responsibilities. As a manager, it’s your JOB to assign the right Task/Job to your employee. Are you wondering why your team-mate is not able to succeed or he is not performing to his level you imagined ?

Choose and Assign the right job for your team. If you ask them to do an ODD job, then apologize to them and explain the situation.

Information Sharing : Information spreads fast. Very Fast! If something is happening with your team, project or customer. Inform the team with the right information AS SOON AS POSSIBLE – ASAP. Holding back the information or maintaining the secrecy has a negative impact on the employees. They loose trust on you. Be informed that your employees always have contacts to get the information.

Understand that Information Sharing is CRITICAL. Never share an information that is stale and known to everyone except you.

All-In-One Responsibility : Some managers have the concept of “All-In-One/ Open Responsibilities”. This means, everyone in the team should be able to do everything. You know what, this is the Disaster Recipe. When we call set of individuals as team, we are talking about individuals who are specialized in an area and able to collate different strengths for a common goal. The side effects of this theory is that the individual employees are completely demoralized as they don’t work on any specialized task anymore. They are not experts in any area as they switch the context of the tasks very frequently. e.g. today they work on Java issue, tomorrow they work on Perl problem and day after they work on Install Shield. The important side-effect that i see is that none of the tasks will be “Complete” or “Perfect” or “Designed to Last”, because no one owns it.

Assign the Ownership of tasks and define the Responsibilities to Individuals.

Appreciation of Efforts : Individuals like to hear their appreciation in group and criticism in private. Unfortunately, some managers do other way round and this really sucks. Even if you slog for months and months, this manager does not appreciate you and he does not even look at you. He probably has an attitude of “You are working and I am working. You are getting pain and i am getting paid”.

If you need a stable team, be a God Father to your team in every respect.

I will keep on adding more and more to this list with my experience. I strongly feel that everyone knows what to do but very few know “What NOT to do” 😉

Did you experience similar things at your work place ? Do you have more points to add to this list ? Please do share your experiences…

Posted in communication, Entrepreneurship, Startups, Technology | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

See the unseen

Posted by sureshkrishna on August 18, 2009

Few points from a post i read somewhere on a blog…

  • Employees are afraid to speak up: “People are very deferential to those at senior levels and they’re afraid to be the bearers of bad news”.  Also, if playing the blame game happens a lot within the work environment, employees might hesitate to mention their own mistakes for fear of repercussions.
  • Gatekeepers block information: These are the employees who help senior executives manage the flow of information. While these staff members are invaluable for helping senior managers streamline their work, “gatekeepers can often filter out and be an impediment to key news about problems getting to senior executives”.
  • Isolation: “Many executives don’t get out to the front lines and see what’s authentically going on. They may have a townhall meeting type thing, but often those are fairly staged events, and they aren’t truly finding out what’s happening out there on the ground.”
  • Managers don’t want to hear problems, only solutions: Many managers essentially instruct their employees, “don’t tell me about the flood, build me an arc.” While it’s good when lower level employees can provide possible solutions, this is still the wrong message to send. “What if your employees see something very serious, but don’t have the expertise to solve it? Are they supposed to stay quiet?”.
  • Data Corruption : Due to the fear of Bosses and Fear of Failures many middle level and senior level managers manipulate the data to be pretty. When they see issues cooking in future, they try to cover it temporarily and just wait for the big explosion. This is the time that they have a big blame-game.
  • Employee Responsibilities : Some organizations typically feel that everyone should do everything. This sounds simple but very frustrating and pathetic at the work and implementation. A job should define the set of Responsibilities and Accountability for certain tasks. When there is no owner of a task, a person who is doing it always looks to complete the task as soon as possible and take the next task. And very often there is no interest in a task as that’s not your’s. In such teams people get frustrated very soon and before anyone knows the team is no more.
  • Unplanned Manager : This sounds like a paradox. It is assumed belief that the managers are good planners. But not all of them. Some really suck at planning and they make their team members to run on toes 24/7. Professionals understand that often they need to work extra to meet deadlines and work on weekends. But if it continues for a long time, everyone’s personal and professional life gets effected. An unplanned manager can make your life hell.

Posted in Business Manager, communication | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

When NOT to offshore ?

Posted by sureshkrishna on June 29, 2007

Recently i have started realizing the side effects of offshoring. I have already worked with  off shoring projects for many years and and i was pretty convinced with this model. Its been almost from past 10 months that i am seeing some (more) challenging topics in this model.

Probably let me explain with the current model that we have. Its a product development company, we have engineering, product management, sales and QA teams wide spread across continents. Engineering team it self is spread out. Now… this product has a LOT of innovation, few resources, lot of accountability and responsibility on each team member. I am sure many of us do have this kind of scenario….but i want to publish my own observations.

Vision : Off shoring team does not share the same vision as ABC Company. The future technology direction, how to move swiftly in the competitive market, what does the sales team need, what does the end customer/user needs, etc.. are different kind of questions that basically makes our thought process to go in a single direction. When these kind of questions and answers are not visualized in individuals mind, its very difficult to drive everyone for a common goal.

Communication : As the company is very small the decisions are very fast and some time its very very difficult to communicate each and every decision taken. When decisions are taken and communicated, we are very notorious in just mentioning What you need ?. And now for the people sitting across 10,000 distance, it difficult to comprehend the cause-effect scenarios and especially Why you need something ?. Because of the geographical and cultural barriers, we tend to get offended to lot of mail communication. We are too good at arguing and sending some nasty mail chains till some one puts an end to it.  

Innovation : First things first. Innovation needs motivation. People need to understand that even to work within their 8 hours/day contract also needs motivation. The very common aspect of the offshore team to be inert is that they tend to think that other guys (customer/coordinator) is sitting in a beautiful country, Why should i break my head for him. When you do not have motivation, you dont care about anything. You are least bothered about the innovation, you are good at repeating the same job again and agin and thats it.

Incremental development : Oh man….never ever do this. I mean Incremental development spread across the geo graphies on the same module. You would see night mares. It might be OK, for initial few months, but once you get a initial shape to the product/module then you will start realizing many things. The module coherence, coding styles, redundancy in code, fix the bugs, revert again, etc… If you can , have the complete modules distributed across. But dont distribute a single module. Some time with these kind of decisions you can ruin your product delivery dates.

Estimation and Scheduling : Do not ever estimate and schedule for a team in teh offshore. That would be like keep a time bomb in your shoe. Understand that the offshore team is with a different mindset, different culture, diffeent personal problems and priorities. Let them estimate and decide when they want to do and just ask them a delivery date. Of course you can always influence and negotiate the deadlines. On that level i feel, its better to kind of macro manage on the estimates and scheduling on the tasks and do a micro management on the delivery dates.

In the end,  if you are a Director, Program/Project Manager, VP involved in off shoring, you know what i have written, but the only thing i want to highlight is that you need to take the offshoring decisions consciously. You need to keep in mind all the effects and side-effects of it. Its better to be informed about effects of decisions rather repent the decisions.

Posted in communication, estimation, incremental development, off shoring, Offshoring, scheduling, vision | Leave a Comment »