Monday, June 28, 2010

Desi Managers – Specimen on their Own

[These thoughts about desi managers in US were formulated in me during the 10 years of my stay in US. I am in no way generalizing anything here but if you have worked with a desi manager please share your experience to make this discussion more complete.]
Few months back I wrote a blog post about Desi Professors and how they make the life of Indian students miserable. The desi managers are never behind desi professors in harassing the desis working for them. Here is a hypothetical example of how life will be under a desi manager. I have made up this story but as you read through you can identify well with this if you have ever worked with a desi manager.
The scenario – our Desi Manager “H” goes to the client place on Monday morning and the client tells him that they need a “three feet line drawn on a sheet of paper “by Friday morning. H comes out of the meeting and immediately calls this desi guy Y who works for him.
H: Hey, I am just out of meeting with the client and I have another meeting with the client on Thursday morning. We have lot of work to be done before that. Come to my office in another 30 minutes.
Y: Sure H.
After 30 minutes Mr. Y goes to the manager’s cabin
H: Good Morning, Have your seat
Y: Thank You H
H: I think we have a lot of work to do. The client wants a “three feet line drawn on a sheet of paper” and I have a meeting with client on Thursday morning.
Y: But H, you want me to work on the other thing whose deadline is Wednesday morning. Can I start working on this after that?
H: This is totally unacceptable. I gave you the other work on Friday evening and now it is Monday morning and you have not done that yet? You have whole of Saturday and Sunday to do it.
Y: I had some family emergency and could not work on week end.
H: That is your problem. Can I tell the client that you had a family emergency? I want to see both by tomorrow morning. I don’t want to hear any excuses nor explanations.
Y: H, there is lot of work to be done on the other project. I may not get time to work on this one.
H:  That is your problem. When did your problem become my problem?
Y: I will try.
H: No trying baba… I want to see everything by 8 AM tomorrow.
Y: OK H.
This poor chap spends the whole night working on both the projects simultaneously. He comes to work early and does the finishing touch to it. By 8.15 am he is in front of his manager’s office. Manager on seeing him looks at his watch
H: You are already late by 15 minutes; you never finish anything on time.
Y: I was done with it last night itself but found some mistake this morning and was correcting it.
H: What have I told you earlier, “No explanations No excuses”. Anyway keep it here. I will go through it when I get a chance.
Now Y goes to H’s office in the afternoon to ask him if he had a chance to look at what he did.
Y: H, did you have a chance to go through what I did? If you could give me your comments I could work on it.
H: What do you think about me? I just have your stuff to take care off? You were late to finish the work this morning and now you want me to correct it in a fly. That is not going to happen. Come back tomorrow morning.
Y goes back to his cubicle dejected thinking why H urged him to finish everything by today morning if he was not going to check that till next day morning.
Wednesday morning Y comes to his cubicle at 8 am and he gets a phone call from H.
H: Can you please come to my office
Y: Sure
Y now goes to his manager’s office.
H: I think I am being too nice to you guys. Looks like we need to talk, can you please close the door. What you have given me is a piece of crap and for this you took a day?
Y: I had to finish the other work you gave me also and that is why I took so much time.
H: I asked you to draw a three feet line. Who asked you to draw it straight?
Y: I assumed it may be a straight line.
H: What happens when you assume? You make an “ASS” of “U” and “ME”. Now where are the dimensions for this line?
Y: I will mark those dimensions and get back to you.
H: How many years are you working on this project? You should be knowing this by now. I need not have to tell you all these things. Go and get it fixed ASAP.
He fixes all that Mr. H told him and goes back to his boss.
H: Why did you use a yellow paper to draw the line?
Y: You never told me the kind of paper I should draw on.
H: So are you now accusing me of lying to you? When I say I want you to draw a line three feet long you should understand all those. Two strikes mister and one more you are out, remember that.
Y leaves H’s office and makes all those changes and gives him the final version by Thursday evening. After the meeting was over on Friday morning Y was eager to know what the client’s impression was about his work.
Y: Did the client have any comments on the work I did?
H: You are always curious. I am not going to tell. Curiosity kills the cat.
After 3 months, H calls Y again and tells him that client wants a line four feet long. Y takes the old drawing which he did 3 months back extents it by one foot and shows it to H. H is all furious.
H: Did I ask you to draw this line in white paper? Did I ask you to draw this line inclined at an angle? I think I am not communicating well with you.
Y: This was what we did previously. So H, What exactly do you want?
H: That is for you to figure out. I don’t want you to ask questions to me. I only need answers and that too in another one hour.
Y comes out of H’s office totally confused about what his boss needs are in this project. He goes back to his cubicle mystified as to what he has to do to figure out what exactly his desi manager wants. He knows his plight will be same till he has such a manager. He starts working “assuming” so many things knowing very well the consequence of what happens when he “assumes”. Life moves on….
Again I am not generalizing any thing with this example. I know and have worked with desi managers who are really nice. At the same time I have come across and heard stories of lots of desi managers who are real pain to work with. Those who have worked with them will understand fully what I am talking about…
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OpenID vadakkus said...

Not just Desis. Many managers are like this, being promoted just by kissing ass, making noise, throwing jargon but totally incompetent on their own. I think it is so for a huge chunk of middle level managers in India.

June 28, 2010 6:21 AM  
Blogger Jijo V.G said...

Good one.....This exactly depict our ppls life also, means Software...I had a lot of desi managers and most of them like this.The essence is most of them showing there loyalty like dogs (dont like to use this word) and forgetting the professional ethics.unfortunatly big companies have the policies which makes these guys like this.You know one thing most of the software companies have policy like "client is our god".
So nothing else we can expect from them.In place if it is a non desi manager, he will not accept things as it comes.He have the gets to say that the king is naked !!!

June 28, 2010 6:30 AM  
Anonymous vinu said...

pls see the video.

June 28, 2010 9:38 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I have a question.. so is the 'subordinate' unable to ask questions? Is it un-Indian to get clarification? Obviously the manager is not giving clear instructions. I doubt the manager knows what is required and what he needs to hand over himself! It sounds like a big mess! The manager himself is doing a lot of assuming it sounds like to me, therefore doesn't know the particulars.

Btw. I was in the field of social work here in US. Workers of all levels had these same kinds of issues. Its bureaucracy and red tape. The rules are written in such a crazy manner no one really knows what is required- even and until the auditors come! Then we were all in trouble!

June 28, 2010 1:55 PM  
Blogger Brijesh Nair said...

Most of the time manager is also not sure what the final product needs to be but he is not ready to accept that. So even if the "subordinate" ask question there won't be of any use.

June 29, 2010 4:27 AM  
Blogger Thommy said...

Good one....but many times, though limited in my experience, I felt Indian managers are better behaved than thier American counterparts. I
I am not sure whether this is true of the IT managers.

June 29, 2010 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Ajay said...

I hear you Brijesh. Pure lack of trust and common ethics make desi managers tough to work with. After working for years with an American Manager, I just couldn't get used to working for any desi managers when I had a chance. In one instance, i was working on a water/sewer modeling project for a desi manager. We had obtained all the required parameters from our client and due to the topography of the site, the model resulted in not being able to supply or convey water to the development without adding a pump in place. This desi manager did not trust the model results (did not trust me basically) and kept complaining that I should redo the model again and again. He didn't even look at the model once. With 6 yrs of professional modeling experience, i just couldn't stand this humiliation. So, i gathered some courage and approached the dept. manager to QC my work. When he too got the same results, this desi manager started buttering the dept. managers ass by telling him that he already knew what the end result would be but was just trying to make sure. Anyway, I have my PE certification now, and I so happy that I can flip a bird to this desi guy once in while.

June 29, 2010 11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anand said...

lol..if this is true I'm glad I've not had to work with desi managers. But my initial reaction is that this piece is written by the same scriptwriter who wrote the goat movie Russel talks about here - ;P

July 09, 2010 7:54 AM  

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