The other day I had my appraisal meet with my manager. Of course, I expected some drama and action. He was going to review my appraisal form and give me feedback about my overall performance last year. I’ve known him for 5 years and I’m familiar with his thought process and conversation style. I was ready. I was also keen to know his reaction to two lines which I had intentionally written to tease him. “My performance was judged as Average, for which I want more inputs.” And “Staying late doesn’t mean out-of-the-box thinking for work.”
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A few months back, I’d read Lean In by Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg. After reading the book, which motivates women to snatch leadership and fight for what you deserve, I was feeling confident to discuss my performance of last year. Being in IT sector for more than 8 years, I know how these appraisal meetings go. You talk so much but you get so less. Although I admit some people hit the target, but in companies with more than 1000 employees, not everyone can get hikes and promotion. I know my industry and I understand its constraints.
Professionally, I feel I give my best, yet my manager is not satisfied. He wants me to give MORE. Likewise, no matter how much I try on the personal front, my husband wants me to do MORE.
Our talk began with my manager asking me about my experience in the project throughout last year. With a smile on my face, I referred him to my appraisal form. He asked me again to explain what went well and badly, smiling back. And our discussion took off. First I led it, letting him know my frustrations and pain areas. I pointed out where I want to improve and where I need help. My manager admitted my performance wasn’t Average. Then discussion flowed towards “Staying late doesn’t mean out of box thinking for work.”
Every project in software industry witnesses a time span when it is almost dying, draining with bugs and client getting furious. Expectations, performance, bottlenecks and other jargon comes into the picture and BANG. We get star performers in the project. People who willingly stay late to fix bugs, to rework crap code and to show their commitment towards the project suddenly become crème. True friendships evolve and flourish. During the day, those hard working people joke with each other, giggling and laughing loud recalling what happened after hours last night. Also, bravery and hard work start getting measured by the clock. “I went at 2,” “I slept in the car,” “I am here from yesterday”. And people like me only scratch their head “Am I an average performer? I don’t have any such story to share. Why I don’t write fussy code so that I can fix it later?” This was what I meant by “Staying late doesn’t mean out-of-the-box thinking for work.” Sadly, it was his turn.
My manager started about issues, negativity, dumb thinking and laziness of the team, including me. Our discussion stretched for an hour but we couldn’t come to an agreement. I had pledged to not to buy his thoughts (thanks to Lean In) and he is the BOSS. He has this feature inbuilt not to agree to others’ points. When I saw the time, I started softening my voice and then nodded to hint to conclude the discussion.
Coming out, I felt as if I just had a fight with my husband. I started on a high note, then he took control and finally I gave up with a smile. Coincidentally, my married life is also 5 years old.
As I always expect my husband to heat up more and answer me abruptly after our fight, I expected my manager to talk to me angrily then onwards. But again, as happens to me at home (my husband looks okay and seems normal), my manager came out of his meeting room, asked me coolly, “How we are doing in XYZ project?” I felt “Oh… he is like my husband.”
Our fight was over and we were again in the usual mode, just like my married life. The relationship with my manager is so similar to my relationship with my husband.
Both sides claim to understand my obstacles but both MEN suggest I should be more vocal for help. Both men believe in same ideologies and both are managers at work.
Oh life, two alike men at the same time, this is so unfair!