Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Aren't we human beings?

This question was asked by someone to the HR of his organization, after a series of incidents.
I recently moved out of an organization, where, though I'm a fresher, I had an excellent designation, and a wide span of control. The trade off though was my personal life. Almost completely. I had to stay in a city in a state that was completely alien to me. Alone.
The pay was okay... I got weekends off... but the work was just too much you know?
Official work timings was only till 5.45pm, but we easily stayed till 7...8...
One of the top corporate guys once said to a gathering, "Why do you keep complaining that you have no time for personal life? For relationships? For making an impact...for making a connect, all you need is few moments. I see a friend of mine passing me in the airport, we cross each other almost after 6 years, I ask him something about the Man U- Chelsea match, he replies, we laugh, and we keep going on. In that instant, the reconnect was made. You don't need hours. Just vital connects. I don't know when I'll see my friend next, but we're still good friends!"

I get his point. When he said it, it sounded inspiring, and the request for more personal time seemed illogical. When he said it. But that's the thing with charismatic people right, they can get away with saying anything. People are convinced.

His answer was great, but it wasn't the answer to the question that was posed.
Personal life is not about making sure you're connected to your friends. It's about how well you are connected to yourself !!! When I leave office, I need sometime to unwind... Feel free. Be me.

I never could do that once in the 3 months I was employed.
By the time I got off, I went home and made a quick fast food dinner and crashed, or went out for dinner with friends from office where more office issues and gossip were discussed.
There was ALWAYS work to be done. Something or the other. That's fine... the TATs (Turn around time) was ridiculous, that's also fine, made us feel ambitious. But expecting everything to be done immediately...when menial paper work was given more importance than the strategic and actual work that had to be done was ... absurd! The same super boss who said everyone should be out of the building by 8.30 complained that we should've sat till 4 AM and finished what could've been done comfortably the next day. There was too much dissonance. Too much chaos.

The worst of it was, how wound up everyone was. At least at my Starting-of-career stage, and it looked like we had to stay that way for at least the next 7 years to get anywhere in that place.
When I was there, it felt like I was living in a different world. The problems were different, and too many, the emotions were too high strung.

I wondered if anyone even considered having a life there? Sure we went out during weekends, but everything felt so superficial. Barring a few people, (can be counted on the fingers of one hand) we're always guarded about what to say to whom. Who would use what information how. Who knew what already... politics took total control.

I have a loving family and loads of friends. But, you know, when you're in a high pressure environment, you're unable to connect, really connect with your friends out side because there's always the feeling that they just wouldn't get it. Which is true. It's different, and you don't feel understood. At least I didn't. From what I've heard from my friend's experiences there, I think I'm not alone. The number of relationship problems that came up were exponentially higher.

All this because people are always would up there. They were always worried about what to do next. Ticking off mental checklists. Smiling on the surface but far away at work, even when not so, most of the time. In my 3 months, I could never plan any personal travel that involved more than 2 hours of travel time, because we never knew what would come up when, and where we're expected to drop everything and run to. Oh, that was taken for granted. Monday we get news that we leaving to XXX place on Wednesday and will be there for a weeks time.
Didn't they care at all if the person had a life at all?
A family?
Kids at home waiting for that long promised trip coming Sunday.
A sister waiting for that movie, which they were supposed to go to ages ago, but just couldn't find the time to ...

Do we work for a living or live for working?
I'm pretty sure the top management feels the latter about the people in middle and lower management. Did they seriously think they owned the life of their employees, or did they take it for granted to such an extent that it didn't matter at all ?
The worst thing was how well they work the guilt factor into it all.
I had called a friend of mine out at 4 pm for ice cream. That friend was going to be working till at least 1 that night for various reasons. The guilt involved in coming out 1 hour was tremendous. I heard the words "my employee morals" at least twice. Doesn't this organization, which has trained it's employees to think so hard about their morals, which I truly appreciate, owe them the same level of respect for their own lives?
I'm asking.

Just like somebody was driven to ask;
Aren't we human beings?

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