“Hey Gopal, Can you please meet me at 4:30 PM?” popped up the chat window. My hands got numbed and eyes wide opened. This is the biggest disadvantage of being online at Lotus Sametime. My supervisor, Ravindran has asked me to meet him 7th time in last 3 days. Everytime I go with all the weapons and artillery available in my armour. And each time I come out of meeting, I feel like what Napoleon would have felt at the end of “War of Waterloo”.
I saw the clock; it was showing 3:45 PM. I still had 45 minutes to refill my weapons for the war whose fate had already been sealed. I recalled my last meeting with Ravindran, our sixth meeting. I remembered the points he had asked me to take care of. The points which are jargons used by software industry managers. And they are like you are not proactive; you should have validated the client requirements correctly; you should take some extra responsibility etc. They may sound Greek to people who are not familiar with the software industry. But for people like me, these are the silver bullets which never miss to pierce my rational thinking.
I saw the clock again; it was showing 4:27 PM. I took my laptop and my company’s ID card and rushed to meet him. When I reached his seat, his four eyes were hooked to his laptop as if Arjuna was targeting the rotating fish eye. I stood there waiting for any movement in his hand or lip. After few minutes, adjusting rim of his specs, he said, “Gopal, please give me two minutes”. “No Problem, Ravindran” came a quick and a natural response from me. “Please” is the most commonly used and most cogent word of software industry. This word tweets a harsh order into a polite one. It is very shrewdly used by the IT managers to smoothen the “strangulation” of their team members.
So after 5 minutes, our 7th meeting in last 3 days, started. Grabbing the opportunity first, I said,” Ravindran, once I finished my earlier work, I proactively asked you for more work”. “But why didn’t you come up with value-adds to the project in that period” came F-22 missile from Ravindran. I was speechless in front of this unexpected volley. Regaining my nerves, I moved to the second bout. “Ravindran, I validated client requirements correctly and client seemed very happy with the delivery” I said with much fervor eyeing for the rare victory in the battle of meetings. “Good, But you missed the delivery deadline by an hour. You are still not quick, Gopal” said Ravindran adjusting rim of his specs and giving his crafty smile for free. I was speechless, better say defenseless again. The only wish I had in my life was the end of this meeting. After few minutes, he said, “O.K, we would discuss few more points in our next meeting”. And only two words came out of my mouth, “Hey Ram”.
The vicious cycle of meetings never come to an end in a software company. The outcome of a meeting is always fixed; it just gives way to another meeting. And yes, your boss has always the last laugh.
This article is written by Kunal Thakur. He is working as a Senior Software Engineer in Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).