“This company believes only in meritocracy, your work is your identity, you need not come to us and tell what you did well, we are observing everybody’s performance closely and you will get the reward for your work.” he paused. I looked around and found 50 odd employees of this new company were seriously looking at the President of the company on the dais and listening to what he was saying carefully. I wondered, how will he get to know what and how, everybody is doing. Anyway this is my first job and I will prove what is my potential. He spoke about some other topics which I could not understand at all, but one thing I understood that if I work hard I will be recognized.
Now before I work, I have to know what I have to work. Everyday there will be a couple of team meeting and serious talks on the hallway but I could not understand what is the work. There was one gentleman whom I never dared to talk because he had a heavy voice and he used to use very complicated English words which were beyond my vocabulary. He used to be very close to the manager so I asked him once, “What is my work”. He said “see there is a library, go there everyday and read any book that has ‘Lab’ in its title and try to understand”. I said “Thank you Sir”. He objected “Do not call any one Sir here. Call by their first name”. I disappeared from his cubicle in no time.
I was scared of everybody including the receptionist, security guards and office boys as well. Fear of losing the job that I got after so many hard months of effort. Any mistake can make me out of this company. The other reason of fear was, my communication skill. Nobody could understand me when I used to say something at the first time. I have to say same thing in various ways to make them understand. It was not their fault, rather I had a strange accent as well as pronunciation. Grammar was also not right most of the times. But I have to survive so kept quiet as much as possible and spoke when it was extremely necessary.
Time went by and I understood that there is no work. I judiciously read as many manuals as possible. And one fine day I was assigned a lead. She gave me first assignment. I was asked to read a manual (which I was doing till date) and give presentation on what I understood. I read the manual again and again and could understand little out of it. Then the day came, when I had to present. I stood there in front of others in a room. everybody was looking at me seriously. For first few minutes I forgot what I am doing standing there, then I realized that I have prepared for the presentation and I started. Somehow went through all the slides and spoke what I had understood. Once it was over, she said, “Okay, Good…” and paused for few seconds and then continued “I would suggest you repeat this next week” and started walking out. Others smiled at me and nodded their head. I thought “I already presented this, Is she talking about the same presentation again or some other chapter” and asked “Which topic should I present next week?”. She was about to open the door to go out, she turned back and said “Same” and left the room and rest others followed her. I was not able to understand why she wants to hear the same topic again. I thought hard but could not get any reason why they would like to hear me talking about the same topic once again. Then while going to my desk I heard some members were laughing in one corner and saying “What was that, Not sure how these people are getting job. They don’t know how to speak in English. Good that he was told to repeat the presentation.” They stopped as they saw me crossing by. I understood now that I was told to repeat because I was bad in my communication. More than understanding that I also understood that I have a chance of loosing my job due to bad English communication skill. I was not sure what to do. I was worried and kept on thinking the ways to improve.
The next day morning I came to office, I got to know there is a meeting called by the president of the India operations, to make some announcements. I went inside the meeting room, as always stood in one corner although there were seats. President came and said “Okay, thank you for gathering here in such a short notice, your manager decided to take a new opportunity with another company and I respect his decision. Now this is a crucial time for this team as today we received the first set of projects for this team and you do not have a manager now. So I am assigning this responsibility to Mr. Narayan. “ he said and looked at Mr. Narayan. Then Mr. Narayan stood up and said “Thank you for this opportunity and I will try my best to meet this challenge. Before we leave I have one announcement to make.” He paused and others were curious to hear what will be the change. He continued “I will dissolve all hierarchies and now in this team there will be no leads. All members of this team will report directly to me”. He paused again and said “Does anybody has any questions?”. No response from anybody and the president said “Okay, so now it is the responsibility of Mr. Narayan to take this forward. Thank you all. Have a great day”. Then everybody dispersed. I went to my desk.
There were several meeting in next couple of days and we were assigned to do some projects. I and two of other friends were given the responsibility to work together and complete three projects. One of them was Vijay and the other was Vishal. There were no more presentations expected. But the biggest challenge was the language we were supposed to work. Nobody knew about that language. I kept on searching in all shared network drives, googled the net and one day I found that there was a website which can help me.
Worked days and nights to understand that. Then tried every possible ways to find, how to complete the project with the help of Vijay. We worked not less than 12 hours a day to work on those projects. Then very soon we could complete those projects. Vishal was good in talking but hardly ever involved in the real work. Other members of the project team were mostly busy talking bad about the manager, company or trying to impress the manager or the president. I only remembers that, If I work heard they will be able to recognize me.
Me and Vijay were not good at our communication skills and were scared to talk to Mr. Narayan. So Vishal, who was not involved much in the project went and asked Mr. Narayan whether we can take on more projects. Then on, we two were busy working and the Vishal’s responsibility was to update our manager about our work. There were a total of 16 projects for the entire team and we three (Actually two, as Vishal was just getting or providing information to manager) completed 11 out of these 16. We were very happy. Everybody started coming to us to ask questions and to get solutions to the problems what they were facing. The same people whom I was scared of, or questioning how I was hired in this company, were asking questions to me for their problems and requesting to help them in solving their problems. They used to publicly appreciate me for the good work and knowledge. Suddenly I realized I am becoming a hero of the team. Nobody cared how I speak and they tried to understand me rather expecting me to put the effort. They corrected me when I made any mistake. They voluntarily came to help me in improving my communication skill and I took them real seriously and learnt. Then, I was able to speak fluently and I was pretty confident.
Then one day came when we received one communication that we are going to have a project completion party. They also mentioned the best developer and tester will get the ‘Best employee award’. By then I was 200% confident that nobody other than me or Vijay will get this award. Most came to my desk and congratulated me in advance, including my previous leader who wanted me to repeat the presentation. So, I realized not only me but rest all in the company too think I did the best work. I was happy, excited and trying to show as I am not sure who will get the award.
Wore the best dress I had at that time and went to the party. President made many congratulatory speeches about Mr. Narayan and the team for this wonderful work. He also said, because of this success we are going to get many other projects. I did not care much about those because I was only interested about the awards. Then came the award time. He made a generic statement “We are rewarding some members, this does not mean we are demeaning others performance. But award can go to only one person so after lot of careful and thorough analysis we decided to give award to following people”. I thought, “Yeah, others may feel bad, but they should have worked as hard as few of us did. Just talking and complaining will not get you award. You have to truly put efforts. He had already said the work will be the identity.” and felt sad for the people who were seniors but will not get the award.
Then there were some weird awards were given, which were only for fun. Everybody laughed. The came the employee of the year award. I felt as if blood circulation speed doubled, I was not able to hear or see thing clearly. I was looking only at the president and he was looking hazy. I was able to hear my heartbeat. Then I heard “Award goes to the most promising and hard-working developer Mr. Vishal”. I was extremely confused and sad. I thought may be I heard it wrong. It must be Vijay, who was sitting next to me. But my all confusion went away in seconds when I saw Vishal walked till the dais and took the award. I was extremely confused, angry as well as sad. I could not understand what work he did that he got the award. me and Vijay did everything. We worked 12 hours a day. He used to just chat with other people and go home at 6 O’clock. How could he get the award? Then Mr. Narayan came on to the dais and said “Vishal, worked extremely hard. He kept me updated of the project status and at the same time helped his other two members to get the work done. If this project succeeded it is because of Vishal.” It did not take my anger or sorrow out of my mind but I understood that just hard work may not pay off. It needs communication skills. I should let everybody know what I am doing and what I am planning to do. I should talk my walk. Nobody in this world has the skill to recognize what I am doing and how good I am, unless I tell as well as show that to others. I told to myself “Anyway, Better awards are waiting for me. Good Luck”.
– Stray Dog