25 May, 2010

Inferno around Designations

Appraisals are underway in most organizations. Some of us are hopeful of a raise. Some of us are hopeful of a promotion. After all, we stuck to our guns (the organization to be precise) during the deadly recession. We have executed the responsibilities of an engineer one level up, but our designation rots at one level down. Or so we think. Our friends/batch mates in other organizations are already leads/managers and making lots of money while we still struggle to make ends meet in terms of money as well as the roles we play hiding behind designations.

As a college-goer, I kept staring at Infosys/Wipro/TCS buses and the employees’ access cards on many days as I waited for my bus. I dreamt of finding a job (just any job) for gaining good experience as a fresher. I also dreamt about how I would be promoted to the next level as Senior Test Engineer after two years. I also imagined that by the time, I have like 6 years experience in testing; I would be a Team Lead. And then, obviously I would become a manager in a couple of years. I relived this dream each day until I became the CEO of some company with the fattest paycheck in the family. I was mostly amused with the idea of being a role model to all the younger kids in my family. Till date, it has been just that – a dream.

To the best of my knowledge, higher designations are awarded as promotions to encourage outstanding employees to take on newer responsibilities and help the organization achieve higher objectives. Typically, they are given for people who are already acting in that role for a few years. Promotions also happen to uplift employees salaries if the money they make is too less for the quality and quantity of work they do. Promotions also happen when some key employees threaten to quit if they are not promoted with jazzy designations on time. Promotions happen also because some managers might think that it is one of the easiest ways to project that their team is an outstanding team. You never know. He may be expecting a promotion himself. 

What’s in a name? How does it matter if you are an Associate Software Tester or a Senior Software Tester? You might say “Money” and “Type of Work”. May be, you are right. If these are what matter to you, then why do you quit organizations because you did not get a fancy designation? Why argue over it? Why compare against others? Why fool yourself? As long as you are happy with the work, and get paid well enough, it should not matter what designation you hold.

I have seen designations create a divide rather than unify the teams. The entire concept of bell curve, normalization and foul play wrecks havoc to team spirit. Outcome – demotivated employees.  Some designations appear to give great power over others which are precisely the reasons why many want these high power positions. In this fight for designations, team members end up fighting, involve in useless gossip and encourage unethical ways to promote wrong people who rule from the throne as if they are the chosen warriors for fighting people’s war. As humans, we love money, power, status, position amongst others. In that journey, we sometimes fail to be human.

Are we a designation hungry generation? Why are we making a fuss out of it? Why are some people giving up great jobs just for designations sake? I know of a friend who quit his job just because he did not get designated his way. What I also know is that he was so much in love with the work there that he almost misses it at his new job. Letting go of great work for a fancy designation sounds very weird to me. Weigh down right.

Wake up guys!

Parimala Shankaraiah