Paralyzed Productivity

23 Apr

Day #8: I was sitting in one of our customer’s office; staring at the ailing Productivity. It was at its low, dejected and lying there waiting for ‘someone’ to inject a ‘proper’ healthy life back into it. It was tired of egomaniacs trying out different theories and a few folks following processes, blindly.

I had already spent 2 days in induction, few hours in meeting some folks only to be told to meet few other folks, sufficient hours with IT support team to get the system ready and rest of the time wondering why people were more concerned to follow the processes just for the sake of it rather than automating it. I am NOT against processes that are introduced to bring sense to the system or add value. I am sure that the process of creating logins, generating email ids, giving access to the systems etc can certainly be automated. Ah, common… don’t give me that look as if I have asked to perform a heart surgery. It’s a basic automation; which perhaps all the successful organizations would have done it long ago.

Wait, I am not just referring to these processes. It was not just that there was no time to get these things done. Read further…

ABOUT 3 MONTHS AGO, I had asked our customer’s Delivery Head if he needed any help in the project since I had learnt that their customer was not happy with the quality. The question was an honest attempt to help and add value rather than sales pitch to increase headcounts of our consultants with them. He may have perhaps interpreted it as latter perception of the question and hence ignored my help.

I re-iterated my question after few weeks and mentioned that I was willing to pitch in since the project seemed like it really needed a proper attention. He said that he’ll talk to senior leadership (perhaps thinking that I may charge hefty amount for consultancy given my experience in that domain).

Few weeks after that, I got a call and a mail from him that he had received an approval to get me on board to help them sort out quality issues with their customer. I got an agreement to review and sign for offering consultancy to them. I reviewed and shared my feedback to amend necessary sections of the agreement. They accepted and it was decided for me to start on Oct 03. There were no further discussions. All was set until I got a call few weeks ago and was told that I had to sign another new contract since earlier contract was making them non-compliant as per the processes! I reviewed and since there weren’t too many changes, I accepted it. The start date was still Oct 03.

I was then called again and told that one of their departments had objections due to certain policies as one of our technical consultants was already working with them. The joining date was postponed to Oct 10. It was getting difficult for me to commit to our other customers since I had promised these folks to help them resolve the quality issues. Obviously, a work around was found and we all agreed to take that route since it was mutually beneficial.

I finally joined the team to provide technical, process led and management oriented consultancy on Oct 10 on the condition that it would be temporary as I would also need to look into other aspects of our startup business. I underwent HR induction only to realize that tons of processes were dumped on all inductees without sharing their relevance. The induction was extended to help bankers carry their sales activity so that inductees get to choose the bank. We were then told that since manager of one of the group was not available, we had to attend induction program on third day too!

No system was set up even on Day #3. I tried to utilize my time by trying to sync up with folks that I thought were appropriate to provide details on the project, only to be asked to talk to others. When I tried to check my emails pertaining to customer on Day #4, I was told that someone has to initiate creation of my email id! Another process, which I later learnt that it may take a day or a week depending on mood of Support team. The email id is yet to be created as I am writing.

I got a mail from HR saying on Day #5 that I have been marked absent and I needed to get it corrected after I get access to the system! I updated the concerned person to mark me present.

The Delivery Head was back in town on Day #6 and I got to meet with him. He asked me to look into appropriate details only to realize that I was waiting to get few more access issues resolved. I got another mail from HR to get my attendance resolved as the system had marked me absent again! When enquired, I was told that one needs to log into a separate system every day to mark their presence; and then update the system while leaving for the day!! If the system computed the total number of hours logged lesser than 8 hours, it marked one absent and the pay was deductedsmiley. I had presumed that factory culture was no longer in practice in IT organizations. Logging 8 hours of attendance seemed more important than productivity to them, perhaps. I don’t want to even talk about how this system is being misused by their employees in this blog thoughJ.

Ok, I don’t mean to crib about our customer; I thought of sharing the experience to highlight how the productivity can get impacted and buried in following meaningless processes or sometimes meaningful processes used just for the sake of it. I had planned to write a series on this sharing my experience further every month; but then I realized that I have agreed to work with them temporarily to help them sort out technical issues; not the issues that arise due organization-wide policies. One can also see how morale gets beaten up badly when the productivity is counted as hours, not as contribution. I think that most of the people in IT organizations do work more than 8 hours; however, it hurts them when they are asked to log it (even when customers don’t ask for it) to prove it. In short, meaningless policies/processes, no clarity on defined work, unknowingly introducing mistrust and not being ready on day 1 leads to a paralyzed productivity. I don’t think there is one solution to this and I don’t intend to cover any in this blog either; it needs to be tackled case by case and by constant review/education.

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