Suck ups

A friend, who recently started working, asked me a simple question – is it more important to stay longer at office or get your work done more efficiently and quicker?

She commented that her boss didn’t seem too happy with her efficiency, though she got through her share of work much before deadlines and quite well. 

“There is an underlying expectation of flattery from me as well, or kissing ass as others call it. Many of the girls particularly get away with this. Is this really necessary for me?” she asked. 

The Indian corporate world is yet to really evolve from the days of “boss” and “sir”. Though now we pride on the “American” culture of being able to call you boss by his first name, that is pretty much the only thing that has changed. Your dedication to your job and skill sets are still somewhat, unofficially, measured by the numbers of hours you put in office rather than how much work you do in the said hours. Bosses still expect to be treated like bosses and think ordering employees around is acceptable.

They promote people who suck up to them and the really talented ones are marginalized. This might not be intentional… you might just be more in the radar when you talk more to the boss rather than just getting your work done and getting out. In other circles, sometimes, this is called as “networking”. It helps. 

But for us who really suck at sucking up, these things are a nightmare. The work goes unnoticed, the motivation to do work gets lesser and most of us end up quitting or just plodding on.

Of course, most of the people would vehemently deny this policy. “We have an open and fair policy” they would claim. Even the employees… but for a small minority who have worked abroad, we realise that the Indian politics plays a lot stronger. Which is basically saying these politics exist everywhere in the world but in India, with that little added thing about “staying longer means you are better” it puts things into a slightly different perspective.

At a recent shoot, this hierarchy was clearly visible as the GM of one of India’s most popular chains made several demands and expected them to be completed. His assistant was scared of his shadow and still called him “Sir”. She was scared to disturb him to even get the details of the specified event for which the photographer was needed. Needless to say, the hours were not specified, I packed up and he blew his top over such disobedience. 

In his world, minions did not speak up and have a mind of their own. They did what they were told to and without being seen or heard, perhaps. His assistant got a severe dressing down the next day for engaging a photographer with a mind of her own. Of course, nothing less was expected from a guy who barely considered his employees human and more importantly, expected to be called “Sir”. 

Perhaps I am generalising, but in any occasion when a boss expects his employees to call him “Sir”, particularly assistants, they are quite a pain. The same goes for those ‘jovial’ bosses who insist that the employees call him / her by their ‘pet’ name. 

The culture of sucking up, however, continues in India, much the to disappoint of those like my friend. 

The solution? Put your head down and figure out another job.

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