A Calmer You, by Sonal Kalra: The annual game at the workplace
The period when human beings at workplace exhibit scientifically documented, yet unexplained traits of extreme weird behaviour is formally known as ‘appraisals’ in several English speaking nations of the world.
There is something in the term itself that makes our blood pressure fluctuate, being high or low, depending on whether you are the one ‘doing it’ or ‘giving it’. Sorry if that sounded inappropriate but then, sane and sensible stuff isn’t exactly the forte of this column. Especially, when half the people around me are walking like zombies taking printouts of their appraisal forms, as I write this. With an expression more dead than Urmila Matondkar’s acting career.
And the other half, interestingly are gathered around the TV screen in the newsroom, watching a cricket match with more interest than what they collectively showed towards work in the past 364 days. What is it with cricket, man, that death-by-appraisal looming large in the near future is also not a deterrent? I got more clarity on this evidently and eminently ponder-able thought when Abhishek Duggal — the colleague who can survive longer without speaking a word than any other human being I know — dropped by.
In his inimitable shy style, Abhishek mumbled a few words about the similarity between appraisals and cricket. And I could only marvel at the genius of his thought. Here’s the thing… there’s such a common thread between the game and what I would also like to call ‘the game’ at workplace this time every year. A bit of picking the brains of Samarth, Aditya, Medha and Abhinav in my team gave me such an insight into terms used in cricket that could be applied as well to appraisals. Tell me if you agree…
1)Final over slogging: Saara saal toh kaam kiya nahi, appraisal se two weeks pehle some people start to slog, or rather show, as if they are only the saviours left of the Hard Workers Inc. I don’t know if you’d get the connect but it’s like Ravi Shastri going excruciatingly slow — tip-tip-tip — through the innings and then hitting a six in the last over, to then sit on the teammates’ shoulder and go roaring around the stadium. The final over sloggers are smart enough to smell the March-April air, and suddenly their good-mornings to the boss start to sound sweeter than the cuckoo in a barren land. The forgetful, God-fearing creatures that bosses are, they get so enamoured by the last month mehnat that they forget and forgive the slogger who’d be back to vella-giri right from the Labour Day onwards.
2)Doosra: All those who have the hidden gene for a split personality disorder turn into a doosra before appraisals and change their game to surprise not just the boss, but those colleagues who’ve been observing their chaalupanti all through the year. People who specialise in the working strategy of ‘we shall deliver only what we are supposed to’ all through the year suddenly become proactive and start volunteering to take responsibility for more work. Itne proactive? September mein kahan the?
3)Sledging: Directly toh kuchh keh nahi sakte but, I swear, the kind of underhand sledging that the poor HR department has to bear after the letters are handed out! It’s worse than Dhoni’s angry stares and Virat Kohli’s colourful MC-BC tributes to the bowlers. It’s as if the HR is responsible for not just the measly raise, but everything that’s wrong in the world!
4)Appeal: This phase starts when the appraisal letter comes in hand and the khoon in the veins starts to boil. Itna kam? For a person like me who gave her best to the organisation, I did not even go to the toilet sometimes to finish reports and projects. How could this umpire be so heartless? I will cry, I will scream, I will sulk, I will threaten to leave. There has to be God existing in the form of a third-umpire somewhere. Insaaf milega yah I shall resort to raising slogans against the gross injustice of the boss, the company, the society, the capitalists. Who else?
5)Googly: I love this one. For all the sledging, this could be HR’s way of serving you aam papad in the packaging of Ferrero Rochers if you’ve messed through the year and not done justice to your job. The appraisal could show a hike, in a big font size, with stars dazzling next to the big numbers. What the stars indicate, however, is the googly. Go to the bottom of the page and borrow the reading glasses from mummy. The fine print might just show the break-up of the ‘conditional’ hike. If the economy of the country will be good and there will be rain every single day in April, you will get the hike. What? Who said rain at night will be counted? Bahot dukh diya nah boss aur HR ko? Ab yeh lo. Vaise you’re still better off facing a googly than those who sometimes get out for a duck. For them, zeroes don’t get added in the salary figure, the word zero comes and sits before the word appraisal. Count your blessings, and work hard this year.
6)Howzzat: The way a bowler who is confident of having got the batsman out keeps screaming howzzat in all directions with hopeful eye, some people keep looking at all their colleagues to know how their appraisal went. Mujhe prasaad mein six toffees mili, tumhe kya mila? The colleagues, like the heartless umpire keep shaking their heads till the howzzat guy stops asking and makes peace with the destiny. Till next appraisal season. Howzzat?
Sonal Kalra disclaims having written any of the above, as she has no knowledge about cricket and genuinely loves the appraisal season. Please don’t make her face the chin music. Mail her at sonal.kalra@ hindustantimes.com or facebook.com/sonalkalraofficial. Follow on Twitter at @sonalkalra