Second week of June was the last week by when all the appraisal letters were being distributed in the organization. Like every other employee, Suman was expecting not only a progression but a generous increment in his paycheck as well. And if you go by Suman’s dedication and focus towards the current assignment at hand, he deserved every bit of it.
Suman has been associated with this India IT firm and came to the United States on a work permit just after the global slowdown in 2008. Being based out of New Jersey he had to travel in the metros to his work place in Manhattan and he enjoyed that. He enjoyed the fast life… the crowd, the concrete jungle and his Chicken teriyaki Subway foot-longs. It would be rare to find our dude have anything else if he happens to visit Subway… which would be at-least twice or thrice a week.
On the work front Suman was a critical resource not only from this Indian IT firms’ perspective but also from the client’s. In a very short time he has been instrumental in gaining the client’s confidence in his company’s capability to execute a complex section of the product. Suman’s hard-work resulted in the clients’ renewed interest in releasing a product that was running late and on the verge of being slashed away due to other priorities. Suman, right from the beginning of this project had kept his Indian company’s supervisors aware on the opportunities that he saw in the client organization where his company could pitch in with solutions and the results were wonderful. Not only was the client able to realize the experience of his company’s capability in the products that were being created, but his company was able to gain a good foothold in the client organization such that there were talks of them being known as strategic partners. And all this was due to one single dedicated individual’s contribution.
A progression and hike was imminent. No one doubted that. Well… now just to let you know… Suman was a loaned resource from a different practice group with the organization. The project was being executed by a particular Vertical group where there are individuals not only from the same group but also from other practices, also known as Horizontals. Suman was a horizontal resource. Those who belong to the Indian IT field would know what trouble this means… read along.
“Morning dude… wassup?” shot Mahesh as Suman dropped into his cube.
“Hey… hi! You early today?”
“Yup… getting ready for the meeting today with Ross.”
“Cool, so how was the weekend?” asked Suman as he plugged in his laptop… waiting to download the emails… no meetings for him on this Monday morning.
“Well… went out to Atlantic City!” said Mahesh with a wink.
“Okay… so? You made some money?” Suman tried to guess what could be the number.
“Well… not really… only a couple of grand!” Mahesh was on a full blown laughter.
“Awesome dude… two grand! That is ultra cool… and by the way… did you get something back or you blew it off on the way?” Suman knew that Mahesh has a generous hand and does not believe in savings, leave apart investing.
“Well, I’ve got it all! Oh by the way… go to go… catch you later. We’ll party at my place next weekend… you’re in dude! You’re in!”
“Sure… catch you later!” said Suman as he started focusing on his emails.
“By the way… quick one… ahh… any news on the hike?” Mahesh hung on for Suman’s answer.
Tight lipped, Suman answered… “Nope, not yet. What about you?”
“Friday evening I got my email… 17% is not bad dude! Yours should be on your way.” and Mahesh zipped past his cube.
Till now almost everyone in their project had got their progression and hike letters. Suman and Mahesh were the last ones and now it was only Suman. Earlier last week when he tried to check with his project manager, he had assured him that he would be amply rewarded for his dedication and hard work. Ditto from the Horizontal group where he belonged.
“But then where is the letter?” he asked a bit exasperated of-course.
“It should be on it way Suman. We haven’t got it yet… and believe me, before I send it out to you; I will give you a call” Ravi assured him.
Ravi was the account head for this particular client where Suman had performed so well. Ravi was involved in motivating and guiding people like Suman whenever there was a need and he respected the fact that Ravi’s continue mentoring was the reason why he was able to scale up in such a short time and deliver exceptional results.
“Dude, I’ve got some hot news!” IM-ed Nitin, Suman’s colleague.
“Nope, not here… meet me on the 4th… I’ve called the rest of the gang there” and his IM status changed to “Away”.
It was 9:30 AM, a little too early for the gang to meet. They generally meet at about 10 or 10:15 for a cup of coffee. With no important work to deal with, Suman locked his laptop, picked his coffee mug and reached for the elevator in the lobby.
“Hot new? What could it be...? Is it about my salary hike? Well, how would he know...?” Suman kept thinking as the elevator dropped him onto 4th.
He could see his friends’ crowd around the coffee dispensers as they selected their choice from Caribbean to French Roast.
“So, what’s the news?” asked Suman.
“Nope, not till everyone’s here… I want a full impact mannn!” Nitin was smiling away to glory.
When the whole team was there… Nitin smiled, looked at everyone and said –“Folks, one more casualty!”
“One more? Oh my dog! Who is it this time?”
“Guess folks… guess!” said Nitin as he savored the eagerness in everyone’s eyes.
“Casualty” as a word had generously replaced resignations.
“Is it you?” someone tried to be funny.
“Not cool mannn not cool” zapped back Nitin.
“Well, this was a 40 member client site account and it has to be someone important to demand an early coffee break”, agreed most of them.
“Ram?” asked someone.
“Are you kidding me? Who would notice if he left? And do you think I would have called all of you here if he had resigned?” said Nitin… a bit insulted by the guess. Ram by the way was a nagging manager whom Nitin reported to.
“Come on man… I would have noticed if he had left” Debu added. His cube was right across Ram’s. Rest of the folks started laughing.
“Folks, no jokes please… this is serious stuff” Nitin tried to bring their attention back to the news that he withheld.
“Well, serious stuff eh? So who’s gone… Ravi?” asked Mahesh… trying to sound cool… the rest of the gang joined in… knowing that Ravi would probably be the last one to leave the account after having worked his way up so hard.
Nitin went silent and smiled nodding his head… as if to give his approval to the wild guess.
The folks around him were confused… they couldn’t believe this.
“Dude, no kidding man!” blurted Suman. He had a lot at stake.
“I’m not kidding guys… you’ll get the news shortly” Nitin had a calm look on his face… on being able to perform the show as expected while keeping his audience gasping for more.
“How the hell did you get to know about it?”
“Man, I tell you... If this bugger here is telling the truth… this account is in real trouble.”
“Who cares about the account dude… our project is not winding up soon… probably someone will come and take up his place. Big deal!”
“Who? Who do you think can fill his place?”
“Someone… I mean… well I agree, this is big news… but we’re untouched by it”
“By the way dude, I heard you made a killing this weekend…”
“Oh ya… that was awesome man… we’re meeting this weekend at my place… booze on the house!”
The folks around Suman kept talking… but he was not. This was real big news. He excused himself with some work and walked back to the lobby. He was aghast. He could never think that someone like Ravi would ever leave the account. A few weeks back the two of them were discussing about how they would be rolling in more and more solutions or proposals for the client. They saw the account growing to a 100 Mil USD account in another couple of years… and with the account, they would grow too. All these dreams came crashing… and Suman realized how dependent his growth had been on Ravi’s presence. His resignation was serious blow to his career dreams! He had to talk to someone… not Ravi… he’s a back stabber… he should have told me… I at-least deserved this… he should have had this plan for some-time.
Same day during lunch in the cafeteria, he saw Ravi on the phone with someone. Usually Suman is welcome to join him. That day, though Ravi saw him, he just avoided him… no wave, no smile… nothing, as if he did not exist. In less than an hour his loyalty towards Ravi took a complete 180 degree turn.
For the rest of the day he could not focus on anything else. He left for home earlier than usual… and picked up a crate of Corona Lite from the nearby Liquor Shop. Now he knew why his hike letter or progression letter had not made it to his inbox. His name was not proposed at all. All this dedication, hard work… to what respite?
Next day early in the morning the news comes from the formal channels. However Suman and his team mates were not surprised; thanks to Nitin. Though most of the team members took this news on their stride, Suman was not able to. It was as if this news had made him speechless. All of a sudden he realized that he was all alone in his quest for growth in his professional life. He realized what a huge influence Ravi has had in his career, but at the same time he thought that he had deserved to know this news earlier and from Ravi instead of via an email.
While he was occupied with these thoughts, his cell phone rang up with Ravi waiting on the other side. Suman was not ready to talk… and couldn’t think of what to talk. Probably for the first time, he let the call go unattended from Ravi.
“What is there to talk” he thought to himself, “he has anyways taken the decision to leave me behind”
“Give me a call once you are free… got to talk to you” came an SMS from Ravi.
“Busy with work, will call later in the day. Anything urgent?”
For the next couple of days Suman was gradually coping up with reality. The progression and hike letter had not yet reached his mail box. This was quite surprising. It cannot be that there is no hike for him for this year.
“Dude, what’s wrong man?” Mahesh popped in again to Suman’s cube.
“Nothing, feel like taking a break” said Suman as he tried to stretch himself from his seat.
“Your hike letter’s giving you trouble?”
“What hike letter? I’ve given up hope.”
“That’s not fair man… Did you talk to Ravi?”
“Talk and do what? He didn’t even care to tell me before leaving… nonsense!” Suman sounded frustrated. Finally he got someone to listen to him.
“Man, you know what I’ve done in this account… you know that don’t you?”
“Come on man… there’s no doubt about that”
“Well there is. Ravi didn’t even care to talk to me. I mean… I thought I was someone who deserved to be informed about what’s going on… this is seriously so humiliating. The other day he didn’t even look at me when we met in the cafeteria… as if I was not there. I just couldn’t believe it… never thought that Ravi would become just like those thick-skinned managers…”
“And people like me get such handsome hikes”… Mahesh tried to lighten up the tension.
“Man, I do not mind you getting a hike… I am happy for you… but I too deserved it”
“Dude… chill man! Come lets go for a Chai… come man… the world won’t crash if you’re away from your desk for 30 minutes”
“Ya… and even if it does… who cares!” said Suman as he locked his laptop and walked out of his cube.
Chai latte from Starbucks is as good as a sophisticated version of Masala Chai that you get in India… and as expected, it’s a hot favorite among the desis.
“Two tall chai… no water, full milk” said Mahesh while handing over his credit card to be charged.
“That would be $6.28 both on the same card?” asked the attendant.
“See Suman, I wanted to put this point across to you earlier… but I guess it was wise to have waited this long”
Suman was eager to hear Mahesh out… what could he be holding back?
“Here you go sir… two tall chai!”
Both of them took up a corner table. Suman was silent and waiting for Mahesh.
“Well I have seen you work and I know what you’re capable of… isn’t it a bit surprising…? You know… that you’ve not even got a hike letter… I mean I’m quite sure there seems to be some issue somewhere…”
Silence. The chai latte was warm and both of them utilized the break to sip in some of it.
“But then there is no reason why you should be disappointed… I mean it’s not the end of the world”
“What do you mean Mahesh?”
“What I mean is simple… if the organization does not acknowledge your contribution… it’s time for you to move on”
“Move on?? As in… Move to some other group? Some other project?”
“Why can’t you think outside the organization Suman? …and you know what… this is probably the reason the hike letter never reached you… you were never a threat or a candidate for resignation…”
“What are you talking man…?” Suman was walking this course for the first time.
“What do you think I am talking about Suman?” Mahesh was gradually losing his cool… how can someone be so naive?
“See I get you’re your point, ok? But then who do you think will hire me...? I mean… there are so many good people… I’m not sure if I’d be able to find a job that suits me so well… and moreover we’ve signed this bond with our organization… wherein if we break it… we have to pay… I mean you know all this”
“Forget the bond dude… this is the US and the bond is not applicable here. Have you not seen so many of our colleagues leave the organization… did you see any trouble there?”
Suman was running out of excuses as Mahesh had a ready answer for whatever he had to say.
Trying to take the matter off his mind, he stared out of the window… a slight drizzle was picking up pace. What Mahesh was suggesting was unchartered water… he had never ever worked outside his current organization… his first. But probably sticking back in spite of this would be equivalent to losing his self- respect… he brushed the thought aside… he was thinking too much. But the seed that Mahesh had planted in his mind was taking shape.
The same evening he drafted his resignation letter and posted his profile on a couple of job sites. The next morning while he landed on the 4th for his customary coffee with the gang he bumped into Ravi.
“Hey Suman, how are you?” Ravi asked with his usual smile… as if nothing had gone wrong between them.
“I’m good.” He wanted to leave but Ravi’s gaze caught him.
“Hmm… mind if I have a word with you now? There’s something that I have to talk to you about.”
“Well…” he wanted to say he was busy but ended up saying “sure… we can talk” and off the two of them went to the furthest table… their usual joint.
“I’m sure you would have heard about my resignation…”
“Ya”, Suman wanted to keep this conversation to the minimum.
“I know you have a lot of questions… but you see… everything happened pretty fast”
Suman was quiet. He wanted to tell Ravi a lot of things… of how disappointed he felt on being treated this way. But he did not say anything… he was not even interested in talking. He wanted his phone to ring and make that an excuse to take leave.
Ravi could read the disconnect in Suman’s behavior; not that he did not expect it.
“Suman are you listening to me?”
For the first time Suman looked straight at Ravi. “What is there to listen Ravi?” that was it… Suman was not stopping now. “You have resigned… you found something better and moved ahead… and you did not even care to inform about your decision to the people who treat you as their mentor… who look upto you… I had so many things lined up… you gave me so many dreams… about growing here and you always assured me that you would be there to guide me, support me, correct me… but at the end I get to hear about your resignation from someone else… but you know what? That’s ok… fine… it actually does not matter. I was sad, but not anymore Ravi. I thought I deserved better… anyways”
For the next full minute both were silent. Ravi was glad that Suman had lightened his heart. Suman on the other hand felt as if he had been a little too harsh on him; but he was not sulking. He had never spoken that way to Ravi.
“Suman, it does matter… I’m glad that you are disappointed… because it shows that you had faith in me”
“Ravi, you are right… I had faith… sorry to say but not anymore... anyways it’s over… well I’ve got to go now… I haven’t yet resigned”
“Suman, hear me out please” Ravi begged.
Suman did not want to embarrass his mentor and even he wanted to know what exactly had happened that Ravi was ready to leave such a great account where his growth path was all so clear.
“Well, I’m not sure how to say this… there has been a decision taken… actually there’s a new account manager identified for this account [client] and I was supposed to report to him. I do not have any issues in that, had it been someone who is capable but that is not the case. I tried to carve a niche for myself a separate team… with a few of our guys… you obviously were with me where we would be involved in high end consulting… basically I was trying to shield you guys from the new account manager. I wasn’t allowed that too. It was a bit disappointing to be dealt with this way… and that in a way told me what was in store for me. I knew my future was not within but out of our organization… and that’s the reason I had to quit. Things moved so fast Suman… I was quite occupied and couldn’t talk to you earlier about this… and I your outburst is truly justified”
Suman couldn’t believe his ears. What was this that Ravi was telling? “A new account manager?”
“Yes Suman… and I was as surprised as you are! After having worked so hard… this is what I got”
Sympathy swelled up in Suman for his boss.
“How can the fools up there do something of this kind?”
“It’s an indication that the organization has outgrown you… that’s atleast how I take it… and that’s the reason why I resigned. As far as whether the guys up there are fools or not… only time can tell” Ravi smiled… probably for the first time since they started this conversation.
Suman now understood why Ravi had ignored him earlier or what took him so long to come in terms to mention this in front of him.
“But you will do good… I’m sure you have seen your ratings and MSI”
Suman smiled. Now he knew that it was not only him who was wrongly treated –“I’ve not yet received my MSI letter, leave apart the progression”
MSI stood for merit salary increment and the letter contained information about the increase in various components of an employee’s salary.
Ravi raised his eyebrows, visibly surprised. “That can’t be the case… MSI is definitely there… progression also should be there… I’ve sent a very strong case to your horizontal manager and your HR. Did you check with them?”
“I didn’t check with my HR but I checked with Guru, my new horizontal manager… and he said that there are still a few guys in our team who have not yet received the letter. Actually there is a rejig in my horizontal team also… so a new supervisor is assigned for me.”
“Ok… that might be the case then”
“But I’m not waiting for it Ravi!”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m just not waiting… simple. I’ve decided to resign”
“Oh…” Ravi had mixed feelings… he had built this business and Suman was an important member of the team… and now it was all cracking up. However he did not brood over the matter.
“So you got an offer at hand? I’m sorry I know I shouldn’t be asking you such questions”
“It’s ok Ravi… I don’t mind you asking. No, I’ve not yet got any offers yet. I’ve just posted my resume on the job site last night”
“Good luck Suman… I’m sure you will get a good break… do let me know if I can do something… anything”
“Get me a recommendation on LinkedIn, if you can”
“Sure I will dude… anything else?”
“Hmm… nothing more… I’ll let you know in case there is something”
The conversation was over. The relationship was back on track and with that assurance both of them had a very light feeling as they left. Suman was glad that after-all his mentor wasn’t what he had assumed him to be. That was a great reassurance.
The same evening Suman sent out his resignation letter… but not before checking his gmail account where more than seven emails were pending his answer for the profile that he had posted. That was good news…. His profile was after-all not that outdated.
A couple of days later during coffee on the 4th, he broke the news… “Guys, did you hear the new? One more casualty” Suman had a long sip of his coffee while the rest of the gang were waiting for him to finish it and blurt out the name.
“Nitin? Have you not got the news yet?” teased Mahesh, being very well aware of who it was this time.
“Guys… don’t think too hard, its me” another long sip as he enjoyed the speechlessness of their faces.
“Congrats man… so where are you off to?”
“How much is the package?”
“Are you leaving NJ?”
“I’ll let you know man… let things settle down a bit.” He still had to appear in a couple of telephonic interviews the same afternoon but he was pretty confident of making it through.
In the last 24 hours there has been a change in his attitude towards work. The hike and progression stuff had clouded his vision and he had started taking his work for granted. However things are back to normal now… he loved his work… his job… the organization did not matter anymore. This is something that he had heard a lot of people talk about while he hadn’t got the intellect to understand it earlier. Now he did.
“Hi Suman”, IM’ed Ravi. He still held his job, serving the notice period.
“Hi Ravi wassup?”
“Are you busy right now?”
“A little bit… fixing a defect on the inventory business rule. Why?”
“Ok… how about meeting on the 4th at about 4:30 today?”
“Sounds good… catch you there”
Later that evening… “You want something to eat?” asked Ravi when Suman came down to where he was waiting to pay for his coffee with a sandwich in his hand.
“No… I’m good with my coffee… you carry on”
“Ok… so what’s going on? Done with the fix?”
“Ya kind of… waiting for the testing guys to check that and let me know… my change is checked-in… probably another hour before the build is deployed and ready to be tested”
“Ok”. Ravi paid for the coffee and sandwich and both of them started towards their customary corner. At this time most of the cafeteria is empty but still they kind of found the corner table quite cozy and comfortable.
“So what’s that… that you want to talk to me about?” asked Suman.
“Well you see… I’m not sure if I’m supposed to … you know” Ravi was visibly quite uncomfortable talking to Suman.
Suman on the other hand was eager and wondered what could be so uncomfortable to talk to him about?
“Well …aa, just wondering what happened to you job hunt? Any luck?”
Suman’s expectations dropped. “Oh… ya… well …ya. I’m sorry I forgot to tell you. I was going to talk to you about that. You see… I got about 7 or 8 responses out of which 2 of them are really interesting. The area of work is very much on the same track that I work on now and they’ve also shown an interest in talking to me again. I’m hoping something will come up next time.”
“Cool. That is nice. I had no doubts that you will sail through… it wouldn’t be difficult for you”
“Let’s hope so…”
An unusually long silence followed and Suman knew that Ravi was not done yet. Ravi finally smiled and took off the veil; he was going all guns blazing.
“Suman, I have an offer for you. Join me.”
Suman was taken aback... glad that he wasn’t drinking the coffee at that moment.
“I know it sounds a bit strange but it’s true. I’m responsible for putting up a team of dynamic consultants in the area of .net consulting for the new company that I have joined. This is a pretty niche area of consulting where we address architectural, performance and security related issues for our clients. The works’ interesting which would require you to be glued to anything new that’s picking up in the market… always ahead. And yes… there’s a lot of short term travel lined up… within the US. The pay is good… very good in-fact and the best part is that the company will process your Green Card under EB2.”
Ravi was excited at the end of his short speech… Suman was spellbound. He couldn’t believe what he had heard. For a moment he realized that he had not been breathing since the moment Ravi started. With a deep breath and with absolutely no impact of the speech, Suman just wanted to live that moment. That moment of assimilating what had been just told to him, of hearing much more than what he had ever expected from this conversation.
“Suman… Suman!” Ravi shook him up. He just raised his hand to tell Ravi that he was alright. Unsure how Suman has taken all this, Ravi allowed a minute to pass before he tried again.
“Like I told you Suman, I know it’s a bit surprising… but look at this offer along with the other two that you have been presented with… that’s all I wanted to say.”
Suman on the other hand couldn’t believe everything he had heard… Ravi had giving him a great offer which shows the confidence that he still has in him which is a way is the result for all the hard work he had put in. Ravi’s success on the other hand would depend on how well his team performed and his willingness to have Suman was a win-win case for the two of them.
Finally Suman broke into a big smile.
“Ravi, I am speechless… I don’t know what to say… I mean, I have never ever dreamt of something like this. I’m glad you find me worthy, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do justice to the faith that you have in me. Are you sure you want me to take up this role… seems that there’s a lot of expectation from me and I do not have any experience in this area of work”
Ravi was glad that he was not out rightly denying the role which meant that he was interested. He started again with enlightened spirits.
“Absolutely Suman. Initially you will not be taking up consulting engagements on your own, but you will shadow someone… most probably me. There is a 3 month training plan along with the job at hand which would sharpen your skills along with the nuances of consulting.”
“Wow… this is the best offer I’ve got Ravi.”
“I’m glad Suman that you find it interesting. I know that things are moving fast, but believe me… joining this consulting company would be a big step in the right direction for your career…. I’m not saying these to please you… but yes, like you said… there’s a lot of scaling up that you have to do and we’re fine with it.”
“In fact I’ve even spoken to Mr. Clive the Managing Director about you. I’ve given him a detailed report of your professional growth and he was gung-ho about meeting you. He is very particular about his team… and takes special interest in everyone’s career aspirations”
“You also mentioned about the Green Card stuff…”
“Yes, you’re right. The company will start processing your GC once you complete one year with the organization… but I’m sure looking at your dedication, they might not want to wait for you to complete one year.”
His coffee had gone cold, but he still drank it… to moisten his dry throat. Everything was happening very fast.
“Suman, I’ve just given you the facts… today evening sit along… and think about it. I do not want to glorify this offer, but I must say that it’s quite exciting and having known you, I’m pretty confident that you will like it. That was the reason I approached Mr. Clive about you and it is with his consent that I am currently talking to you. I can get you an offer letter from the company for you to go through.”
That evening he gave an honest thought to the proposal at hand. The company was small, but having worked with Ravi, he knew that his decision –if he joined –would be on strong foundation. Moreover he was young in age and taking risks shouldn’t be a concern. If at all things did not work, he could always come back and hunt for a fresh job. After this time when he posted his profile at the job site he was quite confident of making it into some big organization. Finally he concluded that it was worth the risk.
Suman obviously had a lot of questions playing on in his mind and thought of discussing this with Mahesh. They next day they met at Suman’s place. After a pretty light dinner both of them sat facing each other trying to talk out all the issues or questions that they could figure out in the offer that Ravi had handed.
Earlier in the day when Suman had mentioned this to Mahesh, he was super excited and asked him to go for it… no other offer at hand was as promising… but they still thought of talking it out.
Suman ready with a notepad and pencil started, “The first point is whether it’s a permanent role or contracting… if it is contracting I am not taking it”
“Why? What is wrong in contracting?”
“Dude, they can fire me anytime…”
“That’s a separate point. At this point in time you are trying to find the details of this offer. Don’t give so much importance to one single criterion” said Mahesh as Suman updated his notebook.
“Second point which I’m sure they will also talk to you about is your role… what are you expected to do in the new organization”
No additions from Suman as he noted down the point.
“I guess it would also be important for me to know what exactly the organization is into”
“Hmm… ya and they will tell that to you… but ya, you can note that down as well”
“Next is what their plan is for me when they hire me. I mean plan as in long term and short term… and last but not the least –my pay structure, compensation, benefits etc”
“Yes… and since Ravi is involved in this… you might not be in a position to negotiate too much but if has said that the pay is good… you might just want to hear them out”
“Hmm” said Suman, trying to think if he had missed anything important.
They went through the list once again… and it seemed to cover most of their concerns.
“Hey, by the way did you hear anything from our folks? What are they saying after your resignation?”
“The usual stuff… you have to pay the amount of the bond that you signed… you are breaking the company rules which will not go well in your professional growth… one of them even went ahead to say that people like me come here and forget about the organization…”
“Bunch of losers… the same guys would not even bate an eyelid before they accept an offer like this if one ever came their way… so what did you tell them?”
“I told them not to waste time and work on my release. Told them to inform the client and stick on my last date”
“Nothing about the bond amount or your MSI or your progression letter?” asked Mahesh trying to figure out if there is anything that can hold him back.
“Man, I’m seriously not interested… and as far as bond amount goes, I’ve told them that I’m not giving them anything… they said that releasing my ‘Experience Letter’ would not be possible if I break the bond… so I asked them to keep my experience letter along with my MSI letter”
“Anyways, at the end they told me to transition everything to Prakash”
“Prakash? I heard that even he’s looking out… not sure though”
“I’m not bothered… I’ve had enough”
“That’s the right thing to do… leave them… they don’t deserve you”
A couple of days later Ravi arranged for a meeting between Clive and Suman. The meeting extended beyond the stipulated 2 hours that was planned and they were fine with it… since the discussion took a few very interesting routes. Both the parties were glad to have found each other. Suman also expressed the desire to visit his parents back in India before joining the new organization and Clive had not issues about that. Suman was handed over his offer letter in the same meeting for him to go through. So all in all, Suman had accepted the position that was being offered. He just had to sign on the offer letter and send it back.
“Mahesh… aa… can you tell me one?” Suman asked as they met for coffee in the morning.
“Sure man… wassup?”
“Did you get your salary?”
“Yes… why do you ask?” and then alarmed, realizing what could be coming, “Don’t tell me they stopped processing yours!”
“No no… they did not… but …aa do you know when was the MSI effective from?”
“This cycle, I mean effective the current payroll”.
In the US there are two payroll cycles in a month… the first from the beginning till the 15th of a month to be paid on the 16th and the second from the 16th till then end to be paid on the 1st of next month.
Understanding that Suman was still not satisfied with the answer, Mahesh continued, “What is bothering you man?”
“Well, I received more than my normal salary. I checked the past payroll credits to my account and there is a difference of 500 USD”. Suman with his eyebrows stitched just did not understand what to make out of it… but he was getting a fair idea what it meant.
“Dude… are you serious?”
“No kidding man… I’ve checked my webmail but the payroll email has not yet been dispatched”
“Today is what? The 16th, so wait till 4:00 PM… you should get the email… but you know what… hold on… 500 USD per pay cycle is 1000 USD/month… 12K per year… Dude… I’m not getting a good feeling”
Suman was confused… he did not want it to be true. He had taken his decision. There was no coming back.
“Mahesh, I never received the MSI letter”
“Dude… you don’t get a 12K MSI! Try to understand this”
“So…?” Suman wanted Mahesh to spill the beans.
“I’m assuming you’re checking your email regularly. Email as in our India company’s email”, Mahesh wanted to re-examine Suman… making sure he has not left anything unattended to.
“No one has any idea where my MSI letter is; I even checked with Deepak” added
“Who is Deepak?”
“My horizontal manager”
“What did he say?”
“He just mentioned that a lot of people in our team… team as in the Horizontal practice team have not got it and that its under way.”
But that communication with Deepak was more than a week old and moreover Deepak has more than 50 reportees spread across multiple geographies in different projects. Only the practice development guys are his direct reportees and he keeps a special tap on their growth and incentives. Suman was not in the practice development team.
Mahesh could figure out that something is definitely bothering his friend. Though he has gone ahead and resigned, but it seemed that he’s going back in two minds.
“Mahesh, I haven’t received my MSI letter… but then, that does not mean that I’ve not been given a hike. I mean… probably Deepak has forgotten to forward me the letter”
“Well, I don’t know how it works with you guys man… sometimes you say Deepak is your Horizontal Manager… sometimes its Rajesh who is your Practice Manager and from here its Ravi… so confusing. I’m glad I’m in a vertical… only one manager.”
Suman was still not done. There was this stirring feeling in him… very unstable.
“Well… let’s wait till the payroll email hits our inboxes… that way we will know if some reimbursement is being made or if this is a genuine salary hike” said Mahesh in an attempt to bring an end to the conversation and start something else.
“Hmm…” Suman looked at his watch… it was 9 AM, 10:30 PM in India, “…no it’s too late to talk to him about this.” He was thinking of talking to Deepak about this.
Finally the rest of the coffee gang arrived and they got carried away in some other conversation.
Suman was very jittery throughout the morning. He had checked his email twice in anticipation of an early email from the Payroll department. At lunch time Mahesh caught up with him.
“No emails from the payroll guys yet, checked it twice”
“Dude… hold on. The email will hit your inbox not before 4 PM today. They don’t send you an early email just because you’re checking it again and again… here have these onion rings… they’re good crispy stuff”
Suman was not even hungry. It’s that feeling you get when you’re waiting for something exciting to happen and you find it so difficult to wait out the hours.
“When can we leave today?” Suman was definitely not interested in continuing with work. He could not. He just could not take his mind off the matter.
“I’ve got a one hour meeting till 3:30 PM. We can leave after that. What about you?”
“I don’t have anything pending… Prakash is a bit busy so we’ve postponed the transition items for tomorrow… I can leave even now”
A couple of hours later they met at the office lobby, ready to go home.
“I was talking to Kunal just before I got into the meeting… and I’m going to ask you a very fundamental question… though I know what your answer is”
“sure… carry on. What is it?” asked Suman.
“Did you check your PS page?”
Suman was stumped… he just slowed down walking. PS page or Personal staffing page is the place where all the information about an employee’s work experience, project details, role, duration, location, compensation is stored. It’s a single window where you get everything related to an employee. That’s the site where you book your works hours and paid time off. Mahesh knew that Suman had not visited that site… “I knew it man… you did not check that site… correct?”
“Yeass… I completely forgot about it” Suman couldn’t believe what an idiot he has been.
“Whhhyyyyy???? Why did you not check there? And all this while I was thinking that you’ve been very clear from your side”
“I don’t know man… why I did not check that site” Suman was ready to cry or come closer to it… how irresponsible can he be.
“Nevermind… we’ll check that now when we reach home”
10 minutes into the metro and they had not spoken a single word. Though Mahesh was busy playing Angry Birds on his iPOD he could figure out that our dude was quite excited about checking his email and PS site as well as being disappointed with himself.
“How could I ignore the PS site?” finally he blurted out.
“What if they’re giving me everything that I asked for… MSI and progression” added Suman. He wanted to talk it out… talk about the best possible outcome so that its not shocking when they find it that way.
“Dude, chill… your decision is taken… don’t go back now…” said Mahesh not for a moment taking his eyes off the game.
“How long will it take…? Why does it take so long in the metro?”
Finally they reached his apartment… Suman fumbled with the keys while Mahesh just shook his head at the utter desperation that he was undergoing.
“Quick open the laptop… just start it… its on hibernate” said Suman as he dashed off to the loo… unable to control his excitement and bladder.
“The laptop booted by the time he returned and entered his credentials. A few seconds later the PS site came up asking for Suman’s credentials. His hands were trembling now. Mahesh was amused looking at Suman.
The Personal Staffing site opened and he went for the Career development section.
There in front of their 2 pair of eyes in clear black against the white were mentioned the details that Suman had been waiting for so long –not only a good MSI but also a great rating which translated to a progression.
Both of them went dumb. Mahesh knew that a 12K increase in your annual salary cannot just be an MSI… and he was right. Suman dropped into his chair. Mahesh minimized the PS window and brought up the Outlook tab on the status bar. While his emails were being downloaded, Mahesh out of curiosity went for the Junk Folder. Two weeks back, there was an auto generated email from the PS site with the MSI and progression details. Suman sat there motionless, watching the screen unable to take in all that was happening around him.
A couple of days later it was announced that whoever was coming here as the new account manager had landed up with some US H1 work permit issues which would take time to resolve.
Later Nitin told Mahesh that since Ravi had already put down his papers, Suman’s name was brought up to be groomed as the next account manager. There would be someone temporary to take up Ravi’s place while Suman scaled up. But when it was informed that even Suman had resigned his name was removed from the list.
Why did the PS email go to the Junk Folder? Why did Suman not try the PS page earlier? Some questions are better left unanswered.