Inefficiency and its Rewards

One of the observations I have made during my experiences in the IT Industry is how being an inefficient professional can actually get you ahead of your peers.

I will illustrate a scenario where we see how 2 people join an IT organization at the same time and how inefficiency can actually help you move ahead of your peer.

Ram and Shyam are 2 Java developers who join an IT organization around the same time. Both want to go onsite. Both of them get assigned to work for a client, who is developing a J2EE application. The Project Manager assigns development of 2 modules to each of them. The modules need to be completed in 2 week time frames.

Ram being the efficient worker, gets on to the task diligently. Ram goes through the requirements, the design and starts working on the development of the module. Ram puts in extra hours and wants to impress the Manager also.

Shyam being the slow and inefficient one starts going through the documents at a leisurely pace. He is also not putting any extra hours.

At the end of first week, Manager comes around to get the status of the work. Ram has made significant progress and will be able to finish his work with 2 days to spare. Shyam on the other hand has not made much progress and his module will actually slip by more then 2-3 days. Shyam will numerous reasons on why he is not able to make much progress – clarifications on requirements, design and what not.

The Manager is really worried. He needs to make sure the plan does not slip. He sees that Ram will be able to finish his work 2 days in advance. So, like the PM he is, he assigns Ram to work with Shyam and help him to come on track.

Ram upon completing his work, starts working with Shyam and see that’s lot of work needs to be done. So, he starts putting extra hours to get the work on stream.

Manager sees how Ram has bought the work on stream and how he is proving to be a valuable and critical team member.

Now, here usually 2 scenarios typically get played out.

Scenario 1:
Now, as part of the project, out of the Ram and Shyam, one has to go to onsite to help in the application deployment(can be replaced with another task). Ram should have been the obvious candidate. But, Ram being the critical, hard working and having knowledge of 2 modules can not be spared. So, Shyam gets the nod and is asked to fly. Once, Shyam reaches the client place, again, he is not up to the mark. So the manager asks Ram to help Shyam in the application deployment from offshore. Ram starts working in the client times and helps Shyam in the application deployment. At the end, when the project is successful. Since, Shyam was the face the client was seeing, he sends out an appreciation mail citing good work done by Shyam. All the program management sees the mail and Shyam is heralded as the hero.

Scenario 2:
The PM need to ramp down the team. Since, Shyam is neither performing nor critical. He is the obvious choice. Shyam is released from the project. Now, the organization gets a new project and needs to send someone to client’s site to study the requirements. Ram would have been an choice, but his PM can not release him immediately. So, Ram gets ruled out. Shyam is available and has a valid visa, becomes an automatic choice. Remember, the key here is having a valid visa and availability. The experience or skill sets does not matter. The project needs to start in 2 weeks and it is difficult to get visa for anyone else. Neither it is possible to recruit someone in such a small time span. So, Shyam flies to client site.

In both the scenario’s, Ram efficiency got punished. First, he completes his work ahead of time, so he gets pressed into helping Shyam. End of day, his knowledge of 2 modules and hard working attitude makes him a critical team member, who can not released from the project. So, he misses out both the opportunities to go onsite.

I know, this might seem to be a very specific scenario, but I see this playing out in every project.

I am not saying that Ram does not gets rewarded for his hard work. The PM might give him spot rewards.

But given the moment, when Shyam goes onsite, Ram is unable to fan tom any reasons why despite doing so much good work, he is still at offshore.

4 Comments To ' Inefficiency and its Rewards '

sujatha visweswara said...

Very good analogy which happens all times , But this whole industry work on 80- 20 model which means 80% of the times only the top 20% deliver and Ram happens to be in that category . But , I strongly believe that people like Shyam have a very restricted growth and cannot be laured all times and corrections are bound to happen .It is only RAM who can grow and survive high in this industry

apoorv said...

i like it :)

Karthick said...

Excellent one.

This is very normal one now-a-days.

I wish to give an end to this never ending story.

"But given the moment, when Shyam goes onsite, Ram is unable to fan tom any reasons why despite doing so much good work, he is still at offshore"

- High probability that Ram will leave the organization out of frustration.

- PM has to hire another Ram or Shyam. Ram2 or Shyam2 from other company will finally join because they would have frustrated with PM2.

- PM has to pay more to either Ram2 or Shayam2 than Ram.Never matters whether the new joinee is like Ram or Shyam CTC is more.

- Very Less Probability that PM realises his mistake.

Do you see any leadership crisis here (at Project Management level)?


shishank said...

Very True Munish. We all have been through this. The bigger question is - How can we over come situations like these?


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