You are walking down a street while you catch a pair of beautiful dress shoes (brogues) on a shop window. Immediately your mind starts to flip through the clothes in your closet trying to match those brogues with what you have. You know it doesn’t go with everything but that’s the whole point. They are special shoes meant for special occasions. So you try them on, ask the salesperson to show you the same in different colors, and finally bag your favorite pair home. While at first you may respect the rules of fashion and only wear your brogues on exclusivity, you eventually tend to disrespect their purpose and step into them just because they are within your reach while you already have one foot out of the door on your way to the grocer’s, the bathroom, office, a casual day with friends, horse riding, trekking or even the fish market. Now… These are shoes that were made to be used once in a while if you wear ’em all day they are bound to look withered and a hundred years old. Finally, what do you do to the beautiful expensive brogues that look tattered because of the way they were handled? Blame them for being useless, and throw ’em out cause they are no longer pretty, unique, or meant for special occasions.
I have been thinking how us Indian employees are treated the same as these shoes. Hired because we have special skills and fit a role that is not meant for any layman. In the beginning we are introduced to people as your specialized or sometimes cross specialized asset, while slowly they begin to treat you like a multipurpose machine. If you are a technical writer, they may throw copywriting requests on your desk. If you are a creative writer, there is a possibility that your boss forces a business proposal on your task list. Sometimes it could go overboard with giving you deadlines without understanding the scope of work. Internet research takes less time compared to originally produced content that comes from ground work. The point is, the moment they hear you are a writer, they think you can pretty much write about anything and everything in minimal time regardless of whether you are specialized in the field or have knowledge in the subject. “It’s just content. How tough could it be? Even I can do it.” Then every human who is literate should designate themselves as writers on their resumes. Yes, try trekking with ballet shoes!
For a ghost writer, this is more painful as a specialization doesn’t matter. One day you write about the environment, the next day a few blog posts on beauty & accessories for pets, then a business proposal for a lazy MBA student who’d rather outsource than do his own homework, and the best tips for winning a poker game for the best players in the world. If I’m an employee at a company full of writer, my background in science allows me to enjoy writing environment articles, and find the dog posts intriguing, but how in the world am I fit to do an MBA student’s work with an engineer’s background, or understand poker and figure out a way to make an article sound like expert advice? That’s like asking something that only China can create – pair of shoes that can turn into sneakers or kitten heels or flipflops whenever you want at the press of a button.
You enter college with high aspirations. You pick a department out of passion or because you had no choice, and yet work to maintain a good score through the years until you graduate to be placed in what? An IT company. Here’s how it goes. They’d place the nerds from computer background in management, and train the unsuspecting electronics majors in programming, while the sad bio and chem majors get stuck here, there and everywhere as IT employees, not serving the purpose of anything they studied or worked towards for the past four years of their lives. Every moment of life counts, and everything we learn should somehow matter and be useful, so why don’t the giants of India utilize their resources well? Did they confuse kolhapuris with moccasins? Why hire employees in thousands and keep thousands on bench with their brains rotting for over a year before being fired? Did they think those Venetian loafers and Russian boots wouldn’t know if they sat high up in the closet shelf, a dark and damp corner until their calling came? Because that corner might just eat through them, and they’d go directly into the bin, calling or not.No this is not a lesson in shoes. This is the story of one in five employees who are underpaid, overworked, under-appreciated, misused, taken for granted, often targeted and abused in several ways. This is the way of life, as shoes that are not respected. It’s not the fault of those shoes. It’s the system that’s at fault. If you don’t know how to maintain them, you shouldn’t be allowed to buy them, especially when the other party has no way to speak up – because that voice is drowned in a sea of “What can you do? What will you do? Try and see. You will only bleed.”
Here are few things you need to know if you’d like to get yourself heard at your work place from Economic Times.