Good Manager Bad Manager – part 1
A bad job with a good manager is better than a good job with a bad manager.
I couldn’t agree more, as I have experienced both during my two pregnancies.
New City, new project
It had been just two months since I got transferred from Mumbai to Delhi. I landed up getting a very good project in the stream of my choice. I also cracked the client interview with utmost ease. My manager was much impressed with the way I had started working independently in such a short span of time. I was self-motivated and sought my manager’s guidance only when necessary.
Six months into the project, and things were going as smoothly as they could. This is when I got the best news of my life. I was soon going to be promoted to the role of a mother. Naive as I was, I revealed this to my manager so that he is better prepared to search for my replacement.
Manager and his perceptions
To my utter shock, my manager’s attitude suddenly changed after getting this news. He no longer found my work praiseworthy. Instead, he would point smallest of my mistakes and tell it to my colleagues. There were no efforts made on finding my replacement. There was no backup, I was often alone in a shift. What that means is I could not take any unplanned leave even if dying.
In my eighth month I requested to be able to work from home. I had often heard my manager ridiculing others who were working from home. He was of the notion that people only work from home when they do not want to work at all. Sadly, because of a few bad people this negative perception of working from home affects others , the ones who actually do work from home.
Thankfully, my first pregnancy was highly uneventful from health point of view. Although all my reports were normal, I had morning sickness during the first trimester and my legs had swollen to almost double their size in the last trimester. Nonetheless, like any other pregnant lady my body demanded better care and proper rest.
That fateful day
On one such morning, as the cab was waiting for me downstairs, I had a terrible bout of vomiting and could not gather myself to go downstairs. Even though I was feeling terribly nauseous and giddy I could not even think of taking leave as I was alone in shift. I messaged my manager and logged into my laptop and started working.
After about half an hour, I got a call from my manager. He was furious. We had a P1 (a high priority issue) , Power cable for one of the servers had failed and we needed to call the service center immediately. The service center was in US and we had VOIP phones in office to call them. My manager without asking me anything started reprimanding, “Now this P1 has come and no-one is in office. How will we handle this now? Do you realize how big an issue this could be?”. I said ,”Sir, but we can also send a service request on their portal. In fact I have already sent and the service representative has reached the data center. Our data center technician just confirmed on chat that the power cable is in the process of replacement right now. Besides, I always have Skype handy to make international calls, just in case.”
Unexpected gift from manager
The next day was my day off. I don’t know why, but I just happened to check my email. I could not believe my eyes. My manager had processed my release with immediate effect. Twenty days before my planned maternity leaves. When I called him to confront, he simply said, “I think you need to take care of your health right now. It will be better for you to rest right now.”
I was really angry. Neither had I ever missed any deadline nor was I ever negligent of my work. While working from home, I was actually working from home. In fact, when working from home I made sure to not let my work efficiency drop. It was well known that my manager was just waiting for one mistake from my end to not let me work from home. I wanted to fight but I let it go. I did not want to take undue stress during pregnancy. What I did not realize was that even bigger shocks were waiting for me.
And then came another…
I went on maternity leave in March as my child was due to be born in April. March is year-end and my manager was well aware that I had no plans of joining back for at least another year. When the appraisals were revealed in May, I got to know that I had been awarded a D band. D is usually given to employees whose performance is below expectations. Having a D band means to wait for at least three more years for your next promotion.
Aghast as I was, I really did not know what to do. The system allows an employee to challenge the rating but I had known from my other colleagues, that it often lead to harassment. Seldom had anyone got their rating changed after challenging the system.
There was another reason for not challenging. I was going through another turmoil in my personal life. I had just learnt of my son’s diagnosis – Downs Syndrome, a genetic disorder. A disorder that meant he will be physically and mentally delayed. As most of the Indian women do, I decided to focus on my child with special needs and my career went for a toss.
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