Friday, July 23, 2010

Lying while leaving IT companies

A few days back, a fresher (2009 batch) came to meet me at home. A month earlier, he had started working for a huge MNC in Chennai. He had been looking for work more than an year and finally this clicked.
Except that they had him attending training in QA instead of his core interest - database programming. He had a certificate in Java. [Nothing wrong with QA. Just that this guy was not interested in it]
In the meantime, a company which had actually offered him in campus (but then had made him wait through the recession) came back. They were recruiting again and they could have him working in Java.
The fresher faced a dilemma - he had attended work at the MNC for a month, in pretty much pointless training. He wanted to quit. He had not signed any bond. He wanted to know if he could resign; and whether there would be any problems.
I advised him to tell the HR in the MNC the truth. Tell them you were bored with testing and you had decided to leave. Let them know the situation and then leave.
He went and told them the truth.
I will tell you what happened at the end of this post. But before that let me rant about IT companies a bit.

The Lying Culture
I had posted earlier about a white guy who asked me if lying was in the Indian culture. I have seen HR and line managers in IT complaining that people are not honest. "Why don't they just tell the truth about leaving?", they say.
You know why they don't tell the truth? Because you can't handle the truth.

IT Employees lie when they say grandma is dying and they are moving back to the village and tilling the field; when they say (I am not making this up) resigning and starting an MBA school; when they say they are moving to another city and starting a company for selling churidaars.
They lie and say anything to get away from YOU.
Because they know you are power hungry. You have THE POWER - to ruin an employee's life by lying in background checks. They know how vindictive you are - that if the management asked you to go after someone you would do that. You would call up people you know at the destination company and ask them to "be warned" about this "nasty developer you have just recruited". They know you will delay the (legally mandated) relieving order. They KNOW you will exercise your power.

I know all of this happens; we all know all of this happens. Yet HR and Managers have the gall to complain about lying when we leave a company. Of course, we lie. We lie so that we can leave in peace. In any culture, people do not come after you if you are bereaved about a death. So we have to say that our long-dead grandma is dead again.
If we just said, "I am leaving your company and joining the company over there", would you all shut up and bless us with the sacred relieving order?
No, you would talk to us for 15 days about staying, going onsite, giving a promotion, threatening to talk to our parents (believe me, has happened), and so on and on.
In India sane IT employees do not let you know which company they are joining next. When a bunch of people behave that way, it is fair to ask the question why? To say "It is cultural" means you are a moron. The answer is, of course, that we are worried about the nature of people with power, some power, any power.
Because people with power always choose to exercise it.

My Experience Not Lying
I resigned from a big Indian services company when I was in the USA. I had been with them for 2.5 years. I decided to stay in the USA, while they wanted me to go back offshore and work on a project.
I had completed ALL the transitions for my onsite work. The offshore team was already set up for 6 months. If I left, it was not a big loss. I was not leaving at a critical time - it was a maintenance project. I had done all I could (along with the excellent onsite lead) to operate the project smoothly.
I resigned by email and let them know I was giving two weeks notice. I told them I was joining another company.
The Account Manager onsite called me and harangued for 2 hours. He said it was unethical for me to leave at all (nice try; it was not). He insulted me to his heart's content. I said I was available for the two weeks notice period. But he said it was not necessary.
Did I deserve the call or the insults? No, but I am sure he enjoyed it.
I met one of my classmates last week and he tells me that the idea around my former company was that I had "ditched" the company. I was surprised because he had joined a few years after I left, and I am not that famous a person. But I got confirmation from a couple of other people.
So, to recap - I had resigned; given notice; and left. That is ditching. And it is so bad as to make an example out of it.
What I should REALLY have said to the Account Manager is this: "My grandma in the USA has died. In her last will she wanted me to leave your company. How can I ignore that?"
By the way, the Account Manager "ditched" a few months later.

What happened to the Fresher?

The fresher (you should read from the beginning) went and told them he was leaving them and HR freaked out. They found out that they had not got the bond signed. So they asked him to stay back for two months - although it served no purpose;he was in training, and no revenue would be gained.
He went the next day and said his father was sick and they HAD to move to Bangalore because his father's whole family was there. They shut up.
If HR will shut up only on hearing lies (that everyone know are lies), that is what HR will hear. You don't have to dig through culture to find that out.


Geek said...

Thanks for the post. I will think twice before joining the software industry after getting out of grad school.

Mani said...

It’s absolutely true... Even I faced... When I said truth I didn’t get the relieving order but when I lied I got it.