Stereotypes and beyond

DH accuses me of stereotyping and always insists on  keeping my train of thought above reducing an individual into a  compartment of  similar qualities. I feel like a lesser person when I receive those sermons  and maybe he is right to a certain degree. But here is where I come from..yes, stereotypes do work, and they help in  understanding team dynamics and is one of my key tools of  survival. Simply put, stereotyping keeps me away from trouble and aids  in co-existing  peacefully in a cut throat professional  environment.( A public blog will not do me any favors hence the anonymity henceforth)

I  am at work  again and struggling to be a middle manager of an elite financial services firm . Middle management is what I call  the cursed part of the food chain. I go through the identity crisis each time of having severe hangups from my  individual contributor role to managing expectations of  people who report to me and  also my bosses. So yes, it generally is the same saga of people with new names going bonkers in the rat race for their daily bread and butter and  in chase of the elusive jam. ( The big fat bonus or sometimes just surviving the quartiling race, of having no choice but to be  better than their peers more-or less like the relative grading system ). The dynamic economic times do not do any favours to the grind. So I am stereotyping away and Ala Calvin I try and use my humor to keep things light in my mental space.

The Boss – Generally he/she is a person surviving their mid life crisis, of having spent atleast a good part of their lives in the firm and trying to make the last mile, eyeing the corner office with starry eyes ,and also trying to alienate/protect themselves from the remotest chance of an involuntary exit.  So the poor them, go through an identity crisis themselves and get torn between being micromanagers and your wannabe mentors( that is if they like your guts and have traces of humanity left in them).Otherwise their role expects them to be robots,married to their jobs ,have a political point of view which in simpler words means, it neither originates from conviction or integrity. It is derived from flaky numbers and opinions which could only help them progress northward.

Get prepared for a long haul if they are not well placed with the firm, because their only sense of accomplishment will be derived from making your life miserable by  flogging you so much that you either make or break ,the result of that project is only to ascertain if they can bask in your success or leverage your failure  for their goals. So its generally a welcome to middle management where you can never please your subordinates who are not mature enough to understand the dynamics and you are old enough to be intuitive ,guage the elusive carrot thrown at you and yet pretend to care for it because you are on your survival mode yourself.

If you are in a topnotch financial services  firm and pretty much dont  have anywhere else to go , your boss can only belong to above category or if you are very lucky, you will be assigned to an individual who is working towards retirement and wants to earn some good karma before they hang in their boots, and thats when you get true direction or support . You just have to be mindful of the fact that such characters will not survive in the long run so its good not to burn bridges with everyone around.

The Peers

Now this is the most interesting cocktail of stereotypes and 95% of the time their opinions matter and managing them is as vital as managing your boss because they are individuals whose peril or mental imbalance you pray for so that you get the edge on the proverbial cliff.( yes, it is as cynical as it gets)

The Mother Teresa type  – This typically will be a woman, who is in the race for survival, having done the grind for donkeys years and is where she is only on the basis of seniority. She is smart enough to know that she can never beat you intellectually so tries to be your emotional crutch and snoops around you like a vulture to get insights into you at vulnerable moments. So if logic prevails , she manages her boss in a similiar fashion giving him the much needed love by taking his /her crap, providing nourishment to his stomach and ego literally. She is always high strung and walks a tight rope balancing her kids, PTA meetings and sixteen hours at work where she contributes only through politicking for survival.Oh yeah, she manages to give you a preview into her life, so  Its no hard feelings there , just plain empathy and lots of support when needed. But be prepared that if you dont handle this well, you will end up as a punching bag for her lack of skill or attitude.

The Frat Boy – The typical IIM boy with little or absent emotional maturity. Prides in displaying his cockiness and demonstrates his language skills by being overly eloquent. It almost feels like he has swallowed a dictionary for breakfast and his face indicates that he is still finding ways for the much needed  relief from constipation .But this one matters ,so you just suck up to him and massage his ego because the boss will always consider his opinion of you . The insecure bosses  always look upto him as though IIM gives him the super human power of being right everytime. He compensates for the teams lack of intelligence and might help you in your projects if he wants to.

The Hot Bimbette –  Her sucess is inversely proportional to the size of her skirt. The shorter it gets , the more sucessful she gets cause she gives the much needed distraction for everyone across the board who is crunching numbers. Her typical agenda is how many rounds can I make across the floor?,How can I scream for more attention? And I am sure she must be squirming inside trying to contribute the one relevant line to the brainstorming sessions only to prove she has an isolated brain cell which is never in sync  with the rest of the world. Managing her is not so easy as she is only interested in people northward. So let it be, and amuse yourself and wait for the halo moment where she bedazzles you with her brilliance someday.

The nerdy first ranker –  Derives a sense of accomplishment by putting his hands up for every job, does all the right things, stays on top of thousands of emails, clocks in every possible hour and is perpetually tired. Wears the right clothes, right attitude and is so perfect you could clobber him to death out of sheer frustration trying to make him aware that setting the bar high for peers only is appreciated in school . He may not be your friend but could be a trusted resource in managing your world in your absence.

The Mr/Ms. Right –  Yes ,he/she is your best friend at work. Shares the same feather and attitude and the one who will not screw you over and is your contender for the last position. As always does not participate in the dramatics and prefers to share the popcorn with you over amusing anecdotes. He /she is the only one where you share a similiar wavelength across the board. Does not demonstrate the  sense of urgency and has the common sense to bring you back to Mother Earth when you are trying to be the next Indira Nooyi .

The type called me – One who has done the race long enough to be able to identify the stereotypes, struggle any way to keep sanity and work life balance. The ones who cheer the most when its a Friday or a holiday. Pray for Morcha’s and bandhs so that a holiday is declared.We  believe  that the proof of the pudding is in the eating and usually the performance of a  middle manager only matters  before an assesment or a review. The ones who make peace with the fact that it is not an ideal world and the only way one can survive is to decide which box to fit in and try  to do things which suit their conscience and better sense. Every day I wonder and pray that DH gets a job that is economy proof and I get time to grow veggies on a farm and vegetate myself.

Ok the post is gone too long and before DH gives me more stares, I am going to slip into my job which has no retirement, of being a dutiful wife on the weekend. Stay tuned for the next post where I will introduce you to stereotypes among those who report to you.


About Thumbelina81
A dreamer lost in this world. Part time Writer, Part time Gardener, A full time wife.

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