Hello All - I have been working in Cognizant for the last 18k years and I feel I should put forward a few eye-witnessed incidents, facts, perceptions and decisions taken by the leadership which has made the company change it’s character over the years. I feel this change in character has led to all the pressure we see today on the company along with insecurity among the employees, where no one knows what will happen next.
I am writing this article under disguise as even after giving 15 years of dedicated and loyal service to the company, I am very afraid under the current circumstances. I feel the company is not going in the right direction. In an industry in which the turnover rate is very high and at times even boils down to months, I feel providing 15 continuous years of service earns me the right to share a few things about “my company”, about what I feel it is doing right and what it is doing wrong. I admit whatever I am today is because of Cognizant and I feel the same way for “my company” as I feel for my mother or my country.
I know there is an old saying that you should not bring out the issues from your home into the market, and Cognizant is my home. But there should be someone at home who should listen and address the issues otherwise people generally go to someone outside the home who can solve the issues, like the police or the court. But now within Cognizant, no one listens. Some people act like they are the decision makers within the company, they are also the police, court and judge. In simple terms “EITHER THEIR WAY OR HIGH WAY”.
The reason I say that no one listens is because, I have tried myself to reach out to the very senior management to share few of my concerns, but even after follow-up didn’t get any response. As I failed to reach the senior management in an official way, I sincerely hope someone reading this would be able to forward a link of this post to the people within Cognizant who really want to know the ground level realities and take some decisions which can bring the company out of the doomsday that it is heading towards.
Now enough of theatrics and let me get down to the issues pointwise.
Hiring based on pipeline with no backup plan: Whenever Cognizant bids for any project, the market team and at times the vertical teams would start putting pressure on the delivery team to start lining up resources. So the delivery team reaches out to the work force management team for lining up resources and more often than not hear the answer that there are no available resources on the bench. So the obvious option left is to go out into the market and hire people. Now what happens to the resources recruited from the market if Cognizant doesn’t win the deal? They move to bench, which is kind of unfair for someone who has recently joined the company. This is an area I believe where all the companies in the IT Service industry have issues with. Unless someone can come up with an innovative solution for this problem, the companies belonging to this industry will always have to fire people every few years. In a different perspective it is the greed to grow and the tendency to bid for each and every opportunity available in the market without checking the internal ability to deliver and availability of proper resources that has led to this situation.
Plan for a particular resource pyramid and deliver with a much higher pyramid: Like for example during the bidding stage for acquiring a project, a plan is made to deliver the project with let’s say 5 senior level people and 15 junior level people to attain a particular percentage of profitability. But when the project starts more than 90% of the time the pyramid is not maintained, the project gets delivered with 10 senior level people and 10 junior level people, thus eating into the profitability. But this is not the end, one year down the line after the delivery starts senior level people wake up and take notice of this and try to optimize by releasing the senior level resources and brining in freshers, leading to delivery issues. The standard dialogue of senior management is “we don’t want delivery issues, but at the same time want resource optimization to happen to increase the profitability”. It all falls on the delivery manager to maintain a fine balance between giving back big profits to the company and at the same time not create any delivery issues. The delivery manager has to have some sort of magical powers to achieve this kind of ideal situation. I have so far seen no delivery manager who is a magician.
Hiring at very senior levels from other companies: More often than not people from very senior management level are hired from other companies and made to sit at department head level. Obviously they come in with their own experience and achievements from the other companies and immediately try to implement their own process and procedures to showcase their worth to their bosses. This results in dissatisfaction among the lower levels. These people do not understand the ground level realities and also do not understand the technicalities, all they understand is implementation of the process which worked in their previous company. Who would make them understand that what worked in their previous company might not work here, as every company is fundamentally different? Anybody who has the courage to walk up to him and explain this, is sure to get a mouthful from him and is also sure to face his wrath going forward. These people are given supreme power as department head, without mentioning the big egos they come with.
The external army that comes along with the senior level people: More often than not, when a senior level person is hired from another company, they also slowly bring in their followers and yes-man’s from his previous company. The reason behind this is something which we have been reading in history for years. When a new king is made he plants spies in different places so that the king can get information of anything that is going on behind him. I feel the reason is same here. More often than not these loyal followers are also hired at some senior level as a reward for being loyal to the king over the past years. But the problem starts when these loyal followers try bossing over the loyal employees of the company. Obviously this doesn’t go well and more often than not results in dissatisfaction among the employees.
Now obviously I am not against hiring senior level people within a company, as I truly believe heterogeneous culture needs to be built with the genes of a company for achieving greatness. But the problem is no loyal employee or a loyal person would want someone hired and made to sit on his head overnight who has no idea about the DNA of the company. Hire high level executives and induct them into the system, make them understand DNA of a company, evaluate their progress and then give them responsibility and targets. Also don’t allow them to bring in their own army instead groom internal talent so that there is an ideal mix of external and internal culture in the department.
(continues as #6 in comments)