Friday, May 05, 2006

Incompetence Everywhere!

<rant>
Is it just me or have incompetence levels in agencies/retail stores/marketing teams/production houses shot through the roof? Where have all the people who understand simple directions/requests gone? Am I the only one who finds it amazing that companies in Bangalore are doing so well when 80% of their staff are inarticulate, lazy, never-on-time, constantly whining slackers who take their jobs for granted?
</rant>

The angst comes from recent examples in my professional career that involve dealing with different vendors for marketing activities. Take for example a certain agency that needs to be spoon fed production and finalization details on their creatives. They never show up on time for meetings, they actually have the gall to ask their client how to make flash presentations go full screen, and better still, they need to be told that they’re using the wrong client logo in multiple places. All this after working with this client for over 2 years!

Or, take for another example a branded, well-known car dealer dealing in used cars. Because of a combination of mismanagement, lazy people at the lower rung of the food chain and incompetent staff in the finance department, it takes 1 month for me to get my new car – as opposed to the usual 5 days. And the icing on the cake here: I need an accessory for my car (a cigarette lighter) that’s not already fitted on the car. So I ask for one. And I get this response: “Sorry sir, we can’t fit a lighter because we can’t get hold of any in Bangalore – everybody is out of stock”. I calmly wiped the incredulous look on my face, grabbed my car keys and drove over to the road 2 kilometers away and got a lighter fit.

Another example: This time with getting minor changes to a certain website ready. I write a detailed mail with easy to understand steps - step 1: Do this, step 2: do that etc for 8 steps in total. 3 days and a lot of blood pressure rises, it still wasn't done. Its not like the person who I was coordinating with was stupid or uneducated - He actually has a master's degree and has been doing web development work for quite a while. But he still has comprehension issues with essential things like indenting code, understanding easy-to-read instructions and understanding how search engines work. At first I thought it might be my fault because my instructions weren't as clear as I thought they were - so I gave him a brief on the phone, in person and clarified all doubts over email. Did that work? Nope, so in the interest of my blood pressure and senior management deadlines, I just did it myself.

Interested in this phenomenon of how people like this get jobs (some of them are VERY well paid), I asked around with a few friends in Pune and Bangalore – and it seems I’m not the only one experiencing this wave of interactions with people who just can’t do their job.

Maybe this is one of the problems:

There are many incompetent people in the world. But a Cornell University study has shown that most incompetent people do not know that they are incompetent.

People who do things badly, according to David A. Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell, are usually supremely confident of their abilities -- more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.

One reason that the ignorant also tend to be the blissfully self-assured, the researchers believe, is that the skills required for competence often are the same skills necessary to recognize competence.


Never mind their educational qualifications or their backgrounds – that doesn’t matter as long as they can do what they are paid to do. Never mind if they can’t do it well – even “average” execution would be acceptable. But it seems even asking for “average” is quite an uphill battle for the average Bangalorean.

8 comments:

Sand said...

Hi Dude,
Completely agree with you on this, and share the same feelings. Have faced this a number of times with some big names in the industry.

I remember doing some simple asp work for a client of mine when i was freelancing. Now, i had a domain named sanderzone registered so that the code can be tested. I completed about 20 forms, very simple 'fill and send to an e-mail' type forms.
I was asked to cordinate with their sys guys who apparantly maintain their intranet and part of their global website, to get these codes working on their intranet. Being the big freakin corporate they are, they never gave me any kinda access nor give any sort of server configs saying it was "classified"!
Anyway, had stopped communicating with them after while and assumed they've fixed the issue.
I got busy with my new venture and didnt have any time to concentrate on my own website and didnt bother to renew my domain....about 10 months after i had worked on those codes, the HR guy calls me and asks "Why is your sanderzone.com not working?"

I just flipped when i heard a huge company like theirs were getting their asp codes working from my site !!!
Absolutely unbelievable dude!

Sand said...

Hi Dude,
Completely agree with you on this, and share the same feelings. Have faced this a number of times with some big names in the industry.

I remember doing some simple asp work for a client of mine when i was freelancing. Now, i had a domain named sanderzone registered so that the code can be tested. I completed about 20 forms, very simple 'fill and send to an e-mail' type forms.
I was asked to cordinate with their sys guys who apparantly maintain their intranet and part of their global website, to get these codes working on their intranet. Being the big freakin corporate they are, they never gave me any kinda access nor give any sort of server configs saying it was "classified"!
Anyway, had stopped communicating with them after while and assumed they've fixed the issue.
I got busy with my new venture and didnt have any time to concentrate on my own website and didnt bother to renew my domain....about 10 months after i had worked on those codes, the HR guy calls me and asks "Why is your sanderzone.com not working?"

I just flipped when i heard a huge company like theirs were getting their asp codes working from my site !!!
Absolutely unbelievable dude!

Caz said...

Of course, the worst part is that millions of incompetent (or humorless) people would read those research results and nod knowingly about all the OTHER people they believe to be incompetent!

Jaggi said...

Hey Dude;

Sorry you have to go through all this. I left Bangalore a long time ago because of all the things you are saying. But here in the US same things happen but to a lesser degree; people generally have better communications skills and are not superstitious.

Every time I visit Bangalore to see my folks, same things happen -- my blood pressure goes up trying to comprehend these inscrutable people. However, over time I have developed communication skills to interact with folks in Bangalore (and also here in the US). I judge the communicaions skills of the people I meet very early and change my communication style radically. Now I am happy to report my blood pressure is almost normal when visit Bangalore. By the way, this has taken a couple decades to get to this level. May be age has some thing to do here. Good luck Zog!

Trip said...

welcome to bangalore!

sans said...

I pondered over the same issue. I suppose it is do with the pride one takes in their work. Many people dont quite enjoy what they do. And that is why I prefer dealing with a self owned business/eatery. The personal touch makes all the differece.
I also think that there is more dignity of labor abroad and that helps in the output.

K Vijayan said...

excellent observations like this would definetly pave the way for real hot zone where the thought of gold melts into sourverin

G[N]Urpreet said...

dunno if you'v heard of the peter principle. That might explain. Ifact there is a book that he's written with the same name.