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Before you all proceed with my post….please take a few minutes to read Cirnelle‘s post on  “Counting Hours“.

Done? Ok, that’s all I want to say.

LOL. Ok, just trying to be funny. 😛

Let’s get straight to the point (i’m actually rushing my work now). Do you agree that if one works late or long hours, it means that one is a good employee? I’m pretty sure most of you will not agree….but how many of you is actually doing something like that or have a boss who thinks like that? I’m sure most of you will say “Yea, I do work late, so i think i’m a good employee” or “I have a boss who only rewards those who work late” or “My colleagues always say that I never do my work because I go home earlier”. 

Oh please….we’re no longer in ‘that era’. This is the knowledge worker era. What matters most is your work performance, your knowledge and of course the overall results. If i were to start my own business, i will of course set a timeline for all the employees to complete a certain task…….and to do some proper quality check on the end result. I wouldn’t even bother whether they come to work or not. As long as they are there when there’s a scheduled meeting/appointment…..then i’m fine. Come to work late, go back early or work from home, I don’t mind at all. Why? Because working late or long hours DO NOT mean you’re a good employee.

Let’s see….if you work late…maybe it’s because you have unreasonable deadline…….or, you wasted too much time during the actual working hours? Either way, you are neglecting your private life (family life…friends..etc) when you start to work late. I actually know some people who spend most of their time in office chatting, reading newspaper/online news, surfing, checking shares (ok, i do this, but not that often since the site I used only update once every 1 – 2 hours), watching youtube (that’s why it’s famous), etc (you should know as well as i do 😛). In the end, they are forced to work late in order to finish their assignments.

There you go…work late doesn’t mean you’re a good employee. Good end result + good work attitude + work delivered on time = good performance = good employee.

So, start doing yourself a favor…….don’t treat yourself like a machine which works 9-5 (OK machine) or 9-7 (GOOD machine) or 9am – 12am (candidate for employee of the year)…..because you’re a human and not a machine. Fully utilize your working hours, and go back home earlier….regardless of what your boss/your colleagues think of you. A boss will always reward those with good performance, not those who works late but lousy performance.

Again, feel free to post any comments here 😉

Some of my friends have been working in small companies for few years. You might say that some people prefer to work in smaller companies. True. But these friends of mine always have this mentality that big companies or so-called Multi-national companies (MNC) are actually better in terms of prospects and rewards. They like to say “Alvin, your salary so high la…jealous leh” and I’ll say “Nope, my salary actually quite low” and then they’ll say “Don’t bluff la, MNC sure high pay 1”.

Then it struck me….and I’ve asked few of them “If MNC is so nice to you…why don’t you join MNC?”. And well, you should be able to guess what is the answer they gave me – “Don’t want lah…MNC a lot of politics”. 😐

SOOoooo, the question is…. does it mean working in a big company will expose you to more office politics? Answer is YES. Why? Because the possibility of being involved in office politics is higher, when there are more people in the company. Human beings are the cause of politics in office. So with more people in a company, the possibility of having some screwed up individuals will be of course, higher.

However, one should not be afraid to join a big company if one really likes the company and what it is doing. You can always try to change team (or company) if you are being dragged into something you do not want to be involved in. 😉 In big companies, you can at least try to change project team…or division or department. If you work in a small company with office politics……..well, where else can you escape?

In the end, it all boils down to one thing – luck. 🙂 Just do what you like …if you wish to try your luck in a MNC, do it. Don’t be afraid of politics because if you are unlucky…..you’ll be involved in the politics even if you don’t work in a MNC. 🙂

Here’s a good article that my senior forwarded to me. It’s about leadership…how to differentiate yourself as a leader.

http://www.cio.com/article/110350/How_to_Differentiate_Yourself_as_a_Leader

I fully agree with this line…. “Most people do not leave their companies—they leave their leaders”. 🙂  I’ll write something on this next time.

For now, hope you’ll enjoy the article as much as I do.

Ever heard of the term “tightness of fit” ? It is a term used by Jerry Poras and Jim Collins in the book Built to Last to describe how visionary companies keep only the individuals with the right mindset with them.

On the other hand, I have a friend who keeps a private mailing list with some of his close friends and named it “Just among ourselves“. No one else (except the few close friends) is allowed to join the mailing list and he will go to the extent of explicitly telling other wannabe-joiners that the mailing list is – “Just among ourselves“. So if you’re not in the list, means you should not and will not be in the list.

Sounds a bit..harsh right? But that’s what a visionary company should do. At least, that’s my opinion.

Why?

If you notice, most big and successful companies have some mission statements…or visions…or ideologies. These are the things they believe in…the things they are working towards to…the guidelines…the set of principles that they MUST follow. To them, it is as important as the law itself. That is why they always stick very close to these so-called “statements“. These “statements” could be more important than the money itself. It’s the LIFE of the company.

Now, imagine if the company hires someone new to fill into an important job position….potentially a decision maker in the company. There are only 3 possibilities…….The first one, the new guy shares the same mentality or “mission statements“as the company itself………and this is the best scenario. The next possibility is the new guy does not share the same values or mentality……but he is open to change and can adapt to the company’s culture. The last possibility is the worst…..the new guy has a completely different way of thinking and does not wish to change.

Imagine this….you are working in a big company and has been made to believe “Making a customer happy is your first priority“. You and the rest of the employees will be willing to go through anything (even outside your line of duty) to make the customers happy and hope that they will return to seek your company’s services in the future. This is your company’s “mission statement“. Suddenly, this new senior manager came in. He forced the idea of “Who squeezes the most profit out of a customer will be rewarded” onto all of you. What do you think will happen? The priority has changed. The business will not be like what it used to be anymore.

A senior manager is able to have such a huge influence on the small team of people…….can you imagine the impact of having an important decision maker to practice such mindset?

That is why if you go for interviews with certain big companies…….they will ask you about your dreams, your goals, ambitions…your plans for the future, or even do some personality test on you just to see whether you are able to fit into their culture.

Blame them not because i am sure that you will do the same thing………..if you are a good leader who cares about the company. 🙂

Hope it helps 😉

And this is EXACTLY what i intend to do when I start my own business in the future. 🙂

http://www.entrepreneur.com/humanresources/managingemployees/article179274.html

Why I want to do this? I personally believe this will boost the morale of the employees – teamwork, competition (and perhaps some extra stress…well, couldn’t help it right?), fun, etc. Most importantly, the employees get to feel at home…doing what they want…enjoying and having fun before getting back to their work.

Some people have doubts over this so-called “new method of retaining employees“. It might have few side-effects, just like every other thing in this world. In terms of productivity…i believe there’s something called “timeline” for every assignment. No? If that’s the case, a responsible employee will know when to get back to work and not becoming a game addict. 🙂

More entertainment will make the employees feel much more like home….and stay longer in the office…and work only when they feel like (but of course, the assignments should be handed in within the given timeline).

So if you are running your own business and are wondering how to retain your employees (especially the creative ones)…. do consider this option. 🙂

Recently, a friend of mine told me about his story in his company which provides technical support (IT) to the clients (mostly big companies). He was feeling quite frustrated and displeased with his fellow co-workers. In case you don’t know, the IT support industry works like this – a client which you are supporting is complaining about a bug or performance issue with one of the module in the payroll application. So, a representative from the client will launch a “ticket” to helpdesk and the helpdesk will be the one handling the “ticket“. For every ticket, there’s a deadline. The more serious/severe the issue is, the shorter the deadline will be. The deadline thingy will then lead to something called SLA or Service Level Agreement which is the agreed upon level of service (must deliver so and so within so and so time) between the client and the company during the support agreement sign off.

I might be wrong, but that’s what I could understand from my previous experience as a technical support guy.

What happens here is, for every ticket accepted by someone, there will be a chargeable time (the amount of time allocated for you to work on it). As usual, it is human being who assigns these “chargeable time” allocations. There is a possibility that a ticket which needs 10 minutes to finish can get a chargeable time of 3 days whereas a ticket which is so difficult that it needs 7 man days to finish, is allocated only 3 days. You see the problem? Nope, this is not the problem.

The problem happens when you have some selfish individuals in your team. My friend’s scenario is like this – 2 tickets come in. 1 ticket is a simple routine job which has a chargeable time of 2 man days whereas the other is a new issue which has a slightly longer chargeable time of 3 man days. Fact is, nobody has done ticket B before… So my friend was so lucky to get ticket B and ticket A has been assigned to another person. Ticket A, as expected, finished within the 2 days period (can actually finish in 1 day…but the person somehow dragged to 2 days). Ticket B, however, took more than 7 days to finish because nobody knows how to fix it. My friend became nervous due to the SLA, and informed the team leader. The team leader reassigned the ticket to another person who immediately responded by saying “This is a SHIT ticket, why give it to me?

Now, you see the problem. Who cares whether it is a SHIT ticket or not? It is a ticket no matter what and it is the team’s responsibility to fix it. It’s true that my friend failed to deliver the ticket, and he should be penalized for it but it is a completely new issue and nobody even cares to help. So-called teamwork huh?

What about the attitude when the person has been assigned the “Shit” ticket? His reaction is pure irresponsible. SLA will affect the team, and perhaps the entire company’s reputation. No matter how “shit” is the ticket, someone has to do it or the SLA will not be achieved. When that doesn’t happen, the team can bid farewell to their “bonus“.

I feel that sometimes, people just don’t see the big picture. True, we need to protect ourselves. We need to know what we want to learn and where we should be heading in our career path. However, if you are working in a team where the performance reflects the attitude and commitment of every single team member………then perhaps, you should really work as a team and not blaming people for assigning you with something you don’t like to do.

I’m just venting my frustration here. I somehow pity my friend who worked very long hours just to get the ticket fixed. He has no more chargeable time left…so why should he commit so much of his time? One word – Responsibility.

Hope it helps.

Ah well, human beings ARE greedy. Even if we are paid “this much“, we will never be satisfied. Thus, we’ll end up pursuing more and more $$$ to fulfill our greed for money. This will result us in possessing more than enough money that we need. What should we do?

If you are someone who prefer short term gain, you’ll most probably end up like the old me – buying something of no value (or the value will depreciate, and never the other way round) or buying something related to our interest(s) or hobbies. For myself, I must admit that everytime I have some extra $$ in my pocket, I’ll look at technology gadgets or gaming equipments such as the latest Nintendo WII (which really caught my eye). I can easily spend all my “extra income” on this so-called “short term gain“. The resell value of this WII? Close to zero I’m afraid. I’ll most probably have to lose more than 50% of the price that I paid if I were to resell it. That is why…until now….few months later, I’ve yet to buy this WII. 😛

To me, short term gain will always remain as short term gain. It is better to use our money elsewhere. If you haven’t get an insurance, go get it. It’s the first thing that you really should invest in for the sake of yourself and your beloved ones. We will never know what might happen tomorrow. 🙂 It’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you have any outstanding loans – car loans, housing loans or even study loans (yea, I have all of them), use part of the money to pay them off. You’ll surely be charged some extra interests from the banks or financial institutions……but you will also take off some burden off your shoulder. Trust me, having a number of “big money loans” on your shoulder is NOT an easy thing to cope with.

After you’ve settled insurance and loans, maybe you can start looking at other type of investments –  mutual funds, fixed deposits, stock market (highest amount of profit but it also has the highest risk. Make sure you know what you are doing before you get into this), etc. Remember, investments are very important because it helps you to “grow” the money that you have. It is the place where you plant your “money tree. Just make sure you seek advice from professionals before you commit to any investments….and beware of scams. 🙂

I hope that these tips (which I’ve read from a local magazine) will give some basic insights on how to manage your money and where are the right places to put your hard-earned $$$.

If you still cannot figure out where to put them, just let me know, I have a brand new (still empty) savings account looking for donations. 😛 Just kidding. Have a nice day.

Recently, I’ve been reading a book called “Blue Ocean Strategy” which I am sure some of you here have heard of it before. It’s a very good book with a lot of valid points on the businesses of today. A must read, if you’re very much into business and management stuff.

In the early part of the book, it talks about the 3 kinds of things businesses focus to create – things which enable us to go to work, things to help us at work, and things that we like to do after work.

Example of things which enable us to go to work is the car industry. Ford revolutionized this industry with its T model which enabled thousands of not-so-rich families to own their own car (though Ford is trying hard to survive in a battle against the likes of Toyota and Honda). Besides car industry, you can try to think of ways to create new values in any of the transportation section – public transports, light-weight transportations, or things that people can use while going to work such as mp3 player.

The things which help us at work should be quite obvious – anything related to the business. Computers, photocopiers, printers, projectors, telephones, etc etc etc. The list goes on and on and on….. and everyday, we’ll see at least few new items being added to that never-ending list. As long as the product can help to improve the business values – efficiency, quality, etc – then it can be considered a good product in this category.

The final category will be the things we do after work. I personally believe that this will be the place where most money is spent….and the target customers will be the majority of the world’s population. Why? Everyone needs to do something to relax or enjoy themselves after work…..the bosses, the leaders, managers, and even the normal low-income workers. As the competition in the corporate world becomes more and more competitive, workload will increase as well together with the amount of stress generated by these workloads. The higher the amount of stress, the more people will try to escape from it and “seek help” from this world of entertainment and relaxation. That is why the movie, music and gaming (including casinos) industry are earning big bucks now.

This post has briefly touched on the 3 categories which you should look into if you are planning to start something (a product, or even a company). I’ll talk about these 3 categories again (more in depth) in the near future.

Hope it helps. 🙂

In case you’re wondering why this topic, I assure you (especially my supervisors) that this backstabbing incident happened to me few years ago and not now. 🙂  And now, let’s continue with the post.

Office politics has nowadays becoming a norm in most of the companies. The bigger a company is (more employees), the more office politics you’ll have to face..unless, of course, if you’re a very lucky person.

Office politics can mean a lot of things….and sometimes, you’re being dragged into it unwillingly. Backstabbing is one form of such incidents. I’ve been backstabbed before in my career (few years ago when I was a trainee in an IT company)….and I know it wasn’t a very pleasant feeling. It was like being made a scapegoat for someone’s mistake. I doubt anyone of you will like that.

So what should you do when you’re being backstabbed…or being dragged into office politics unwillingly? Here are some suggestions from me (do feel free to debate because I might be wrong).

  1. Continue to do your own work.
    • The first option is of course to ignore the politics or whoever is backstabbing you and continue with your work. That’s your responsibility and the least you could do.
    • Just make sure that you have completely nothing to do with the incident and you’re the innocent party.
  2. Speak to other colleagues
    • If the situation doesn’t improve, and things become unbearable, talk to your other colleagues.
    • Surely, there will be someone on your side. Talk to them and see what do they think about your current situation.
    • Avoid fingerpointing. Don’t ever accuse the backstabber of anything. You do not want to trust the wrong person and start a World War 3 inside the company.
    • Just ask them for their opinions and see if they’ve heard anything which will harm you and your reputation in the company.
    • They will tell you honestly if they’re on your side.
  3. Speak to the so-called culprit
    • Talk to the person who you know is the main culprit.
    • See his/her side of the story.
    • Do not start pointing your finger at the person.
    • Try to ask a few questions such as “I’ve heard something going on behind my back about myself…do you know what is it? I’m a bit concerned“, etc.
    • If he sounds very displeased or “fake“, then most probably he has something to do with it. Tell him that you would appreciate anyone (any colleagues, him included) to talk to you before backstabbing you.
    • Remember, you can’t change something you are not aware of.
  4. Speak to your supervisor(s)
    • If the culprit is not willing to admit, and the backstabbing is still on-going, talk to your supervisor.
    • See his side of the story and ask if he knows anything.
    • Ask him for advice if he does know something.
    • Make sure you tell your supervisor of your commitment to the company and that such backstabbing incident is quite demotivating. If there’s a solution, you would like to fix this up as soon as possible.
  5. If your supervisor is the culprit, talk to his/her supervisor
    • But if your supervisor is the main culprit…then things might get a little bit more complicated than usual.
    • Talk to the supervisor of your supervisor if there’s really no choice.
    • See if the person can give you any useful advice. Again, state your desire to work hard for the company.
  6. Change department or transfer to other branches
    • If nobody can help you…..and things are still the same, I advise you to change to another department or transfer to other company branches.
    • This is to get away from this group of people.
    • We can’t control what other people talk or do, we can only control what we ourselves can do.
    • Moving away from this group of people might be a good solution. You need to get your motivation back on track in order to perform properly in your career.
  7. Change company
    • If changing to another department is not possible…I believe you have to move on and change to another company.
    • Office politics is always something which is very hard to avoid…and fix. You will have to either cope with it, try your hard to avoid it, fix it, or get away from it.

I hope that this few “methods” can help those of you (who are currently being dragged into an office politic) to do something to salvage your career….which is unwillingly being damaged by some idiots.

Hope it helps. 🙂

Recently, I’ve been reading a book called “The One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard. It’s a very thin book but its content is as good as some more long-winded leadership and management books.

In this book, there’s a part which talks about an employee’s meeting with his manager to discuss a problem. The employee was having a difficult time trying to solve a problem with one of the contractors. That’s why he approached the manager, hoping that the manager has some advice or can offer some help for him.

Well, this is normal for most of us. When we are faced with a problem….we will try for maybe few times and give up especially if there’s someone there to help us with the problem. We assume that this person will help us fix the problem easily without troubling ourselves with it.

Easy isn’t it? It sure is…that is why most of us would go for this option.

However, in this book, the manager (who is known as “The One Minute Manager) refused to help when the employee asked “Can you please help me to solve this?“. Why? The answer is simple. The employee’s role is to fix the problem, not the manager’s. By helping the employee, the manager is making him too dependent on the manager………and also wasting the manager’s time which is meant to do something else.

What the manager should actually do is to hint at the employee on what should be done. Questions like “What is the problem?“, “How do you like it to be if there’s no such problem?”, “How do you intend to get to this path you wanted?“, “Is there any plan for it? Do you think this plan of yours can work? If no, do you have any other plans?“.

I believe these questions will make the employee think for himself. If he cannot answer the 2nd question which is “How do you like it to be if this problem doesn’t exist?“…….then it is not a problem. The employee is just complaining without putting some thought into how to fix the problem.

That is why we must always remember that we need to be independent especially when it comes to solving a problem. Other people can only give us hints, tips or advice…but they should not be solving it for us. Let’s fix it ourselves.

Hope it helps.