Living up to the rank

Today my encik said something which gave me many things to think about. He said that we wear the rank everyday, so we have to ask ourselves if we live up to the rank, to the salary. I think that reaches into thinking about the purpose of a job, and to see the value in it.

 

We frequently neglect to think that we are duty bound to perform a job when we collect a salary. We take the salary month in month out, expecting bonuses and salary increases on an annual basis. So much so that it had become a by default. However, looking in a business point of view, why should a company pay you more? Because of the yearly inflation? Is there any altruistic reason why salary increases should be expected?

My take is that what you have done over the year has made you more experienced. You learn and adapt, and change the way you do things. You become more effective, hence you produce more output with the same amount of time spent on work. That said, the salary increase does seem worth it. Hence we shouldn’t be expecting to do the same thing on a year to year basis. For if our job stays the same, why should anyone pay you more?

The world is changing, and the effects of globalisation has hit us hard. Other people can work for lesser while doing the same work as us, due to the differences in global currencies.

Even though I am not working in a place which I need to compete with foreigners who can work for less, the spirit of constant change and improvement is the same. We need to constantly examine our assumptions of whether something is our work, and implement changes in the spirit of what makes sense and what is good for the organisation. We have to innovate and think creative; we have to value add.

The only constant is change. Heard of it?

A new direction for the blog

I had wanted to set a new direction for my blog today. The focus was on issues like enhancing productivity, leadership, management etc. These are opinions from me which I would like to share as a means of self reflection and giving others a second opinion. I thought this would be a good way which I could type my feelings and then share the link with some colleagues whom I thought could benefit.

Hence I began trying to filter off certain posts that I have written in the past which might not have been rather objective or pleasant. I was surprised though, that from 2011 till now, I did not write any posts which I would be embarrassed of that needs to be hidden. Perhaps this is a reflection of the realities of life; once I had started working, some things become too minor to be written on the blog, and as such the things that I write are things that I hold dearly and find meaning in.

I didn’t continue filtering the older portions of my blog as they would serve as a reflection of who I was before and how much I have grown since then. I might have changed my mind on many topics that I had written, and I should be judged by who I am now, not who I was in the past. Hence for those who are reading my blog, please take that into consideration and judge me by the content I am contributing now.

I started a Facebook Page in Aug 2014 titled “Productivity at Work – PAW“.I had not been very active on it, but I had shared a few articles which I thought were meaningful. If you are interested in the topics such as productivity, leadership, management, quality management etc, please do give it a like to follow it. Currently I have a single follower but I have no idea who this person is; pathetic, I know.

So here is to a new beginning and a new direction for this blog. May I be able to build a community of people who would help to share and generate ideas for the betterment of one another.

Ask not how the prospects are, aim to have a curtain call without regrets

不问前程如何 但求落幕无悔

This quote stuck with me since I watched “The Empress of China” a few weeks ago. The title of my post is literally the translation of the quote above. I thought it was quite meaningful and it reflects the continuing theme of the drama series very well as the female lead strives to lead a life that does not defy her morals or values even when the prospects might look dim.

The quote holds real life lessons for us as well. How many of us are living our lives based on who we are? Instead most of us are worried about prospects and work to please so that our future is bright. Yet when we ask ourselves, when the curtain calls, would we have lived a life full of regrets?

That got me thinking. I am rather fortunate to be able to find a job that holds meaning for me, and I try to live my life based on what I think is right. Keeping myself to my values and trying not to lose sight of myself. Doing the things that I think matter and trying to maximise my influence so people follow.

While my job aspect has been rather pleasing, I cannot say the same for the other aspects. Indeed there were things that I wanted to do but I procrastinate, and I ended up wasting plenty of time elsewhere when I should be doing other stuff. These undone tasks would indeed be my life’s regret if I continue.

So, do what you want to do, because you only live once? But I think the chinese poetic quote sounds so much better than yolo. Just saying.

The Year Thus Far

I’m taking a little bit of time to resume writing in order to clear my mind to focus on the more important things that I should be looking at this year. Last year was a more successful year in terms of keeping to my new year’s resolutions. I realised that I failed miserably this year because I was getting distracted. Another reason was that I had neglected to write down the things that I had wanted to achieve this year. Last year, I blogged about it.

Because I wasn’t focused, the time went by quickly without me knowing and we are at the end of May already. Time and tide waits for no man, yet I chose to frivolously spent my time on things that do not matter as much. Instead, I should have focused on building my career and charting out my goals.

So here goes:

[To Resume] One book Per Month

I have read two books this year and both of them are on investments. I have started reading “The Intelligent Investor” (only a few pages), and I am also in the middle of a textbook on Reliability Modelling, which I am making slow progress. Soon it will be Jun and I need to catch up on 4 books before I become on track. However what I am doing this year is a little different. I have identified a few areas that I am weak in or need more knowledge on. This year, I am focusing on:

  1. [Book 3 and 4] Investment – Two books so far and to complete “The Intelligent Investor” and my “Technical Analysis Explained” book this year.
  2. [Book 5] Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats – I saw the book being sold in MPH/Times.
  3. [Book 6] Six Sigma – To identify a book
  4. [Book 7] Networking – To identify a book
  5. [Book 8] The Power of Forgetting – I saw this book by “Mike Bryster with Kristin Loberg” at the book stores and I thought it was interesting.
  6. [Book 9 and 10] Books for fun: (1) Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh and (2) What Should I Do with My Life by Po Bronson – Saw these books and thought they were interesting and that I should read this for the sake of reading something different.

I still have 2 spaces for other books though. I realised I have dropped “Productivity” themed books from my reading list as there are not much extra tips and tricks that I can learn. Along the way I have come up with a method I am comfortable with although it is not perfect. I have also dropped leadership books as I have yet to even master the books I learnt last year.

[To Kickstart] Small Coaching Sessions: One Way to Improve / month

I realised I wanted to spend some targeted time coaching my subordinates. Yet I have not been effective because I rarely plan what I want to say to them. As a result I have wasted precious time making small talk when I could have delivered a small coaching session which would have been beneficial.

[To Start Doing] Investment Analysis: One case study a month

I have wanted to start doing this since last year but have never moved. I need to find a way to make this a habit. This is for the future and to achieve financial freedom.

[To Write] My Own Book

I wanted to do this since the start of the year and complete this by the end of the calendar year. Yet I have not written a single word although I have started planning the content. To make this work, I need to make it a habit. To do this, I need to write something on a daily basis before writing becomes an automatic thing to me. I have about half a year left, and I need to make this work.

I kept to only four goals this year to make it manageable. These four individual goals are important to me. I have not mentioned my other goals involving my spouse to be, for that is something we will have to plan together.

I think I got more clarity after penning down my thoughts. :)

Respect and Successful Delegation

Today, I am going to share something which struck me today in my own personal experience. I shall eliminate unimportant details to keep this simple.

I was approached by A who had asked me to help to do something. Person A is someone who doesn’t command any respect from the people around him. He constantly delegates all his work, does not contribute to much input but requests people to do his work for him. He conducts long meetings of which time is wasted doing nothing because he couldn’t conduct a good meeting. He has no idea what is going on.

Knowing that I am overwhelmed with things on my to do list, I politely requested for the job to be reassigned. However the reply was that everyone else was also assigned jobs. 

That does not sit well with me because it felt unfair. Surely there are so many other people? But on hindsight, the situation was made worse because of a total lack of respect for this person who do not know how to lead. Neither does he know how to motivate. In the end I concluded that nobody wanted to work for him anyway, so he keeps appointing people who respond to him.

That might be a wrong impression because he might have other thoughts that I am unaware of. But because of the impression he portrays, it is easy for the human mind to stereotype and come to a conclusion. And it feels good too.

Contrast this with Person B who works hard. You stay till 8pm and you see him around too. One day you need some help and he goes out of his way to help you. He politely requests for your assistance on some work, and does not phrase it in a manner that you are expected to help; rather, he is asking.

The result is very different. I said yes to helping. The feeling you get out of saying yes feels good. It definitely feels better than if I had said yes to Person A. But because Person B exhibits helpfulness and a sense of bonding, it is easier to accept an additional task even when you are already overwhelmed. 

It is the same theory as the emotional bank account. When you help someone, you put in money in his emotional bank account. He will feel more obliged to return the favour, and it will be easier for both parties to continue the kind act of helping. 

Fill the emotional bank account of your colleagues or friends today. Show that you value his or her time and effort. Smile. Take the opportunity to communicate and build the friendship. Be hardworking and be empathetic.

You can be sure that nobody liked Person A. It will result in a negative downward spiral where people start to ignore him and cease communications. You will spread bad comments about him, not because you are a gossipy bitch but because he doesn’t command that sense of respect.

In a nutshell, when you command respect among your friends and subordinates, it is easier to delegate certain work downwards. Plus, they will feel happy doing it. The contrast where there is no respect, delegation is hard and people don’t like doing it. They spread the work and you will find it difficult to command respect from other people as well. Command respect and you can achieve more with less.

The Senior who wrote a book

Recently, I got to know that a senior of mine, who was in the fourth year of university when I was a freshie, actually wrote a book. At first I did not think much of it and was just impressed that he took time off to write a book. Today, he provided a link to his website, Finding Home Inside. I realised it was a blog which contained many articles which he had written. In it, he introduced his book and mentioned why he took the time to write it. Looking at the way the book was introduced, with a photo of the book itself, reminded me of internet marketing and that I wanted to write one this year. However I did not do anything to begin this effort. As I looked through his website, I realised he used crowdfunding to fund his publishing costs. I started to look forward to see his book in the book stores. What got me thinking – and writing – was that I wanted to do something similar, although not for the same reasons. I wanted to write something based on my experiences and what I learnt, to benefit people, and at the same time, try out some internet marketing as a hobby. But the thing is, he wrote a book and sold it, while I haven’t written a single word. He wrote about how he was at the lowest point in life, with only twelve dollars in his pockets, and I guess he just went ahead to do it. Compared to him, I feel small inside. Another approach he took that was similar to my style was including some books he had read. While I see that there are only two, it reminded me that I read one book per month last year, and I wanted to share what I had learnt. There were so many things I wanted to do, but I didn’t, because I procrastinated. Hopefully I would pick up the habit of writing again, with this small step of updating my blog. To dreams and beyond. Thanks to my senior who got me thinking again.

A Sudden Lunch Appointment

So today my Grand boss (my immediate boss’s boss) called me up today and asked if I wanted to go lunch with him. I was caught off guard but agreed nonetheless because its not everyday that your boss’s boss call you for lunch. I got onto his car and just went to the hawker centre.

We chatted a lot during the ride there, while having lunch and the ride back. That was the first time I spoke so much to him. I could see that he was trying to know my workload and my surroundings. We spoke about my future possible posting plans and about possible transfers between my staff. He even spoke to me about my performance and told me the areas I could improve. All of a sudden I felt slightly guilty that I raised a point as part of a group presentation during a Command Effectiveness Programme on Monday that I think the people at my level and the enciks should be mentored more. I spoke about how it is important to know how we are doing and how we can improve.

I felt an understand between my Grand boss and I when he said that he used to be like me. He asked me to be more vocal and I asked him how did he decide that he needed to change. He told me that his perspective of life changed. Although it wasn’t a concrete suggestion on the steps to take, but I understood. I had changed over the past few years as well. Experience shaped me and slowly changed me. We make small incremental changes and slowly they become a big change. He spoke about being an introvert and how we tend to think more than speak up. It felt great, like he knows how I feel.

I appreciate that he invested a lunch time session with me. No boss had done that with me on a one to one basis for lunch before. It was an enriching session and extremely beneficial for me. But beyond that, I felt that my Grand boss was one of us, and less intimidating as someone who is your boss’s boss should be.

So today I learnt how it would make people feel to have some form of conversation and frank talk. How it would make someone’s day to just invest some time in telling him how you appreciate his work and how he could improve. I had always wanted to coach and to mentor, but I did not find the time to. It cannot be an excuse that I do not have the time; I should find time. I should spend time doing the things I think are good investments. And when I leave, I would leave behind a legacy, not just another random boss who came and left.

Hence, though the lunch wasn’t good because the food was so-so and it was hard to really concentrate on the taste, I had a great lunchtime which impacted me till now and beyond. I am thankful for the session and I will provide such sessions downwards on a more regular interval and beyond just a small chat by the water cooler.