Cover Your Ass Work Culture

Perhaps the word “ass” captured your attention. I dont know. Maybe the word “culture” did. But then again, I wont know either.

Have you ever step into someone’s office and feel welcome and great? People’s faces are cheerful, doors are opened, you see people around the office and the aura are just so good. Makes you think that you want to sashay into the pantry and make yourself a cup of coffee from that snazzy-looking coffee machine. Then, your mind starts to wonder whether are all these are farce and it is only a facade? What lays behind the great wall,  you start to think?

A couple of years ago, my team and I had the opportunity to work with a construction/developer company for a project. A mid sized public listed company that generates around RM500 million turnover every year. Total population of about 700 odd. The job came about after a simple brief that came from the General Manager who wanted to revamp the performance appraisal form to make it look “sexier” than it was.

The brief came in a form of a piece of paper – literally a very brief piece of paper -the performance appraisal form – that they have used for the last donkey years. A supposedly simple brief turned to be a 5 months engagement. We literally camped in their office. Ate their food, breath the same air they did. Loved every minutes of it.

Staff turn-over we were told, was less than 5%. No one wants to leave. Pay scale was not even up to market standard. I thought who in the world wants to stay? But they did. They stayed, and stayed. And the rotated jobs all over the departments, they changed bosses; bosses transferred them to another department to find the right fit for their staff (or better boss?). Some have worked for the company from Day 1 and that was 25 years ago.

Amazing.

I started talking to the drivers, receptionists, cleaners (they are all local makciks I tell you…), then moved up and right across – executives, secretaries, managers, engineers, site surveyors, Quality Controllers, Workshop guys. You name it. I spoke to them.

And they spoke of the same language.

It is the culture of the company that they like best. When asked exactly what they meant. No one could really tell me exactly what they are but from what I could gather – just some stuff where everyone is happy about which exists in the company and accepted by everyone. It could be from the free daily lunch the company provides, to the very active sports club they have, or the dance class every Wednesday, Monday breakfast with the CEO and top Managements, or could it be the minimum 6 months bonus they enjoy every year. To top it off, some have gone on umrah or haj, thanks to the company for rewarding them for being loyal.

And yet, some companies are just odd….I have observed where there is this culture…where I shall call it “the cover your ass work culture”. Everything is confrontational and the end game is to win. Of something. Of what? I dont know. Recognition? Or facade? Putting face?

Odd.

Like I said.

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Trees Are Like Good People

trees-are-like-good-people-who-care-for-vikramaditya

 

 

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Sometimes….

I just want to run away from the maddening crowd

I wish that people knew I grieve in my own way

I can just whip out the magic wand and make all the pain and sadness go away

I can snap my fingers and the toxic people in my life disappear

I wish that I had all the staminas and energy I had when I was 17…

I wish that the dresses are not shrinking in size

I hope that people can have more empathy towards animals who cannot speak for themselves

I hope that people realize that as much as you love them, that there is no way in the way you will accept bad behaviour

I wish people know that in order to get people to like you, you have to be nice

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5th Anniversary Dinner

This is a post dated blog. We had our simple 5th Anniversary Dinner, just the two of us at one of our favourite restaurants in the  city – The Hard Rock Cafe.

It had a funny start actually. The guy who took our order did not expect this White Guy and a local looking lady were fasting or even remotely looking like a pair of Muslim couple. He took down our order and then promptly placed a Happy Hour standee on the table, telling George that they have a wonderful happy hour specials.

George did not want to embarrass the guy and told him thanks, and that could he please bring our order for breaking fast because we are going to break fast. He paused for a moment and left. He came the next round to put our cutleries and promptly removed the Happy Hour standee…

chicken and lamb

pulled lamb sandwich Hard Rock Cafe

Caesar salad Hard Rock Cafe

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Happy 5th Anniversary, my Love. And may we continue to enjoy food as much as we do in 50 years to come.

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Salam Aidil Fitri

Salam Aidil Fitri 2014

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It Has Been A Wonderful 5 Years! Happy Anniversary, My Darling.

wedding day

 

5 years ago today, I married this wonderful man who left home and make Malaysia his adoptive country. 5 years just passed by so quickly and every day is just an amazing day.

This awesome man is witty, caring, charming, good looking, such a gentleman. His greatest assets to my eyes are his intelligence and empathy.

On this day, I want him to know this – “thank you for being mine and I hope to grow old and grey with you.”

 

 

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Iftar With Good Friends

Photo0487 Photo0488

 

Simple Iftar dishes enjoyed with some great company.

George and I decided to fetch The Girl to have Iftar together. We had an impromptu plan with Jaja and Emi to eat together for the evening too.

So, rushing back from a meeting that Saturday afternoon, we battled the traffic to get to The Curve area, picked the girl up and drove home.

Simple dishes. There were gulai sardin with potato, scrambled eggs, fried chicken wings, ayam masak kunyit, sauteed green vegetable, salad and sambal salted fish. All these were washed down with pandan syrup and the dessert? Jaja’s awesome mixed nuts brittle with vanilla ice cream.

Alhamdulillah.

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Now Is A Good Time To Show Your Support For MAS

In the days when I used to travel by plane, the home coming flight was mostly with MAS. The fare is cheaper as it was coming home compared to others. I have flown with several others and most of these flights had their own merits.

Founded some 46 years ago, Malaysian Airlines or MAS has been flying across the various continents carrying passengers and at the same time playing the Ambassador to this small nation that “nestled between Thailand and Singapore”, two of the better known countries to many. The well known sarung kebaya with its distinctive design of kelarai or bamboo weave pattern is as Malaysian as it can get.

My own personal experience with MAS has started ever since I was young. My dad used to take me to the then International Airport in Subang and we would stand at the balcony admiring the take-offs and landings. All these images are in black and white in my mind. Everything looked so big. The first opportunity to fly in a plane was only when I was 15. The flight was a  short and sweet 45 minutes from Kuala Lumpur to Penang.

When I was 17 and right after completing my SPM, I headed out to not one, but THREE flight stewardess interview with MAS. In my mind, this was one of the ways to see the world. Being a petite (then) 46kg and only stood at 5 feet tall rendered me not suitable for the position.

About 5 years ago, I was also a part of consulting team to present to MAS a career transition program for its employees as it was going through one of its hardest transformation phases in its journey as an airline.

The MH 17 incident touched the lives and hearts of many nations. 298 passengers consisting of several nationalities as well as birds and a couple of dogs (must have been someone’s pets)  in this tragedy. Numerous FB postings and Tweets went across the cyber space and all looking for answers to this atrocity. But so many were also bashing the national carrier for something that may be beyond their control. The past glory that this national carrier had surpassed many others for many years and it is just so unfortunate that it is now saddled with so many internal issues. The double whammy came in when the MH 370 incident is still unresolved and now we have MH 17 bombing tragedy. We were proud of this airlines when it brought Malaysian glories across the globe years before and when it is kneeling down, it is abandoned by its own people who not only fail to understand why the tragedy occurs but also due to their own political agendas.

Where are your spirit of nationalism? There are so many things in the country that can represent the nationalism spirit and the national airlines is one of it. The tragedy has nothing to do with the “Malay Muslim pilot who is fasting” or nothing to do with some “jihadists who wanted to down the infidels.”

I recall walking the bridge towards the MAS plane en route home. The logo emblazoned across its tail and the familiar “Selamat Datang” greetings makes me feel “almost home”.

Because, no matter where it is, the plane will always take me home.

 

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“Foot In Mouth” Disease

I have responded to the news of the Federal Minister’s plan to ban soup kitchen within the 2km radius of city centre in my Tweets, FB as well as my LinkedIn. Haven’t found the time to actually sit down and pen down my thoughts on this until today.

The main thought that came to my mind each time I hear something as ridiculous as this is – are these the real words that came out from someone’s mouth, or has it been a result of manipulation by the newspapers? Being a person who is sometimes interviewed by the press, I am very aware of the latter whereby words and interpretations of a certain story can be totally off-tangent.

Reading from then salvaging mode press releases by him and a few other supportive parties…well, looks like that was what he said.

Sigh.

Next thought is – I wonder whether all of our Yang Berhormats have been given sessions or trainings on media handling and media crisis management? Perhaps, these two program would be a fantastic part of their leadership development program?

I have never volunteered to cook for the homeless at soup kitchens before, apart from playing a tiny role of sourcing for the rice from Bernas. This came about when the team wanted to do something charitable one December a few years ago.

However, coming from the HR fraternity, I did plenty of recruitment programs for clients back then. Some clients have special requirements that in my mind, not so many conventional recruitment companies want to do due to the low GP and the condition that you need to operate in. No air cond, no flashy office, no formal attire whatsoever, just a pair of keen eye for details and observation skills.

And, a very willing client.

We will sit in these soup kitchens during their meal time, with client sitting behind observing everyone who might have the potential to be recruited. I can tell you one thing – I broke down in each of the session.

You will get one candidate asking for a pair of slippers, or asking whether will there be enough pillows for him to sleep with. Someone else will come along and asked how many meals in a day can he get if he starts working this client? There was one candidate who came all the way from Sabah through a work agency, supposedly to be placed with a client only to be cheated out of his money, Mykad taken away and abandoned in the city.

Not all homeless are uneducated. Some whom we met were just down on their luck. Old men who could not find a job anymore, single mothers who keep two (sometimes three) jobs, taxi drivers, or those who actually work but earn so little that they could not find a decent place to live are mostly whom we met.

Being down in luck for the whole entire year last year gave me a different kind of perspective about what life is. Being homeless is not a choice that everyone wants. I do not believe that when a person wakes in the morning, the first thing that came to his mind is, “Ok, let’s see how I can be a homeless today.”

I wish that some people who sits on their high horses realize that if you strip away most of the things that you have right now , never mind the house and the car – how do you feel? Simple things such as your cable channels, the air conditioner, smart phones – it will be painful indeed.

Now imagine that you do not have a job to sustain life’s needs. Take away the house, let alone owning a car. It gives a domino effect. One of the noblest things to do is to feed hungry people, and I think giving people jobs when they need one also means giving them back self worthiness and dignity. A lot of the Government’s efforts have been concentrated to provide jobs to people. But jobs without the 360 degrees of support is not going to be helpful. Where would the single mothers/fathers leave their children when they go out for work? With an average of RM600/child/month for a day care centre, this is not possible at all when all you earn is a measly between RM20/day to RM40/day.

Poverty in Malaysia is measured by the Poverty Line Index (PLI). A household is considered poor if its income falls below that line. The Poverty Line Index (PLI) for Malaysia was introduced in June 1977 using the 1973 Household Expenditure Survey (HES). It was based on the minimum requirements of a household for food, clothing and footwear, and other non-food items such as rent, fuel and power. For the food component, the minimum expenditure was based on a daily requirement of 9,910 calories for a family of five comprising an adult male, an adult female and three children of either sex within 1-3, 4-6, 7-9 years of age. The minimum requirements for clothing and footwear were based on standards set by the Department of Social Welfare for the requirements of inmates in welfare homes. The other non-food items were based on the level of expenditure of the lower income households as reported in the HES. (cited here)

The urban poor is a reality. Malaysia’s urban poverty line is now RM3,000 compared to RM700 several years ago. In 2012, the Mean Monthly Gross Household Income was RM5,742, an increase of 190%. This may sound fantastic when you look at the numbers. However, again reality strikes. Cost of living rise by the year and even for George and I who had a comfortable combined income found it difficult to make ends meet.

So, coming back to my rant on this topic, think before you speak otherwise you might end up with Foot In Mouth disease.

 

 

 

 

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5th Day of Ramadhan

5th day of Ramadhan. Still no heavy rain.

Yesterday we were supposed to have a mini pot luck with the BFFs/neighbours and The Girl. This was because we just simply wanted to have a day breaking fast together as family and friends. It was also The Girl’s last day at her work place before jumping into the “corporate lifestyle” work soon in the middle of the month. And, hey! I even took a one-day leave from the hectic work.

The plan was perfect. We were supposed to go out to meet a friend at 2pm, then quick stop at Publika for some quick groceries, then pick up The Daughter before driving home. It is not easy to get a day like this during the fasting month.

However, it started to rain cats and dogs around 4.30pm. The drive to The Curve from Solaris Dutamas was long and painful. The short drive took us more than an hour before we reached to what looked like another set of jam just right before the MRT construction in Pelangi Damansara.

So, decided to activate the Plan B which is to break fast outside. What a real bummer.

The Curve is not exactly a cheap makan place either but looked like most of the places were full. Leko The Indonesian restaurant stopped taking in reservations since early. We finally settled for Sakai Sushi…

sigh..beggars cant be choosers….

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