Posts Tagged ‘employee’

I really don’t know why people are STILL complaining about their jobs being outsourced.  Yes, the obvious drawbacks are possibilities of wage deflation, losses of luxurious corporate benefits, absence of job security, and absolute increase in work pressure and workplace efficiencies.  Plus, most of us complain about the degradation of service levels as well as increased costs in inter-partner bureaucracies and training.

I wrote last year about the irreversible trends of corporate outsourcing, and they are only getting more popular.  My arguments are that even if you are fortunate enough to still be employed by the big corporates, none of the so-called solid benefits are going to last forever.  You don’t have job security, your bonuses are increasingly tied to the ever-rising or unattainable goals.  The company is talking about a “review” of your pension plan, and human resources just broke the news that rising health care premiums are driving their need to reduce medical coverage gradually over the next few years.

Unless you are at the so-called top of the food chain, and making huge revenue for the company directly, chances are, no one is immune.  The world is a flat economy, and cheaper labor around us are certainly going to “steal” our jobs, whether we like it or not.  Instead of complaining, we really need to step up our game by finding out what makes us either irreplaceable, or what’s unique in our problem solving approaches.

If you are real worried about your life at an outsourced company, hear it from me, your days are already numbered at your current one.

Life is hard, and people pay you because you have the ability to handle head-scratching problems, and very often ahead of its time.  Money is not going to fall from the skies and working models are evolving every second.  So get over it, stop reminiscing, and grow a pair.


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Contractors, contract staff, temps, permanent staff, consultants.  They all have similar jobs.  They work in the same team, under the same boss, who is almost always on permanent headcount.  These are all inventive ways to commoditize human capital, and they are designed to wiggle through the tightening policies in the workplace.  Regardless of what the rationale is, leaders should know that there are distinctively different ways to incentivize human capital according to how they are hired or engaged.

From the way I set this up, you would sense that I am not really seeing this being mastered.  Some leaders know these terms by heart, but they are simply dumbfounded by the workforce who are knowledgeable about all the risks and rights of these engagements.  When a work friend of mine complained about disloyalty of a contract staff some time ago, my reaction was simply: “What do you expect?”

I know it may sound totally unrealistic from the job market we are in today, but as I have said over and over again in the past, we all got to “de-commoditize” ourselves.  Only when we do it can we set ourselves apart and regain some power back, as an employee.  In my friend’s case, his contract staff has one of the highest sought after attribute in the workplace – the ability to close projects.  There are many who are fantastic in the whole song and dance but lack the ability to pull people together to make things happen.  This person exhibits strong cohesion that allows him to lead projects successfully toward completion.  With that track record, he will be grabbed by other aspiring employers in no time, while my friend is still trying to bad-mouth his contractor’s seemingly disloyalty, in sheer disbelief.

A leader who fails to see through an employee’s strengths and weaknesses will always find himself or herself stuck with the worst people.  On the other hand, workers who fail to develop themselves out of a commodity will continue be taken advantage of in the corporate world.

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Do nice guys finish last?

Yes according to the University of Notre Dame, reported by NBC News.  Apparently, being one of those people who gets along with your coworkers gets you a smaller paycheck at the end than those people who are not as agreeable in the workplace.  “Being bad is good for your bottomline.”  The study reveals that disagreeable men earn US$10,000 a year more than nice guys.


Well I’m not a fan of stepping on others in order to get ahead, but I have seen countless number of times where others attempt to do so behind my back.  No matter how self-righteous I try hard to be,  I can’t help to make sure I am constantly watching out for my back.  However, it’s about what “bad” means here.  If it’s about being insistent and fierce in the workplace, it can be a pretty neutral or even influential behavior.  If we are talking about “jerks” in general, why they get a bigger paycheck certainly strikes up a lot of controversies.

One thing I can experience for sure is that being nice can easily end up being taken for granted, or even taken advantage of.  Not everyone appreciate goodness and competencies in the spirit it’s intended.  Just because you are conscientious, well-mannered, understanding and a people person, you can sometimes be perceived as a push-over.  In circumstances like this, and if you truly have talent and value to showcase for, my advice is to take a harder stand.  No, not on your coworkers, but on those who are trying to rip you off.

I can’t stress more about the prerequisite here.  It’s whether you have distinctive value in the first place.  Otherwise, bragging about something non-existent is not only unrealistic but borderline annoying.  If you have what it takes and you know how much it is valued in the market place, fight for your worth.  Use reasoning, facts and logic.  I may not get what I wanted, but I wish that I have tried my very best to make my case, and most importantly, feeling respected at the end.

My experience tells me that there are always those who are trying to test my boundaries purely as a negotiation habit of themselves.  There is no way around it.  I can only step up to the game.  The process can be ugly, petty, frustrating or sometimes even disgusting, but it has to be played out.  If I can learn to put emotions aside, I believe I have the power to somehow turn this undesirable process into a much more professional exchange.

Nice guys finish last?  It depends on where the finishing line is, baby.

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Unless you are an habitual job-hobber, if you have had changed jobs more than 2 or 3 times within a decade, you might have been at the receiving end of some repetitive, or sometimes bother-line annoying,  questionings from either prospective employers or headhunters.  ” Are you not a loyal employee? ”  “Does it reflect concerns on stamina?”  Sometimes the question is sugar-coated as “I am seeing that you have a promising career path in your previous (or present) company, what makes you want to move so soon?

As implied in my first sentence, the key to tackling these questions is to really ask yourselves whether you have indeed put in the necessary amount of time in a post to deserve the accomplishments and experience you brag about on your resume.  You are not likely to be able to make a convincing argument for a 6-month posting, but if you can provide evidence that you have indeed added value during the limited time period, be prepared to articulate it with concrete examples.  Yes, when I mean concrete, I mean specific projects and accomplishments rather than “providing support to the team“.

What I really want to bring up here is that if you are indeed not a job-hobber and if there are legitimate reasons of every one of your job moves, don’t get carried away by the questioner’s argument or logic.  Yes you understand where the interviewer is coming from, and you appreciate that they are being frank and honest with you by expressing their concerns out loud.  Though is it that easy to find the right opportunity, pass all the stringent interview process, background and reference checks and get hired in the first place?  How incredibly difficult is it to constantly adapt to new working environments with new bosses, colleagues, internal stakeholders and working culture?  It is surely not cut out for the faint of heart.

You can even go further to imagine that it takes a lot more adaptiveness, stamina, and energy to keep diving in new and unfamiliar waters every few years.  If you can pull that off plus churning out a few recognizable accomplishments during your tenure, it should be no way underestimated.

So when you find yourself demotivated being a new kid on the block, give yourself a break when you are trying to compare with colleagues who have been in their posts for 4 or 5 years.

You may not be able to change other people’s perceptions or opinions, but at least don’t give up without trying to fight for your case.

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What is outsourcing?  Many are familiar with the term, but few can cite specific examples in their space.  In fact, it is much closer at home than you think.  There is outsourcing in your office, your own business, and more often than not, your home.

Technically speaking, whenever you are paying for an external party to help you with a task, service or process that you would normally do by yourself, you are outsourcing.  Hiring someone on your payroll is not, since you are still owning the responsibility.  So when corporations are trying to concentrate more on their core business of making money, every one of them are outsourcing their support functions, or, non-core businesses, to external parties.

Some may claim that it’s the capitalist way of cutting jobs and pay.  Though I don’t support allowances of inefficiencies.  If we really have no clue how to design, build, manage and maintain the car park in our office building, what’s the point of painstakingly identifying and hiring experienced personnel, only to fire them after the facility is completed?  Instead of spending unnecessary amount of time researching for the right technology and systems, applying for the right permits, and running into hick-ups and delays of unknown waters, outsourcing the car park design, construction and management services to a professional firm in the industry proves to deliver much more precise results.  We are now outsourcing our non-core requirements or services, to a partner whose services are of their core business proposition.

The only so-called alarming trend nowadays is that more and more of our supposedly core corporate functions are being identified as non-core.  Corporations want to save costs, and they also want to protect their brand image.  Though it doesn’t really work these days as public opinion still goes after the cost bearing parties, corporations still find it better hiding behind the outsourced partner.  Certain obligations can be passed along, financially or legally.  For the last two decades or so, we are seeing payroll, real estate management, mailroom services, logistics, finance & accounting, IT, HR, legal, and of course, procurement, being outsourced.

The way I see this makes sense is that with external parties, we are harsh toward them.  We want accountability, crystal-clear processes and deliverables, and lower costs every year.  If they would have done it in-house, it may take considerably more time and efforts to pitch, convince, and motivate internal staff to “up their game”.  Plus, there is on average 30% additional HR benefits being invested on each employee on top of their salaries.  As long as a reliable partner can be identified, most senior corporate management think it’s just a no-brainer.

For employees, this is definitely a worrying trend.  None of our jobs are truly secure these days.  Thousands of professional firms are popping up every month around the world looking for services to take up for our employers.  Just knowing what our employers do as a business actually limits our career.  We now need to make sure we are truly functional specialists that are non-industry specific.  What about opportunities?  Yes, consider the option of moving into specialist firms or BPO (business processing outsourcing) firms.  Just google the area you are in and you will find tons of HR services firms, finance & accounting solutions, procurement services BPO centers, and so on.  The field really has changed, and so are the game rules.  Though the experience can be a lot more satisfying depending on the type of person you are.

Still wanting a comfy life with the security of a large corporation?  Make sure you are one of the best within your team, and target for the remaining few positions that are still needed to lead and manage your corresponding outsourced firms.  These positions are still critically needed within the headcount of corporations, because all of them will acknowledge that failing to sufficiently manage an external outsourced partner is always a ticket to disaster.

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If yesterday’s list of top companies for work-life balance seems to be a bit too narrowly focused for you, glassdoor.com has published their annual poll on best places to work for the year 2011, based solely upon the opinions and ratings of actual employees, instead of company financials or human resource indexes. 

So let the drum roll begin…

  1. Facebook
  2. Southwest Airlines
  3. Bain & Company
  4. General Mills
  5. Edelman
  6. Boston Consulting
  7. SAS Institute
  8. Slalom Consulting
  9. Overstock.com
  10. Susquehanna International Group
  11. CareerBuilder
  12. MITRE
  13. QuikTrip
  14. Shutterfly
  15. NetApp
  16. Trader Joe’s
  17. Goldman Sachs
  18. McKinsey & Company
  19. National Instruments
  20. Apple
  21. Analog Devices
  22. Northwestern Mutual
  23. Procter & Gamble
  24. BB&T
  25. Synopsys
  26. Chevron
  27. Scottrade
  28. Bristol-Myers Squibb
  29. MassMutual
  30. Google
  31. Travelers Companies
  32. Fluor
  33. Monsanto Company
  34. Publix
  35. John Deere
  37. Morgan Stanley
  38. State Farm
  39. Adobe
  40. REI
  41. Salesforce.com
  42. Ford Motor
  43. Turner Broadcasting
  44. Genentech
  45. Intel Corporation
  46. American Express
  47. Nike
  48. Deutsche Bank
  49. Cummins
  50. Capital One

According to glassdoor.com, “the ranking is determined based on the results of a 20-question survey that captures employees’ attitudes about: Career Opportunities, Communication, Compensation & Benefits, Employee Morale, Recognition & Feedback, Senior Leadership, Work/Life Balance, and Fairness & Respect.”

Here’s what some employees said about the top companies:

“The energy and direction of the company! There’s plenty of opportunity to take on new responsibilities and build the future of Facebook.”  – Facebook employee (Palo Alto, CA)

“The company was founded on the principle that in order to succeed you need to treat your co-workers as well as your customers. This had led to industry leading salaries, benefits and a fabulous place to work.” – Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant (location n/a)

“Always interesting and challenging, hardly ever boring, never menial. Everyone here is super intelligent and motivated. They really take care of their employees.” – Bain & Company employee (location n/a)

Same as yesterday, I also have the privilege of working for one of the top 50 list above.  All I can say is that everyone go about answering these survey questions differently and they are highly subjective.   What’s important for you may not be what I consider a priority at this stage, and vice versa.  Nevertheless, it never goes wrong to select bigger and more established global companies to work for as they have a bigger brand name to lose should their value proposition, policies and governance are not up to par.  Bottom line is, I have never been shy about my personal belief:  I don’t look for a caregiver at work.  I look for a place where I can add value in return for a fair pay check, and I know that place will be challenging.  If there exists a workplace that is filled with love, harmony, unconditional support, tolerance and complete equal opportunities, I guess none of us would be needed and hired in the first place.

* Oh well, non-profit or religious organizations an exception, of course.


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Alright alright, don’t boo me.  I know work-life balance is a politically correct alternative way of saying “I’ve had it up to here!”.  Many people would seriously doubt its existence in the first place.  Come on, what do we expect?  Our employers hold the pay check, and they pretty much have the rights to do whatever they want with it, particularly in our neck of the woods where there are hardly any worker unions except flight crews and the government.  We suck it up, and live with what we got.  When we are about to get burnt out, we look for something else and if we are lucky, it’s the same old story all over again.

Nevertheless, I still check this list where employees are asked to report how their companies rate for balancing work with personal life, by glassdoor.com.  Here is the list:

  1. Nestlé Purina PetCare
  2. MITRE
  3. SAS
  4. FactSet
  5. United Space Alliance Ops & Processing
  6. Slalom Consulting
  7. Facebook
  8. Morningstar
  9. Susquehanna International Group employee
  10. Colgate-Palmolive
  11. Mentor Graphics
  12. Autodesk
  13. Sheetz
  14. Agilent Technologies
  15. Turner Broadcasting
  16. Dupont
  17. Southwest Airlines
  18. General Mills
  19. Biogen Idec
  20. Scottrade
  21. Chevron
  22. Synopsys
  23. MTV
  24. Intuit
  25. National Instruments

What makes the list?  Some examples…

  • free lunches
  • flexible work hours
  • concierge services like car servicing and laundry
  • 24 vacation days
  • bringing pets to work
  • sabbatical every 4 years
  • ease of relocation
  • lights off at 6pm

It seems that I cannot complain since I have worked for one of the companies on this list.  However, all I can remember is that everyone’s salaries was cut by 5%, and we were forced to take no-pay-leaves when the economy was bad.  I paid the dues, but never enjoyed the perks which were mostly applicable for our US colleagues, anyway.

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Talk about business title inflation.  I now see so many “Chiefs” around the corporate space.  Southwest Airlines has a Chief Twitter Officer. Coca-Cola and Marriott have Chief Blogging Officers. Kodak has a Chief Listening Officer.  When does it end?  As with everything else, title inflation just leads to value degradation.  In order to have the relevant stakeholder give you the time of day, you need to be appropriately titled or apparently you are a complete waste of their time.

Sometimes putting a chief officer in an area is to merely broadcast to the outside world that you are committed to such space, rather than doing anything fundamentally useful.  In larger multinational corporations we always hear of the company’s core values and principles.  Easy, we’ll name a chief officer for each of them.  Chief Integrity Officer.  Chief Teamwork Officer.  Chief Speed Officer (no it’s not what you think).  Chief Openness Officer.  Chief Fun Officer.  Chief Equal Opportunities Officer.  Chief Creative Officer (Microsoft).  You will definitely not go wrong.

What’s popular these days?  Facebooking, twittering, blogging, etc. leads to companies creating such chief officer positions like SouthWest, Coca-Cola and Marriott. 

Sign me up for Chief Recreation Officer any day.  I heard it’s such a tough job that I should remember to ask for more vacation days.

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I was captivated by the title of this book by Anita Bruzzese a few years ago.  I think it was my wicked sense of humor to attempt to do some of these 45 things to get even with my boss at the time.  Yes I said it was wicked, and I plead myself guilty.  However, at the end of the day, I did nothing of the sort since I cared so much more about my own professional reputation rather than some silly grudges over the most childish cases of office politics.

Are you curious about what these 45 things are?  Well, they are not as obnoxious as you think.  Or are they?

  1. Treating the office like it’s your love shack
  2. Punching the soda machine when you’re stressed out and ticked off
  3. Goofing off on a business trip
  4. Earning a reputation as a whiner, drama queen or general pain in the neck
  5. Discussing your personal beliefs at work
  6. Telling dirty jokes and cussing on the job
  7. Having questionable personal integrity
  8. Blogging about your job (Oh no….)
  9. Having poor writing and spelling skills
  10. Failing to write thank-you notes
  11. Committing e-mail blunders
  12. Failing to speak intelligently
  13. Wearing the wrong thing to work
  14. Behaving immaturely at company parties
  15. Being disorganized
  16. Being a poor listener
  17. Losing sleep
  18. Using your personal cell phone too much
  19. Acting like a boot at business meals
  20. Not appreciating coworkers
  21. Failing to delegate
  22. Being intolerant
  23. Disrespecting a mentor
  24. Not getting to know others in the company
  25. Giving feedback that is deliberately hurtful
  26. Fostering an offensive workplace
  27. Gossiping
  28. Not giving or accepting an apology
  29. Crying at work
  30. Caving in to a bully
  31. Failing to learn from mistakes
  32. Being unable to overcome obstacles
  33. Having too much – or too little – confidence
  34. Neglecting to write things down
  35. Asking for a raise you don’t deserve
  36. Lacking knowledge of current events
  37. Holding grudges (bingo…)
  38. Giving lackluster speeches or presentations
  39. Squandering time at seminars
  40. Skipping company-sponsored events
  41. Ignoring the company’s goals
  42. Dodging meetings
  43. Not going beyond your job description
  44. Neglecting new coworkers
  45. Fighting change

I recommend this book if you are eager to find out how you can avoid the mistakes and mend things with your boss, or, if you have the same devious reason as I did.

Well, of course I’m kidding.


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We’ve all made it one point in our career life, and as a consultant that chance is far greater than ever.  We are dealing with multiple client projects at the same time, though likely at different project stages.  All of them are on a time clock.  We are by default low in resources, and there is practically no one else to cross check or even cover for us at times of near crisis.  Rookie mistakes, we’ve all had them. 

Some of these mistakes are silly and understandable, but by no means are they acceptable by your boss and the clients.  Forgetting to bcc your e-mail senders is a catastrophe.   Forwarding the wrong file to a client is borderline violation to the privacy ordinance.  We can check and double-check ourselves, but looking at the same document that you have been working on for the past 5 hours, at 3am in the office, is not going to make much of a difference. 

I love this article by Kristine Schoonmaker of MyConsultingLife.com.  Knowing how to handle a crisis created by ourselves, and how to move on, is one of the most important learning chapters of our career life.  Check it out, and you will benefit from it.

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