Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Law of The Inner Circle

Written by John C Maxwell, the guru in Leadership Skills, The Law of Inner Circle teaches us that the leader's potential is determined by those closest to him, or her. I have always find this to be very true. Why? Simply because we can't be doing everything ourselves! Truly, no man is an island and we need to depend on others. No doubt many of us know this very fact. But what is strange and surprising to this day is that we still fail to develop people!
Not too long ago in Malaysia, there was a huge unemployment crisis. Fresh graduates from universities were unable to find jobs. Many reasons were sighted for this but that is not the point of this mini article. There was one Human Resource Manager of some bigshot company who publicly stated that the Company is looking for someone who can do the work, not someone who needs to be trained to do the work. What a wrong mentality!!! And to think it came from a Human Resource Manager!!! Absurdity to the fullest extent.
Emotionally, I remembered when I first started working. I couldn't tell which button to operate the high tech photocopier machine. I have no idea how to do my job. And there was no one to guide me until my first "sifu" (or mentor) came to my rescue. He built my foundation of knowledge. Had he not taught me, I would have stuck in the rot for years. His condition for mentoring me at that time was only one - to mentor others when my time to mentor arise. I am proud to say that today I am following his footsteps to mentor others while still in my apprenticeship.
Many who were forced to learn by themselves, not unlike the organisation which I am in now - a Multinational Company (MNC), have the mentality that if they needed to learn by themselves, so others need to do the same. They are not about to "spoonfeed" nor teach anyone. The selfish world has taught them to be selfish as well. They have forgotten how good it would have been if there was someone who are willing to train them.
Impact? These selfish people will go nowhere, or at least I believe so. There will be no more further promotion as the management would be able to see (hopefully) their selfish nature of not developing people. Furthermore, if these people are promoted, what example would it serve?
There are many other famous people who advocates the same notion - W Steven Brown, the author of 13 Fatal Errors Managers Make & How You Can Avoid Them, also the President of The Fortune Group talks about Failure to Develop People. Robert Kiyosaki or Rich Dad Poor Dad fame, never fails to ask participants of his seminar to list 6 people that are closest to them - these 6 people are the future of the person. Steven R Covey, author of the renowned classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People came with his sequel - The 8th Habit which is essentially talking about bringing the best in people.

I grew up watching Chinese Kung Fu movies. And in the movies, the master never, never ever teaches his apprentice all his techniques for fear the apprentice would betray him. And it is a true happening in China. What happened? Generation by generation, due to the selfishness of the masters, knowledge and skills dwindles. Forget about progress. Think going backwards.
Are you guilty of failing to develop your people?
Will you start developing them?
I certainly hope so...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The key is PLANNING dammit

Firstly, allow me to apologize for cursing outright in the title.
I am a little frusfrated at what happened. Let me tell you about it.
As usual I was consolidating the monthly results of my company (or rather the company I am working with). And the first thing that I saw was Overtime went up 5 times the usual. "Hmm thats weird" I thought. I quickly make a check on our production volume and what awaits me is our production volume actually shrunk by 40-50%! That does not make any sense! I scrambled an analysis of Overtime by Dept and found that 90% came from Production!!!
Okay, let me get this straight - Our production volume went down by 40-50% but our Overtime increased by 500%? Hmm, there is only one possible explanation I thought - Machine Breakdown. That must be it - so I check the Repair and Maintenance Account and the Spare Parts Usage Account. Normal expenditure. No major expenses.
I rang the production manager's extension and enquired about this anomality. He told me some bullshit story about overtime incurred for briefings and meetings. I went up to meet him and show him the figures. Then, after some rallying of excuses, he finally told me the real reason - A lot of his staff went on their annual leave. That imbecile! He approved more than 50% of his workforce to go on their annual leave without planning on who would be operating the machines!!! A big hoo-hah then ensued but that is another story.
My point was simply this, Planning Dammit. If you were to know that by approving all those annual leave would leave your workforce decimated to huge overruns in overtime, why approve them in the first place? Plan your workforce's annual leave. Approve their carrying forward of annual leave instead of threatening to enfore the forfeiture of their annual leave. Yeah, we have another dumb policy of forfeiting any outstanding annual leave unless approved to carrying forward after a year.

I am currently also deeply involved in our Budgeting for 2007 to 2009. It appears at first glance we were using Zero Based Budgeting which basically means Justify all the expenses required. However, some heroes in certain departments merely uses Incremental Budgeting which is basically adding a certain rate or amount to previous year's figures. E.g. 2005 we spent 100K. 2006 we re expecting to spend 110K due to 10% increase in expenditure/inflation. So for 2007, just add another 10% making the expenses expected to incur to be 121K. No rocket science here. Yeah a darn simple way to budget. Problem is, how do we control the expenses then? How are we to improve our spending?
I do agree that to a certain extent, inflation plays a big part. But I do believe that we have our current inefficiencies which led to the current state of expenditure. Now if we were to merely increase the budget by a certain percentage then how the hell are we supposed to improve? We are actually condoning all our current inefficiencies!!!
The government agencies may do this, we as a commercial organisation in a cutthroat competition industry should never never be near this method of budgeting. All expenses MUST BE JUSTIFIED and be PLANNED in advance. Yeah, in this fast changing world, nothing is going to happen as planned. But if it does not, then I have no qualms throwing the variances out and justify the reasons why the particular occurence is not foreseen or budgeted.
Also, show me your supporting documents or your justifications. Do not simply add a 10% or even 5% for the matter of fact. How would you be able to control your actual expenses if you do not even know what you're budgeting for!???
Plan them, monitor the results, then we can talk about what action plans needed to be taken to improve.
Over and out.