Friday, April 16, 2010

Own time, own target

Productivity is enjoying a renaissance in Singapore after years of neglect.

Recent initiatives to boost productivity in Singapore bring to mind how a certain individual made a name for himself for being a stickler for punctuality. No, it's not who you think it is...

Mr Punctual was known for making sure none of his subordinates left the premises before the official book out time. He would plant himself strategically at the ferry boarding point along Bravo Whiskey around 16:30 Hotel as a visible deterrent to personnel who tried to book out early.

No one tried whenever he was there, such was his command presence.

When Mr Punctual held a post on the hilltop later in his career, he insisted that his staff officers turn up at least 15 minutes before any meeting he chaired. Late comers were penalized and staff officers known for their tardiness learned the hard way that Mr Punctual ran a tight ship.

That mindset isn’t prevalent in the same organisation today.

Certain individuals show up habitually (and irritatingly) late for internal meetings. To be sure, high fliers do get held up for some reason or other, sometimes by circumstances beyond their control. But to proclaim that it is one's privilege as a Commander to do so is unbecoming, downright rude even.

This means his unfortunate underlings – sorry, I mean staff officers - are made to wait as the clock creeps past the meeting’s start time. They fritter away precious time and tax-payers’ money, a drain on productivity as his lordship sweeps into the meeting room behind time, as usual.

Then, it’s showtime as the person starts his theatrics. He demolishes morale with flaming invectives that would make a street urchin blush and berates his staff with such gusto that it would make great reality TV. Or a Youtube clip.

Legend has it that he would walk off to eat “my kuay teow mee” while his underlings slave away on a position paper for the higher ups. Never mind they haven’t been properly fed or watered or taken care of. It is his privilege as a Commander to do so. Yesiree.

His poor judgement on issues of the day makes staff officers cringe at his lack of helicopter vision and analytical prowess. Paired with a chronic inability to string words together as nice sounding prose without a staff officer by his side and we have a lame duck Commander who is the butt of office jokes.

His sense of imagination is the stuff of legend. He sees shadows where there are none. He watches, on high alert, ever vigilant for any signs of dissenting voices that could dent his public image or stature in the eyes of his bosses.

Because his public image counts as his vital interest, he filters, massages and nuances reports to make sure they make him look good. Sad to say, this means his bosses are sometimes robbed of the full situation picture.

If he feels he has been wronged, he will take punitive action against that individual. He would put the transgressor on his blacklist and start his character assassination.

He follows the same playbook for underlings who quit on him. All have some character flaw or malady that made them poor team players or lousy performers. He is infallible as a boss, Commander and character referee.

And because he lacks a sense of reality, his directorate cannot put a lid on its staff attrition rate. People quit on him during the recession and more will do so as the bullish job market returns. He has done more damage to staff morale during his reign of terror than a Astros rocket artillery bombardment or PT-91 tank attack ever will.

His (mis)management style is unbelievably, how to say, childish and amateurish. A case in point is his facile tendency to hammer down dissent, brown nose his bosses and take punitive action against any entity who crosses his path.

His tendency for politicking and mind games irks even his peer group officers, especially those who have become aware of the goings-on in his dysfunctional command.

His reign as Commander ranks as intellectual terrorism in its finest form, in my honest opinion.

Indeed, if he wasn’t fighting on Singapore’s side, I’m almost certain his antics would get him billed as a threat to humanity and part of the Axis of Evil.

It comes as no surprise that his support base is shrinking more quickly than the Aral Sea.

When that certain someone is tasked to uphold and strengthen the image and stature of the organisation, then such uncouth mannerisms and uninspiring leadership are clearly a misfit.

His behaviour disgusts his long-serving staff officers, disenchants his younger subordinates and adds to the misery of rank-and-file who reflect wistfully on their karma under his watch.

Some have made discrete enquiries, ferreting out job opportunities but ever ready to grab any opportunity that comes by as a drowning person would grab onto anything that floats.

The undying optimists point to the economic upswing as salvation. They flip through the 90 cents newspaper’s job ads and polish up their CVs as they prepare to jump ship.

Many have already done so... some in recent weeks.

Those outside the toxic work environment wonder how much longer the insane spectacle can last before a decisive leader puts a stop to it.

From the outside, things look great. Business as usual.

That’s because the staff officers who have stayed – and they are an endangered species, dwindling in number and soon to be listed on CITES – take pride in their work and try to keep things on an even keel.

Alas, many haven’t bothered to do so and the resignation numbers and poor housekeeping on the website speak volumes of problems within.

You must look beyond the obvious, go above and beyond his platitudes, to realise how the directorate is being run into the ground.

My heart bleeds for the directorate.


FIVE-TWO said...

if only we have a real shooting war, so he can be the first to get shot in the back.

Sutra said...

Haha. This is so poetic it sounds like a Ch 8 drama.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"You must look beyond the obvious, go above and beyond his platitudes, to realise how the directorate is being run into the ground.

My heart bleeds for the directorate."

Oh dear, it sounds dire. It's the end of the world!

stars said...

elegantly written CJ. keep them coming.