Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Melbourne half-year update

What if you are in an office where the boss finds examples to justify your previously-determined "improvement needed" status (that you didn't really agree with in the first place and was based on only three months of work performance in a totally-new environment) instead of looking for positive examples of you actually showing evidence of improvement? For example, two people gave you independent reviews with one good and one bad. Only the bad review was used to justify the pre-determined conclusion whilst the good review was totally ignored. What the fuck?!

What if you have a boss who is still bearing a grudge based on the honest feedback you have given her and is in a perpetual vengeance mode that you can never concretely-prove? Also, the supposedly anonymous feedback process is so not the case—a lesson learnt I guess.

What if you are in an office that is so competitive as a result of the top-down survival-of-the-fittest management style to the extent that people find that they need to backstab, belittle others and play political games in order to climb up and that training does not go to people who need them but to people as a reward?

What if hard work (think 12-hour days, 2-kg permanent weight loss over 2 weeks, feeling faint in the walk home from work, not even having the energy to have dinner at times and thinking public holidays are a curse for the first time because that means lost time to do work) and commitment are not concepts to laud but are traits that are deemed not as important as how ones does the job, how vocal one is to sell oneself, how much one is willing to feed the bosses' egos in order to claim a spot in the bosses' favourite list (yes, bosses play favoritism in this office)?

What if you are in an untransparent company where numerous things vital to your career and future transpire without your knowledge until the very last minute when the bad news hits you seconds before you have to swim or sink to try to turn the tide around?

What if you are in a huge company with great international success that short-changes employees at every turn instead of taking care of their welfare, thinks that it works hard to retain talent yet is unwilling to forgo a mere $8000 to help a high-performing employee to do her job better, an amount that is miniscule compared to the profits promised to shareholders, the promise being the only thing the company cares about?

What if the feedback you provide to higher management does not ever get to the desired audience because of mid-level management's own agenda and employees are starting to give up and constantly looking over the fence for greener pastures but finding it hard to jump due to the seemingly-worsening global economy?

What if you are in a company so desperate to raise the bottomline where clients are treated as gods, a company with a chief mission to please its existing and potential customers and one that spares no expense to throw its employees into the fire pit if that is what it takes to land the deal?

What if it has been proven time and again that the company you are working for pays its workers less than what its competitors do?

Welcome to my world!

So now I am stuck with the situation where if I were given the opportunity to exhibit an improvement in behaviour based on the "corrective action plan" written for me out of the "improvement needed" assessment of the performance review and I cannot prove it by the next session in a month's time (based on other peoples' review—which is again a flawed system as you'd be screwed if this person doesn't like you for whatever reason) then I would be given a written warning from Human Resources. Just so you know, as little as two of such warnings could see employees served up with the termination letter!

There are also justification examples in this "corrective action plan" that do not reflect what exactly happened and I will most certainly fight till the end to have the erroneous sections eliminated. I am done with being a doormat in the face of this powerful company.

To make matters worse, I am in the process of changing projects ie. new challenges lie ahead with a steeper learning curve to overcome, and so having only a month to prove myself before a possible warning is really unfair to me. But how can one argue against an unmoving and cold company who does not give a damn about its employees?

I know it was my choice to leave the cushy job in Sydney in search of a more challenging environment but have I bitten off more than I could chew with this relocation to Melbourne? It has been half a year since my move and I know I need to provide some updates as to how well that is going. So there you have it (summarised in the series of "what if" questions), this is what I have to deal with at work six months in. Looks like there is no chance I will ever rise up to become a senior engineer in this dog-eat-dog office as I am unwilling to play the game and lose my principles (yet again!).

But given the current economic climate, I think I would have to bite the bullet and stay in this mucky situation a while more. Oh, and to make things even less palatable, I am about to lose the privilege of walking to work as I would soon be posted to a dodgy suburb (the Footscray office) which I have been told is quite unsafe to be in after dark ie. the time of the day you would be in if you work overtime, which is something that is definitely going to happen.

As for my life with Ision outside of work, the social rut we are in (as alluded to in my previous post) still remains. You cannot really blame us because work is so draining (in different ways to both of us) that on our off days or after-work hours, we just want to do nothing and think about nothing (slumping in front of the TV for me and in front of the computer for him). But things are improving and we are slowly venturing out to visit other suburbs near the city to see what's out there. Also, as winter ends and the weather warms up a little more, I hope I can get back to my photo shoots. I currently have two to three shoots in the works but unfortunately none in the bag.

Half a year has flown by since I left Sydney and although things are not as good as I might have envisaged, I still believe that it will get better. Check back with me in another six months and hopefully that is what you will hear from me.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Musical journey (25)

One thing that I need to do in Melbourne is to look for open mic nights where I can have a chance to perform in front of a live audience. I used to have a regular gig at a musical café back in Singapore and it was from that experience that my passion for singing on stage began to develop. The high I get from singing live cannot really be described but it is something that I would want to feel over and over again. I have always imagined how it would be like singing in front of thousands of loving fans and listening to their thunderous cheers, screams and applause. Well not all of us can be superstars.

For me, I know that the boat of superstardom has long sailed and so I will be happy if I get a chance to sing in front a small group of people, especially if I am showcasing some of my original compositions. In this month’s musical journey, I will be sharing one of my live performances during my last trip back to Singapore in this pub called “Roomful of Blues”. I hope you like my cover of Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why”.