Sunday, March 31, 2019

Musical journey (103)

A friend's mother passed away recently and her wake took place last month. His family is a close-knit one and so I could only imagine the grief they went through. At that time, I sent him a musical tribute via Whatsapp and Facebook covering Josh Groban's "To Where You Are" which was one of my favourite songs. He thought it was a really nice gesture although I felt that wasn't enough as I was so far away in another state and knew I had to do more.

I remembered he once told me that no one has sung to him before and so I decided there and then to write a song dedicated to him and his love for his mother. The plan was to offer this gift the next time we met by singing it to him and I'm so glad I did just that yesterday when we caught up.

I had to watch my trembling voice carefully and not let emotions take over my control. Tears were however streaming down his eyes by the end when we hugged. Though he thanked me (which is something everyone would do), that was really not required because the important thing to me is to do this for him and what I do or don't get in return doesn't matter.

Music is a very powerful thing especially when it's written and expressed from the heart. This song and its effect on and meaning to my friend reiterated this fact to me. I'll continue to compose and sing from my heart till the day I physically can't do it anymore, this I can promise to all those who like my music. Hope you will also be touched by this song "Remember".


I could see sweet memories in your eyes
Feel the warmth of your hands when I held them tight
I could hear tenderness even when you sighed
Every fading day we stood strong to fight

We can lose our way and each other in our lives
But we will find ourselves back together if we try

I remember the first time I saw you cry
Right to the last time we said goodbye
Because your heart is tied to mine
The flame flickers but it will never die

I will not forget the sad and the glad times
Even though you are no longer by my side

I want to see your face again with that smile
Filled with pride from a mother to her child
Let me be in your arms again just for a while
Just for a little while

I can see sweet memories in my mind
Feel the warmth of your hands when I close my eyes
In you lies the strength on which I rely
Lessons of love you've taught and left behind

Up high you will always be our guiding light
As you dance amongst the stars tonight

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Happy news long overdue

It is finally here!

This promotion is something I've worked hard for for many years and is something the company has owed me for at least four years. I can see why a company is "careful" with this particular promotion because with it, the employee can now check and approve designs, and if incompetent people are promoted, the company would be in trouble if things go wrong. Based on the pay increment I got, the cost of this owed promotion is equivalent to half a year of post-tax salary. So you can see what companies can stand to gain if they manage to deprive deserving employees of their rightful promotions. Just so you get a feel of my frustration, my last promotion took place soon after I started work in Australia back when I was living in Sydney 9 years ago! Although I don't think it's a deliberate and sinister plan to cheat employees, I'm sure much more can be done to improve the situation and based on my personal experience, I'll share what I think the problems (and solutions) are.

Shared Responsibility for Development
In some companies, the employees are expected to be responsible for their own career development and I believe it should be joint effort between them and their managers. To enforce that, manager KPIs must include a quota to develop the careers of their subordinates. Once these quotas are in place, managers will then need to follow through with their promises i.e. paying lip service that they will grow their people will no longer cut it.

Focus on Development Despite Changes
Employees changing locations and managers are often reasons why their development plans fall through the cracks and I don't believe these inevitable changes should hinder their progression. There needs to be a central and stable department (e.g. HR) that is tasked to make managers work on the development plans of their new team members. This is especially important for companies going through organisational changes where even the managers are changing roles or removed from the company altogether.

Equal Prioritisation of Development
A general lack of focus on employee career development is usually evident from the delay of performance review and appraisal sessions or placing them at a lower priority. In fact these sessions should be at the same priority as delivering for clients and shareholders. Unfortunately this doesn't usually happen and is one of the reasons why wage growth has been stagnant in Australia. This then contributes to further income disparity between the rich and the poor.

There are two of Richard Branson's quotes that really resonate with me and I believe they should stay on the walls of every manager's office as a constant reminder for them to focus on their people. Sadly human beings are by nature selfish and so can we really blame managers if they take care of themselves first? That being said, it's not a zero sum game. If you want the culture of a company to change, it has to come from the top, i.e. the likes of Richard Branson.

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don't want to.”

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

But as a low-lying engineer in the company's structure (albeit I'm now slightly higher with the promotion), I'm unable to effect real change from where I am despite providing feedback to managers many times. This explains why the eyes of dissatisfied employees are always peeled for better opportunities.

“We must take care of ourselves at work because nobody else will.” This is the number one advice I'll give newbies starting their first jobs. I'm sure other bloggers will quote me when I get famous and successful one day. For now, I'll just enjoy the promotion and continue plodding along the path of the daily grind.

One thing's for sure though. I can finally stop getting strange looks from people wondering why I'm still not a senior engineer after working in the industry for so long. And that sense of relief is huge beyond words!