Archive for August, 2006

Bullies @ Office

Saturday, August 5th, 2006

When you’re a kid, bullies intimidates you physically. You are constantly under risk of getting physical abuse whenever he/she sees fit.

When you’re an adult, bullies now also does psychological intimidation. Which is worse.
It kills your productivity, and your boss will become upset at your lack of performance - which in turn makes you more frustated (because it’s not your fault)

On developed countries, there are numerous laws that intended to curb bullying. An example of such law in action can be read in this excellent BBC article.

The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws” — Tacitus

And vice versa, the more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the state — because there will be numerous loopholes that can be exploited by the wicked.
Therefore, even a victim can be actually the bully.

An example; one of my past colleague is actually a bully. He talks sweet to important people, but he stomps on the less significants. He tried to stomp on me too, trying to make me do what he wished. I stood up, and, quite wisely, he never tried to cross path with me again.

My manager was not so lucky.

This bully is actually quite incompetent and lazy. And to think that he’s paid more than me (at first). Anyway, I can see that he kept on trying to avoid doing his task, and finally he hit jackpot.

One thing about this bully is he’s very well-versed with employment laws, and he keeps on trying to find a loophole that he can exploit for his own gain. One day he got it - my manager got a bit harsh on him, he got the proof, and before my manager knew it; he was reported for bullying to the HR department.

I was flabbergasted.

HR department is tend to be politically correct, and this bully has a way with words. He managed to convince HR guys that he’s the victim here, and he won the case.
Since then, my manager no longer able to fully control this bully, and he was able to do whatever he pleases. Leaving US to do his job.

Needless to say, I was VERY pissed off.

Applying law/rules without knowing what really happened is plain dumb. Yet, this is what happens today. Criminals got away with their crime, for their knowledge of loopholes in the system. And honest people got punished for things others did.

Thankfully, it has a kinda happy ending. After some time, and a few lobbying from our side (here’s the key folks - you have to do something [1] about it), finally senior management realized what he really is, and pressed him to do his work. Bumbling his way around, because he’s really not an IT expert (even I, with my weaknesses, am still much better than him), he finally had to earn his pay.

It may not always the case everywhere though.
So, just say no to bullies !

[1] - Among the work I’ve done was hacking his computer to find evidence of his bullying activities. A colleague said that he suspected this bully was stupid enough to store his private files in his office computer, and asked me to hack my way into it. I was only too happy to comply, and managed to found several evidence there.
My manager also managed to find several evidence on his own, and together we worked to bring this bully down.

Mission (almost) Impossible

Saturday, August 5th, 2006

On December 2005 I was asked to help manage a shop which is in brink of closure due to mismanagement. By May 2006, the shop is ranked #2 best performer.
Work is still ongoing to make it to become the number #1, but suffice to say that everyone’s already happy with that result.

On May 2006 I was asked to help manage another shop, located near to Pondok Indah. This shop is about to be closed down too, since it’s been plagued by multitude of problems. Worse, the revenue is only about 25% of the previous shop.
Seemed like an impossible case to me, but I accepted it nonetheless.

Summary :

The problems:

1. Very low staff morale
2. Very low sales, most likely due to market saturation (about 6 competitors in the same area)
3. Low profit margin
4. Losing money every month / not profitable.


1. Working together with the staff. Developing team work. Increasing staff morale.
2. Diversifying into stationery business
3. Process optimizations
4. Profit margin increase, by various stock optimization methods
5. Creative promotion strategies
6. etc

Results so far :

1. Since May 2006, revenue has been climbing steadily. Average revenue nowadays are about 33% more than before.

2. Profit margin is becoming better

3. The shop is no longer losing money.

Not too bad for 3 months job I think.

The owner is very happy with the result. He’s extended the shop’s lifeline until December 2006 - the shop will have to start performing (target: increase revenue by at least 33% more), or it will be closed down then.

So it’s clear that my work is not yet done here, because of these:

1. Again, this is a management problem. I may have to fire the second-in-command. I’ll give him chance to change until end of this month, otherwise he’s gone.
Problem: lack of initiative, lazyness, failure to keep promises, lack of discipline.

2. Staff morale is still rather low. It’s a bit better, but it’s now clear that the human resources in this shop is not of good quality. Some of them are lazy, lacking in initiative, avoid tasks that they don’t like, etc.

Some of them are plain idiots too. Example; we have a profit-sharing policy in this shop.
Any profit will be shared with the employee. I don’t think Indomart, Alfamart, or others has such generous policy.
However, some of these employees are keep asking for their share - to which I replied, rather sarcastically, “from which profit ?”

When there’s no profit (the shop is not losing money, but it’s not making money too at the moment), what’s there to share ?
I wonder if some people actually have brain inside their head.

I may have to fire some of them, but again I will first give them chance to change. If they still refuse to change, then it’s their own fault.

Note that your employees are your most important asset. We value them highly - we treat them as colleagues, we try to understand their problems and help them resolve it, we even share our profits with them. We believe in fairness and wealth distribution.

Usually, this works wonders. However, some people are not able to appreciate this.
It may seem cruel of me to fire these kind of people (of course, after giving them chance to change first). But :

1. They may just not belong here. They may be happier working somewhere else.

2. A non-performer not only cost the shop money, but most importantly, they’re a burden to their colleagues.

I’ve worked with some non-performers before, and I have had to work twice or thrice as hard to cover their inabilities / laziness. And, to say it politely, I don’t like that. So I can empathize with my employees in such similar position.

3. There are people out there that can use a good job like these

Note that this is not the only thing that I’m doing. I’m also handling about 3 IT projects, and some personal businesses too. And of course, most importantly, my family.
I’ve went over my (previously thought) limits many times, and although it’s very tiring, it’s definitely is very rewarding to my own personal developments.
I felt like dying at times, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

So we’ll see this shop again in Dec 2006, and see how it fare then.
Wish me luck. I’ll need it, and a lot of Paracetamol :)