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Management @ Sufehmi.com » Management

Archive for the 'Management' Category

KBH is the new buzzword : Result-oriented versus 9-to-5

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

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Suatu hari di kantor saya, pukul 13:00, Andy tiba “assalamu’alaikum” sapanya, dijawab oleh rekan-rekan di ruangannya. Andy langsung memulai pekerjaannya hari itu di mejanya. Yang lainnya meneruskan kembali pekerjaan mereka masing-masing. Saya berhenti sejenak dan menutup mata, meredakan sakit kepala setelah mengerjakan riset untuk presentasi seorang client selama beberapa jam.

Apa yang aneh disini ?

Ya, di tempat lainnya, Andy bisa dipecat karena baru tiba di kantor pukul 13:00.
Tidak demikian halnya di kantor saya. Disini, jam kerja bebas. Mau datang jam 5 sore,tidak apa. Pulang jam 8 pagi keesokan harinya ? Tidak masalah, sleeping bag juga sudah disediakan. Paling ada jadwal piket telpon, sehingga selalu akan ada yang menerima telpon pada jam kantor standar (9 - 5).

Hari ini kebetulan saya menemukan artikel BusinessWeek dengan judul Smashing The Clock. Kutipan :

… workers pulling into the company’s amenity-packed headquarters at 2 p.m. aren’t considered late. Nor are those pulling out at 2 p.m. seen as leaving early. There are no schedules. No mandatory meetings. No impression-management hustles. Work is no longer a place where you go, but something you do. It’s O.K. to take conference calls while you hunt, collaborate from your lakeside cabin, or log on after dinner so you can spend the afternoon with your kid.

Saya tersenyum simpul. Ini adalah yang telah saya lakukan sejak awal, jauh sebelum saya membaca artikel tersebut. Pada awal pendirian perusahaan, saya meluangkan sedikit waktu untuk memikirkannya, dan memutuskan kondisi kerja kantor sebagai berikut :

  • Jam kerja bebas
  • Kantor bisa diakses 24 jam
  • Masa cuti : tidak terbatas.

Satu-satunya persyaratan saya adalah : deadline tidak boleh terlampaui. Target harus tercapai.

So far so good.
(fingers crossed !)

Dasar pemikirannya sederhana - saya kira, percuma saja staf bekerja 9-to-5 kalau hatinya tidak berada di yang sedang dikerjakannya. Jangan-jangan nanti malah cuma pada chatting atau browsing Internet seharian, menunggu waktu pulang kantor. Lha ya gimana, hidup seperti ini memang berat, saya tahu karena saya juga pernah menjalankannya.
Pergi ketika jalanan macet, pulang ketika jalanan macet juga. Sampai di rumah anak-anak sudah tidur semua. Ketika libur weekend, semuanya juga sedang di tempat rekreasi yang sama. Stress 24×7. Bangun pagi dengan perasaan tertekan, membayangkan 3 jam perjalanan menuju ke kantor. Setiap hari Minggu sore mulai depresi, menyadari bahwa besok adalah hari Senin. Sounds familiar ?

Dengan KBH (Kerja Berorientasi Hasil), maka staf kami bisa bebas menentukan hidup seperti apa yang mereka inginkan. Yang tipe kalong, bisa datang jam 5 sore dan pulang jam 9 pagi :)
Ada juga yang bisa menginap berhari-hari ketika di kantor, namun libur di hari Rabu dan Kamis. Ada lagi yang di kantor hanya pada hari Rabu dan Kamis. Ada juga yang belum pernah datang ke kantor sama sekali !

Keuntungan bagi perusahaan juga besar. Ruang kantor kami tidak perlu berukuran raksasa. Jumlah komputer juga tidak perlu banyak - staf kami akan bekerja menggunakan komputer mereka sendiri di rumah dengan senang hati. Staf yang bermotivasi tinggi memungkinkan kami untuk menangani proyek-proyek yang normalnya tidak akan bisa tertangani oleh perusahaan seukuran kami.
Dan ketika target kerja selalu tercapai 100%, (tentu saja!) ini sangat membantu meningkatkan daya saing perusahaan.

Selain itu mudah-mudahan kami juga jadi berkontribusi untuk mengurangi berbagai masalah nasional; staf kami tidak turut menambah kemacetan, kami lebih banyak menggunakan daya listrik ketika beban listrik sedang rendah, akses internet banyak dilakukan ketika traffic internet Indonesia sedang rendah, staf kami meramaikan angkutan umum ketika jam-jam sepi, dan seterusnya.

Masih kecil kontribusi di atas tentunya karena kami juga perusahaan kecil. Akan menjadi lebih signifikan jika Anda juga ikut serta.
Bagaimana, tertarik ?

Tambahan:
Artikel dari NetworkWorld mengenai perusahaan-perusahaan yang sudah mengimplementasi KBH - tantangan berikutnya adalah menjaga semangat teamwork agar tetap tinggi. Ini menjadi perlu diperhatikan ketika sudah pada level seperti IBM, dimana 40% staffnya bekerja dari rumah / mana saja.

Semoga bermanfaat :)

Bullies @ Office

Saturday, August 5th, 2006

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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.

However;
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

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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.

Actions:

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 :)

The only way to hurry is to take your time

Thursday, June 1st, 2006

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The only way to hurry is to take your time
- Beverly Crusher (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

I like watching ST:TNG for quotes like this — insightful, and actually very applicable.
Just a few weeks ago I benefited again from it.

A lot of my work was backlogged because I was down for the whole week (got throat infection, took antibiotics but kept working hard. Then even after 30 amoxicillin pills it’s still pretty bad).
So naturally, when I was able to start working again, I immediately went into overdrive.

For 3 days, I produced almost nothing.

On the fourth day, I began to realize this. While I was pondering on the possible cause, I remembered that quote above, and it dawned on me that I have (again) pushed myself beyond my limits.
Immediately I stopped over stressing myself. At the end of the day, I got immediate results, with a few more ready to be harvested by the next week.
Thank you Mrs. Crusher.

I think she said this when she was about to do a surgery on a dying patient. Needless to say, it needs to be done as soon as possible. But, she knew that it’ll only more likely to cause his death, and said that.
On jobs that require intense focus and thinking, the last thing you need is to be hurried and rushed. I’ve experienced it myself for many times now that when I’m calm, I’m able to get tremendous amount of work done in an amazingly short time.

btw; anyone knows which episode is it ? I watched it years ago, and can’t remember which.

Loser to performer

Friday, May 12th, 2006

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My routine job is usually IT related, but among my daily activities is to assist in many aspects of my family business. On December 2005, I was asked to handle a shop which is in trouble. All others have given up on this one. So I set aside a few days every week for this, and started working on it.

Problems:

  • On the books, it’s profitable. But, we have not been able to find the money for several years.
  • It’s losing a lot of money daily. The money found at the end of the day is different then what’s recorded on the computer.
  • The shop manager has communication problem. We’ve not been able to get our instructions implemented for many times.
  • Staff morale is very low.
  • Inventory is not efficient. A lot of stocks are not moving, hence holding up quite a lot of money.
  • Sales are average, but profit percentage is quite low.
  • etc

I concluded that the main problem is communication. The others are details.

I started my work there by telling everyone, that I’m not there to blame anyone. Instead, I’m there to work together, and try to help them to make the store to become better.
I make sure that everyone gets it - I’m their colleague, not a watcher.

I talked to everyone, and listened to what they have to say. They don’t get all that they wished for, but I made sure that they know why.

I also made short term and medium term programmes.
Short term ones are important to increase morale - especially if the gains are clear and visible. Medium term programmes are important to remind us of the big goals, the things that matters. Example: stock optimization, gradually we got rid of the old stuff by discounting them significantly, or returning them to the suppliers. It takes time, so it’s important to make sure that a bit of it gets done every day. We also started buying things direct, cutting the middlemen, hence increasing our profit margin; while keeping our prices low.
We also increased our control of the cashiers.

Process optimization - a few tasks are taking longer than it should be. Example, there’s no PO module on the POS system, so PO must be made manually. Each PO could take up to 30 minutes to make.
Once these inefficiencies has been identified, we’re then able to create software modules to automate them. The time saving is significant, but more importantly, it also increased staff morale, since they can now concentrate on things that really matters.

There were also numerous other tweaks and optimizations.

After about 4 months, we noticed the following results:

  • The shop is now making profits, and we’re now actually able to find the money.
  • The profit margin increased about 40%. This is despite the fact that its location is close to a competitor of a well-known brand name.
  • There’s no more lost money everyday
  • A new shop manager was appointed, after the previous one resigned. The new one co operates better, and together we’re able to produce the results above.
  • Staff morale increased significantly, except for one which resigned after a few weeks. Shortly after, we no longer lose money from the shop.
  • The staff now work with minimal supervision. Also now they knows that if they find problems, they can always talk to me directly if necessary (I gave them my mobile phone number).
  • Shop operations now are more efficient and streamlined.
  • etc

Not too bad, if I may say so.

Now I’ve been assigned to another shop near Pondok Indah. This one is much worse. It has similar problems to the one above, but with sales of only about 25% of it. Diagnosis: saturated market, there are about 6 similar shops in the nearby area, all of them of well-known brand. Among the action plan is to increase the scope of the shop, and to diversify the products; while applying the lessons learned from the first shop.
It’s a much greater challenge, and to be honest, not much chance of succeeding. But I’ll give it my best try.

Gotta go now, until the next article.

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