Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Recently, many of my friends/colleagues had their bubbles burst. This cuccoon that good work should be commensurated by good pay, and the implied trust that you will get a pay raise when you get promoted, is sadly broken.
In many conversations, I've insisted that good work is rewarded by more work. Behind that, there's always a trust that you will be rewarded accordingly. More responsibilities means being paid for it and vice versa.
Then 3 years into my career, when I've had a peek under the hood, I realise that people are not all very smart nor rational. I discovered many ugly politics that resulted in my various hires, and the real reason why people leave. I've witnessed incompetent employers being driven by employees yet never sharing the profits with them. I've been disgusted by senior management's miserly cost-strapped approaches that deter growth. That "defend whatever pie I have" instead of finding more. It would seem almost fate, that a slew of articles and reports seem to correspond to my current worldview - young underpaid burnt out executives who leave or are asked to leave due to rapid financialisation of companies and rapid cost cutting measures to meet those financial goals.
Work more, for less.
This lore, must rest.
My best friend, like Morpheus in the Matrix, offered me the blue pill and I've since opened my eyes for the first time.
Meritocracy doesn't exist. If it naturally did, why do we still write it into our national pledge? Why do ministers still insist that the civil service is meritocractic. We hardly need to instate upon a concept that exists in reality.
I've burnt out before, and felt hopeless. For 5 months this year, I've come to re-assessed this lore that has been ingrained in me throughout my educational journey.
It is true to some extent, that the best people tend to get the better pay and education has had a big part to play, besides gender and social class, in one's life chances of making-it-out-there. Yet, when we tear apart the cohort analysis, across individuals or communities (like young executives), we face ever-increasing disparities. Not all education types are valued equally, not all industries reward the same, not all bosses promote individuals with good qualities.
As we are schooled to become ever so alike, ironically the notion of meritocracy as we know it changes. Merit is based on who can angkat bolah (carry balls), who's able to get into the good books and do what upper management want. Performance at work, becomes a wayang, and taken to the extremes, creates a vastly disturbing and toxic corporate culture.
The key is really to keep on learning, even when life is unfair and promotions become extremely biased, I believe it will play out and here's why:
Ultimately, success is about grit and resilience. Resilience is all about being adaptable and gaining the skills that makes you mobile and less-company-dependent. It is true for any HR, that the best people will always leave and the worst are hard to get rid of. Companies always struggle to balance short term cost cutting measures with long term gain. Given the financialisation of many companies, short term gain is becoming more of a reality than long term development. While that is none of our problem, since we are the cogs in this entire corporate machinery, that burden of sustainability is not ours to bear.
I always say, "this problem is above my payscale".
Yet it has implications. It suggests that with increasing short term worldviews, we have to ironically think long term. I live in constant belief that I might be asked to leave my desk tomorrow and every month I ask if I have the skills to go elsewhere. If every month my answer is yes, I will sleep easy at night. If not, it's time to consider readjusting my position/scope in the company.
Many of my peers then turn to businesses, as an alternative eden. Your own hours, full profit, calling the shots. No more unfair promotions, no more nonsense from upper management. Except when you're daunted by real prospects, you realise how much more politics and craziness one has to bear. From unscrupuloys suppliers to powerful buyers, doing business come in all flavours.
Burn out. The candle's wick can only burn for so long. The wax is evaporating Bills go up in smoke.
Generally, while there are tons of articles telling you how to deal with a burn out, my last takeaway is to not make work your all. Don't make work your reason, find a reason to work, to make it work. Yes it sucks that the promotion didn't come despite the hardwork you've put in. Leave for better prospects not for the feeling of injustice, but for a better future for your family. Arm yourself with the skills to negotiate for that future you want, build your reputation, which over time outweighs its worth in gold.
Meritocracy doesn't exists, not perfectly anyway. Find strength in places, seek solace in others =) push on.