Sunday, August 21, 2005

Let it go

Apparently everyone has problems at work. Everytime I meet up with some old friends that I haven't seen for a long time, the first topic of discussion is always problems at work: nonessential meetings, lazy managers, task overload, ass-kissing colleaques etc etc etc.

I just got back from a night out with some old friends from college. One of them currently works in USA and was in town for a visit. When I joined in they were talking about nonessential meetings. Last week I had lunch with my ex-colleagues from my banking days and they spent the whole 40 minutes talking about task overload and ass-kissing colleagues. All I can contribute to that conversation was, "Thank God I left when I did!" A few months ago I met up with some old classmates from school and most of the time they were talking about stress at work. Aiyooo.... can we talk about the good old times now?

So far I've worked for 4 companies, from direct selling company to a large local organization to a small business and now an international retail company. I must say there's a lot of room for bitterness and dissatisfaction but I can honestly say I don't hold a grudge with any of them. It's either I never had any problems working there or I'm just the forgiving type.

I was aware that while working for the bank, there was office gossip floating around but I was always the last to know or never know at all. I'm not sure if it was because people didn't bother telling me because the gossip didn't concern me or that I did heard it but never really cared to spread it around or because I was too blur to identify certain tidbits as gossip. I've had colleaques coming to me saying that they have problems with so and so because of this this this. But all I can do is listen because I didn't have this this this problem with that so and so. Even if I do have a problem with anyone I find that it was minuscule and thus didn't find the need to tell everyone about it.

The only thing that bugged me while working for the bank which leads to my change of department is the lack of recognition for my hard work. Among the clerical staff I was the second eldest and the only one who's way over-qualified since I have 4 years of university education. But I didn't mind that. I did my job, I got on well with the other staff and respected my senior who's 2 years younger than me. I did my work with the most minimum amount of mistake in a timely manner. I think you'll agree that this trait is very important for a clerk. But come appraisal time I always get 'Average' review which after some discreet investigation, is also what they (the appraisers) give to the rest of the clerks, whom I can see did not do the job as well as I did.

At one time my supervisor told me that other people in the department have a problem with me. I was so serious that they find it difficult to approach me to ask about anything. Okay I accepted that. I do admit that I'm pretty serious when it comes to work. I never realized that it affected other people that way. So I took note of it.

When the next appraisal came, they brought up the same issue. This time I rebutted and said that I find that the fellow clerical staff do come and asked for my help or to find out about something. But now they say that it was the officers who had a problem with me. Okay.... officers scared of a clerk. That's something new.

I couldn't understand that. I know the same thing that the rest of the staff knew, sometimes more. I know I finish all my work faster than the rest of the clerks and I have low amount of overtime. Isn't that all that matter for a clerk? The only think that I can think of which could lead to this observation is that I don't socialize as much with the officers more than I need to. I don't come over to their desk and chit chat with them, I don't jokingly slap or pinch them whenever they say something naughty, and I seldom join them for the afternoon teh tarik session. All I did was finish my tasks and made sure that I don't make stupid mistakes that can delay the officers' work. And I get 'Average' for that.

I was quite frustrated. I wanted to resign. But someone told me to consider transferring to another department first. If I still don't like it then consider resigning which was an acceptable option. I don't know what I wanted to do at that time anyway. When opportunity knocks I rushed to get the door.

It's just so happen around the same time the department organized a 'Bonding Programme' with the objective of making the people work with each other better and more effectively. Long story short I was quite the star in the programme. I represented my team to do a presentation and I was named one of the best participants (and all I got was a damn towel).

It was also during this programme that I was noticed by the Assistant General Manager. He knew me by name from that moment on. When he found out that I got approval to transfer to another department after a farewell buffet, he was shocked and expressed it quite openly in front of the whole unit which includes clerks, officers, senior officers, assistant managers, well you catch my drift. But it was too late. My transfer has been approved and the other department was expecting my arrival in two weeks time. So I just said...
and all the best to ya! Sorry you didn't see what you had before!

I also found out later on that he didn't stop expressing his dissatisfation that I left his department. He even voiced it to my new manager, which I must say gave quite a boost to my ego. Anyway, I was able to let it go and didn't hold any grudges for my old department. I just hope they learn something from this incident.

Today, everytime I meet up with my old friends and they started to talk about work problems, I would just listen and nod, gasp at the right places and laugh when I need to. I never really joined in because I cannot find any work-related problems that is much worse than what they have.

Is it because I'm so easily entertained that I could forget my problems just like that? Is it because I'm just too ignorant to know that I have a problem? Or is it because the higher your salary the more problems you'll get? I don't know. What I do know is I go to work when they expect me to and at the end of the month my salary is in my bank account like I expect it to. Even though I did have some minor glitches with my employers (another classic example is when my previous employer send me to do data entry for his brother), I never take it as a burden. I always think of it as a temporary thing and most of the time it is.

Anyway, the point of this post is we must not let our job dictate our life. Must our minds be filled with work-related problems that we must talk about it all the time? Even to our friends whom we haven't seen for ages. Do we need to bog them down with problems that they cannot help us with anyway?

However, I do agree that talking about it does help to relieve some of the stress. Just make sure that I'm not around to hear it. Hehehe I'm kidding. I'm a great listener. You can talk to me anytime. Really.

In the meantime, don't let your job define who you are. A job is just the thing that you do so that you can watch the latest movie at home, buy the cloth that covers your body (or not), get the daily caffeine jolt, take out your loved ones to a nice dinner or whatever it is that you like to do. So don't let your life revolves around your job.

Happy working!

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