Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Genuine Pride In Our Work

Putting The Team Through The Test

This afternoon, while having lunch with some business partners at DOMVS restaurant at the Sheraton Towers, I came across an interesting statement printed at the bottom of the menu which said, “Women Only Wednesdays” – Women diners get free dessert for every set meal ordered.  I thought, “WOW! That was a creative way to honor us, women.”  There was definitely a big reason to celebrate and I wrote this blog post to celebrate a wonderful team of women whom I am fortunate to work with.  I call them the A-Team.

In the last couple of months, the team was put to the test when we were suddenly asked to support a mega project at work.  We were not strangers to mega projects, but this one came falling on our laps at just a couple of months before launch as the list of action items on that project plan seemed to get bigger on a daily basis.

Last week, after many sleepless nights, stressful deadlines and almost seemingly insurmountable hurdles, we finally completed the project and launched the program to plenty of accolades. 

One of the bosses patted me on the back praising me for the leadership rendered to the project.  Frankly, I disagreed.  It had nothing to do with my leadership, and everything to do with these women who had built a sisterhood of authenticity.


What did I mean by authenticity?

That was the key driver to the success of this team.  However big or small the projects were, these women were authentic about everything they did.  And here are the reasons why this is so:

Genuinely Cared About The Business

These women genuinely cared about the company and the value they brought to the business.  This meant that when it was necessary to voice their concern on decisions that were not right, or when they felt that an idea could be better improved, they were the first to speak up in front of senior management in a bid to do the right thing.  It was this spirit of authenticity that allowed the team of non-actuary trained “fluffy” marketing professionals to influence the creation of a product that was launched as a first-in-market insurance product that provided coverage for pregnancies from conception through IVF.

I asked this team of women what drove them each day to want to come to work in the morning, and to leave the office happy in the evening.  They said, “Pride In The Work.”  That said it all.

This was a team of very bold women who approached their jobs with the sole purpose of doing the right thing.

Genuinely Cared About Each Other

These women genuinely cared about each other. They formed a sisterhood bound by an unbreakable bond of trust, honesty and open communication.  When that mega project unceremoniously dropped on our laps, they banded together to work as a team.  I saw resilience, “response-ability” and proactive efforts to step up to the plate when one of us dropped the ball for some reason or other.  

During the planning stages for the launch event, two of my team members were hit with family emergencies, so the rest of us banded together to divide and conquer, and filled in the gap where there was one.  I saw a team member stepped up to the leadership role of managing all the “business-as-usual” product marketing work when the rest of the team was thrown into delivering on the last minute details of the creative work or launch  plans for this mega project.  I saw another team member who was hired to do something completely different earlier in the year, only to have her scope changed midway to deliver on this mega project.  I saw yet another team member who was never part of the project team initially, who had decided on her own accord to step in at eleventh hour to manage the execution of all the creative materials when she saw the team struggling with the workload.

I asked them what drove them to support each other with so much enthusiasm every day, even when sometimes; the work goes beyond their respective agreed scope.  They said, “Pride In The Work.”  Again, that said it all.

This was a team of visionary women who had a generous spirit that allowed them to work with each other, with a lot of selflessness and mutual understanding.

Pride In The Work

So for anyone who asked how I managed to build an exceptionally strong team of co-workers who managed their roles with depth of authenticity and almost always exceeded expectations in the delivery of their work, the secret is not my leadership, but the genuine pride in our work within the team.

I am very grateful to this team of women who have done so much to create value in everything they did for the company, the generous sharing of the tears and laughter within the team, and the gift of authenticity they brought to the table.  I am so proud to be the manager of this team of wonderful women.

About the writer:

The writer of this blog post is a 43 year old mother of one, who spreads her time between her day job as a marketeer at a financial institution, her hobby as a certified professional tarot reader and numerologist, and her family which includes a 19 year old son.  She's married to a Scot who has been affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" and prays that he does not find out that the term when translated, has labeled him as a "Ginger Head".

Monday, 1 July 2013

Nothing Is Ever What It Seems

More Than Two Sides To A Coin

In the past month, I learnt so much about the fragility of graciousness and civility in a society full of educated and talented people.  However I refused to believe that there was only one party who was culprit to the disintegration of social graces, tolerance, good manners and good sense.

Paula Deen In The Frying Pan

Half a world away, I had witnessed cooking show host and food author Paula Deen’s massive empire crumbling before her as stories about her using racial slurs raged through social media.  The self-proclaimed “Queen of Butter” who often served a heart attack on a plate, almost gave me a heart attack without her cooking when she claimed these racial slurs used were “a joke” and was only in “a single incident”.  I abhor bigotry.  Discrimination of any kind, racial, cultural, or sexual should never be condoned. However, while accusatory fingers wagged at her, I was appalled that this unacceptable behavior was left unchecked for so long.  It saddened me to think that this racial discrimination had been left unchecked for a long time due to her commercial value to stakeholders profiting from her popularity, and was only brought to the surface because she “pissed” the daylights out of someone hell-bent on spoiling her day in retaliation.

Hello Kitty Goodbye Sensible Behavior

Closer to home, I had witnessed adults in Singapore, embroiled in very public displays of irrational tirades against the McDonald’s restaurant crew just because they failed to get their hands on the Hello Kitty plushies. Videos of these incidents were circulating virally across social media too.  Funnily, just a few years ago, a similar scene played out in the newspapers which reported that customers who queued for Hello Kitty plushies at a McDonald’s restaurant were hurt when a glass panel broke during the mad rush for these toys.  Again, it saddened me to think that these public displays of irrational behavior could long be forgiven and forgotten since the last incident because of the commercial gains seen from both sides of the coin from either the sale of 1) Hello Kitty plushies on ebay and 2) the sale of more McDonald’s Value Meals.

Masking Fundamental Issues

When our city was blanketed in haze due to illegal practices of forest-clearing in Sumatra, Indonesia, I had witnessed long queues of irate Singaporeans rushing to buy N95 masks at supermarkets and hospital pharmacies.  This was not without incident too as I spotted a video virally circulating across social media depicting a man snatching a pack of N95 masks off a lady shopper’s grocery basket, then challenging her with this remark, “Stop me if you can.”  This man was lucky that I wasn’t that lady shopper, or that video would have ended with a footage of him frantically searching for his testicles in the bin then.

That brought me to have a think about the fundamental issue of unpreparedness.  I could not understand how the establishment could be unprepared for this outcome when the illegal “slash and clear” practices in the Sumatran forests had been happening for so many years.  Again, it saddened me to think that as the environment came under siege with the forest fires that had been on-going for years, nothing was done because of the commercial gains from the big corporations who profit from it.  These corporations that came under scrutiny due to the forest fires, were known to be linked to the establishment…not just ours, but our neighbors’ as well.

Read In Between The Lines

So as the newspapers, my Facebook wall and my Twitter feeds are filled with stories everyday about unpleasant behaviors like the ones I had recounted in this post, horrific incidents like the floods in India, important milestones in gay rights like the death of DOMA in the US ( Defense of Marriage Act) and unimportant milestones like naming a celebrity’s baby North West, I continue to read in between the lines so that I could form an objective assessment to these issues. I trained Joel to do the same so that he could grow up with the notion that nothing in this world is black and white. 

Even when I read the Tarot for my clients, I had always approached these readings with an objective view knowing that my intuition will always guide me to understand that there's more than meets the eye to the clients' issues.

An ex-boss once said to me, “Nothing is ever what it seems”.

About the writer:

The writer of this blog post is a 43 year old mother of one, who spreads her time between her day job as a marketeer at a financial institution, her hobby as a certified professional tarot reader and numerologist, and her family which includes a 19 year old son.  She's married to a Scot who has been affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" and prays that he does not find out that the term when translated, has labeled him as a "Ginger Head".